Monday, October 4, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.34: Up & Forward towards Tranquillity

atha pramaadaac ca tam ujjihiirShan
matv" aagamasy' aiva ca paatra-bhuutaM
pravraajay' aananda shamaaya nandaM
ity abraviin maitra-manaa maha"rShiH

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And so wishing to lift him up out of thoughtlessness,

And considering him to be a vessel
worthy of the living tradition,

The Great Seer, with kindness in his heart, said:

"Ananda! Let Nanda go forth towards tranquillity."

In light of the discussion just indulged in of gata (past participle of √gam) it would be good to find a translation of aagama in line 2 that was more dynamic than simply "tradition." The original word aagama, coming from aa-√gam (to come), has to my ears more of a connotation of something that is fluid and ongoing, like science, rather than something which is fixed or set in stone, as religious tradition is prone to be. Interestingly the dictionary lists both "science" and "what is fixed by tradition" as definitions of aagama. Provisionally I have gone with "living tradition."

Aside from the √gam of aagama in line 2, ujjihiirShan (wishing to lift up; see also 5.18) in line 1, and pravraajaya (make him go -- √vraj -- forth!) in line 3, again imbue the verse, as I read it, with a sense of something in movement -- a sense of up and forward.

One of the things about the discipline of translating a verse, or two verses, every day, is that it causes me to do this work not only on the days when I feel like I understand everything, or when I feel up, but also on the days when I feel like I understand nothing, or when I feel down.

Daily sitting practice is also like that. And giving Alexander directions is also like that. It tends to be most effective when one least feels like doing it.

This principle is at the centre of Canto 13 -- Thwarting the Power of the Senses through Shiila. I have translated Shiila as "Practice of Integrity" but it also includes the meaning of "Discipline." Whatever we call it, it is a standard other than what feels right -- because if we endeavour to thwart the power of feeling by relying on feeling, we are not likely to get very far.

True up and what I feel to be up are liable to be different things.

(pramaada) "thoughtlessness" can be understood as an expression of the state that is dominated by feeling.

Walter Carrington, wrote in his 1996 Foreword to FM Alexander's first book: "[Alexander] realized that he had found a method, universally applicable, to most of the common problems of daily life: the problems of habitual misuse of the self, of thoughtlessness."

In trying not to be thoughtless, we are ever prone to become too careful. And when we endeavour not to be too careful, we are equally prone to be too thoughtless.

Evidently, carefulness is not it. But thoughtlessness is not it either.

EH Johnston:
Then the great Seer, with His heart full of benevolence, wishing to rescue him from the state of thoughtlessness and deeming him now to be a vessel of knowledge, said ' Ananda, initiate Nanda into the mendicant's life so as to bring him to tranquillity'.

Linda Covill:
At this the great seer considered him to have become a fitting recipient of the teaching, and as he wished to rescue him from his heedlessness, he said with kindness, "Ananda, ordain Nanda, so that he may find peace."

atha: ind. and so, then
pramaadaat = abl. sg. pramaada: m. intoxication ; madness ; negligence , carelessness ; error
ca: and
tam (acc. sg.): him
ujjihiirShan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. desiderative ud- √ hR : to lift up
ud: (prefix) up, upwards
√ hR: to take , bear , convey ; take off, remove

matvaa = abs. man: to think, to regard or consider any one or anything (acc.) as (acc. with or without iva)
aagamasya (gen. sg.): m. acquisition of knowledge , science ; m. anything handed down and fixed by tradition
aa- √ gam: to come , make one's appearance , come near , arrive
eva: (emphatic)
ca: and
paatra-bhuutam (acc. sg.): mfn. " become a recipient " , worthy of receiving from (gen.)
paatra: n. bowl, vessel, recipient
bhuuta: (ifc.) being or being like anything

pravraajaya = 2nd pers. sg. imperative causative pra- √ vraj : to send into exile ; to compel any one to wander forth as an ascetic mendicant or to become a monk
ananda (voc.): Ananda!
shamaaya (dat. sg.): m. tranquillity , calmness , rest , equanimity , quietude or quietism , absence of passion ; peace ; tranquillization , pacification , allayment , alleviation , cessation , extinction
nandam (acc. sg.): Nanda

iti: "...," thus
abraviit = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect bruu: to speak , say , tell
maitra-manaaH (nom. sg. m.): being of kind mind
maitra: mf(n. (fr. mitra , of which it is also the vRiddhi form in comp.) coming from or given by or belonging to a friend , friendly , amicable , benevolent , affectionate , kind
mitra: m. a friend
manas: n. mind
maha"rShiH (nom. sg. m.) the great seer
mahaa: great
RShi: m. seer, sage

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