Sunday, January 30, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.4: The Sick Man Who Hides His Illness

tad iyaM yadi kaayikii rujaa
bhiShaje tuurNam anuunam ucyataaM
viniguhya hi rogam aaturo
naciraat tiivram an-artham Rcchati

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So if this pain is physical

Be quick to tell a doctor all about it,

For when a sick man hides his illness

It turns before long into something serious.

Again the striver's view is, on the face of it, difficult to argue with. It seems perfectly reasonable.

Below the surface, however, the striver's unspoken (and possibly somewhat smug?) recognition is that Nanda's pain is mental, not physical. And Ashvaghosha's intention might be to invite us to examine whether this unspoken recognition is the whole truth, or not.

If we suspect that neither unthinking acceptance of dualism, nor repudiation of dualism, are the whole truth of the intention behind this verse, then we are required to dig deeper.

Marjory Barlow used to say, "We are all going round trying to be right."

Now if a person who was less experienced and less sincere than Marjory in the field of working on the self were to speak those words, my response might be: "Speak for your bloody self, mate!" But Marjory was indeed primarily speaking for herself. Because she saw it clearly in herself, she could see it in others.

When I dig deeper for the real meaning of today's verse, it relates to this problem that Marjory repeatedly came back to, the tendency of trying to be right. It is a tendency which, as I have many times observed in myself, is born of a deep-seated fear of being wrong. When I say "deep-seated" I mean deeply rooted not only in the unconscious ego but also in fear paralysis and the Moro reflex.

If we dig deep for the real meaning of today's verse, then, it may be that Ashvaghosha is inviting us to study, in the first person singular, the sick man who hides an illness which is not primarily psychological but which is rooted in vestibular faults.

And there might be other deeper levels of meaning too, whose surface (notwithstanding the sense that my Maserati does 185) I have not yet even scratched...

EH Johnston:
If therefore your disease is of the body, explain it promptly to a physician, holding nothing back ; for the sick man who conceals his illness falls into a worse calamity.

Linda Covill:
So if your illness is physical, tell a doctor all about it straightaway, because a sick man soon gets worse when he hides his illness.

tad: ind. then, so, therefore
iyam (nom. sg. f.): this
yadi: if
kaayikii (nom. sg. f.): mfn. performed with the body , corporeal
rujaa (nom. sg.): f. breaking, fracture ; pain , sickness , disease

bhiShaje (dat. sg.): m. a healer , physician
tuurNam: ind. quickly , speedily
anuunam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. whole, entire
ucyataam (3rd. pers. sg. passive imperative vac): let him be told

viniguhya = abs. vi-ni- √ gu : to cover, conceal, hide
hi: for
rogam (acc. sg.): m. ( √1. ruj) " breaking up of strength " , disease , infirmity , sickness
aaturaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. suffering , sick (in body or mind)

naciraat (abl. sg.): mfn. not long (in time)
tiivram (acc. sg. m.): mfn. strong , severe , violent , intense , hot , pervading , excessive , ardent , sharp , acute , pungent , horrible
an-artham (acc. sg.): m. non-value , a worthless or useless object ; disappointing occurrence , reverse , evil
Rcchati = 3rd pers. sg. R: to go , move , rise , tend upwards; to go towards , befall (with acc.)

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