Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.14: A Man of the Bowl

yaH syaan niketas tamaso 'niketaH
shrutv" aapi tattvaM sa bhavet pramattaH
yasmaat tu mokShaaya sa paatra-bhuutas
tasmaan manaH sv'-aatmani saMjahaara

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

Heedless would be the unhoused man who,

Despite hearing the truth, housed darkness;

But since Nanda was a man of the bowl,
a receptacle for liberation,

He had collected his mind into himself.

Heedlessly, I seem to have jumped the gun in my comment of yesterday. The first section of this Canto, which is a description of Nanda's state of mind, might more properly be seen as concluding with line 4 of 17.14, which tells us that Nanda had collected his mind into himself.

I take tamas (darkness) to mean unconsciousness. So the two halves of the verse contrast (a) a man who has the form of a monk but who is not on the plane of constructive conscious control -- who heedlessly accommodates darkness -- and (b) Nanda a man of the bowl who had collected his mind into himself.

Metaphorically, paatra in line 3 means a capable or competent person, a vessel fit to receive something, a receptacle for the teaching. At the same time, paatra is the word that was used to express the actual bowl that the Buddha used, for begging and for eating -- see Shobogenzo chap. 78, The Patra.

In Japan there are big stores selling Butsu-gu, Buddha-goods. My teacher took me to one once, towards the end of 1987, rather in the manner I felt of a father or grandfather taking a child around a toy shop. We looked around but did not buy anything.

It seems to me that in the Alexander world, there is little or no reverence for the Buddha's bowl, but there is a kind of exact scientific study, at least by certain individuals, of the processes involved when an individual collects his mind into himself or herself -- in the sense intended by Alexander's words "Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual." Whereas in Japanese Buddhism as I peeped it, there is plenty of the former kind of reverence, for ceremonial objects and forms, but a dearth of the latter individual endeavour.

Ashvaghosha, as I hear him, is holding up the mirror of Nanda, as a true man of the bowl, because in Nanda are present both reverence for the tradition and his individual effort to possess his own mind.

EH Johnston:
The homeless wanderer who should make himself into a home of mental darkness would, though he were taught the truth, be neglectful of it, but, since Nanda was a vessel fit for Salvation, he collected his mind in himself.

Linda Covill:
Heedless is the unhoused man who has heard the truth, yet houses ignorance; but since Nanda had become a vessel fit for liberation, he gathered his mind into his own self.

yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
syaat (3rd pers. sg. optative √as): he might be, if he were
niketaH: a house , habitation
tamasaH = gen. sg. tamas: n. darkness; mental darkness, ignorance
aniketaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. houseless

shrutvaa = abs. shru: to hear, listen, learn
api: even
tattvam (acc. sg.): n. true or real state , truth , reality
saH (nom. sg. m.): he [who]
bhavet (3rd pers. sg. optative √bhuu): he would be
pramattaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. excited , wanton , lascivious , rutting ; drunken , intoxicated ; mad , insane ; inattentive , careless , heedless , negligent

yasmaat: ind. since
tu: but
mokShaaya (dative): for release
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
paatra-bhuutaH (nom. sg. m.): one made of the [begging] bowl
paatra: n. a bowl; any vessel or receptacle ; (met.) a capable or competent person
bhuuta (ifc.) being or being like anything , consisting of

tasmaat: ind. (correlative of yasmaat) therefore
manaH (acc. sg.): n. mind
sv'-aatmani = loc. svaatman: m. one's own self , one's self (= reflexive pron.)
saMjahaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect saM-√ hR: to bring or draw together , unite , compress , collect , contract , abridge RV. &c ; to throw together , mix up ; to close , clench (the fist) MBh. ; to concentrate (the mind) on ; to lay or draw aside , withdraw , withhold from (abl.) ; to restrain , curb , check , suppress

No comments: