dhyaanam sa nishritya tatash caturtham
arhattva-laabhaaya matim cakaara
saMdhaaya maitram balavantam aaryam
raaj” eva deshan a-jitaaN jigiSHuH
Consequently, with the backing of the fourth realisation,
He made up his mind to win the worthy state,
Like a king joining forces with a strong and noble ally
And then aspiring to conquer unconquered lands.
In Line 1, the fourth realisation is clarity in one's own mind, to do with SELF.
The worthy state in Line 2 is the state of the arhat, represented in Chinese characters as O-GU, which means "one who is worthy of being served by others." So Nanda's decision here has to do with a wish to be useful to OTHERS. That Ashvaghosha was one worthy of being served, for example, even after nearly two thousand years, has been proving extremley useful to me.
The principle of Line 3 is UNION of self and others.
In Line 4, it is by means of the union of self and others that REAL CHANGE IS DIRECTED.
There may be meaning also in the chronological sequence of the king’s joining forces with a mighty and noble ally first, and then finding the will to build his empire after that. The common-sense idea is that the will comes first, after which a way is sought. But Ashvaghosha seems here to be turning that notion around, describing how Nanda, step by step, came into possession of the wherewithal, and then found the will, or the confidence, to aspire to the ultimate end.
Thus, running through the whole of this section of 15 verses on the four realisations, as I read it, is the principle of means before end -- the fourth realisation is realised as a result of a progression of steps, each representing a negation of the one before; and when the fourth realisation has finally been realised that also is not the end of anything.
dhyaanam (accusative): realisation
nishritya (absolutive): relying on, having relied on, with the backing of
tataH: from there, and so
caturtham: the fourth
arhat: deserving, worthy
-tva (suffix for abstract nouns): the state of; -ship, -ness, -hood
arhattva: arhatship, arhathood; the worthy state, the state of one who has realised the fourth fruit of the Dharma = buddhahood
laabhaaya = dative of laabha: to gain, win, get
matim: mind, direction
cakaara (perfect of kR): made up, set
saMdhaaya = absolutive of saM- √ dhA: to put together, combine, join with
maitram (accusative): ally, friend
balavantam = accusative of balavat: possessing power, powerful, mighty, strong
raajaa (nominative, singular): king
deshaan (accusative, plural): regions, places; provinces, countries, kingdoms, realms
jigiSHuH (desiderative/adjective from √ ji): wishing to win, wanting to conquer
Then relying on the fourth trance, he set his mind on attaining Arhatship, like a king, wishing to conquer hitherto unconquered provinces, who unites himself with a strong and noble ally.
With the support of the fourth level of meditation, he made up his mind to win the worthy state, as a king joins with a mighty and noble ally when he wishes to conquer unconquered territories.