Thursday, February 23, 2006

Śāṇḍilya’s hardship

bho puṭhamaṃ evva ahaṃ karaḍuasesasamiddhe ṇirakkharappakkhittajīhe kaṇṭhappasattajaṇṇovavīde bahmaṇṇamattaparituṭṭhe kule pasūdo/ tado dudīaṃ ahmāṇaṃ gehe asaṇaṇāseṇa bubhukkhido pādarasaṇaḷoheṇa sakkiasamaṇaaṃ pavvajidohmi/ tado tahiṃ dāsīe vuttāṇaṃ ekkakāḷabhattattaṇeṇa bubhukkhido taṃ pi visajjiaä cīvaraṃ chiddia pattaṃ patoḍia cchattamattaṃ gaṇhia ṇiggadohmi/ tado tidīaṃ imassa duṭṭhācayyassa bhaṇḍabhāragaddabho saṃvutto/

[Bhagavadajjukīyam of Bodhāyana Kavi, ed. Anujan Achan, pp.8–9]

“Ah! To begin with, I was born into a family satisfied with mere brahminhood. Their wealth was the left-overs of jackals, their tongues sibilated forming no syllables, their sacred threads were wrapped around their necks. In time, hungry because there was no food left in our house, I went forth as a Buddhist monk, craving some breakfast. Eventually, starving because these sons of slaves eat but once a day, I tore up the robe and smashed the bowl, and set off with just a parasol. Finally, I ended up as the baggage donkey of this mean preceptor.”

There are quit a few problems even with this short Prakrit passage of the
Bhagavadajjukīyam. While I like the comical absurdity that his hillbilly brahman family should be just too stupid to know how to speak properly or even how to wear their sacred thread properly, one might, of course, adduce other (ritual) reasons why they might be wearing their yajñopavīta like that. At first I had simply thought it was a kaviprauḍhoktisiddhārthaśaktimūlo vastudhvaniḥ (a suggestion of an idea by a imaginative expression of the poet) suggesting the vastu that they were like dogs, but the sacred thread around the neck is not really that convincing for a dog’s lead. Given the presumed age of this Prahasana, the precise constitution of the Prakrit is extremely problematic, and I have little confidence in the above rendering.

So I look forward with some anticipation to the publication of
Roland Steiner’s “Philologische Untersuchungen zum Bhagavadajjuka”,
in: Barrieren-Passagen: Analysen, Übersetzungen und Aufführungsweisen dramatischer Texte aus Indien. Herausgegeben von Heidrun Brückner, Karin Steiner und Roland Steiner. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag (Drama und Theater in Südasien. 7). [forthcoming]

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