Covering the earth with leather

“Bodhicharyavatara composed in the 8th century C.E. by Shantideva is one of the most celebrated text of Mahayana Buddhism… In this masterpiece, the author, who belonged to the Madhyamika school of Nagarjuna, describes in detail the conduct of a Bodhisattva.”
– From the foreword by The Dalai Lama to the English translation of Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara by Prof. Parmananda Sharma

In one of our workshops, Samdhong Rinpoche made a reference to a sloka by Shantideva that talked about how anger is always counterproductive. The sloka said something like ‘If there is a solution what is the use of anger and if there is no solution again what is the use of anger.’ I was intrigued! I started looking for the original Sanskrit sloka online and could not find it anywhere. But I tracked down and bought the book with the original Sanskrit and English translation and managed to find the quote. This is what it looks like…

यद्यस्त्येव प्रतीकारो दौर्मनस्येन तत्र किम् ।
अथ नास्ति प्रतीकारो दौर्मनस्येन तत्र किम् ।। १० ।।

  1. If remedy is possible, what use is ill-will there? If no remedy exists, ill-will will be of no avail.

If there is a way to resist or remedy the erosion of ‘ishta’ or to counter the onslaught of ‘anishta’, there is no place for anger or feelings of ill-will in the process. The remedy to forestall the undesirable should be sought by renouncing anger. Contrarily, if a remedial course of action does not exist, anger will be equally futile. Hence the best course under both situations is to overcome ill-feeling and eschew anger. Such an attitude alone will lead to happiness.

– From Page 186, chapter 6, of Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara translated by Prof. Parmananda Sharma

I am still going through it but let me share another short sample that shows the power of this text…

कियतो मारयिष्यामि दुर्जनान् गगनोपमान् ।
मारिते क्रोधचित्ते तु मारिताः सर्वशत्रवः । । १२ ।।

  1. How many enemies, limitless as the sky, shall I kill? With the killing of the angry mind, all enemies are killed.

भूमिं छादयितुं सर्वं कुतश्चर्म भविष्यति ।
उपानच्चर्ममात्रेण छन्ना भवति मेदिनी ।। १३ ।।

  1. Where shall be available so much of leather as to cover up the whole earth? But, just with the leather of the shoes, the whole earth is covered.

बाह्यभावा मया तद्वच्छक्या वारयितुं न हि ।
स्वचित्तं वारयिष्यामि किं ममान्यैर्निवारितैः ।।१४।।

  1. Similarly, it is not possible for me to restrain external thoughts. So I shall restrain this mind of mine. What need for me, then, to restrain other things?

– From page 119 and 120, chapter 5, of Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara translated by Prof. Parmananda Sharma

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