Thursday, November 25, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 6.41: A Call to Count Yourself Lucky

yady anyayaa ruupa-guN'-aadhikatvaad
bhartaa hRtas te kuru baaShpa-mokShaM
manasvinii ruupavatii guN'-aaDhyaa
hRdi kShate k" aatra hi n' aashru muNcet

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

Were your husband to be stolen by another,
due to her better looks and qualities,

Then tears you should let flow;

For where is the beautiful and virtuous wife,
rich in her own qualities,

Who would not shed a tear when her heart was broken?

In headmistress-like manner, and still with the best of intentions, woman number two is saying in this verse in essence "It could be worse" -- which is a true but in the circumstances not necessarily a wise thing to say.

She is continuing along the lines of "Pull yourself together and dry your eyes. You have got nothing to cry about."

If following this tack caused Sundari to come back to herself, we would be led to judge that woman number two had spoken to Sundari on the basis of intuitive wisdom (prajNaa).

But in 16.44 Ashvaghosha tells us that after woman number two had spoken her piece Sundari still could not get a grip on herself / could not be satisfied (n' aiva dhRtim cakaara).

The implication is that the words quoted in this verse might be worthy and reasonable, as befitted the gravitas and eloquence of the woman speaking them, but then and there, in that actual situation (tatra), they were not words of wisdom.

And in this situation of saying 'the right thing,' but ineffectually, one has certainly been -- not least as an Alexander teacher, parroting the Alexander directions "To let the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, while sending the knees away from the pelvis..." while all the time failing to realize in oneself or to convey to the pupil the real meaning of those words.

Conversely, in a good moment in a past life, on a windy and rainy late autumn evening I stepped out of a warm office block into a cold Tokyo night and watched a Zen master struggle to open out his portable umbrella while keeping his back to the driving wind and rain. Seeing the spokes keep folding back on themselves I called out, "Open it into the wind!" The Zen master turned to point the tip of his umbrella into the wind and immediately the umbrella sprang into life like a husky dog on the m of "mush!" The master laughed and observed "It is a kind of wisdom."

That is what we really want -- wisdom, the seed of liberation (nirmokSha-biijam; 5.15) and the most satisfying of tastes (tRpti-karo rasebhyaH; 5.24). But wanting it is no guarantee of getting it. And, as the example of woman number two shows, being highly regarded and eloquent is no guarantee, at a particular time and place, of having it.

EH Johnston:
Let your tears flow if your husband is captivated by another because of her greater beauty and qualities ; for who, possessed of spirit and beauty and rich in qualities, would not shed tears, when her heart is broken ?

Linda Covill:
Had your husband been seduced by another woman's better looks and character, then you could let your tears run freely. What spirited and beautiful woman with a wealth of good qualities would not shed tears when her heart was broken?

yadi: if
anyayaa (inst. sg. f.): by another woman
ruupa-guN'-aadhikatvaat (abl. sg.): because of superiority in looks and virtue
ruupa: n. form ; handsome form , loveliness , grace , beauty
guNa: m. good quality , virtue , merit , excellence
adhikatva: n. superiority
adhika: mfn. surpassing (in number or quantity or quality) , superior , more numerous
-tva: neuter abstract noun suffix

bhartaa (nom. sg.): m. a preserver , protector , maintainer , chief , lord , master ; husband
hRtaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. taken , taken away , seized; ravished , charmed , fascinated
te (gen. sg.): your
kuru = imperative kR: to do, make
baaShpa-mokSham (acc. sg.): shedding of tears
baaShpa: tears
mokSha: release ; shedding or causing to flow (tears , blood &c )

manasvinii (nom. sg. f.): mfn. full of mind or sense , intelligent , clever , wise ; f. a virtuous wife
ruupavatii (nom. sg. f.): having a beautiful form or colour , handsomely formed , handsome , beautiful ; f. a handsome woman
guN'-aaDhyaa (nom. sg. f.): abounding in good qualities
guNa: m. good quality , virtue , merit , excellence
aaDhya: mfn. rich or abounding in , richly endowed or filled or mixed with (instr. or in comp.)

hRdi (loc. abs.): heart
kShate (loc. abs.): mfn. wounded , hurt , injured ; broken
kaa (nom. sg. f.): who?
atra: ind. in this matter , in this respect ; in this place , here at this time , there , then.
hi: for
na: not
ashru (acc. sg.): n. a tear
muNcet = 3rd pers. sg. optative muc: to let go, release, shed

No comments: