Wednesday, December 24, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.10; The One Great Purpose

avabudhya c'aiva param'-aartham
a-jaram anukampayaa vibhuH
nityam amRtam upadarshayituM
sa VaraaNasii-parikaraam ayaat puriim

Truly understanding the one great purpose,

Which never ages; and universal in his compassion,

In order to cause others to realise
that which is constant and undying,

He made his way to the city
that the River Varanasi encircled.

(1) By taking the backward step which is happiness, the Buddha had understood the one great purpose. And in truly understanding the one great purpose, he had found the kind of happiness that is not subject to aging.

(2) That it is not subject to aging, and that it was manifested through universal compassion, is evidenced here by EXHIBIT A and by EXHIBIT B.

(3)In the spirit of polishing a tile, with no great expectation of making many mirrors, and not because he liked crowds...

(4) the Buddha went to the city.

avabudhya: after perceiving, having awoken to, having reached comprehension of
ca: and
eva: (emphatic) truly
parama: primary, paramount
artham: matter, purpose, aim, point

a-jaram: not aging, ageless, beyond age discrimination
anukampayaa: (instrumental case) by means of compassion
vibhuH: being everywhere, omnipresent; mighty, effective, functional; the lord, the almighty

nityam: constant, the eternal
amRtam: undying, immortal, the deathless
upadarshayituM: (infinitive) in order to reveal, to cause to see, to show

sa: he
VaraaNasii: Varanasi (name of the river)
parikaraam = accusative, feminine of parikara: retinue, dependents, multitude; girdle
ayaat: went, made his way to
purii: fortress, castle, city, town

EH Johnston:
And having reached comprehension of the supreme, unaging truth, He took His way in His all-pervading mercy to the city girdled by the Varanasi to expound the everlasting victory over death.

Linda Covill:
After perceiving the highest, ageless truth, the lord in his compassion made his way to river-encircled Varanasi to reveal enduring deathlessness to its citizens.


Raymond said...


I can't help but see the truth that you have expounded in many instances of daily life. When my life is very simple, I think I am spiritually-realized; and then I get a new job, something frightening, and my mind quickly jumps to its habitual thought-patterns that are so comfortable.

I think taking the backward step, the noble principle of inhibition, is a constant questioning of my reaction to external stimuli- is this reaction valid? Is it pragmatic? What is the origin and implication of this reaction?

Why do I engage in such a disciplined noble plan? I think it has to be to "drop THIS body and mind" for the sake of being available and open to everything that is my life - which naturally, but indirectly, benefits me as well.

I have groped for idealistic theories to bring about personal salvation for too long. Perhaps the Buddha's truth was simply the armor of mindfulness, moment by moment, hard work and humility. The truth of the man who said "earnestness is the path to deathlessness."

Ornaments are fine as long as we are not deluded into thinking they are something more. As I submit this comment, it is not time to rest but time to work.

Happy Holidays


Mike Cross said...

Many thanks, Raymond.

Your comment brings to mind some excellent words of FM Alexander:

"I venture to predict that before we can unravel the horribly tangled skein of our present existence, we must come to a full STOP, and return to conscious, simple living, believing in the unity underlying all things, and acting in a practical way in accordance with the laws and principles involved."

The tangled skein is echoed in Saundarananda 3.12, the all-important verse that we are coming to.