Jennifer Cover jenni.cover at ursys.com.au
Mon Oct 27 11:46:25 UTC 2014

Dear Mathew,

Yes I am aware of the Buddhist interpretation (And I suspect the meaning is
not so far from Patrick’s question.). Narahari has used the verse to
emphasise the difficulty of even beginning on the 7 steps of knowledge. In
the first edition of our book we translated the verse as

17.    Like the passing of the neck of a turtle
         through the eye of a yoke in churning waves,
         a person becomes discerning
         at the end of many births.

But with a closer examination of Divākara’s commentary and in consultation
with a highly-respected Indian Sanskrit scholar we decided a better
translation of the verse (following the commentary) was:

17.    Just like the head of a struggling turtle
         finally surfaces into a calm
         in the midst of  innumerable turbulent waves,
         so a person finally becomes discerning after many births.

Divākara tells of the space in the middle of a pair of waves (yuga he
interprets as yugman).


On Sun, Oct 26, 2014 at 10:20 PM, Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu>

>  Dear Jennifer,
> This takes us away from Patrick's original question, but the parable of
> the turtle in the
> ocean is very well known to Buddhist sources. In Praj~nākaramati's
> comments on
> Bodhicaryāvatāra 1.4, for example, we read:
> mahārṇavayugacchidrakūrmagrīvārpaṇopamā
> "Like the turtle's neck that reaches the opening of a yoke in the great
> ocean..."
> Buddhist sources understand yuga here literally as a yoke floating on a
> turbulent sea,
> and interpret the metaphor to mean that it as difficult to obtain
> fortunate human birth as it is
> for an old blind sea turtle to surface and by chance put his neck through
> a yoke
> floating in the waves.
> best,
> Matthew
> Matthew Kapstein
> Directeur d'études,
> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
> The University of Chicago
>   ------------------------------

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