Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.28: More Excellent Words

spRhayet para-saMshritaaya yaH
paribhuuy' aatma-vashaaM sva-tantrataaM
upashaanti-pathe shive sthitaH
spRhayed doShavate gRhaaya saH

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Only a man who aspires to dependence on another,

Spurning autonomy and self-reliance,

Would yearn, while on the auspicious path to peace,

For life at home with all its faults.

This, as I read it, is not the Buddha's teaching. This is a striver parrotting the Buddha's teaching, as he warms up his vocal chords and readies his stance for the coming tirade against women.

If the Buddha were speaking these words, I would want to ask myself how practice might make a practitioner, even if only for a moment, free of emotional ties and in control of himself. But since the striver is speaking these words, I would like to ask the striver in what sense he thinks a beggar is self-reliant. How can a beggar be self-reliant?

Even when the words are the same, a striver's teaching is not the Buddha's teaching. Strivers strive for this and that. Sometimes we call the supposed object of our striving "peace." Sometimes we have called it, in our blind pomposity, in our overarching sense of self-importance, "the establishment of true Buddhism throughout the world."

Eloquent strivers and buddha-ancestors alike say that the Buddha's teaching, in the end, is just to sit.

Just in the moment of this sitting, what is sitting?
Is it to leave home?
Is it to come back home?

EH Johnston:
The man who would despise the independence derived from reliance on himself and envy him who depends on another's support would, when finding himself in the holy path of tranquillity, long for home life, full of evils though it is.

Linda Covill:
It's the man who scorns self-reliance and independence and who craves the support of another person who would yearn for home, with all its defects, even when standing on the blessed path that leads to peace.

spRhayet = 3rd pers. sg. optative spRh: to be eager , desire eagerly , long for (dat.); to envy , be jealous of (dat.)
para-saMshritaaya (dat. sg.): clinging to another
para: another, others
saMshrita: mfn. joined or united with (instr. or comp.); leaning against , clinging to (acc.); one who has gone or fled to any one for protection , one who has entered the service of (acc. or comp.); m. a servant , adherent , dependant
saM- v shri: to join or attach one's self to , go for refuge or succour to , resort or betake one's self to , cling to for protection , seek the help of (acc.)
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who

paribhuuya = abs. pari- v bhuu: to surround, to go or fly round ; to be superior , excel , surpass ; to pass round or over , not heed , slight , despise , insult
aatma-vashaam (acc. sg. f.): mfn. dependent on one's own will
aatman: self
vasha: m. will , wish , desire; authority, power, control, dominion
sva-tantrataam (acc. sg.): f. self-dependence , independence , freedom
sva: self
tantra: loom
-taa: (abstract noun suffix)

upashaanti-pathe (loc. sg.): on the path of tranquillity
upashaanti: f. cessation , tranquillity , calmness
patha: m. (ifc. for pathin) a way , path , road , course
shive (loc. sg.): auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign , kind , benevolent , friendly ; happy, fortunate
sthitaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. standing , staying , situated , resting or abiding or remaining in (loc.)

spRhayet = 3rd pers. sg. optative spRh: to be eager , desire eagerly , long for (dat.); to envy , be jealous of (dat.)
doShavate (dat. sg. m./n.): mfn. having faults , faulty , defective , blemished
gRhaaya (dat. sg.): m. house, home; n. family life
saH (nom. sg. m.): he


jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

Very nicely translated, that verse, if I may say so - particularly when compared with ECH's and LC's holier, clunkier versions...I prefer yours. (Not the only verse you've nicely translated.)

I hear your suggestions that the words Ashvaghosha puts into the mouths of his speakers may often be ironic. Some days the irony seems clear and I warm to the idea, other days less so. It's not a small point. I suppose that I'd be in a better position to make up my own mind if I'd read the whole poem. I haven't; it's on the wish list. I'm following along as you go.

Thanks for keeping going,

Mike Cross said...

Thanks, Malcolm.

I will wear you down eventually!

In the meantime, thanks for continuing to listen,