Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.56: Fiscal Karma

yasmaad a-nyaayatas te ca
kaM cin n' aaciikaran karaM
tasmaad alpena kaalena
tat tad" aapuupuran puraM

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

Since they never levied any tax

That was not just,

Therefore in a short time

They caused the city to be full.

I am not sure what the proper term is to describe the repetition of sounds that mirror each other in lines 2 and 4...
aaciikaran karam...
aapuupuran puram...

Is it alliteration? Or assonance? Or both? Whatever literary critics call it, that juxtaposition of sounds is not incidental, not an act of God; rather, in the manner of the Shakya princes who were pulling the strings in the founding of Kapilavastu, Ashvaghosha planned it that way.

In terms of content, in this and the next two verses, as I read them, Ashvaghosha is indirectly, poetically, non-preachily, saying something about how cause and effect operates inviolably in all human affairs.

In lines 1 and 3 of this verse, and again in lines 3 and 4 of the next verse, as in the many other verses where it appears, the construction yasmaad... tasmaad... (since... therefore...) may be deliberately ponderous: the intention might be that the reader should dwell on cause and effect, pondering that because of this cause, this effect was effected.

When the population of an ancient city-state grew, even if the ancients thought it must be due to divine intervention, truly it was not due to divine intervention; it was due to causes like a clean water supply, or at least due to tea-drinking habits that caused people to boil their drinking water; or even less romantically, it was due to boring old fiscal probity.

In a similar vein, Dogen writes in his instructions for sitting-dhyana that a quiet room is good, and food and drink should be taken in moderation. Because of such causes, sitting-dhyana takes effect. So this verse also, at least as I read it, profoundly relates to sitting-dhyana.

A final thought, and explanation of why this is being published late in the day, is that since I am attached to the idea of publishing one verse per day, every day, therefore I got on my bicycle and cycled 6 miles to this internet cafe to publish this post.

It has been an interesting day, in which the enjoyment of hours spent sitting, cycling and doing by hand, spade and wheelbarrow an earth-moving job that would take minutes with a JCB, has been contrasted with the frustration of not being able to connect to the internet:

EH Johnston:
And as they levied no unjust tax, in a short time they filled the city with people then.

Linda Covill:
and since they never raised unjust taxes, in no long time they populated the city,

yasmaat (correlative of tasmaat): ind. since
a-nyaaya-taH: ind. irregularly, unlawfully, unjustly
a-nyaaya: m. unjust or unlawful action
taH (ablative suffix)
te (nom. pl. m.): they
ca: and

kaM cid: any
na: not
aciikaran = 3rd pers. pl. aorist kR: to do, make
karam (acc. sg.): m. a ray of light , sunbeam , moonbeam ; hail ; royal revenue , toll , tax , tribute , duty

tasmaad (correlative of yasmaat): ind. therefore
alpena kaalena (inst. sg.): in little time, in a short time

tat (acc. sg. n.): that
tadaa: ind. at that time , then , in that case
apuupuran = 3rd pers. pl. [causative] aorist pRR: to fill
puram (acc. sg.): n. city

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