yasmin na jaatir na jaraa na mRtyur
na vyaadhayo n'aa-priya-samprayogaH
kShemaM padaM naiShThikam a-cyutam tat.
In which there is no becoming, no aging, no dying,
No illnesses, no being touched by unpleasantness,
No disappointment, or separation from what is pleasant:
It is a fundamental step -- ultimate and indestructible.
If the ending of suffering were a position in a community, then it could be taken away. Somebody might come along thinking "You are not yet senior enough to sit there," or somebody might come along saying, "You have become too senior to stay here." If the ending of suffering were a condition of harmony within a community, again, some troublemaker could come along and disrupt that harmony. So a community might not always be an ultimate and indestructible place to seek the ending of suffering.
If the ending of suffering were an experience or a state of being -- for example, a state of enlightenment, a state of Buddha -- that state also could easily be taken away, by sickness, aging, or death. So a state of enlightenment might not always be an ultimate and indestructible place to seek the ending of suffering.
But insofar as the ending of suffering is a step, once that step has been realised as the ending of suffering, nobody can take it away. Not even time can take it away.
That is why, here, as also in verse 3.7, I have stayed with the very literal translation of padam, as a step. Not a stage. Not a place. Not a state. A step.
A step is not static. A step has direction -- for example:
up, as opposed to gravity; and
back, as opposed to progressive striving; and
away, as opposed to trouble.
A step is a bit of a process of following a path that leads in a certain direction, which is not necessarily always forward.
Thus, even if foreign invaders and exotic ideas laid to waste the whole of a great Aryan civilization in India, destroying Buddhas and breaking up Sanghas, up is still up, back is still back, and away is still away. This, as I read it and as I endeavor to sit it, is the ultimate, indestructible Dharma of Ashvaghosha. This is Ashvaghosha's gold.
yasmin (locative): in which
jaatiH (nominative, singular): birth, becoming
jaraa (nominative, singular): growing old, old age
mRtyuH (nominative, singular): death, dying
vyaadhayaH = nominative, plural of vyaadhi: disorder , disease , ailment , sickness
a-priya: disagreeable , disliked ; unkind , unfriendly
samprayogaH (nominative, singular): joining together , attaching , fastening ; conjunction , union , connection , contact with
icchaa: wish , desire , inclination ,
vipanna: mfn. gone wrong , failed , miscarried
priya: beloved , liked , favourite , wanted; love , kindness , favour , pleasure
viprayogaH (nominative, singular): disjunction , dissociation , separation from
kShemam (acc. sg. n.): (from √kSi) habitable; giving rest or ease or security; at ease , prosperous , safe; m. basis , foundation; residing , resting , abiding at ease; safety , tranquillity , peace , rest , security , any secure or easy or comfortable state
kSi: to abide , stay , dwell , reside (used especially of an undisturbed or secret residence)
padam (acc. sg.): n. step, footing, state
naiShThikam (acc. sg. n.): forming the end , final , last; definitive , fixed , firm; highest , perfect , complete
acyutam (acc. sg. n.): not fallen; firm , solid; imperishable , permanent; not leaking
cyuta: mfn. moved , shaken ; disappeared
tat: it, that [referring back to dharma in 16.26(b)]
The stage in which there is neither birth, old age, death, disease, nor contact with what is disagreeable, neither failure of wishes nor separation from the agreeable, which is peaceful, final and imperishable.
in which there is no birth, no old age, no death, no sickness, no association with anything unpleasant, no failure of wishes and no separation from anything pleasant; it is an ultimate, unfallen state of ease.