Monday, November 9, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.16: Tainted Mind Consumed in the Heat of a Moment

duShTena c' eha manasaa
baadhyate vaa paro na vaa
sadyas tu dahyate taavat
svaM mano duShTa-cetasaH

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

And the mind which in such an instant is tainted,

May or may not impinge on the other;

But instantly burned up in this moment

Is the man of tainted consciousness's own mind.

Again, this verse might be inviting us to give up an idea. And the idea to be given up might be paraphrased as follows:

Whether or not a malignant mind gives others grief, the malevolent person's own mind is consumed by grief.

Translated like this, the verse seems to be expressing a general truth -- an idea -- about the ill-will and cruelty (vyaapaada, vihiMsaa) which are the manifest theme of the present series of verses.

And this general truth might be a very good idea -- as general ideas, or glib platitudes, go.

At the same time, I think that Ashvaghosha gave us a clear hint as to the real underlying point of the whole of this canto in his choice of the canto title, vitarka-prahaaNa, Giving Up Your Idea.

Read in that light, this verse has three key words which I deliberately omitted to translate in the above paraphrasing. Those three words are iha ("at this time"), sadyas ("in the very moment"), and taavat ("in that time," "now"). Each of these words, as I read them, is pointing not to an immutable truth about negative emotion, but to the complicated reality of self/others-tainted-consciousness which in THE VERY MOMENT of a noble person's action, is all burnt up.

Finally, setting aside such coldly analytical dust and fluff, let me ask, with regard to the hint of a metaphor linking this and the previous verse, one clean question:

Is there a relation between sa-ghRna, having warmth, and dahyate, being consumed by heat?

EH Johnston:
A man may or may not cause hurt to another by his malevolent mind in this world, but in either case the mind of the man of malevolent thoughts is forthwith burned up.

Linda Covill:
Another person may or may not be harmed in this world by a malicious mind, but the maliciously-disposed person's own mind is burned up straight away;

duShTena = inst. duShTa (past part. duSh): mfn. spoilt , corrupted ; defective , faulty ; wrong , false ; bad , wicked ; malignant , offensive , inimical
duSh: to become bad or corrupted , to be defiled or impure , to be ruined , perish ; to sin , commit a fault , be wrong
ca: and
iha: here, now, in this world; in this case; at this time
manasaa = inst. (indicating agent in a passive construction) of manas: mind

baadhyate = 3rd pers. passive baadh: to press , force , drive away , repel , remove ; to harass , pain , trouble , grieve , vex
vaa: or
paraH (nom. sg.): m. another (different from one's self) , a foreigner , enemy , foe , adversary
na: not
vaa: or

sadyas: ind. on the same day , in the very moment (either " at once " , " immediately " or " just " , " recently ")
tu: but
dahyate (3rd pers. sg. passive dah): is burnt , burns , is in flames; is consumed by fire or destroyed; is consumed by internal heat or grief , suffers pain , is distressed or vexed
taavat: ind. so long , in that time; meanwhile, at once , now , just; indeed , truly, really

svam (nom. sg. n.): one's own
manaH (nom. sg.): n. mind
duShTa-cetasaH = gen. sg. duShTa-cetas: mfn. evil-minded , malevolent
duShTa: mfn. spoilt , corrupted etc.
cetasaH = gen. sg. cetas: n. consciousness, heart, mind

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