Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.28: A Step in the Right Direction

evam-aadiH kramaH saumya
kaaryo jaagaraNam prati
vandhyam hi shayanaad aayuH
kaH praajNaH kartum arhati

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

Such a step must be taken, my friend,

In the direction of being awake;

For what wise man, out of sleep,

Makes a wasted life?

A turning phrase in this verse, as I read it, is jaagaraNam prati, lit. "in the direction of being awake."

Here are a couple of quotes that may serve to illustrate:

"There is no such thing as a right position, but there is a right direction."
FM Alexander, Teaching Aphorisms

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

Patrick Macdonald, The Alexander Technique As I See It

To translate jaagaraNam prati literally as "in the direction of being awake" may not win a prize for elegance, but it preserves the ambiguity which I perceive in the words of the Buddha. On one level, the Buddha is cautioning against being overly devoted to sleep as a normal night-time activity. On another level, he might also be cautioning against the mindless living of an unexamined life.

As an antidote to mindlessly repetitive ("Just do it") practice, learning of the FM Alexander Technique was a step that, in my life for one, simply had to be taken.

EH Johnston:
This and the like, my friend, is the course to be followed to keep awake. For what wise man would let his life become unproductive by lying down to sleep?

Linda Covill:
These are examples of the steps that can be taken to stay awake; for what wise man would waste his life in sleep?

evam: thus, such
aadiH (nom. sg.): et cetera
kramaH (nom. sg.): m. a step ; going , proceeding , course
saumya (voc.): my friend

kaarya: mfn. to be done, practised
jaagaraNam = acc. of jaagaraNa (neuter action noun from jaagR, to be awake or watchful): n. waking , keeping watch; (said of fire) going on burning
prati: ind. towards, in the direction of

vandhyam = acc. sg. of vandhya: mfn. barren , unfruitful , unproductive (said of women , female animals and plants) ; fruitless , useless
hi: for
shayanaat = abl. of shayana: n. the act of lying down or sleeping , rest , repose , sleep; n. a bed
aayuH = acc. sg. n. of aayus: n. life , vital power , vigour , health , duration of life , long life ; active power , efficacy

kaH (nom.): who?
praajNaH (nom. sg.): mfn. intelligent , wise , clever; m. a wise or learned man
kartum = inf. of kR: to do, make; to form or construct one thing out of another (abl.); to make , render (with two acc.)
arhati = 3rd pers. sg. of arh: to deserve , merit , be worthy of , to have a claim to , be entitled to (acc.) , to be allowed to do anything (Inf.) ; to be obliged or required to do anything (acc.) ; to be worth , counterbalance , to be able

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