Monday, May 17, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.40: Was Three out of Four Sufficient?

alaM dharm'-aartha-kaamaanaaM
nikhilaanaam avaaptaye
nidhayo n' aika-vidhayo
bhuurayas te gat'-aarayaH

- = = = - = = =
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Sufficient for full enjoyment

Of dharma, wealth, and pleasure;

Abundant; and of many kinds:

These were treasures beyond an enemy's reach.

These treasures, in other words, were not material treasures but were rather secrets of how to live a meaningful life -- at least as meaning was understood in India before the time of the Buddha's enlightenment.

Dharma, wealth, and pleasure are three of the four puruShaartha, or aims of human existence (puruSha = human being; artha = aim, purpose, meaning) originally discussed in Book 12 of the Mahabharata (12.161).

The four aims in Sanskrit are:
dharma: discharge of duty or religious observance
artha: acquirement of wealth
kaama: pleasure
mokSha: liberation or release.

The significance of Ashvaghosha here omitting to mention mokSha, release, is underlined by what he writes about release in the penultimate verse of Saundarananda:

This work is pregnant with the purpose of release [mokSha]:
it is for cessation, not for titillation;

It is fashioned out of the medicine of poetry
for the purpose of capturing an audience
whose minds are on other things.

That I have handled in it matters other than liberation [mokSha],
following the conventions of a poem,

Is through asking myself how I might make it palatable,
like bitter medicine mixed with something sweet.

The implicit point in today's verse, then, is that although the princes learned valuable lessons of life, the secrets that were thus revealed to them were sufficient only for attainment of three of the four goals, and not sufficient for attainment of the ultimate goal that the Buddha would later set himself, namely mokSha, which means liberation, setting loose, coming undone, being released from.... what?

For a start, it might mean being released from attachments to dharma, wealth, and pleasure.

EH Johnston:
These treasures were of many kinds and abundant, ample for the complete attainment of the objects of religion, wealth and pleasure, and not subject to the loss at the hands of foes.

Linda Covill:
abundant treasures of all kinds, arousing no enmity, and enough to fulfill the goals of dharma, wealth and pleasure.

alam: ind. enough , sufficient , adequate
dharm'-aartha-kaamaanaam (gen. pl.): for dharma, wealth, pleasure
dharma: m. dharma; virtue , morality , religion , religious merit , good works; (in comp = dharman)
dharman: n. law , rule , duty
artha: mn. aim, purpose ; substance , wealth , property , opulence , money
kaama: m. wish , desire , longing ; love , affection , object of desire or of love or of pleasure ; pleasure , enjoyment ; love , especially sexual love or sensuality

nikhilaanaam (gen. pl.): mfn. complete , all , whole , entire
ni: (prefixed to nouns, has meaning of negation or privation)
khila: n. " a space not filled up , gap "
avaaptaye = dat. sg. avaapta: mfn. attained or reached; obtained , got

nidhayaH = nom. pl. nidhi: m. a store , hoard , treasure
n' aika-vidhayaH (nom. pl. m.): of many kinds, manifold, various

bhuurayaH (nom. pl. m.): mfn. much , many , abundant , frequent , numerous , great , important , strong , mighty
te (nom. pl. m.): they
gat'-aarayaH (nom. pl. m.): beyond enmity, come forth from enemies
gata: mfn. gone, departed; come , come forth from (in comp. or abl.)
ari: m. an enemy

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