Monday, February 7, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.12: Nanda Tells the Truth, No Gap

tad idaM shRNu me samaasato
na rame dharma-vidhaav Rte priyaaM
giri-saanuShu kaaminiim Rte
kRta-retaa iva kiMnarash caran

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Hear me then when I say, in short,

That without my beloved I do not enjoy
the practice of dharma;

I am like a kimnara without his lover

Roaming about, his semen ready, over mountain peaks.

After the blather of the last two verses, Nanda gets directly to the point.

The word for mountain here is giri, whereas in 3.7 Ashvaghosha uses the word adri. Ashvaghosha describes the Buddha as adri-raaja-vat, "like the king of mountains":

Sitting there, mind made up, / As unmovingly stable as the king of mountains, // He overcame the grim army of Mara / And awoke to the step which is happy, irremovable, and irreducible.// [3.7]

So while an impassioned kimnara is roving restlessly over mountain peaks, with seminal fluid on the edge of bursting forth, the mountain itself is always as still as sitting-Buddha.

If it were not for Buddha sitting in stillness, how could a mountain ever be as still as sitting-Buddha?

In a hundred years from now, and possibly much sooner, I along with my nearest and dearest will all be dead. Maybe it will take a bit longer before my translation work has become totally erased from people's memories. But the mountains will be as still as sitting-Buddha for as long as there are mountains -- a fact that has got nothing to do with me or you. And as to whether we, as celibate strivers or as impassioned kimnaras, realize it or not, the mountains will ever be ... as indifferent as sitting Buddhas.

About 25 years ago, in a state quite similar to the state Nanda is in now, I visited my teacher Gudo Nishijima in his office wherein he told me "If you can transcend family life, you will become the most excellent Buddhist master in the world. This is my expectation." Because of the wish I had, as a product of the kind of thinking touched on yesterday, to be a giant in my field, those words meant a lot -- too much -- to me. But when I look back on it now, I think it was just the kind of vanity and conceit that is identified throughout Saundara-nanda as the enemy.

I wouldn't claim, even with 25 years behind me of scars and wrinkles and broken teeth and dreams, to have got beyond such vanity and conceit. To discuss one's own vanity might be vanity itself. But regardless of me, mountains are mountains. And if they were interested in who among them was the highest, how could mountains forever be -- even when impassioned kimnaras are trampling over them -- as still, and as indifferent, as sitting-Buddha?

EH Johnston:
Then listen to me. To put it briefly, like a passionate Kinnara wandering on the mountain peaks without his love, I take no pleasure in the practice of the Law without my mistress.

Linda Covill:
So listen to this. To be brief, I do not enjoy the prescriptions of dharma without my dear girl, but am like a kinnara, his semen ready, wandering the mountain plateaux without his lover.

tad: ind. so, then, therefore
idam (acc. sg. n.): this
shRNu = 2nd pers. sg. imperative shru: to hear, listen
me (gen. sg.): of me
samaasataH: ind. in a summary manner , succinctly , concisely

na: not
rame = 1st pers. sg. ram: to be glad or pleased , rejoice at , delight in , be fond of (loc.)
dharma-vidhau (loc. sg.): dharma-practice, the practice of dharma
vidhau: m. rule ; method , manner or way of acting , mode of life , conduct , behaviour ; any act or action , performance , accomplishment , contrivance , work , business (ifc. often pleonastically)
Rte: ind. without
priyaam (acc. sg.): f. wife, beloved

giri-saanuShu (loc. pl.): over mountain tops
giri: mountain
saanu: a summit , ridge , surface , top of a mountain , (in later language generally) mountain-ridge , table-land
kaaminiim (acc. sg.): f. a loving or affectionate woman
Rte: ind. without

kRta-retaaH (nom. sg. m.): with his semen ready
kRta: mfn. done, made; prepared , made ready
retas: n. a flow ; flow of semen , seminal fluid , sperm , seed
iva: like
kiMnaraH (nom. sg.): m. " what sort of man? " a mythical being with a human figure and the head of a horse (or with a horse's body and the head of a man ; in later times reckoned among the gandharvas or celestial choristers , and celebrated as musicians|)
caran = nom. sg. m. pres. part. car: to move one's self , go , walk , move , stir , roam about , wander ; to move or travel through , pervade , go along , follow

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