Thursday, February 5, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 17.51: Superlative Ease

yasmaat paraM tatra sukhaM sukhebhyas
tataH paraM n'aasti sukha-pravRttiH
tasmaad babhaaSHe shubha-kRtsna-bhuumiM
par'-aapara-jNaH param' eti maitryaa

Since the ease here is greater than any other ease,

There is no progression of ease beyond it.

Therefore it was called
the condition of resplendent wholeness.

The knower of the superior and the inferior
called it superlative,
in a friendly kind of way.

Sometimes it is not so much what we say as the WAY that we say it, not so much what we do as the WAY that we do it. The last word of Line 4, as I read it, is a reminder of that.

yasmaat (abl. of ya): from which cause, since
param: beyond, greater than
tatra: there, in that state, at that level
sukham (accusative): ease, effortlessness, happiness
sukhebhyaH = ablative, plural of sukha: out of all kinds of ease/effortlessness/happiness

tataH: from there, from that, thereupon
param: beyond
na: not
aasti: there is
sukha: ease
pravRttiH: moving onwards, advance, progress, continuing

tasmaad (correlative of yasmaat): from that, therefore
babhaaSHe (perfect of bhaN): call, name (with accusative)
shubha: lovely, splendid, pleasant
kRtsna: all, whole, entire; the belly
bhuumi: ground, place, position, stage, situation

para: what is ascendant; better, superior, highest, supreme
a-para: what is not ascendant; inferior, lower (opposed to para)
jNaH (nominative, singular): knower, wise and learned man
parama (superlative of para): most ascendant, superlative
iti: [called] it
maitryaa (instrumental of maitri): because of friendliness, through loving-kindness, with affability, in an easy-going manner

EH Johnston:
Since the bliss reached at that point is the highest of all blisses, there is no continuance of bliss beyond it; therefore the Knower of the higher and lower stages called it the ShubhakRtsena stage as being supreme through benevolence.

Linda Covill:
Bliss does not operate beyond this level, since the bliss here is greater than any other bliss. Therefore the knower of the lower and the higher called it the stage of the entirely lovely, supreme through loving-kindness.


Uku said...

Perhaps that is something similar to what Dogen wrote in Bendowa?

I say: Remember, among Buddhists we do not argue about superiority and inferioty of philosophies, or choose between shallowness and profundity in the Dharma; we need only know whether the practice is genuine or artificial. - - - And the turning of the great Dharma-wheel is contained in every molecule. This being so, the words "Mind here and now is buddha" are only the moon in water, and the idea "Just to sit is to become buddha" is also a reflection in a mirror. We should not be caught by the skillfulness of the words.

Thank you for your efforts, Mike!

With palms together,

Mike Cross said...

Thank you, Markus

I would like to take issue with the translator's choice of the words "among Buddhists." The original words, in para [32] are BUKKE NI, lit. "in the house of Buddha."

I would argue that a more literal translation would have been far superior... but, yes, if you insist, I would argue it in a friendly kind of way.

All the best,


Raymond said...


I like something you said in an earlier post. I am paraphrasing in my own sloppy language, but it was akin to " Nanda was divesting himself of ornaments, but in the spirit of a climber rather than a killjoy."

This is an interesting insight to me. Climbing, to me, is very important. Do you know if future translation posts will bring out this idea of climbing more?


Mike Cross said...

Hi Raymond,

Maybe you missed the embedded link in the comment on verse 17.49, which ended with:

the continuing upwardness of A PATH of non-buddha.