Thursday, April 22, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.15 Not Losing Body & Life at Random

yatra sma miiyate brahma
kaish cit kaish cin na miiyate
kaale nimiiyate somo
na c' aa-kaale pramiiyate

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

There some prayed to Brahma;

None suffered the frustration of losing his way;

The soma, at the right moment, was measured out;

And nobody, at a random moment, came to naught.

The irony intended in this verse, as I read it, is reminiscent of Dogen's discussion in Shobogenzo of losing body and life.

In each line there is play on the ambiguity of miiyate, which is a passive form of two different roots: √mii (lose one's way, perish, come to nothing) and √ma (measure out, pray).

Line 2, as I read it, expresses the kind of certainty one sometimes sees among evangelical Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, zealous Buddhists, and the like.

The two standard examples in Shobogenzo of somebody, at a random moment, coming to naught, are Rei-un Shigon, who suddenly noticed the peach blossoms spreading out in the valley below him, and Kyogen Chikan, who when he was sweeping heard a pebble ping against a bamboo and suddenly woke up.

EH Johnston:
There some contemplated the Absolute; no one at all did hurt ; soma was measured out at the proper time ; and no one died untimely.

Linda Covill:
Here some contemplated God, none committed transgressions, soma juice was measured out at the right time and no one died at the wrong time.

yatra: ind. where, at which place
sma: [emphatic] " indeed " , " certainly " , " verily " , " surely "
miiyate = (1) 3rd pers. sg. passive mii: , to lessen , diminish , destroy (Pass. to perish , disappear , die) ; to lose one's way , go astray ; to transgress , violate , frustrate , change , alter
miiyate = (2) 3rd pers. sg. passive maa: to measure out; to pray
brahma = nom. sg. brahman: n. (lit. " growth " , " expansion " , " evolution " , " development " " swelling of the spirit or soul " , fr. √ bRh); pious effusion or utterance , outpouring of the heart in worshipping the gods , prayer ; n. (exceptionally treated as m.) the brahma or one self-existent impersonal Spirit , the one universal Soul (or one divine essence and source from which all created things emanate or with which they are identified and to which they return) , the Self-existent , the Absolute , the Eternal (not generally an object of worship but rather of meditation and-knowledge)

kaish cit (inst. pl.): by some
kaish cit (inst. pl.): by some
na: not
miiyate [as above] = 3rd. pers. sg. passive (1) mii or (2) maa

kaale: ind. loc. in time , seasonably
nimiiyate = 3rd. pers. sg. passive ni- √ma: , to measure , adjust
somaH (nom. sg.): m. (fr. √su) juice , extract , (esp.) the juice of the soma plant , (also) the soma plant itself (said to be the climbing plant Sarcostema Viminalis or Asclepias Acida , the stalks of which were pressed between stones by the priests , then sprinkled with water , and purified in a strainer ; whence the acid juice trinkled into jars or larger vessels ; after which it was mixed with clarified butter , flour &c , made to ferment , and then offered in libations to the gods ....

na: not
a-kaale: ind. loc. at a wrong or bad time
pramiiyate = (1) 3rd. pers. sg. passive pra- √mii: to frustrate , annul , destroy , annihilate ; to change , alter ; to neglect , transgress , infringe ; to miss , lose (one's way or time) , forget ; to cause to disappear , put out of sight ; to leave behind , outstrip , surmount , surpass (atmanepada or passive pra-miiyate) to come to naught , perish , die
pramiiyate = (2) 3rd. pers. sg. passive pra- √ maa: to measure , mete out , estimate ; to form , create , make ready , arrange ; to form a correct notion of (acc.) , understand , know

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