Monday, July 5, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.26: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Growing... Keeping Going... Stopping Wrong-Doing.

avardhiShTa guNaiH shashvad
avRdhan mitra-sampadaa
avartiShTa ca vRddheShu
n' aavRtad garhite pathi

- = = - - = = -
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Because of his virtues, he continually grew;

In his joy at the success of friends, he kept growing;

In the stream of forebears long since grown old,
again he kept going...

But go he did not, on a blameworthy path.

In this verse, as I read it, the use in the first three lines of four words originating in the roots √vRdh (to grow) and the phonetically similar √vRt (to turn, to roll on, to go on, to keep going), creates a sense of affirmation of organic growth and onward movement. Those four words are avardhiShTa (he grew), avRdhat (his joy grew), avartiShTa (he kept on going), and vRddheShu (grown-ups, elder antecedents).

The subsequent use in the fourth line of another verb from the root √vRt, but this time in the negative n' aavRtat (he did not go on), has the effect of stopping the reader in his tracks.

Having been stopped, then what? Where to turn next?

The primary principle to come back to might be: If in doubt, do nowt.

First up, in other words, do no harm, as per the first line of the universal precept of the seven ancient buddhas:

Not doing any wrong,
Allowing all that is good,
Purifying one's own mind:
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

As a crude explanation of pre-Buddha and post-Buddha dharma, dharma before the Buddha seems mainly to mean carrying out various religious duties and doing other things regarded as righteous. Then the Buddha made his earth-shattering discovery of a kind of dharma that manifested itself by itself when he simply did no wrong. To allow this dharma to be realized, the Buddha did not need to endure asceticism, or to have ceremonies around the extraction and imbibing of intoxicating soma juice, or recitation of the sacred 'om' syllable, and so on. The main thing he needed to do was simply guard against doing wrong.

So this dharma, the Buddha-Dharma, which begins and ends with no grand ambition, but which begins and ends by simply not going down a blameworthy path, is the dharma that is embodied in the practice of just sitting upright, with right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh...

EH Johnston:
He ever grew in virtue and rejoiced over the good fortune of his friends ; he placed his reliance on the aged and did not enter on low paths of conduct.

Linda Covill:
He continually grew in virtue, and he thrived on the success of his friends; he followed his elders, but would not proceed along a censured path.

avardhiShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist (middle voice) vRdh: to grow , grow up , increase , be filled or extended , become longer or stronger , thrive , prosper , succeed ; to be exalted or elevated , feel animated or inspired or excited by (instr. loc. gen.);
guNaiH (inst. pl.): m. good quality , virtue , merit
shashvat: ind. constantly, ever

avRdhat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist (active voice) vRdh: to increase , augment , strengthen , cause to prosper or thrive; to elevate , exalt , gladden , cheer , exhilarate (esp. the gods , with praise or sacrifice)

mitra-sampadaa (inst. sg.): friends' success
mitra: m. friend
sampad: f. success , accomplishment ,

avartiShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist (middle voice) vRt: to turn; to move or go on , get along , advance , proceed; to depend on (loc.); to be in a partic. condition , be engaged in or occupied with (loc.); to stand or be used in the sense of (loc.); to act , conduct one's self , behave towards (loc.); to originate , arise from (abl.) or in (loc.);
ca: and
vRddheShu = loc. pl. vRddha: m. an old man ; an elder descendant , a patronymic designating an elder descendant

na: not
avRtat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist (active voice) vRt: to proceed
garhite = loc. sg. garhita: mfn. (past. part √garh) blamed , censured ; contemned , despised , contemptible , forbidden , vile
garh: to lodge a complaint ; to accuse , charge with , reproach , blame , censure any one or anything (acc.); to be sorry for , repent of (acc.)
pathi = loc. sg. pathin: m. a way , path , road , course

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