Friday, September 24, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.14: Acting Buddha

bhaary"-aanuraageNa yadaa gRham sa
paatraM gRhiitv" aapi yiyaasur eva
vimohayaam aasa munis tatas taM
rathyaa-mukhasy' aavaraNena tasya

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

Then, at the moment that he in his yearning for his wife,

Despite holding the bowl, was about to head for home,

Just then the Sage bamboozled him

By blocking his entrance to the highway.

At first reading it looks as if there is some redundancy in this and the previous verse. We are told in both verses that Nanda was desirous of going home (gRham yiyaasuH), even though he was holding the bowl.

I think Ashvaghosha's intention may be to highlight this pivotal moment in the action almost in the manner of a frame-by-frame slow motion replay. In 5.13 the Buddha was like a fighter watching his opponent with peripheral vision. To Nanda the Buddha seemed momentarily distracted, but more fool Nanda: in fact the Buddha was on maximum alert, waiting for the very moment in which his move would be most effective.

The point of aaraat in line 1 of the previous verse, and yadaa and tataH in lines 1 and 3 of this verse, then, is to draw our attention to the momentary nature of the action now being described.

Following this vivid blow-by-blow description, the rhythm changes, so that the next four verses are discursive and explanatory, detached from the action itself -- as if in 5.15 - 5.18 the slow-motion action replay gives way to the analysis of a pundit in the studio.

EH Johnston:
Then when Nanda, though still holding the bowl, wanted to go home out of love for his wife, the Sage confounded him by blocking up the entry of the street.

Linda Covill:
Longing for his wife, he was just about to go home even holding the bowl, when the sage confused him by blocking the entrance to the street.

bhaary"-aanuraageNa (inst. sg.): because of attachment to his wife
bhaaryaa: f. wife
anuraaga: m. attachment , affection , love , passion ; red colour
yadaa: ind. when, at what time
gRham (acc. sg.): house, home
sa (nom. sg. m.): he

paatram (acc. sg.): the bowl
gRhiitvaa = abs. grah: to take, seize, hold
api: even, though
yiyaasuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. desid. yaa) wishing to go, being about to go
eva: (emphatic)

vimohayaam aasa (periphrastic perfect): he did a bewildering
vimoha: m. confusion of the mind , perplexity
aasa = 3rd pers. sg. perfect as: to be (copula)
muniH (nom. sg.): m. the Sage
tataH: ind. then
tam (acc. sg. m.): him

rathyaa-mukhasya (gen. sg.): the entrance into the highway
rathyaa: f. a carriage-road , highway , street
mukha: n. mouth ; opening aperture , entrance into or egress out of (gen. or comp.)
aavaraNena (inst. sg): n. the act of covering , concealing , hiding ; n. shutting , enclosing ; n. an obstruction ; n. anything that protects , an outer bar or fence
tasya (gen. sg.): of that

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