Thursday, July 15, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.36: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Inhibition & Direction

gurubhir vidhivat kaale
saumyaH somam amiimapat
tapasaa tejasaa c'aiva
dviShat-sainyam amiimapat

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

He caused the soma to be measured out on time,

In the presence of the gurus, and obeying the rule,
as a cool, mild man of soma;

And yet, with intense ardour, with fiery energy,

He caused the enemy army to atrophy.

saumyaH, "man of soma," has connotations that are diametrically opposed to the tapas, intense heat, and tejas, fiery energy, of line 3.

In later Cantos, the Buddha frequently addresses Nanda in the vocative case as saumya, which is generally translated "my friend!" but which literally means "man of the soma!" This is because the qualities attributed to the soma, and to the moon-god with whom sacrificial drinking of the soma was associated, are those of being in the first instance cool and moist; and by extension placid, gentle, mild, happy, pleasant, cheerful.

This verse seems to me to relate profoundly with the mutually antagonistic physiological functions that my old guru Gudo Nishijima described as balance of the parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system. Equally it seems to me to relate profoundly with the practical field of endeavour that FM Alexander described as inhibition and direction.

In general, this verse causes me to consider, the soma might be taken as symbolizing the function of a parasympathetic nervous system which, in a buddha, is healthy and strong, but at the same time opposed by the function of a sympathetic nervous system which is also healthy and strong. It is just a thought... but a thought, I know, that would delight my old guru.

In regard to the enemy (whose named might be "friend") which is anger, for example, how can fiery energy be brought to bear so as to cause the fiery energy which is anger to diminish or atrophy? The answer might lie in directing one's fiery energy consciously in the service of some constructive purpose.

EH Johnston:
Benignly at the due time with the due ceremony he caused his priests to measure out the soma; by his holiness he put down the army of internal foes, and by his courage his external foes.

Linda Covill:
This gentle king had the gurus mete out soma juice at the appropriate times according to injunction while by his austerity and brilliance he diminished the army of his enemies.

gurubhiH (inst. pl.): m. any venerable or respectable person ; m. a spiritual parent or preceptor (from whom a youth receives the initiatory mantra or prayer , who instructs him in the shaastras and conducts the necessary ceremonies up to that of investiture which is performed by the aachaarya) ; mfn. heavy
vidhivat: ind. according to rule , duly
kaale: ind. loc. in time , seasonably

saumyaH = nom. sg. saumya: mfn. relating or belonging to soma (the juice or the sacrifice or the moon-god) , connected or dealing with soma , having his nature or qualities &c ; cool and moist ; " resembling the moon " , placid , gentle , mild ; happy , pleasant , cheerful ; m. an adherent , worshipper; a Brahman
somam (acc. sg.): m. juice , extract , (esp.) the juice of the soma plant
amiimapat = 3rd pers. sg. causitive aorist maa: to cause to be measured or built , measure , build , erect

tapasaa = inst. sg. tapas: n. warmth , heat ; pain , suffering ; religious austerity , bodily mortification , penance , severe meditation , special observance
tejasaa = inst. sg. tejas: n. the sharp edge (of a knife &c ) , point or top of a flame or ray , glow , glare , splendour , brilliance , light , fire ; fiery energy ; intensity
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)

dviShat-sainyam (acc. sg.): hostile army ; the army of his foes
dviShat: mfn. hating or detesting , hostile , unfriendly , foe , enemy
sainya: mfn. belonging to or proceeding from an army ; m. a soldier ; m. an army ; m. a sentinel , guard ; n. a body of troops , army ; n. a camp
amiimapat = 3rd pers. sg. causitive aorist mii: to lessen , diminish , destroy

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