Saturday, January 1, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 7.28: West-end Sage and East-end Girl

bheje shvapaakiiM munir akShamaalaaM
kaamaad vasiShThash ca sa sad-variShThaH
yasyaam vivasvaan iva bhuu-jal'-aadaH
sutaH prasuuto 'sya kapiNjalaadaH

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

And through desire the sage Vasistha,
most eminent among the upstanding,

Had his way with an outcaste
of a dog-cooking tribe, Aksha-mala,

To whom was born his son Kapinjalada,

An eater of earth and water to rival the Sun.

The opening verses of Saundarananda compare the ascetic Kapila Gautama, founder of the Buddha's home town of Kapilavastu, with the ancient sage Vasishta, owner of the legendary cow of plenty:

A sage named Kapila Gautama, / Eminent among upholders of dharma, / Was as consumed in ascetic practice / As was Kakshivat Gautama. / He beat down ceaselessly, / Like Kashyapa the sun, on blazing asceticism; / And in the promotion thereof he pushed himself on, / Like Kashyapa the sage, to extreme achievement. / For self-serving offerings / He milked a cow, like Vasistha; / While among the disciples he schooled in asceticism / He milked a cow, like Vasistha
. [1.1 - 1.3]

Evidently, as eminent and upstanding as the august Vasistha was, he wasn't above a libidinous liaison with a girl from the wrong side of town.

While I can't help sensing some ironic humour in Ashvaghosha's references to Vasistha, the serious point remains that Nanda is relentlessly engaging in the kind of negative thinking which is both a stimulus to and a result of unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions.

In the coming year may the fear reflexes of self and others be duly excited by the prospect of sickness, aging and death -- but not unduly excited.

It is too easy to express the wish on New Year's Day for fearless states of being, like confidence, indifference and detachment, and for courage. Such wishing is only willing the end. To keep on willing the means, like a trickle of water drilling through a great big stone, is a different matter. The physical act of sitting, even if one continues to do it four times a day, is only a start.

Last year was a good year for me in many ways -- in terms of progress in certain areas, getting jobs done, et cetera. But in the core karmic matter of consciously practising the not doing of wrong, I feel my practice has continued to be too weak.

Must try less hard.

EH Johnston:
The sage Vasistha, best of the virtuous, consorted with Akshamala, a low-caste woman ; and she bore him a son Kapinjalada, who lived on earth and water just as the sun sucks up water from the earth.

Linda Covill:
It was through desire that the sage Vasishtha, best of the good, took up with the low-caste Aksha-mala, and on her he begot a son, Kapinjalada, who consumed earth and water like the sun.

bheje = 3rd pers. sg. perfect bhaj: to obtain as one's share , partake of , enjoy (also carnally) , possess , have
shva-paakiim = acc. sg. shvapaaka: m. one who cooks dogs , a man of an outcaste tribe ; f. a woman of the above outcaste tribe
shvan: m. a dog
paaka: m. ( √ pac) cooking , baking , roasting , boiling
muniH (nom. sg.): m. the sage
akShamaalaam (acc. sg.): f. a string or rosary of beads , especially of Eleocarpus seeds ; N. of arundhatii , wife of vasiShTha (from her wearing a rosary)
akSha: m. a seed of which rosaries are made
maalaa: n. a wreath , garland.

kaamaat (abl. sg.): m. desire, love
vasiShThaH (nom. sg. m.): m. " the most wealthy " , N. of a celebrated Vedic RShi or sage (owner of the " cow of plenty " , which by granting all desires made him , as his name implies , master of every vasu or desirable object ; he was the typical representative of Brahmanical rank , and the legends of his conflict with vishvaa-mitra , who raised himself from the kingly or kShatriya to the Brahmanical class , were probably founded on the actual struggles which took place between the Brahmans and kShatriyas ; a great many hymns of the Rg Veda. are ascribed to these two great rivals ; those of the seventh maNDala , besides some others , being attributed to vasiShTha , while those of the third maNDala are assigned to vishvaa-mitra ; in one of vasiShTha's hymns he is represented as king su-daas's family priest , an office to which vishvaa-mitra also aspired ; in another hymn vasiShTha claims to have been inspired by varuNa , and in he is called the son of the apsaras urvashii by mitra and varuNa , whence his patronymic maitraavaruNi ; in manu i , 35 , he is enumerated among the ten prajaa-patis or Patriarchs produced by manu svaayambhuva for the peopling of the universe ; in the MBh. he is mentioned as the family priest of the solar race or family of ikShvaaku and raama-chandra , and in the puraaNas as one of the arrangers of the vedas in the dvaapara age ; he is , moreover , called the father of aurva, of the sukaalins, of seven sons, and the husband of akSha-maalaa or arundhatii [ MBh. ] and of uurjaa [ Pur. ] ; other legends make him one of the 7 patriarchal sages regarded as forming the Great Bear )
ca: and
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
sad-variShThaH (nom. sg. m.): best of the good
sat: mfn. real , actual , as any one or anything ought to be , true , good , right ; m. a good or wise man , a sage ; m. good or honest or wise or respectable people
variShTha: mfn. (superl. of vara, select, choice) the most excellent or best ; most preferable among (gen. or comp.)

yasyaam (loc. sg. f.): to whom
vivasvaan (nom. sg. m.): m. " the Brilliant one " , N. of the Sun
iva: like
bhuu-jal'-aadaH (nom. sg. m.): eating earth and water
bhuu: f. the earth ; f. earth (as a substance) , ground , soil
jala: n. water
ada: mfn. chiefly ifc. , eating

sutaH (nom. sg.) m. a son
prasuutaH (nom. sg. n.): procreated , begotten , born , produced , sprung
asya (gen. sg.): of him
kapiNjalaadaH (nom. sg.): m. N. of a man
kapiNjala: m. the francoline partridge , heathcock

No comments: