Canto 11: kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ
Blaming Desires


When something goes wrong in life, it is often because we have been unduly eager to go directly for a desired result without paying due attention to the means. This undue eagerness to get a result is called in Sanskrit tṛṣṇā, thirsting (see verse 55). Thirsting is the 8th of the 12 links in the chain of dependent arising of suffering, as will be described in Canto 14. But tṛṣṇā, thirsting, is a particular manifestation of kāma, whose meanings include volition or desire in general. Kāma also means pleasure, and love – especially sexual love or sensuality. In the plural, moreover, like the English “desires,” or “loves,” kāmāḥ can mean the objects of desire or love.

Again, among the three pollutants whose influence prevents us from seeing the truth, along with bhavāsrava, the pollutant of becoming, and avidyāsrava, the pollutant of ignorance, there is kāmāsrava, the pollutant of desire, or of love, or of sensuality.

Ostensibly then the title of the present Canto describes the bodhisattva, with righteous indignation, blaming desires. And the content of the Canto, on a superficial reading, supports that understanding.

On a deeper reading, however, the bodhisattva repeatedly asks the question: “Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?” Thus the bodhisattva, implicitly, does not put the blame on desires per se – at least not from verse 20 onwards. He rather puts the blame on failure to remain in possession of oneself.

And when we investigate the problem in practice, it is demonstrably true that a desire which could lead us into trouble, in fact turns out to be harmless, so long as, remaining in possession of ourselves, we do not act on it.

Thus, the title Blaming Desires, or The Blaming of Desire – whether or not Aśvaghoṣa himself formulated the title – is another Canto title that challenges us to keep digging deeper in our investigations.



athaivam ukto magadhādhipena suhṛn-mukhena pratikūlam artham /
svastho ’vikāraḥ kula-śauca-śuddhaḥ śauddhodanir vākyam idaṁ jagāda // 11.1 //

Now when the monarch of the Magadhas, with friendly face, had addressed him thus, with contrary purport, / He whose noble house and personal integrity were pure, the son of ‘Pure Mush’ Śuddhodana, being well in himself and unperturbed, spoke this reply: //11.1//

nāścaryam etad bhavato ’bhidhānam jātasya haryaṅka-kule viśāle /
yan mitra-pakṣe tava mitra-kāma syād vṛttir eṣā pariśuddha-vṛtteḥ // 11.2 //

“This speech of yours is no surprise, born as you are into the illustrious line whose emblem is the lion Read like this, the Prince is returning the compliment that Śreṇya paid him in BC10.23, since the lion was an emblem of the solar race to which both kings, of Kapilavastu and Magadha, belonged. EHJ took Haryaṅka to be the same as Haryaṅga, a Bṛhad-ratha king whose name suggests the lion-legend of the Bṛhad-rathas, which is referred to in SN8.44 (And Bṛhad-rathā, ‘the Burly Heroine,’ loved a lion: there is nothing women will not do.). EHJ adds that fragmentary remains of the Buddhist dramas mention the Bṛhad-rathas’ foundation of a city which seems to be Rājāgṛha. 01 – / That you, O desirer of friendship, Mitra-kāma means “O desirer of friendship” or “O lover of friendship.” The kāma is as per the Canto title. 02 whose course of action is pure should show towards a friend this considerate course of action. //11.2//

a-satsu maitrī sva-kulānurūpā na tiṣṭhati śrīr iva viklaveṣu /
pūrvaiḥ kṛtāṁ prīti-paraṁparābhis tām eva santas tu vivardhayanti // 11.3 //

Among the untrue, friendship formed by each in keeping with his tribe does not last – like sovereign power among the faint-hearted. / But friendship forged by repeated past favours, is just that benevolence which the true cause to grow. //11.3//

ye cārtha-kṛcchreṣu bhavanti loke samāna-kāryāḥ suhṛdāṁ manuṣyāḥ /
mitrāṇi tānīti paraimi buddhyā sva-sthasya vṛddhiṣv iha ko hi na syāt // 11.4 //

Those in the world who, for the good-hearted in hard times are there as human beings, helping with work to be done – / Those friends I esteem, advisedly, as friends indeed. For who would not be present around one going well in a period of vigorous prosperity? //11.4//

evaṁ ca ye dravyam avāpya loke mitreṣu dharme ca niyojayanti /
avāpta-sārāṇi dhanāni teṣāṁ bhraṣṭāni nānte janayanti tāpam // 11.5 //

And, having obtained riches in the world, those who in this way commit their riches to friends and to dharma, / Have made the most of their resources – whose dissipation, in the end, generates no grief. //11.5//

suhṛttayā cāryatayā ca rājan khalv eṣa yo mām prati niścayas te /
atrānuneṣyāmi suhṛttayaiva brūyām ahaṁ nottaram anyad atra // 11.6 //

With nothing but friendship and nobility, O king! comes this resolution of yours towards me. / Conciliation, in this situation, I too shall express with friendship plain and simple. No other response, in this situation, could I express. //11.6//

ahaṁ jarā-mṛtyu-bhayaṁ viditvā mumukṣayā dharmam imaṁ prapannaḥ /
bandhūn priyān aśru-mukhān vihāya prāg eva kāmān aśubhasya hetūn // 11.7 //

Having become aware of the terror of aging and dying, I with desire for release Mumukṣayā is a desiderative form of √muc, to release. 03 have taken to this dharma, / Leaving behind beloved tear-faced relatives – still more have I left behind desires, the causes of mischief! //11.7//

nāśīviṣebhyo hi tathā bibhemi naivāśanibhyo gaganāc cyutebhyaḥ /
na pāvakebhyo ’nila-saṁhitebhyo yathā bhayaṁ me viṣayebhya eva // 11.8 //

For I am not so afraid of venomous snakes, or of thunderbolts falling from the sky, / Or of fires supplied with air, as I am fearful of objects in the realm of the senses. The bodhisattva here appears to identify kāmāh, desires in the plural, with viṣayāḥ, objects of the senses, sensual enjoyments. 04 //11.8//

kāmā hy anityāḥ kuśalārtha-caurā riktāś ca māyā-sadṛśāś ca loke /
āśāsyamānā api mohayanti cittaṁ nṛṇāṁ kiṁ punar ātma-saṁsthāḥ // 11.9 //

For transient desires are robbers of the stuff of happiness. They are hollow, and resemble phantoms in the world. / Even in their anticipation, they delude the mind of men. How much more in their physical consummation? //11.9//

kāmābhibhūtā hi na yānti śarma tri-piṣṭape kiṁ bata martya-loke /
kāmaiḥ sa-tṛṣṇasya hi nāsti tṛptir yathendhanair vāta-sakhasya vahneḥ // 11.10 //

For those in thrall to desires arrive at happiness not in triple heaven, much less in the mortal world. / A man possessed of thirst is no more satisfied by desires than wind-befriended fire is satisfied by fuel. //11.10//

jagaty an-artho na samo ’sti kāmair mohāc ca teṣv eva janaḥ prasaktaḥ /
tattvaṁ viditvaivam an-artha-bhīruḥ prājñaḥ svayaṁ ko ’bhilaṣed an-artham // 11.11 //

There is nothing in the world as troublesome as desires, and yet it is to them that people, out of ignorance, are attached. / Knowing the truth to be so, what trouble-wary man of wisdom
would wilfully covet trouble? //11.11//

samudra-vastrām api gām avāpya pāraṁ jigīṣanti mahārṇavasya /
lokasya kāmair na vitṛptir asti patadbhir ambhobhir ivārṇavasya // 11.12 //

Even having taken possession of the sea-girt earth, men desire to conquer what lies beyond the great ocean. / The world is no more sated by desires than the ocean is sated by waters descending into it. //11.12//

devena vṛṣṭe ’pi hiraṇya-varṣe dvīpān samagrāṁś caturo ’pi jitvā /
śakrasya cārdhāsanam apy avāpya māndhātur āsīd viṣayeṣv atṛptiḥ // 11.13 //

Even as heaven rained down upon him golden rain after he had conquered all four continents / And obtained half of Mighty Indra’s throne, there was for Māndhātṛ in outer realms only dissatisfaction. //11.13//

bhuktvāpi rājyaṁ divi devatānāṁ śatakratau vṛtra-bhayāt pranaṣṭe /
darpān mahārṣīn api vāhayitvā kāmeṣv atṛpto nahuṣaḥ papāta // 11.14 //

Even having enjoyed kingship over the gods in heaven (after Indra, through fear of Vṛta, had fled), / And even, out of pride, having caused the Mahārishis to carry him, Nahuṣa, unsatisfied among desires, fell down. Nahuṣa was elected to replace Indra at top god, when Indra hid himself away after his slaying of Vṛtra (which is also referenced in BC8.13). Nahuṣa was not satisfied only with Indra’s position but craved Indra’s wife as well. As a result he was cursed to become a snake on earth, regaining his original form only after the Pāṇḍavas discovered him as a snake. 05 //11.14//

aiḍaś ca rājā tri-divaṁ vigāhya nītvāpi devīṁ vaśam urvaśīṁ tām /
lobhād ṛṣibhyaḥ kanakaṁ jihīrṣur jagāma nāśaṁ viṣayeṣv atṛptaḥ // 11.15 //

Again, King Purū-ravas, son of Iḍā, having penetrated triple heaven and even brought into his thrall that goddess Dawn, Urvaśī, / Was still desirous, in his greed, of carrying off the Rishis’ gold – unsatisfied, among all his possessions in sensory realms, he went to his end. The story of the love affair between Purūravas and Urvaśī is told in Kālidāsa’s drama Vikramorvaśī, which means Urvaśī [Won] by Vikrama, or Dawn [Won] by Valour.06 //11.15//

baler mahendraṁ nahuṣaṁ mahendrād indraṁ punar ye nahuṣād upeyuḥ /
svarge kṣitau vā viṣayeṣu teṣu ko viśvased bhāgya-kulākuleṣu // 11.16 //

From Bali Bali was the leader of the asuras, the enemies of the gods. He also was anointed as the king of gods, by Śukra (mentioned in BC1.41). After Bali’s defeat by Viṣṇu, Indra was able to resume the role of king. 07 those realms passed to great Indra; from great Indra to Nahuṣa; and from Nahuṣa back again to Indra:/ Who, whether in heaven or on the earth, could breathe easy in realms so subject to the graces and indignities of fate? //11.16//

cīrāmbarā mūla-phalāmbu-bhakṣā jaṭā vahanto ’pi bhujaṅga-dīrghāḥ /
yair nanya-kāryā munayo ’pi bhagnāḥ kaḥ kāma-saṁjñān mṛgayeta śatrūn // 11.17 //

Despite being clothed in strips of bark or rags and subsisting on roots, fruit and water; despite wearing dreadlocks as long as snakes; / Despite having no extraneous duty, sages have still been defeated by them – Who would pursue those enemies called desires? //11.17//

ugrāyudhaś cogra-dhṛtāyudho ’pi yeṣāṁ kṛte mṛtyum avāpa bhīṣmāt /
cintāpi teṣām aśivā vadhāya tad vṛttināṁ kiṁ punar avratānām // 11.18 //

Again, ‘Powerfully Armed’ Ugrāyudha, though armed with a powerful weapon, on account of desires suffered death at the hands of Bhīṣma ‘The Terrible.’ In SN Canto 7, it is Jana-mejaya who, as a suitor of Bhīṣma’s mother-in-law Kālī (aka Satyavatī), incurs the wrath of Bhīṣma the Terrible – see SN7.44. But the reference to Bhiṣma’s killing of Ugrāyudha is corroborated in Harivaṁsa as well as in the Mahā-bhārata. 08 / Even the thought of those desires is pernicious, leading to their death men empowered with such practice – to say nothing of those who go unprotected by the vow of practice. //11.18//

āsvādam alpaṁ viṣayeṣu matvā saṁyojanotkarṣam atṛptim eva /
sadbhyaś ca garhāṁ niyataṁ ca pāpaṁ kaḥ kāma-saṁjñaṁ viṣam ādadīta // 11.19 //

Knowing enjoyment of its taste, among objects in the sensory realm, to be petty; knowing it to be highly addictive; knowing it to be dissatisfaction itself; / Knowing it to be what disgusts the good; and knowing it to be invariably bad, who would administer to himself the pernicious drug called desires? //11.19//

kṛṣyādibhir dharmabhir anvitānāṁ kāmātmakānāṁ ca niśamya duḥkham /
svāsthyaṁ ca kāmeṣv akutūhalānāṁ kāmān vihātuṁ kṣamam ātmavadbhiḥ // 11.20 //

After they have seen the suffering of desire-driven men who are chained to duties such as ploughing and the rest / And have seen the well-being of men who are not unduly interested in desires, it is natural for people in possession of themselves to give desires up. //11.20//

jñeyā vipat kāmini kāma-saṁpat siddheṣu kāmeṣu madaṁ hy upaiti /
madād akāryaṁ kurute na kāryaṁ yena kṣato dur-gatim abhyupaiti // 11.21 //

To be known as a setback, when a man is desirous, is consummation of desires; for in realizing desires he tends to become intemperate. / Being intemperate leads him to do what should not be done, not what should be done. Thus diminished, he passes in the direction of difficulty. //11.21//

yatnena labdhāḥ parirakṣitāś ca ye vipralabhya pratiyānti bhūyaḥ /
teṣv ātmavān yācitakopameṣu kāmeṣu vidvān iha ko rameta // 11.22 //

Secured and maintained with much trouble, they cheat the trouble-taker, and go back whence they came. / When desires are like loans, who, being in possession of himself, being wise, being here and now, would delight in those desires? This apparently rhetorical question, the gist of which is repeated eleven times in the coming eleven verses, can be read as marking the transition to the second phase of this Canto – a phase of ironic subversion of ostensible idealism. Ostensibly, the point is that no wise person would delight in desires. In the hidden meaning, a person who is truly in possession of himself or herself (ātmavān), being wise, and living in the moment, might have nothing to fear from desires which, in the final analysis, are nothing but desires. 09 //11.22//

anviṣya cādāya ca jāta-tarṣā yān atyajantaḥ pariyānti duḥkham /
loke tṛṇolkā-sadṛśeṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.23 //

Those who thirst after desires, having wished for them and grasped them, in failing to let go of them, maintain their grip on suffering. / When desires are like a torch of blazing straw, who in the world in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.23//

an-ātmavanto hṛdi yair vidaṣṭā vināśam archanti na yānti śarma /
kruddhogra-sarpa-pratimeṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.24 //

People not possessed of themselves, being bitten in the heart by them, veer in the direction of utter loss and do not secure happiness. / When desires are like fierce angry snakes, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.24//

asthi kṣudhārtā iva sārameyā bhuktvāpi yān naiva bhavanti tṛptāḥ /
jīrṇāsthi-kaṅkāla-sameṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.25 //

People afflicted by hunger, like dogs with a bone, however much they chew on them, never become satisfied. / When desires are like skeletons of dry bones, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.25//

ye rāja-caurodaka-pāvakebhyaḥ sādhāraṇatvāj janayanti duḥkham /
teṣu praviddhāmiṣa-saṁnibheṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.26 //

Because of what they have in common with kings, thieves, water and fire, they engender suffering. / When desires are like lures hurled [by the hunter], who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.26//

yatra sthitānām abhito vipattiḥ śatroḥ sakāśād api bāndhavebhyaḥ /
hiṁsreṣu teṣv āyatanopameṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.27 //

People abiding in them are surrounded on all sides by adversity – adversity from friends and family even as from a sworn enemy. / When desires are as hazardous as a hazardous abode, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.27//

girau vane cāpsu ca sāgare ca yān bhraṁśam archanty abhilaṅghamānāḥ /
teṣu druma-prāgra-phalopameṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.28 //

On a mountain; in the forest; in still waters; and in the ocean – leaping the extra inch as they reach for them, people veer in the direction of falling off. / When desires are like the fruit at the top of the tree, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.28//

tīvraiḥ prayatnair vividhair avāptāḥ kṣaṇena ye nāśam iha prayānti /
svapnopabhoga-pratimeṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.29 //

Gained by bitter struggles on many fronts, here, in an instant, they go to nought. / When desires are like enjoyments in a dream, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.29//

yān arcayitvāpi na yānti śarma vivardhayitvā paripālayitvā /
aṅgāra-karṣū-pratimeṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.30 //

People do not secure happiness, however much they kindle them, augment them, and tend them. / When desires are like fires of charcoal in a pit, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.30//

vināśam īyuḥ kuravo yad arthaṁ vṛṣṇy-andhakā mekhala-daṇḍakāś ca /
sūnāsi-kāṣṭha-pratimeṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.31 //

For their sake, the Kurus went to their end, as did the Vṛṣṇi-Andhakas, and the Mekhala-Daṇḍakas. EH Johnston notes that of the seven vices peculiar to kings four are known as kāma-ja [born of desire] – namely, dicing, wining, hunting and women. These four vices are illustrated in the examples from the slaughter-bench of history cited in this and the next verse. The vice of the Kurus was dicing; the vice of the Vṛṣṇi-Andhakas was drinking. The vice of the Mekhala-Daṇḍakas is assumed to be hunting (some textual uncertainty surrounds their name – the old Nepalese manuscript has maithila-daṇḍakāḥ). And Sunda and Upasunda were brought down by fighting over a woman.10 / When desires are like a butcher’s knife and slaughter bench, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.31//

sundopasundāv asurau yad artham anyonya-vaira-prasṛtau vinaṣṭau /
sauhārda-viśleṣa-kareṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.32 //

For their sake, the asura duo Sunda and Upasunda destroyed each other, macho hostility having prevailed. / When desires cause the break-up of friendships, who in possession of himself would delight in those desires? //11.32//

yeṣāṁ kṛte vāriṇi pāvake ca kravyātsu cātmānam ihotsṛjanti /
sapatna-bhūteṣv aśiveṣu teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt // 11.33 //

To water, to fire and to flesh-eaters, for the sake of desires, men in this world deliver up their bodies. / When desires are real manifestations of the enemy, Sa-patna means rival, adversary, enemy. As the second element (B) in a compound (A-B), bhūta means 1. being like A, or 2. actually being A. Is there a hidden sense in which a person in possession of himself or herself deals with desires with confidence and with enjoyment, like a sportsman or sportswoman doing battle with an opponent? If so, the irony seems to climax here, with the last in the series of ostensibly rhetorical questions. 11 who in possession of himself would delight in those unkind desires? //11.33//

kāmārtham ajñaḥ kṛpaṇaṁ karoti prāpnoti duḥkhaṁ vadha-bandhanādi /
kāmārtham āśā-kṛpaṇas tapasvī mṛtyuṁ śramaṁ cārchati jīvalokaḥ // 11.34 //

With desires in view the ignorant one acts pitiably; he brings on himself the suffering of lethal wounds, captivity and the rest; / With desires in view the world of the living, being pitiable in its aspirations, veers wretchedly towards death and exhaustion. //11.34//

gītair hriyante hi mṛgā vadhāya rūpārtham agnau śalabhāḥ patanti /
matsyo giraty āyasam āmiṣārthī tasmād anarthaṁ viṣayāḥ phalanti // 11.35 //

For deer are lured to their death by songs; moths fly into the fire on account of its bright appearance; / And the bait-hungry fish swallows the iron hook. Thus do objects of desire result in trouble. //11.35//

kāmās tu bhogā iti yan matiḥ syād bhogyā na ke-cit parigaṇyamānāḥ /
vastrādayo dravya-guṇā hi loke duḥkha-pratīkāra iti pradhāryāḥ // 11.36 //

As for the view “But desires are enjoyments!”, no desire is to be reckoned as “to be enjoyed.” / Clothes and other such material goods in the world, are rather to be seen in terms of counteracting pain. //11.36//

iṣṭaṁ hi tarṣa-praśamāya toyaṁ kṣun-nāśa-hetor aśanaṁ tathaiva /
vātātapāmbv-āvaraṇāya veśma kaupīna-śītāvaraṇāya vāsaḥ // 11.37 //

For water is good for the purpose of allaying thirst; food, in a very similar way, for staving off hunger; / A dwelling for protection against wind, the heat of the sun, and rain; clothing for covering the private parts and protecting against cold; EH Johnston adds a cross-reference to a section in Majjhima-nikāya 2 titled Sabbāsavasutta. In Sanskrit the title would be Sarvāsrava-sūtra (The Sūtra of All the Polluting Influences). With respect to clothing, for example, the sutta says: “Here a bhikkhu, reflecting wisely, uses the robe only for protection from cold, for protection from heat, for protection from contact with gadflies, mosquitoes, wind, the sun, and creeping things, and only for the purpose of concealing the private parts.”12 //11.37//

nidrā-vighātāya tathaiva śayyā yānaṁ tathādhva-śrama-nāśanāya /
tathāsanaṁ sthāna-vinodanāya snānaṁ mṛjārogya-balāśrayāya // 11.38 //

A place to lie down [or the act of lying down], Śāyyā. 13 likewise, for striking a blow against sleep; a vehicle [or the act of going], Yānam. 14 again, for taking the strain out of a journey; / A seat [or the act of sitting], Āsanam. 15 again, for revelling in the act of abiding; and a bath [or the act of bathing], Snānam. Thus three of the four elements are -na neuter action nouns with the dual meanings of 1. the action, and 2. the thing used for the action. Śāyyā, similarly, means both the act of sleeping and a bed. 16 as a means for cleansing, and for health and strength. //11.38//

duḥkha-pratīkāra-nimitta-bhūtās tasmāt prajānāṁ viṣayā na bhogāḥ /
aśnāmi bhogān iti ko ’bhyupeyāt prājñaḥ pratīkāra-vidhau pravṛttaḥ // 11.39 //

For living creatures, therefore, objects in the sensory realm are factors in counteracting pain and suffering, and not enjoyments. / What wise one would admit “I am relishing enjoyments,” while engaged in the counteraction? //11.39//

yaḥ pitta-dāhena vidahyamānaḥ śīta-kriyāṁ bhoga iti vyavasyet /
duḥkha-pratīkāra-vidhau pravṛttaḥ kāmeṣu kuryāt sa hi bhoga-saṁjñām // 11.40 //

For he who, when burning with a bilious fever, would consider a cooling action One of the meanings of kriyā is a medical treatment or the application of a remedy. Śīta-kriyām, therefore, ostensibly means a cooling medical treatment, i.e. a remedy employed to counteract a fever. The first definition of kriyā given in the dictionary, however, is simply action. Is a hidden meaning intended in which action itself is a cooling activity? 17 to be an enjoyment – / He is the one who, while engaged in counteracting suffering, might call desires an enjoyment. //11.40//

kāmeṣv anaikāntikatā ca yasmād ato ’pi me teṣu na bhoga-saṁjñā /
ya eva bhāvā hi sukhaṁ diśanti ta eva duḥkhaṁ punar āvahanti // 11.41 //

Again, since there is nothing absolute about desires, for that reason also, I do not call those desires an enjoyment. / For the very states of being that confer pleasure, also bring, in their turn, pain. //11.41//

gurūṇi vāsāṁsy agurūṇi caiva sukhāya śīte hy asukhāya gharme /
candrāṁśavaś candanam eva coṣṇe sukhāya duḥkhāya bhavanti śīte // 11.42 //

For garments which are heavy (guru), and sticks of fragrant aloe wood (aguru), are agreeable in the cold but not so in the summer heat; / While moonbeams and fragrant sandalwood are agreeable in the heat but disagreeable in the cold. //11.42//

dvandvāni sarvasya yataḥ prasaktāny alābha-lābha-prabhṛtīni loke /
ato ’pi naikānta-sukho ’sti kaś-cin naikānta-duḥkhaḥ puruṣaḥ pṛthivyām // 11.43 //

Since pairs of opposites – gain and loss, and the like – are attached to everything in the world, / For that reason, again, nobody exclusively has pleasure, nor does any man on the earth exclusively have pain. //11.43//

dṛṣṭvā ca miśrāṁ sukha-duḥkatāṁ me rājyaṁ ca dāsyaṁ ca mataṁ samānam /
nityaṁ hasaty eva hi naiva rājā na cāpi saṁtapyata eva dāsaḥ // 11.44 //

Again, seeing how interconnected are pleasure and pain, I deem kingship and slavery to amount to the same; / For a king does not always smile, nor does a slave always hurt. //11.44//

ājñā nṛ-patye ’bhyadhiketi yat syān mahānti duḥkhāny ata eva rājñaḥ /
āsaṅga-kāṣṭha-pratimo hi rājā lokasya hetoḥ parikhedam eti // 11.45 //

As for the point that to a protector of men accrues pre-eminent power, for that very reason are a king’s sufferings great; / For a king is like a wooden peg – he becomes worn down, for the sake of the world. //11.45//

rājye nṛpas tyāgini bahv-a-mitre viśvāsam āgacchati ced vipannaḥ /
athāpi viśraṁbham upaiti neha kiṁ nāma saukhyaṁ cakitasya rājñaḥ // 11.46 //

Sovereignty is fleeting and faced with many enemies: when a protector of men believes in it and breathes easy, he is come to nought; When Aśvaghoṣa writes of the coming to naught of a protector of men, there is generally an ironic subtext in which a practitioner is sitting on the royal road, totally forgetting himself. 18 / Or else, if he cannot be confident in this present realm and rest easy, where does happiness lie, for a timorous king? //11.46//

yadā ca jitvāpi mahīṁ samagrāṁ vāsāya dṛṣṭaṁ puram ekam eva /
tatrāpi caikaṁ bhavanaṁ niṣevyaṁ śramaḥ parārthe nanu rāja-bhāvaḥ // 11.47 //

Even after a king has conquered the whole earth, only one city can serve as the royal seat – / And in that city, again, only one palace can be lived in [or only one field can be cultivated]. The meanings of bhavanam include 1. a palace, and 2. the place where something grows, a field. The meanings of niṣevyam include 1. to be inhabited, and 2. to be practised or cultivated. 19 When this has been realized, is not the royal state Rāja-bhāva ostensibly means existence as a king, but in the hidden meaning the conduct of a buddha. 20 the exhausting of oneself for others? //11.47//

rājño ’pi vāso-yugam ekam eva kṣut-saṁnirodhāya tathānna-mātrā /
śayyā tathaikāsanam ekam eva śeṣā viśeṣā nṛpater madāya // 11.48 //

Enough, even for a king, is one set of clothes; for staving off hunger, similarly, the requisite measure of food; / Likewise one bed [or one act of lying down], and one seat [or one act of sitting]. Āsanam. 21 All the other special things in the possession of a protector of men, serve the purpose of mental intoxication. In the ironic hidden meaning, an epic poem, for example, might serve as a needle for sitting-meditation. 22 //11.48//

tuṣṭy-artham etac ca phalaṁ yadīṣṭam ṛte ’pi rājyān mama tuṣṭir asti /
tuṣṭau ca satyāṁ puruṣasya loke sarve viśeṣā nanu nir-viśeṣāḥ // 11.49 //

Again, if this fruit of which you speak is approved on account of contentment, even without kingship there is contentment for me. / And when contentment exists for a human being in this world, are not all special things nothing special? //11.49//

tan nāsmi kāmān prati saṁpratāryaḥ kṣemaṁ śivaṁ mārgam anuprapannaḥ /
smṛtvā su-hṛttvaṁ tu punaḥ punar māṁ brūhi pratijñāṁ khalu pālay’ eti // 11.50 //

So not to be persuaded am I in the direction of desires, since I have entered on the peaceful, wholesome path. / But with friendship in mind, please tell me again and again: “Hold firm to your promise!” //11.50//

na hy asmy amarṣeṇa vanaṁ praviṣṭo na śatru-bāṇair avadhūta-mauliḥ /
kṛta-spṛho nāpi phalādhikebhyo gṛhṇāmi naitad vacanaṁ yatas te // 11.51 //

For not because of impatience have I entered the forest; nor did enemy arrows cause me to cast away a crown. / Nor is it because I aspire to superior fruits that I decline this offer of yours. //11.51//

yo dandaśūkaṁ kupitaṁ bhujaṅ-gaṁ muktvā vyavasyedd hi punar grahītum /
dāhātmikāṁ vā jvalitāṁ tṛṇolkāṁ saṁtyajya kāmān sa punar bhajeta // 11.52 //

For he who, having once let go, would resolve to grasp again, an angry snake with avid fangs, / Or a fiery torch of burning hay – he, having abandoned desires, would seek them out again. //11.52//

andhāya yaś ca spṛhayed an-andho baddhāya mukto vidhanāya cāḍhyaḥ /
unmatta-cittāya ca kalya-cittaḥ spṛhāṁ sa kuryād viṣayātmakāya // 11.53 //

Again, the sighted man who envies a blind man, the free man who envies a prisoner, the rich man who envies a pauper; / And the sane man who envies the madman – he would feel envy towards the devotee of objects. //11.53//

bhaikṣopabhogīti ca nānukaṁpyaḥ kṛtī jarā-mṛtyu-bhayaṁ titīrṣuḥ /
ihottamaṁ śānti-sukhaṁ ca yasya paratra duḥkhāni ca saṁvṛtāni // 11.54 //

Not to be pitied, just because the food he enjoys is begged, is the man of action who intends to cross beyond the terror of aging and dying; / For him the highest happiness, the happiness of peace, is here and now, and miseries hereafter are rescinded. //11.54//

lakṣmyāṁ mahatyām api vartamānas tṛṣṇābhibhūtas tv anukaṁpitavyaḥ /
prāpnoti yaḥ śānti-sukhaṁ na ceha paratra duḥkhaiḥ pratigṛhyate ca // 11.55 //

But he is to be pitied who, though dwelling in the midst of great riches, is defeated by thirsting; / He fails to realize the happiness of peace here and now and is held in the grip of sufferings to come. //11.55//

evaṁ tu vaktuṁ bhavato ’nurūpaṁ sattvasya vṛttasya kulasya caiva /
mamāpi voḍhuṁ sadṛśaṁ pratijñāṁ sattvasya vṛttasya kulasya caiva // 11.56 //

For you to speak like this, in any event, befits your character, conduct, and noble house; / And for me also, to keep my promise is in conformity with my character, conduct, and noble house. Kula, “noble house,” includes the meanings of a family and a lineage. 23 //11.56//

ahaṁ hi saṁsāra-rasena viddho viniḥsṛtaḥ śāntim avāptu-kāmaḥ /
neccheyam āptuṁ tri-dive ’pi rājyaṁ nir-āmayaṁ kiṁ bata mānuṣeṣu // 11.57 //

For I, stung by saṁsāra’s sting, have gone forth desiring to obtain peace Śāntim avāptu-kāmaḥ. Notice again the paradox of seeming to blame desire in general, while being motivated by desire for peace and freedom. Cf Gudo Nishijima: “In general, what we desire we should have.” 24; / Not even infallible sovereignty in triple heaven would I wish to win: how much less a kingdom among men? //11.57//

tri-varga-sevāṁ nṛpa yat tu kṛtsnataḥ paro manuṣyārtha iti tvam āttha mām /
an-artha ity eva mamārtha-darśanaṁ kṣayī tri-vargo hi na cāpi tarpakaḥ // 11.58 //

As for you, O king!, saying to me that devotion in the round to the three things is the highest human aim, / Those three, in my estimation of value, are an aim without value, for the three things are subject to decay and are not satisfying at all. //11.58//

pade tu yasmin na jarā na bhīr na ruṇ na janma naivoparamo na cādhayaḥ /
tam eva manye puruṣārtham uttamaṁ na vidyate yatra punaḥ punaḥ kriyā // 11.59 //

Whereas that step in which there is no aging, no fear, no disease, no birth, no death, and no worries – / That alone I consider to be the highest human aim, wherein the same activity does not keep happening, again and again. //11.59//

yad apy avocaḥ paripālyatāṁ jarā navaṁ vayo gacchati vikriyām iti /
a-niścayo ’yaṁ capalaṁ hi dṛśyate jarāpy adhīrā dhṛtimac ca yauvanam // 11.60 //

As for you saying, “Wait for old age, for youth tends to loss of strength of mind,” / That is no sure thing; its precariousness is demonstrable – old age also can be irresolute and youth can be possessed of constancy. //11.60//

sva-karma-dakṣaś ca yadāntiko jagad vayaḥsu sarveṣv a-vaśaṁ vikarṣati /
vināśa-kāle katham avyavasthite jarā pratīkṣyā viduṣā śamepsunā // 11.61 //

And when Death who is so skilled at his work drags mankind, in all stages of life, helplessly to our end, / How, when the time of his demise is not subject to orderly arrangement, shall the wise man who seeks quiet look forward to old age? //11.61//

jarāyudho vyādhi-vikīrṇa-sāyako yadāntiko vyādha ivāśivaḥ sthitaḥ /
prajā-mṛgān bhāgya-vanāśritāṁs tudan vayaḥ-prakarṣaṁ prati ko mano-rathaḥ // 11.62 //

When Death, with old age as his weapon and diseases as his strewn projectiles, stands by like an implacable hunter, / Striking down the man-deer that seek refuge in the forest of good fortune, who can relish the prospect of a ripe old age? //11.62//

ato yuvā vā sthaviro ’tha vā śiśus tathā tvarāvān iha kartum arhati /
yathā bhaved dharmavataḥ kṛṭātmanaḥ pravṛttir iṣṭā vinivṛttir eva vā // 11.63 //

So, whether as a young blood or as a venerable elder – or else as a child In the hidden meaning the suggestion is of practice, at any age, with beginner’s mind – or in the spirit of a child of fire who comes looking for fire. 25 – one should act quickly, here and now, in such a way that / Being possessed of dharma, and realizing oneself, one might lead the life approved as good, the life of progressive activity Pravṛttiḥ, or doing. 26 – or indeed of cessation of activity. Vinivṛttiḥ, or non-doing. Cf SN Canto 16: Comprehend, therefore, that suffering is doing (pravṛttim) witness the faults impelling it forward; /Realise its stopping as non-doing (nivṛttim); and know the path as a turning back.//SN16.42//27 //11.63//

yad āttha cādīpta-phalāṁ kulocitāṁ kuruṣva dharmāya makha-kriyām iti /
namo makhebhyo na hi kāmaye sukhaṁ parasya duḥkha-kriyayā yad iṣyate // 11.64 //

Again, as for you telling me, for the sake of dharma, to carry out a sacrificial act which is proper to my noble house and which will bring a brilliant result – / All hail and farewell to sacrifices! For I do not desire the happiness which is sought by an act that causes others suffering. //11.64//

paraṁ hi hantuṁ vi-vaśaṁ phalepsayā na yukta-rūpaṁ karuṇātmanaḥ sataḥ /
kratoḥ phalaṁ yady api śāśvataṁ bhavet tathāpi kṛtvā kim-u yat kṣayātmakam // 11.65 //

For, to kill the helpless other in the desire to gain a reward would be ill becoming of a good man who was compassionate at heart, / Even if the result of the sacrifice were an everlasting reward – How much less is acting like that becoming when the essence of it is destructiveness? //11.65//

bhavec ca dharmo yadi nāparo vidhir vratena śīlena manaḥ-śamena vā /
tathāpi naivārhati sevituṁ kratuṁ viśasya yasmin param ucyate phalam // 11.66 //

And even without dharma as an alternative code of conduct involving a vow of practice, moral discipline, or calming of the mind, / Still it would never be right to carry out a sacrifice in which a reward is said to follow from slaughtering another creature. //11.66//

ihāpi tāvat puruṣasya tiṣṭhataḥ pravartate yat para-hiṁsayā sukham /
tad apy aniṣṭaṁ saghṛṇasya dhīmato bhavāntare kiṁ bata yan na dṛśyate // 11.67 //

So long as a person is continuing to be present right here in this world, if any happiness accrues to him through harm inflicted on others, / That happiness, for one who is compassionate and wise, is unwanted: How much more unwanted is unseen happiness in another existence? //11.67//

na ca pratāryo ’smi phala-pravṛttaye bhaveṣu rājan ramate na me manaḥ /
latā ivāmbho-dhara-vṛṣṭi-tāḍitāḥ pravṛttayaḥ sarva-gatā hi cañcalāḥ // 11.68 //

I am not to be swayed in the direction of going for results. My mind, O king!, does not delight in continuities of becoming. Bhaveṣu, locative plural of bhava – the 10th of the 12 links in the causal chain of dependent arising. See BC Canto 14. 28 / For, like creepers beaten down under a cloudburst, end-gaining actions Pravṛttayaḥ, plural of pravṛtti, translated in verse 63 above as “the life of progressive activity” and in SN16.42 as “doing.” Cf the plural saṁskāran (the 2nd in the 12 links) translated in MMK chap. 26 (see BC Canto 14) as “the doings [which are the root of saṁsāra].” 29 waver haphazardly in every direction. //11.68//

ihāgataś cāham ito didṛkṣayā muner arāḍasya vimokṣa-vādinaḥ /
prayāmi cādyaiva nṛpāstu te śivaṁ vacaḥ kṣamethāḥ mama tattva-niṣṭhuram // 11.69 //

And so here I am, having come desiring to see the sage Arāḍa, who speaks of liberation, / And there I shall go this very day. O protector of men, may you be well! Bear with words of mine which have been as harsh as reality. //11.69//

avendravad divy ava śaśvad arkavad guṇair ava śreya ihāva gām ava /
avāyur āryair ava sat-sutān ava śriyaś ca rājann ava dharmam ātmanaḥ // 11.70 //

Keep rejoicing like Indra in heaven. Keep shining forever like the sun. Keep on, by way of virtues. Keep, here in this world, to the higher good. Keep watch over the earth. / Keep your good health. Keep company with noble ones. Keep safe the sons and daughters of the good. Keep your royal power, O King, and your own dharma. This verse features multiple plays on the imperative ava, from the root √av whose eighteen senses are said to include: to drive, impel, animate (as a car or horse); to promote, favour, to satisfy, refresh; to offer (as a hymn to the gods); to lead or bring to; (said of the gods) to be pleased with, like, accept favourably (as sacrifices, prayers or hymns); (chiefly said of kings or princes) to guard, defend, protect, govern. 30 //11.70//

himāri-ketūdbhava-saṁbhavāntare yathā dvijo yāti vimokṣayaṁs tanum /
himāri-śatru-kṣaya-śatru-ghātane tathāntare yāhi vimocayan manaḥ // 11.71 //

Just as, inside the union of cold’s enemy and the birth-place of a flame, twice-born [fire] gets going, releasing its physical self, / So, inside the act of slaying the enemy of the evaporation of the enemy of cold’s enemy, One solution to this riddle is as follows: The enemy of cold (himāri) is fire; the enemy of the enemy of cold (himāri-śatru) is water, whose evaporation is described as himāri-śatru-kṣaya, “the evaporation of the enemy of cold’s enemy.” This evaporation takes place in the heat of the sun. The enemy of evaporation (himāri-śatru-kṣaya-śatru) is the darkness that blots out the sun. And the act of slaying that darkness is an act of knowing by which ignorance is destroyed, e.g. just sitting. The riddle thus presages the Buddha’s discovery at the end of BC Canto 14 that to destroy ignorance is to demolish the whole edifice of suffering. 31 you are to get going, allowing to release, in the direction of coming undone, your mind. Yāhi vimocayan manaḥ, lit. “Go! unloosening the mind.” Ostensibly the difficult riddle resolves itself into a short imperative which is not difficult to understand. Ironically, it turns out that the verbal riddle is no more difficult to solve than a cryptic crossword clue. But how many years of painful struggle are required to understand in practice the real meaning of yāhi vimocayan manaḥ ? 32” //11.71//

nṛpo ’bravīt sāñjalir āgata-spṛho yatheṣṭam āpnotu bhavān avighnataḥ /
avāpya kāle kṛta-kṛtyatām imāṁ mamāpi kāryo bhavatā tv anugrahaḥ // 11.72 //

With hands joined as if in prayer, the protector of men spoke, inspired: “May you gain your end without hindrance, just as you desire. / But when in time you have accomplished this task, please show favour towards me too.” In the missing second half of Buddha-carita, Aśvaghoṣa relates how the Buddha does indeed return to Rāja-gṛha to demonstrate to Śreṇya what he has realized. 33 //11.72//

sthiraṁ pratijñāya tatheti pārthive tataḥ sa vaiśvaṁtaram āśramaṁ yayau /
parivrajantaṁ tam udīkṣya vismito nṛpo ’pi vavrāja purim girivrajam // 11.73 //

Having steadfastly promised to a lord of the earth, “So be it!”, [the bodhisattva] then proceeded to the ashram of an ‘all-conquering’ Viśvaṁtara. Viśvaṁtara (viśva = all; tara = surpassing) is generally an epithet for a buddha, but here it refers to the sage Arāḍa. 34 / After watching him with amazement as he went wandering off, the protector of men also went on his way, to his ‘mountain-fenced’ fortress, Giri-vraja. Giri-vraja (“Mountain-Fenced”) is another name for Rāja-gṛha, the capital of Magadha. 35 //11.73//

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye kāma-vigarhaṇo nāmaikā-daśaḥ sargaḥ // 11 //
The 11th canto, titled Blaming Desires, It is not known with certainty whether the Canto title was chosen by Aśvaghoṣa himself or not. It if was, then the irony of the Canto is that what is truly blamed, below the surface, is not being ātmavān, in possession of oneself. 36
in an epic tale of awakened action.