Monday, September 13, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 4.41: Alluring Scenery

chaat-odariiM piina-payodhar'-oruM
sa sundariiM rukma-dariim iv' aadreH
kaakSheNa pashyan na tatarpa nandaH
pibann iv' aikena jalaM kareNa

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

With her swelling breasts for clouds
And her full thighs for buttresses,

Her lean abdomen
was like a golden fissure in a rock formation:

Nanda could no more be satisfied by glancing at Sundari

Than by drinking water with one hand.

The double meaning of payo-dhara (lit. "bearing water or milk"; i.e. cloud or breast) led me to opt for an explanatory translation of piina-payodhar'-orum (swelling cloud/breasts and thighs) -- following EHJ's example of sacrificing elegance in favour of clarity.

I think the reader has got the point, by now, that Sundari was pre-eminently endowed in the breast department.

Ashvaghosha's purpose in repeatedly drawing attention back to Sundari's bulging breasts might be to supply some raw material that will later inform the Buddha's discussion in Canto 13 of how a person gets stuck on an object, like a fabulous female form, only through the co-existence of (1) the object itself and (2) something going on within the person -- namely, parikalpa, which is generally translated as illusion, but which literally means fixing.

Where fuel and air co-exist,

Just as there a fire burns,

With an object and through fixing,

So a fire of affliction arises.

I am conscious of the fact that FM Alexander said that we all fix, and fixing is our worst evil.

I regard my own level of understanding of the human condition as far below that of Ashvaghosha and far below that of FM Alexander, but it does seem to me that both of these great teachers are pointing to the same evil of fixing.

At the same time, I see in my own practice how easy it is for the pursuit of stillness to turn into something too serious, something that lacks humour and sparkle, but which gets bogged down in grim determination, boiling over from time to time into anger.

The FM Alexander Technique, if it is anything, is an antidote to fixing. I recommend anybody who wishes to think deeply into what the Buddha/Ashvaghosha meant by parikalpa (fixing) to look into it.

EH Johnston:
Looking with a sidelong glance at Sundari, who with her slender waist and swelling breasts and thighs resembled a golden rift of a mountain with a narrow interior and spurs on each side covered with billowing cloud, he could no more be satisfied with looking than if he were drinking water out of one hand.

Linda Covill:
But a glance at Sundari, her waist compact between her swelling breasts and thighs like a golden fissure in a mountain, could no more satisfy Nanda than drinking water with one hand.

chaat-odariim (acc. sg. f.): with her lean abdomen
chaata: mfn. emaciated
udara: n. the belly , abdomen ; a cavity , hollow ; the interior or inside of anything
piina-payodhar'-orum (acc. sg. f.): with her swelling breasts/clouds and full thighs
piina: mfn. (2. √pii) swelling , swollen , full , round
payodhara: m. " containing water or milk " , a cloud ; a woman's breast
payas: n. (1, √pii) any fluid or juice , (esp.) milk , water , rain
√pii: (1.) to drink; (2) to swell
uuru: m. the thigh, shank

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
sundariim (acc. sg. f.): Sundari
rukma-dariim (acc. sg. f.): a golden cleft, fissure, fault
rukma: m. " what is bright or radiant " , an ornament of gold , golden chain or disc ; n. gold
dara: mfn. cleaving , breaking ; m. the navel ; m. " stream "
iva: like
adreH = gen. sg. adri: m. a stone , a rock , a mountain

kaakSheNa (inst. sg.): mn. a glance , wink , leer
pashyan = nom. sg. m. pres. part pash: to see, look
na: not
tatarpa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect tRp: to satisfy one's self , become satiated or satisfied
nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda

piban = nom. sg. m. pres. part paa: to drink
iva: like, as if
ekena (inst. sg.): mfn. one
jalam (acc. sg.): n. water
kareNa (inst. sg.): m. hand

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