Thursday, September 2, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.19: Sundari's Bouncing Breasts

saa taM stan'-odvartita-haara-yaShTir
utthaapayaam aasa nipiiDya dorbhyaaM
kathaM-kRto 's' iiti jahaasa c'occair
mukhena saacii-kRta-kuNDalena

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Pressing him so close in her arms that her string of pearls

Was lifted from her bulging breasts, she raised him up;

"What are you like!" she cried laughingly,

As her ear-rings swung at jaunty angles to her face.

In this verse, as in 4.4, Ashvaghosha draws our attention to Sundari's swelling breasts. He conjures here an image of firm breasts, and long earrings, in movement. Why the repeated reference to Sundari's bosom?

Maybe it is because, as a mammal writing for other mammals, Ashvaghosha knew that for all of us, whether we are male or female, female breasts tend to be the primary object of our earliest experiences, through many senses, of pleasure.

We smelt them, felt them, they stimulated our suck & root reflexes and we tasted their milk; we heard, we listened to, the voice that was stimulated by our sucking. Then, at some point, we were weaned off them. Breasts continued to hold a certain fascination, stimulated through the visual sense, but at least for a time we were led to let go of our tactile attachment to them. Literally, we moved on. In order to grow, we needed to let go of breasts and to learn through our own independent movements, and non-movements -- to educate the sense of movement and to be educated primarily through that sense of movement, and non-movement.

So it may be a general rule that our earliest human experience of "going forth" (pra-vrajanaH), second only to our emergence from the birth canal, has to do with letting go of attachment to the female breast.

Later on comes the other universal human difficulty of going forth from an idea....

Maybe it was because of skill in letting go that Ashvaghosha, like the cave-painters of Ajanta, was not afraid of the beauty of remarkably full female breasts; the monks of ancient India, rather, appeared to celebrate exaggerated female beauty in quite an irreligious way.

EH Johnston:
She clasped him with her arms, so that the strings of pearls swung loose from her breasts, and raised him up. ' What a sight you are !' she said and laughed out loud with the earrings hanging across her face.

Linda Covill:
She pressed him close in her arms and raised him up, making the strands of her pearl necklace lift off her breast. "What are you doing?" she cried laughingly, as her earrings were pushed sideways from her face.

saa (nom. sg. f.): she
tam (acc. sg. m.): him
stan'-odvartita-haara-yaShTiH: her string of pearls lifting off from her swelling cleavage
stana: breast
udvartita: mfn. caused to come out or swell up ; raised , elevated; perfumed , scented , rubbed , kneaded , shampooed
ud- √ vRt: to go asunder , burst open ; to go upwards , rise , ascend , swell ; to bubble up , overflow
haara: mfn. bearing , carrying , carrying away , stealing (e.g. kShiira-haara , " stealing milk ") ; m. taking away , removal
yaShTi: n. or f. (ifc.) anything thin or slender ; a thread , string (esp. of pearls) ; a partic. kind of pearl necklace

utthaapayaam = acc. abstract noun from causitive of ud- √sthaa: to cause , to stand up , raise , rouse , start ; to set up , lift up , erect
aasa (copula use of as): she did
nipiiDya = abs. ni- √ piiD: to press close to or against
dorbhyaam = inst. dual dos: n. the forearm, the arm

kathaM-kRto 'si: "What are you doing?"
katham: ind. how? what? (interrogative particle implying amazement)
kRtaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. done
asi = 2nd pers. sg. as: (copula verb) to be
iti: "....", thus
jahaasa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect has: to laugh , smile , laugh at (instr.) ;
to deride , mock , ridicule (acc.)
ca: and
ucchaiH: ind. (sometimes used adjectively) aloft , high , above , upwards , from above ; loud , accentuated ; intensely , much , powerfully

mukhena (inst. sg.): n. the mouth, face
saacii-kRta-kuNDalena: with an ear-ring caused to hang off-centre
saacii: ind. crookedly , away , obliquely , sideways , askance
kRta: made
kuNDala: n. ring, ear-ring

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