Sunday, December 12, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 7.8: Sensory Impressions & Illusory Thoughts

lataaM praphullaam ati-muktakasya
cuutasya paarshve parirabhya jaataaM
nishaamya cintaam agamat kad" aivaM
shliShtaa bhaven maam api sundar" iiti

- = - = = - - = - = -
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An ati-muktaka -- 'flowers whiter than pearls' --

Having attached itself to the side of a mango tree,
was thriving:

He surveyed the blossoming creeper and fretted

"When will Sundari cling to me like that?"

EHJ's original Sanskrit text has tad" aivam in line 3, but LC's kad" aivam seems to make more sense.

As in the previous two verses, an absolutive that describes receipt of a visual stimulus (nishaamya, "on noticing," 7.6; dRShTvaa, "on seeing," 7.7; nishaamya, "on noticing," 7.8) is followed by a main verb that describes an activity that we would ordinarily describe as mental (sasmaara, "he remembered," 7.6 ; saMkalpayaam aasa, "he imagined," 7.7"; cintaam agamat, "he fretted," 7.8).

Following on the same track as yesterday, I would point out that how a person receives a visual stimulus is dependent on how that person uses his or her eyes... and to paraphrase Sherrington again: Mr Alexander has done a service to the subject by insistently treating each act as involving the whole integrated individual, the whole psychophysical man. To notice a creeper growing up the side of a mango tree is an affair not of this or that eye solely but of the total neuromuscular activity of the moment – not least of the head and neck.

The track I was on yesterday, thus, was to bring everything (including so-called mental phenomena) back to the problem of how a person uses himself or herself -- in which arena the greatest evil is not illusion, but fixing.

But was this a right track?

In light of the truth of psycho-physical unity, should we necessarily assert that the point of sitting-dhyana is to spring the whole body free from fixing, as opposed to springing the whole body free from illusion?

Does freedom from fixing and freedom from illusion boil down, in the end, to the same thing?

I don't know. I do know that neither is a piece of cake.

The practical question from the standpoint of translating is: in light of these descriptions of Nanda receiving various visual impressions which stimulate in him sentimental memories, illusory imaginings, and anxious thoughts, might it be wise to change the translation of parikalpa in Canto 13 from my literal but idiosyncratic "fixing" to the conventional "illusion."

At time of writing, I am wobbling, in which condition the wisest thing is often to make a decision, for the time being, not to decide. Then, all being well, as further information comes to light, the right decision may make itself.... But let us not hold our breath (for that would be symptomatic of fixing).

EH Johnston:
When he noticed a blossoming atimuktaka creeper growing up a mango-tree and clinging to it, he reflected, 'When will Sundari embrace me thus?'

Linda Covill:
Next he noticed a cheerful atimuktaka creeper which had grown up entwined around the mango-tree at its side, and he thought "When will Sundari hold me like that?"

lataam (acc. sg.): f. a creeper
praphullaam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. blooming forth , blooming ; covered with blossoms or flowers ; expanded , opened wide (like a full-blown flower) , shining , smiling , cheerful , pleased
atimuktakasya = gen. sg. ati-muktaka: mfn. entirely liberated ; quite free from sensual or worldly desire ; seedless , barren ; m. the tree Dalbergia Oujeinensis ; m. Gaertnera Racemosa ; m. " surpassing pearls in whiteness " , N. of certain shrubs
ati-: (prefix) surpassing
mukta: mfn. loosened; m. a pearl (as loosened from the pearl-oyster shell)

cuutasya (gen. sg.): m. the mango tree
paarshve (loc. sg.): the side
parirabhya = abs. pari- √ rabh: to embrace, clasp
jaataam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. born, grown, growing

nishaamya = abs. ni- √ sham: to observe , perceive , hear , learn
cintaam (acc. sg.): f. thought , care , anxiety , anxious thought
agamat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist gam: to go to (any state); become
kadaa: ind. when
tadaa: ind. then
evam: ind. thus , in this way , in such a manner ,

shliShtaa = nom. sg. f. past part. shliSh: to adhere , attach , cling to (loc. , rarely acc.) ; to cling, embrace
bhavet = 3rd pers. sg. optative bhuu: to be
maam (acc. sg.): me
api: also, even
sundarii (nom. sg. f.): Sundari
iti: "...," thus

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