Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 7.25: "No I Can't"

kaam'-aabhibhuuto hi hiraNyaretaaH
svaahaaM siSheve maghavaan ahalyaam
sattvena sargeNa ca tena hiinaH
strii-nirjitaH kiM bata maanuSho 'haM

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

For, overcome by desire,
fire god Hiranya-retas, he of golden sperm,

Succumbed to sex with his wife Svaha,
as did bountiful god Indra with nymph Ahalya;

All the more liable am I, a man,
lacking their strength and resolve,

To be overwhelmed by a woman!

I think there never was a golden-spermed fire god called Hiranya-retas, except in the imagination of ancient Indians. Neither do I believe in Indra. Hiranya-retas and Indra were not real beings but heroes of the popular imagination.

Nanda is referring to these fictional beings -- in the same way that we today might refer to Clarke Kent, or Elsie Tanner, or Othello -- in the attempt to justify a position of "No, I can't."

Nanda's stance is therefore in marked contrast to the Buddha at the end of Canto 16 who points with supreme confidence (not blustering belief but true confidence, born of following a means-whereby that works) to real-life heroes who succeeded in channelling their energies into practice.

So whereas Nanda stands here now saying "No, they couldn't" and "No, I can't," the Buddha later tells him, "Yes, they did," and "Yes, you can."

"Yes, I can" said Sammy Davis Jnr; and "Yes, we can" says Barrack Obama. But was this and is this true confidence? Or merely an expression of self-belief?

The critical factor may be the presence or absence of a means-whereby that really works. Is "American pragmatism," like "Buddhism," a term that can be resorted to, for convenience, to describe a way that is truly not an -ism at all?

"Yes, you can," the Buddha tells Nanda in Canto 16 -- but only after outlining in detail a fourfold plan and eightfold path, and only after Nanda has made up his own mind that he really wants to follow the Buddha's path.

EH Johnston:
For instance, overcome by love, Hiranyaretas followed Svaha and Indra Ahalya ; how much more then should I, a mere man, lacking their courage and resolution, be conquered by a woman ?

Linda Covill:
For overwhelmed by desire, Hiranya-retas made love to Svaha and Indra to Ahalya. So it is natural that I, who am only human and lacking their courage and resolve, should be bowled over by a woman!

kaama: m. desire; love , especially sexual love or sensuality
abhibhuutaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. surpassed , defeated , subdued , humbled ; overcome , aggrieved , injured.
hi: for
hiraNya-retaaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. having golden seed ; m. name of agni or fire , of the sun , of shiva , of one of the 12 aadityas
hiraNya: n. gold
retas: n. a flow ; flow of semen , seminal fluid , sperm , seed ; quicksilver (regarded as shiva's semen)

svaahaam (acc. sg.): f. an oblation (offered to agni , indra &c ) or Oblation personified (as a daughter of dakSha and wife of agni ; she is thought to preside over burnt-offerings ; her body is said to consist of the four vedas , and her limbs are the six aNgas or members of the veda)
siSheve = 3rd pers. sg. perfect sev: to dwell in; to resort to; to serve; to enjoy sexually , have sexual intercourse with (acc.)
maghavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. possessing or distributing gifts , bountiful , liberal , munificent (esp. said of indra and other gods , but also of institutors of sacrifices who pay the priests and singers); name of Indra
magha: m. ( √ maMh, to give) a gift , reward , bounty ; wealth, power
ahalyaam (acc. sg.): f. N. of the wife of gautama (a RiShi belonging to the family of aNgiras with the patr. raahuu-gaNa (author of RV.) or sharadvat ; N. of an apsaras

sattvena (inst. sg.): true essence , nature , disposition of mind , character ; spirit ; vital breath , life , consciousness , strength of character , strength , firmness , energy , resolution , courage , self-command , good sense , wisdom , magnanimity
sargeNa (inst. sg.): m. (fr. √ sRj) letting go , discharging; a stream , gush ; nature , natural property , disposition , tendency ; effort , exertion , resolution , resolve , will
ca: and
tena (inst. sg.): that
hiinaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. bereft or deprived of , free from , devoid or destitute of , without (instr.)

strii-nirjitaH (nom. sg. m.): conquered by a woman
strii: f. woman
nirjita: mfn. conquered , subdued , gained , won
kim: ind. what? how? whence? wherefore? why?
bata: ind. an interjection expressing astonishment or regret
maanuShaH (nom. sg.): m. a man
aham (nom. sg. m.): I

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