Thursday, November 4, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.20: The Weeping Woman Steps Up In a Tizzy

ity evam-aadi priya-viprayuktaa
priye 'nyad aashankya ca saa jagaada
saMbhraantam aaruhya ca tad vimaanaM
taaM strii sa-baaShpaa giram ity uvaaca

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

This she said and more, lovelorn,

And suspecting her love of loving another.

Then the weeping woman,
having climbed the palace stairs in a tizzy,

Tearfully told her these words:

As EHJ wrote somewhere, Ashvaghosha does not waste a single word, let alone a whole verse.

That being so, the key word in this verse might be sambhraantam, which describes the state of the weeping woman on the stairs as flurried, in a flap, a lather, a tizz.

This weeping woman on the stairs, first introduced in 6.6, is the first of three women who try to console Sundari in this Canto, and she is the one who actually tells Sundari the truth most directly -- in a blurting it out kind of way.

The impression I get is that Ashvaghosha wants to highlight the distinction between higher-order truth as a state of all-round awareness and indifference, ultimately leading to peace, and the lower-order truth akin to tabloid news reporting which may be true but not delivered in a salutary way.

About what is the weeping woman in this verse getting her knickers in a twist? At least Sundari has a reason to feel sorry for herself. Weeping woman's state appears to be a kind of sympathetically-induced hysteria.

After sleeping on this verse, and then sitting, I feel doubly sure that viveka-jam in 17.42 describes the first stage of sitting-meditation as "born of solitude" (rather than the alternative interpretation "born of discrimination/discernment").

In his other epic poem Buddha-carita, "The Buddha's Career," Ashvoghasha describes young Gautama becoming separated from his mates while out playing. Gautama sits down to rest, with legs crossed in lotus, under a rose-apple tree, whereupon he spontaneously enters into the first dhyana, a kind of pleasant reverie.

This is also how I experience the first dhyana -- whether one is sitting alone or sitting with others, the joy of the first dhyana is that it is free of the clutter of the baggage of others.

Weeping woman on the stairs getting her knickers in a twist about somebody else's problem could not be further away from the first dhyana, and so the point of sambhraantam, as I read it, is to indicate this gap.

Though weeping woman on the stairs is going to tell Sundari the truth about Nanda having gone forth, Ashvaghosha does not seem to affirm the manner in which she tells it. So one of the lessons of this Canto might be that speaking 'the truth' is sometimes less relevant than how truthfully one speaks.

Dogs understand this point very well. So apparently do elephants. You can tell Fido or Jumbo that you are his owner and master until you are blue in the face, you can show him the receipt to prove it, but if you do so while in a tizzy, Fido or Jumbo might not believe you.

EH Johnston:
So she spake and more, parted from her beloved and surmising some thing or other in him ; and the waiting woman, hurriedly mounting to the pavillion, spoke to her thus with tears :--

Linda Covill:
Thus she said and more, separated from her dear one and suspecting him of other interests. In agitation, her attendant climbed up to the top of the palace, and spoke tearfully to her:

iti: "...," thus
evam-aadi (acc. sg. n.): thus and more
priya-viprayuktaa (nom. sg. f.): separated from her beloved
viprayukta: mfn. separated or removed or absent from , destitute of , free from , without (instr. or comp.)

priye (loc. sg.): m. beloved one, lover, husband
anyat (acc. sg. n.): another, another person, something else
aashankya = abs. aa- √ shaNk: to suspect , fear , doubt , hesitate; to mistrust
ca: and
saa (nom. sg. f.): she
jagaada = 3rd pers. sg. perfect gad: to speak

sam-bhraantam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. whirled about , flurried , confused , perplexed , agitated , excited ; quickened , brisk , lively (gait)
sam- √ bhram: to roam or wander all about , go quite astray ; to be greatly confused , be perplexed or puzzled
aaruhya = abs. aa- √ ruh: to ascend
ca: and
tad (acc. sg.): that
vimaanam (acc. sg.): mn. chariot of the gods, lofty palace

taam (acc. sg. f.): to her
strii (nom. sg.): f. the woman
sa-baaShpaa (nom. sg. f.): with tears, tearfully
giram (acc. sg.): f. speech , speaking , language , voice , words
iti: "....," thus
uvaaca = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vac: to speak

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