Saturday, March 7, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.23: Knowing Cause & Effect

phalaM hi yaadRk samavaiti saakShaat
tad-aagamaad biijam avaity atiitam
avetya biija-prakRtim ca saakShaad
an-aagatam tat-phalam abhyupaiti

Seeing what fruit is before one's eyes,

One knows, from past knowledge of that fruit,
the seed it was in the past.

And having identified a seed before one's eyes,

One knows the fruit it may be in the future.

By aagama , or "what has come down to us from the past," in the 2nd line, I think Ashvaghosha might be pointing in the direction of scientific knowledge. This verse, as I read it, stands in support of scientific inquiry into cause and effect.

What is the doctrine of re-incarnation?
The doctrine of re-incarnation is a doctrine.
What is the doctrine of no re-incarnation?
The doctrine of no re-incarnation is also a doctrine.

What is science? Science is a method of inquiry.
Is the doctrine of re-incarnation susceptible to scientific inquiry?
I am not sure. Maybe not, so far.

What does seem evident is that belief in any doctrine, in however a subtle form it manifests itself, is always prone to be troublesome.

And Ashvaghosha's practical and non-doctrinal teaching with regard to trouble, as I understand it, is clear and simple: walk away.

phalam (acc. sg.): n. fruit
hi: for
yaadRsha: (relative adjective) of which kind
samavaiti = 3rd person singular of samave: to regard , consider
saakShaat (ablative of saakSha): with the eyes , with one's own eyes; before one's eyes
saakSha: having eyes

tat: it, that
aagamaad = ablative of aagama: arrival , coming , approach; origin; appearance or reappearance; reading , studying; acquisition of knowledge , science
biijam (accusative): seed
avaiti = 3rd person singular of ave: to look upon , consider; to perceive , conceive , understand , learn , know
atiitam (accusative): past, the past

avetya (absolutive of ave): after identifying, after considering
biija: seed
prakRtim = accusative of prakRti: "making or placing before or at first," the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance; nature
ca: and
saakShaat: before his eyes

an-aagatam (acc. sg. n.): not come, future; the future
tat: it, that
phalam (acc. sg.): n. fruit
abhyupaiti = 3rd person singular of abhyupe: to go near , approach , arrive at , enter; to select as (acc.); to agree with , approve of

EH Johnston:
For instance, when a man understands what sort of fruit he has before his eyes, he understands from its presence what its seed was in the past, and, when he identifies the kind of seed before his eyes, he recognises what its future fruit will be.

Linda Covill:
When someone considers which kind of fruit is in front of him, he can, based on its origin, determine what seed it was in the past; and when someone considers the nature of a seed in front of him, he knows what the future fruit of that seed will be.

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