Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.6: The Swing of Samsara

a-bodhato hy a-prativedhatash ca
tattv'-aatmakasy' aasya catuSHTayasya
bhavaad bhaavaM yaati na shaantim eti
saMsaara-dolaam adhiruhya lokaH

For by failing to wake up and come round

To this four, whose substance is what is,

Mankind goes from existence to existence
without finding peace --

The world is hoisted in the swing
of mass unconscious reaction.

The standpoint of Line 1 is mental, as opposed to Line 2 which refers to what is substantially real.

With this verse, however, we seem to be entering a series of verses in which fourfold logic is as if swamped in a tide of sheer suffering. The attempt made hitherto, using reasoning processes, to identify progression in each verse through the four phases, suddenly seems not so relevant.

A funeral ceremony might not be a place to engage a grief-stricken mother in a discussion of dialectic philosophy. And now, like a grief-stricken mother, it seems to me, Ashvaghosha is beginning a kind of lament for the people of the world, the same people that FM Alexander called "lowly evolved swine" -- the great mass of subconsciously-controlled humanity.

So, for the next few verses it may be better just to let the sound of Ashvaghosha be heard, resonating down through the ages, like a grieving horse's whinny.

a-bodha: non-perception, ignorance, stupidity, failure to understand
-taH: ablative suffix
abodhataH: from failing to understand
hi: for
a-prativedha-taH (from prativid, to perceive, understand, become acquainted with): from failing to become acquainted with
ca: and

tattva: reality, what is
aatmakasya = genitive, aatmaka: being in the nature of; consisting or composed of
aasya = genitive of ayam: this
catuSHTayasya - genitive, catuSHTaya: the four, group of four, tetrad, set of four; square

bhava (from √ bhuu, to be): coming into existence, birth; becoming; being state of being, existence, life; worldly existence, the world (=saMsaara); (with Buddhists) continuity of becoming (a link in the twelvefold chain of causation)
bhavaat (ablative): from existence, birth, becoming
bhaavam (accusative): to existence, birth, becoming
yaati = 3rd person singular of yaa: to go, move, advance, proceed; enter, approach, arrive at
shaanti = accusative of shanti: tranquillity, peace, quiet
eti = 3rd person singular of i: go, go to or towards (with accusative); to arrive at, reach, obtain

saMsaara (from saM- √sR): course, passage , passing through a succession of states , circuit of mundane existence , transmigration , the world , secular life , worldly illusion
saMsR: to flow together with
dolaam (accusative): litter , hammock , palanquin , swing
adhiruhya = absolutive, adhi + √ ruh: ascend, mount
lokaH (nominative, singular): the world; the inhabitants of the world , mankind , folk , people

EH Johnston:
For by failure to understand and penetrate the group of four which constitutes reality, mankind, mounted on the roundabout of the cycle of the universe, goes from one existence to another and does not attain tranquility.

Linda Covill:
For in failing to understand and penetrate this tetrad which identifies reality, the world, hoisted in the swing of samsara, goes from existence to existence without finding peace.

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