Tag Archives: Suddhodana

Data mining the Asita-Subhadra connection: Progress Report 1

Out of 126 clusters, I have gone through the first 20, and found that 7 are chiasmically meaningful, which is much higher than I thought.

Even more surprisingly, the clusters threw up what I previously gleaned by reading and manually comparing those parts.

Here’s a preview of what I have gotten thus far.

ProgressReport1 - clusters

I understand that might not be all that intelligible, but here’s what I gleaned from those clusters.

ProgressReport1 - gleanings

In terms of providing different perspectives of what is chiasmic, I think this method is holding up very well so far, and has generated quite a few matches that I did not pick up on while reading these two sections. (what I did pick up on is briefly presented here)

The most interesting would probably be the one found in cluster 4 – the Buddha was born to end birth. How strange that seems! Have you ever heard of someone doing something in order to stop doing that very same action?

Discussion with Eric brought to my mind how eating can be considered an example of this. We eat to starve off hunger so that we do not have to eat further, but, as Eric quickly points out, that is only a temporary relief. Perhaps that’s the importance of the Buddha’s endeavour – it is said to be the ultimate relief.

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Read with me! Siddhartha is born (25 Dec 2013) 悉達多太子的出生

Chapter 1: Verses 1-10, on the birth of the Buddha-to-be

第一品:悉達多太子的出生(中文版在下面

(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

1. There was a king of the unconquerable Sakyas, Suddhodana by name, of the race of lksvaku and the peer of Iksvaku in might. Pure he was in conduct and beloved of his people as the moon in autumn.

2. That counterpart of Indra had a queen, a very Saci, whose splendour corresponded to his might. In beauty like Padma, in steadfastness like the earth, she was called Mahamaya, from her resemblance to the incomparable Maya.

3. This ruler of men, dallying with his queen, enjoyed, as it were, the sovereign glory of Vaisravana. Then without defilement she received the fruit of the womb, just as knowledge united with mental concentration bears fruit.

4. Before she conceived, she saw in her sleep a white lord of elephants entering her body, yet she felt thereby no pain.

5. Maya, the queen of that god-like king, bore in her womb the glory of her race and, being in her purity free from weariness, sorrow and illusion, she set her mind on the sin-free forest.

6. In her longing for the lonely forest as suited to trance, she asked the king to go and stay in the grove called Lumbini, which was gay like the garden of Caitraratha with trees of every kind.

7. The lord of the earth, full of wonder and joy, recognised that her disposition was noble from her possession of piety, and left the fortunate city, in order to gratify her, not for a pleasure excursion.

8. In that glorious grove the queen perceived that the time of her delivery was at hand and, amidst the welcome of thousands of waiting-women, proceeded to a couch overspread with an awning.

9. Then as soon as Pusya became propitious, from the side of the queen, who was hallowed by her vows, a son was born for the weal of the world, without her suffering either pain or illness.

10. As was the birth of Aurva from the thigh, of Prthu from the hand, of Mandhatr, the peer of Indra, from the head, of Kaksivat from the armpit, on such wise was his birth.

T04n0192_p0001a08║ 甘蔗之苗裔,  釋迦無勝王,
T04n0192_p0001a09║ 淨財德純備,  故名曰淨飯,
T04n0192_p0001a10║ 群生樂瞻仰,  猶如初生月。
T04n0192_p0001a11║ 王如天帝釋,  夫人猶舍脂,
T04n0192_p0001a12║ 執志安如地,  心淨若蓮花,
T04n0192_p0001a13║ 假譬名摩耶,  其實無倫比。
T04n0192_p0001a14║ 於彼象天后,  降神而處胎。
T04n0192_p0001a15║ 母悉離憂患,  不生幻偽心,
T04n0192_p0001a16║ 厭惡彼諠俗,  樂處空閑林。
T04n0192_p0001a17║ 藍毘尼勝園,  流泉花果茂,
T04n0192_p0001a18║ 寂靜順禪思,  啟王請遊彼。
T04n0192_p0001a19║ 王知其志願,  而生奇特想,
T04n0192_p0001a20║ 勅內外眷屬,  俱詣彼園林。
T04n0192_p0001a21║ 爾時摩耶后,  自知產時至,
T04n0192_p0001a22║ 偃寢安勝床,  百千婇女侍。
T04n0192_p0001a23║ 時四月八日,  清和氣調適,
T04n0192_p0001a24║ 齋戒修淨德,  菩薩右脇生,
T04n0192_p0001a25║ 大悲救世間,  不令母苦惱。
T04n0192_p0001a26║ 優留王股生,   卑偷王手生,
T04n0192_p0001a27║ 曼陀王頂生,  伽叉王腋生。
T04n0192_p0001a28║ 菩薩亦如是,  誕從右脇生,

What is the Buddhacarita like?

Tomorrow is D-day. Well, it isn’t all that severe, but it is the day of I meet my thesis adviser to decide if I should continue on this topic. I think it’s a foregone conclusion, but it still bugs me if he would come up with questions to fall my proposition. But, that aside, I think it is right to give you an idea of what the Buddhacarita looks like.

First of all, the was composed entirely in Sanskrit verses. I can’t read Sanskrit, and so right now I’m depending on the English and Chinese versions, the latter of which comprises of about 60,000 characters. It comes in 28 chapters which are titled, but the titles are misleading because they might contain more events or characters they claim to be about. An example is chapter 12, titled “Visit to Arada” but it really also talks about the Bodhisattva Siddharta meeting Udraka (both Arada and Udraka are major teachers of the Sramanic tradition) and even the five ascetics.

So, the chapters are:

And if I may order them chiastically, they would roughly be:

You might notice that the ordering might not align according to specific themes or characters at this point, but that is work-in-progress. At the same time the question remains as to what is the center of the entire story. Certainly many Buddhists would be pretty confident that it is the Buddha’s enlightenment, without which the whole story would not have been passed till this day. But the magic of the chiasmic structure is that the matching of content on both sides of the center point might lead us to a very different conclusion than what has been normally assumed.

A few things, though, are clear at this point. The Bodhisattva’s birth probably matches the Buddha’s nirvana, and his leaving home can correspond to the “Meeting of Father and Son”. Closer to the time of enlightenment, the Bodhisattva met the five ascetics, who he duly first taught after his enlightenment. Yet another match is in Srenya’s (Bimbisara), King of Magadha, appearance before and after the Buddha’s enlightenment.

But, is the enlightenment really the most important point of the story? What do you think?