Monday, March 28, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 8.61: Excellent Words

yath" olkaa hasta-sthaa dahati pavana-prerita-shikhaa
yathaa paad'-aakraanto dashati bhujagaH krodha-rabhasaH
yathaa hanti vyaaghraH shishur api gRhiito grha-gataH
tathaa strii-saMsargo bahu-vidham anarthaaya bhavati

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

Just as a flaming torch, when fanned by the wind,
burns the hand that holds it,

Just as a snake, swift to anger,
bites the foot that steps on it,

Just as a tiger, though caught as a cub,
mauls the one who took it in,

So too does association with women, in many ways,
make for disaster.

These words sound good, but is the striver himself any good? Or is the striver, perchance, full of it?

At the beginning of this Canto, which seems a long time ago, I suggested that when in 8.22 Ashvaghosha appears to praise the striver for his excellent words (guNavad vaakyam), Ashvaghosha's real intention might be ironic -- excellent words, a pity about the tainted views; nice words, shame about the deficit of wisdom.

I took a view early on that Ashvaghosha was being ironic in his praise of the striver, and since then, verse by verse -- guess what -- I have managed to find corroboration for my view. In general strivers strive to feel right in their striving; and it takes one to know one. This has been my take on Ashvagosha's striver, and I have stuck to it.

If instead of seeking corroboration for my view, I looked for falsification of it, an anti-thesis to my thesis might be: "The beggar is innocent. You are the guilty one, who in blaming the beggar has used him as a mirror for the grimly self-righteous tendency in yourself!"

In fact, however, like damn fools and bad scientists everywhere, I'm not interested any more in falsification of my view of the striver -- rightly or wrongly, I already decided.

The striver represents a tendency that in the long run is no bloody good to anybody, namely, striving, straining for a result, end-gaining -- as opposed to adopting the means-whereby principle, a better way.

My two sons are aged 19 and 17 now; in a few months their secondary education will be complete and for as long as they can remember both their father and mother have been sitting-zen practitioners and teachers of the FM Alexander Technique. As such, what kind of parents have we been? Shining examples of constant application of the means-whereby principle and freedom from anxious end-gaining? Paragons of freedom from becoming and living without stress? I am afraid not. Far from it.

So beware the striver with his excellent words about tasting the excellent pleasure of cessation while learning a better way... He may be full of it.

Really working on oneself -- for instance, gaining an end like the moving a leg with greater freedom, primarily by giving up all idea of gaining that end -- is one thing. Excellent words directed towards others about such practice, are a different thing altogether.

Only a fool puts the cart before the horse. But that is what I am doing right now.

EH Johnston:
As the torch, held in the hand, burns it when its flames are fanned by the wind, as the snake, swift to wrath, bites when trodden on, as the tiger, though caught young and kept in the house, is still given to killing, so too association with women leads to disaster in many ways.

Linda Covill:
Just as a firebrand with wind-fanned flames burns the hand that beats it, just as a snake in a rush of fury bites the foot that steps on it, just as a tiger attacks, though captured as a cub and reared in your house, just so does cohabiting with a woman cause all manner of ill.

yathaa: ind. just as
ulkaa (nom. sg.): f. a fiery phenomenon in the sky , a meteor , fire falling from heaven; a firebrand , dry grass &c set on fire , a torch
hasta-sthaa (nom. sg. f.): in the hand
dahati = 3rd pers. sg. dah: to burn , consume by fire , scorch , roast
pavana-prerita-shikhaa (nom. sg. f.): its flame fanned by the wind
pavana: m. " purifier " , wind or the god of wind , breeze , air
prerita: mfn. urged , impelled , dispatched , sent ; incited to speak
shikhaa: f. a crest ; a pointed flame , any flame

yathaa: ind. just as
paad'-aakraantaH (nom. sg. m.): trodden on
paada: foot
aakraanta: on which anything lies heavily , pressed by (instr. or in comp.)
dashati = 3rd pers. sg. daMsh: to bite
bhujagaH (nom. sg.): m. (fr. bhuja + ga) " going in curves " , a snake
krodha-rabhasaH (nom. sg. m.): impetuous in its anger
krodha: m. anger
rabhasa: mfn. impetuous , violent , rapid , fierce , wild

yathaa: ind. just as
hanti = 3rd pers. sg. han: to strike; to smite , slay , hit , kill
vyaaghraH (nom. sg.): m. a tiger
shishuH (nom. sg. m.): a child , infant , the young of any animal
api: though
gRhiitaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. caught
grha-gataH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. kept in the house

tathaa: ind. so too, likewise
strii-saMsargaH (nom. sg. m.): association with women
saMsarga: m. mixture or union together , commixture , blending , conjunction , connection , contact , association , society , sexual union , intercourse with
bahu-vidham: ind. diversely , in several directions , up and down
anarthaaya (dat. sg.): m. non-value , a worthless or useless object ; disappointing occurrence , reverse , evil
bhavati = 3rd pers. sg. bhuu: to be, become

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