Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.21: Or a Striver's Contempt?

a-kRt-aatmatayaa tRSh"-aanvito
ghRNayaa c' aiva dhiyaa ca varjitaH
ashanaM khalu vaantam aatmanaa
kRpaNaH shvaa punar attum icchati

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

Greedy and untrained,

Devoid of decency and intelligence,

Truly, a wretched dog wishes to eat again

Food that he himself has vomited."

Now the striver is comparing Nanda to a dog that wishes to do something disgusting. His words, as I hear them, are not so much words of compassion as words of contempt.

Is Ashvaghosha here making a point about Nanda, or making a point about the striver and about striving? I think the latter.

Strivers everywhere tend to be hard on others because, in our perfectionism, we tend to be hard on ourselves. That being so, the best practical advice for strivers everywhere might be contained in the Buddha's teaching in Canto 16:

When the mind is agitated by the fault of hatred, / One should be kind to oneself; // For kindness is calming to a hate-afflicted soul, / As cooling treatment is to the man of bilious nature. [16.62]

As an ascetic practitioner the Buddha they say strove harder than anybody, driving himself to the edge of starvation. But finally he gave up asceticism and treated himself to some nice food. He stopped striving and just sat.

Now the truth of just sitting is largely unknowable. But what striving is, where it comes from, how it manifests itself, its fundamental basis in wrong ideas, faulty feeling, patterns of mis-use of the self, and so on ... these are things we can seek to clarify.

EH Johnston:
Verily a wretched greedy dog, void of decency and sense, wishes in the filthiness of his nature to eat again the food he himself has vomited !'

Linda Covill:
Here is a wretched undisciplined dog, full of greed but lacking decency and wisdom, who wants to feed once more on the food he has himself vomited!"

a-kRt-aatmatayaa (inst. sg. f.): with untrained/imperfect nature
a-kRta: mfn. not made, unprepared, incomplete; one who has done no works
a-kRt-aatman: mfn. having an unformed mind
aatma-taa: f. essence , nature
tRSh"-aanvitaH (nom. sg. m.): having strong desire
tRShaa: f. thirst, strong desire
anvita: mfn. gone along with ; having as an essential or inherent part , endowed with , possessed of , possessing

ghRNayaa (inst. sg.): f. a warm feeling towards others , compassion , tenderness
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
dhiyaa (inst. sg.): f. thought ; understanding , intelligence , wisdom
ca: and
varjitaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. devoid of, without

ashanam (acc. sg.): n. eating, food
khalu: ind. (as a particle of asseveration) indeed , verily , certainly , truly
vaantam: mfn. (fr. √ vam, to vomit) vomited , ejected from the mouth , effused
aatmanaa (inst. sg. m.): himself

kRpaNaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. inclined to grieve , pitiable , miserable , poor , wretched , feeble ; low, vile
shvaa (nom. sg.): m. dog
punar: ind. again
attum = inf. ad: to eat
icchati = 3rd pers. sg. iSh: to wish, want

No comments: