Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.5: Sundari's Standards Slip

tatash cira-sthaana-parishrameNa
sthit" aiva paryaNka-tale papaata
tiryak ca shisye pravikiirNa-haaraa

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Tired out by a long time standing in that state,

She dropped, just where she stood, onto a couch,

And lay across it with her necklaces scattered

And a slipper half hanging off one foot.

Japan has been justifiably proud for the past fifty years of its bullet train, the shinkansen, which roars through the Japanese countryside at 150 miles per hour. But as a tourist visiting Japan you see much more and better from inside a kaku-eki-tei-sha, an "every-station-stopping-train."

The slower you go, the more there is to notice.

What I wrote yesterday in regard to ta-tra, which is akin to the locative of "it" or "that," (in that, being there) might also apply in today's verse to ta-taH, which is akin to the ablative of "it" or "that" (from it, from that, because of that, on the basis of that state): The word ta-taH is so ubiquitous in Ashvagosha's writing that it is easy to overlook it -- to ignore it in translation, or just lightly to acknowledge it with an inconspicuous "then."

There may be a danger of reading too much into it, but tataH can be read as a gentle reminder of how effect follows cause in time. One might argue that the constant refrain of ta-taH works as a constant reminder that effect follows cause which was effect following cause which was effect following cause...

Sometimes, as notably in 13.13 - 13.15, Ashvaghosha's use of the ablative case seems best translated as "on the grounds of..."

The word tataH, then, even when simply translated as "then," may be hinting at a cause and effect relation, and, more than that, it may be intended to mean "on the basis of that state of being."

The point I am winding my way to, like a slow train pulling itself uphill, is that standing for a long time is not the cause of becoming tired. On the contrary, as demonstrated by those "stand still be fit" guys, the chi workers, standing still for a long time can be incredibly energizing when it is accomplished with true mindfulness.

Conversely, having to stand for five minutes in the queue at the till of a supermarket, where one would rather not be, can be totally knackering.

And so, because her heart is not in what she is doing, because she is anyatra, elsewhere -- because she is looking like she's going somewhere, and acting as if she just don't care -- Sundari seems to feel that keeping her pearls and slippers on straight would be too much effort.

Incidentally, the word used in this verse for couch, paryaNka, is the same word later used in the opposite context of tatra, being there, to describe the practice of sitting with right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh (see for example 17.3).

EH Johnston:
Then from fatigue with standing so long she fell, as she stood, on the couch and lay across it with her necklaces scattered about and her feet half hanging out of her slippers.

Linda Covill:
She merely stood, then exhausted from standing so long, she collapsed on a sofa and lay across it with her strings of pearls scattered about and with one slipper half hanging off her foot.

tataH: ind. then
cira-sthaana-parishrameNa (inst. sg.): m. fatigue , exertion , labour , fatiguing occupation , trouble , pain
cira: long, a long time
sthaana: standing
parishrama: m. fatigue

sthitaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. standing
eva: (emphatic)
paryaNka-tale (loc. sg.): on the surface of a couch
paryaNka: a bed , couch , sofa ; a partic. mode of sitting on the ground (a squatting position assumed by ascetics and Buddhists in meditation)
tala: n. surface, level ; mfn. the part underneath , lower part , base , bottom
papaata = 3rd pers. sg. perfect pat: to fly; to fall, sink

tiryak: ind. going or lying crosswise or transversely
ca: and
shisye = 3rd pers. sg. perfect: to lie , lie down , recline
pravikiirNa-haaraa (nom. sg. f.): with her necklaces scattered
pravikiirNa: mfn. scattered , dispersed , diffused
haara: m. a garland of pearls , necklace

sa-paaduka: mfn. wearing shoes or sandals
paadukaa: f. a shoe or slipper
eka: one
ardha: mfn. half ; n. " one part of two "
vilamba: mfn. hanging down
paada: m. foot


jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

I'm one of the two or three people(?!) in the UK who are still checking in daily. No comments. Just thanks for carrying on.


Mike Cross said...

Many thanks Malcolm. I revere your persistence, and noble silence!


Ian Cross said...

How many people are checking in daily? I am so that's two in UK. I always imagine that people are reading but shy to comment.

Mike Cross said...

Hi Ian,

Malcolm was probably going by the visitors counter, which supposedly counts new visitors -- though I suspect that it includes a lot of multiple counting of repeat offenders checking in from different locations.

jiblet said...

Oh I see! The visitor's counter registers those who haven't previously dropped by. I had assumed it goes up every time anyone clicks on the site. So - between 2 and 3,804 daily UK visitors...

Shyness/cowardice/laziness/fear may be much closer to describing what keeps me from occasionally commenting here than nobility. There again, there's rarely more that needs to be said.