Friday, January 21, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 7.48: Existentialist Angst

paaNau kapaalam avadhaaya vidhaaya mauNDyaM
maanaM nidhaaya vikRtaM paridhaaya vaasaH
yasy' oddhavo na dhRtir asti na shaantir asti
citra-pradiipa iva so' sti ca n' aasti c' aiva

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

When a man has taken the bowl in his hand,
shaved his head,

And, putting aside pride, donned the rag-patched robe,

And yet he is given to pleasure
and lacking in firmness and tranquillity,

Like a lamp in a picture, he is there and yet is not.

When mentioned is made, as it is several times in this and the next Canto, of the insignia (liNgam) what is being referred to is essentially these three elements: bowl, shaved head, and robe.

This verse has to do with a sense of inauthenticity in response to which one tendency is to want to feel more authentic and to try to be more authentic.

One might, for example, hurry over to Paris with a copy under one's arm of Sartre's Being & Nothingness and sit drinking coffee in some left-bank cafe. Or one could get on a plane to Japan and go to Kyoto and stand gawping with gaggles of other tourists in Zen rock gardens. Or book a lesson with an Alexander teacher of high repute. Or hurry off to practise a so-called sesshin with some supposed Zen master.

But if one is able to give up such trying for a moment, then another possibility emerges -- namely, instead of end-gaining to be present, just being present to one's own end-gaining.

EH Johnston:
He who, taking the beggar's bowl in his hand, shaving his head, laying aside his pride and wearing the sad-coloured robes, is prone to excitement and devoid of self-restraint, and tranquillity, is a mendicant in appearance only and not in reality, like a lamp in a picture.

Linda Covill:
He who has taken the alms-bowl in his hand, who has shaved his head, who has put aside pride and put on different clothing, but who is frivolous and lacking in earnestness and tranquillity -- he, like a lamp in a picture, is not really real.

paaNau (loc. sg.): m. the hand
kapaalam (acc. sg.): mn. ( √kamp, to shake), a cup , jar , dish ; the alms-bowl of a beggar
avadhaaya = abs. ava- √ dhaa: to place down, deposit
vidhaaya = abs. vi- √ dhaa: to furnish , supply; put in order, make ready
mauNDyam (acc. sg.): n. shaving the head , tonsure , baldness

maanam (acc. sg.): m. opinion , notion , conception , idea ; self-conceit , arrogance , pride
nidhaaya = abs. ni- √ dhaa: to put or lay down ; to keep down , restrain ; to end, close
vikRtam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. transformed , altered , changed &c ; (esp.) deformed , disfigured , mutilated , maimed , unnatural , strange , extraordinary
vi- √ kR: to make different , transform , change the shape (or the mind) , cause to alter or change (esp. for the worse) , deprave , pervert , spoil , impair
paridhaaya = abs. pari-√ dhaa: to put on , wear
vaasaH (acc. sg.): n. cloth , clothes , dress , a garment

yasya (gen. sg.): in/of who
uddhavaH (nom. sg.): m. ( √hu) , sacrificial fire ; holiday; joy , pleasure
na: not
dhRtiH (nom. sg.): f. firmness , constancy , resolution , will , command
asti (3rd pers. sg. as): there is; it/he exists
na: not
shaantiH (nom. sg.): f. tranquillity , peace , quiet
asti: there is

citra-pradiipaH (nom. sg. m.): a lamp in a picture
citra: n. a picture , sketch , delineation
pradiipa: m. a light , lamp , lantern
iva: like
saH (nom. sg. m.): he
asti: exists
ca-na ca: though - yet not
asti: exists
eva: (emphatic)

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