Canto 4: strī-vighātanaḥ
Warding ‘Women’ Away


Aśvaghoṣa’s teaching points resolutely in the direction of abandoning all -isms. That being so, it would be a mistake to see Aśvaghoṣa as a champion of feminism as an ideology. On the other hand, when in Saundara-nanda Canto 8 (titled A Tirade against Women), Aśvaghoṣa presents in detail the misogynist view of a certain Buddhist striver, it should be understood that he is satirizing that unenlightened view.

In a deeper reading of the present Canto, then, the “warding away” (vighātana) of the Canto title refers not to the Prince’s rebuffing of a gang of women who were ostensibly out to seduce him, but rather to the abandonment of the generic concept “woman” or “women” (strī). To this end, Aśvaghoṣa describes various individuals who are different (anyā) using various stratagems to capture the heart of the Prince. And these women are not only different from each other: they represent buddhas using skilful means, and as such are quite different from what we first thought, on a superficial reading of the Canto title “Warding Women Away.”



tatas tasmāt purodyānāt kautūhala-calekṣaṇāḥ /
pratyujjagmur nṛpa-sutaṁ prāptaṁ varam iva striyaḥ // 4.1 //

Then, out of that royal plot, their interested eyes darting, / The women advanced to meet the son of the king as if he were an arriving suitor.//4.1//

abhigamya ca tās tasmai vismayotphulla-locanāḥ /
cakrire samudācāraṁ padma-kośa-nibhaiḥ karaiḥ // 4.2 //

And having approached him, their peepers opened wide in wonderment, / They made their salutations with hands like lotus buds, //4.2//

tasthuś ca parivāryainaṁ manmathākṣipta-cetasaḥ /
niścalaiḥ prīti-vikacaiḥ pibantya iva locanaiḥ // 4.3 //

And keeping him in their midst they stationed themselves, their minds caught fast by ardour; / While, with motionless eyes that sparkled with relish, they seemed almost to be indulging in a feast. //4.3//

taṁ hi tā menire nāryaḥ kāmo vigrahavān iti /
śobhitaṁ lakṣaṇair dīptaiḥ saha-jair bhūṣaṇair iva // 4.4 //

For those women esteemed him as a god of love in physical form, / Made beautiful by brilliant attributes like the adornments one is born with. Ostensibly, saha-jair-bhūṣaṇaiḥ means “with ornaments born on him.” But the real intention might be to suggest that nothing is more beautiful than the natural state. 01 //4.4//

saumyatvāc caiva dhairyāc ca kāś-cid enaṁ prajajñire /
avatīrṇo mahīṁ sākṣād gūdhāṁśuś candramā iti // 4.5 //

Because of his soma-steeped mildness, and his constant gravity, some women intuited him to be, / Alighting on the earth in person, a moon whose beam is contained within. //4.5//

tasya tā vapuṣākṣiptā nigṛhītaṁ jajṛmbhire /
anyonyaṁ dṛṣṭibhir hatvā śanaiś ca viniśaśvasuḥ // 4.6 //

Entranced by his form, they inwardly opened out / And, killing each other with glances, exhaled deeply and quietly. //4.6//

evaṁ tā dṛṣṭi-mātreṇa nāryo dadṛśur eva tam /
na vyājahrur na jahasuḥ prabhāveṇāsya yantritāḥ // 4.7 //

Thus, with the full extent of their mind’s eyes, the women did nothing but behold him: / They did not speak and did not laugh, held spellbound by his power. A long silent exhalation, followed by doing nothing but beholding him – like a moon whose beam is directed within. These descriptions may be taken in their hidden meaning as a suggestion of the practice of realizing the buddha-nature in oneself, by just sitting. 02 //4.7//

tās tathā tu nir-ārambhā dṛṣṭvā praṇaya-viklavāḥ /
purohita-suto dhīmān udāyī vākyam abravīt // 4.8 //

But seeing them so disinclined to do, thinking them timid about displaying love, / The clever son of a family priest, ‘Hurry-Up’ Udāyin, spoke his piece: //4.8//

sarvāḥ sarva-kalā-jñāḥ stha bhāva-grahaṇa-paṇḍitāḥ /
rūpa-cāturya-saṁpannāḥ sva-guṇair mukhyatāṁ gatāḥ // 4.9 //

“Adept in all the subtle arts, expert in understanding the emotions, / Possessed of beautiful form and dexterity, by graces that are proper to you, you all have risen to pre-eminence. The irony here (and the challenge for the translator) is that Udāyin thinks he is describing pre-eminent courtesans, but his words equally well describe buddhas. 03 //4.9//

śobhayeta guṇair ebhir api tān uttarān kurūn /
kuberasyāpi cākrīḍaṁ prāg eva vasu-dhām imām // 4.10 //

By the means of these graces you could cause to shine even that superior kingdom of the Northern Kurus, / And even the pleasure-grove of Kubera – all the more, then, this earthly acreage. //4.10//

śaktāś cālayituṁ yūyaṁ vīta-rāgān ṛṣīn api /
apsarobhiś ca kalitān grahītuṁ vibudhān api // 4.11 //

You are able to spur into movement even dispassionate seers; / And even gods enticed by heavenly nymphs you are able to hold transfixed. //4.11//

bhāva-jñānena hāvena rūpa-cāturya-saṁpadā /
strīṇām eva ca śaktāḥ stha saṁrāge kiṁ punar nṛṇām // 4.12 //

Again, through knowing the emotions, through challenging invitations, through possession of beautiful form and dexterity, / You are powerful agents in respect of passion in women, to say nothing of passion in men. //4.12//

tāsām evaṁ vidhānāṁ vo viyuktānāṁ sva-gocare /
iyam evaṁ-vidhā ceṣṭā na tuṣṭo ‘smy ārjavena vaḥ // 4.13 //

You being as you are, like this, each set apart in her own sphere of activity, / This action of yours is like this – in you, I am not satisfied with innocence. //4.13//

idaṁ nava-vadhūnāṁ vo hrī-nikuñcita-cakṣuṣām /
sadṛśaṁ ceṣṭitaṁ hi syād api vā gopa-yoṣitām // 4.14 //

For women who have recently taken their vows Ostensibly, marriage vows. In the hidden meaning, bodhisattva vows. 04 and who modestly turn the light of their eyes within, / This behaviour of yours might be fitting – as also for the wives of cowherds! Ostensibly, this is Udayin’s snobbery. In the hidden meaning, the principle is that of Dogen’s Fukan-zazengi – Rules of Sitting-Meditation Recommended for Everybody. 05 //4.14//

yad api syād ayaṁ dhīraḥ śrī-prabhāvān mahān iti /
strīṇām api mahat teja iti kāryo ‘tra niścayaḥ // 4.15 //

Though this man may prove to be, by his majestic light, a mighty steadfast man, / Mighty also is the efficacy of women – in which matter verification is to be carried out: //4.15//

purā hi kāśi-sundaryā veśa-vadhvā mahān-ṛṣiḥ /
tāḍito ‘bhūt padā vyāso dur-dharṣo devatair api // 4.16 //

For once upon a time the Beauty of Benares, Kāśi-sundarī, a common woman, / Beat with a flick of her foot the great seer Vyāsa whom even the gods could not conquer. See also BC1.42 and SN7.30.06 //4.16//

manthāla-gautamo bhikṣur jaṅghayā vāra-mukhyayā /
piprīṣuś ca tad-arthārthaṁ vyasūn niraharat purā // 4.17 //

The beggar Manthāla Gautama, wishing to please the royal courtesan ‘Legs’ Jaṅgā, / Again in olden times, with that aim in view, carried corpses out for burial. EH Johnston suspected that this verse may have been an interpolation.07 //4.17//

gautamaṁ dīrgha-tapasaṁ maharṣiṁ dīrgha-jīvinam /
yoṣit saṁtoṣayām āsa varṇa-sthānāvarā satī // 4.18 //

The great seer Gautama Dīrgha-tapas was long on asceticism and in longevity,/ But a girl pleasured him who was low in colour and standing. A high-minded ascetic named Dīrgha-tapas is also mentioned at the beginning of Saundara-nanda (SN1.4). 08 //4.18//

ṛṣya-śṛṅgaṁ muni-sutaṁ tathaiva strīṣv apaṇḍitam /
upāyair vividhaiḥ śāntā jagrāha ca jahāra ca // 4.19 //

Ṛṣya-śṛṅga, ‘Antelope Horn,’ a sage’s son, was similarly inexpert in regard to women; / Śāntā, ‘Tranquillity,’ using various wiles, took him captive and carried him away. See also SN7.34. 09 //4.19//

viśvāmitro maharṣiś ca vigāḍho ‘pi mahat-tapaḥ /
daśa-varṣāṇy ahar mene ghṛtācy āpsarasā hṛtaḥ // 4.20 //

And the great seer Viśvā-mitra, ‘Friend of All,’ though steeped in rigorous asceticism, / Deemed ten years to be a day, while captivated by the nymph Ghṛtācī. Through his seduction by the nymph Ghṛtācī (also known as Menakā), Viśvā-mitra fathered Śakuntalā, who is the heroine of Kālidāśa’s famous play “The Recognition of Śakuntalā.” See also SN7.35. 10 //4.20//

evam-ādīn ṛṣīṁs tāṁs tān anayan vikriyāṁ striyaḥ /
lalitaṁ pūrva-vayasaṁ kiṁ punar nṛpateḥ sutam // 4.21 //

Various seers such as these have women brought down; / How much more then the son of the king, who is in the first flush of frolicsome youth? //4.21//

tad evaṁ sati viśrabdhaṁ prayatadhvaṁ tathā yathā /
iyaṁ nṛpasya vaṁśa-śrīr ito na syāt parāṅmukhī // 4.22 //

It being so, with calm confidence, apply yourselves in such a way, / That this light of the lineage of a protector of men might not be turned away from here. This is a good example of the ironic use of the term “a protector of men” to describe, in the hidden meaning, the Buddha or a buddha-ancestor. 11 //4.22//

yā hi kāś-cid yuvatayo haranti sadṛśaṁ janam /
nikṛṣṭotkṛṣṭayor bhāvaṁ yā gṛhṇanti tu tāḥ striyaḥ // 4.23 //

For any girl entrances those on her level, / But those who stop the heart of low and high: they are true women.” //4.23//

ity udāyi-vacaḥ śrutvā tā viddhā iva yoṣitaḥ /
samāruruhur ātmānaṁ kumāra-grahaṇaṁ prati // 4.24 //

Having thus attended to the words of Udāyin, the women, as if they had been pricked, / Went up, rising above themselves, in the direction of apprehending the prince. Ostensibly, towards seduction of the prince. In the hidden meaning, towards their realization of the buddha-nature, or towards the prince’s realization of his own buddha-nature. 12 //4.24//

tā bhrūbhiḥ prekṣitair hāvair hasitair laḍitair gataiḥ /
cakrur ākṣepikāś ceṣṭā bhīta-bhītā ivāṅganāḥ // 4.25 //

Using their foreheads, using glimpsed enticements, using smiling artful dodges, / The women performed suggestive actions, like women wary of fear. Ostensibly, they looked skittish. In the hidden meaning, they were alert to the terrors of sickness, aging and death. 13 //4.25//

rājñas tu viniyogena kumārasya ca mārdavāt /
jahuḥ kṣipram aviśraṁbhaṁ madena madanena ca // 4.26 //

But in view of the king’s assignment, and thanks to a prince’s mildness of manner, / They quickly shed their diffidence – through inspiration and through enchantment. //4.26//

atha nārī-jana-vṛtaḥ kumāro vyacarad vanam /
vāsitā-yūtha-sahitaḥ karīva himavad-vanam // 4.27 //

And so, surrounded by the women, the prince roved around the wood / Like a bull elephant accompanied by a herd of single females as he roves a Himālayan forest. //4.27//

sa tasmin kānane ramye jajvāla strī-puraḥsaraḥ /
ākrīḍa iva vibhrāje vivasvān apsaro-vṛtaḥ // 4.28 //

In that delightful forest, attended by the women, he shone / Like Vivasvat, the Shining Sun, in the Vibhrāja pleasure grove, surrounded by apsarases. //4.28//

madenāvarjitā nāma taṁ kāś-cit tatra yoṣitaḥ /
kaṭhinaiḥ paspṛśuḥ pīnaiḥ saṁhatair valgubhiḥ stanaiḥ // 4.29 //

Pretending to be tipsy, some girls there / Brushed him, with firm, round, closely set, beautiful breasts. //4.29//

srastāṁsa-komalālamba-mṛdu-bāhu-latābalā /
anṛtaṁ skhalitaṁ kā-cit kṛtvainaṁ sasvaje balāt // 4.30 //

One girl – from whose relaxed shoulders delicately dangled soft arms like tendrils – / Simulated a stumble, so that she could not help but cling to him. This verse has a play on abalā, “one who is weak (f.)” i.e. a girl, a so-called member of the weaker sex, and balāt, “perforce,” “helplessly.” The ironic subtext is that relaxed shoulders and soft arms are sometimes a mark of strength, and simulation of a stumble might be an expedient means. 14 //4.30//

kā-cit tāmrādharoṣṭhena mukhenāsava-gandhinā /
viniśaśvāsa karṇe ‘sya rahasyaṁ śrūyatām iti // 4.31 //

One girl, whose mouth with copper-red lower lip betrayed a whiff of distilled nectar, / Whispered in his ear, “Let the secret be revealed!” //4.31//

kā-cid ājñāpayantīva provācārdrānulepanā /
iha bhaktiṁ kuruṣveti hastaṁ saṁśliṣya lipsayā // 4.32 //

As if she were giving an order, one girl who was moist with body oils insisted: / “Perform the act of devotion here!” as – wanting it – she closely attached herself to a hand. In the hidden meaning, wanting to attain the ineffable, she adhered to the Buddha’s teaching. 15 //4.32//

muhur-muhur mada-vyāja-srasta-nīlāṁśukāparā /
ālakṣya-rasanā reje sphurad vidyud iva kṣapā // 4.33 //

A different girl, as she repeatedly simulated intoxication, and let her dark blue robe, made of fine cloth, slip down, / Showed scarcely observable glimmers of sensibility, like a night lit by lightning, in flashes. In the hidden meaning, did Aśvaghoṣa see himself using words repeatedly, in flashes, to simulate intoxication? 16 //4.33//

kāś-cit kanaka-kāñcībhir mukharābhir itas tataḥ /
babhramur darśayantyo ‘sya śroṇīs tanv aṁśukāvṛtāḥ // 4.34 //

Some women wobbled from here to there, their golden girdle-trinkets tinkling noisily, / As they exhibited to him swaying hips thinly veiled by a robe of fine cloth. A parody of kaṣaya-clad practitioners barging heedlessly about? 17 //4.34//

cūta-śākhāṁ kusumitāṁ pragṛhyānyā lalaṁbire /
su-varṇa-kalaśa-prakhyān darśayantyaḥ payodharān // 4.35 //

Ones who were different held and hung onto a flowering mango branch, / Causing others to see breasts, resembling golden jugs, which would bear milk. [Or clouds, set off by the golden pinnacles of stūpas, which would bear water.] [[Or containers, resembling golden jars, of the lifeblood.]] Payo-dhara literally means “fluid-bearers” and hence breasts (as containing milk), or clouds (as containing water), or even the women themselves (as containing vital spirit, or the lifeblood). Kalaśa means jug or jar, but it too has a secondary meaning: a round pinnacle on the top of a temple (especially the pinnacle crowning a Buddhist caitya or stūpa).18 //4.35//

kā-cit padma-vanād etya sa-padmā padma-locanā /
padma-vaktrasya pārśve ‘sya padma-śrīr iva tasthuṣī // 4.36 //

One girl, from out of a bed of lotuses, bearing a lotus and looking through lotus eyes, / Came and stood by the side of the lotus-faced one, like Śrī, the lotus-hued goddess of beauty. //4.36//

madhuraṁ gītam anv-arthaṁ kā-cit sābhinayaṁ jagau /
taṁ svasthaṁ codayantīva vañcito ‘sīty avekṣitaiḥ // 4.37 //

A sweet song whose meaning was clear, one girl sang, with actions that suited the words, / As if she were goading the one who was self-assured with glimpses whose gist was, “You are cheating yourself!” //4.37//

śubhena vadanenānyā bhrū-kārmuka-vikarṣiṇā /
prāvṛtyānucakārāsya ceṣṭitaṁ dhīra-līlayā // 4.38 //

A different girl, with a bright countenance, the bows of her eyebrows being spread wide apart, / Put on his manner and did what he did – playfully replicating his seriousness [or having fun, with gravity]. //4.38//

pīna-valgu-stanī kā-cidd hāsāghūrṇita-kuṇḍalā /
uccair avajahāsainaṁ sa-māpnotu bhavān iti // 4.39 //

One girl, whose breasts were big and beautiful, and whose earrings whirled round as she laughed, / Taunted him from above, as if to say, “Catch up with me, mister!” A parody of a larger-than-life Zen master? 19 //4.39//

apayāntaṁ tathaivānyā babandhur mālya-dāmabhiḥ /
kāś-cit sākṣepa-madhurair jagṛhur vacanāṅkuśaiḥ // 4.40 //

Different ones in the same vein, as he wandered away, held him back with daisy chains; By subtle, indirect means – not by brute force. 20 / While some girls stopped him in his tracks with the elephant hooks of sweet words, barbed with irony. //4.40//

pratiyogārthinī kā-cid gṛhītvā cūta-vallarīm /
idaṁ puṣpaṁ tu kasyeti papraccha mada-viklavā // 4.41 //

One girl, wishing to be contrary, seized the branch of a mango tree – / “Now then! Whose flower is this?” she demanded, bewildered by blithe exuberance. //4.41//

kā-cit puruṣavat kṛtvā gatiṁ saṁsthānam eva ca /
uvācainaṁ jitaḥ strībhir jaya bho pṛthivīm imām // 4.42 //

One girl, acting like a man, in her way of moving and standing still, / Said to him: “Women have defeated you. Now you defeat this earth!” //4.42//

atha lolekṣaṇā kā-cij jighrantī nīlam utpalam /
kiṁ-cin mada-kalair vākyair nṛpātmajam abhāṣata // 4.43

Then a girl with avid eyes, who was smelling the flower of a blue lotus, / Said, with words that intoxication rendered somewhat indistinct, to the one begotten out of the selves of protectors of men: //4.43//

paśya bhartaś citaṁ cūtaṁ kusumair madhu-gandhibhiḥ /
hema-pañjara-ruddho vā kokilo yatra kūjati // 4.44 //

“Observe, master, the mango tree covered with honey-scented blossoms / Where, as if confined in a golden cage, the cuckoo keeps on calling. //4.44//

aśoko dṛśyatām eṣa kāmi-śoka-vivardhanaḥ /
ruvanti bhramarā yatra dahyamānā ivāgninā // 4.45 //

See [or realize] this: the sorrowless [state of an] a-śoka, augmenter [or expunger] Vivardhana could be derived from vi-√vṛdh, to augment, or from vi-√vardh, to cut off, expunge. 21 of a lover’s sorrow, / Where bumble bees buzz as if being singed by a fire. In pain, or in a state of sincere action. 22 //4.45//

cūta-yaṣṭyā samāśliṣṭo dṛśyatāṁ tilaka-drumaḥ /
śukla-vāsā iva naraḥ striyā pītāṅga-rāgayā // 4.46 //

Witness the tilaka tree, being closely embraced by the mango’s branch, / Like a white-robed man In the hidden meaning, the intention may be to remind the reader of the difficulty of practising as a lay practitioner (a wearer of white clothes). 23 by a woman whose limbs are coated in scented yellow cosmetics. //4.46//

phullaṁ kurubakaṁ paśya nirbhuktālaktaka-prabham /
yo nakha-prabhayā strīṇāṁ nirbhartsita ivānataḥ // 4.47 //

Look at the kurubaka plant, with its red flower-heads – It is luminous, like one that has yielded up every drop of red sap, / And yet, as if outshone, by the luminance of women’s finger-nails, it is bowing down. A suggestion of enlightenment as a state of humility? 24 //4.47//

bālāśokaś ca nicito dṛśyatām eṣa pallavaiḥ /
yo ‘smākaṁ hasta-śobhābhir lajjamāna iva sthitaḥ // 4.48 //

Again, see [or realize] this: [the state of] a young a-śoka – It is brimming with new shoots / And yet, as if abashed, at the hennaed loveliness of our hands, it remains modestly standing there. //4.48//

dīrghikāṁ prāvṛtāṁ paśya tīra-jaiḥ sinduvārakaiḥ /
pāṇḍurāṁśuka-saṁvītāṁ śayānāṁ pramadām iva // 4.49 //

Look at the stretch of still water, veiled by the sindu-vāra shrubs growing around its banks, / Like a woman, clad in fine white cloth, who is lying down. Ostensibly the reclining woman is an erotically exciting image. In the hidden meaning, a long stretch of still water suggests an expanse of time spent coming back to quiet. 25 //4.49//

dṛśyatāṁ strīṣu māhātmyaṁ cakravāko hy asau jale /
pṛṣṭhataḥ preṣyavad bhāryām anuvṛtyānugacchati // 4.50 //

Let it be realized, with reference to females of the species, what greatness is. That greylag gander in the water over there, for instance :– / Trailing behind his mate like a slave, he follows. The ostensible point is that the goose is stronger than the gander. The real point is that there is great strength in following. 26 //4.50//

mattasya para-puṣṭasya ruvataḥ śrūyatāṁ dhvaniḥ /
aparaḥ kokilo ‘nuktaḥ pratiśrutkeva kūjati // 4.51 //

Let the sound be heard of the intoxicated male who is calling – he who was nourished by one other than his mother! In the hidden meaning, a man or a woman who was caused to grow by his or her teacher, in the direction of totally letting himself or herself go. 27 / Another male cuckoo, acting without scruple, makes a call like an echo. //4.51//

api nāma vihaṅ-gānāṁ vasantenāhṛto madaḥ /
na tu cintayataś cittam janasya prājña-māninaḥ // 4.52 //

Can spring deliver exuberant joy, to those that fly the skies, / But not the mind of a thinking man who thinks that he is wise?” //4.52//

ity evaṁ tā yuvatayo manmathoddāma-cetasaḥ /
kumāraṁ vividhais tais tair upacakramire nayaiḥ // 4.53 //

In this manner those girls, with hearts unbridled by love, / Approached the chosen One using many and various stratagems. //4.53//

evam ākṣipyamāṇo ‘pi sa tu dhairyāvṛtendriyaḥ /
martavyam iti sodvego na jaharṣa na sismiye // 4.54 //

And even while, in such a manner, he was being put to shame, keeping his senses contained by constancy, / And still excited, by the prospect of dying, he neither bristled nor blushed. //4.54//

tāsāṁ tattve ‘navasthānaṁ dṛṣṭvā sa puruṣottamaḥ /
samaṁ vignena dhīreṇa cintayām āsa cetasā // 4.55 //

He, an excellent man, considering those girls to have a loose foothold in reality, / Deliberated, with a mind that was agitated and at the same time resolute: The irony is that the prince had established an excellent will to the truth, but it was the ones among the women who were different, if Aśvaghoṣa’s irony is understood, that were truly living in reality. 28 //4.55//

kiṁ vinā nāvagacchanti capalaṁ yauvanaṁ striyaḥ /
yato rūpeṇa saṁpannaṁ jarā yan nāśayiṣyati // 4.56 //

“What is missing in these women that they do not understand youthfulness to be fleeting? / Because, whatever is possessed of beauty, aging will destroy. //4.56//

nūnam etā na paśyanti kasya-cid roga-saṁplavam /
tathā hṛṣṭā bhayaṁ tyaktvā jagati vyādhi-dharmiṇi // 4.57 //

Surely they fail to foresee anybody finishing with dis-ease, / So joyful are they, having set fear aside, in a world that is subject to disease. //4.57//

anabhijñāś ca su-vyaktaṁ mṛtyoḥ sarvāpahāriṇaḥ /
tathā svasthā nirudvignāḥ krīḍanti ca hasanti ca // 4.58 //

Evidently, again, they are ignorant of the death that sweeps all away, / So easy in themselves are they, as, unstirred, they play and laugh. //4.58//

jarāṁ vyādhiṁ ca mṛtyuṁ ca ko hi jānan sa-cetanaḥ /
svasthas tiṣṭhen niṣīded vā suped vā kiṁ punar haset // 4.59 //

For what man in touch with his reason, who knows aging, sickness and death, / Could stand or sit at ease, or lie down – far less laugh? //4.59//

yas tu dṛṣṭvā paraṁ jīrṇaṁ vyādhitaṁ mṛtam eva ca /
svastho bhavati nodvigno yathācetās tathaiva saḥ // 4.60 //

Rather, when one man sees another who is worn out and riddled with sickness, not to mention dead, / And he remains at ease in himself, unstirred, he acts as though his reason were absent. An ironic description of the transcendent state of sitting-buddha – in which reason is not absent, but may appear to be absent. 29 //4.60//

viyujyamāne hi tarau puṣpair api phalair api /
patati cchidyamāne vā tarur anyo na śocate // 4.61 //

For at a tree’s shedding of its flowers and fruits, / And at its falling, or at its felling, no other tree mourns.” Ostensibly a criticism of the state in which reason does not appear to be operating. Below the surface, a pointer to the teaching that the non-emotional preaches dharma (see Shobogenzo chap. 53). 30 //4.61//

iti dhyāna-paraṁ dṛṣṭvā viṣayebhyo gata-spṛham /
udāyī nīti-śāstra-jñas tam uvāca suhṛttayā // 4.62 //

Seeing the prince thus absorbed in thinking and without desire for objects, / Udāyin, knowing the rules of how to handle people, said to him, in a spirit of friendship: //4.62//

ahaṁ nṛ-patinā dattaḥ sakhā tubhyaṁ kṣamaḥ kila /
yasmāt tvayi vivakṣā me tayā praṇaya-vat-tayā // 4.63 //

“I am, by appointment to the King, fit, so he thinks, to be a friend to you; / On which grounds I am going to speak to you as frankly as this. //4.63//

ahitāt pratiṣedhaś ca hite cānupravartanam /
vyasane cāparityāgas trividhaṁ mitra-lakṣaṇam // 4.64 //

Keeping one out of harm’s way, urging one on in the good, / And not deserting one in adversity, are the three marks of a friend. //4.64//

so ‘haṁ maitrīṁ pratijñāya puruṣārthāt parāṅmukham /
yadi tvā samupekṣeya na bhaven mitratā mayi // 4.65 //

Now that I personally have promised my friendship to you, who is turning his back on an aim of human life, / If I then were to abandon you, there would be no friendship in me. //4.65//

tad bravīmi suhṛd-bhūtvā taruṇasya vapuṣmataḥ /
idaṁ na pratirūpaṁ te strīṣv adākṣiṇyam īdṛśam // 4.66 //

Speaking, therefore, as a friend, I must say that for a handsome young man / It does not become you to be so tactless towards women. //4.66//

anṛtenāpi nārīṇāṁ yuktaṁ samanuvartanam /
tad-vrīḍā-parihārārtham ātma-raty artham eva ca // 4.67 //

For women, even if the means are deceitful, obedience is appropriate, / To sweep away their diffidence, and purely for the purpose of enjoying oneself! //4.67//

saṁnatiś cānuvṛttiś ca strīṇāṁ hṛdaya-bandhanam /
snehasya hi guṇā yonir māna-kāmāś ca yoṣitaḥ // 4.68 //

Humility and submissive behaviour are, for women, what captures the heart – / Because excellent acts engender tender feelings, and women are lovers of honour. //4.68//

tad arhasi viśālākṣa hṛdaye ‘pi parāṅ-mukhe /
rūpasyāsyānurūpeṇa dākṣiṇyenānuvartitum // 4.69 //

Therefore, O large-eyed one, though your heart be otherwise inclined, / With tact and delicacy that befit such a beautiful form, you should submit! //4.69//

dākṣiṇyam auṣadhaṁ strīṇāṁ dākṣiṇyaṁ bhūṣaṇaṁ param /
dākṣiṇya-rahitaṁ rūpaṁ niṣpuṣpam iva kānanam // 4.70 //

For women, tact and delicacy are medicine; tact and delicacy are the highest adornment; / Beautiful form without tact and delicacy is like a garden without flowers. //4.70//

kiṁ vā dākṣiṇya-mātreṇa bhāvenāstu parigrahaḥ /
viṣayān durlabhāṁ llabdhvā na hy avajñātum arhasi // 4.71 //

Equally, what good are tact and delicacy alone? Let all be bounded by what is real! / For, having gained objects that are hard to gain, you should not think light of such. Thus, even Udāyin’s argument, shallow though it sounds on the surface, can be read as pointing in its hidden meaning to the Buddha’s teaching of skilful means, or expediency. 31 //4.71//

kāmaṁ param iti jñātvā devo ‘pi hi puraṁdaraḥ /
gautamasya muneḥ patnīm ahalyāṁ cakame purā // 4.72 //

Knowing desire to be paramount, even the god Puraṁdara, ‘Cleaver of Strongholds,’ for example, / Made love in olden times to Ahalyā, the wife of the sage Gautama. Puraṁdara is an epithet of Indra, whose liason with Ahalyā is also mentioned in SN7.25. See also note to BC2.27. The philosophical question Udāyin raises is how important desire is. 32 //4.72//

agastyaḥ prārthayām āsa soma-bhāryāṁ ca rohiṇīm /
tasmāt tat-sadṛśīṁ lebhe lopā-mudrām iti śrutiḥ // 4.73 //

And so much did Agastya desire Red Rohiṇī, the wife of moon-god Soma, / That he came to possess, tradition has it, a woman modelled after her, ‘The Robber of Attributes,’ Lopā-mudrā. Agastya is said to have fashioned Lopā-mudrā by taking her doe-eyes from deer, and other attractive attributes from other animals. 33 //4.73//

utathyasya ca bhāryāyāṁ mamatāyāṁ mahā-tapāḥ /
mārutyāṁ janayām āsa bharad-vājaṁ bṛhas-patiḥ // 4.74 //

Again, the great ascetic Bṛhas-pati, ‘Lord of Prayer,’ begat Bharad-vāja, ‘Bearer of Velocity,’ / In ‘Self-Centred’ Mama-tā, who was a daughter of the storm-gods and the wife of [his brother] Utathya. In the Sanskrit original, the subject of the verse, Bṛhas-pati (see also BC1.41) comes at the end. The effect is to emphasize the hypocrisy, and the weakness in the face of sexual desire, of the oh-so-pious ‘Lord of Prayer.’ 34 //4.74//

bṛhas-pater mahiṣyāṁ ca juhvatyāṁ juhvatāṁ varaḥ /
budhaṁ vibudha-dharmāṇaṁ janayām āsa candramāḥ // 4.75 //

And the Moon, most eminent among oblation-offerers, begat ‘The Learned’ Budha, who was innately very learned, / In Bṛhas-pati’s own esteemed wife, while she was offering an oblation. //4.75//

kālīm caiva purā kanyāṁ jala-prabhava-saṁbhavām /
jagāma yamunā-tīre jāta-rāgaḥ parāśaraḥ // 4.76 //

In olden times, again, the maiden Kālī whose birth had its origin in water, / Was pressed for sex on a bank of the Yamunā by lusting Parāśara, ‘The Crusher.’ Kalī was the mother of Vyāsa, ‘the Compiler’ (see BC1.42). See also SN7.29. 35//4.76//

mātaṅgyām akṣamālāyāṁ garhitāyāṁ riraṁsayā /
kapiñjalādaṁ tanayaṁ vasiṣṭho ‘janayan muniḥ // 4.77 //

The sage Vasiṣṭha Owner of the cow of plenty. See also BC1.42, BC1.52; SN7.28. 36 through desire for sexual enjoyment, / Begat his son Kapiñjalāda in the despised outcaste Akṣa-mālā. //4.77//

yayātiś caiva rājarṣir vayasy api vinirgate /
viśvācyāpsarasā sārdhaṁ reme caitra-rathe vane // 4.78 //

There again, the royal seer Yayāti, Yayāti’s kingdom is mentioned in a favourable light in BC2.11. See also SN1.59, SN11.46.37 though his best years were behind him, / Enjoyed a romp in Citra-ratha’s woods with the celestial nymph Viśvācī //4.78//

strī-saṁsargaṁ vināśāntaṁ pāṇḍur jñātvāpi kauravaḥ /
mādrī-rūpa-guṇākṣiptaḥ siṣeve kāma-jaṁ sukham // 4.79 //

’The Pale’ Pāṇḍu, a king in the Kuru line, knew that intercourse with his wife would end in death / And yet, bowled over by Mādrī’s beautiful attributes, he indulged in pleasure born of desire. As king of the Kurus, Pāṇḍu married the princess Mādrī along with another princess named Kuntī. While out hunting in the woods Pāṇḍu accidentally shot the sage Kindama while the latter had taken the form of a deer and was mating with a doe. The wounded sage Kindama placed a curse on Pāṇḍu to the effect that he would die if he ever again had sex. Pāṇḍu then remorsefully renounced his kingdom and lived with his wives as a celibate ascetic. After fifteen years of ascetic celibacy, however, when his second wife Kuntī was away, Pāṇḍu was irresistibly drawn to his first wife Mādrī, and so fulfilled the sage’s curse and died. The story is also referenced in SN7.45.38 //4.79//

karāla-janakaś caiva hṛtvā brāhmaṇa-kanyakām /
avāpa bhraṁśam apy evaṁ na tu seje na man-matham // 4.80 //

And ‘the Dreadful Begetter’ Karāla-janaka when he abducted a brahmin maiden, / Though he thus incurred ruin, never stopped attaching to his love. //4.80//

evam ādīn mahātmāno viṣayān garhitān api /
rati-hetor bubhujire prāg eva guṇa-saṁhitān // 4.81 //

Great men, driven by pleasure, enjoyed objects such as these, / Even when those enjoyments were forbidden – how much more [to be enjoyed] are those that come with merit? Ostensibly Udāyin, despite his protestations of friendship, is trying to tempt the prince down the backslider’s path. In the hidden meaning, he might be upholding a true friend’s teaching of alpecchu-saṁtuṣṭa, having small desire and being content. 39 //4.81//

tvaṁ punar nyāyataḥ prāptān balavān rūpavān yuvā /
viṣayān avajānāsi yatra saktam idaṁ jagat // 4.82 //

And yet you disdain enjoyments that fittingly belong to you, a young man possessed of strength and handsome form; / You despise objects to which the whole world is attached.” //4.82//

iti śrutvā vacas tasya ślakṣṇam āgama-saṁhitam /
megha-stanita-nirghoṣaḥ kumāraḥ pratyabhāṣata // 4.83 //

Having listened to these polished words of his, complete with scriptural references, / The prince in a voice resonant as thunder spoke back: //4.83//

upapannam idaṁ vākyaṁ sauhārda-vyañjakaṁ tvayi /
atra ca tvānuneṣyāmi yatra mā duṣṭhu manyase // 4.84 //

“This talk intimating friendship is fitting in you, / And I shall bring you round in the areas where you misjudge me. //4.84//

nāvajānāmi viṣayān jāne lokaṁ tad-ātmakam /
anityaṁ tu jagan matvā nātra me ramate manaḥ // 4.85 //

I do not despise objects. I know them to be at the heart of human affairs. / But seeing the world to be impermanent, my mind does not delight in them. //4.85//

jarā vyādhiś ca mṛtyuś ca yadi na syād idaṁ trayam /
mamāpi hi manojñeṣu viṣayeṣu ratir bhavet // 4.86 //

Aging, disease, and death – in the absence of these three, / Enjoyment might exist for me also in agreeable objects. Ironically, the prince is predicting how it will be for him in future. 40 //4.86//

nityaṁ yady api hi strīṇām etad eva vapur bhavet /
doṣavatsv api kāmeṣu kāmaṁ rajyeta me manaḥ // 4.87 //

For if indeed the beauty that women have here and now could be eternal, / Then desires, however blemished by imperfection, might – it is true – please my mind. //4.87//

yadā tu jarayā pītaṁ rūpam āsāṁ bhaviṣyati /
ātmano ‘py anabhipretaṁ mohāt tatra ratir bhavet // 4.88 //

But since growing old will drain from them any semblance of beauty, / Enjoyment of such, on the grounds of ignorance, might be an occurrence that nobody – including the women themselves – should expect. In the hidden meaning, enjoyment of growing older (i.e. becoming wiser) is a pleasant surprise. 41 //4.88//

mṛtyu-vyādhi-jarā-dharmā mṛtyu-vyādhi-jarātmabhiḥ /
ramamāṇo hy asaṁvignaḥ samāno mṛga-pakṣibhiḥ // 4.89 //

A man whose substance is dying, being ill, and growing old, who remains unperturbed while playing / With others whose essence is dying, being ill, and growing old, is as one with the birds and beasts. Ostensibly, his level is sub-human. In the hidden meaning he, together with other buddhas, is at one with nature. 42 //4.89//

yad apy āttha mahātmānas te ‘pi kāmātmakā iti /
saṁvego ‘traiva kartavyo yadā teṣām api kṣayaḥ // 4.90 //

Although you say that even the greats are desirous by nature, / That is rather a cause to be nervous, since, for them also, ending is the rule. //4.90//

māhātmyaṁ na ca tan manye yatra sāmānyataḥ kṣayaḥ /
viṣayeṣu prasaktir vā yuktir vā nātmavattayā // 4.91 //

I fail to see greatness there, where ending is the general rule In the hidden meaning, the prince has yet to realize the truth of cessation. 43 – / Where there is, on the one side, adherence to objects, and, on the other, no union with the state of self-possession. In the hidden meaning, adhering to objects might mean, e.g., diligently tending a crop of vegetables; and no union with the state of self-possession might be synonymous with body and mind dropping off. 44 //4.91//

yad apy ātthānṛtenāpi strī-jane vartyatām iti /
an-ṛtaṁ nāvagacchāmi dākṣiṇyenāpi kiṁ-cana // 4.92 //

Although you say that even deception may be used as a means to deal with women, / I have no understanding at all of deception, even when used with tact and delicacy. In the hidden meaning, the prince has yet to understand what he will later preach as “skilful means.” 45 //4.92//

na cānuvartanaṁ tan me rucitaṁ yatra nārjavam /
sarva-bhāvena saṁparko yadi nāsti dhig astu tat // 4.93 //

Neither do I find submissive behaviour to be agreeable, where sincerity is lacking; / If coming together is not with one’s whole being, then out with it! Ostensibly, Aśvaghoṣa is celebrating the prince’s idealism. Below the surface, he is inviting the reader to notice how impractical idealism is, since it negates the possibility of starting from present doubt-ridden imperfection – aka polishing a tile. 46 //4.93//

anṛte śrad-dadhānasya saktasyādoṣa-darśinaḥ /
kiṁ hi vañcayitavyaṁ syāj jāta-rāgasya cetasaḥ // 4.94 //

If a person believes in, sticks to, and sees no fault in untruth, / What could there be worth deceiving in a soul so redly tainted? For the hidden meaning, see e.g. the story of Handsome Nanda, a redly-tainted soul in whom the Buddha clearly saw something worth deceiving. 47 //4.94//

vañcayanti ca yady eva jāta-rāgāḥ paras-param /
nanu naiva kṣamaṁ draṣṭuṁ narāḥ strīṇāṁ nṛṇām striyaḥ // 4.95 //

And if those tainted by redness do indeed deceive one another, / Then is it never appropriate for men to see women, or women men? In the hidden meaning, the question calls into question the validity of the concepts “women” and “men” – hence the hidden meaning of the Canto title Warding ‘Women’ Away. 48 //4.95//

tad evaṁ sati duḥkhārtaṁ jarā-maraṇa-bhāginam /
na māṁ kāmeṣv anāryeṣu pratārayitum arhasi // 4.96 //

Since in this situation I am pained by suffering and am an heir to growing old and dying, / You should not try to persuade me to stray into ignoble desires. In the superficial meaning, “I am weak, so please don’t tempt me.” In the real meaning, “I am already established on the path, so don’t waste your breath.” 49 //4.96//

aho ‘tidhīraṁ balavac ca te manaś caleṣu kāmeṣu ca sāra-darśinaḥ /
bhaye ‘pi tīvre viṣayeṣu sajjase nirīkṣamāṇo maraṇādhvani prajāḥ // 4.97 //

How extremely firm and strong is your mind if in transient desires you see what is essential – / If, even in the midst of acute terror, you stick to objects, while watching sentient creatures on the road to extinction! In the hidden meaning, e.g. a brain surgeon, appreciating how transient human life is, nevertheless sticks to his decision to remove a brain tumour. 50 //4.97//

ahaṁ punar bhīrur atīva-viklavo jarā-vipad-vyādhi-bhayaṁ vicintayan /
labhe na śāntiṁ na dhṛtiṁ kuto ratiṁ niśāmayan dīptam ivāgninā jagat // 4.98 //

I, in contrast, am fearful – I am exceedingly agitated as I contemplate the terror of aging, death, and disease; / I know neither peace nor constancy, much less enjoyment, seeing the world blazing as if it were on fire. //4.98//

asaṁśayaṁ mṛtyur iti prajānato narasya rāgo hṛdi yasya jāyate /
ayo-mayīṁ tasya paraimi cetanāṁ mahā-bhaye rajyati yo na roditi // 4.99 //

When a man knows the certainty of death and yet the red taint of delight arises in his heart, / I venture that his consciousness must be made of steel, who does not weep but delights in the great terror.” In ostensibly mocking a libertine, the prince unwittingly praises buddha. 51 //4.99//

atho kumāraś ca viniścayātmikāṁ cakāra kāmāśraya-ghātinīṁ kathām /
janasya cakṣur gamanīya-maṇḍalo mahī-dharaṁ cāstam iyāya bhās-karaḥ // 4.100 //

And so, as the prince made a speech, that was tantamount to a decision, murdering any recourse to Love, / The disc that is plain for all to see went to meet the western mountain – light-producer meeting Earth-container. //4.100//

tato vṛthā-dhārita-bhūṣaṇa-srajaḥ kalā-guṇaiś ca praṇayaiś ca niṣphalaiḥ /
sva eva bhāve viniguhya manmathaṁ puraṁ yayur bhagna-mano-rathāḥ striyaḥ // 4.101 //

Then, their ornaments and garlands having been worn in vain, their graceful arts and displays of affection having proved fruitless, / Each enshrouding her love within her own heart, the women traipsed back to the city, for the chariots of their fancy had been rent apart. //4.101//

tataḥ purodyāna-gatāṁ jana-śriyaṁ nirīkṣya sāye pratisaṁhṛtāṁ punaḥ /
anityatāṁ sarva-gatāṁ vicintayan viveśa dhiṣṇyaṁ kṣiti-pālakātmajaḥ // 4.102 //

Then, having witnessed the beautiful women’s brightness which had pervaded the park receding once more into the twilight, / The one begotten from a guardian of the earth, contemplating all-pervading impermanence, entered his earthen-hearthed dwelling. //4.102//

tataḥ śrutvā rājā viṣaya-vimukhaṁ tasya tu mano
na śiśye tāṁ rātriṁ hṛdaya-gata-śalyo gaja iva /
atha śrānto mantre bahu-vividha-mārge sa-sacivo
na so ‘nyat-kāmebhyo niyamanam apaśyat suta-mateḥ // 4.103 //

Then, hearing that the prince’s mind was turned away from objects, the king, like an elephant with an arrow in its heart, did not sleep that night; / Though he wearied himself further in all sorts of consultations with his ministers, he saw no other means, aside from desires, to control his offspring’s mind. //4.103//

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye strī-vighātano nāma caturthaḥ sargaḥ // 4 //
The 4th canto, titled “Warding Women Away,”
in an epic tale of awakened action.