Sunday, January 31, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.19: Karmic Chemistry of Suffering

yataH prasuutasya ca karma-yogaH
prasajyate bandha-vighaata-hetuH
duHkha-pratiikaara-vidhau sukh'aakhye
tato bhavaM duHkham iti vyapashyat

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

And since the yoke of a creature's karma

Is impulse (be it bond-making or breaking),
which is dependent

On a prescription -- named "pleasure" --
for counteracting pain,

He saw that, on that account, existence is suffering.

The essence of a chemical reaction is the making and breaking of bonds between molecules. So the kind of impulse that is indicated by bandha-vighaata-hetu, "binding/breaking-impulse," as I read it, is a purely chemical impulse -- that is to say, a very primitive or primordial impulse, the kind of purely instinctive impulse that has continued to motivate living creatures ever since our emergence from the primeval swamp.

To what extent is it possible for an individual human being to transcend such instinctive impulses and live more or less consciously? That might be what each of us is here to find out.

On the basis of my first 50 years, I don't see any grounds for great optimism.

Still, the converse implication of this verse, as I have translated it, is that for a person whose action is liberated from, or transcendent over, instinctive impulses -- there being available to him a means other than the pleasure principle -- then existence is not necessarily duHkha , suffering, hard-going, a grind.

EH Johnston:
Since the union with karman of whatever is born is continually operative and is the cause of bondage and destruction, and since what is called pleasure is but the means of countering suffering, he saw that mundane existence is suffering.

Linda Covill:
Because karma is joined to a living being, and since the cause of bondage and destruction is linked to that drug for counteracting suffering which is called pleasure, Nanda saw that existence entails suffering.

yataH: ind. (correlative of tataH) whence, since
prasuutasya = gen. sg. prasuuta: mfn. procreated , begotten , born , produced
ca: and
karma = karman: n. act, action ; former act as leading to inevitable results
yogaH = nom. sg. yoga: m. yoking; any junction , union , combination , contact with (comp.); a yoke, team ; partaking of , possessing (instr. or comp.); connection , relation (ifc. in consequence of , on account of , by reason of , according to , through)

prasajyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive pra-√saNj: to hang on , attach to , cling to (loc.) ; to result , follow , be the consequence of anything
bandha-vighaata-hetuH (nom. sg.): the binding/breaking impulse
bandha: m. binding , tying
vighaata: m. a stroke ; breaking off or in pieces ; destruction , ruin
hetu: m. " impulse " , motive , cause , cause of , reason for, (ifc. hetu also = " having as a cause or motive " , " caused or effected or actuated or attracted or impelled by " e.g. karma-hetu , " caused by the acts [of a former existence] " ; maaMsa-hetu , " attracted by [the smell of] flesh " ; karma-phala-hetu , " impelled by [the expectation of] the consequences of any act "

duHkha-pratiikaara-vidhau (loc. sg. m.): a means for counteracting suffering
duHkha: suffering
prati-√kR: to do or make an opposition; to counteract , resist (acc. or gen.);
vidhi: m. a rule , formula , injunction ; any prescribed act; a means , expedient for (comp); a physician
sukhaakhye (loc. sg. m.): called "ease"
sukha: n. ease , easiness , comfort , prosperity , pleasure , happiness
aakhyaa: f. appellation , name ; appearance , aspect

tataH: (correlative of yataH) thence, in consequence of that
bhavam (acc. sg.): m. being, existence
duHkham (acc. sg. m.): mfn. not easy, uncomfortable, hard-going
iti: thus
vyapashyat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect vi-√pash: to see in different places or in detail , discern , distinguish ; to observe , perceive , learn , know
vi: ind. apart , asunder , in different directions
√pash: to see

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

karmayoga: m. performance of a work or business (esp. of religious duties); active exertion , industry ; agriculture and commerce ; practical application