Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 7.11: Noise in the System

saMrakta-kaNThaish ca viniila-kaNThais
tuShTaiH prahRShTair api c' aanyapuShTaiH
lelihyamaanaish ca madhu dvirephaiH
svanad vanaM tasya mano nunoda

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

Resounding with the throaty cries
of impassioned peacocks,

With the satisfied celebrating of cuckoos,

And with the relentless supping of nectar by bees,

The forest pressed in upon his mind.

What Nanda is suffering from in this verse is not a hearing problem; it is a listening problem. A specialist in the field of sound therapy might say that it is a Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) -- not a problem so much of the ear as a problem of the whole brain and nervous system. But going further it might be a problem of Nanda's whole being, a sickness present in every cell of his being, such as love sickness is.

One of Ashvaghosha's purposes in Saundarananda is to outline for us a cure for love sickness, which might consist of having confidence in the Buddha's teaching, practising integrity, being ready to step into action and give up all ideas, and thus ultimately gaining one's own understanding of the four noble truths.

But there is a danger in being too quick in thinking -- as religious people are ever prone to do -- that one has found the cure for all ills, before one has really understood the disease. That's how religious leaders come so often to resemble salesmen of snake oil.

So what Ashvaghosha has been doing in this and the previous Canto, as I read them, is painting us an insightful picture of what love sickness actually is, of how it colours and clouds the minds of a woman and of a man.

The point might be, then, before trying to cure the disease, first to really get to know it.

And while that process continues, speaking for myself, I have found over the past year or so that a set of Goldring noise-cancelling headphones that I bought at for £50 have been a big help. For my purposes, they have been just as effective as the top-of-the-range Sony model.

Perhaps I should have been a salesman after all.

Roll up! Roll up! Get your Buddhist snake oil here.

EH Johnston:
The forest, resounding with bees sipping honey, and with merry and joyful cuckoos and with peacocks with passionate voices, merely made his mind the more distraught.

Linda Covill:
His mind was repelled by the forest as it resounded with the passionate calls of the peacocks, the thrilling cheer of the cuckoo, and the bees sipping at honey.

saMrakta-kaNThaiH (inst. pl.): with impassioned guttural cries
saMrakta: mfn. coloured , red ; inflamed , enamoured ; charming ; angry
kaNTha: m. the throat , the neck ; voice ; sound , especially guttural sound
ca: and
viniila-kaNThaiH (inst. pl.): "the blue necked"; peacocks
viniila: mfn. dark-blue , blue
kaNTha: m. the throat , the neck ; voice ; sound , especially guttural sound

tuShTaiH (inst. pl.): mfn. satisfied , pleased
prahRShTaiH (inst. pl.): mfn. erect , bristling (as the hair of the body) ; thrilled with delight, exceedingly pleased , delighted
api ca: as well as
anyapuShTaiH = inst. pl. anya-puShTa: mf. " reared by another " , the kokila or Indian cuckoo

lelihyamaanaiH = inst. pl. intens. passive pres. part. lih: to lick/sip frequently or constantly
ca: and
madhu (nom. sg. n.): mfn. sweet , delicious , pleasant , charming , delightful ; n. anything sweet (esp. if liquid) , mead &c ; n. honey ; n. the juice or nectar of flowers , any sweet intoxicating drink
dvirephaiH (inst. pl.): m. " shaped like 2 r's or having 2 r's in its name (bhramara)? " , a large black bee
dvi: two
repha: m. a burring guttural sound , the letter r (as so pronounced)
bhramara: m. a large black bee , a kind of bumble bee , any bee

svanat = nom. sg. n. pres. part. svan: to sound , make any noise , roar , yell , hum , sing
vanam (nom. sg.): n. forest
tasya ( his
manaH (acc. sg.): n. mind
nunoda = 3rd pers. sg. perfect nud: to push , thrust , impel , move , remove

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