Monday, July 12, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.33: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Defeating Pride by Regular Means

raaShTram anyatra ca baler
na sa kiM cid adiidapat
bhRtyair eva ca sodyogaM
dviShad-darpam adiidapat

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

No special tribute

Did he cause the kingdom to pay him;

But with sustained endeavour, and using only regulars,

He caused enemy pride to be cut down.

In this and the next verse, partly in the interests of poetry but also I think to keep alerting the reader to the existence of layers of meaning below the surface, the same causative aorist adiidapat is formed from multiple roots. In today's verse adiidapat is formed firstly from √1. daa, to give or pay, and secondly from √3. daa (= √do), to cut or mow down.

On the surface, today's verse seems to be about the amount of tax that was imposed by his majesty's government upon the tax-paying public for the upkeep of armed forces that were effective in keeping insolent enemies at bay. Thus, EHJ notes that the first line presumably means that he took only his one-sixth share of the crops without the additional cesses which are shown by the inscriptions to have been prevalent from an early date (see U.N. Ghoshal, Hindu Revenue System, Calcutta 1929).

But the real point of this verse, as I read it, is to presage the admonition to come in future cantos, and especially in Canto 9 (whose title is Denunciation of Vanity), against the vanity of thinking oneself to be special, against the expectation of special recognition -- in short, against pride.

Today's verse, then, belongs to a thread which also includes 2.2, 2.4, 2.16, 2.20, 2.39, and 2.41, in which the enemy called pride is singled out for particular attention.

The king caused that enemy to be cut down, Ashvaghosha tells us, bhRtyaiH, "using regulars." BhRtya means a servant (as in 2.27) or a dependent; it is related to the term bhRtaka, hired hand or hired labourer (as in 13.1, when Nanda is compared to a hired labourer working for a sexual pay-off from the legendary pink-footed nymphs). BhRtya is used here (as in 1.45) in the sense of a regular soldier. The implicit point, I think, is that a servant, hired hand, or regular soldier is one who is not regarded as anything special -- but rather as just another regular in the trenches.

So on the surface bhrtyaiH seems to mean using regular or ordinary soldiers, but Ashvagosha's real intention may be that washing the dishes, digging the vegetable patch, and sorting out the compost are all examples of using the regular or using the ordinary to bring about, indirectly, the downfall of an enemy.

Besides wishing to mirror the form of the two uses of adiidapat, I have translated adiidapat in line 4 as "he caused to be cut down" rather than simply "he cut down," because I think Ashvaghohsa is suggesting that some enemies are not susceptible to direct attack. But they may be conquered, eventually (as in 2.41), by indirect means. This point can be seen as implicit in a major thread of verses in this Canto in which the king deals with enemies, including 2.5, 2.10, 2.16, 2.21, 2.27, 2.29, 2.31, 2.39, and 2.41. These verses seem to presage the metaphor of a how, in the process of mining gold, a dirt-washer uses water to remove impurities from the gold.

Finally, when metaphors are set aside and mundane activities transcended, what might bhRtyaiH, "using regulars," really mean?

It might mean mindfulness of posture/breathing. It might mean going on hands and knees and bowing. It might mean investigating the process of getting back up to standing. It might mean lying on one's back and investigating the decision to move or not to move a leg. It might mean going for a walk, and while walking, knowing that one is walking. It might mean going, as reflective human beings have gone for thousands of years, to sit in the solitude of a forest where the only sounds heard are the timeless sounds of humming insects, singing birds and a babbling brook. In short, it might mean same old... same old... same old...

EH Johnston:
He did not make the land pay anything beyond the legal revenue, and it was only his soldiers whose efforts he needed to cut down the insolence of his enemies.

Linda Covill:
He did not oblige his people to pay anything other than rightful taxes; and he energetically excised the arrogance of enemies using just his regular troops.

raaShTram (acc. sg.): mn. a kingdom, realm , empire , dominion , district , country ; a people , nation , subjects
anyatra: ind. elsewhere, otherwise
ca: and
baleH = abl. sg. bali: m. tribute, offering, oblation ; tax , impost , royal revenue ; fragments of food at a meal

na: not
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
kiM cit: any
adiidapat = 3rd pers. sg. causitive aorist √1. daa: to cause to give or be given , cause to bestow or present or give up , oblige to pay , make restore

bhRtyaiH (inst. pl.): m. one who is to be maintained , a dependent , servant (also the servant of a king , a minister); m. nursing , care of ; mfn. to be nourished or maintained
bhRti: hire , wages or service for wages
eva: (emphatic)
ca: and
sodyogam (acc. sg.): mfn. making active exertion, energetic , enterprising; violent , dangerous (as a disease)
sa: (possessive prefix)
udyoga: m. the act of undertaking anything , exertion , perseverance , strenuous and continuous endeavour ; active preparation

dviShad-darpam (acc. sg.): enemy arrogance
dviShat: mfn. hating or detesting , hostile , unfriendly , foe , enemy
darpa: m. ( √dRp) pride , arrogance , haughtiness , insolence , conceit
√dRp: to be mad or foolish , to rave ; to be arrogant or proud
adiidapat = 3rd pers. sg. causitive aorist √3. daa (= √do): to cause to be cut out, to mow down
√do: to cut , divide , reap , mow

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