Sunday, April 5, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.52: Towards Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual

tad-desha-kaalau vidhivat pariikShya
yogasya maatraam api c'aabhyupaayam
bal'-aa-bale c' aatmani sampradhaarya
kaaryaH prayatno na tu tad-viruddhaH

Having given due consideration to the time and place

As well as to the extent and method
of one's formal practice,

One should, being constantly aware
of one's own strength and weakness,

Persist in an effort that is not inconsistent with them.

This is not a metaphor. The aim for each individual, in giving up the afflictions, is to be who he or she truly is. The end to be gained is freedom as a true individual.

In order for the end to be gained, even if only for one moment, the conditions have to be right, and the practice has to be sustained, over a certain period of time, in accordance with a true means-whereby principle, and in such a way that constant account is taken of the practitioner's individual strengths and weaknesses.

In general it may be true to say that, for the great majority of human beings, our strength is intelligence and our weakness is balance.

But this verse is ushering in a long series of verses in which faults and their antidotes are considered on a case by case basis. In that context, the word aatman in the third line seems to be important. Buddha/Ashvaghosha seems to be highlighting the existence of individual strengths and weaknesses -- between which the dividing line may be thin, as between humility and frailty, or as between confidence and pride, or as between persistence and fixity. Sensitivity, again, can be both a strength and a weakness, depending on individual circumstances.

Setting aside generalities, then, this verse as I read it is pointing the way to constructive conscious control of the individual.

tad: that
desha: place
kaalau = locative of kaala: time
vidhivat: according to rule, duly
pariikShya = absolutive of pariikSh: to look round , inspect carefully , try , examine , find out , observe , perceive

yogasya = genitive of yoga: formal practice
maatraam (accusative): f. measure (of any kind) , quantity , size , duration , number , degree
api: also
ca: and
abhyupaayam (accusative): a means, an expedient

bala: strength
abale = locative of abala: want of strength, weakness
ca: and
aatmani = locative of aatman: self, one's own
sampradhaarya = absolutive of sam-pra-√ dhR: to ponder , reflect , consider , deliberate or think about (acc.)

kaaryaH = nom. sg. m. kaarya (gerundiive of √kR): to be made or done or practised or performed
prayatnaH (nom. sg.): m. persevering effort , continued exertion or endeavour
na: not
tu: but
tad: that, those [strength and weakness]
viruddhaH (nom. sg. m.): opposed; contrary, inconsistent or incompatible with

EH Johnston:
Examining duly the conditions of time and place as well as the scope and method of Yoga, a man should strive his utmost while having regard to the strong and weak points of his self and not doing what is contrary thereto.

Linda Covill:
Having considered the time and place for yogic practice, as prescribed, and also its extent and method, and after reflecting on your own strengths and weaknesses, make an effort, avoiding anything which conflicts with them.


Jordan said...

One should, being constantly aware of one's own strength and weakness

That is a mantra I am familiar with. I wonder if Sun Tzu and Myamoto Musashi read Ashvaghosha.

Keeping on!

Ted Biringer said...


Thank you for this post.

Your ongoing efforts to share the wisdom of enlightenment are greatly appreciated here.

Ted Biringer

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Jordan.

The way of the warrior is nothing if not practical. There were lessons in courage, balance, and above all inhibition that the way of karate-do taught me as a young man that have stood me in good stead -- except that I regret not learning those lessons well enough.

Keep on keeping on -- one step in front of the other, and one step in back of the other!


Mike Cross said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Ted.

I am with you in marvelling at the purity of the wisdom/enlightenment of Buddha/Ashvaghosha. What a fantastic thing to be studying these words of unadulterated Dharma that have been preserved on palm leaves for nearly 2000 years.

All the best,


P.S. Nice photo -- it looks like the tree is pointing you in the right

Mike Cross said...