Friday, November 19, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.35: Compassion Among Women

taaM caaru-dantiiM prasabhaM rudantiiM
saMshrutya naaryaH param'-aabhitaptaaH
antar-gRhaad aaruruhur vimaanaM
traasena kiMnarya iv' aadri-pRShTham

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Hearing her,
the lovely-toothed one,
howling stormily on,

The ladies-in-waiting were pained in the extreme;

They ascended from inside the house to the palace roof,

Like kimnaris climbing nervously
to the top of a mountain.

Please forgive the feeble outbreak of rhyme in line 1, but the reason Ashvaghosha chooses in this verse to refer specifically to the beauty of Sundari's teeth might have to do with the fact that in the phrases taam caaru-dantiim (her, the lovely-toothed one) and prasabhaM rudantiim (stormily howling), dantiim (toothed) rhymes with rudantiim (howling).

This verse can be read as a poetic interlude, signalling that the description of Sundari's grief has reached its climax already, in 6.34.

The focus now changes to the efforts of Sundari's ladies-in-waiting who, in their compassion for their fellow woman, endeavour to console and comfort her.

Compassion among women is not a thing I have much direct experience of, except -- now that I come to think about it -- in my earliest days in the hands of mother, midwife, maternal grandmother, and her mother, plus a gaggle of Lancashire aunts such as Auntie Susie and Auntie Maria. The three elements of mother, midwife and maternal grandmother were also present in the birth of my brother, which I witnessed, from an appropriate distance, at the age of eight, when my mother opted for a home birth -- a birth that was free from the influence of any male doctor who might like to medicalize the event. When my two sons were born, also, my wife decided to stay out of hospital and to give birth instead at the home/clinic of a very experienced midwife. It was a wise decision and gave me a memorable glimpse of sisters doing it for themselves -- notwithstanding me being somewhat in the way.

EH Johnston:
The waiting women, hearing the stormy weeping of that beauteous one, climbed in great distress from inside the house to the pavillion, like frightened Kinnara women climbing the side of a mountain.

Linda Covill:
The violent sobbing of this girl of the beautiful teeth greatly distressed her ladies-in-waiting when they heard it, and in anxiety they climbed from inside the house to the palace roof, like kimnaris on a mountain-side.

taam (acc. sg. f.): her
caaru-dantiim (acc. sg. f.): lovely-toothed
caaru: pleasing , lovely , beautiful , pretty
danti: tusked, toothed
prasabham: ind. forcibly , violently , very much
rudantiim = acc. sg. f. pres. part. rud: to weep , cry , howl , roar , lament , wail

saMshrutya = abs. saM- v shru: to hear
naaryaH = nom. pl. naarii: f. a woman ; a female or any object regarded as feminine
param'-aabhitaptaaH (nom. pl. f.): greatly
parama: ibc. very much , excessively , excellently , in the highest degree
abhitapta: mfn. scorched , burnt , afflicted
abhi- v tap: to irradiate with heat , to heat ; to pain , distress

antar-gRhaat (abl. sg.): from inside the house
antar: interior
gRha: a house , habitation , home
aaruruhur = 3rd pers. pl. perfect ruh: to ascend , mount , climb
vimaanam (acc. sg.): m. chariot of the gods; the palace of an emperor or supreme monarch (esp. one with 7 stories); palace

traasena (inst. sg.): m. fear , terror , anxiety
√ tras: to tremble , quiver , be afraid
kiMnaryaH = nom. pl. f. kiMnarii: f. a female kiMnara
kiMnara: m. " what sort of man? " a mythical being with a human figure and the head of a horse ; in later times reckoned among the gandharvas or celestial choristers , and celebrated as musicians.
iva: like
adri-pRShTham (acc. sg. m.): to the top of a mountain
adri: m. a stone , a rock , a mountain
pRShTha: n. (prob. fr. pra-stha , " standing forth prominently ") the back ; the upper side , surface , top , height ; the flat roof of a house

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