Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.10: The Buddha Refuses (100%)

ity evam uktaH praNatena tena
taadRN nimittam sugatash cakaara
n' aahaara-kRtyam sa yathaa viveda

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Thus addressed by the bowing Nanda,

Whose expectant eyes looked up with tender affection,

The One Gone Well made a sign

Such that Nanda knew he would not be taking a meal.

I took care in this verse not to give the impression that the Buddha had no need in general of taking food -- which would require the reader to believe in miracles of the Catholic variety. Those who have any doubt in this matter might refer to 3.5: Then, having ascertained that this was not the path, / He abandoned that extreme asceticism too. / Understanding the sphere of meditation to be supreme, / He ate good food in readiness to realise the deathless.

The point is rather that the Buddha, like a good rugby full-back under the high ball, was clear and decisive in his response to Nanda's request. He didn't um and agh and consider how hungry he was, and what might or might not be polite. He didn't care whether or not he disturbed or hurt Nanda's evidently rather sentimental thoughts and feelings, knowing full well that those sentimental thoughts and feelings were unreliable. All the Buddha was thinking about was the means-whereby he might nab, lead, guide and eventually allow Nanda, in the direction of liberation.

And to make this response known, the Buddha did not use words; he relied purely on non-verbal communication.

Some people say that a large percentage -- 75%, 90%, whatever -- of communication is non-verbal. Some say that their shampoo is scientifically proven to cure some similarly spurious percentage of split ends. Some people use bogus scientific-sounding statistics to talk a lot of bullshit, and not a few listeners are taken in by it.

In this verse, the Buddha communicates his intention non-verbally. In many other verses the Buddha communicates his intention verbally.

The truth may be that the Buddha communicated one hundred per cent of his intention non-verbally, and the Buddha communicated one hundred per cent of his intention verbally. To talk of lesser percentages might be utter nonsense.

EH Johnston:
So he addressed Him humbly, with eyes that looked up at Him full of affection and reverence ; but the Blessed One made a sign to show that He felt no need of food.

Linda Covill:
He bowed as he spoke, his eyes raised in affection and reverence. The Sugata, however, showed with a gesture that he did not require food,

ity evam: "....," thus
uktaH (nom. sg. m.): addressed, spoken to
praNatena (inst. sg.): mfn. bent forwards , bowing
tena (inst sg.): by him

sneh'-aabhimaan'-onmukha-locanena (inst. sg.): his eyes upraised in tender and affectionate expectation
sneha: m. oiliness; blandness , tenderness , love , attachment to , fondness or affection
abhimaana: high opinion of one's self , self-conceit , pride , haughtiness ; conception (especially an erroneous one regarding one's self) ; affection , desire
unmukha: mfn. raising the face , looking up or at ; waiting for , expecting
locana: n. " organ of sight " , the eye

taadRk: ind. in such a manner
nimittam (acc. sg.): n. a butt , mark , target ; sign ; cause
sugataH (nom. sg.): the Sugata, the One Gone Well
cakaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kR: to do, make

n' aahaara-kRtyam (acc. sg. n.): food not needing to be taken
na: not
aahaara: m. taking food
kRtya: mfn. to be done or performed
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
yathaa: ind. in which manner or way
viveda = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vid: to know, understand

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