Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Buddha's exclamation on enlightenment

In 2003, for some months I attended the Sunday morning readings by Prof Purushottam Lal from his ongoing sloka-by-sloka transcreation of the Mahabharata. He presented me a book of his, in which I read about the passage in the The Dhammapada which is the Buddha’s exclamation on attaining enlightenment. (Prof Lal had translated The Dhammapada into English, and his translation is well-known in US universities. The Dhammapada is accessible here or here.) The lines are from the 11th chapter, on "Old Age". I wanted to get the verses in Pali and set it to melody.

I did manage to find the Pali verses eventually (Ch 11, ver 153-54). I also got from Prof Lal a postcard he had printed with this exclamation, in Devanagari, so I was able to get the pronunciation right. Last year, I managed to learn this and set it to melody, to add to my small collection of devotional songs and chants from different faiths and in different langauges. (Rishiraj/Chotu was most amused by my efforts to memorise this while travelling in a Maruti 800 car.)

Anekajatisamsaram sandhavissam anibbisam
gahakarakam gavesanto dukkha jati punappunam.

Gahakaraka! Ditthosi, puna geham na kahasi
sabba te phasuka bhagga gahakutam visankhatam
visankharagatam cittam tanhanam khayamajjhaga.

Which means:

I, who have been seeking the builder of this house, failing to attain Enlightenment which would enable me to find him, have wandered through innumerable births in samsara. To be born again and again is, indeed, dukkha!

Oh house-builder! You are seen, you shall build no house again. All your rafters are broken, your roof-tree is destroyed. My mind has reached the unconditioned; the end of craving has been attained.

Get this widget | Share | Track details

A few weeks ago I attended the screening of Tathagata, a feature film on the Buddha’s search for enlightenment, made by the Bengali writer and documentary film-maker Shahzad Firdaus. A commendable effort indeed. I was particularly delighted with the language, pure Sanskritised Hindi, which one rarely hears and I myself rarely use now, since I speak a more Urdu-ised Hindusthani in order to be able to communicate with the Urdu-speaking people I mostly have truck with. Not only did I follow every words of the dialogue, it was also deeply satisfying and pleasurable to hear such refined language.

On the internet, I discovered a painting of the Buddha’s enlightenment, by Marianna Rydvald a Swedish painter living in Maui, Hawaii. I am reproducing that below. This image is the wallpaper on my computer screen! For those familiar with the texts about the life of the Buddha, this is a grand scene indeed, of the Buddha prevailing over Mara.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks nice! Awesome content. Good job guys.