Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.27: The Forest Exudes Balance

tad vanaM muninaa tena
taish ca kShatriya-puMgavaiH
shaantaaM guptaaM ca yugapad
brahma-kShatra-shriyaM dadhe

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

The forest, through the sage,

And through those warrior heroes,

Radiated tranquillity and security --

The majesty of the brahmin and the kshatriya,
in one yoke.

This verse, as I read it, affirms the brahmin pursuit of tranquillity not as an exercise in end-gaining for quietness, but as one half of a coin that has two sides. In the background is Ashvaghosha's awareness of the dangers of two parts of one whole not being in one yoke.

I would suggest, as a crude approximation of the truth, that when yoking (yoga) is practised well, the natural result is that everything pulls together (samaadhi).

Imbalance, in societal terms no less than on the level of the individual human body, is liable to result in revolution and civil war.

For those of us who are not steeped in ancient Indian history,one handle might be provided by the story of the "warrior Brahman" Parashurama. Parashurama was the great-grandson of Aurva, the Bhargava sage mentioned in 1.25. The Wikipedia entry on him cites four passages from the Mahabharata which provide evidence of his and his forefathers animosity towards kshatriya tribes.

EH Johnston:
The forest assumed simultaneously the glory of Brahmans and Kshatriyas, the glory of sacred peace through the sage, of protection through Kshatriya heroes.

Linda Covill:
At one and the same time the forest emanated tranquillity and security, the respective glories of the brahmin and the kshatriya, because of the sage and those warrior heroes.

tad (nom. sg.): n. that ; ind. then ; thus
vanam (nom. sg.): n. forest
muninaa (inst. sg.): through the sage
tena (inst. sg.): through him ; ind. in that manner , thus ; on that account , for that reason , therefore

taiH (inst. pl.): through them
ca: and
kShatriya-puMgavaiH (inst. pl.): through the warrior-heroes
kShatriya: m. a member of the military or reigning order (which in later times constituted the second caste)
puMgava: m. a bull ; a hero , eminent person , chief of (ifc.)
puMs: a man , a male being ; a human being
gava: a cow, cattle

shaantaam (acc. sg. f): mfn. appeased , pacified , tranquil , calm , free from passions , undisturbed
guptaam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. protected , guarded , preserved
ca: and
yugapad: ind. " being in the same yoke or by the side of each other " , together , at the same time , simultaneously

brahma-kShatra-shriyam (acc. sg. f.): the light of the priest and of the warrior
brahman: n. the class of men who are the repositories and communicators of sacred knowledge , the Brahmanical caste as a body (rarely an individual Brahman)
kShatra: n. the military or reigning order (the members of which in the earliest times , as represented by the Vedic hymns , were generally called rAjanya , not kSatriya ; afterwards , when the difference between brahman and kSatra or the priestly and civil authorities became more distinct , applied to the second or reigning or military caste)
shrii: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory , beauty , grace , loveliness ; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches ; high rank , power , might , majesty , royal dignity
dadhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect dhaa: (A1.) to accept , obtain , conceive (esp. in the womb) , get , take ; to assume , have , possess , show , exhibit , incur , undergo

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