Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Mara's Army fights the Buddha

I may have lost the Buddha with an offer to rule the world, but you'll sign here.
Mara is Eros, Cupid, Tempter...
Māra's Army is described as being tenfold (listed below).

Each division of the army is described in very late accounts (especially in Sinhalese books from Sri Lanka) with a great wealth of [embellished] detail.
The Buddha faced each division was with one perfection (pāramī) and was put to flight.

F all y'all! He got away, but you won't.
Māra's last weapon was the cakkāvudha (a cloth-like "world-destroying weapon"). But when he hurls it at the Buddha, it hovers over him like a canopy of flowers.

Undaunted, Māra challenged the Buddha to show that he had the right to sit on the seat he was sitting on [an elevated stone covered with grass beneath the banyan tree].

Māra's followers (an army of yakkhas or ogres) all shouted their declarations that the seat was rightly Māra's to sit on. The Buddha, having no other witness, placed his hand on the Earth (in what has become a famous mudra or hand pose).

Shapeshifting ogres (yakkhas, rakshasas) of Mara's Army advance; Buddha touches Earth.
Earth-witnessing mudra, Tibet
He asked the Earth (Bhumi Devi, the goddess Mother Earth) to bear witness and give testimony on his behalf. The Earth shook and roared in reply.

Māra and his followers were shocked and fled in utter terror. The woodland devas (fairies, dryads, sylphs, nature spirits) and others gathered around the Buddha to celebrate his victory over Mara. The sun set on the defeat of Māra.

Look, the cloth just hovers over him! Run!
This, in brief, is the account of the Buddha's conquest over Māra, greatly elaborated in later chronicles and illustrated in countless Buddhist shrines and temples with a wealth of riotous color and fanciful imagery that gifted artists could imagine.
That this account of the Buddha's struggle with Māra is literally true, mainly the simple believe even today.

The more popular psychological interpretation (held by most Buddhists) is well expressed by the British translator Rhys Davids (in his article on the Buddha in the Encyclopedia Brittanica). By the attack of Māra's Army is meant that all of the Buddha's
"old temptations came back upon him with renewed force. For years he had looked at all earthly good through the medium of a philosophy which had taught him that it, without exception, carried within itself the seeds of bitterness and was altogether worthless and impermanent; but now, to his wavering faith, the sweet delights of home and love, the charms of wealth and power, began to show themselves in a different light and glow again with attractive colours. He doubted and agonized in his doubt, but as the sun set, the religious side of his nature had won the victory and seems to have come out even purified from the struggle."
I am a yakkha (ogre) in Mara's Army.
There is no need to ask, as does Thomas, with apparently great suspicion (Thomas, op. cit., 230), whether we can assume that the elaborators and embellishers of the Māra story were recording "a subjective experience under the form of an objective reality."

Did they know or think that this was the real psychological experience the Buddha went through?

The living traditions of Buddhist countries supply the adequate answer, without the aid of rationalists. The epic nature of the subject has given ample scope for the elaboration so dear to the hearts of the Pāli language rhapsodists.
The similar story among Jains, as recorded in their commentarial works -- for example, in the Uttarādhyayana Sūtra [ZDMG. Vol. 49 (1915), 321ff] -- does not bear close parallelism to the Buddhist account, but only a faint resemblance.
There is no doubt that the Māra legend had its origin in the Padhāna Sutra. There Māra is represented as visiting the ascetic Siddhartha on the banks of the river Nerañjarā, where he is practicing severe austerities.

Mara tries to tempt him to abandon his striving, his quest to find the end of all suffering, and devote himself instead to just doing good works for others.
  • Padhana Sutra: The Great Struggle "When, near the river Nerañjara, I exerted myself in meditation for attaining to security from bondage [nirvana], there came Namuci speaking words of compassion: 'You are emaciated and ill-looking, near to death! A thousand parts of you belong to death and only a fraction of you is alive. Live, good sir! It is better to live [and do good works instead].
  • When I shapeshift into a man
    Padhana Sutra: Exertion To me — resolute in exertion near the river Nerañjara, making a great effort, going into jhana [meditative absorption] to attain rest from the yoke/flood -- Namuci came, speaking words of compassion: "You are ashen, thin. Death is in your presence. Death has 1,000 parts of you. Only one part is your life. Live, good sir! Better to live. Alive, you can do acts [of charity, good deeds of all kinds, merit, nice karma]...
Mara's Tenfold Army
Siddhartha refers to Māra's Army as being tenfold. Those divisions are:
  1. the first consists of the Lusts;
  2. the second is Aversion;
  3. the third Hunger and Thirst;
  4. the fourth Craving;
  5. the fifth Sloth and Indolence;
  6. the sixth Cowardice;
  7. the seventh Doubt;
  8. the eighth Hypocrisy and Foolishness;
  9. Gains, Fame, Honor, and Glory falsely obtained form the ninth;
  10. the tenth is the Lauding Oneself and Condemning Others.
"Seeing this army on all sides," said the Buddha, "I go forth to meet Māra with his equipage (savāhanam). He shall not make me yield ground. That army of yours, which the world of fairies (devas, shining ones) and humans conquers not, even that, with my wisdom, will I smite, as an unbaked earthen bowl with a stone."

Here we have practically all of the elements found in the later elaborated versions.
The second part of the Padhāna Sutra (SN. vs. 446f.; cf. S.i.122) is obviously concerned with later events in the life of the Buddha, and this the Commentary (SNA.ii.391) definitely tells us.

I sink and fade away now, but I'll be back.
After Māra had retired discomfited, he followed the Buddha for seven years, watching for the slightest transgression on his part. But his quest was in vain. And "like a crow attacking a rock," Mara left the Buddha's side frustrated and  in disgust.

"The lute of Māra, who was so overcome with grief, slipped from his arm. Then, in dejection, the ogre (yakkha) disappeared then and there."

This lute, according to the Commentary (SNA.ii.394), was picked up by Sakka King of the [lesser] Devas and given to Pañcasikha.

Three Beautiful Daughters

Lana Del Rey is a Jezebel and a vixen. Nice.
The Samyutta Nikāya [S.i.124f.; also in Lal. 490 (378); cp. A.v.46; see also DhA.iii.195f ] also contains a sutra (the Dhītaro Sutra) in which three daughters of Māra are represented as tempting the Buddha after his great enlightenment.

Their names are given as Tanhā (Craving), Arati (Passion), and Ragā (Lust). They are apparently personifications of three of the ten forces in Māra's Army, as enumerated in the Padhāna Sutra.

They assume numerous forms of varying age and charm, full of blandishment, but their attempt is all in vain. And they are finally obliged to admit defeat. More

What did the daughters say?
Open your eyes, Sid. Look at these hotties.
The three daughters of Māra [who in the "Acts of the Buddha" or Buddhacarita (xiii.) are named Ratī, Prītī, and Trsnā and in the Lal. (353) are Ratī, Aratī, and Trsnā) see their father, Mara, disconsolate after his repeated attempts to foil Siddhartha's quest for enlightenment.

They offer to tempt the Buddha with soft force, their feminine wiles. This was in the fifth week after the great enlightenment and took place under a banyan tree called the ajapala nigrodha.

Pssst. Hey, boy. I offer you my daughter.
With Māra's approval, they go to the Buddha in various shapeshifting forms and lovely guises as he is sitting at the foot of the tree. They dance and sing before him.

In the end the Buddha tells them that he has gone beyond temptation of sense pleasures. So they go back to their father (S.i.124-7; J.i.78-80, 469; DhA.i.201f., iii.196,199; SN.v.835).

In the Samyutta account, they are said to have asked the Buddha questions about himself and his teachings. Aratī's question was how a man who had already crossed the five floods [oghas?] could cross the sixth. For explanation see KS.i.158, n.3.

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