Friday, September 3, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.22: Attentively Holding Up a Mirror

nandas tato darpaNam aadareNa
bibhrat tadaa maNDana-saakShi-bhuutaM
laDat-priyaayaa vadanaM dadarsha

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

And so Nanda attentively held up the mirror

Which was bearing witness to a work of beauty.

Squinting to see the marks she had painted on it,

He beheld the face of his impish lover.

The kind of outrageous beauty for which women tend to strive, enhancing their already attractive features with make-up, clothes, jewellery, perfume, sexy mannerisms, hair dye, cosmetic surgery, botox, et cetera, et cetera... is this kind of exaggerated, potentially overwhelming beauty necessarily part of the tangled mass of causes (samudaya-lataa; 3.12) producing suffering?

That depends on whether we react to it, as both men and women in our different ways are prone to react to it, or not.

The alternative which Ashvaghosha as I hear him has been demonstrating through the first half of this canto is not to react emotionally, not necessarily allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by exaggerated female beauty (or necessarily aspiring to it), but rather simply to witness it, to see it as it is -- so that when a beautiful young Indian woman comes in front of the mirror the mirror reflects a beautiful young Indian woman, and when an aging American actress who has had too much plastic surgery comes in front of the mirror the mirror reflects an aging American actress who has had too much plastic surgery.

A rich vein of gold, then, might be buried in the phrase darpaNam aadareNa bhR, attentively to hold up the mirror.

EH Johnston:
Then Nanda respectfully held the mirror which bore witness to her decoration (by its reflection) and, turning his eyes sideways to see the paint, beheld the mischievous face of his mistress.

Linda Covill:
So Nanda dutifully held the mirror which bore witness to her act of adornment, and as he squinted to watch her maquillage, he observed his lover's mischievous face.

nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda
tataH: ind. then
darpaNam (acc. sg.): m. the mirror
aadareNa (inst. sg.): respectfully, carefully , zealously

bibhrat = nom. sg. m. pres. part bhR: to hold
tadaa: ind. in that case (often used redundantly , esp. after tataH)
maNDana-saakShi-bhuutam (acc. sg. m.): being a witness to her adorning
maNDana: mfn. adorning , being an ornament to (gen.); n. adorning , ornament , decoration
maNDa: m. ornament , decoration
-na: (action noun suffix)
saakShin: mfn. seeing with the eyes , observing , witnessing ; an eye-witness , witness (in law) of or to (gen. loc. , or comp.)
bhuuta: (ifc.) being or being like anything , consisting of , mixed or joined with

visheShak'-aavekShaNa-kekar'-aakShaH (nom. sg. m.): with eyes that squinted in looking at her face-mark
visheShaka: mn. a mark on the forehead (made with sandal &c )
avekShaNa: n. looking towards or at ; the act of considering , attention , observation
kekara: mfn. squint-eyed
akSha: n. [only ifc. for akShi] the eye.

laDat-priyaayaaH (gen. sg. f.): of his playful wife
laDat = pres. part. laD: to play , sport , dally ; to loll the tongue , put out the tongue , lick
priyaa: f. wife, mistress, lover
vadanam (acc. sg.): n. the act of speaking ; the mouth , face , countenance
dadarsha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect dRsh: to see, behold , look at , regard , consider

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