Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.62: Sovereign Duty

aacaaravaan vinayavaan nayavaan kriyaavaan
dharmaaya n' endriya-sukhaaya dhRt'-aatapatraH
tad bhraatRbhiH parivRtaH sa jugopa raaShTraM
saMkrandano divam iv' aanusRto marudbhiH

saundaranande mahaa-kaavye kapilavaastu-varNano naama prathamaH sargaH

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

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

Possessed of good conduct,
discipline, prudence and industry,

Bearing the big umbrella for duty's sake,
not to pander to the power of the senses,

He guarded that realm,
surrounded by his brothers,

Like roaring Indra guarding heaven
with his retinue of storm-gods.

The 1st Canto, titled "A Portrayal of Kapilavastu,"
in the Epic Poem Handsome Nanda

aacaaravaan vinayavaan nayavaan kriyaavaan
Possessed of good conduct, discipline, prudence and industry:

Such was the forefather, Ashvagosha intuited (whether his intuition was based on scriptural evidence or an oral tradition or both or neither, we do not know) into whose biological lineage the Buddha must have been born.

For dharma's sake, for duty's sake:

To bear the big umbrella, as a symbol of royal sovereignty, was the duty of the Shakya king. Being a buddha-ancestor, Dogen reported, also entails carrying out a sovereign duty, and that duty is only one: to sit with the legs crossed in the supreme manner, right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh. So Ashvaghosha's sole sovereign duty, as a buddha-ancestor, was not the writing of Sanskrit verse. And even though to write this work was not for him the one great matter, he made the effort to write it, evidently taking some trouble to bury gold in every single verse.

n' endriya-sukhaaya

Not for the pleasure of the senses:

This theme is picked up in the first verse of the next canto, and is the main theme of Canto 13, Thwarting the Power of the Senses through Practice of Integrity. The contrast is between doing something because it feels good, or (more perniciously) feels right, and not doing something based on intuition, or reason, or wisdom -- based on a standard which is not in thrall to faulty sensory appreciation. In the king's case the standard was a sense of duty (dharma). In the case of a follower of the buddha, the standard is the practice of upright sitting with legs crossed in the supreme manner (also called dharma, or buddha-dharma).

Finally, anybody who has sewn a buddha-robe will know what it is like to survey for the first time a finished stripe -- one is amazed by the excellence of what one has produced, just by sewing one stitch at a time according to the traditional pattern. That is how I feel reviewing the translation of this canto: I didn't do anything original or creative, but nevertheless have produced something I can feel proud of.

During the course of translating these last 62 verses, the decision emerged to translate the Canto title as "A Portrayal of Kapilavastu" -- the point being that Ashvaghosha is painting a picture of how he envisaged that Kapilavastu must have been, based I think not so much on what he had observed through his senses as on intuition that was rooted in understanding of cause and effect.

EH Johnston:
As Indra governs Heaven with the Maruts in attendance, so he governed that realm with his retinue of brothers, being possessed of good conduct, discipline, wise policy and piety ; and he held sway there not for the indulgence of the senses but for righteousness' sake.

Linda Covill:
Virtuous, disciplined, politic and pious, he bore the royal umbrella for the sake of dharma and not to gratify his senses. With the support of his brothers he guarded his realm as Indra with his retinue of Maruts guards heaven.

End of Canto 1: A Description of Kapila-vastu

aacaaravaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. well-conducted , virtuous
aacaara: m. conduct , manner of action , behaviour , good behaviour , good conduct
-vat: (possessive suffix) possessed of, endowed with
vinayavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. well-behaved
vinaya: m. leading , guidance , training (esp. moral training) , education , discipline , control ; m. good breeding , propriety of conduct , decency , modesty , mildness ib. (in the puraaNas sometimes personified as son of kriyaa or of lajjaa)
nayavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. versed in polity , prudent
naya: m. conduct , behaviour , (esp.) prudent conduct or behaviour , good management ; wisdom , prudence , reason
kriyaavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. one who performs an action , active , busy , understanding business , fit for it ; performing ceremonies in the right manner
kriyaa: f. doing , performing , performance , occupation with (in comp.) , business , act , action , undertaking , activity , work , labour ; a religious rite or ceremony

dharmaaya (dat. sg.): for dharma
na: not
indriya-sukhaaya (dat. sg.): for sensory pleasure
indriya: n. bodily power , power of the senses ; the senses
sukha: n. ease , easiness , comfort , prosperity , pleasure
dhRt'-aatapatraH (nom. sg. m.): bearing the big umbrella
dhRta: mfn. held , borne , maintained , supported kept , possessed
aa-tapa-tra: n. " heat-protector"; a large umbrella (of silk or leaves)

tad (acc. sg.): that
bhraatRbhiH (inst. pl.): brothers
parivRtaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. surrounded by , covered with , veiled in (instr. or comp.)
saH (nom. sg. m.): he
jugopa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect gup: to guard , defend , protect
raaShTram (acc. sg.): mn. a kingdom , realm , empire , dominion , district , country

saMkrandanaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. calling or shouting or roaring; m. N. of indra
krand: to neigh (as a horse) , roar (metaphorically applied to the clouds and to wind and water)
divam (acc. sg.): n. heaven , sky
iva: like
anusRtaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. followed
marudbhiH = inst. pl. marut: m. pl. (prob. the "flashing or shining ones") the storm-gods (indra's companions)

saundaranande (loc. sg.): Handsome Nanda
mahaa-kaavye (loc. sg.): great kavya, epic poem
kapilavaastu-varNanaH (nom. sg.) Description of Kapilavastu
varNana: n. the act of painting , colouring &c ; delineation , description , explanation
naama: ind. by name
prathamaH (nom. sg. m.): first
sargaH (nom. sg.): m. letting go, emission ; a section , chapter , book , canto (esp. in an epic poem)

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