Monday, August 16, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 3.6 - 3.7: The Will to Wake Up Leads to Awakening

Having had a couple of years to let the words sink in, I think suvarNa-piina-yuga-baahuH, "being of arms that are golden, full and yoke-like," means having arms that are lengthened and widened, because of being free of undue muscular tension, because, in turn, of being well coordinated with a lengthened and widened back. The point is that when the head is going where it ought to go (not being pulled back), and the back lengthens and widens, then the back supports the arms like a yoke, so that the arms are not pulled into the back but are available to swing, or to be moved, freely.

Similarly, RShabha-gatiH, "being of bull-like gait" or "walking like a bull," means maintaining a good head-neck-back relationship that is not disturbed by use of the legs.

Again, aayat'-ekShaNaH, "being long in the eye," as I read the phrase now, suggests a use of the eyes that is free of undue muscular tension, so that all the muscles of the eyes are lengthened.

Ashvaghosha is describing the physical effects on Gautama's use of his decision to give up the idea of asceticism and turn instead to the kind of joyful sitting he experienced in his youth under the rose-appled tree.

The metre of these verses is three long syllables and seven short in the first and second lines, three long and eight short in the third line, and five long and eight short in the fourth line.

That the verses are composed in metric form is certainly a help in memorizing them -- as practitioners would have done around two thousand years ago, communing with Ashvaghosha exactly as we are doing now, by memorizing his words and finding out through the supreme method of inquiry/investigation (parama nishcaya-vidhi) what he really meant.

Reflecting on this gives extra meaning to ahaaryam -- not to be taken away, irremovable.

Ashvaghosha's gold is not the kind one needs to lock up in a safe.

Understanding more clearly than I did before what the etymological derivation of a-vyaya is (from vi- √i, to go apart), I decided to translate it as "irreducible."

If I have ever been angered by a tendency perceived in others to try to reduce the Buddha's truth, and angered still further by a tendency perceived in others to be conceited about their own reductionist explanations, nothing is more certain than the fact that my anger has derived from a struggle within myself to overcome those false tendencies.

This translation work is part of that struggle, as a work in progress. At the same time, as my grasp of Ashvaghosha's Sanskrit very gradually improves and the translation work, at least, becomes less of a struggle, it makes me happy in working on the translation to think of it as a gift to others...

sa suvarNa-piina-yuga-baahur
RShabha-gatir aayat'-ekShaNaH
plakSham avaniruham abhyagamat
paramasya nishcaya-vidher bubhutsayaa

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

With his golden arms fully expanded and as if in a yoke,

With lengthened eyes, and walking like a bull,

He came to a fig tree, growing up from the earth,

With the will to awakening
that belongs to the supreme method of investigation.

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
suvarNa-piina-yuga-baahuH (nom. sg. m.): with a pair of bulging golden arms
suvarNa: golden
piina: swelling, full, round, robust, muscular, lengthened-and-widened
yuga: n. yoke ; (ifc.) a pair , couple , brace
baahu: the arm , (esp.) the fore-arm

RShabha-gatiH (nom. sg. m.): with the gait of a bull
RShabha: bull
gati: f. going , moving , gait , deportment , motion in general ; manner or power of going
aayat'ekShaNaH (nom. sg. m.): far-sighted, with far-seeing eyes;
aayata: mfn. stretched , lengthened , put on (as an arrow) ; stretching , extending , extended , spread over ; directed towards , aiming at ; extended , long , future
iikShaNa: n. a look , view , aspect, sight; eye

plakSham (acc. sg.): m. the waved-leaf fig-tree , Ficus Infectoria (a large and beautiful tree with small white fruit) ; the holy fig-tree
avani-ruham (acc. sg.): m. 'grown from the earth'; a tree
avani: f. earth, soil, ground
ruha: mfn. ascended, mounted, risen, grown
abhyagamat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist: abhi- √ gam: to go near to , approach (with acc.)

paramasya (gen. sg.): furthest, highest, chief, primary, supreme, ascendant, transcendent.
nishcaya: m. inquiry , ascertainment , fixed opinion , conviction , certainty , positiveness ; resolution , resolve, fixed intention , design , purpose , aim
nish- √ ci: to ascertain , investigate , decide , settle , fix upon , determine , resolve
√ ci: to observe , perceive ; to fix the gaze upon , be intent upon

to seek for
vidheH = genitive case of vidhi: method, means
bubhutsayaa = inst. sg. bubhutsaa: f. (from desid. budh) wish to know, desire for consciousness
budh: regain consciousness, be awake, become aware, notice, understand, learn.
vidheH = gen. vidhi: m. method, means

upavishya tatra kRta-buddhir
acala-dhRtir adri-raajavat
maara-balam ajayad ugram atho
bubudhe padaM shivam ahaaryam avyayaM

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

Sitting there, mind made up,

As unmovingly stable as the king of mountains,

He overcame the grim army of Mara

And awoke to the step which is happy,
irremovable, and irreducible.

upavishya = abs. upa- √ viSh: to go or come near , approach ; to sit down , take a seat (as men) , lie down (as animals)
tatra: ind. there
kRta-buddhiH (nom. sg. m.): mind made up, resolute

acala: not moving
dhRtiH: holding fast, standing still, stable
adri: mountain
raajavat: like the king

maara-balam (acc. sg. n.): Mara's army
maara: m. death , pestilence ; m. (with Buddhists) the Destroyer , Evil One
bala: n. power, force; military force , troops , an army
ajayat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect ji: to conquer, overcome, defeat
ugram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. powerful , violent , mighty , impetuous , strong , huge , formidable , terrible; cruel , fierce , ferocious , savage
atho: [connecting particle] and then

bubudhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect budh: to wake , wake up , be awake ; to perceive , notice , learn , understand , become or be aware of or acquainted with
padam (acc. sg.): n. step, footing, place, base ; the foot itself; position, standpoint; cause; state, stage
shivam (acc. sg. n.): happy, auspicious
ahaaryam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. not to be stolen , not to be removed; unalterable, not to be taken away, not to be carried off, inalienable
haarya: to be taken away or carried off or robbed or appropriated; to be shaken or altered
hR: to take, carry; to take away , carry off , seize , deprive of , steal , rob
avyayam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. not liable to change , imperishable , undecaying
vyaya: mfn. (fr. 3. vi + √5. i) passing away , mutable , liable to change or decay (only as opp. to or connected with a-vyaya)
vi- √i: to go apart or in different directions , diverge , be diffused or scattered or distributed or divided or extended ; to be lost , perish , disappear


Jordan said...

Mike, thanks for your efforts.

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Jordan, as always. The Creative Commons suggestion was a helpful one.