vihagaanaaM yathaa saayaM
tatra tatra samaagamaH
jaatau jaatau tath" aashleSho
janasya sva-janasya ca
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= - = - - = - =
= = = = - = = =
- = = - - = - -
Just as birds in the evening
Flock together at many separate locations,
So is the mingling over many generations
Of one's own and other people.
That birds of a feather flock together is not merely an idea: it is an empirical truth -- like the conspicuous gaggling together of Chinese students on a British university campus.
I think also of starlings, who used sometimes to come together in two big conifers in our front garden, before flying off to their night-time roost.
As a metaphor, that birds of a feather flock together might be used to justify a racist idea behind a system of apartheid or, equally, to justify the self-righteous 'humanist' idea under which banner convene a group united by their opposition to racism. (Or indeed sectarianism in any form?)
But in this verse, as I read it, birds of a feather flocking together is not cited in support of any political idea, one way or the other. It is cited in order to highlight a fact, reflection on which might help one individual practitioner, working on himself or herself, to drop off his or her idea.
Ideas can quickly win a mass following, and thereby change the world -- most likely for the worse. But giving up an idea is a different kettle of fish. What I am doing now is endeavoring to clarify, for a potential internet audience of millions (as opposed to the actual daily audience runnning on a good day into dozens), the Buddha's idea in regard to giving up an idea. But that is not the same as the effort that I make (or fail to make) on the round cushion, which is individual work to liberate sitting from all my ideas about it.
As at eventide birds collect some here, some there, so is the relation of kinsman and stranger from birth to birth.
Stranger and kinsman embrace each other, some in this birth, some in that, just as birds flock together in the evenings, sometimes here and sometimes there.
vihagaanaam = gen. pl. vihaga: m. " sky-goer " , a bird
yathaa: just as
saayam: ind. in the evening , at eventide
tatra tatra: in that and that place , here and there , everywhere
samaagamaH = nom. sg. samaagama (from sam-aa-√gam): m. coming together
jaatau = loc. jaati: f. birth , production ; re-birth ; the form of existence (as man , animal , &c ) fixed by birth
jaatau = loc. jaati: f. birth
tathaa: so, likewise
aashleShaH = nom. sg. aashleSha (from aa-√shliSh, to cling to, embrace): m. intimate connection , contact ; slight contact ; embracing , embrace ; entwining ; adherence , clinging to
janasya = gen. sg. jana: m. a person, any person
sva-janasya = gen. sva-jana: m. a person of one's own family