Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.7: Desire Strikes Like Lightning

aatapta-buddheH prahit'-aatmano 'pi
sv-abhyasta-bhaavaad atha kaama-saMjNaa
paryaakulaM tasya manash cakaara
praavRTsu vidyuj jalam aagat" eva.

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Though his judgement had been tempered
and his soul inspired,

Now a vestige of desire, arising out of habit,

Made his mind turbid --

Like lightning striking water in a monsoon.

The first line, as I read it, alludes again to the metaphor of the goldsmith working gold.

With regard to the explicit metaphor of lightning striking, when lightning hits water, because water is a relatively good conductor of electricity (not as good as copper or gold, but much better than rubber or glass), the lightning will tend to zip across the surface of water in all directions, rather than penetrating to the bottom of deep water. This effect, called the "skin effect" is apparently what keeps us safe from lightning when we are inside a metal-topped car.

The water that lies on the ground during a monsoon will tend to be relatively shallow water -- shallower than the water in an ocean, at any rate -- and therefore, I am guessing, more liable to become turbid when struck by lightning.

What is not in doubt is how, in making the shallows of a man's mind turbid, desire can truly strike like a bolt of lightning...

She of laughs and smiles as white as swans,
and pupils like black bees,

Her firm breasts jutting up like lotus buds,

Was all the more a lotus-pool in female form

In the presence of her kindred spirit, the sun-like Nanda.

EH Johnston:
But then, despite the zeal of his mind and the resolution of his soul, the idea of love from constant habit found his mind, as a thunderbolt coming in the rains makes the water turbid.

Linda Covill:
Though burning zeal was in his mind and urgency in his inner self, a lustful thought occured to him as a result of his long-standing habits. It made his mind turbulent, like lightning striking water during the rainy season.

aatapta: mfn. refined by heat (as gold)
aa- √ tap: to radiate heat ; (with tapas) to inflict (austerities) upon one's self
buddheH = gen./ab. sg. buddhi: f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement; intention, purpose, design
prahita: mfn. urged on, incited , stirred up
pra- √ hi: to urge on, incite, direct, command
aatmanaH = gen./ab. sg. aatman: m. breath, soul ; self; essence , nature , character
api: even, even though

sv-abhyasta: mfn. much practised
su: ind. greatly, very well
abhyasta: mfn. accumulated by repeated practice (as food) ; practised , exercised ; learnt by heart , repeated , studied
bhaavaat (abl. sg. bhaava): from being, because of being
atha: (auspicious particle) now, then
kaama: m. wish, desire, longing ; love, sensuality
saMjNaa (nom. sg.): f. consciousness; a sign; a track, footstep ; (with Buddhists) perception (one of the 5 skandhas q.v.)

paryaakulam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. disordered , confused , excited , bewildered; turbid (as water)
pari: ind. round, fully
aakula: mfn. confounded , confused , agitated , flurried ; confused (in order) , disordered ; filled , full , overburdened with (instr. or generally in comp.) , eagerly occupied
tasya (gen. sg.): of him
manaH: (acc. sg.): n. mind
cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kR: to do, make

praavRTsu = loc. praavRT: f. (fr. pra- √vRS) the rainy season , wet season , rains
vidyut: f. lightning (rarely n.) , a flashing thunderbolt
jalam (acc. sg.): n. water
aagata: mfn. come, arrived
iva: like

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