Thursday, May 27, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.50: Digging for Lotuses, In All Directions

shivaaH puShkariniish c' aiva
n' aajNayaa cetan"-otkarShaad
dikShu sarvaasv aciikhanan

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

And lovely lotus pools

Of finest quality water,

Not at anybody's behest,
but because of being uplifted,

They had dug in all directions.

Lovely lotus pools are a nice idea, but they can never become a reality without water, whose qualities as a substance supporting life might be unsurpassed by any substance. Furthermore, although Ashvaghosha seems to be giving all the credit to the Shakya bosses, the ultimate fact remained that some poor bugger had to pick up his spade and do the digging.

Apropos finest quality water, on arriving in France in a somewhat fatigued and dehydrated state, I wrote the following ...

The gold I dig out, in a dream,

Is not what others think.

Now burbling of the forest stream

Sounds wet enough to drink.

If the main point of yesterday's verse was to portray the Shakya dictators as benevolent dictators, today's verse can be regarded as providing further clarification of the same -- the 3rd line clarifies what genuine or spontaneous benevolence is; and the 3rd and 4th line together underline the point that nobody was pulling the strings of the Shakya bosses, but they were pulling the strings (again via the causative aorist form) of the guys doing the digging.

Looking at the 4th line on its own, "digging commanded in all directions" might be taken just as a description of sitting-buddha, having carved out of space a bit of solitude, enjoying that solitude... and yet not being satisfied with that level of practice and so regressing on and digging deeper towards...

the greater joy of balanced stillness, but not attaching to that joy, and so regressing on and digging deeper towards...

ultimate ease, and not being satisfied with this experience of complete ease but rather seeing a fault in it, and so regressing on and digging deeper towards...

total indifference and full awareness...

at which stage, even having dug down this deep, the five upper fetters, which are bound up with superiority and which tie a practitioner to the first person, might still remain to be cut...

EH Johnston:
Without order from anyone but only because of their exceeding wisdom, they dug in all directions pleasant lotusponds filled with water of pre-eminent virtue.

Linda Covill:
They had lovely lotus pools dug in every quarter, with water of the finest quality, not because they were asked to, but because they were noble-minded.

shivaaH (acc. pl. f.): auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign , kind , benevolent , friendly
puShkariniiH (acc. pl.): f. a lotus pool , any pool or pond
ca: and
eva: [emphatic]

param'-aagrya-guN'-aambhasaH (gen./abl. sg.): of/from water of the highest quality
parama: mfn. (superl. of para) most distant , furthest, best
agrya: mfn. foremost , topmost , principal , best
guNa: m. quality
ambhas: n. water

na: not
aajNayaa = inst. sg. aajNaa: f. order , command ; authority , unlimited power
cetan"-otkarShaad (abl. sg.): because of upward-pulling consciousness
cetanaa: f. consciousness , understanding , sense , intelligence
utkarSha: mfn. superior , eminent ; m. pulling upwards, m. excellence , eminence
ud: up, upwards
karSha: the act of drawing , dragging

dikShu = loc. pl. dish: f. quarter or region pointed at , direction
sarvaasu (loc. pl. f.): all
aciikhanan = 3rd per. pl. [causitive?] aorist khan: to dig


jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

I'm still checking in daily. Thanks for all your work in progress. I'm grateful for the chance you've given me to slowly consider this great thing.

But - I'm confused about the causitive aorist!

At first sight, the forms Ashvaghosha is using in these last few verses look to me like (simple) reduplicated 3rd person plural aorist indicatives. I checked with Peter Scharf's verbal morphology generator, entering, as examples, the roots khan and yuj, and the same forms as here came up. I then checked M R Kale's Higher Sanskrit Grammar, which goes into some detail: 'drop the aya of the causitive base...substitute a short vowel for long...reduplicate...' There were more steps to be taken, but skipping ahead, the results seemed no different from the regular reduplicated aorist. I must have missed something, but having got fed up with it, decided to ask you.

Can you help? How to tell a causitive aorist from a non-causitive reduplicated aorist?

jiblet said...

Edit -

"I checked with Peter Scharf's verbal morphology generator, entering, as examples, the roots khan and yuj, and the same forms as here came reduplicated non-causitive aorists."

Mike Cross said...

Hi jiblet,

Many thanks for this intervention.

How might I check myself with Peter Scharf's verbal morphology generator and with M R Kale's Higher Sanskrit Grammar? Is anything available online, or is it a question of buying the books?

Thanks again,


jiblet said...


You can find the verbal generator here;

- go to 'tools', then 'verbal paradigm generation'. PS has very recently changed the format of the site (I'm not sure it's better); you enter the root in Roman letters, but what shows is devanagari. There used to be multiple options for input/output; if there still available I haven't yet found them (I haven't looked).

M R Kale's "A Higher Sanskrit Grammar - for the use of school and college students" is available online here:

The book is very thorough, and cheap, but the passages in small print, particularly the devanagari, are often almost illegible. The online version is, thankfully, pretty clear. The hardback version might be easier to read than my paperback copy.

The section on Aorist causals is #548, at the bottom of page 340. (The book could do with an Index, too).

If I manage to re-apply myself and sort it out, I'll let you know...let me know if you get there first!

Mike Cross said...

Thanks jiblet, am v. grateful for the intervention and continued support.

EHJ's original translation of this verse, the verbal paradigm generator at, and the Witney Roots link on in the online Monier-Williams dictionary all seem to confirm your point that aciikhanan is a simple (non-causative) indicative aorist form of khan. But does this necessarily rule out a causative usage?

Going back to ajiijapan in 1.44 and 1.45, both the context and EHJ's translation point to a causative usage.

There they caused the Brahmans... to repeat the formulae

LC concurs:
Here they had brahmins... recite prayers

In those two verses, as I read them, anything other than a causative usage does not make sense. What do you think?

As an added complication, the verbal paradigm generator and Witney Roots give ajiijapan as 3rd person plural of the indicative aorist for jap (to pray) but for ji (to conquer) they both give ajiijayan.

jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

I found something in M R Kale which may explain things -

On page 340 (#545 ff), under the heading "Third Variety or Form [of the aorist]" is this:

#546 "Roots of the tenth class, causals, some derivatives...take this variety necessarily..."

So perhaps causitive aorists are indistinguishable from other reduplicated ("third variety") aorists; the meaning being dependant on context? It seems that way.

jiblet said...

...The conclusion seems to be that reduplicated aorists are very likely to be causitive, but not necessarily.

Does that make sense to you?

Mike Cross said...

Yes, many thanks jiblet, that does make a lot of sense.

My intuition is that Ashvaghosha used the form first in 1.44 and 1.45 in such a way that it would be obvious that he intended a causative usage.