bahviir adhyagamad vidyaa
sthitaH kaarta-yuge dharme
dharmaat kRcchre 'pi n' aasrasat
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He studied many subjects
Without being interested in objects;
Abiding in dharma as it was in the golden age,
He did not, even in a predicament,
let himself drift from dharma.
This verse as I read it, in a nutshell, is all about not end-gaining.
In terms of the imagery of Chinese Zen, it is all about being content to polish a tile, and sticking to the principle of polishing a tile, without feeling anxious about whether or not one is making a mirror.
Alexander teacher Marjory Barlow said, quoting her uncle, "Stick to principle, and it will all open out like a great big cauliflower!"
Why a cauliflower?
Because if one succeeds in growing a cauliflower one gets a pretty impressive result; at the same time, as vegetables go, a great big cauliflower is not an easy one to grow.
Indifferent to sensual pleasures, he studied many sciences and, abiding by the law of righteousness of the golden age, he did not swerve from it even in extremities.
He had no interest in sensuality, but studied many sciences, keeping to dharma as it was in the golden age and not straying from it even in rough times.
bahviiH = acc. pl. f. bahu: mfn. much , many , frequent , abundant , numerous
adhyagamat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist adhi- √ gam: to go up to , approach , overtake , to fall in with , to meet , find , discover , obtain ; to accomplish ; to study , read
vidyaaH (acc. pl.): f. knowledge , science , learning , scholarship , philosophy (according to some there are four vidyaas or sciences , 1. trayii , the triple veda ; 2. aanviikShikii , logic and metaphysics ; 3. daNDa-niiti , the science of government ; 4. vaarttaa , practical arts , such as agriculture , commerce , medicine &c ; and Manu adds a fifth , viz. aatma-vidyaa , knowledge of soul or of spiritual truth)
viShayeShu = loc. pl. viShaya: an object of sense ; anything perceptible by the senses , any object of affection or concern or attention , any special worldly object or aim or matter or business , (pl.) sensual enjoyments , sensuality ; any subject or topic , subject-matter ; an object (as opp. to " a subject ")
a-kutuuhalaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. not taking interest in (loc.)
a: (negative prefix)
kutuuhala n.. curiosity , interest in any extra-ordinary matter ; inclination , desire for (prati loc. or in comp.) ; eagerness , impetuosity ; what excites curiosity , anything interesting , fun
sthitaH (nom. sg. m.): standing , staying , situated , resting or abiding or remaining in (loc. or comp.)
kaarta-yuge (loc. sg.): mfn. relating to the kRta age
kRta: n. N. of the first of the four ages of the world (also called satya or " the golden age ")
yuga: n. a yoke ; an age of the world ,
dharme (loc. sg.): the law, practice, justice, duty etc.
dharmaat (abl. sg.): the law, practice, justice, duty etc.
kRcchre (loc. sg.): mn. difficulty , trouble , labour , hardship , calamity , pain , danger
aarasat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist sraMs: to fall , drop , fall down , slip off , get loose from (abl.) ; to fall asunder or to pieces ; to hang down , dangle , drop; to be broken , perish , cease ; to go