Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 13.43: Don't Dilly Dally On the Way

sacet strii-puruSha-graahaH
kva cid vidyeta kash cana
shubhataH kesha-dant'-aadiin
n' aanuprasthaatum arhasi

- = = - - = = =
- - = = - = - -
- - = = - = = =
= = = = - = - -

If a notion of woman or man intrudes

At any time in relation to anyone,

Upon hair, teeth, and the rest, for their beauty,

You should not linger.

The negative directions are building.

In verse 13.41, the subject of vartitavyam may be better understood, as indicated by jiblet, not as the senses themselves but as the person himself, i.e., Nanda, or us. In that case, the meaning is stronger than “the senses must function.” The meaning is that “one must function through the senses.” This is precisely in line with what Marjory Barlow took pains to teach: that one cannot control the feelings; the feelings control us. This is something about which we cannot do anything.

Even in those circumstances (tatra), even though we cannot do anything to change the human condition of being controlled by our sense of feeling, we can practise NOT doing -- not holding on to sensory impulses and not trusting our faulty sensory appreciation. So I would like to revise the translation of 13.41 as follows:

It is necessarily through the senses,each in its own sphere,

That one must function in this world.

But no impulse, in those circumstances, is to be held onto,

Nor any associated impression.

In 13.42, again, first a reality is described: when we are in our original state and we open our eyes and look, there is originally no separation between beholder and beheld. We are not asked to do something to bring about that reality. Rather, in order to prevent it from being lost to us, we are asked NOT to do something. We are asked, namely, not to barge in with our own prejudiced views.

And in this verse, 13.43, again, first a real eventuality is posited: a false conception has intervened between beholder and beheld. In that case, again, we are not called upon to do something to make the situation right. Rather we are called upon NOT to do something to make it worse. We are called upon not to stand by idling gawping at how incredibly beautiful a person’s hair, teeth and other features may be -- although there may be times when a man in a relationship finds himself in deep trouble if he fails to make a polite show of doing just this.

In practice, how does one go about not dilly-dallying? If somebody says, for example, "Don't think about a pink elephant," how does one avoid falling into the trap of standing there gormlessly meditating on the subject of a pink elephant?

One way might be to think the words: "I wish to allow my neck to release, to allow the head forward and out, to allow the back to lengthen and widen, while the legs release out of the pelvis... altogether, one after another."

Marjory Barlow used to say: "Say No, think those words, and go into movement without a care in the world. Let it come out in the wash."

Working in that way doesn't make a person a saint but at least it may help a person, quoting Marjory again, "to avoid my worst excesses."

EH Johnston:
If in relation to any object some perception of a woman or a man does present itself, you must not look on their hair, teeth, etc. as beautiful.

Linda Covill:
If any perception of a woman or man does occur, don't linger over their hair, teeth and so on as beautiful.

sacet (3rd person singular, optative of sac, to have to do with): if.... [apparently used at beginning of an optative sentence]
strii: woman, female; the feminine gender
puruSha: man, male
graahaH (nom.): m. seizure , grasping , laying hold of; m. conception , notion of (in comp.)

kva cid: anywhere ; in any case , at any time
vidyeta = 3rd person singular, passive, optative of vid: to find , discover , meet or fall in with , obtain; Passive vidyate to be found , exist ; (esp. in later language) vidyate , " there is , there exists "
vidyeta: there might be, it might occur
kash cana: anyone

shubha: n. beauty
-taH: (ablative/adverbial suffix) in accordance with, as
kesha: the hair of the head
danta: an elephant's tusk, tooth
aadiin = accusative, plural of aadi: beginning with, and so on

na: not
anu: ind. (as a prefix to verbs and nouns , expresses) after , along , alongside , lengthwise
pra-√sthaa: to stand or rise up (esp. before the gods. an altar &c )
anuprasthaatum = infinitive of anuprasthaa: 'to [keep] standing up alongside,' to linger (?)
arhasi: you should

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