Thursday, February 18, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.37: Love & Hate Cut Down to Size, Via Broadening of the Chest/Back

sa kaama-raaga-pratighau sthir'-aatmaa
ten' aiva yogena tanuu cakaara
kRtvaa mah"-oraska-tanus tanuu tau
praapa dvitiiyaM phalam aarya-dharme

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He, firm in himself,
minimised the duality of love and hate

By the yoke of the same old practice:

Being himself big across the chest,
he made those two small,

And so obtained the second fruit in the noble Dharma.

Exactly what practice, or "act of yoking" (yoga) is Ashvaghosha referring to in line 2?

Does he mean the mental practice of investigating things, as characterized by impermanence, suffering, impurity, emptiness, non-self?

Or does he mean the total psycho-physical practice into which Nanda threw himself at the beginning of this Canto, viz:

Having washed his feet in that water,

He then, by a clean, auspicious, and splendid tree-root,

Girded on the intention to come undone,

And sat with legs fully crossed.

By first directing the whole body up,

And thus keeping mindfulness turned towards the body,

And thus integrating in his person all the senses,

There he threw himself all-out into practice.

How is it actually possible in practice to cut love and hate down to size?

For a start, there is no question that to have some kind of job to do, to have some concrete action to which to devote oneself, is, in extremis, a life saver. Then a further clue is contained, as I read it, in line 3, which suggests that the secret is to truly let the torso expand. And this true widening of the whole torso (as distinct from puffing up the chest by tightening the back) is a function of the whole body being directed up. When the whole torso truly expands (both front and back) then the whole body goes up. And when the whole body truly goes up, then the whole torso (both chest and back) broadens out.

This lengthening and widening may not get rid of love and hate, but it might help to keep collateral damage from love and hate to a minimum.

When a friend of mine was going through emotional turmoil towards the end of a passionate love affair, his Alexander teacher Peter Ribeaux recommended him, whatever he was going through, to keep lengthening and widening through it. That, I think was, very good advice.

The four fruits of the Dharma are generally explained in Sanskrit as:
(1) srotaapatti; entering the stream
(2) sakRdaagaamin; being subject to one return
(3) an-aagaamin; not being subject to return
(4) arhat; being worthy.

So the second fruit of the Dharma described in line 4 is generally known in Sanskrit as sakRdaagaamin, "once coming" or "being subject to one return" (sakRt = once ; aagaamin = coming). As with the first fruit of the Dharma whose attainment he describes in 17.27, however, Ashvaghosha seems to avoid, or at least does not use, the explanatory term.

The negative term an-aagaamin, "non-returner," in contrast, Ashvaghosha does use in 17.41 to express Nanda's attainment of the third fruit of the Dharma.

The fourth fruit also is not referred to as the fourth fruit, but rather as arhattva ("arhathood", "the worthy state"; 17.56, 17.61).

In conclusion, whether I am right or wrong, it makes me happy to think that by yoga in line 2 Ashvaghosha means sitting in full lotus and directing the whole body to lengthen upwards and at the same time to expand outwards -- like a man, indeed, who uses himself well in carrying a big yoke. And again I may be wrong but I suspect that Ashvaghosha's neglecting to use the terms "stream-enterer" and "one subject to one return," was not incidental. I suspect, but am not sure, that Ashvaghosha might have seen something problematic in people's conception of being srotaapanna "a stream-enterer" or sakRdaagaamin "one who is subject to only one more return."

What is not in doubt, in this verse as also in 17.41, is Ashvaghosha's emphasis that the fruits of Dharma are not obtained as a result of good luck. The emphasis, always, is on yoga, practice.

The essence of this yoga, as far as I for one understand it, is to sit in full lotus in such a way that not only is the spine caused to lengthen but also the torso is allowed to expand in all directions. And true yoga like this, unlike the yoga that is called yoga nowadays, cannot be done by doing (pravRtti). Truly, it is non-doing (nivRtti) -- a backward step.

What number fruit it is, or how many returns it is subject to, I do not always know. But I know that the yoga of being big about the chest, for each person, invariably is a matter of undoing and non-doing, and it can't be done.

EH Johnston:
Firm in himself, with the same Yoga he reduced to small proportions desire and hate, and so he, whose body was broad-chested, by reducing these two obtained the second fruit of the noble Law.

Linda Covill:
Firm in himself, and using the same yogic practice, he minimized the obstacles, desire and hate; himself broad-chested, he made them small, and so obtained the second fruit of the noble dharma.

saH (nom. sg. m.): he
kaama-raaga-pratighau (acc. dual): love & hate
kaama-raaga: love
kaama: m. wish, desire, longing; love , especially sexual love or sensuality
raaga: m. the act of colouring or dyeing; colour , hue , tint , dye , (esp.) red colour , redness ; inflammation ; any feeling or passion , (esp.) love
pratigha: m. hindrance , obstruction , resistance , opposition; struggling against (comp.) ; anger , wrath , enmity (one of the 6 evil passions Dharmas)
sthir'-aatmaa (nom. sg. m.): he of firm self
sthira: firm
aatman: self

tena (inst. sg. tad): by that; ind. in that direction , there ; in that manner
eva: (emphatic -- in its most frequent use of strengthening the idea expressed by any word , eva must be variously rendered by such adverbs as) just , exactly , very , same , only , even , alone , merely , immediately on , still , already , &c
yogena = inst. sg. yoga: m. the act of yoking ; practice ; remedy, means, method ; endeavor
tanuu = acc. dual. m. tanu: thin , slender , attenuated , emaciated , small , little , minute , delicate , fine
cakaara (3rd pers. perfect kR): he made

kRtvaa = abs. kR: to make
mah"-oraska-tanuH: one of broad-chested body
mah"-oraska: mfn. broad-chested
mahaa: great , mighty , strong , abundant
uraska ifc. = uras: the chest , breast
tanu = tanU: f. the body , person , self (often used like a reflexive noun)
tanuu = acc. dual. m. tanu: thin , slender , attenuated , emaciated , small , little , minute , delicate , fine
tau (acc. dual. m. tad): those two

praapa (3rd pers. sg. perfect pra-√aap): he obtained
dvitiiyam (acc.): the second
phalam (acc. sg.): n. fruit
aarya-dharme (loc. sg.): in the noble dharma

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