Saturday, September 11, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.38: Change of Clothes, Change of Mind

tataH stan'-odvartitata-candanaabhyaaM
mukto bhujaabhyaaM na tu maanasena
vihaaya veShaM madan'-aanuruupaM
satkaara-yogyam sa vapur babhaara

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

And so, with arms made fragrant
by her bulging sandal-scented breasts,

She let him go -- but not with her heart.

He took off clothes suitable for love

And took on an appearance
appropriate for the paying of respect.

The compound in line 1 of this verse, stan'-odvartita, "bulging breasts," also appears in 4.19: 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 4.19, udvartita seems to carry a double meaning. In both verses, the literal meaning of "caused to swell up," would seem to allude to the fullness of Sundari's breasts, inordinately well endowed as she evidently was with female hormones. At the same time in 4.19, udvartita "lifted up," suggests her breasts' action of lifting up the string of pearls. And in this verse udvartita, "scented/rubbed," refers to the scent of the sandalwood that was transferred from Sundari's breasts to her arms. To add further to the ambiguity, candala, sandalwood, at the end of a compound expresses something which is the most excellent of its kind.

So stan'-odvartitata-candana literally means both "most excellent among caused-to-swell-up breasts" and "the scent of sandalwood rubbed off from her breasts."

Line 2 is in the same vein as the previous verse -- the point being that Sundari could no more let go of Nanda by an outward movement of her arms than a Soto Zen Master can cause a Zazen practitioner to have a good posture by trying to arrange his victim from the outside (though this eternal truth does not stop a lot of stupid buggers from trying).

Lines 3 and 4 of this verse contain the general principle that when we change our clothes, we change our mind. By putting on more sober clothes, Nanda assumed a more sober mind.

Breaking the general principle, often when I am in France working outside in the daytime, I stop work and have a drink from a big flask of coffee or tea that I prepare in the morning. I turn off the radio and just sit down in lotus more or less where I am, wearing my dirty work clothes -- just for five minutes, or ten minutes, or maybe half an hour, or if the weather is not too cold forty-five or fifty minutes might pass in a jiffy.

So there are cases of the changing of ones clothes being the changing of one's mind. And there are also cases of not changing ones clothes but one's mind being changed completely, primarily as a result of stopping.

Sometimes English, French or American people put on a kind of black dressing gown, and call it by its Japanese name of o-koromo, or "honourable gown" -- as if the concept of an honourable gown were a concept with which the Buddha would have been familiar. I have got one but I never wear it. To me it has got too much of a whiff about it of Japanese religious/money-making ceremony. Given such a connotation, for me to wear o-koromo might not always be for the mind to be changed for the better. It might be for the mind to be changed for the worse.

When I sit in the morning I wear a seven-stripe robe. To put it on is for the mind to be changed, as when a footballer puts on his numbered shirt and laces up his boots -- but this has got, in the words of the Dalai Lama nothing to do with religion.

EH Johnston:
Then she freed him from her arms which were covered with sandalwood paste from her breasts but she did not let him go in her mind. He took off the clothes suited for lovemaking which he was wearing and assumed the appearance proper for offering hospitality.

Linda Covill:
So she let him go from her arms which were scented with sandal from her breast, but she did not let him go in her mind. He set aside the clothes suited to love-making, and made himself presentable for paying his respects.

tataH: ind. then
stan'-odvartitata-candanaabhyaam (inst. dual m.): with most excellently bulging breasts / with the scent of sandalwood from her breasts
stana: breast
udvartitata: mfn. caused to come out or swell up ; raised , elevated ; perfumed , scented , rubbed
candana: mn. sandal (Sirium myrtifolium , either the tree , wood , or the unctuous preparation of the wood held in high estimation as perfumes ; hence ifc. a term for anything which is the most excellent of its kind)

muktaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. released, let go, set free
bhujaabhyaam = inst. dual. bhuja: m. arm
na tu: but not
maanasena = inst. sg. maanasa: n. the mental powers , mind , spirit , heart , soul

vihaaya = abs. vi- √ haa: to abandon ; to give up , cast off ; to get rid of or free from (acc.)
veSham (acc. sg.): m. dress, apparel
madan'-aanuruupam (acc. sg. m.): suited to love
madana: m. passion , love
anuruupa: mfn. following the form , conformable , corresponding , like , fit , suitable ; adapted to , according to

satkaara-yogyam (acc. sg. n.): fit for honouring
satkaara: m. kind treatment , honour , favour , reverence ; hospitable treatment (see 4.31)
yogya: useful , serviceable , proper , fit or qualified for , able or equal to , capable of (ifc.)
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
vapuH = acc. sg. vapus: n. form , figure
babhaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect bhR: to wear

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