Monday, September 20, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.6: A Bow to One Gone Beyond Joy

tato viviktaM ca vivikta-cetaaH
san-maarga-vin maargam abhipratasthe
gatv" aagratash c' aagryatamaaya tasmai
naandii-vimuktaaya nanaama nandaH

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

Then he of the solitary mind, a knower of the true path,

Took a solitary path;

And Nanda whose name was Joy, going out in front, bowed to him,

The one who, gone beyond joy, was furthest out in front.

The interplay which characterizes many of these verses, of words with double-meanings, related meanings, and similar sounds always provides the translator with plenty to ponder on.

vivikta, for example, means separated out. As a description of a path it means an isolated path. As a description of a mind it means discriminating or judicious, as in the translations of EHJ and LC. At the same time, even when applied to the mind, vivikta in my book has something to do with solitude, or absence of clutter.

When the monks in the tradition of Ajahn Cha of Thailand looked for a suitable Pali name for their monastery at Chithurst, they opted for citta-viveka or "Solitude of Mind" -- with the emphasis, if I understood correctly when it was explained to me, intended to be on solitude rather than discrimination.

Again, in 17.42, Ashvaghosha describes the first stage of sitting-meditation as viveka-jam, which EHJ translated as "born of discrimination." LC went with "born of discernment." But in my book the first dhyana is born, even if one is sitting alongside others, out of a sense of solitude, or space that is relatively free from clutter.

margam, (path) similarly, appears twice in this verse, with both a metaphorical meaning and a literal meaning.

There is still another play on agrataH ("in front") where Nanda goes, and agryatama ("the one who is most in front") to whom Nanda bows.

What Ashvaghosha intends by referring to the Buddha as naandii-vimukta, "gone beyond joy," may be related with the progression outlined in Canto 17 through four dhyanas, or stages of sitting-meditation. The first stage, grossly tainted end-gaining having been given up, is as enjoyable as diving into a swimming pool on a hot day; the second stage has the subtler joy of a silent, one-pointed mind; the third stage is a condition of ultimate ease that results when all concern for joy is given up; and the fourth stage is a condition of pure awareness and indifference which is beyond any concern with ease or suffering.

But aside from this somewhat left-brained analysis of the meaning of naandii-vimukta, there is also the fact that Nanda means "Joy;" and bowed is nanaaama, so that when Nanda bowed to naandii-vimukta ("the one beyond joy"), a lot of na's were involved...

naandii-vimuktaaya nanaama nandaH

EH Johnston:
Then He Who knew the good Path and Whose mind had attained discrimination entered a lonely lane, and Nanda, going in front, made obeisance to the Foremost Leader, Who (in his equanimity) was untouched by the feeling of delight.

Linda Covill:
When the judicious knower of the right path reached an isolated road, Nanda went in front and bowed down to him, the foremost man, who was free of the desire for pleasure.

tataH: ind. then
viviktam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. separated , kept apart , distinguished , discriminated ; isolated , alone , solitary
ca: and
vivikta-cetaaH (nom. sg. m.): being of distinct consciousness, having solitude of mind
vivikta: mfn. separated ; isolated ; clear , distinct ; discriminative , judicious , prudent , discreet , wise ( = vi-vekin) ;
cetas: n. consciousness , intelligence , thinking soul , heart , mind

san-maarga-vit (nom. sg. m.): knowing a true path
san-maarga: m. the right path (fig.)
vid: mfn. knowing , understanding , a knower (mostly ifc. ; superl. vit-tama)
maargam (acc. sg.): m. track, lane, path
abhipratasthe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect abhi-pra- √ sthaa: to start or advance towards , reach

gatvaa = abs. gam: to go
agrataH: ind. in front , before
ca: and
agryatamaaya (dat. sg. m.): foremost of the foremost, the head of heads
agrya: mf(aa)n. foremost , topmost , principal , best ; intent, closely attentive
tama: an affix forming the superl. degree of adjectives and rarely of substantives
tasmai (dat. sg. m.): to him

naandii-vimuktaaya (dat. sg.): who was set free from pleasure , who had abandoned pleasure
naandii: f. ( √ nand) joy , satisfaction , pleasure
vimukta: mfn. unloosed , unharnessed &c ; given up , abandoned , relinquished
vi- √ muc: to unloose , unharness ; to release , set free , liberate ; to leave , abandon , quit , desert , give up , relinquish
nanaama = 3rd pers. sg. perfect nam: to bow
nandaH (nom. sg. m.): Nanda

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