Thursday, September 23, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.12:... Stretches Nanda

tataH sa loke dadataH phal'-aarthaM
paatrasya tasy' aapratimasya paatraM
jagraaha caapa-grahaNa-kShamaabhyaaM
padm'-opamaabhyaam prayataH karaabhyaM

- = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =
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The vessel of the Incomparable Vessel,

Who was offering it to reap a fruit in the human world,

Nanda then held, outstretched,

With lotus-like hands suited to the holding of a bow.

When a person looks at clouds, the person's mind sometimes sees faces or other patterns in the clouds, even though the clouds have no intention at all other than to float, billow and glower as clouds.

Probably in a similar way, when I read this verse it has to do with what FM Alexander called "the great principle of antagonistic action."

The verse as I read it has not got anything at all do with religious piety, and so I object to EHJ's choice of the word "piously" as a translation of prayata in line 4. prayata literally means "outstretched, extended" (like an archer's bow) and, by extension, "with sincerity, devotedly." But such sincerity or devotion, as I understand it, has got nothing to do with piety, which is a concept inextricably tangled up with religious belief.

Rather this verse as I read it has to do with being stretched; in other words, with a condition of dynamic balance in which the Universe, as described in the Lotus Sutra, is poised. It might have to do with Time's arrow being held tautly in the bow of chemical kinetics.

Understood like this, the verse suggests -- at least to me -- not only that Nanda's hands were suited to holding a bow but also that the whole of Nanda was suited to being held, and stretched, in a kind of bow.

And this kind of meaning, if it is studied in the classroom, is better studied not in a religious studies class, but in a science lesson. Better still is it studied, in my book, when a person is stretched in the gym or on the sports field -- not so much "Amen" as boyooing.....

EH Johnston:
Then piously with lotuslike hands which were better suited to holding a bow he took the vessel of the Incomparable Vessel, Who gave it (not for alms but) for the fruit to be obtained in the world.

Linda Covill:
So with his lotus hands more suited to holding a bow, he devotedly took the bowl of that matchless vessel who gave it for the sake of reward in the world.

tataH: ind. then
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
loke (loc. sg.): in the world
dadataH = gen. sg. pres. part. daa: to give , bestow , grant , yield , impart , present , offer to ; to hand over
phal'-aartham: ind. for the sake of fruit / reward
phala: n. fruit (met.) , consequence , effect , result , retribution (good or bad) , gain or loss , reward or punishment , advantage or disadvantage
artha: purpose

paatrasya (gen. sg.): the bowl, vessel
tasya (gen. sg.): that, him
apratimasya (gen. sg.): mfn. unequalled, incomparable, without a match
paatram (acc. sg.): the bowl

jagraaha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect grah: to seize, take, grasp, lay hold of, claim
caapa-grahaNa-kShamaabhyaam (inst. dual m.): fit for holding a bow
caapa: a bow
grahaNa: mfn. (verbal action noun from grah) seizing, holding, taking
kShama: (ifc.) fit , appropriate , becoming , suitable , proper for

padm'-opamaabhyaam (inst. dual m.): lotus-like
padma: lotus
upama: mfn. (ifc.) equal , similar , resembling , like
prayataH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. outstretched , far-extended ; piously disposed , intent on devotion , well prepared for a solemn rite (with loc. or ifc.) , ritually pure (also applied to a vessel and a place), self-subdued , dutiful , careful , prudent
karaabhyam = inst. dual kara: m. "the doer"; hand

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