Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.30: Telling the Truth

anugrahaay' aasya janasya shanke
gurur gRhaM no bhagavaan praviShTaH
bhikShaam a-labdhvaa giram aasanaM vaa
shuunyaad araNyaad iva yaati bhuuyaH

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"To show favour to us, I suppose,

The Bringer of Happiness, the Guru, entered our house;

Having received no alms, or welcoming words, or seat,

He is going away again, as if from an empty forest."

In this verse the perceptive, truthful woman is like a good accountant or a good journalist or a good Alexander teacher: she gives the other information, an honest report of what happened as she saw it, despite the fact that she knows the information will be unwelcome.

How will Nanda react? What decision will this unwelcome information inform?

Because Nanda is not yet Nanda, his reaction is bound to be an immature one -- just as Gautama's first attempts to pursue enlightenment foundered for six years on the hard rocks of asceticism.

From now on, then, this will be the story of Nanda's fall from grace, and his eventual redemption.

This whole story, it occurs to me this morning, as I continue with the translation of Nanda's story, and at the same time continue building a stone wall around a very badly installed sceptic tank, is the story of making the best of a bad job.

Every so often I take a break and drink some weak coffee from a big flask that my brother gave me last year; I sit on the ground, a stuffed dry bag under my sitting bones and an old mat under my knees, and literally face the wall, the building of which works as a metaphor with multiple meanings.

The people who have gone before us, out of their fearful and greedy end-gaining and their faulty sensory appreciation, have left us with one hell of a mess to sort out, both out there and in here. And our deluded efforts hitherto to sort out the mess have more often than not only made things worse. In this situation, to make the best of a bad job, working gradually and to principle instead of end-gaining blindly, is absolutely the best we can do.

EH Johnston:
' His Holiness the Guru entered our house, presumably to do us a favour, but failed to obtain alms or speech with anyone or a seat ; so He is going away again as if from an uninhabited forest. '

Linda Covill:
"The Blessed One, the guru, entered our house, presumably as a favor to you. He received no alms, no conversation, and no seat, and so he is going away as though from an empty forest."

anugrahaaya = dat. sg. anugraha: m. favour , kindness , showing favour , conferring benefits , promoting or furthering a good object
asya janasya = gen. ayaM janaH: " this person , these persons " (me, you, or us)
shaNke = 1st pers. sg. shaNk: to be anxious or apprehensive ; to be in doubt or uncertain about (acc.) , hesitate ; to think probable , assume , believe , regard is (with two acc.) , suppose to be (shaNke , " l think " , " I suppose " , " it seems to me ")

guruH (nom. sg.): m. the guru, the Weighty One
gRham (acc. sg.): the house
naH (gen. pl.): of us
bhagavaan (nom. sg. m.) possessing fortune , fortunate , prosperous , happy ; glorious , illustrious , divine , adorable , venerable
bhaga: m. "dispenser " , gracious lord , patron (applied to gods) ; good fortune , happiness , welfare , prosperity ; dignity , majesty , distinction , excellence , beauty , loveliness
praviShTaH = nom. sg. m. past part. pra- √ vish: to enter

bhikShaam (acc. sg.): f. any boon obtained by begging (alms , food &c )
a-labdhvaa (abs. a-labh): after not obtaining
giram = acc. sg. gir: f. invocation , addressing with praise , praise , verse , song ; f. speech , speaking , language , voice , words
aasanam (acc. sg.): n. sitting , sitting down ; seat , place , stool
vaa: or

shuunyaat (abl. sg.): mfn. empty
araNyaat (abl. sg.): n. a foreign or distant land ; a wilderness , desert , forest
iva: like, as if
yaati = 3rd pers. sg. pres yaa: to go , proceed , move , walk , set out , march , advance , travel , journey ; to go away
bhuuyaH: ind. once more , again

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