Re: [INDOLOGY] Fwd: Udānavarga verses from the Tibetan

Dan Lusthaus yogacara at
Wed Apr 24 17:28:38 UTC 2019

Dear  all,

This is only slightly off point. While the  Sanskrit version and the 
Tibetan are in accord, the Chinese poses a different verse in place of 
the weaver stanza; it is the strings of a musical instrument, not a 
piece of fabric, that are snapped.

The earliest Chinese translation of the corresponding verses is by Zhu 
Fonian in 374 CE (T 212), which  reads.

Just as stretching out and weaving together,
in order to throw the loom's shuttle through the weave,
gradually exhausts its threads,
human life is like this.

Just as a prisoner [about to] die,
will be brought through the entire town,
moving toward the street of his death,
human life is like this.

The version included on the Bibliotheca Polyglotta site (T 213), the 
last of several Chinese renderings, was tr. by Tian Xizai ca. 985 CE, 
fairly late for a Chinese translation. The weaving verse does not 
appear, but in its place is a musician: the strings of a musical 
instrument are severed, rather than threads:

如人彈琴瑟 具足衆妙音
絃斷無少聲 人命亦如是 11
Just as a person strumming a chin-se (Chinese "lute")
fully embodies a plethora of wondrous tones,
If the instrument's strings are cut there isn't even the tiniest of sounds.
A person's life is also like this.

如囚被繋縛 拘牽詣都市
動則向死路 壽命亦如是 12
Just as a prisoner bound in fetters
is dragged through all the town,
moving toward the street of his execution,
[a person's] life-span is also like this.

In the series of "a person's life is also like this" stanzas, regardless 
of version, there is no mention of a spider.


Dan Lusthaus

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