Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.29: (Sexless) Thinking in Activity

saa gauravaM tatra vicaarya bhartuH
svayaa ca bhakty" aarhatay" aarhatash ca
nandasya tasthau purato vivakShus
tad-aajNayaa c' eti tad" aacacakShe

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Thinking in that moment of the importance
of the Venerable One to the master of the house,

And through her own devotion to the Venerable One,

She stood before Nanda, intending to speak,

And then, with his consent, spoke up:

Lest we think that virtue for a woman is all about having swelling breasts, eyes like big black bees, and coquettish moves to match such looks, here Ashvaghosha is describing a young woman whose virtues had nothing to do with sex appeal, or indeed nothing to do with being a woman: there and then, in the moment (tatra), she was alive to what was going on outside the window, alive to what was important to Nanda, and devoted in herself to the Guru. Going further, she demonstrated the essence of self-control, in (1) withholding consent to an action -- i.e., temporarily giving up the desire to gain an end (not the same as suppressing the desire); and then, in the gap between stimulus and response, (2) giving consent to that action.

Nobody has ever accused me of being a feminist, but in the case of the woman being described here, there is no way that Nanda should be called her master. Nanda was not yet Nanda. He was the master of the household in which she worked, but how could Nanda be her master? No. I think her master was just the Buddha.

EH Johnston:
Considering the reverence of her master towards the Saint and because of her devotion to Him and His worshipfulness, she stood before Nanda to tell him and at his bidding spoke:

Linda Covill:
Taking into consideration her master's deep respect for the enlightened one as well as his worthiness and her own devotion to him, she approached Nanda to tell him, and spoke at his permission:

saa (nom. sg. f.): she
gauravam (acc. sg.): n. importance , high value or estimation ; n. gravity , respectability , venerableness ; n. respect shown to a person
tatra: ind. there, in that matter, in those circumstances, at that moment
vicaarya = abs. vi- √ car : to move hither and thither (in the mind) , ponder , reflect , consider
bhartuH = gen. sg. bhartR: m. a preserver , protector , maintainer , chief , lord , master ; husband

svayaa (inst. sg. f.): her own
ca: and
bhaktyaa = inst. sg. bhakti: f. attachment , devotion , fondness for , devotion to (with loc. , gen. or ifc.)
arhatayaa = dat. sg. arhat: mfn. worthy , venerable , respectable; m. the Arhat, the Venerable One
arhataH = gen. sg. arhat: the Venerable One
ca: and

nandasya (gen. sg.): Nanda's
tasthau = 3rd pers. sg perfect sthaa: to stand
purataH: ind. before (in place or time) , in front or in presence of (gen. or comp.)
vivakShuH (nom. sg. f.): mfn. (fr. desid. vac) wishing to speak , intending to say or announce or tell or ask anything

tad-aajNayaa (inst. sg.): with his permission
tad: his
aajNaa: f. order , command ; permission
ca: and
iti: thus
tadaa: ind. then; in that case (often used redundantly)
aacacakShe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect aa- √cakSh: to tell , relate , make a communication about (acc.) , announce , declare , make known , confess; to address any one (acc.)

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