Thursday, March 11, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.58: The War Against Sleep (ctd.)

bodhy-aNga-naagair api saptabhiH sa
sapt' aiva citt'-aanushayaan mamarda
dviipaan iv' opasthita-vipraNaashaan
kaalo grahaiH saptabhir eva sapta

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Again, with the seven elephants
of the limbs of awakening

He crushed the seven dormant tendencies of the mind,

Like Time, when their destruction is due,

Crushing the seven continents
by means of the seven planets.

In Sanskrit the seven limbs of awakening are:
(1) dharma-pravicaya: investigation of things
(2) viirya: manliness, directed energy
(3) priiti: joy
(4) prashrabdhi: confidence
(5) upekShaa: indifference, equanimity, detachment
(6) samaadhi: balanced stillness, [true] concentration
(7) smRti: mindfulness, awareness

The seven dormant tendencies, then, might be understood to be the opposite of these seven limbs of awakening -- i.e. failure to examine things, faint-heartedness, misery, doubt, attachment, imbalance, and inattention.

But the essential opposition is not necessarily sevenfold: it is just that between being awake and being asleep, between acting consciously and re-acting unconsciously -- the opposition between, for example, upright sitting as conscious practice of non-doing, and upright sitting as blind end-gaining.

Being asleep, reacting unconsciously, and sitting upright in a blind end-gaining manner... when I look back on 50 years, those could be chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the story so far of my various lives...

And coming from this background I think I understand why the flavour of Ashvaghosha's teaching is not merely negative but positively destructive. For behind the description of war elephants trampling enemies to death, like Time crushing seven continents, is the supremely constructive principle, or the intuitive wisdom, that when we stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself.

EH Johnston:
And with the seven elephants of the constituents of enlightenment he crushed the seven evil latent tendencies of the mind, as Time with the seven planets crushes the seven continents when the time of their destruction has arrived.

Linda Covill:
With his seven elephants of the constituents of enlightenment he also trampled down the seven negative predispositions of the mind, as Time with the seven planets tramples down the seven continents when their destruction is due.

bodhi: m. awakening, enlightenment
aNga: n. a limb of the body ; a limb , member ; the body ; a subordinate division or department , especially of a science
naagaiH = inst. pl. naaga: m. elephant
api: also
saptabhiH (inst.): with the seven
sa (nom. sg. m.): he

sapta (acc.): the seven
eva: (emphatic)
citt'aanushayaan (acc. pl. m): dormant enmities of the mind
citta: mind
anushaya: m. (from anu- √ zii) close connection as with a consequence , close attachment to any object; (in phil.) the consequence or result of an act ; repentance , regret ; hatred ; ancient or intense enmity
anu- √ zii: to sleep with, lie along or close
mamarda = 3rd. pers. perfect mRd: to press , squeeze , crush , pound , smash , trample down , tread upon , destroy

dviipaan = acc. pl. dviipa: mn. an island, peninsular; a division of the terrestrial world (either 7 or 4; they are situated round the mountain meru, and separated from each other by distinct concentric circumambient oceans)
iva: like
upasthita-vipraNaashaan (acc. pl. m.): due for destruction
upasthita: mfn. present , near at hand , ready for ; near , impending
vipraNaasha: m. destruction
vi: prefix used to mean "asunder," or as intensifier, or having no meaning
praNaasha: m. vanishing , disappearance , cessation , loss , destruction , death

kaalaH (nom. sg.): m. Time, Death
grahaiH = inst. pl. graha: m. "seizing," a planet (as seizing or influencing the destinies of men in a supernatural manner ; sometimes 5 are enumerated , viz. Mars , Mercury , Jupiter , Venus , and Saturn; also 7 i.e. the preceding with raahu and ketu)
saptabhiH (inst.): with the seven
eva: (emphatic)
sapta (acc.): the seven

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