Friday, August 27, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.8: The Blind Loving the Blind

kandarpa-ratyor iva lakShya-bhuutaM
pramoda-naandyor iva niiDa-bhuutam
praharSha-tuShTyor iva paatra-bhuutaM
dvandvaM sah' aaraMsta mad'-aandha-bhuutaM

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

As though the target
of the God of Love and his mistress Pleasure,

As though the resting-place
of male Ecstasy and female Joy,

As though a bowl
containing male Excitement and female Contentment,

The couple took their pleasure together,
blind with exuberant desire.

lakShya (an object aimed at) suggests an end to be gained;
niiDa (a nest or resting-place) suggests respite from end-gaining;
paatra (a vessel or bowl) is a practical utensil having both traditional meaning and material substance.

So what?

I think the point is that studying Ashvaghosha's choice of words allows us in a small way to commune with Ashvaghosha, to get inside his mind, wherein the Buddha's teaching of a middle way may be observed to be working in the background.

A middle way, what FM Alexander called "the great broad mid-way path," is a conscious path -- not a path that is blind through exuberant sexual desire, or blind through any other unexamined impulse.

The key words in this verse, then, as I read it, might be andha, blind, and paatra, bowl -- the latter word presaging the episode to be described shortly in which the Buddha uses his bowl as a device to lure Nanda onto the path of conscious awakening.

EH Johnston:
The twain dallied blindly together, as if they were a target for the God of Love and Rati, or a nest to hold Delight and Joy or vessels for Pleasure and Satisfaction.

Linda Covill:
Blind with passion, the couple took their pleasure in each other, as though they were the targets of Kandarpa and Rati, as though they were a home to joy and rapture, as though they were a vessel for arousal and satiety.

kandarpa-ratyoH (gen. dual): of Kandarpa and Rati ; of the God of Love, and his mistress Pleasure
kandarpa: m. name of kaama (the god of love) , love , lust
rati: f. pleasure; the pleasure of love , sexual passion or union , amorous enjoyment (often personified as one of the two wives of kaama-deva , together with priiti)
iva: like, as if
lakShya-bhuutam (nom. sg. n.): like an object aimed at, like a target
lakShya: n. an object aimed at , prize ; an aim , butt , mark , goal
bhuuta: (ifc.) being or being like anything

pramoda-naandyoH (gen. dual): of Ecstasy (m.) and Joy (f.)
pramoda: m. excessive joy , delight ; Pleasure personified (as a child of brahmaa )
naandii: f. joy , satisfaction , pleasure
iva: like, as if
niiDa-bhuutam (nom. sg. n.): like a nest
niiDa: mn. any place for settling down , resting-place , abode , (esp.) a bird's nest
bhuuta: (ifc.) being or being like anything

praharSha-tuShTyoH (gen. dual): of Excitement (m.) and Contentment (f.)
praharSha: m. erection (or greater erection) of the male organ ; erection of the hair , extreme joy , thrill of delight , rapture
tuShTi: f. satisfaction , contentment ; " Satisfaction " personified
iva: like, as if
paatra-bhuutam (nom. sg. n.): like a bowl
paatra: n. a drinking-vessel , goblet , bowl
bhuuta: (ifc.) being or being like anything

dvandvam (nom. sg. n.): the pair
saha: ind. together, with
araMsta = 3rd pers. sg. aorist ram: to delight , make happy , enjoy carnally ; to play or sport , dally , have sexual intercourse with (instr. with or without saha)
mad"-aandha-bhuutam (nom. sg. n.): being blind with rapture / sexual desire
mada: m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication
madaa: f. sexual desire or enjoyment , wantonness , lust , ruttishness , rut (esp. of an elephant)
andha: mfn. blind
bhuuta: (ifc.) being or being like anything (also to form adj. out of adv.)

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