Friday, August 6, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.58: Handsome Nanda

diirgha-baahur mahaa-vakShaaH
siMh'-aaMso vRShabh'-ekShaNaH
vapuSh" aagryena yo naama
sundar' opapadaM dadhe

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

Long in the arm, broad in the chest,

With shoulders of a lion and eyes of a bull,

He because of his superlative looks

Bore the epithet "handsome."

We are prone to think that Dharma is all about spiritual brightness and not about looking good, but this might be a view that is not true.

It might be a view that deserves to be challenged.

For example: Is being long in the arm and wide across the torso only a matter of genetic inheritance; or is it possible, through undue muscular contraction, to become unduly short in the arm and narrow across the torso -- and conversely, through muscular release, to allow oneself to be as long as nature intended in the arm and as wide as nature intended across the chest?

Again, how are the shoulders of a lion? Pulled up in fear around the lion's ears? Or pulled down in the other direction, so that the lion's breathing is restricted?

And how are the eyes of a bull? As round and full as nature intended? Or misshapen and contracted by undue muscular tension?

In general, what kind of person has superlative looks? One whose face is distorted by violent emotions, suffering and ill-health? Or, on the contrary, one who is relatively free of those afflictions?

If I personalize this comment -- not always a sensible or necessary thing to do, but somehow I can't resist it -- when I began my Alexander teacher training at the age of 35, one of my fellow trainees was a French woman who, on seeing a photo of me aged 22, exclaimed in evident astonishment in her thick French accent, "But Mike, you wazz 'an-some!"

Evidently, the honest perception of my French friend Solauge was that somewhere between the age of 22 and 35 I had somehow gone wrong.

Did I go wrong because of failure to adhere to a view?

Or did I go wrong because of adhering to a view?

I went wrong because of tethering myself to a view, an -ism. And that point is not up for discussion. That is me telling you the truth. If you can't hear it, the fault is not in me. It is your fault that you don't yet have ears to listen.

EH Johnston:
Long in the arm he was, deep-chested, with the shoulders of a lion and the eyes of a bull, and because of his wondrous form he was styled 'the Fair'.

Linda Covill:
He was long-armed and wide-chested, with the shoulders of a lion and the eyes of a bull -- and he bore the epithet "handsome" due to his superlative looks.

diirgha-baahuH (nom. sg. m.): long-armed
diirgha: long
baahu: arm
mahaa-vakShaaH (nom. sg. m.): broad-chested
mahat: great, broad, deep
vakShas: chest

siMh'-aaMsaH (nom. sg. m): with shoulders of a lion
siMha: lion
aMsa: shoulder
vRShabh'-ekShaNaH: with eyes of a bull
vRShabha: bull
iikShaNa: eye

vapuShaa = inst. sg. vapus: n. form , figure , (esp.) a beautiful form or figure , wonderful appearance , beauty
agryena = inst. sg. agrya: foremost , topmost , principal , best
yaH (nom. sg. m.): who
naama = acc. sg. naaman: n. name ; ind. (acc. of naaman) by name i.e. named , called

sundara: mfn. beautiful , handsome
upapadam (acc. sg): n. a word standing near or accompanying another to which it is subordinate
upa: near to
pada: n. a step; a word
dadhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect (middle voice) dhaa: to accept , obtain , conceive (esp. in the womb) , get , take ; to assume , have , possess


Harry said...

Hi Mike,

"That is me telling you the truth. If you can't hear it, the fault is not in me. It is your fault that you don't yet have ears to listen."

I quite agree that this may well be true for you. On the other hand, a person 'binding' himself to an 'ism' may well have been right for others, may have softened and released their features. I know a few people like this at least (who are now 'Buddhists' and who accept 'Buddhist' things that I can't really accept; but then their life is undoubtedly better for it and the world is undoubtedly better due to it).

I think when you advance that your baneful 'isms' are anything other than your own poison, and that this was/is not just your own fault due to your own choices, habits, and actions, you may as well be just binding yourself to another 'ism', possibly the most insidious 'ism' of them all. It is not an expression of freedom and does not bear the characteristics of it.



Ian Cross said...

Have you come across the work of Gok Wan?

Mike Cross said...

Have just spent 5 hours trying to overcome a computer glich. What remains of the day I would like to devote to sitting, and to reflecting on the meaning of 2.59.