Sunday, February 27, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.32: Seeing Women as Sexy or Unsexy

pramadaaH samadaa mada-pradaaH
pramadaa viita-madaa bhaya-pradaaH
iti doSha-bhay'-aavahaash ca taaH
katham arhanti niShevanaM nu taaH

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

Sexy women arouse lust;

Unsexy women are fearsome.

Since they bring a fault or bring fear

How are they worth bothering with?

If this verse is translated more or less literally, and not spun in a way that is sympathetic to the striver's standpoint, then in this verse the striver, as I see him, really shows his true colours. He sees women primarily not as individuals in their own right, not as individual human beings each with her own faulty sensory appreciation, misconceptions, and wrong inner patterns to contend with; he sees women primarily in terms of their sex appeal, categorizing them into two groups, the sexy and the unsexy.

This tendency might be one that is deeply ingrained in many male brains. A teenage boy sees a woman and his first thought is apt to be "nubile [or substitute another word of your choice] or not?" And the brains of most adult men, if we are honest about it, is liable to be not so different in this regard from the brain of a teenage boy. It may depend to some extent on how the brain has been trained, for good or ill, but the instinctive tendency to discriminate seems to persist even as the will to act on it fades with age and experience.

To answer the striver's question on the basis of my own experience, it was definitely worth my while to seek out women teachers of the Alexander Technique, including FM Alexander's niece Marjory Barlow.

Similarly it might have been worth the striver's bother to seek out, for example, the mothers of Nandaka and Nanda cited by the Buddha in 16.89 as paragons of directed energy. (The Buddha fails to mention whether these two mothers were sexy or not.)

EH Johnston:
How can it be fitting to serve women, the origin of all sins and dangers, seeing that when they are full of intoxication they cause intoxication to others and when they are free from intoxication they are a source of danger to others?

Linda Covill:
When women want sex they arouse lust; when women don't want sex they bring danger. In what way are they worthy of attention, since they bring vice and danger?

pramadaaH (nom. pl.): f. a young and wanton woman , any woman
sa-madaaH (nom. pl. f.): intoxicated , excited with passion, ruttish
mada-pradaaH (nom. pl. f.): mfn. intoxicating
mada: m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication ; ardent passion
madaa: f. sexual desire or enjoyment , wantonness , lust , ruttishness , rut (esp. of an elephant) ; f. pride, arrogance
pra-da: mfn. giving , yielding , offering , granting , bestowing , causing , effecting

pramadaaH (nom. pl.): f. a young and wanton woman , any woman
viita-madaaH (nom. pl. f.): without interest in sex
viita: mfn. gone away , departed , disappeared , vanished , lost (often ibc. = free or exempt from , without , -less)
bhaya-pradaaH (nom. pl. f.): dangerous ; fear-causing
bhaya: n. fear ; terror , dismay , danger , peril , distress
prada: mfn. causing

iti: ind. in this manner, thus
doSha-bhay'-aavahaaH (nom. pl. f.):
doSha: m. fault , vice , deficiency , want , inconvenience , disadvantage ; damage , harm , bad consequence , detrimental effect
bhaya: fear, danger
avaha: mfn. bringing , bringing to pass , producing ; what bears or conveys
ca: and
taaH (nom. pl. f.): they

katham: ind. how? (katham is often found in connection with the particles iva , naama , nu , svid , which appear to generalize the interrogation -- how possibly? how indeed? &c )
arhanti = 3rd pers. pl. arh: ) to deserve , merit , be worthy of , to have a claim to , be entitled to (acc.) , to be allowed to do anything (Inf.) ; to be obliged or required to do anything (acc.) ;
niShevanam (acc. sg.): n. visiting , frequenting , living in , practice , performance , use , employment , adherence or devotion to , honour
ni + √sev: (with acc.) to frequent , inhabit , visit , serve , attend , honour , worship , follow , approach , enjoy (also sexually) , incur , pursue , practise , perform , cultivate , use , employ
nu: now, indeed
taaH (acc. pl. f.): them

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