Saturday, May 8, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.31: In the Flow with Water

tataH sa tair anugataH
syandana-sthair nabho-gataH
tad aashrama-mahii-praantaM
paricikShepa vaariNaa

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So they followed him in the flow

While, walking on air,

The ends of the earth of that ashram

He sprinkled with water.

Syandana means what flows or goes swiftly and by extension a chariot. Its root √syand, like several elements of this verse, has a watery connotation. So in this verse, as I read it, syandana means not only chariot but also flowing swiftly as water; in other words, I think syandana-stha suggests not only the princes being in chariots but also, and more importantly, their being in the flow.

Nabhas also has a watery connotation in its sense of mist or clouds or water vapour. But on the basis that Ashvaghosha never wrote any lame verse, I think the most fundamental meaning of nabho-gata is walking on air.

What Ashvaghosha is describing in this verse, then, is nothing too mystical or fantastic but just action in the groove of spontaneous flow.

It is not so much Harry Potter, but more in the stream of Swimming Without Stress.

EH Johnston:
So travelling in the air and followed by them in their chariots, he sprinkled water along the boundary of the land of that hermitage.

Linda Covill:
Then flying in the air, and followed by them in their chariots, he sprinkled a boundary of water drops round the ashram grounds.

tataH: ind. thence, from that, then
saH (nom. sg.): m. he
taiH (inst. pl.): by them
anugataH (nom. sg. m.): followed

syandana-sthaiH (inst. pl.) being in chariots
syandana: mfn. moving on swiftly , running (as a chariot); dripping , sprinkling (ifc.); a war-chariot , chariot ; n. flowing , rushing , going or moving swiftly ; n. water
√syand: to move or flow on rapidly , flow , stream , run , drive (in a carriage) , rush , hasten , speed ; to discharge liquid , trickle , ooze , drip , sprinkle , pour forth
stha: mfn. (only ifc.) standing , staying , abiding , being situated in
nabho-gataH (nom. sg. m.): being in the air, walking on air
nabhas: n. mist , clouds , vapour (esp. of the soma) ; the sky or atmosphere (du. heaven and earth ); ether (as an element)
gata: mfn. come to , approached , arrived at , being in , situated in , contained in (acc. or loc. or in comp); walked

tat (acc. sg. n.): that
aashrama-mahii-praantam (acc. sg. n.): the edge of the grounds of the ashram
aashrama: hermitage, ashram
mahii: " the great world " , the earth (in later language also = ground , soil , land , country)
praanta: edge , border , margin , verge

paricikShepa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect pari-√kShip: to throw over or beyond ; to put or lay or wind round ; to throw about , surround , encircle , embrace
vaariNaa = inst. sg. vaari: n. = vaar , water , rain , fluid , fluidity

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