Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.49: Benevolent Dictatorship

yatra te hRShTa-manasaH
shriimanty udyaana-saMjNaani
yasho-dhaamaany aciikaran

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There with glad hearts,

Desiring to bring joy to the citizens,

They commissioned what we call 'gardens' --

Glorious abodes of beauty.

The main point of this verse, as I read it, is to demonstrate that though the Shakya princes were dictators, they had the redeeming quality of benevolence. They were benevolent dictators.

This redeeming benevolence, or altruism, or compassion -- the genuine, natural, glad-hearted desire to benefit others, call it what you will -- is the quality that seemed to redeem Kapila when his attention became directed from up his own ascetic practice and out towards the young princes who arrived at his ashram.

My maternal grandmother used to have a stone bird bath with engraved on it GOD IS IN THE GARDEN. I don't know about that. When it comes to God, I am a non-believer. But I come back to the garden for redemption. As I see it, and especially when I sit in it, the garden is the great redeemer...

I am weak but though art mighty;
Hold me in thy powerful hand!

Garden, mirror of nature, glorious abode of beauty, great redeemer... What's in a name?

What's in a name? asked Juliet, that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.

If you ask me, there is a lot in name. For example, how can "seated meditation" be the same as "sitting-meditation"? If you ask me, if Tom, Dick or Harry calls the one great matter "seated meditation," as if it were two great matters, then Tom, Dick and Harry's sitting-meditation has yet to become sitting-meditation, in which case Tom, Dick and Harry have yet to become Tom, Dick and Harry.

I don't believe in seated meditation, and don't believe in God. But I come back to sitting-meditation, in a quiet garden by the forest, and am redeemed by something great. It makes the heart glad and re-kindles the desire to share the enjoyment with others.

EH Johnston:
There with joyful hearts, anxious to gratify the citizens, they made magnificent abodes of fame known as gardens.

Linda Covill:
To please the citizens, the princes gladly commissioned magnificent fame-winning sites and designated them as public gardens.

yatra: ind. at which place
te (nom. pl. m.): they
hRShTa-manasaH (nom. pl. m.): with
hRShTa: mfn. thrilling with rapture , rejoiced , pleased , glad , merry ; bristling , erect , standing on end (said of the hairs of the body)
manas: mind

paura-priiti-cikiirShayaa (inst. sg.): with the intention of giving pleasure to the citizens
paura: m. a townsman , citizen
priiti: f. any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy , gladness , satisfaction
cikiirShaa: f. intention or desire to make or do or perform (generally ifc.)

shriimanti = acc. pl. n. shriimat: mfn. beautiful , charming , lovely , pleasant , splendid , glorious
udyaana-saMjNaani (acc. pl. n.): named "gardens"
udyaana: n. a park , garden , royal garden
saMjNa = ifc. for saM-jNaa: a name , appellation , title , technical term (ifc. = " called , named ")

yasho-dhaamaani (acc. pl. n.): abodes of renown / beauty
yashas: n. beautiful appearance , beauty , splendour , worth ; honour , glory , fame , renown
dhaaman: n. dwelling-place , house , abode , domain (esp. seat of the gods)
aciikaran = 3rd pers. pl. aorist kR: to do, make ; to cultivate ; to commision

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