Monday, June 21, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.12: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.)

adhyaiShTa yaH paraM brahma
na vyaiShTa satatam dhRteH
daanaany adita paatrebhyaH
paapaM n'aakRta kiM cana

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

He minded the supreme sacred word;

In holding firm, he never failed;

He gave fitting gifts to deserving recipients;

No evil did he do at all.

By paraM brahma, "the supreme pious utterance," Ashvaghosha might have in mind the monosyllable that yogis minded before the time of Gautama Buddha, placing it at the commencement of their sacred texts, the same monosyllable that Ashvaghosha himself placed at the commencement of Saundarananda. I am referring to the first word of the invocation oM namo buddhaaya, namely: om. Minding of this sacred word, evidently, Ashvaghosha is portraying as a virtue, though it is equally evidently not an exclusively Buddhist virtue.

Line 2 might also be read, literally as "In fortitude he was never beheld." If that is so, then I think the line could mean that the king's fortitude was out of sight, eternally imponderable. Either way, the line is an emphatic description of another in the long list of the non-Buddhist king's virtues, namely, his great fortitude.

In line 3 adita evidently means "he gave," presumable from the root √daa, to give, but again exact understanding of the grammar has eluded me. In any event, the principle is included in line 3, as I read it, that what constitutes a good gift depends very much on individual differences and circumstances. A big ice-cream might be a very fitting gift for a little girl by the sea-side on a hot summer's day, but not necessarily for her diabetic grandma.

Line 4, as I read it, clinches the argument that what Ashvaghosha is thinking about in this part is universal virtue -- because not to do any evil is not the personal teaching of Gautama Buddha; it is the universal precept of the Seven Buddhas.

EH Johnston:
He studied the supreme religious lore, he never failed in fortitude, he gave gifts to the deserving, he committed no sin.

Linda Covill:
He studied high religious knowledge, his resolution never ceased, he was generous to worthy recipients, and he did no evil.

adhyaiShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist dhyai: to think of , imagine , contemplate , meditate on , call to mind , recollect
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
param (acc. sg. n.): mfn. far, distant, beyond , on the other or farther side of , extreme ; highest , supreme , chief
brahma= acc. sg. brahman: n. (lit. " growth " , " expansion " , " evolution " , " development " " swelling of the spirit or soul " , from √bRh) pious effusion or utterance , outpouring of the heart in worshipping the gods , prayer ; the sacred word (as opp. to vaach , the word of man) , the veda , a sacred text , a text or mantra used as a spell ; the sacred syllable Om ; religious or spiritual knowledge (opp. to religious observances and bodily mortification such as tapas &c ); holy life (esp. continence , chastity ; cf. brahma-charya)

na: not
vyaiShTa (1) = 3rd pers. sg. aorist (aatmane-pada) vi- √iikSh: to look at , see , behold ; to consider , observe , discern , ascertain , understand ; to think fit or proper ; to look over , peruse , study
vyaiShTa (2) = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect (aatmana-pada) vi- √iish: to be invalid or ineffective, to fail
vi: (negative or privatory prefix)
√iish: to own , possess ; to belong to ; to dispose of , be valid or powerful;
satatam: ind. ever ; with na = never
dhRteH = gen. sg. dhRti: f. holding , seizing , keeping , supporting ; firmness , constancy , resolution , will

daanaani (acc. pl.): n. the act of giving ; donation, gift
adita = (?) adiShTa: 3rd pers. sg. (aatmane-pada) aorist √daa: to give
paatrebhyaH = dat. pl. paatra: n. any vessel or receptacle; (met.) a capable or competent person

paapam (acc. sg.): n. evil , misfortune , ill-luck , trouble , mischief, harm
na: not
akRta = 3rd pers. sg. (aatmane-pada) aorist kR: to do
kiM cana: at all


jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

I think adita might be the 3rd person middle aorist of the root √daa, to cut, divide, share - which Whitney lists as 'daa2'; perhaps more appropriate in the contexts of gifts? Although the usual form would be adiShTa, in his Grammar (#834a), Whitney writes, "In the middle, a considerable part of the forms are...held by the grammarians to belong to the s aorist, with the omission of the s...Thus..." He then includes adita amongst examples of the aatmenapada conjugation of √daa2. His bracketing of the examples confuses me a little, but I believe that's what he's saying; that the examples are all forms of that root. (Otherwise, he gives it as the passive past participle of the same root).

As with eyivaan, if further information comes to light I'll let you know.

jiblet said...

...Checking what Whitney says again, I'm not sure I've got this right. Adita might be the same in the middle s-less sigmatic aorist whether it's from 'give' or from 'share'. Wishful thinking and impatience clouding judgement? I'll have another look.

jiblet said...


I may have found the answer in M.R. Kale's Higher Sanskrit Grammar. His list of roots gives three forms of daa: 1) to give; 2) to cut; 3) to give, to put (the first two he lists as parasmaipada forms only, the third as both an aatmane- and a parasmai-pada form). The 3rd person singular aorist of daa3 is given as adita. (The 3rd sing aorist of daa1 is given as adaat; of daa2: adaasit).

That'll do me. Have you discovered anything different?

Mike Cross said...

Many thanks, jiblet. That will do me too.

I must download the Kale Grammar using the link you kindly provided before -- I was in France then but am back in the UK now on my own internet connection.

Thanks again for the clarification.