Thursday, December 30, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 7.26: "No, I can't" (ctd.)

suuryaH saraNyuuM prati jaata-raagas
tat-priitaye taShTa iti shrutaM naH
yaam ashva-bhuuto 'shva-vadhuuM sametya
yato 'shvinau tau janayaaM babhuuva

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

Our tradition has it that the sun god Surya,
roused to passion for the dawn goddess Saranyu,

Let himself be diminished in order to enjoy her;

He became a stallion so as to cover her as a mare,

Whereby she conceived the two charioteers.

Handsome Nanda is the tale of how Nanda eventually becomes a winner -- a winner who loses everything. But here Nanda is feeling and thinking the feelings and thoughts of a loser.

As one who turned to the teaching of FM Alexander in the endeavour to deepen his understanding of how to practise sitting-dhyana -- and also as one who is prone to feel and think the feelings and thoughts of a loser -- what have I learned about this problem of feeling and thinking like a loser?

Marjory Barlow used to say that we cannot control our feelings; it is rather that our feelings control us. But we can control, to some extent, how we think.

Perhaps we can understand in this light the efforts of the well-meaning misogynist in Canto 8, and of Ananda and the Buddha in subsequent chapters. The direct approach of the misogynist in Canto 8 fails the pragmatic test -- it doesn't work. But using indirect skillful means the Buddha causes Nanda to change the way he thinks about Sundari and and about women in general -- so that Nanda comes to see Sundari's beauty as relative and enjoyment of happiness in the company of women, in general, as impermanent.

The principle of the indirectness of a skillful means, it seems to me, is one of the striking commonalities between the teaching of the Buddha and the teaching of FM Alexander.

Marjory used to say: "The thinking re-educates the feeling and the feeling re-educates the body."

To go straight for "good posture" in an end-gaining way is a direct, unskillful approach, to be recommended only for people whose coordination is already perfect -- of whom there do not seem to be very many around.

The two charioteers (ashvinau), the Monier-Williams dictionary informs us, are supposed to appear in the sky before the dawn in a golden carriage drawn by horses.

To the right is a photo from Wikipedia, which bears the caption
Surya with consorts Saranyu and Chaya.

EH Johnston:
The Sun, conceiving a passion for Saranyu, had his orb whittled away for love of her, according to the legend. He took the shape of a horse to have intercourse with her in the shape of a mare, whence sprang the two Ashvins.

Linda Covill:
Legend has it that the Sun, roused to passion for Saranyu, was reduced in brilliance to allow pleasure with her. He became a stallion to mate with her as a mare, whereby the two Ashvins were conceived.

suuryaH (nom. sg.): m. the sun or its deity
saraNyuum (acc. sg.): f. N. of a daughter of tvaShTR (in Rg Veda represented as the wife of vivasvat and mother of the two ashvins , whom she brought forth in the form of a mare)
prati: ind. towards
jaata-raagaH (nom. sg. m.): with passion arisen
jaata: mfn. ( √ jan) born ; grown , produced , arisen , caused , appeared ; happened , become , present , apparent , manifest
raaga: m. colour , hue , tint , dye , (esp.) red colour , redness; any feeling or passion , (esp.) love , affection or sympathy for , vehement desire

tat-priitaye (dat. sg.): for pleasure with her
priiti: f. any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy , gladness , satisfaction
taShTaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. ( √ takSh, to form by cutting , plane , chisel , chop) pared , hewn , made thin
iti: "...," thus
shrutam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. heard , listened to , heard about or of , taught , mentioned , orally transmitted or communicated from age to age ; n. anything heard , that which has been heard (esp. from the beginning) , knowledge as heard by holy men and transmitted from generation to generation , oral tradition or revelation , sacred knowledge
naH (gen. pl.): to/of us

yaam (acc. sg. f.): [her] whom
ashva-bhuutaH (nom. sg. m.): become a horse
ashva: horse
bhuuta: mfn. become; (ifc.) being or being like anything
ashva-vadhuum (acc. sg.): a mare
vadhuu: f. bride, young wife ; the female of any animal , (esp.) a cow or mare
sametya = abs. sam- √ i : to go or come together ; to come together in sexual union

yataH: ind. from which or what , whence , whereof , wherefrom
ashvinau (acc. dual m.):" the two charioteers " , N. of two divinities (who appear in the sky before the dawn in a golden carriage drawn by horses or birds ; they bring treasures to men and avert misfortune and sickness ; they are considered as the physicians of heaven)
tau (acc. dual m.): those two
janayaam babhuuva (3rd pers. sg. periphrastic perfect): she did/there was a begetting
jan: to generate , beget , produce , create , cause

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