Monday, March 9, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.25: Cutting Out the Causes of Suffering

taj janmano n'aika-vidhasya, saumya,
tRShN"adayo hetava ity avetya
taaMsh chindhi duHkhaad yadi nirmumukShaa
kaarya-kShayaH kaaraNa-saMkShayaadd hi

So my friend,
with regard to the many forms of becoming,

Know their causes to be [the faults]
that start with thirsting

And cut out those [faults],
if you wish to be freed from suffering;

For ending of the effect
follows from eradication of the cause.

This verse expresses in a nutshell the 2nd and 3rd noble truths, and it represents in the context of this Canto the transition from one standpoint to the other.

Maybe the term of address, saumya, used between fellow Brahmans, conveys some sense of a shift in standpoint, from the standpoint of investigation and observation to the standpoint of practice itself.

The sense I get is that after really giving chapter and verse on suffering and its causes, the Buddha here puts a metaphorical arm around Nanda as if to say: "OK my friend, to work!"

Knowing the faults is one thing; cutting them out is another thing altogether. Books and blogs have rightly been written about what the faults are -- from the viewpoint of psychology both Western and abhidharmic, and from the viewpoint of neuro-physiology. But cutting out the faults may be more a matter of 'Now piss, or get off the pot.'

tad: (connecting particle) so
janmanaH = nominative, plural of janman: birth, re-birth, becoming
naika: not one, manifold, numerous
vidhasya = genitive of vidha: form, kind
saumya (voc.): " resembling the moon " , placid , gentle , mild (vocative = " O gentle Sir! " " O good Sir! " " O excellent man! " as the proper mode of addressing a Brahman)

tRShNa: thirsting, avid desire
aadayaH = nominative, plural of aadi: beginning, beginning with, et cetera
hetavaH = nominative, plura of hetu: cause
iti: thus, that
avetya = absolutive of ave: to perceive , conceive , understand , learn , know

taan (accusative, plural of sa): those
chindhi = imperative of chid: cut off, to cut off , amputate , cut through , hew , chop , split , pierce; to divide , separate; to destroy , annihilate
duHkhaad (ablative): from suffering
yadi: if, in case of
mumukShaa (nom. sg.): f. (fr. desiderative of muc) desire of liberation from
muc: to loose , let loose , free
nir = verbal prefix meaning "out, forth, away."
nirmumukShaa: desire to be set free from

kaarya: effect, result
kShayaH = nominative, singular of kShaya: destruction, end
kaaraNa: cause
saMkShayaad = ablative of saMkShaya: complete destruction
hi: for

EH Johnston:
Therefore, my friend, understand that the causes of birth in its many forms are desire etc., and eradicate them if you would be free from suffering. For an effect is abolished by abolishing the cause,

Linda Covill:
So be aware, my friend, of the causes -- desire, for example -- of the many types of birth, and if you seek freedom from suffering, cut them off. For the destruction of an effect follows from the utter destruction of its cause,

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