Monday, November 22, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.38: A Leader Steps Out

yaa tatra taasaaM vacas" opapannaa
maanyaa ca tasyaa vayas" aadhikaa ca
saa pRShThatas taaM tu samaaliliNge
pramRjya c' aashruuNi vacaaMsy uvaaca

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

There was one there among them, however,

The eldest in years,
a highly regarded woman gifted with eloquence,

Who held Sundari from behind in a firm embrace

And, wiping away her tears, spoke these words:

This woman is the second of the three women who speak to Sundari in this Canto. The first woman, the bearer to Sundari of bad news, came across as a dizzy young thing. This second woman comes across as the opposite. She is senior in years, eloquent and well-respected: she has a certain gravitas. She steps forward as the natural leader of Sundari's group of ladies-in-waiting.

But Ashvaghosha seems in the next five verses, subversively, to paint this woman as lacking one important quality, and that is wisdom. Out of the best of intentions, while holding Sundari firmly, she is going to tell Sundari to pull herself together, and as a starting point she wipes away Sundari's tears for her. But this direct approach is going to fail the pragmatic test of truth -- it is not going to work.

So part of the moral of this part might be that just because a person stands out as an obvious leader with outstanding qualities does not necessarily mean that one can switch off and be guided blindly by the policies and direction advocated by that leader. One should rather always maintain a certain skepticism and vigilance.

In short, "Don't follow leaders. Watch your parking meters."

Pragmatism, skepticism, wisdom, the words of Bob Dylan (ne. Zimmerman), recent work with growing babies and children, and trends revealed by the flag counter on this blog... these elements seem to be milling around in my unconscious at present, trying to form themselves into some kind of coherent pattern.

Though set on the eventual annihilation all -isms, I am prepared to grant a temporary stay of execution for pragmatism and skepticism, which have the saving grace of including the subversion of their own -ism. Pragmatism, or the philosophy of what works, is regarded in philosophy as an American invention, and it is partly credited to John Dewey, whose interest in what worked led him to become a staunch supporter of FM Alexander. FM for his part was a great Anglophile; when he went on trips to America -- which in FM's day nearly a hundred years ago was a much younger country than it is today -- he couldn't wait to get back to England. Skepticism and wisdom are generally not associated with youth, and the presence in America of these virtues, as I see it, is very often traceable back to the influence of Americans with a Jewish heritage and associated consciousness of thousands of years of the history of a people. But FM Alexander apparently felt that in his day the habits of "the American people" were governed less by wisdom and more by short-term end-gaining. There is a profound link between short-term end-gaining and lack of proper integration of the infantile fear reflexes, centred on the Moro or baby panic reflex. And one of the best things a mother can do, to help her baby integrate such primitive reflexes, is to give the baby plenty of time on its tummy to explore lifting and turning the head, moving about the arms, shoulders, hips and knees, leading to crawling around like a lizard or a crocodile. But all too often, for safety's sake, inexperienced British mothers leave babies plonked in car seats, or lay them down on their back out of undue fear of cot death (or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome); and all too often mothers encourage babies to come up to standing much too early. Mothers push their babies onto the next stage of development before the baby is ready. It is a kind of impatient end-gaining. And impatient end-gaining is everywhere the enemy of wisdom.

Such are my self-indulgent musings. What is not in doubt is that, having established a big early lead, the tally of unique visitors to this blog from the UK is rapidly being caught up by visitors from the US. So what? I am not sure what it means, but it must signify something.

Seventy-three percent of visitors to this blog have come from the UK and the US. If we include Ireland, the percentage goes up to 76%. So probably about three-quarters of people reading this come from countries whose economies are presently in the mire due to financial industries that grew far too big. What got us into this mess? I dare say it was short-term end-gaining. But surveying the mess created by our impatient end-gaining, we have the possibility of learning from our mistakes and nurturing wisdom.

EH Johnston:
But the oldest of the women there, who was the most respected by her and the most gifted in speech, embraced her from behind and wiping away her tears said :--

Linda Covill:
One woman among them, their senior in age, articulate and well-respected, stood behind Sundari and held her close. She wiped away her tears and said:

yaa (nom. sg. f.): [she] who
tatra: ind. there, in the moment
taasaam (gen. pl. f.): among those women
vacasaa (inst. sg.): n. speech , voice , word
upapannaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. endowed with , possessed of , furnished with ; fit , suited for the occasion , adequate , conformable

maanyaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. to be respected or honoured , worthy of honour , respectable , venerable
ca: and
tasyaaH (gen. sg. f.): of/in her
vayasaa (inst. sg.): age
adhikaa (nom. sg. f.): surpassing (in number or quantity or quality)
ca: and

saa (nom. sg. f.): she
pRShTha-taH: ind. from the back
taam (acc. sg. f.): her [Sundari]
tu: but
samaaliliNge = 3rd pers. sg. perfect sam-aa- √ liNg: to embrace closely , clasp or hold in a firm embrace

pramRjya = abs. pra- √ mRj: to wipe
ca: and
ashruuNi (acc. pl.): n. tear
vacaaMsi (acc. pl.): n. word
uvaaca = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vac: to say, speak

No comments: