Thursday, September 30, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.26: Endgaining vs Extinction Thereof

tan nishcitaM bhii-klama-shug-viyuktaM
pareShv an-aayattam ahaaryam anyaiH
nityam shivaM shaanti-sukhaM vRNiiShva
kim indriy'-aarth'-aartham anartham uuDhvaa

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

Select then that which is conclusive,
which is beyond fear, fatigue and sorrow,

And which is neither dependent on others
nor removable by others:

Select the lasting and benign happiness of extinction.

What is gained by wasting oneself
on objects of the senses?

The last line includes a play on the word artha, meaning or value, which I originally endeavoured to mirror in translation:
What is the point of suffering non-value through valuing what the senses value?

A more closely literal translation might be:
"Suffering non-value for the sake of objects of the senses ... and then what?"

A translation in more natural/interpretive English might be:
"What is gained by wasting oneself on objects of the senses?"

The point of the verse, as I read it, is to highlight the folly of pursuing happiness in an end-gaining (dare I say it? stereo-typically American) manner, and the merit of working towards the complete giving up of end-gaining -- even if it is only for a single moment of consciousness.

In the end, for anyone who is engaged in the business of release, it may be that to give up an end-gaining idea is the conclusive realization of the truth of what works.

EH Johnston:
Choose then the certain, everlasting, holy joy of tranquillity, which is free from fear, distress and sorrow, which is not dependent on others and cannot be taken away by them ; what is the good of suffering calamity for the sake of the objects of the senses?

Linda Covill:
So choose the bliss of tranquillity, which is certain, free from fear, weariness and grief, which is neither dependent on others nor assailable by them, and which is eternal and pure. Why endure pain for the sake of sense objects?

tad: ind. on that account , for that reason , therefore
nishcitam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. ascertained , determined , settled , decided
bhii-klama-shug-viyuktam (acc. sg. n.): divorced from fear, fatigue, and grief
bhii: f. fear , apprehension , fright , alarm , dread
klama: m. fatigue , exhaustion , languor , weariness
shuc: f. pain , sorrow , grief
viyukta: mfn. disjoined , detached , separated or delivered from , deprived or destitute of

pareShu = loc. pl. para: others
an-aayattam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. not adhering , resting on , depending on ; not being at the disposition of
ahaaryam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. not to be stolen , not to be removed
anyaiH = inst. pl. anya: others

nityam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. continual , perpetual , eternal ; ordinary , usual , invariable
shivam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign , kind ; happy
shaanti-sukham (acc. sg.): the ease of the inhibited state, the comfort of peace
shaanti: f. tranquillity , peace , quiet , peace or calmness of mind , absence of passion ; alleviation (of evil or pain) , cessation , abatement , extinction (of fire &c )
sukha: n. ease, comfort, happiness
vRNiiShva = 2nd pers. sg. imperative vR: to choose , select , choose for one's self

kim: why?
indriy'-aarth'-aartham (acc. sg. n.): for the sake of objects of the senses
indriya: power of the senses
artha: aim (very often artham for the sake of , on account of , in behalf of , for) ; object of the senses
an-artham (acc. sg.): m. non-value , a worthless or useless object ; disappointing occurrence , reverse , evil
uuDhvaa = abs. vah: to carry; to bear , suffer , endure

SAUNDARANANDA 5.25: Supremacy of the Truth

hitasya vaktaa pravaraH suhRdhbyo
dharmaaya khedo guNavaan shramebhyaH
jNaanaaya kRtyaM paramaM kriyaabhyaH
kim indriyaaNaam upagamya daasyam

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

The kindest-hearted friend
is he who tells one what is truly salutary;

The most meritorious effort
is to exhaust oneself in pursuit of the objective truth;

Supreme among labours
is to work towards true understanding --

Why enter into service of the senses?

This verse as I read it contrasts the choice to serve one's own senses with the choice to let one's senses serve the truth. Such service of the truth might take the form of (1) telling the honest truth, even when it is unpalatable, (2) seeking the objective truth, and (3) understanding, as an individual, the truth of what works.

dharmaaya khedaH
in line 2 might be literally translated as "exhaustion for that which is established or firm." In the spirit of what I wrote yesterday, I would like to understand dharma here as objective truth. In several places in Cantos 1 and 2 dharma seems to carry a connotation of religious duty. But here I would like unequivocally NOT to understand dharmaaya khedaH as expressing the effort that religious peole are wont to direct towards the doing of what they perceive as their religious duty. I venture to suggest that with the Buddha's enlightenment and turning of the wheel of dharma, the real meaning of dharma was changed forever, so that the Buddha-Dharma need have, in the words of the Dalai Lama, "nothing to do with religion."

In this verse, as I read it, Dharma means the objective Truth: that is, for example, the Truth that a historian or a judge & jury pursue, the Truth of what really happened; or the Truth that a chemist pursues in the laboratory, the Truth of what actually happens; or the Truth that I am groping for in this translation, the Truth of what Ashvaghosha originally intended.

Speaking for myself I can say without any hesitation that this work I am doing now has got, in the Dalai Lama's words, "nothing to do with religion."

The Buddha-Dharma might not necessarily be the kind of Truth that religious people believe in. The Buddha-Dharma might be, on the contrary, the kind of Truth that over the course of centuries has forced, is forcing, and will force superstitious people to give up their spurious and God-fearing religious beliefs.

My old teacher proposed that "God is Dharma, and Dharma is God," but I reject this proposition. My teacher's idea that "this compromise can save all people in the world" was just an upside-down idea by a man who, in the primary matter of sitting posture, totally confused up and down.

I came to Alexander work 16 years ago thinking that sitting posture was important and that Alexander was all about posture. In fact what Alexander work has been teaching me, bit by bit, is not about posture but about ideas and about choice.

So long as we are controlled by unconscious ideas, we are not able truly to exercise conscious choice -- whether in the matter of "good posture" (i.e. in the matter of circumventing the problem of faulty postural reflexes and habits), or in any other matter.

This is what I am seeing right now, from Alexander work and equally from what Ashvaghosha is relating. False ideas that have long held sway over us need to be made conscious, to be seen for the false ideas that they are, and to be given up. Foremost among such ideas, I venture to suggest, are ideas espoused by men of religious belief -- men such as "Reverend" Nishijima, my own Zen teacher, who, in response to my effort to tell him the unpalatable truth, seemed to grow stronger in his belief in the rightness of his wrong understanding, and at the same time deeper in his distrust of those who opposed it, notably me. It strikes me that, from long before the time of Galileo, such has always been the tendency of the religious mind.

Each of us has his or her own way, in finding the truth of what works for ourself. And if a religious calling in which people are expected to call you "Reverend" is your way, good luck to you. But in that case, for your God's sake, don't try to batter your belief in God into the objective Truth which has nothing to do with belief, nothing to do with religion, but which the Buddha taught as the abandonment of all religious and other views.

EH Johnston:
He who speaks what is advantageous is the best of friends, exertion directed towards Righteousness is the most meritorious of all toils, labour for knowledge is the highest of actions ; what is gained by accepting slavery to the senses?

Linda Covill:
He who says what is salutary for you is the best of friends, taking pains over dharma is the most excellent of labors, working for knowledge is the best of actions. Why be a slave to your senses?

hitasya (gen. sg.): n. anything useful or salutary or suitable or proper , benefit , advantage , profit , service , good , welfare , good advice &c
vaktaa = 3rd pers. sg. periphrastic future vac: to speak, say, tell
pravaraH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. most excellent , chief , principal , best
suhRdhbyaH =abl. pl. su-hRd: m. " good-hearted " , " kindhearted " , " well-disposed " , a friend , ally

dharmaaya = dat. sg. dharma: m. that which is established or firm; the Law, Dharma
khedaH (nom. sg.): m. lassitude , depression ; exhaustion , pain , affliction , distress ; sexual passion
khid: to strike , press , press down ; to be depressed or wearied ; to be pressed down , suffer pain ; khidyate to be pressed down or depressed , be distressed or wearied , feel tired or exhausted
guNavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. " furnished with a thread or string " and " endowed with good qualities "; endowed with good qualities or virtues or merits or excellences , excellent , perfect
shramebhyaH = abl. pl. shrama: m. fatigue ; exertion , labour , toil , exercise , effort either bodily or mental , hard work of any kind

jNaanaaya = dat. sg. jNaana: n. knowing , becoming acquainted with , knowledge , (esp.) the higher knowledge
jNaa: to know , have knowledge , become acquainted with ; perceive , apprehend , understand ; experience , recognise , ascertain , investigate
kRtyam (nom. sg.): n. what ought to be done , what is proper or fit , duty , office ; n. action , business , performance , service ; n. purpose , end , object , motive , cause
paramam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. chief , highest , primary , most prominent or conspicuous ; best, most excellent
kriyaabhyaH = abl. pl. kriyaa: f. doing , performing , performance , business , act , action , undertaking , activity , work , labour

kim: ind. what? how? whence? wherefore? why?
indriyaaNaam (gen. pl. indriya): n. the senses
upagamya = gerundive upa- √ gam: to enter any state or relation , undergo , obtain , participate in , make choice of , suffer
daasyam (acc. sg.): n. servitude , slavery , service

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.24: Real Wisdom vs Wiseacring

shraddhaa-dhanaM shreShThatamaM dhanebhyaH
prajNaa-rasas tRpti-karo rasebhyaH
pradhaanam adhyaatma-sukhaM sukebhyo
vidyaa-ratir duHkhatamaa ratibhyaH

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

Most excellent among gifts is the gift of confidence;

Most satisfying of tastes is the taste of real wisdom;

Foremost among comforts
is being comfortable in oneself --

And fondness for philosophizing
is the sorriest of delights.

EHJ correctly notes that vidyaa in line 4 (intellectual knowledge, philosophizing) is contrasted with prajNaa in line 2 (intuitive wisdom, real wisdom).

Prajna, real wisdom, is intuition in action. At the same time, that "you cannot do an undoing" is a bit of real wisdom.

EH Johnston:
The riches of faith are the best of all riches, the taste of wisdom is the most satisfying of all tastes, internal joy is the chief of all joys and to take delight in intellectual knowledge is the most grievous of all pleasures.

Linda Covill:
The riches of faith are the very best riches, the taste of wisdom is the most satisfying of tastes, inner happiness is the chief happiness, and intellectualization is the sorriest of delights.

shraddhaa-dhanam (nom. sg. n.): the treasure/gift of confidence
shraddhaa: f. faith , trust , confidence
dhana: n. the prize of a contest or the contest itself ; any valued object , (esp.) wealth , riches , (movable) property , money , treasure , gift
shreShThatamam (nom. sg. n. superlative shreShTha): mfn. the very best , most excellent
dhanebhyaH = abl. pl. dhana: n. treasure etc.

prajNaa-rasaH (nom. sg. m.): the taste of wisdom
prajNaa: f. wisdom , intelligence , knowledge , discrimination , judgement
rasa: m. taste , flavour ; any object of taste , condiment , sauce , spice , seasoning
tRpti-karaH (nom. sg. m.): giving satisfaction, satisfying
tRpti: f. satisfaction , contentment
kara: mfn. a doer , maker , causer , doing , making , causing , producing (esp. ifc.)
rasebhyaH = abl. pl. rasa: n. taste

pradhaanam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. chief , main , principal , most important
adhyaatma-sukham (nom. sg. n.): inner happiness, being comfortable with oneself
adhyaatma: mfn. own , belonging to self
sukha: n. ease, comfort, pleasure, happiness
sukebhyaH = abl. pl. sukha: n. ease, comfort, pleasure, happiness

vidyaa-ratiH (nom. sg. f.): delight in intellectual knowledge
vidyaa: f. knowledge , science , learning , scholarship , philosophy
rati: f. pleasure , enjoyment , delight in , fondness for (loc. or comp.)
duHkhatamaaH (nom. sg. f. superlative duHkha): most unpleasant, most grevious, sorriest
ratibhyaH = abl. pl. rati: f. pleasure , enjoyment , delight

SAUNDARANANDA 5.23: Towards Irreligion Beyond Irreligion

saadhaaraNaat svapna-nibhaad asaaraal
lolaM manaH kaama-sukhaan niyaccha
havyair iv' aagneH pavan'-eritasya
lokasya kaamair na hi tRptir asti

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

Restrain the restless mind from sensual pleasures,

Which are common, dream-like, insubstantial;

For no more than a wind-fanned fire is sated by offerings

Are men satisfied by pleasures.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics, in observations of the world hitherto, has not ceased to be operative.

That being so, feeding a fire with more fuel in the form of offerings, so long as the fire's supply of oxygen is maintained by such means as a breeze, only causes the fire to keep on burning.

So in the first two verses of his opening address to Nanda, with (1) his personification of murderous Time/Death, and (2) his metaphor of the insatiable fire, the Buddha seems to point Nanda towards the undoing of the two most fundamental of human fetters, by which we enslave ourselves to (1) ideas that have to do with not dying, and (2) experiences that feel good.

Religious types tend to favour the former at the expense of the latter. Irreligious types tend to favour the latter at the expense of the former. But the truest form of irreligion, for which I for one am groping, might be just sitting as the rejection of both the former and the latter.

EH Johnston:
Restrain your restless mind from the unsubstantial pleasure of love, whose enjoyment is shared with others (who may rob you of it) and which is (illusory) as a dream ; for the world no more reaches satiety with love than a fire, fanned by the wind, with oblations.

Linda Covill:
Hold back your restless mind from the sense-pleasures common to all, which are dream-like and insubstantial. For sensual pleasures are no more satisfying for people than oblations are for a wind-blown fire.

saadhaaraNaat (abl. sg.): " having or resting on the same support or basis " , belonging or applicable to many or all , general , common to all , universal
svapna-nibhaat (abl. sg.): dream-like
svapna: m. sleeping; dreaming, a dream
nibha: mfn. ( √ bhaa) resembling , like , similar (ifc.)
asaaraat (abl. sg.): mfn. sapless , without strength or value , without vigour , spoiled , unfit , unprofitable
saara: m. the core or pith or solid interior of anything

lolam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. moving hither and thither , shaking , rolling , tossing , dangling , swinging , agitated , unsteady , restless
manaH (acc. sg.): n. mind
kaama-sukhaat (abl. sg.): sensual pleasures
kaama: desire ; pleasure ; love , especially sexual love or sensuality
sukha: n. ease , pleasure , happiness
niyaccha = 2nd pers. sg. imperative ni- √ yam: to stop (trans.) , hold back

havyaiH = inst. pl. havya: n. anything to be offered as an oblation , sacrificial gift or food
iva: like
agneH (gen. sg.): m. fire, sacrificial fire
pavan'-eritasya (gen. sg. m): excited by the breeze, fanned by the wind
pavana: m. " purifier " , wind or the god of wind , breeze , air
iir: to move, agitate, excite ; to cause to rise ; to bring to life

lokasya = gen. sg. loka: m. the earth or world of human beings &c ; (also pl.) the inhabitants of the world , mankind , folk , people
kaamaiH (inst. pl.): m desires, sensual pleasures
na: not
hi: for
tRptiH (nom. sg.): f. satisfaction , contentment
asti: there is

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.22: Health Warning -- Death Kills

yaavan na hiMsraH samupaiti kaalaH
shamaaya taavat kuru saumya buddhiM
sarvaasv avasthaasv iha vartamaanaH
sarv'-aabhisaareNa nihanti mRtyuH

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

"While murderous Time has yet to come calling,

Set your mind, my friend, in the direction of extinction.

Operating in all situations in this world,

Using all manner of attacks, Death kills.

These are the first words that, in this record by Ashvaghosha, the Buddha says to Nanda. They are echoed in Canto 15, whose title is "Giving Up an Idea."

The central idea in question, which sleeps on behind many smouldering desires (15.5), might be the idea that I personally am special and immortal. It is, I think, a peculiarly religious idea.

I think the Pope's recent visit to England stimulated an increased intolerance in me for -- well, certainly for the Pope's self-righteous breed of Catholicism. He comes from Rome to my country telling politicians here that religion should have an increased role in public life. No, get yourself quickly back to Rome, I say, with your superstitious beliefs in resurrection and miracles.

Having been born on Christmas Day and being generally top of my class at primary school (when it came to taking the particular kind of intelligence tests that they gave us -- which took no account of emotional intelligence, or lack of it), the idea of being in some way special or chosen somehow got deeply implanted in my psyche... and now as I look back on my life after 50 years of living it, I have a strong sense that the idea was never true, although I have suffered for that wrong idea, and I seem to continue to suffer for the idea. Even though my power of reason tells me the idea is false, I struggle to give up the idea.

On one side the Alexander teaching of Marjory Barlow showed me with unrivalled clarity how troublesome an idea can be, and how liberating it can be to give up an idea. On the other side, Gudo Nishijima rather encouraged the idea that I was someone special, and his teaching continues to have a strong hold on me, even as I react against it.

"God is Dharma. Dharma is God." Gudo used to say. "This idea is a compromise, but using this idea we can save all people in the world."

But this was just the arrogance, the overblown self-importance, of a small opinionated man who said Buddhism was not a religion but at the same time called himself by the title "Reverend." I curse myself every day for devoting such a large chunk of my life to serving him -- a man who when I met him was wearing a businessman's suit and neatly combed hair, but who in his heart was full of the kind of deluded self-importance that people of strong religious belief are prone to have.

This is my own problem. But how special am I in having suffered from a religious idea? Quite apart from seriously insane people who think they are Jesus, are not all religious people struggling, in the face of no hard evidence whatever, to hold on to a religious belief which makes them feel in some way special, chosen, and on a path towards immortality?

It seems to me that this kind of belief, which boils down to the idea that I personally am chosen, special, immortal, is the very idea that all religious teachers encourage in their flock. But it is the very idea that, in Canto 15, the Buddha seems to set his sights on destroying.

Any idea you might have, then, / That has to do with not dying, / Is, with an effort of will, to be obliterated / As a disorder of your whole being. / Not a moment of trust / Is to be placed in life, / For, like a tiger lying in wait, /Time slays the unsuspecting. /That "I am young," or "I am strong," /Should not occur to you: / Death kills in all situations / Without regard for sprightliness.

(15.52 - 15.54.)

Giving up this idea, the Buddha seems to be saying, is the secret to gaining the liberation that, with an ironic twist, he symbolizes with the word amRta, "the deathless," "the nectar of immortality."

So the supersitious and dogmatic view of the Pope is certainly not it, but if I reacted to the Pope's view with what the Pope calls "aggressive secularism," that would not be it either. In the end, the point might be to tolerate neither one view or the other. The point might be to bow to him who taught the true Buddha-Dharma as the dropping off of all views. Equally, the point might be to keep practising what she taught as the true Alexander-Dharma: giving up all idea of moving a leg... and yet going ahead -- with free neck and lengthened and widened back -- and moving the leg.

EH Johnston:
'My friend, make up your mind to work for tranquillity against the day that fearsome Death arrives ; for Death is present on all occasions and slays with every sort of attack.

Linda Covill:
"Dear friend. Death is present in every situation and strikes in many ways. Before that dread time arrives, make sure your mind is composed.

yaavan na: ind. while not, before
hiMsraH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. injurious , mischievous , hurtful , destructive , murderous , cruel , fierce , savage
samupaiti = 3rd pers. sg. present samupe: to come together , meet (as friends or foes) ; to come near , approach
kaalaH: time (as destroying all things) , death , time of death (often personified and represented with the attributes of yama , regent of the dead , or even identified with him)

shamaaya (dat. sg.): m. tranquillity , calmness , rest , equanimity , quietude or quietism , absence of passion ; peace ; tranquillization , pacification , allayment , alleviation , cessation , extinction
taavat: ind. (correlative of yaavat) so long as, in that time
kuru = 2nd pers. sg. imperative kR: to do, make
saumya (voc.): man of soma, my friend
buddhiM- √kR: to make up one's mind , resolve , decide , (with loc. dat. or inf.)

sarvaasu (loc. pl. f.): all
avasthaasu = loc. pl. avasthaa: f. state , condition , situation
iha: ind. in this place , here; in this world
vartamaanaH = nom. sg. m. pres. part. vRt: to turn , turn round , revolve , roll ; to be , live , exist , be found , remain , stay , abide , dwell ; to be or exist or live at a partic. time , be alive or present

sarv'-aabhisaareNa (inst. sg.): with every sort of attack
sarva: mfn. all, every ; of all sorts , manifold , various , different
abhisaara: m. attack , assault
nihanti = 3rd pers. sg. pres. ni- √ han: to strike or fix in , hurl in or upon or against (loc.) ; to make an attempt upon , attack , assail ; to strike or hew down , kill , overwhelm , destroy
mRtyuH (nom. sg.): m. death, dying ; Death personified , the god of disease

SAUNDARANANDA 5.21: Kindly Putting a Hand On

diinaM mahaa-kaaruNikas tatas taM
dRShTvaa muhuurtaM karuNaayamaanaH
kareNa cakr'-aaNka-talena muurdhni
pasparsha c'aiv' edam uvaaca c'ainaM

= = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =
- = - = = - - = - = -
= = - = = - - = - = -?

Then the greatly compassionate one,

Watching him in his moment of misery and pitying him,

Put a hand, with wheel-marked palm, on his head

And spoke to him thus:

Accepting EHJ's proposition that there is no redundancy in Ashvaghosha's writing, so that every word has meaning, why did he include the word muhuurtam in line 2?

I think muhuurtam suggests the Buddha's insight into impermanence. So seeing Nanda's misery, the Buddha pitied him, but at the same time the Buddha was confident that the misery he was inflicting on Nanda would be a passing phase.

What can I say, not as one with wheel-marked palms, about putting a hand on another person's head?

One thing I can say with confidence is something that has been taught and demonstrated to me by teachers of the FM Alexander Technique:

To put a hand on a person's head can be a very powerful means, if it is done well, of facilitating and speeding up that person's learning process.

And in this verse cakr-aaNka-tala, "wheel-marked palm," can be understood as a kind of hallmark of all things being done well, cakra, "wheel" meaning the eight-spoked wheel of Dharma described in 3.11: And so the wheel of Dharma -- whose hub is uprightness, / Whose rim is constancy, determination, and balanced stillness, / And whose spokes are the rules of discipline -- / The seer turned, in an assembly there, for the welfare of the world.

In this light it might be significant that, as Ashvaghosha relates this episode, before the Buddha even opens his mouth to speak to Nanda he communicates something (or a bit of nothing) through the touch of his hand. He communicates something of his upright, balanced, disciplined self through a hand on which that balanced use of the self has left a kind of not necessarily visible blueprint or insignia.

EH Johnston:
Then the Compassionate One, considering his wretchedness for a moment and pitying him, caressed his head with His hand, the palm of which bore the wheelmark, and spoke to him thus :--

Linda Covill:
The greatly compassionate one saw his distress in an instant, and pitied him. He laid his hand with its wheel-marked palm on Nanda's head and said:

diinam (acc. sg.): mfn. depressed , afflicted , timid , sad ; miserable , wretched ; n. distress , wretchedness
mahaa-kaaruNikaH (nom. sg. m.): the greatly compassionate one
tataH: ind. then
tam (acc. sg. m.): him

dRShTvaa = abs. dRsh: to see , behold , look at , regard , consider; to see with the mind , learn , understand
muhuurtam (acc. sg. n.): a moment , instant , any short space of time
karuNaayamaanaH = nom. sg. m. karuNaaya: to be compassionate , pity

kareNa (inst. sg.): m. "the doer"; hand
cakr'-aaNka-talena (inst. sg.): with wheel-marked palm
cakra: n. wheel, circle
aNka: m. a hook ; a curved line ; a numerical figure , cipher , a figure or mark branded on an animal , &c ; any mark , line , stroke , ornament , stigma
tala: mn. surface ; the palm (of the hand)
muurdhni = loc. sg. muurdhan: m. the forehead , head in general

pasparsha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect spRsh: to touch , feel with the hand , lay the hand on (acc. or loc.) , graze , stroke
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
idam = nom./acc. sg. n. ayam: this one
uvaaca = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vac: to speak, say
ca: and
enam (acc. sg. m.): this , that , (this pronoun is enclitic and cannot begin a sentence ; it is generally used alone , so that enam puruSham , " that man " , would be very unusual if not incorrect)

Monday, September 27, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.20: ... On the Way to the Vihara

tato munis taM priya-maalya-haaraM
vasanta-maasena kRt'-aabhihaaraM
ninaaya bhagna-pramadaa-vihaaraM
vidyaa-vihaar'-aabhimataM vihaaraM

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

Then the Sage led him,
lover of garlands of pearls and flowers,

Whom the month of Spring, Love's friend,
had appropriated,

To a playground
where women were a broken amusement --

To the vihara,
beloved as a pleasure-ground of learning.

A poetic device Ashvaghosha has used here, which is difficult or impossible to mirror in translation, is the three variations on the root √hR (to carry away) which appear in the words haara (garland), abhihaara (appropriated), and the three instances of vihaara (playground, pleasure-ground, vihara).

Sometimes it seems easier to be miserable -- particularly after one has said or done something stupid, again. Really to be cheerful, as opposed to putting on a cheerful face, can seem a prospect as daunting as climbing a mountain on an empty stomach.

Reasons to be cheerful?

Jesus died for us on the cross... but, whoopee!, his dead body got up and walked again in a process called "resurrection." No, that is not a true or real cause for celebration. That America and Britain were led into war at the beginning of the 21st century by political leaders who believe in such fantastic nonsense is nothing to be cheerful about.

No, the vihara to which the Buddha led Nanda was called vihaara, which originally means walking for pleasure, not because it was a place of religious celebration but rather, Ashvaghosha seems to be suggesting here, because it was a place where followers of the Buddha were free to have fun learning how to be.

The first words I ever heard Marjory Barlow say were at a talk she gave in Birmingham in 1995. "Shall I tell you something?" Marjory began. "This work is supposed to be fun!"

Marjory often told the story of how the students on FM Alexander's first training course used to turn up with glum, serious faces, mindful of the momentous importance for human civilization of the teaching that FM was transmitting to them. FM would send them all off for a walk around the block saying "You are no use to me like that. Go on and cheer up!"

When I started biking down to London for regular lessons with Marjory, she impressed on me, in her very indirect way, that nobody has ever get anywhere striving to spread the Buddha's teachings at the expense of their own happiness. Rather, Marjory told me, if a person is truly happy in himself, happiness tends to radiate out from him to others, as if in ripples. I cannot resist contrasting Marjory's advice with that of Gudo Nishijima who erred on the side of reassuring me that "Your suffering has meaning for all people in the world." Mmmm.... So far I haven't noticed.

Marjory's advice prompted me nearly ten years ago now to go to France and find a half-acre plot by the forest -- an excellent place to walk up and down for pleasure, learning what Dogen called the backward step of turning one's light and letting it shine -- EKO HENSHO NO TAIHO.

Now I sought out Gudo Nishijima, for my sins, as I sought out Marjory Barlow. Neither of those two teachers sought me out. I went to them. Neither of them claims that their teaching is religious. But in his attitude and his own behaviour, in the nearly 30 years since I first met him, Gudo Nishijima, seems to me to have behaved in the manner of a Japanese religious patriarch. When I listened to the words coming out of his mouth, he was telling me that Buddhism is not a religion. But he has spent his life behaving as if "true Buddhism" were a religion that was going to "save all people in the world." Clearly, to abandon the view that the Buddha's teaching is a religion, and thus to be freed to roam in one's vihara,is not only a matter of understanding with one's intellect that the Buddha's teaching is not a religion... Such abandonment may be more akin to going out for a stroll, and thereby cheering oneself up.

If I die tomorrow I will die knowing for sure that I have made too many mistakes, while not knowing at all whether I have done anything the slightest bit meaningful in the world. Any way up, I certainly won't regret one or two good moments that I have spent walking up and down, and sitting, in a forest vihara.

EH Johnston:
Then the Seer led him, who had suffered the assaults of the season of spring and to whom garlands and strings of pearls were dear, to the monastery, famed as the pleasureground of knowledge, in which pleasure in women was destroyed.

Linda Covill:
He had been so fond of garlands and necklaces, he had been assailed by the spring months! Now the sage led him to the monastery, which was considered the recreation ground of knowledge, and where pleasure in women was inoperative.

tataH: ind. then
muniH (nom. sg. m.): the Sage
tam (acc. sg. m.) him
priya-maalya-haaram (acc. sg. m.): fond of garlands of flowers and pearls
priya: fond of attached or devoted to (ibc. e.g. priya-devana , " fond of playing ")
maalya: n. a wreath , garland , chaplet ; flower
haara: mfn. (from √ hR, to bear, carry) bearing , carrying , carrying away , stealing (e.g. kShiira-haara , " stealing milk ") ; m. a carrier , porter ; m. a garland of pearls , necklace (accord. to some , one of 108 or 64 strings)

vasanta-maasena (inst. sg.): by the month of Spring (Kamadeva's friend)
vasanta: m. " brilliant (season) " , spring (comprising accord. to some , the months caitra and vaishaakha or from the middle of March to that of May ; often personified and considered as a friend or attendant of kaamadeva , the god of love)
maasa: m. moon, month
kRt'-aabhihaaram (acc. sg. m.): brought near, seized, assailed
kRta: mfn. done, made
abhihaara: m. bringing near ; robbing , seizing anything (in the owner's presence)
abhi √ hR: to bring , offer ; to assail , attack

ninaaya = 3rd pers. sg. perfect nii: to lead
bhagna-pramadaa-vihaaram (acc. sg. m.): going for pleasure among women being broken
bhagna: mfn. broken (lit. and fig.) , shattered , split , torn , defeated , checked , frustrated , disturbed , disappointed (sometimes forming the first instead of the second part of a comp.)
pramadaa: f. (of pramada) a young and wanton woman , any woman
pramada: m. joy , pleasure , delight ; mfn. wanton , dissolute
vihaara: m. walking for pleasure or amusement , wandering , roaming; sport , play , pastime , diversion , enjoyment , pleasure (" in " or " with " comp. ; ifc. also = taking delight in) ; a place of recreation , pleasure-ground ; (with Buddhists) a monastery or temple (originally a hall where the monks met or walked about ; afterwards these halls were used as temples) ;
vi- √ hR: to put asunder , keep apart , separate , open ; to disperse (clouds) ; to move on , walk ; to spend or pass (time) ; to roam , wander through (acc.) ; (esp.) to walk or roam about for pleasure , divert one's self

vidyaa-vihaar'-aabhimatam (acc. sg. m.): loved as the pleasure-ground of learning
vidyaa: f. knowledge , learning
vihaara: m. recreation ground ; grounds of a temple
abhimata: mfn. longed for , wished , desired ; loved , dear ; allowed ; supposed , imagined
vihaaram (acc. sg.): m. recreation ground ; grounds of a temple

SAUNDARANANDA 5.19: Nanda Begins to Suffer...

nandas tu duHkhena viceShTamaanaH
shanair a-gatyaa gurum anvagacchat
bhaaryaa-mukhaM viikShaNa-lola-netraM
vicintayann aardra-visheshakaM tat

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

But Nanda, squirming with discomfort,

Followed the Guru meekly and helplessly,

Thinking of his wife's face,
her eyes looking out restlessly,

And the painted marks still moist.

Here is the first mention, in connection with Nanda's experience, of duHkha, un-ease, dis-comfort, dis-satisfaction, or in short, suffering.

Notice that in Ashvaghosha's portrayal of Nanda's career, it is not that some great experience of suffering causes Nanda to get religion and turn to Buddhism.

People who equate Buddhism with religion, it seems to me, tend to see it this way round. But Ashvaghosha, in his portrayal of Nanda's development, does not portray it this way round.

Rather, it is Nanda's reverence for the truth of the Buddha's way that causes him to allow the Buddha to lead him -- like an alchemist leading his apprentice into his laboratory -- into a world of suffering.

EH Johnston:
But Nanda, writhing with grief, followed the Guru slowly and helplessly, thinking of his wife's face with eyes restlessly watching for him and with the paint still wet.

Linda Covill:
Nanda followed the guru slowly and helplessly, contorted with grief, thinking of his wife's face with its visheshaka no longer wet and her restless eyes watching for him.

nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda
tu: but
duHkhena (inst. sg.): n. uneasiness , pain , sorrow , trouble , difficult
viceShTamaanaH = nom. sg. m. pres. part vi- √ ceShT : to move the limbs about , writhe , wallow , struggle

shanaiH: ind. quietly , softly , gently , gradually
a-gatyaa: ind. unavoidably, indispensably
gurum (acc. sg.): m. the Guru
anvagacchat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect anu- √ gam: to go after , follow ; obey, imitate

bhaaryaa-mukham (acc. sg.): his wife's face
viikShaNa-lola-netram (acc. sg.): eyes restless with looking
viikShaNa: n. looking at , seeing , inspection , investigation ; gaze
lola: mfn. moving hither and thither, changeable
netra: eye

vicintayan = nom. sg. m. pres. part vi- √ cint: to think of , reflect upon , ponder ; to fancy, imagine
aardra-visheshakam (acc. sg.): moist face-paint
aardra: wet, moist, damp
visheshaka: mn. a mark on the forehead (made with sandal &c )
tat: (emphatic) that

Sunday, September 26, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.18: Needy Nanda, a Coreless Chameleon

nandaH sa ca pratyaya-neya-cetaa
yaM shishriye tan-maya-taam avaapa
yasmaad imaM tatra cakaara yatnaM
taM sneha-paNkaan munir ujjihiirShan

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

And Nanda, his consciousness led by circumstances,

Got absorbed into the fabric of whomever he was with;

The Sage, therefore, made this effort in his case,

Wishing to lift him out of the mire of love.

Literally, he took on the being-made-of-that of whomever he resorted to. In other words, Nanda was what we would call a chameleon.

But which of us, if circumstances conspire, is not like that?

Try living in Japan for 13 years, for example, without a bit, or more than a bit, of Japanese stupidity rubbing off on you.... "Yes, Sensei! Yes, Roshi! Even though British teachers have spent years and years toiling to give me the best education money couldn't buy, if you say so, I will do it like that, feeling right and traditional. I won't question your traditional teaching, even if you are talking out of your arse."

What comes out of that kind of effort is not stillness without fixity, but rather fixity without stillness, manifested on the physical level in stiff necks and bad backs.

Contrast the attitude of FM Alexander, champion of the individual, who insisted that he did not want a bunch of monkeys following him around imitating him. He rather wanted people who would go back to the beginning, again and again, and work the whole thing out for themselves, so that each would truly make the teaching his or her own.

EH Johnston:
And Nanda, whose mind was susceptible only to external conditions, identified himself with whomsoever he went to for support ; therefore the Sage made this effort in order to draw him out of the slough of love.

Linda Covill:
Now Nanda, whose mind was governed by faith, became absorbed in whomever he depended on. That is why the sage, wishing to lift him out of the mire of love, made an effort for him.

nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ca: and
pratyaya-neya-cetaaH (nom. sg. m.): his mind governed by circumstances
pratyaya: m. belief, faith ; (with Buddhists) a co-operating cause
neya: mfn. to be led or guided or managed or governed
cetas: n. consciousness , intelligence , thinking soul , heart , mind

yam (acc. sg.): in whom
shishriye = 3rd pers. sg. perfect (middle voice) shri: to lean on , rest on , recline against (acc.) , cling to (loc.) , be supported or fixed or depend on ; to go to , approach , resort or have recourse to (for help or refuge)
tan-mayataam (acc. sg.): f. the being absorbed in or identical with that
tad: that
tan-maya: mfn. made up of that , absorbed in or identical with that
-taa: (abstract noun suffix)
avaapa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect avaap: to reach , attain , obtain , gain , get ; to suffer (e.g. blame or unpleasantness or pain)

yasmaat: ind. from which , from which cause , since , as , because
imam = acc. sg. m. ayam: this
tatra: ind. there, then, in that case
cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kR: to do, make
yatna (acc. sg.): m. activity of will ; effort , exertion , energy , zeal , trouble

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
sneha-paNkaat (abl. sg.): out of the mire of love
sneha: m. oiliness ; blandness , tenderness , love , attachment to , fondness or affection
paNka: m. mud , mire , dirt
muniH (nom. sg. m.): the Sage
ujjihiirShan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. desiderative ud- √ hR : to lift up
ud: (prefix) up, upwards
√ hR: to take , bear , convey ; take off, remove

SAUNDARANANDA 5.17: Self-Motivation vs Needy Dependence

a-yatnato hetu-bal'-aadhikas tu
nirmucyate ghaTTita-maatra eva
yatnena tu pratyaya-neya-buddhir
vimokSham aapnoti par'-aashrayena

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

One who is self-motivated is freed without ado,

At the slightest prompting;

But one whose mind is led by circumstances

Struggles, while being dependent on others,
to find freedom.

For ease of translation, I have followed EHJ and LC in making it sound as if Ashvaghosha is saying there are two kinds of person -- the self-motivated and the outer-dependent.

Perhaps this is indeed what Ashvaghosha is doing, as an expedient to make matters clearer, using the Buddha as a shining example of self-motivation, and portraying Nanda as a pathetic example of emotional dependence.

But the truth, which Ashvaghosha alludes to in his description of Nanda's travails from 17.7, is that both tendencies can co-exist in one person. This co-existence is in fact at the heart of Nanda's struggle. So a truer but slightly more cumbersome translation might be "When one is self-motivated, one is freed.... But when one's mind is led by circumstances, one struggles...."

People have described me as a self-motivated type, and it is true that I can happily go for days and weeks sitting, working and translating without socializing with anybody. But after a few weeks a certain neediness is still prone to creep in. And even at the best of times, when loud crowing of five cockerels threatens to set off an auditory Moro reflex, I am liable to show myself to be still a slave to circumstances.

We struggle to find freedom in the face of wrong inner patterns. That is what the afflictions (klesha) are, as I understand them, in Alexander terms. "The wrong inner patterns are the doing," Marjory Barlow said, "that has to be stopped." And right at the centre of those wrong inner patterns, my own experience suggests to me, is the Moro reflex which, in my own case, is ever liable to be stimulated by a noxious auditory stimulus.

"Being wrong is the best friend you have got!" Marjory used to tell me. I still do not really understand why. I cannot really see my own situation as Marjory saw it. But probably it has got something to do with the possibility that if I could overcome my own Moro-centred problem -- if I could truly defeat Mara -- then I might have something really useful to offer others in terms of giving the supreme gift, which, of far greater value even than the gift of a good translation of Ashvaghosha's words, is the gift of confidence.

For the present, I have frequent welling and occasional outbursts of impatient anger to thank for letting me know that the battle is far from won.

EH Johnston:
For he in whom the impulse is strong obtains salvation without difficulty immediately on receipt of a stimulus, but he whose understanding is susceptible only to external conditions obtains salvation with difficulty and only by dependence on another.

Linda Covill:
The superior man of strong motivation is liberated effortlessly with just the merest nudge, but the man whose mind is governed by faith attains liberation with difficulty, and only through dependence on someone else.

a-yatna-taH: ind. without effort or exertion
hetu-bal'-aadhikaH (nom. sg. m.): he in whom the strength of impulse/primary cause is superior
hetu: m. " impulse " , motive ; cause ; (with Buddhists) primary cause (as opp. to pratyaya)
bala: n. power, force ; ifc. by force , by the power
adhika: mfn. surpassing (in number or quantity or quality) , superior ; excellent
tu: but

nirmucyate = 3rd pers. sg. present passive nir- √ muc: to loosen , free from (abl.) , liberate
ghaTTita-maatraH (nom. sg. m.): at the merest stimulus, as soon as he is touched
ghaTTita: mfn. rubbed , touched , shaken
ghaTT: to rub (the hands) over , touch , shake , cause to move
maatra: mfn. being nothing but , simply or merely (after a pp. = scarcely , as soon as , merely , just e.g. jaata-maatra , scarcely or just born ; kRiShTa-maatra , merely ploughed ; bhukta-maatre , immediately after eating)
eva: (emphatic)

yatnena (inst. sg.): with effort, carefully ,eagerly , strenuously
tu: but
pratyaya-neya-buddhiH (nom. sg. m.): he whose understanding is led by belief / co-operating causes
pratyaya: m. belief, firm conviction , trust , faith ; conception , assumption , notion , idea ; ground , basis , motive or cause of anything (in med.) = nimitta , hetu &c ; (with Buddhists) a co-operating cause
neya: mfn. ( √ nii) to be led or guided or managed or governed
buddhi: f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; comprehension , apprehension , understanding

vimokSham (acc. sg.): m. the being loosened or undone ; release, deliverance, liberation
aapnoti = 3rd pers. sg. present aap: to reach ; to obtain , gain , take possession of
par'-aashrayena (inst. sg):
para: m. another, others
aashraya: mfn. ifc. depending on , resting on , endowed or furnished with

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.16: The Dual Great Matter

saMklesha-pakSho dvi-vidhash ca dRShTas
tathaa dvi-kalpo vyavadaana-pakShaH
aatm'-aashrayo hetu-bal'-aadhikasya
baahy'-aashrayaH pratyaya-gauravasya

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

The afflictions are understood to be dual;

Likewise, in clearing them away,
there are two modes of action:

When one's primary motivation is strong,
one is self-reliant;

Assigning importance to conditions,
one is outer-dependent.

The afflictions are understood to be dual because the subconsciously controlled person is observed to career from one side to the other of the metaphorical middle way, swinging between highs and lows, exuberance and fear, lust and anger, hyper-activity and fatigue, hyper-tonus and floppiness, red and white, enthusiasm and disillusionment, arrogance and low self-esteem, conceit and self-recrimination. Such is life on what the Buddha calls the swing of samsara (saMsaara-dolaa; 16.6).

Seeking to explain this duality in terms of human physiology, my old teacher Gudo Nishijima never tired of going on, and on and on, about the autonomic nervous system with its antagonistic sympathetic and parasympathetic components.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, FM Alexander wrote of "unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions" -- among which neuro-physiologists who came after Alexander later identified the mutually antagonistic fear paralysis response and Moro reflex.

In any event, to delight in intellectual knowledge about this duality might be the sorriest of delights; whereas really to know, to have confidence in, a means of countering this duality, might be the greatest of gifts (shreShThatamaM dhanebhyaH; 5.24).

Sitting-dhyana, evidently, is the primary means advocated by all the buddha-ancestors -- the one great matter.

But to know intellectually that sitting-meditation is the one great matter of the buddha-ancestors, equally evidently, is not enough. If that kind of knowledge was enough already, there might not be much point in continuing with this attempted excavation of the original real gold of Ashvaghosha.

EH Johnston:
The sins are classified in two categories, and so too the means of purification, namely, that in which a man, in whom the internal impulse is strong, is self-dependent, and that in which a man, to whom external conditions are of most weight, is dependent on outside agency.

Linda Covill:
There are two different possibilities regarding defilements, and likewise there are two alternative possibilities regarding purification: the superior man of strong motivation is self-dependent, while the man for whom faith is important is dependent on something external to himself.

saMklesha-pakShaH (nom. sg. m.): the matter of the afflictions
saMklesha: m. pain , suffering , affliction
pakSha: m. a wing; a side ; one of two cases or one side of an argument , an alternative ; a point or matter under discussion , a thesis , a particular theory , a position advanced or an argument to be maintained
dvi-vidhaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. two-fold, of two kinds
dvi: two
vidha: m. measure , form , kind
ca: and
dRShTaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. seen ; considered , regarded , treated ; understood

tathaa: ind. so, likewise
dvi-kalpaH (nom. sg. m.): being of two alternatives
kalpa: m. a sacred precept , law , rule , ordinance ; manner of acting , proceeding , practice (esp. that prescribed by the vedas) ; m. one of two cases , one side of an argument , an alternative (= pakSa)
vyavadaana-pakShaH (nom. sg. m.): the argument regarding purification
vyavadaana: n. purification
vy-ava- √ dai : to be clearly diffused

aatm'-aashrayaH (nom. sg. m.): self-reliant
aatma: self
ashraya: mfn. ifc. depending on , resting on , endowed or furnished with
hetu-bal'-aadhikasya (gen. sg.): the strength of impulse being superior
hetu: m. " impulse " , motive ; cause ; (with Buddhists) primary cause (as opp. to pratyaya)
bala: n. power, strength, force ; ifc. by force , by the power
adhika: mfn. surpassing (in number or quantity or quality) , superior ; excellent

baahy'-aashrayaH (nom. sg. m.): outer-dependent
baahya: mfn. being outside (a door , house , &c ) , situated without (abl. or comp.) , outer , exterior ; ibc. outside , without , out
pratyaya-gauravasya (gen. sg.): conditions being important
pratyaya: m. belief, firm conviction , trust , faith; ground , basis , motive or cause of anything; (with Buddhists) a co-operating cause
gaurava: n. importance, gravity

SAUNDARANANDA 5.15: Firm Stroke for Weak Bloke

nir-mokSha-biijaM hi dadarSha tasya
jNaanaM mRdu klesha-rajash ca tiivraM
klesh'-aanukuulaM viShay'-aatmakaM ca
nandaM yatas taM munir aacakarSha

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

For he saw that in Nanda the seed of liberation,

Which is wisdom, was tenuous;
while the fog of the afflictions was terribly thick;

And since he was susceptible to the afflictions
and sensual by nature,

Therefore the Sage reined him in.

EH Johnston:
The Sage perceived that knowledge, the origin of salvation, was weak in Nanda, that the passion of the sins was fierce in him and that he was inclined to the sins and sensuous indulgences ; therefore He compelled him to follow.

Linda Covill:
For the sage saw that knowledge, the seed of liberation, was weak in him while the dirt of the defilements was strong in him, and that his disposition tended to the defilements and to sensuality. Therefore he pressured Nanda.

nir-mokSha-biijam (acc. sg. n.): seed of liberation
nir-mokSha: m. liberation , deliverance
nir- √ muc: to loosen , free from (abl.) , liberate
biija: n. seed ; any germ , element , primary cause or principle , source , origin (ifc. = caused or produced by , sprung from)
hi: for
dadarSha = 3rd. pers. sg. perfect dRsh: to see
tasya (gen. sg.): in him

jNaanam (nom. sg.): n. knowing , becoming acquainted with , knowledge , (esp.) the higher knowledge
mRdu (acc. sg. n.): mfn. soft , delicate , tender , pliant , mild , gentle ; weak, feeble
klesha-rajaH (acc. sg. n.): the dust of the afflictions
klesha: m. pain , affliction
rajas: n. " coloured or dim space " ; vapour , mist , clouds , gloom , dimness , darkness ; impurity , dirt , dust , any small particle of matter ; the " darkening " quality , passion , emotion , affection
ca: and
tiivram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. strong , severe , violent , intense , hot , pervading , excessive , ardent , sharp , acute , pungent , horrible

klesh'-aanukuulam (acc. sg. m.): being susceptible to the afflictions
klesha: m. pain , affliction
anukuula: mfn. following the bank (kuula) or slope or declivity ; according to the current ; favourable
viShay'-aatmakam (acc. sg. m.): having a sensual nature
viShaya: m. an object of sense ; anything perceptible by the senses , any object of affection or concern or attention , any special worldly object or aim or matter or business , (pl.) sensual enjoyments , sensuality
aatmaka: having or consisting of the nature or character of (in comp.)
ca: and

nandam (acc. sg. m.): Nanda
yataH: ind. from which or what , whence ; for which reason
tam (acc. sg. m.): him
muniH (nom. sg. m.): the Sage
aacakarSha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect aa- √ kRSh: to draw towards one's self , attract ; to draw (a sword) ; to bend (a bow)

Friday, September 24, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.14: Acting Buddha

bhaary"-aanuraageNa yadaa gRham sa
paatraM gRhiitv" aapi yiyaasur eva
vimohayaam aasa munis tatas taM
rathyaa-mukhasy' aavaraNena tasya

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

Then, at the moment that he in his yearning for his wife,

Despite holding the bowl, was about to head for home,

Just then the Sage bamboozled him

By blocking his entrance to the highway.

At first reading it looks as if there is some redundancy in this and the previous verse. We are told in both verses that Nanda was desirous of going home (gRham yiyaasuH), even though he was holding the bowl.

I think Ashvaghosha's intention may be to highlight this pivotal moment in the action almost in the manner of a frame-by-frame slow motion replay. In 5.13 the Buddha was like a fighter watching his opponent with peripheral vision. To Nanda the Buddha seemed momentarily distracted, but more fool Nanda: in fact the Buddha was on maximum alert, waiting for the very moment in which his move would be most effective.

The point of aaraat in line 1 of the previous verse, and yadaa and tataH in lines 1 and 3 of this verse, then, is to draw our attention to the momentary nature of the action now being described.

Following this vivid blow-by-blow description, the rhythm changes, so that the next four verses are discursive and explanatory, detached from the action itself -- as if in 5.15 - 5.18 the slow-motion action replay gives way to the analysis of a pundit in the studio.

EH Johnston:
Then when Nanda, though still holding the bowl, wanted to go home out of love for his wife, the Sage confounded him by blocking up the entry of the street.

Linda Covill:
Longing for his wife, he was just about to go home even holding the bowl, when the sage confused him by blocking the entrance to the street.

bhaary"-aanuraageNa (inst. sg.): because of attachment to his wife
bhaaryaa: f. wife
anuraaga: m. attachment , affection , love , passion ; red colour
yadaa: ind. when, at what time
gRham (acc. sg.): house, home
sa (nom. sg. m.): he

paatram (acc. sg.): the bowl
gRhiitvaa = abs. grah: to take, seize, hold
api: even, though
yiyaasuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. desid. yaa) wishing to go, being about to go
eva: (emphatic)

vimohayaam aasa (periphrastic perfect): he did a bewildering
vimoha: m. confusion of the mind , perplexity
aasa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect as: to be (copula)
muniH (nom. sg.): m. the Sage
tataH: ind. then
tam (acc. sg. m.): him

rathyaa-mukhasya (gen. sg.): the entrance into the highway
rathyaa: f. a carriage-road , highway , street
mukha: n. mouth ; opening aperture , entrance into or egress out of (gen. or comp.)
aavaraNena (inst. sg): n. the act of covering , concealing , hiding ; n. shutting , enclosing ; n. an obstruction ; n. anything that protects , an outer bar or fence
tasya (gen. sg.): of that

SAUNDARANANDA 5.13: Backtracking Nanda...

paraaN-mukhas tv anya-manaskam aaraad
vijNaaya nandaH sugataM gat'-aasthaM
hasta-stha-paatro' pi gRham yiyaasuH
sasaara maargaan munim iikShamaaNaH

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

But as soon as he sensed
that the mind of the One Gone Well had gone elsewhere,

And was not on him, Nanda backtracked;

Wanting to go home even with the bowl in his hands,

He sidled away from the path --
while keeping his eye on the Sage.

EH Johnston:
But Nanda turned away, suddenly conscious that the Blessed One was attentive to something else and not interested in him, and stepped from the road to go home, though he had the bowl in his hand, keeping his eye on the Sage.

Linda Covill:
Yet at that moment Nanda realized that the Sugata had his mind on other things and was not concentrating on him, so with his head turned to keep his eye on the sage he moved away from the road, intending to go home, though he still had the bowl in his hands.

paraaN-mukhaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. having the face turned away or averted , turning the back upon
tu: but
anya-manaskam (acc. sg. m.): thinking of something else, his mind otherwise occupied
anya: other
manaska: (ifc.) = manas, mind
aaraat: ind. directly , immediately

vijNaaya = abs. vi- √ jNaa: to distinguish , discern , observe , investigate , recognize , ascertain , know , understand
nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda
sugatam (acc. sg. m.): the Sugata, the One Gone Well
gat'-aastham (acc. sg. m.) = nir-aastha: not interested in anything , not intent upon (comp.)

hasta-stha-paatraH (nom. sg. m.): with the bowl in his handss
hasta: hand
stha: being in
paatra: bowl
api: though
gRham (acc. sg.): house, home
yiyaasuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (from desid. yaa) wishing to go

sasaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect sR: to run , flow , speed , glide , move , go ; to run away , escape ; to go towards , betake one's self to (acc.)
maargaat = abl. sg. marga: m. track, path, road
munim (acc. sg.): m. the Sage
iikShamaaNaH = nom. sg. m.. pres. part. iikSh: to see , look , observe

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.12:... Stretches Nanda

tataH sa loke dadataH phal'-aarthaM
paatrasya tasy' aapratimasya paatraM
jagraaha caapa-grahaNa-kShamaabhyaaM
padm'-opamaabhyaam prayataH karaabhyaM

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

The vessel of the Incomparable Vessel,

Who was offering it to reap a fruit in the human world,

Nanda then held, outstretched,

With lotus-like hands suited to the holding of a bow.

When a person looks at clouds, the person's mind sometimes sees faces or other patterns in the clouds, even though the clouds have no intention at all other than to float, billow and glower as clouds.

Probably in a similar way, when I read this verse it has to do with what FM Alexander called "the great principle of antagonistic action."

The verse as I read it has not got anything at all do with religious piety, and so I object to EHJ's choice of the word "piously" as a translation of prayata in line 4. prayata literally means "outstretched, extended" (like an archer's bow) and, by extension, "with sincerity, devotedly." But such sincerity or devotion, as I understand it, has got nothing to do with piety, which is a concept inextricably tangled up with religious belief.

Rather this verse as I read it has to do with being stretched; in other words, with a condition of dynamic balance in which the Universe, as described in the Lotus Sutra, is poised. It might have to do with Time's arrow being held tautly in the bow of chemical kinetics.

Understood like this, the verse suggests -- at least to me -- not only that Nanda's hands were suited to holding a bow but also that the whole of Nanda was suited to being held, and stretched, in a kind of bow.

And this kind of meaning, if it is studied in the classroom, is better studied not in a religious studies class, but in a science lesson. Better still is it studied, in my book, when a person is stretched in the gym or on the sports field -- not so much "Amen" as boyooing.....

EH Johnston:
Then piously with lotuslike hands which were better suited to holding a bow he took the vessel of the Incomparable Vessel, Who gave it (not for alms but) for the fruit to be obtained in the world.

Linda Covill:
So with his lotus hands more suited to holding a bow, he devotedly took the bowl of that matchless vessel who gave it for the sake of reward in the world.

tataH: ind. then
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
loke (loc. sg.): in the world
dadataH = gen. sg. pres. part. daa: to give , bestow , grant , yield , impart , present , offer to ; to hand over
phal'-aartham: ind. for the sake of fruit / reward
phala: n. fruit (met.) , consequence , effect , result , retribution (good or bad) , gain or loss , reward or punishment , advantage or disadvantage
artha: purpose

paatrasya (gen. sg.): the bowl, vessel
tasya (gen. sg.): that, him
apratimasya (gen. sg.): mfn. unequalled, incomparable, without a match
paatram (acc. sg.): the bowl

jagraaha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect grah: to seize, take, grasp, lay hold of, claim
caapa-grahaNa-kShamaabhyaam (inst. dual m.): fit for holding a bow
caapa: a bow
grahaNa: mfn. (verbal action noun from grah) seizing, holding, taking
kShama: (ifc.) fit , appropriate , becoming , suitable , proper for

padm'-opamaabhyaam (inst. dual m.): lotus-like
padma: lotus
upama: mfn. (ifc.) equal , similar , resembling , like
prayataH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. outstretched , far-extended ; piously disposed , intent on devotion , well prepared for a solemn rite (with loc. or ifc.) , ritually pure (also applied to a vessel and a place), self-subdued , dutiful , careful , prudent
karaabhyam = inst. dual kara: m. "the doer"; hand

SAUNDARANANDA 5.11: An Unexpected Honour...

tataH sa kRtvaa munaye praNaamaM
gRha-prayaaNaaya matiM cakaara
anugrah'-aarthaM sugatas tu tasmai
paatraM dadau puShkara-pattra-netraH

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

Then, having bowed to the Sage,

He made up his mind to head home;

But as a favour the One Gone Well,

With lotus petal eyes, handed him his bowl.

Nanda asked for a favour, and now the Buddha shows him favour. But the favour Nanda was hoping for he did not receive. Instead he now receives an unexpected honour, being entrusted with the bowl which is traditionally revered as one of the great symbols, along with the robe, of the Buddha.

puShkara-pattra-netraH, "with lotus petal eyes," might mean with eyes that were shapely and at the same time eyes that, even when plotting a bitter course for Nanda, were soft.

EH Johnston:
Then he made obeisance to the Sage and decided to go home, but the Blessed One, Whose eye was like a lotus petal, honoured him by handing to him His begging bowl.

Linda Covill:
and as he had now completed his courtesies to the sage, Nanda decided to go home. But the Sugata, his eyes like lotus petals, handed him his bowl as an act of grace.

tataH: ind. then
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
kRtvaa = abs. kR: to do, make
munaye = dat. sg. muni: the Sage
praNaamam (acc. sg.): m. bending , bowing , a bow , respectful salutation , prostration , obeisance

gRha-prayaaNaaya (dat. sg.):
gRha: house, home
prayaaNa: n. setting out , starting , advancing , motion onwards; departure
matiM cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect matiM kR: to set the heart on , make up one's mind , resolve , determine

anugrah'-aartham: for a favour, as a kindness
anugraha: m. favour , kindness , showing favour , conferring benefits
artha: purpose
sugataH (nom. sg. m.):
tu: but
tasmai (dat. sg. m.): to him

paatram (acc. sg.): n. the bowl
dadau = 3rd pers. sg. perfect daa: to give , bestow , grant , yield , impart , present , offer to ; to hand over
puShkara-pattra-netraH (nom. sg. m.): with his lotus-petal eyes
puShkar: a blue lotus-flower , a lotus , Nelumbium Speciosum or Nymphaea Nelumbo (
pattra: n. feather ; a leaf , petal (regarded as the plumage of a tree or flower) netra: the eye (as the leading organ)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.10: The Buddha Refuses (100%)

ity evam uktaH praNatena tena
taadRN nimittam sugatash cakaara
n' aahaara-kRtyam sa yathaa viveda

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

Thus addressed by the bowing Nanda,

Whose expectant eyes looked up with tender affection,

The One Gone Well made a sign

Such that Nanda knew he would not be taking a meal.

I took care in this verse not to give the impression that the Buddha had no need in general of taking food -- which would require the reader to believe in miracles of the Catholic variety. Those who have any doubt in this matter might refer to 3.5: Then, having ascertained that this was not the path, / He abandoned that extreme asceticism too. / Understanding the sphere of meditation to be supreme, / He ate good food in readiness to realise the deathless.

The point is rather that the Buddha, like a good rugby full-back under the high ball, was clear and decisive in his response to Nanda's request. He didn't um and agh and consider how hungry he was, and what might or might not be polite. He didn't care whether or not he disturbed or hurt Nanda's evidently rather sentimental thoughts and feelings, knowing full well that those sentimental thoughts and feelings were unreliable. All the Buddha was thinking about was the means-whereby he might nab, lead, guide and eventually allow Nanda, in the direction of liberation.

And to make this response known, the Buddha did not use words; he relied purely on non-verbal communication.

Some people say that a large percentage -- 75%, 90%, whatever -- of communication is non-verbal. Some say that their shampoo is scientifically proven to cure some similarly spurious percentage of split ends. Some people use bogus scientific-sounding statistics to talk a lot of bullshit, and not a few listeners are taken in by it.

In this verse, the Buddha communicates his intention non-verbally. In many other verses the Buddha communicates his intention verbally.

The truth may be that the Buddha communicated one hundred per cent of his intention non-verbally, and the Buddha communicated one hundred per cent of his intention verbally. To talk of lesser percentages might be utter nonsense.

EH Johnston:
So he addressed Him humbly, with eyes that looked up at Him full of affection and reverence ; but the Blessed One made a sign to show that He felt no need of food.

Linda Covill:
He bowed as he spoke, his eyes raised in affection and reverence. The Sugata, however, showed with a gesture that he did not require food,

ity evam: "....," thus
uktaH (nom. sg. m.): addressed, spoken to
praNatena (inst. sg.): mfn. bent forwards , bowing
tena (inst sg.): by him

sneh'-aabhimaan'-onmukha-locanena (inst. sg.): his eyes upraised in tender and affectionate expectation
sneha: m. oiliness; blandness , tenderness , love , attachment to , fondness or affection
abhimaana: high opinion of one's self , self-conceit , pride , haughtiness ; conception (especially an erroneous one regarding one's self) ; affection , desire
unmukha: mfn. raising the face , looking up or at ; waiting for , expecting
locana: n. " organ of sight " , the eye

taadRk: ind. in such a manner
nimittam (acc. sg.): n. a butt , mark , target ; sign ; cause
sugataH (nom. sg.): the Sugata, the One Gone Well
cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kR: to do, make

n' aahaara-kRtyam (acc. sg. n.): food not needing to be taken
na: not
aahaara: m. taking food
kRtya: mfn. to be done or performed
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
yathaa: ind. in which manner or way
viveda = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vid: to know, understand

SAUNDARANANDA 5.9: Nanda Asks a Favour...

tat saadhu saadhu-priya mat-priy"-aarthaM
tatr' aastu bhikSh'-uuttama bhaikSha-kaalaH
asau hi madhyaM nabhaso yiyaasuH
kaalaM pratismaarayat' iiva suuryaH

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

Therefore, rightly, O favourer of the righteous,
and as a favour to me,

Be there, O supreme seeker of alms,
at the time for eating alms,

For the sun is about to reach the middle of the sky

As if to remind us of the time."

The Buddha in his daily life would go begging, i.e. do his alms round, in the morning and eat a midday meal which would be the only meal of the day. So Nanda is asking the Buddha to show favour to him by taking the meal there (tatra) at his house. What Nanda says, literally, is "Let the time of alms, O uppermost beggar, be there."

The Monier Williams dictionary definition of a bhikShu as "a religious mendicant (especially a Brahman in the fourth aashrama or period of his life , when he subsists entirely on alms)," gives an indication of how widely pervaded through Indian society the tradition of subsisting on alms was.

The way that public finances are going, it is a tradition that those of us who have no private pension provision might be forced to revive, if we are fortunate enough to make it to old bones.

EH Johnston:
Therefore kindly, O Lover of the virtuous, Best of mendicants, out of graciousness for me let Thy time for questing alms be passed in our house ; for there is the sun about to reach the centre of the firmament, recalling as it were that it is time (for the midday meal).'

Linda Covill:
It would be an excellent thing, and a kindness to me, if you, beloved of the good, best of monks, were to spend your alms-time at my house. And look, the sun is heading towards the middle of the sky, as though to remind us of the time!"

tad: (nom. sg. n.) it ; (ind.) therefore
saadhu: ind. straight , aright , regularly ; n. well , rightly , skilfully , properly , agreeably (with √ vRt and loc. , " to behave well towards " ; with √ aas (to sit) , " to be well or at ease ")
saadhu-priya (vocative): O, one who loves the virtuous!
saadhu: mfn. straight , right ; leading straight to a goal , hitting the mark , unerring (as an arrow or thunderbolt) ; straightened , not entangled (as threads) ; fit , proper , right ; good , virtuous , honourable , righteous ; well-born , noble , of honourable or respectable descent ; m. a good or virtuous or honest man
priya: fond of attached or devoted to (in comp. , either ibc. e.g. priya-devana , " fond of playing " , or ifc. e.g. akSha-priya , " fond of dice " ; ifc. also = pleasant , agreeable e.g. gamana-priya , " pleasant to go)
mad: (base of the first pers. sg. pron., esp. in comp.) me
priya: n. love , kindness , favour , pleasure
artham: ifc. for the sake of , on account of , in behalf of , for

tatra: ind. there, at that place
astu (3rd pers. sg. imperative as): let it be
bhikSh'-uuttama (voc.): O, best of beggars!
bhikShu: m. m. a beggar , mendicant , religious mendicant (esp. a Brahman in the fourth aashrama or period of his life , when he subsists entirely on alms)
uttama: mfn. (superlative fr. 1. ud) uppermost , highest
bhaikSha-kaalaH (nom. sg. m.): the time for begging
bhaikSha: n. asking alms , begging , mendicancy ; n. anything obtained by begging , begged food , charity , alms
kaala: time

asau (nom. sg. m.): that (for what is not near at hand)
hi: for
madhyam (acc. sg.): n. the middle; the middle of the sky (with nabhasas)
nabhasaH (gen. sg.): n. the sky
yiyaasuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. desid. yaa) wishing to go, going to go, about to go

kaalam (acc. sg.): m. the time
pratismaarayati = 3rd pers. sg. causitive prati- √ smR: to remind
iva: like, as if
suuryaH (nom. sg.): m. the sun

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.8: ...Praise & Blame of Others

praasaada-saMstho bhagavantam antaH
praviShTam ashrauSham anugrahaaya
atas tvaraavaan aham abhyupeto
gRhasya kakShyaa-mahato' bhyasuuyan

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

"I learned while in the palace penthouse, Glorious One,

That you had entered inside for our benefit;

And so I have come in a hurry,

with the many members of the palace household.

What Nanda is demonstrating here, in his failure to take responsibility for his own failings and his projection onto his staff of his own negligent tendency, is the good old mirror principle. This principle, whenever an unenlightened person is venting his emotional criticism of others, never fails.

Nanda has yet to get a grip on himself or to gain a foothold on the path of the Buddha's teaching.

His attitude here may be contrasted with his attitude at the beginning of Canto 12, at which time, although he is in another kind of emotional state -- a state of deep shame -- he has begun to find his own confidence in what the Buddha's teaching is, and thus has finally gained a foothold.

And just as Nanda's attitude may be contrasted like this, so may the Buddha's response be contrasted.

In Canto 12, knowing from where he was coming, / And that, though his senses were set against it, / Higher good was now emerging, / The Realised One spoke: "Aha! This gaining of a foothold / Is the harbinger of higher good in you, / As, when a firestick is rubbed, / Rising smoke is the harbinger of fire. / Long carried off course / By the restless horses of the senses, / You have now set foot on a path, / With clarity of vision, happily, that will not dim. / Today your birth bears fruit; / Your gain today is great; / For though you know the taste of love, / Your mind is yearning for indifference. (12.18 - 12.21).

In today's verse, in contrast, though Nanda praises the Buddha as bhagavat, Glorious One, to the Buddha this evaluation does not mean anything coming from the stammering lips of one who not only lacks emotional composure but also lacks the will to work towards it. Hence, when the Buddha finally opens his own mouth to reply to Nanda, it is only to say: While murderous death has yet to come, / Make up your mind, my friend, to work towards composure. (5.22)

EH Johnston:
'I heard when I was on the roof that His Holiness had honoured us with a visit, so I came hurrying in my anger with (the negligence of) my great household (of servants).

Linda Covill:
"When I was in my palace, I heard that the Blessed One had favoured us with a visit, so I have come in a hurry, indignant with the attendants of my large household.

praasaada-saMsthaH (nom. sg. m.): being in the palace penthouse
praasaada: m. (lit. " sitting forward " , sitting on a seat in a conspicuous place ) a lofty seat or platform for spectators , terrace ; the top-story of a lofty building ; a lofty palatial mansion (approached by steps) , palace , temple ; (with Buddhists) the monks' hall for assembly and confession
saMstha: being in
bhagavantam = acc. sg. m bhagavat: mfn. possessing fortune , fortunate , prosperous , happy ; glorious , illustrious , divine , adorable , venerable ; m. " the divine or adorable one "
antar: ind. within, in the middle

praviShTam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. entered
ashrauSham = 1st pers. sg. aorist shru: to hear, learn
anugrahaaya = dat. sg. anugraha: m. favour , kindness , showing favour , conferring benefits

ataH: ind. from this, hence
tvaraavaan = nom. sg. m. tvaraavat: mfn. expeditiously, with haste
tvaraa: f. haste , speed
aham (nom. sg. m.): I
abhyupetaH (nom. sg. m.): arrived

gRhasya (gen. sg.): m. a house ; inhabitants of a house
kakShyaa-mahataH (gen. sg. m.): the many [attendants] of the palace's inner apartment
kakShyaa: f. girth (of an animal) , girdle , zone ; f. the enclosure of an edifice (either the wall &c so enclosing it , or the court or chamber constituting the enclosure , the inner apartment of a palace)
mahat: mfn. many (people , with jana sg.); m. a great or noble man
abhyasuuyan = nom. sg. m. pres. part abhy-asuu: to show indignation , be indignant at

SAUNDARANANDA 5.7: Nanda Stammers...

shanair vrajann eva sa gauraveNa
paT'-aavRt'-aaMso vinat'-aardha-kaayaH
adho nibaddh'-aaNjalir uurdhva-netraH
sa-gadgadaM vaakyam idaM babhaaShe

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

Walking forward meekly, with respectful seriousness,

With cloak over one shoulder, body half-stooped,

Hands held down and eyes raised up,

He stuttered these words:

What kind of picture is Ashvaghosha painting here of the stammering Nanda? I think it might be intended to be a somewhat comical one.

In his book The Use of the Self, FM Alexander wrote a chapter titled "The Stutterer." It is about a bloke who keeps messing up his own co-ordination through his desire to be right and his inability to stop trying to be right (or "end-gaining").

In this verse and the following verse, as I read them, Nanda is displaying the classic symptoms of a religious believer who is trying to be right, and getting all fixed in the process.

First of all, he is too careful and serious. He seems not to have heard the teaching of Patrick Macdonald that "If you are careful you will never get anywhere in this work. If you are careless you might." Equally, Marjory Barlow's teaching seems to be lost on him that "This work is the most serious thing in the world, but you mustn't take it seriously."

Accepting as true EHJ's observation that Ashvaghosha never wastes words, one is forced to ask why we are told that Nanda spread his cloak over a shoulder. I think the point is that Nanda, in his desire to do the right thing, is imitating what he thinks the form of a follower of the Buddha should be. He seems to think that showing an appropriate form might have to do with keeping one shoulder covered while maintaining a servile posture.

Like a Japanese priest of the Soto Sect, putting on a good show for the paying spectators at a funeral ceremony, Nanda is behaving as if the most important thing was not what was happening on the inside but rather what was happening on the outside.

So at this stage, the best Nanda can do is to imitate what he sees. He does not know what or how to think. He wants to express his reverence for the Buddha, but if somebody asked him what the Buddha's teaching actually was, he might be as bewildered as a professional Soto Zen priest in the lucrative Japanese funeral ceremony business today might be bewildered, in the admittedly unlikely event that a Japanese customer should ask him such a question.

EH Johnston:
While walking along slowly and respectfully, with one shoulder covered by his shawl and his body half-bowed, with hands clasped downwards and eyes uplifted, he uttered this speech with sobs : --

Linda Covill:
Walking slowly and respectfully, with one shoulder covered by his garment and his body in a semi-stoop, Nanda joined his hands in a gesture of reverence, raised his eyes, and stammered out these words:

shanaiH: ind. (originally instr. pl. of shana) quietly , softly , gently , gradually , alternately
vrajan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. vraj: to go, walk, move
eva: (emphatic)
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
gauraveNa (inst. sg.): n. weight , heaviness ; n. respect shown to a person

paT'-aavRt'-aaMsaH (nom. sg. m.): with his shoulder covered by a garment
paTa: m. woven cloth , cloth , a blanket , garment ; monastic habit
avRta: mfn. covered , concealed , hid ; spread , overspread
aMsa: shoulder
vinat'-aardha-kaayaH (nom. sg. m.): his body half-bowed
vinata: bent , curved , bent down , bowed , stooping
ardha: half
kaaya: body

adhaH: ind. below , down ; in the lower region ; beneath , under
nibaddh'-aaNjaliH (nom. sg. m.): hands joined
nibaddha: mfn. bound
aNjali: m. the open hands placed side by side and slightly hollowed (as if by a beggar to receive food ; hence when raised to the forehead , a mark of supplication)
uurdhva-netraH (nom. sg m.): eyes upraised
uurdhva: mfn. rising or tending upwards , raised
netra: n. leading , guiding ; the eye (as the guiding organ)

sa-gadgadam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. with stammering (voice)
gadgada: n. stammering , indistinct or convulsive utterance (as sobbing &c )
vaakyam (acc. sg.): n. speech , saying
idam (acc. sg. n.): this
babhaaShe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect bhaaSh: to speak , talk , say , tell ; to announce, declare

Monday, September 20, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.6: A Bow to One Gone Beyond Joy

tato viviktaM ca vivikta-cetaaH
san-maarga-vin maargam abhipratasthe
gatv" aagratash c' aagryatamaaya tasmai
naandii-vimuktaaya nanaama nandaH

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

Then he of the solitary mind, a knower of the true path,

Took a solitary path;

And Nanda whose name was Joy, going out in front, bowed to him,

The one who, gone beyond joy, was furthest out in front.

The interplay which characterizes many of these verses, of words with double-meanings, related meanings, and similar sounds always provides the translator with plenty to ponder on.

vivikta, for example, means separated out. As a description of a path it means an isolated path. As a description of a mind it means discriminating or judicious, as in the translations of EHJ and LC. At the same time, even when applied to the mind, vivikta in my book has something to do with solitude, or absence of clutter.

When the monks in the tradition of Ajahn Cha of Thailand looked for a suitable Pali name for their monastery at Chithurst, they opted for citta-viveka or "Solitude of Mind" -- with the emphasis, if I understood correctly when it was explained to me, intended to be on solitude rather than discrimination.

Again, in 17.42, Ashvaghosha describes the first stage of sitting-meditation as viveka-jam, which EHJ translated as "born of discrimination." LC went with "born of discernment." But in my book the first dhyana is born, even if one is sitting alongside others, out of a sense of solitude, or space that is relatively free from clutter.

margam, (path) similarly, appears twice in this verse, with both a metaphorical meaning and a literal meaning.

There is still another play on agrataH ("in front") where Nanda goes, and agryatama ("the one who is most in front") to whom Nanda bows.

What Ashvaghosha intends by referring to the Buddha as naandii-vimukta, "gone beyond joy," may be related with the progression outlined in Canto 17 through four dhyanas, or stages of sitting-meditation. The first stage, grossly tainted end-gaining having been given up, is as enjoyable as diving into a swimming pool on a hot day; the second stage has the subtler joy of a silent, one-pointed mind; the third stage is a condition of ultimate ease that results when all concern for joy is given up; and the fourth stage is a condition of pure awareness and indifference which is beyond any concern with ease or suffering.

But aside from this somewhat left-brained analysis of the meaning of naandii-vimukta, there is also the fact that Nanda means "Joy;" and bowed is nanaaama, so that when Nanda bowed to naandii-vimukta ("the one beyond joy"), a lot of na's were involved...

naandii-vimuktaaya nanaama nandaH

EH Johnston:
Then He Who knew the good Path and Whose mind had attained discrimination entered a lonely lane, and Nanda, going in front, made obeisance to the Foremost Leader, Who (in his equanimity) was untouched by the feeling of delight.

Linda Covill:
When the judicious knower of the right path reached an isolated road, Nanda went in front and bowed down to him, the foremost man, who was free of the desire for pleasure.

tataH: ind. then
viviktam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. separated , kept apart , distinguished , discriminated ; isolated , alone , solitary
ca: and
vivikta-cetaaH (nom. sg. m.): being of distinct consciousness, having solitude of mind
vivikta: mfn. separated ; isolated ; clear , distinct ; discriminative , judicious , prudent , discreet , wise ( = vi-vekin) ;
cetas: n. consciousness , intelligence , thinking soul , heart , mind

san-maarga-vit (nom. sg. m.): knowing a true path
san-maarga: m. the right path (fig.)
vid: mfn. knowing , understanding , a knower (mostly ifc. ; superl. vit-tama)
maargam (acc. sg.): m. track, lane, path
abhipratasthe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect abhi-pra- √ sthaa: to start or advance towards , reach

gatvaa = abs. gam: to go
agrataH: ind. in front , before
ca: and
agryatamaaya (dat. sg. m.): foremost of the foremost, the head of heads
agrya: mf(aa)n. foremost , topmost , principal , best ; intent, closely attentive
tama: an affix forming the superl. degree of adjectives and rarely of substantives
tasmai (dat. sg. m.): to him

naandii-vimuktaaya (dat. sg.): who was set free from pleasure , who had abandoned pleasure
naandii: f. ( √ nand) joy , satisfaction , pleasure
vimukta: mfn. unloosed , unharnessed &c ; given up , abandoned , relinquished
vi- √ muc: to unloose , unharness ; to release , set free , liberate ; to leave , abandon , quit , desert , give up , relinquish
nanaama = 3rd pers. sg. perfect nam: to bow
nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda

SAUNDARANANDA 5.5: Different Strokes for Different Folks

svam c' aavasaNgaM pathi nirmumukShur
bhaktiM janasy' aanya-matesh ca rakShan
nandaM ca geh'-aabhimukhaM jighRkShan
maargaM tato 'nyam sugataH prapede

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

Wishing to give free rein to his own following,
who were on the road,

While tending the devotion of people
who were differently minded,

And wishing to nab hold of Nanda,
who was turning for home,

The One Gone Well then took a different path.

EHJ notes that the text is clumsy and perhaps corrupt, with lines 1 and 3 ending with desiderative participles (nirmumukShuH, jighRkShan) but line 2 ending in a plain participle (rakshan).

So there might be a danger in looking too deeply into the meaning of this verse, on the basis of evidence that might not be totall reliable.

Still, a contrast would seem to be intended between nirmumukShuH, desiring that those already established on the road should be free to go their own way, and jighRkShan, desiring that one not yet so established, Nanda, should be taken in hand.

EH Johnston:
Then as the Blessed One desired to be free of His own following on the road, while retaining the devotion of those who followed other creeds, and wished to lay hold of Nanda who was turning homewards, He took another road.

Linda Covill:
Wishing to dismiss his own disciples whilst fostering the devotion of people of other persuasions, and intending also to catch hold of Nanda who was already turning towards home, the Sugata set out along a different route;

svam (acc. sg. m.): his own
ca: and
avasaNgam (acc. sg.)
ava- √ saNj: to suspend , attach to , append ; to adhere or cleave to , not leave undisturbed
ava: ind. (as a prefix to verbs and verbal nouns expresses) off , away , down
√ saNj: to cling or stick or adhere to
saNga: m. sticking , clinging to ; addiction or devotion to , propensity for , (esp.) worldly or selfish attachment or affection , desire , wish , cupidity
pathi (loc. sg.): on the road
nirmumukShuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. desid. nir- √ muc) longing for liberation
nir- √ muc: to loosen , free from (abl.) , liberate

bhaktim (acc. sg.): f. devotion
janasya (gen. sg.): m. person, people
anya-mateH (gen. sg. m.): otherwise minded
anya: other, different
mati: f. devotion ; thought , design , intention , resolution , determination , inclination , wish , desire ; opinion , notion , idea , belief , conviction , view , creed
ca: and
rakShan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. rakSh: to guard , watch , take care of , protect , save , preserve ; to tend (cattle); to spare , have regard to (another's feelings)

nandam (acc. sg. m.): Nanda
ca: and
geh'-aabhimukham (acc. sg. m.): turning towards home
geha: n. (corrupted fr. gRih/a) , a house , dwelling , habitation ; (also) family life
abhimukha: mfn. with the face directed towards , turned towards , facing ; (ifc.) going near , approaching
jighRkShan = nom. sg. m. desiderative. pres. part grah: to grasp , lay hold of; to lay the hand on , claim

maargam (acc. sg.): m. any track , road , path , way
tataH: ind. thence, then
anyam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. another, different
sugataH (nom. sg. m.): the Sugata, the One Gone Well
prapede = 3rd pers. sg. perfect pra- √ pad: to go forwards set out for , resort to , arrive at , attain , enter (with acc.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.4: Half A Sixpence

atho mahadbhiH pathi saMpatadbhiH
sampuujyamaanaaya tathaagataaya
kartum praNaamaM na shashaaka nandas
ten' aabhireme tu guror mahimnaa

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

And so,
with the great and the good
rapidly converging on the road

To honour the Tathagata,

Nanda was unable to make a bow;

But still he could delight in the Guru's greatness.

This verse, as I read it, is written in the same spirit as the Buddha's Treasury Sutra (Chapter 8, Cleansing Oneself of Views) which is quoted in Shobogenzo chap. 87 KUYO-SHOBUTSU, Serving Buddhas.

The sutra tells of a practitioner who, through many ages in which no buddha appeared, contented himself with giving up everything in order to serve pratyeka-buddhas i.e. work-shy loners who just pursue their own awakening in nature.

When it came to Sundari, Nanda could no more be satisfied by merely ogling here than he could by drinking water from one hand. But when it came to the Buddha, Nanda was not so greedy. He demonstrated the virtue of being satisfied with not much, somewhat in the spirit of Tommy Steele who back in the 1960s used to sing:

Half a sixpence,
Is better than half a penny,
And half a penny,
Is better than none....

EH Johnston:
Thus Nanda was unable to make obeisance to the Tathagata because of the noblemen flocking to salute Him in the road, but he rejoiced in the exaltation of the Guru.

Linda Covill:
Because of the large numbers on the road flocking to offer homage to the realized one, Nanda was not able to pay his respects, but he was pleased by the guru's eminence.

atho: then, and so.... etc.
mahadbhiH = inst. pl. mahat: mfn. great (in space , time , quantity or degree) ; many (people , with jana sg.); m. a great or noble man
pathi (loc. sg.): road
saMpatadbhiH = inst. pl. m. pres. part sam- √ pat: to fly or rush together (in a friendly or hostile manner) ; to fly along , fly to , hasten towards , arrive at , reach (acc. or loc.)

sampuujyamaanaaya = dat. sg. m. pres. part. passive sam- √ puuj: to salute deferentially , honour greatly , revere ; to praise
tathaagataaya (dat. sg.): m. the Tathagata, the One Come Thus, the One Arrived at that which is Thus, the One Gone Thus, the One from whom [Pride etc.] has Thus Gone... etc... etc...

kartum = inf. kR: to do, make
praNaamam (acc. sg.): m. bending , bowing , a bow , respectful salutation , prostration , obeisance
na: not
shashaaka = 3rd pers. sg. perfect shak: to be able
nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda

tena (inst. sg. m.): by that [greatness]
aabhireme = 3rd pers. sg. perfect abhi- √ ram: to delight in , be delighted
tu: but
guroH (gen. sg.): of the Guru
mahimnaa = inst. sg. mahiman: m. greatness , might , power , majesty , glory