Saturday, March 5, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.38: The Flighty Female

na vaco madhuraM na laalanaM
smarati strii na ca sauhRdaM kvacit
kalitaa vanit" aiva caNcalaa
tad ih' aariShv iva n' aavalambyate

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

No sweet words, no caresses,

And no affection do women ever remember.

The female, even when cajoled, is flighty:

So rely on one no more than you would
your enemies in this world.

Again, this sort of sounds like the Buddha's teaching, but it is not the Buddha's teaching. In the Buddha's teaching, women are no more and no less unreliable than men -- that is to say, very unreliable.

Last night the sky was very clear but standing outside looking at the stars I got as far as identifying the Plough then gave up and went to bed early. I couldn't stand the cold. This morning the frost is thick on the ground and I have got, together with a headache, a keen sense of my own fragility. Heat is just one of a long list of things that, given either too little or too much of, I would soon die. And even if I manage to keep things like heat and salt more or less in balance for a few more years, aging and death are still going to get me. As Jack Reacher would say, "That's for damn sure." That much can be relied upon.

The point is that in the Buddha's teaching the true enemies of any living being in this world are aging, sickness, and death.

Contrary to the limited thoughts of the striver, then, in the Buddha's teaching what is inimical in this world is not necessarily unreliable. It might be that our enemies in this world are the only things that can be relied upon.

EH Johnston:
A woman never heeds soft words or coaxing or affection. Even a well-tested woman is fickle, therefore place no more trust in them than in enemies.

Linda Covill:
A woman never remembers sweet words, caresses or affection. Even when coaxed a woman is flighty, so depend on her no more than you would your enemies.

na: not
vacaH (acc. sg.): n. speech , voice , word
madhuram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. sweet , pleasant , charming , delightful
na: not
laalanam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. caressing , fondling , coaxing ; n. the act of caressing , fondling , coaxing , indulging

smarati = 3rd pers. sg. smR: to remember
strii (nom. sg.): f. a woman
na: not
ca: and
sauhRdam (acc. sg.): n. affection
kva cit: ever

kalitaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. impelled , driven &c (cf √ kal); made , formed ;
√ kal: to impel , incite , urge on ; to do , make , accomplish ; to observe , perceive , take notice of
vanitaa: f. a loved wife , mistress , any woman (also applied to the female of an animal or bird)
eva: (emphatic)
caNcalaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. (fr. Intens. √cal) moving to and fro , movable , unsteady , shaking , quivering , flickering ; unsteady , inconstant , inconsiderate

tad: ind. so
iha: in this place , here ; in this world
ariShu (loc. pl.): an enemy
iva: like, as if
na: not
avalambyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive ava- √ lamb: to hang down ; to catch hold of, cling to , hang to , hold on or support one's self by , rest upon as a support , depend upon (generally acc. ; but also loc.)

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