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I'm looking through a text (SA 593, Buddhist scripture) and I encountered an absolutely puzzling string of characters:

作是念已,如力士屈申臂頃,於兜率天沒,現於佛前,稽首佛足

This is my best attempt (I am a nonprofessional amateur learner): "Creating this [a?] view thereafter, thus warrior bend extend arm qing (a qing is a (small?) unit of measurement?), in/at/to/from Tuṣita deva end, manifest to [the] Buddha [in] front, prostrate [to] Buddha feet"

The line 如力士屈申臂頃 is very very strange, I think it almost definitely has a foreign loanword in it rendered phonetically into Chinese characters irrespective of their Chinese meaning, but I do not yet know what this loanword would be.

EDIT: the context to this is someone deciding to visit the Buddha.

  • Could you post the corresponding Sanskrit version of this section? This might help a lot in deciphering this ... – Yut Yongyut Apr 26 '17 at 20:44
  • Unfortunately the Sanskrit source texts for almost all of the Sarvāstivāda Saṃyuktāgamāḥ do not exist anymore, they are lost to history :(. – Caoimhghin Apr 27 '17 at 3:56
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i'm not dare to make translation of buddhism term, so this answer is mixed with chinese and english.

background:

when "給孤獨長者" died, he reincarnated in 兜率天, as "兜率天子".

he thinks :"i should not stay here for long, i should meet Śhakyamuni Buddha (世尊)"

in buddism, "兜率天" is a faraway from our world (人間), but, he overcomes this distance & time easily.

作是念已﹒如力士屈申臂﹒頃﹒於兜率天沒﹒現於佛前

作是念已 - just after this thought

如力士屈申臂 - like a "力士" bends his stretched arm (a metaphor, bend a stretched arm is easy, and the distance is short, only "an arm long". and, the time needed is short.)

"an arm long distance" vs distance between "兜率天" and "人間"

頃, is 頃刻 (very short time)

於兜率天沒 - disappear from Tuṣita (兜率天)

現於佛前 - reappear in front of Śhakyamuni Buddha (that, he's in 舍衛國祇樹給孤獨園 at this moment)

kind of teleportation lah 😼

have fun :)

ps: may i ask which version of "雜阿含經" you're reading now?

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  • I'm reading the Sarvāstivāda Saṃyuktāgama, translated by Guṇabhadra (求那跋陀羅) in the Song state (宋), dated to 435–443 CE. It is a very slow process, as I am a learner. – Caoimhghin Apr 26 '17 at 3:34
  • i see. do my answer make inspiration? – 水巷孑蠻 Apr 26 '17 at 3:49
  • Its certainly a very interesting passage. Do you think the 子 in 兜率天子 means "Tuṣitaputraḥ" ("Son of Heaven") or "Tuṣita master"? – Caoimhghin Apr 26 '17 at 10:58
  • May I ask, is 於 the name of the person concerned here? I found this for 兜率天 "Tushita or Tusita is one of the six deva-worlds of the Kamadhatu, located between the Yama heaven and the Nirmanarati heaven." – Pedroski Apr 26 '17 at 21:53
  • no. 於 is preposition "from" in this clause. 於兜率天沒 --> from (於) Tuṣita (兜率天) disappear (沒) – 水巷孑蠻 Apr 27 '17 at 1:41
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作是念已,如力士屈申臂頃,於兜率天沒,現於佛前,稽首佛足

他有了這個想法後,有如壯漢彎曲再伸直手臂的頃刻,在兜率天隱沒,並出現於佛陀之前,頂禮佛足。

After he had this thought, as fast as a strong man bent and straightened the arm, disappeared in Tuṣita Heaven, appeared in front of the Buddha, and bowed the Buddha's feet.

如力士屈申臂頃 describes the speed is very fast or the period is very short. 屈 and 申(伸) are two different movements. 屈臂 means to bend the arm. 伸臂 is to straighten the arm. A strong man does not need much time to do these movements. Therefore, 如力士屈申臂頃 can be interpreted as "as fast as a strong man bent and straightened the arm".

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如 力士 屈申(phonetic loan for 伸) 臂 顷
As if [it was in a] strong man bending [his] arms' time

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譬如力士屈 申臂頃」 .... 伸ば したる 腕を屈するが如く, ...... 譬えば,. 阿難よ, balava purisoが容易に 弾指する が如 く…  I found this on a Japanese website referring to a similar Pali passage. 力士 is Pali balava puriso (arahan) and there the whole looks like a simile: ' Like the Arhant bending and stretching his arm' 顷 = 倾 to lean, incline (?)

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