Canto 2: antaḥ-pura-vihāraḥ
Exploring within the Women’s Quarters
[or Faring Well within the Battlements]


Antar means within, and pura means 1. fortress, castle, city, town; 2. the female apartments. Antaḥ-pura is thus given in the dictionary as the king’s palace, and the female apartments. Vihāra includes the meanings of travelling around for fun, exploring, and faring well.

The Canto concludes by affirming the historical fact that the Śākya prince who would become the Buddha, in the period before he left the palace, enjoyed sensual pleasures with his wife and with other women in the royal palace. And ostensibly the Canto title points to these sexual explorations with women within the women’s apartments – hence, “Exploring within the Women’s Quarters.”

As with Saundara-nanda Canto 2 (A Portrait of the King), however, Aśvaghoṣa seems, below the surface, to be more interested in portraying King Śuddhodana as a paragon of the transcendent virtues of a buddha. Such virtues, called pāramitās – transcendent virtues, transcendent accomplishments, or perfections – are traditionally six in number:

śīla, discipline, integrity, not doing wrong (see e.g. BC2.33; 2.34; 2.43; 2.44; 2.52)
, wisdom (BC2.35; 2.52).
, free giving (BC2.36; 2.40)
, strongly directed energy, heroic endeavour (BC2.40; 2.50)
, forbearance (BC2.42; 2.43)
, meditation (BC2.45)

To these six are sometimes added:

maitra, friendship (BC2.6; 2.35)
, steadfast resolution (BC2.34; 2.49)
, truthfulness (BC2.38)
, equanimity (BC2.52)

But nowhere does Aśvaghoṣa enumerate the six or the ten pāramitās like this one by one. In fact nowhere in Aśvaghoṣa’s two epic poems does the word pāramitā even appear. In the present Canto, there is a reference to the steadfast integrity (sthira-śīla) of Yaśodharā’s family in BC2.26, but none of the above pāramitās, by name, is ascribed to the king.

Nevertheless, the main point of this Canto, below the surface, seems to be to describe how a lord of the earth, along with those below him, all fare well, within safe limits, when the protector of men manifests transcendent virtues. Hence, to convey this central hidden meaning, the Canto title might better be rendered “Faring Well within the Battlements.”



ā janmano janma-jarānta-gasya tasyātmajasyātma-jitaḥ sa rājā /
ahany ahany artha-gajāśva-mitrair vṛddhiṁ yayau sindhur ivāmbu-vegaiḥ // 2.1 //

Following the birth of his self-begotten son – following the birth of the self-conquering son who would get to the bottom of birth and aging – / The king day by day waxed mightier by dint of wealth, elephants, horses and allies, as a river develops by dint of its tributaries. //2.1//

dhanasya ratnasya ca tasya tasya kṛtākṛtasyaiva ca kāñcanasya /
tadā hi naikān sa nidhīn avāpa manorathasyāpy atibhāra-bhūtān // 2.2 //

The king obtained all sorts of money and treasure, of wrought gold, or unwrought bullion – / He obtained manifold reserves, loaded, as it were, even beyond the capacity of the chariot of his mind. Mano-ratha generally means “heart’s joy,” but here as in several other places Aśvaghoṣa makes a play on ratha whose meanings include both joy and chariot. 01 //2.2//

ye padma-kalpair api ca dvipendrair na maṇḍalaṁ śakyam ihābhinetum /
madotkaṭā haimavatā gajās te vināpi yatnād upatasthur enam // 2.3 //

And elephants surrounded him that none in this world, not even top tuskers of Padma’s ilk Padma is the southernmost of the elephants that support the earth. 02, Could lead around a circle – / Himālayan elephants massively in rut stationed themselves, without the making of any effort at all, about his circle. //2.3//

nānāṅka-cihnair nava-hema-bhāṇḍair vibhūṣitair lamba-saṭais tathānyaiḥ /
saṁcukṣubhe cāsya puraṁ turaṅgair balena maitryā ca dhanena cāptaiḥ // 2.4 //

[His city was traversed] by horses [or fast movers] Turaṁga lit. “fast-going,” ostensibly means a horse. So on the surface Aśvaghoṣa is talking about horses but below the surface he has in mind those whose consciousness is quick. 03 of different strokes and distinctive characters, rigged out in new gold gear, Ostensibly, new gold trappings. In the hidden meaning, instruments for newly producing what is golden, or for digging out for the first time gold itself. The meanings of bhaṇḍa include 1. a tool or instrument, and 2. a horse’s harness of trappings. 04 and [traversed] by other types too, adorned with long braided manes In the hidden meaning, generic ascetic strivers. 05; / Again, his city shook with [the stomping of] horses obtained by force, won through friendship, and bought with money. An example of the inherent madhyamaka logic of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis – force is opposed to friendship (or so-called loving-kindness, maitrī); in the middle way is the practical mechanism of the market. 06 //2.4//

puṣṭāś ca tuṣṭāś ca tathāsya rājye sādhvyo ’rajaskā guṇavat-payaskāḥ /
udagra-vatsaiḥ sahitā babhūvur bahvyo bahu-kṣīra-duhaś ca gāvaḥ // 2.5 //

Equally in his kingdom, well-fed and well-satisfied, well-disposed, dustless, and overflowing with goodness, The first half of the verse invites us to expect that the subject will be good teachers. 07 / There were, together with their lanky young, many cows, In the original Sanskrit the subject, cows (gāvah), comes at the very end of the verse. 08 which yielded abundant milk. //2.5//

madhya-sthatāṁ tasya ripur jagāma madhya-stha-bhāvaḥ prayayau suhṛttvam /
viśeṣato dārḍhyam iyāya mitraṁ dvāv asya pakṣāv aparas tu nāsa // 2.6 //

An enemy of his entered into neutrality; neutrality turned into friendship; / friendship became something exceptionally solid. For him, though he had two sides, “the other” did not exist. //2.6//

tathāsya mandānila-megha-śabdaḥ saudāminī-kuṇḍala-maṇḍitābhraḥ /
vināśma-varṣāśani-pāta-doṣaiḥ kāle ca deśe pravavarṣa devaḥ // 2.7 //

For him, equally, with whispers of rainclouds blown by lazy breezes, with clouds of thunder gilded by rings of lightning, / But without any flak from showers of stone missiles or falling thunderbolts, at the right time and place, it rained. //2.7//

ruroha sasyaṁ phalavad yathārtu tadākṛtenāpi kṛṣi-śrameṇa /
tā eva cāsyauṣadhayo rasena sāreṇa caivābhyadhikā babhūvuḥ // 2.8 //

Each crop developed fruitfully in accordance with its season, without toil at the plough being done then at all; Like vināpi yatnād (without any effort at all) in verse 3 above, the suggestion is of the effortlessness and spontaneity which we aspire to in the practice of non-doing. Ostensible meaning, then: no effort was made. Real meaning: effort emerged naturally, and work was done without undue stress. 09 / And those same plants, for him, became herbs, only stronger, in taste and in efficacy. //2.8//

śarīra-saṁdeha-kare ’pi kāle saṁgrāma-saṁmarda iva pravṛtte /
svasthāḥ sukhaṁ caiva nirāmayaṁ ca prajajñire garbha-dharāś ca nāryaḥ // 2.9 //

In dealing with that circumstance which, like a clash between armies, spells danger for the body, / Remaining even then in their natural state, with ease and without disease, pregnant women gave birth. //2.9//

pṛthag vratibhyo vibhave ’pi garhye na prārthayanti sma narāḥ parebhyaḥ /
abhyarthitaḥ sūkṣma-dhano ’pi cāryas tadā na kaś-cid vimukho babhūva // 2.10 //

Save for those observing a vow, no man, however lacking in means, ever begged from others; / And no noble person, however scant his resources, turned away when asked to give. //2.10//

nāgauravo bandhuṣu nāpy adātā naivāvrato nānṛtiko na hiṁsraḥ /
āsīt tadā kaś-cana tasya rājye rājño yayāter iva nāhuṣasya // 2.11 //

No disrespect nor any stinginess towards kinsmen, nor any lawlessness at all, or untruthfulness or cruelty, / Was shown by anybody in his kingdom at that time, as in the realm of King Yayāti, son of Nahuṣa. Yayāti represents somebody in ancient Indian mythology who recognized the error of his former ways, with beneficial subsequent results for his kingdom. As such he is praised twice in Saundara-nanda: Those equals of Indra took charge of that city with noble ardour but without arrogance; / And they thus took on forever the fragrance of honour, like the celebrated sons of Yayāti.// SN1.59 // Bhūri-dyumna and Yayāti and other excellent kings, / Having bought heaven by their actions, gave it up again, after that karma ran out – // SN11.46 // 10 //2.11//

udyāna-devāyatanāśramāṇāṁ kūpa-prapā-puṣkariṇī-vanānām /
cakruḥ kriyās tatra ca dharma-kāmāḥ pratyakṣataḥ svargam ivopalabhya // 2.12 //

Gardens, temples, and ashrams, wells and drinking fountains, lotus-ponds and woods, / Lovers of dharma established there as acts of religious sacrifice – almost as if they had seen heaven with their own eyes. Pratyakṣataḥ... iva: as if before their eyes. The ironic implication is that these worshippers of a religious dharma, involving religious rites, ceremonies and sacrifices (kriyāḥ), had not in fact seen what they aspired to with their own eyes. 11 //2.12//

muktaś ca durbhikṣa-bhayāmayebhyo hṛṣṭo janaḥ svarga ivābhireme /
patnīṁ patir vā mahiṣī patiṁ vā parasparaṁ na vyabhiceratuś ca // 2.13 //

Exempt from famine, terror, and sickness, people dwelt there as gladly as if they were in heaven; / And neither husband against wife nor wife against husband did man and woman do each other wrong. //2.13//

kaś-cit siṣeve rataye na kāmaṁ kāmārtham arthaṁ na jugopa kaś-cit /
kaś-cid dhanārthaṁ na cacāra dharmaṁ dharmāya kaś-cin na cakāra hiṁsām // 2.14 //

Nobody served desire for pleasure; nobody, on account of desire, guarded wealth; / Nobody practised dharma for a prize; nobody, in pursuit of dharma, did harm. The three elements of this verse are the triple set of kāma (desire/love), artha (wealth), and dharma – identified in ancient India before the Buddha as three aims of human life. The verse suggests that the aims in themselves were not harmful, in a golden age, under enlightened sovereignty, when those aims were not pursued in a wrong way. 12 //2.14//

steyādibhiś cāpy aribhiś ca naṣṭaṁ svasthaṁ sva-cakraṁ para-cakra-muktam /
kṣemaṁ subhikṣaṁ ca babhūva tasya purānaraṇyasya yathaiva rāṣṭre // 2.15 //

Theft and suchlike were non-existent, as also were enemies; his realm was self-sufficient, immune to outside interference, / Pleasant to live in and plentifully provided – just as it was, once upon a time, in the kingdom of An-araṇya, “Nowhere Wild.” A truly civilized place, in a mythical Golden Age? 13 //2.15//

tadā hi taj-janmani tasya rājño manor ivāditya-sutasya rājye /
cacāra harṣaḥ praṇanāśa pāpmā jajvāla dharmaḥ kaluṣaṁ śaśāma // 2.16 //

For at that time, at the time of that birth, in that king’s kingdom, as in the kingdom of Sun-begotten Manu, / Joy prevailed and wickedness was no more; dharma burned bright and foulness faded away. //2.16//

evaṁ-vidhā rāja-sutasya tasya sarvārtha-siddhiś ca yato babhūva /
tato nṛpas tasya sutasya nāma sarvārtha-siddho ’yam iti pracakre // 2.17 //

And since in that son begotten by the king such fulfillment of everything was realized / The ruler of men named that son of his accordingly, saying “He is Sarvārtha-siddha, Fulfillment of Everything.” //2.17​/

devī tu māyā vibudharṣi-kalpaṁ dṛṣṭvā viśālaṁ tanaya-prabhāvam /
jātaṁ praharṣaṁ na śaśāka soḍhuṁ tato ’vināśāya divaṁ jagāma // 2.18 //

But having witnessed her offspring’s mighty power, which could rival that of a divine seer, / Queen Māyā could not endure the extreme joy that arose in her; and so, rather than towards total oblivion, she ‘went to heaven.’ In short, she died. But rather than forget her, people said that she had gone to heaven. 14 //2.18//

tataḥ kumāraṁ sura-garbha-kalpaṁ snehena bhāvena ca nirviśeṣam /
mātṛ-ṣvasā mātṛ-sama-prabhāvā saṁvardhayām ātmajavad babhūva // 2.19 //

Then the prince whose peers were the progeny of gods, was brought up by the unconditional means of love and affection: / His mother’s sister, who in her power was like his mother, caused him to grow as if he were her own son. //2.19//

tataḥ sa bālārka ivodaya-sthaḥ samīrito vahnir ivānilena /
krameṇa samyag vavṛdhe kumāras tārādhipaḥ pakṣa ivātamaske // 2.20 //

And so, like the early-morning sun on the way up, or like a fire being fanned by wafts of air, / Gradually, the child developed well – like the waxing moon in the bright fortnight. //2.20//

tato mahārhāṇi ca candanāni ratnāvaliś cauṣadhibhiḥ sagarbhā /
mṛga-prayuktā rathakāś ca haimā ācakrire ’smai suhṛd-ālayebhyaḥ // 2.21 //

Then precious preparations of sandalwood, and a string of jewels with herbs inside them, / And little golden carts drawn by deer, were brought to him, from the homes of good-hearts – //2.21//

vayo-’nurūpāṇi ca bhūṣaṇāni hiraṇ-mayā hasti-mṛgāśvakāś ca /
rathāś ca gavo vasana-prayuktā tantrīś ca cāmīkara-rūpya-citrā // 2.22 //

And ornaments appropriate for his age, toy elephants, deer and horses, made of gold, / And carts, and oxen Traditional symbol of bodhisattva-practice. 15 harnessed by finely woven fabric, with a tether for their calves, of gold and silver strands. //2.22//

evaṁ sa tais tair viṣayopacārair vayo-’nurūpair upacaryamāṇaḥ /
bālo ’py abāla-pratimo babhūva dhṛtyā ca śaucena dhiyā śriyā ca // 2.23 //

While thus indulged by various sense-stimulating gifts, of a sort appropriate for his age, With the repetition from the previous verse of description of toys as age-appropriate (vayo-’nurūpa), Aśvaghoṣa seems to wish to emphasize, wisely, the importance of playthings that give children the sense stimulation they need at different stages of their development. 16 / Child though he was, he was not like a child in constancy, and in simplicity, sagacity and dignity.//2.23//

vayaś ca kaumāram atītya madhyaṁ samprāpya bālaḥ sa hi rāja-sūnuḥ /
alpair ahobhir bahu-varṣa-gamyā jagrāha vidyāḥ sva-kulānurūpāḥ // 2.24 //

For, having passed through the early stage of life and arrived at the middle, Madhyam, the middle – the middle stage between childhood and adulthood, or, in the hidden meaning, the middle way between extremes, i.e. moderation or balance. 17 he, the young son of a king / Grasped in a few days subjects that took many years to master – fields of learning that befitted the house to which he belonged. //2.24//

naiḥśreyasaṁ tasya tu bhavyam arthaṁ śrutvā purastād asitān maharṣeḥ /
kāmeṣu saṅgaṁ janayāṁ babhūva vanāni yāyād iti śākya-rājaḥ // 2.25 //

But having heard before, from the great seer Asita, that the prince’s future purpose would be transcendent bliss, / The Śākya king encouraged in his son attachment to sensual desires, so that he might not go to the forest. //2.25//

kulāt tato ’smai sthira-śīla-yuktāt sādhvīṁ vapur-hrī-vinayopapannām /
yaśodharāṁ nāma yaśo-viśālāṁ vāmābhidhānāṁ śriyam ājuhāva // 2.26 //

Then the king summoned for him, from a family of steadfast integrity, a true woman, the possessor of fine form, modesty and discipline, / A woman full of glory whose name was Yaśodharā, “Bearer of Glory” – in the shape of such a woman did the king invoke Śrī, goddess of fortune. //2.26//

vidyotamāno vapuṣā pareṇa sanatkumāra-pratimaḥ kumāraḥ /
sārdhaṁ tayā śākya-narendra-vadhvā śacyā sahasrākṣa ivābhireme // 2.27 //

The prince, with his supremely fine form shining forth, like “the Prince Who Was Forever Fresh,” Sanat-kumāra, Name of one of the four or seven sons of brahmā. The name sanat-kumāra is sometimes given to any great saint who retains youthful purity. 18 / Enjoyed himself together with that Śākya princess as did mighty “All-Eyed” Indra, Indra being “all-eyed” (lit. “thousand-eyed”) refers to the story of how Ahalya’s aged husband Gautama punished Indra for seducing his wife by cursing Indra to carry his shame on his body in the form of a thousand vulvae. These female organs later turned to eyes when Indra worshipped the sun-god Surya.19 mightily, with Śacī. //2.27//

kiṁ-cin manaḥ-kṣobha-karaṁ pratīpaṁ kathaṁ na paśyed iti so ’nucintya /
vāsaṁ nṛpo vyādiśati sma tasmai harmyodareṣv eva na bhū-pracāram // 2.28 //

[The king asked himself:] “How might he not see the slightest unpleasantness that could cause disturbance in his mind?” / Reflecting thus, the king assigned to the prince a residence up in the bowels of the palace, far away from the bustle on the ground. //2.28//

tataḥ śarat-toyada-pāṇḍareṣu bhūmau vimāneṣv iva rañjiteṣu /
harmyeṣu sarvartu-sukhāśrayeṣu strīṇām udārair vijahāra tūryaiḥ // 2.29 //

Then, in penthouse apartments painted white as autumn clouds – like the seven-storey palaces of gods, only on the earth – / And appointed for comfort in every season, he roamed for fun among female players of the finest instruments. //2.29//

kalair hi cāmīkara-baddha-kakṣair nārī-karāgrābhihatair mṛdaṅgaiḥ /
varāpsaro-nṛtya-samaiś ca nṛtyaiḥ kailāsa-vat tad-bhavanaṁ rarāja // 2.30 //

For, with sounds of gold-studded tambourines being softly beaten by women’s fingers, / And with dancing like the dancing of the choicest heavenly nymphs, that residence was as fabulous as Mount Kailāsa. Fabulous residence of Kubera, lord of wealth, and paradise of Śiva. 20 //2.30//

vāgbhiḥ kalābhir lalitaiś ca hāvair madaiḥ sakhelai madhuraiś ca hāsaiḥ /
taṁ tatra nāryo ramayāṁ babhūvur bhrūvañcitair ardha-nirīkṣitaiś ca // 2.31 //

Using sweet nothings and playful gestures, accompanied by tipsy movements and charming chuckles, / The women there caressed him with secretly arched eyebrows, and sidelong glances. //2.31//

tataḥ sa kāmāśraya-paṇḍitābhiḥ strībhir gṛhīto rati-karkaśābhiḥ /
vimāna-pṛṣṭhān na mahīṁ jagāma vimāna-pṛṣthād iva puṇya-karmā // 2.32 //

And so, embraced by experts in erotic addiction, by women who were unsagging in pursuit of pleasure, / He did not descend from high up in the palace down to earth – as a doer of good would not descend, from an upper carriage of gods on high. //2.32//

nṛpas tu tasyaiva vivṛddhi-hetos tad-bhāvinārthena ca codyamānaḥ /
śame ’bhireme virarāma pāpād bheje damaṁ saṁvibabhāja sādhūn // 2.33 //

The king, meanwhile, having as his inner motive only his son’s growth, while also being goaded by [Asita’s] prediction of his son’s future purpose, / Maintained himself in balance and restrained himself from evil; he did his share of self-regulation and he left their share to the good. The ostensible meaning may be as per EH Johnston’s “he rewarded the good.” The hidden meaning may reflect the principle of not doing wrong and letting the right thing do itself. 21 //2.33//

nādhīravat kāma-sukhe sasañje na saṁrarañje viṣamaṁ jananyām /
dhṛtyendriyāśvāṁś capalān vijigye bandhūṁś ca paurāṁś ca guṇair jigāya // 2.34 //

He did not cling, like an irresolute type, to sensual pleasure; nor was he unduly enamoured with a female agent of rebirth; / The restless horses of the senses he tamed through constancy. He surpassed by his virtues both royal relatives and townsfolk. //2.34//

nādhyaiṣṭa duḥkhāya parasya vidyāṁ jñānaṁ śivaṁ yat tu tad adhyagīṣṭa /
svābhyaḥ prajābhyo hi yathā tathaiva sarva-prajābhyaḥ śivam āśaśaṁse // 2.35 //

He did not pursue learning to the detriment of the other but was steeped in that wisdom which is kindness; / For he wished all the best, in like manner, for his own offspring and for every offshoot. //2.35//

bhaṁ bhāsuraṁ cāṅgirasādhidevaṁ yathāvad ānarca tad-āyuṣe saḥ /
juhāva havyāny akṛśe kṛśānau dadau dvi-jebhyaḥ kṛśanaṁ ca gāś ca // 2.36 //

To the shining constellation whose regent is the planet Āṅgirasa, Jupiter. 22 he religiously recited a song of praise, for his son’s long life. / In a fiery fire of Agni, he offered what was to be offered. And to the twice-born brahmins he gave both gold and cows. The verse seems to express affirmation of service of dharma, and at the same time sardonic negation of superstitious or religious beliefs and customs. 23 //2.36//

sasnau śarīraṁ pavituṁ manaś ca tīrthāmbubhiś caiva guṇāmbubhiś ca /
vedopadiṣṭaṁ samam ātmajaṁ ca somaṁ papau śānti-sukhaṁ ca hārdam // 2.37 //

To cleanse body and mind, he bathed in the waters of sacred bathing places, and in the waters of merit; / And at one and the same time, he imbibed what is prescribed in the Vedas and what is produced from within: the soma-juice and the ease of a tranquil heart.//2.37//

sāntvaṁ babhāṣe na ca nārthavad yaj jajalpa tattvaṁ na ca vipriyaṁ yat /
sāntvaṁ hy atattvaṁ paruṣaṁ ca tattvaṁ hriyāśakann ātmana eva vaktum // 2.38 //

He spoke gently, and yet said nothing lacking in reality; he chatted the truth, and yet said nothing nasty; / For a gently spoken untruth, or a harshly told truth, modesty forbade him from voicing, even inwardly. //2.38//

iṣṭeṣv aniṣṭeṣu ca kārya-vatsu na rāga-doṣāśrayatāṁ prapede /
śivaṁ siṣeve ’vyavahāra-labdhaṁ yajñaṁ hi mene na tathā yathāvat // 2.39 //

When things pleasant and unpleasant called for action, he did not resort to reliance on raw desire, and faults; / He dwelt in the benign state which is won without fuss; for an act of devotion involving sacrifice Ostensibly yajñaṁ, “sacrifice,” refers to religious rituals like animal sacrifice, but the real meaning, in this context, is performance of any task in a manner which places undue emphasis on ends over means. See also BC2.49. 24 he valued not so highly. //2.39//

āśāvate cābhigatāya sadyo deyāmbubhis tarṣam acecchidiṣṭa /
yuddhād ṛte vṛtta-paraśvadhena dviḍ-darpam udvṛttam abebhidiṣṭa // 2.40 //

Again, when the expectant came up to him, there and then, using the waters of giving, he washed away thirst; / And without starting a war but using the battleaxe of action, the enemy’s swollen pride Dviḍ-darpam. Ostensible meaning: the enemy’s swollen pride. Hidden meaning: the enemy, swollen pride. 25 he burst. //2.40//

ekaṁ vininye sa jugopa sapta saptaiva tatyāja rarakṣa pañca /
prāpa tri-vargaṁ bubudhe tri-vargaṁ jajñe dvi-vargaṁ prajahau dvi-vargam // 2.41 //

He gave direction to the one and guarded the seven; he shunned the seven Ostensibly (as per EH Johnston’s note), “The sevens are the constituents of a kingdom and the seven vices of kings.” In the hidden meaning, the seven could be the seven limbs of awakening, whose idealism is affirmed in the 1st pāda and negated in the 2nd pāda. 26 and turned his attention to the five; Five ostensibly refers to the five upāyas [means of success against an enemy]; in the hidden meaning, the five might be five senses. 27 / He experienced the three and minded the three; Ostensibly the three are the triple set of dharma, wealth, and sensual desire, the three aims of a king’s life. In the hidden meaning, greed, anger and delusion might be the three to experience and mind. 28 he knew the two and abandoned the two. Ostensibly the two might (as per EHJ’s note) good and bad policy. In the hidden meaning, divided consciousness (3rd in the 12 links) is the casual grounds of psycho-physicality (4th in the 12 links), and psycho-physicality is causal grounds of divided consciousness. See BC Canto 14, verses 74-76. 29 //2.41//

kṛtāgaso ’pi pratipādya vadhyān nājīghanan nāpi ruṣā dadarśa /
babandha sāntvena phalena caitāṁs tyāgo ’pi teṣāṁ hy anayāya dṛṣṭaḥ // 2.42 //

Even those who had committed a capital offence he did not put to death, nor even looked upon with anger. / With gentleness, and by way of retribution, he held them confined – for letting go of them, obviously, was also to invite trouble. //2.42//

ārṣāṇy acārīt parama-vratāni vairāṇy ahāsīc cira-saṁbhṛtāni /
yaśāṁsi cāpad guṇa-gandhavanti rajāṁsy ahārsīn malinī-karāṇi // 2.43 //

Ultimate practices of the ancient seers, he repeated; long-harboured hostilities, he renounced; / And merit-scented feats of honour, he achieved. [But] the defiling dust of his passions, he did own. //2.43//

na cājihīrṣīd balim apravṛttaṁ na cācikīrṣīt para-vastv-abhidhyām /
na cāvivakṣīd dviṣatām adharmaṁ na cādidhakṣīdd hṛdayena manyum // 2.44 //

No inclination did he have to raise tax (or pay tribute) Ostensibly, the king did not out of greed raise taxes unjustly. In the hidden meaning, a lord of the earth already has everything he needs, and so does not out of greed curry favour. Baliṁ √hṛ could mean to raise tax or to pay tribute. 30 that had not accrued, to covet what belonged to others, / To discuss the wrongness of hateful foes, or to ignite anger in his own heart. //2.44//

tasmiṁs tathā bhūmi-patau pravṛtte bhṛtyāś ca paurāś ca tathaiva ceruḥ /
śamātmake cetasi viprasanne prayukta-yogasya yathendriyāṇi // 2.45 //

While that earth-lord was acting thus, the mandarins and the townsfolk behaved likewise, / Like the senses of a person who is harnessed to practice, when the thinking mind is peaceful and clear. Ostensibly the second half of the verse illustrates the first half; in fact the real teaching – since our primary interest is in hierachies in the brain and nervous system, and not in politics – is contained in the second half. This is a technique we will encounter repeatedly in figures of speech employed by Aśvaghoṣa. 31 //2.45//

kāle tataś cāru-payo-dharāyāṁ yaśodharāyāṁ sva-yaśo-dharāyām /
śauddhodane rāhu-sapatna-vaktro jajñe suto rāhula eva nāmnā // 2.46 //

Then in time to a bearer of lovely milk, to Yaśodharā, a bearer of glory by her own actions, / Was born a son who beamed like a rival of “Eclipsing” Rāhu, Rāhu,’the Seizer,’ is the name of a demon who is supposed to seize the sun and moon and thus cause eclipses. 32 and that moon-faced son of Śuddhodhana’s son was named Rāhula. //2.46//

atheṣṭa-putraḥ parama-pratītaḥ kulasya vṛddhiṁ prati bhūmi-pālaḥ /
yathaiva putra-prasave nananda tathaiva pautra-prasave nananda // 2.47 //

And so having had the son he desired, and feeling satisfaction of the highest order at the extension of his house, a keeper of the earth, / Just as he had rejoiced at the delivery of a son, rejoiced equally at the delivery of a son of his son. In the hidden meaning, a keeper of the earth (bhūmi-pālaḥ) is a buddha and delivery of a son (putra-prasava) might mean stimulating a student into action. Prasava can mean 1. begetting, procreation, birth, or 2. setting in motion, stimulation. 33 //2.47//

putrasya me putra-gato mamaiva snehaḥ kathaṁ syād iti jāta-harṣaḥ /
kāle sa taṁ taṁ vidhim ālalambe putra-priyaḥ svargam ivārurukṣan // 2.48 //

Joyfully he pondered: “By what means might there occur in my son this same attachment to a son as I have?” / With this in mind, the king devoted himself in good time to this and that prescribed practice, as if he were a putra-priya, an “offspring-loving” bird, aspiring to soar to heaven. //2.48//

sthitvā pathi prāthama-kalpikānāṁ rājarṣabhāṇāṁ yaśasānvitānām /
śuklāny amuktvāpi tapāṁsy atapta yajñaiś ca hiṁsā-rahitair ayaṣṭa // 2.49 //

Standing firmly on the path of primeval royal bulls steeped in glory, / He practised austerities with his whites still on, and he worshipped with sacrificial acts that did no harm. //2.49//

ajājvaliṣṭātha sa puṇya-karmā nṛpa-śriyā caiva tapaḥ-śriyā ca /
kulena vṛttena dhiyā ca dīptas tejaḥ sahasrāṁśur ivotsisṛkṣuḥ // 2.50 //

And so this pious man of pure karma blazed with the majesty of a ruler of men, and with the glow of hot austerity. / Made brilliant by good family, Kula means good family or, in the hidden meaning, noble lineage. 34 good conduct and good sense, he was like the thousand-rayed sun, desiring to emit its brightness. //2.50//

svāyaṁbhuvaṁ cārcikam arcayitvā jajāpa putra-sthitaye sthita-śrīḥ /
cakāra karmāṇi ca duṣkarāṇi prajāḥ sisṛkṣuḥ ka ivādi-kāle // 2.51 //

Again, having devoutly caused to be chanted those chants of praise attributed to Svayam-bhū, “The Spontaneously Arisen,” Svayam-bhū, “Spontaneously Arisen” or “Self Existing” – i.e., Independent – is a name given to Brahmā and sometimes also to Śiva. In the hidden meaning, the buddhas of the three times, to whom a verse is traditionally recited for the transference of merit? 35 he of enduring majesty muttered a prayer for his son’s enduring existence / And performed difficult karmic rites – like Ka, Ka is an alias of Prajā-pati, ‘lord of creatures,’ the creator deity. Ka is also the name of the first consonant of the Sanskrit alphabet. Does duṣkarāṇi (hard to do, difficult) in this context mean totally impossible to achieve? 36 in the beginning, desiring to create creatures. //2.51//

tatjyāja śastraṁ vimamarśa śāstraṁ śamaṁ siṣeve niyamaṁ viṣehe /
vaśīva kaṁ-cid viṣayaṁ na bheje piteva sarvān viṣayān dadarśa // 2.52 //

The hymn of praise he could set aside; dogmatic scripture he could scarce abide. He applied himself to equanimity; and subjected himself to restraint. / Into any sensory realm, he, like a master, did not slide. All realms, he, like a patriarch, did realize. //2.52//

babhāra rājyaṁ sa hi putra-hetoḥ putraṁ kulārthaṁ yaśase kulaṁ tu /
svargāya śabdaṁ divam ātma-hetor dharmārtham ātma-sthitim ācakāṅkṣa // 2.53 //

For he cherished his sovereignty on account of his son, his son for the sake of his noble house, his house as an expression of honour, / He cherished expression of truth as a way to heaven, and heaven as a function of the self. He desired the continued existence of the self for the sake of dharma. //2.53//

evaṁ sa dharmaṁ vividhaṁ cakāra sadbhir nipātaṁ śrutitaś ca siddham /
dṛṣṭvā kathaṁ putra-mukhaṁ suto me vanaṁ na yāyād iti nāthamānaḥ // 2.54 //

Thus he practised the dharma of many strata which the good alight upon, and penetrate through listening, / All the time asking himself: “Now that my son has seen the face of his son, how might he be stopped from going to the forest?” //2.54//

rirakṣiṣantaḥ śriyam ātma-saṁsthāṁ rakṣanti putrān bhuvi bhūmi-pālāḥ /
putraṁ narendraḥ sa tu dharma-kāmo rarakṣa dharmād viṣayeṣu muñcan // 2.55 //

Desiring to preserve their own personal power, on this earth, keepers of the earth guard against their sons. / But this dharma-loving lord of men had guarded his son from dharma, by letting him loose among sensual objects. //2.55//

vanam anupama-sattvā bodhisattvās tu sarve viṣaya-sukha-rasa-jñā jagmur utpanna-putrāḥ /
ata upacita-karmā rūḍha-mūle ’pi hetau sa ratim upasiṣeve bodhim āpan na yāvat // 2.56 //

To the forest, nonetheless, went all bodhisattvas, all matchless beings on the way to awakening, who had known the taste of sensuality and produced a son. / Thus did he who had heaped up ample karma, even while the cause [of his awakening] was a developing root, partake of sensual enjoyment in the period before he took possession of awakening. //2.56//

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye ‘ntaḥ-pura-vihāro nāma dvitīyaḥ sargaḥ // 2 //
The 2nd canto, titled “Faring Well Within the Battlements,”
in an epic tale of awakened action.