Saturday, October 23, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.8: Unconscious Exuberance...

saa traasayantii valabhii-puTa-sthaan
paaraavataan nuupura-nisvanena
sopaana-kukShiM prasasaara harShaad
bhraShTaM dukuul'-aantam a-cintayantii

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

Scaring the pigeons in their rooftop roosts

With the jangling of her ankle bracelets,

She dashed to the stairwell

Without thinking, in her excitement,
about the end of her finery that had fallen off.

What Ashvaghosha is doing in this Canto, as I read it, is giving us the kind of data, the raw material, on which the Buddha's analysis of suffering in Canto 16 will be based. Hence:

Though your head and clothes be on fire / Direct your mind so as to be awake to the truths. / For in failing to see the purport of the truths, the world has burned, / It is burning now, and it will burn. / When a man sees a separate bodily form / As decrepit, that insight of his is accurate; / In seeing accurately he is disenchanted / And his exuberance ends, as a result of which redness fades away. / By the ending of the duality which is exuberance and gloom, / I submit, his mind is fully set free. / And when his mind is fully liberated from that duality, / There is nothing further for him to do.
(16.43 - 16.45)

In this verse, then, for our future reference, Ashvaghosha is painting a picture of how exuberance looks and how it sounds.

Sundari is exuberant because she does not see things accurately; she thinks and thinks (saM-cintya saM-cintya) of the absent Nanda, we are told in 6.27, in terms of his good qualities. She does not think of him as decrepit. In regard to what is going on right then and there (tatra) Sundari is unthinking (a-cintayantii).

In Sundari's exuberance there is a certain unbridled joy, a certain carelessness, a certain freedom, but it is an unthinking, unconscious, unstable state -- very different from Nanda's direction in Canto 17 when he goes beyond joy on his way to the conscious awareness and indifference of the fourth dhyana, and beyond that the freedom of arhathood, the truly worthwhile state.

EH Johnston:
She rushed to the head of the stairway, regardless in her joy of the end of her mantle which had fallen down, and scaring the pigeons on the tiles of the roof with the sound of her anklets.

Linda Covill:
She ran joyfully to the stairwell, frightening the pigeons in the eaves with the tinkling of her anklets, and without thought for the edge of her scarf which trailed on the ground.

saa (nom. sg. f.): she
traasayantii = nom. sg. f. pres. part. causative tras: to cause to tremble , frighten , scare
valabhii-puTa-sthaan (acc. pl. m.): in hollow spaces on the rooftops
valabhi: f. (perhaps abbreviated fr. vala-bhid , " cloud-splitting ") the ridge of a roof, top or pinnacle of a house ; a turret or temporary building on the roof of a house , upper room
puTa: mn. a fold , pocket , hollow space
stha: mfn. being in

paaraavataan (acc. sg.): m. a turtle-dove , pigeon
paaraavata: mf(ii)n. (fr. paraa-vat) remote , distant , coming from a distance , foreign
paraa-vat: f. distance
nuupura-nisvanena (inst. sg.): with the sound of her ankle bracelets
nuupura: mn. an ornament for the toes or ankles or feet , an anklet
nisvana: m. sound, noise

sopaana-kukShim (acc. sg. m.): the stairwell
sopaana: n. stairs
kukShi: m. the belly, interior, cavity, valley
prasasaara =- 3rd pers. sg. perfect pra- √ sR: , to move forwards , advance , spring up , come forth , issue from (abl.) , appear
harShaat (abl. sg.): m. bristling , erection (esp. of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight) ; joy , pleasure , happiness ; ardent desire

bhraShTam (acc. sg. m.) mfn. fallen , dropped , fallen down or from or off (abl.); strayed or separated
dukuul'-aantam (acc. sg. m.): the end of her raiment made of very fine cloth
dukuula: m. a kind of plant; n. a very fine cloth or raiment made of the inner bark of this plant
anta: m. end
a: not
cintayantii = nom. sg. f. pres. part. cint: to think , have a thought or idea , reflect , consider ; to think about , reflect upon , direct the thoughts towards , care for (acc. ); to take into consideration

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