Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.13: Non-Buddhist Integrity (ctd) -- Like Donkey Work

dhRty" aavaakShiit pratijNaaM sa
sad-vaaj" iiv' odyataaM dhuraM
na hy avaaNciic cyutaH satyaan
muhuurtam api jiivitaM

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

He resolutely carried out a promise undertaken

Like a good horse carrying a load;

For he did not desire, apart from truthfulness,

Even a moment of life.

In this verse Ashvaghosha seems to envisage a situation in which the keeping of a promise involves large amounts of donkey work... and real examples could be cited, in all probability tied to the first person singular and bound up with superiority (17.57).

But when a person comes back to the first dhyana, thinking the head forward and up, the back to lengthen and widen, and the limbs to release out of the body, there is a sense of a single human body sculpting a rounded niche for itself in space -- there being no donkey, no stick, no carrot.

So the content of this verse is deadly serious, and the metaphor of the horse carrying a load is a powerful one -- but not so powerful that it should be allowed to knock a bloke's sitting bones off his sitting-cushion.

EH Johnston:
He adhered with constancy to his promises, just as a good horse suffers cheerfully the upraised yoke ; for he did not desire life for even a moment at the price of falling away from the truth.

Linda Covill:
He carried out his promises rigorously, as a good horse carries the burden it has accepted, since he would not have wished to live a moment longer were he ever to deviate from telling the truth.

dhRtyaa = inst. sg. dhRti: f. holding; firmness , constancy , resolution
avaakShiit = 3rd pers. sg. aorist vah: , to carry , transport , convey ; to bear or carry on or with (Inc. or instr.)
pratijNaam (acc. sg.): f. admission , acknowledgment , assent , agreement , promise , vow ; a statement , assertion , declaration , affirmation
saH (nom. sg. m.): he

sad-vaaji (nom. sg.): a good horse
sat: mfn. real , actual , as any one or anything ought to be , true , good
vaajin: mfn. swift , spirited , impetuous , heroic , warlike; m. a warrior , hero , man ; m. the steed of a war-chariot; m. a horse , stallion
iva: like
udyataam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. raised , held up , elevated ; hold out , offered , presented ; undertaken , commenced , begun ; ready or eager for
dhuram (acc. sg.): m. yoke , pole , burden

na: not
hi: for
avaaNciit = 3rd pers. sg. aorist vaaNch: to desire , wish , ask for , strive after , pursue
cyutaH (nom. sg. m.): gone away from (abl.) ; (with abl. or ifc.) deviated from ; fallen from
cyu: to move to and fro , shake about ; to stir , move from one's place , go away , retire from (abl.) , turn off ; to deviate from (abl.) , abandon ; to come forth from , come out of; drop from
satyaat = abl. sg. satya: n. truth , reality ; n. speaking the truth , sincerity , veracity ; n. a solemn asseveration , vow , promise , oath

muhuurtam (acc. sg.): a moment
api: even
jiivitam (acc. sg.): n. life

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