Thursday, January 14, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.2: The Silent Stream

tatr'aavakaashaM mRdu-niila-shaShpaM
dadarsha shaantaM taru-ShaNDa-vantaM
niH-shabdayaa nimnagay"opaguuDhaM
vaiDuurya-niil'-odakayaa vahantyaa

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There he saw a clearing,

A quiet glade, of soft deep-green grass,

Kept secret by a silent stream

Bearing water blue as beryl.

"Soft deep-green grass " (mRdu-niila-shaShpam) EHJ identifies as durva grass, i.e. cynodon dactylon.

I think what Ashvaghosha is describing as "quiet" (shantam) and "silent" (nir-shabdayaa) is not absence of sound, but freedom from noise.

A "stream" (nimnagaa) Ashvagosha expresses as "running deep" (nimnagaa).

"Kept secret" (upaguuDham) might include the meaning "made magical" -- hence, he writes of "water blue as beryl" (vaiDuurya-niil'-odakam).

There may be many layers of secret meaning in this one verse that ask a practitioner of sitting-dhyana to keep going deeper, not being satisfied with the simplistic understanding of the Western punk rock venue, or the Eastern Zen temple, or military parade-grounds everywhere, that "It is not thinking," but to keep going deeper and asking first of all what thinking is.

Don't fix or pull down
But think, one-pointedly, up!
Then breath can be a silent stream
Going deeply down, in secret.

EH Johnston:
There he saw a quiet glade in a group of trees with soft duurvaa grass and surrounded by a stream running noiselessly with water blue as beryl.

Linda Covill:
There within a grove of trees he saw a peaceful clearing of soft dark grass, enfolded by a silent stream whose waters flowed beryl-blue.

tatra: ind. there
avakaasham (acc. sg.): m. place , space ; room , occasion , opportunity
mRdum: mfn. soft , delicate , tender , pliant , mild , gentle
niila: mfn. of a dark colour , (esp.) dark-blue or dark-green or black ; dyed with indigo; n. dark (the colour) , darkness ;
shaShpam (acc. sg.): n. young or sprouting grass , any grass ; loss of consciousness

dadarsha: he saw
shaantam (acc. sg.): mfn. (fr. √ sham) appeased , pacified , tranquil , calm , free from passions , undisturbed
taru-ShaNDavantaM = acc. sg. m. taru-ShaNDavant: having a group of trees; a glade
taru: m. a tree
ShaNDa: a group of trees or plants , wood , thicket (always ifc.)
-vant: (possessive suffix)

niH-shabdayaa = inst. f. niH-shabda: noiseless, silent, still
nimnagayaa = inst. nimnagaa: f. " going downwards , descending " , a river , mountain-stream
nimna: mfn. deep (lit. and fig.) , low , depressed , sunk
upaguuDham (acc. sg. ): mfn. hidden , concealed , covered ; clasped round , embraced
upa: towards, under
guuDha: mfn. covered , hidden , concealed , invisible , secret , private ; disguised

vaiDuurya-niil'-odakayaa (inst. sg. f.): having beryl-blue water
vaiDuurya: a cat's-eye gem (ifc. " a jewel " , = " anything excellent of its kind "); beryl
niila: mfn. of a dark colour , (esp.) dark-blue or dark-green or black
udaka: n. water
vahantyaa = inst. sg. f. vahat (pres. part. of vah, to carry): bearing along

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