Friday, March 20, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.36: Wisdom Destroys Faults Without Trace

prajNaa tv a-sheSheNa nihanti doShaaMs
tiira-drumaan praavRShi nimnag" eva
dagdhaa yayaa na prabhavanti doShaa
vajr-aagnin" ev' aanusRtena vRkShaaH

But wisdom destroys faults without trace,

Like a mountain stream in the monsoon
mowing down trees on its banks.

Faults burnt up by it stand not a chance,

Like trees struck and burnt by a thunderbolt.

The third quarter of this Canto can be seen in essence as a description of how a man of wisdom is to proceed with regard to the faults. Specifically, Ashvaghosha cites antidotes to the faults of over-excitement (16.54), lethargy/depression (16.56), lust (16.60), malice (16.62), and ignorance (16.64). The final quarter of the Canto is then devoted mainly to extolling the virtue, in abandoning the faults, of manly vigour (viirya) -- which may also be regarded as an offshoot of wisdom.

So the order of progression, in combating the faults, is set out for us clearly: (1) The practice of integrity (shiila) leads indirectly to (2) balance (samaadhi), which provides the basis for (3) the wisdom (prajnaa) whose virtue is emphasized so much in the rest of this Canto.

Shiila. Samaadhi. Prajnaa. Integrity. Balance. Wisdom. In that order.

The practice of integrity enfeebles the faults, weakening their grip on us.
Balance holds faults at bay.
But wisdom destroys the faults without a trace.

And this wisdom works through (a) seeing a fault as a fault, (b) thinking straight in regard to its antidote, and (c) vigorously taking the initiative in eliminating the fault.

Integrity. Balance. Wisdom. One after another. In that order.

This is one side of the story. The other side of the story, more difficult to put into words, might be Integrity/Balance/Wisdom all together.

The wisdom, in eliminating faults, of "all together, one after another" belongs to FM Alexander.

Consequently, on the subject of eliminating faults, a protege of FM Alexander named Patrick Macdonald wrote the following words of real wisdom:

"Do not forget that right and wrong change, and should change as your body and co-ordination change. What is right for you today should be wrong for you tomorrow. Do not, therefore, try and fix a picture of a specific co-ordination in your brain as the right one; it will have to be modified, perhaps many times, over a long period. You must learn to think in trends and tendencies, and not in fixed positions. Everything (so they say) is relative, not least the proper relationship of the neck to the head, the neck and head to the back and neck, and the head and back to the rest of the body. If you can learn to think in tendencies (which is the way I teach you) you may continue to teach yourself.

Remember, you are slowly eliminating the wrong. Finality, for most of us, and that includes me, is not in sight."

prajNaa (nominative, singular): f. wisdom, intuitive wisdom
tu: but
a-sheSheNa: without remainder, entirely, perfectly, completely
nihanti = 3rd person plural of nihan: to strike or hew down, kill , overwhelm, destroy
doShaan (accusative, plural): faults

tiira: a shore, bank
drumaan = accusative, plural of druma: tree
praavRShi = locative of praavRSha: the rainy season , the rains
nimnagaa (nominative, singular): f. " going downwards , descending " , a river , mountain-stream
iva: like

dagdhaaH (nom. pl. m.): mfn. burnt , scorched , consumed by fire
yayaa (inst. sg. f. yat): by which, by that [wisdom]
na: not
prabhavanti = 3rd person plural of prabhuu: to come forth, occur, spring up; to rule , control , have power over
doShaaH (nominative, plural): m. faults

vajra: thunderbolt
agninaa = instrumental of agni: fire
iva: like
anusRtena = instrumental of anusRta (agreeing with agninaa): followed; the [fire] following after [the thunderbolt]
anu-√ sR: to go after
vRkShaaH (nominative, plural): trees

EH Johnston:
But intuitive wisdom completely cuts away the faults, like a river the trees on its banks in the rains. Burnt up by it, the faults cease to grow, like trees burnt by the fire of the thunderbolt which strikes them.

Linda Covill:
And wisdom destroys faults without a remainder, as a river in the rainy season destroys the trees on its bank. Faults burned up by it cannot prevail, like trees burned up by the fire ensuing from a thunderbolt.

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