Thursday, February 3, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.8: A Secluded Spot

atha tatra shucau lataa-gRhe
kusum'-odgaariNi tau niShedatuH
mRdhubhir mRdu-maarut'-eritair
upaguuDhaav iva baala-pallavaiH

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And so there the two of them sat

In a bright bower of flower-spewing creepers

Whose soft young shoots, stirring in a soft breeze,

Seemed to be hiding them away.

The emphasis of this verse depends on whether upaguuDha is translated as "embraced" or as "hidden."

Is Ashvaghosha wishing to convey a sense that Nanda and the striver were embraced by nature, or a sense of the privacy that the surroundings afforded them, or both?

For me, the latter sense is stronger, in keeping with the Buddha's advice to Nanda, most memorably given at the end of Canto 14, that seclusion is favourable for practice.

Therefore walking like this: "Walking, I am"; / And standing like this: "Standing, I am" -- // At opportune moments such as these -- / You should cover yourself in mindfulness. // To a place suited for practice, free of people and free of noise, / To a place for lying down and sitting, my friend, repair in this manner; // For by first achieving solitude of the body / It is easy to obtain solitude of the mind. //....// Just as, when not fanned by the wind, / A bright fire dies down, // In solitary places, similarly, with little effort / An unstirred mind comes to quiet. // One who eats anything at any place, and wears any clothes, / Who dwells in enjoyment of his own being and loves to be anywhere without people: // He is to be known as a success, a knower of the taste of peace and ease, whose mind is made up -- / He avoids involvement with others like a thorn.// [14.45 - 14.50]

And again at the end of Canto 16, the Buddha reminds Nanda that a place suited to practice (yoga), though not necessarily a special or magical place where nature seems to hold the practitioner in a welcoming embrace, is a place not thronged with people:

These salubrious wilds that surround us / Are suited to practice and not thronged with people...// Furnishing the body with ample solitude, / Cut a path for abandoning the afflictions.//

EH Johnston:
So they sat down there in a clean bower of creepers, bursting with flowers, which embraced them, as it were, with soft young shoots waving in the gentle breeze.

Linda Covill:
Here they sat down in a cleared bower of creepers bursting with flowers, so that they seemed embraced by the tender young shoots swaying in the soft breeze.

atha: ind. and so, then
tatra: ind. there
shucau (loc sg. n.): mfn. shining , glowing , gleaming , radiant , bright ; clear , clean , pure (lit. and fig.) , holy , unsullied , undefiled
lataa-gRhe (loc. sg. n.): a creeper-bower , arbour of creepers

kusum'-odgaariNi (loc. sg. n.): bursting out flowers
kusuma: n. (fr. √kus, to enfold) , a flower , blossom
udgaarin: mfn. (ifc.) ejecting , spitting , vomiting ; discharging , thrusting out
ud- √ gRR: to eject (from the mouth) , spit out , vomit out or up , belch out ; to pour out , discharge , spout
√ gRR: to swallow , devour , eat ; to emit or eject from the mouth
tau (nom. dual m.): the two of them
niShedatuH = 3rd pers. dual perfect ni-√sad : to sit or lie down or rest upon (loc.)

mRdhubhiH (inst. pl.): mfn. soft , delicate , tender , pliant , mild , gentle
mRdu-maarut'-eritaiH (inst. pl.): stirred by a gentle wind
mRdu: mfn. soft , delicate , tender , pliant , mild , gentle
maaruta: m. (= marut) wind , air , the god of wind
iirita: mfn. sent , despatched
iir: to move, to excite ; to cause to rise ; to bring to life

upaguuDhau (nom. dual m.): mfn. hidden , concealed , covered ; clasped round , embraced
upa- √ guh ; to hide , cover , conceal ; to clasp , embrace , press to the bosom
iva: like, as if, almost
baala-pallavaiH (inst. pl.): by the young shoots
baala: mfn. young , childish , infantine , not full-grown or developed (of persons and things)
pallava: mn. a sprout , shoot , twig , spray , bud , blossom

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