Friday, March 12, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.59: Gradually Eliminating Faults (ctd.)

agni-drum'-aajy'-ambuShu yaa hi vRttiH
doSheShu taaM vRttim iyaaya nando

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

The action which on fire, trees, ghee and water

Is exerted by rainclouds, wind, a flame and the sun,

Nanda exerted that action on the faults,

Quenching, uprooting, burning, and drying them up.

The quenching action which rainclouds exert on fire, it seems to me, is not so sudden, direct, or immediate: each raindrop has to travel the distance from sky to earth, and no drop can put out a fire all by itself.

Similarly when the wind uproots a tree, it does not tend to do so with one sudden gust that comes out of nowhere. A sudden gust comes in the context of a prolonged gale.

Ghee is a kind of clarified butter which, as such, is composed almost entirely of saturated fat, and burns like oil. In other words, when it combusts, it does not explode like gunpowder or burn up quickly like tinder but burns more slowly -- making it suitable to be used as the principal fuel for the Hindu votive lamp known as the diya or deep. Moreover, as shown by this photo
gratefully borrowed from Wikipedia, when ghee is burnt in a lamp, the connection between flame and ghee is an INDIRECT one, via a cotton wick.

Finally, water is dried up by the sun through evaporation, a gradual process.

So the battle being described is not a battle with any external opponent; it is a battle within the self, and the means to win it has to be a gradual, prolonged, and indirect method.

EH Johnston:
For Nanda applied to the faults, by extinguishing, uprooting, burning and drying up, the same action that clouds, wind, fire and the sun exert on fire, trees, ghee and water respectively.

Linda Covill:
That process by which fire, trees, ghee and water are extinguished, uprooted, burned up and dried by clouds, wind, fire and the sun -- Nanda applied that process to the faults.

agni: fire
druma: tree
aajya: n. ( √ aJj), melted or clarified butter (used for oblations , or for pouring into the holy fire at the sacrifice , or for anointing anything sacrificed or offered)
√ aJj: to anoint
ambuShu = loc. pl. n. ambu: water
yaa (nom. sg. f.): [that] which
hi: for
vRttiH (nom. sg.): f. rolling ; mode of conduct, course of action ; working , activity , function ;

kavandha = kabandha: mn. a big barrel or cask , a large-bellied vessel (metaphorically applied to a cloud) ; the clouds which obscure the sun at sunset and sunrise (sometimes personified)
vaayu: wind, air
agni: m. fire , sacrificial fire
divaakaraaNaaM = gen. pl. m. divaakara: "day-maker" , the sun

doSheShu (loc. pl.): to the faults
taam (acc. sg. f.): to that
vRttim (acc. sg.): f. action, mode of proceeding etc.
iyaaya = 3rd pers. perfect i: to undertake anything (with acc.), go on with
nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda

nirvaapaNa: n. the act of cooling or refreshing or quenching or delighting n. extinguishing , extinction , annihilation
utpaaTana: n. the act of tearing out or up ; n. pulling up by roots , eradicating
daaha: m. (fr. √ dah) burning , combustion , conflagration , heat
shoShaiH = inst. pl. shoSha: m. the act of drying up , desiccation


Anonymous said...

What means is mind or no-mind, even indirect?  Nanda has gone past these, isn't that what's implied by 'letting the thing do itself'?


Mike Cross said...

Everybody can understand, because the emphasis is so clear, that Ashvaghosha is describing the gradual elimination of faults by an indirect means -- like washing dirt away from grains of gold, with water.

But what it means 'to let' is just the point that hasn't been understsood yet.