Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 7.24: Blaming the Stimulus

bhaavena garvena gatena lakShmyaa
smitena kopena madena vaagbhiH
jahruH striyo deva-nRpa'-rShi-saMghaan
kasmaadd hi n' aasmad-vidham aakShipeyuH

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With their way of being, their pride,
their way of moving, their grace;

With a smile or show of indignation,
with their exuberance, with their voices,

Women have carried off hosts of gods, kings, and seers:

How could they not throw a man like me?

From here through to 7.45, Nanda cites a long list of gods, kings, and ascetic seers who were brought down, in their ascetic endeavours, by their desire for women.

Looking at the 18 cantos of Saudarananda as a whole, I see this long list of ascetic failures as a kind of counter-balance to the list of successes (in working to a non-ascetic means-whereby principle) cited by the Buddha in 16.87 - 16.91.

In any event, the next twenty verses will be heavy going, full of references to ancient Indian lore. Ploughing through them will allow ample opportunity to consider why Ashvaghosha wished to dwell at such length upon Nanda's consideration of how women, in Nanda's view, carried off so many men.

Is it in fact true that women, with their womanly wiles, are liable to carry off men? Or is truer to say that men, in our stupidity, are easily liable to get carried away with women?

The lyrics of the old Jimmy Buffet song Margaritaville have to me the ring of truth about them:

Some people say there's a woman to blame
But I know, it's my own damn fault.

In holding the view expressed in today's verse, Nanda might be like the nervous swimmer who is afraid of the calm, passive water in an empty swimming pool. If the nervous swimmer drowns in such water, the water is not to blame; the fault may rather lie in the nervous swimmer's failure to get beyond his instinctive reaction to water.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars..."

EH Johnston:
For women have captivated crowds of divine and royal seers by their passion, pride, gait, beauty, smiles, anger, intoxication and voices. How then should they not attract a man like me ?

Linda Covill:
The temperament, disdain, gait, charm, smiles, temper, wantonness and voices of women have entranced hosts of divine and royal seers. How could they not overpower a chap like me?

bhaavena (inst. sg.): manner of being , nature , temperament , character ; manner of acting , conduct , behaviour ; any state of mind or body , way of thinking or feeling , sentiment , opinion , disposition
garvena (inst. sg.): m. pride , arrogance
gatena (inst. sg.): n. going , motion , manner of going
lakShmyaa (inst. sg.): f. beauty , loveliness , grace , charm , splendour , lustre

smitena (inst. sg.): n. a smile , gentle laugh
kopena (inst. sg.): m. ( √kup, to be angry) morbid irritation or disorder of the humors of the body ; fury ; passion , wrath , anger , rage
madena (inst. sg.): m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication
vaagbhiH (inst. pl.): f. (fr. √ vach) speech , voice , talk , language (also of animals) , sound ; a word , saying , phrase , sentence , statement

jahruH = 3rd pers. pl. perfect hR: to take away , carry off , seize ; to master, overpower; to enrapture , charm , fascinate
striyaH (nom. pl. f.): women
deva-nRpa'-rShi-saMghaan (acc. pl.):
deva: mfn. divine; m. god
nRpa: m. protector of men , prince , king , sovereign
saMgha: m. (fr. sam + √ han) " close contact or combination " , any collection or assemblage , heap , multitude , quantity , crowd , host , number (generally with gen. pl. or ifc. , e.g. muni-saMgha , " a multitude of sages " ; shatru-saMgha, a host of enemies)
kasmaat: ind. where from? whence? why? wherefore?
hi: for
na: not
asmad-vidham (acc. sg. m.): my sort
asmad: (base of the first person pl. , as used in comp.)
vidha: (ifc.) form , manner , kind , sort
aakShipeyuH = 3rd pers. pl. optative aa- √ kShip: to throw down ; to strike with a bolt ; to convulse , cause to tremble ; to excel so as to put to shame ; to challenge

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