Sunday, August 8, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.60: Promoting Balanced Growth

sa tau saMvardhayaam aasa
nar'-endraH parayaa mudaa
arthaH saj-jana-hasta-stho
dharma-kaamau mahaan iva

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

The king with exceeding gladness

Brought up the two of them,

As great wealth in the hands of a true person

Promotes dharma and pleasure.

arthaH mahaan, "great wealth" or "a thing of great substance," can be understood as synoymous with the one great matter. The real hidden meaning of this verse, then, as I read it, is that a sitting-zen life, truly lived, requires a balanced approach whereby a person does not do down dharma through the pursuit of sensual pleasure; and at the same time does not, for the sake of pursuing dharma, suppress desire for sensual pleasure and other kinds of personal happiness. The latter was a mistake I made during my 20s, and the mistake was very much tied up with my reaction to the instruction to "pull in the chin a little" in order "to keep the spine straight vertically" -- which is why I have continued to be so intolerant of the 'doing' conception that was expressed to me, not only by these words but also by my teacher's hands pulling my chin several inches backwards.

As discussed in connection with 1.40, dharma (religious duty), artha (wealth), and kaama (pleasure) are three of the four puruShaartha, or aims of human existence originally discussed in the Mahabharata. The fourth is mokSha (release.

So the king's approach is compared in this verse to the intelligent use of great wealth for the pursuit of the dual aims of dharma and pleasure. And it would be easy to interpret that bringing up the young Gautama was like promoting dharma, while bringing up the young Nanda was like promoting pleasure. But for the reason outlined above, I do not read the verse like that. I think the point is rather that in bringing up each of his two young sons, the wise king Shuddhodhana adopted a balanced approach -- the divergence in the respective inclinations of Gautama and Nanda being a later development.

EH Johnston:
The king brought up the twain with the greatest joy, just as great Wealth in the hands of a good man redounds to the increase of Religion and Pleasure.

Linda Covill:
The king brought up the two with much joy, just as great wealth in good hands fosters dharma and pleasure.

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tau (acc. du. m.): those two
saMvardhayaam asaa = 3rd pers. sg. periphrastic perfect causative saM- √vRdh: to cause to grow , rear , bring up , foster , cherish , augment , enlarge , strengthen , beautify , make prosperous or happy
[saMvardhayaam = accusative of the abstract noun (not otherwise used) saMvardhayaa, bringing up; asaa = he was/did]

nar'-endraH (nom. sg. m.) m. " man-lord " , king
parayaa (inst. sg. f.): distant, extreme, exceeding ; best, highest , supreme
mudaa = inst. sg. mud: f. joy , delight , gladness , happiness

arthaH (nom. sg.): m. aim, purpose; thing , object; substance , wealth , property , opulence , money
saj-jana-hasta-sthaH (nom. sg. m.): in the hands of a wise person
saj-jana: m. a good or virtuous or wise man
hasta: hand
stha: mfn. (only ifc.) standing , staying , abiding , being situated in , existing or being in

dharma-kaamau (nom./acc. dual): dharma and pleasure
dharma: dharma, duty, law etc.
kaama: desire, pleasure , enjoyment ; love , especially sexual love or sensuality
mahaan = nom. sg. m. mahat: great
iva: like, as

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