Monday, April 11, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.12: Buddhist Preaching

yad" aambu-bhuu-vaayv-analaash ca dhaatavaH
sadaa viruddhaa viShamaa iv' oragaaH
bhavanty an-arthaaya shariiram aashritaaH
kathaM balaM roga-vidho vyavasyasi

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When the elements of water, earth, wind and fire

Are in constant opposition, like antagonistic snakes,

When they meet in a body only to make for calamity,

How can you, in your propensity to sickness,
be convinced of your strength?

viruddha is the word that the Buddha uses in Canto 15 to describe snakes in a basket:

Who could be complacent carrying around a body which is a receptacle for the elements / Like a basket full of snakes each opposed to another?
// [15.56]

So the Buddhist preaching of the striver and the teaching of the Buddha sound somehow similar.

The challenge that Ashvaghosha as I hear him intends us to take up, is to be clear how Buddhist preaching is never the same as teaching of the Buddha.

One essential difference, which is again manifest in today's verse, has to do with being awake or not being awake to what is in front of one's nose. In banging on about how Nanda is convinced of his own strength, the striver is failing to notice that Nanda has never shown himself to be prey to the idea that he is strong: if anything, Nanda needs to be encouraged to give up the idea that he is weak.

EH Johnston:
Seeing that the elements, water, earth, wind and fire coalescing in a body, ever war together like vicious snakes and lead to disaster, disease is part of your very nature ; how then can you conclude you have strength?

Linda Covill:
And when the elements of water, earth, wind and fire are always at variance with each other like contrary snakes, and they abide in the body only to do it harm, how can you, the sick type, be so confident in your vitality?

yadaa: ind. when
ambu-bhuu-vayv-analaaH (nom. pl. m.): water, earth, wind and fire
ambu: n. water
bhuu: f. earth
vaayu: m. wind
anala: m. fire
ca: and
dhaatavaH (nom. pl. m.): the elements

sadaa: ind. always , ever , every time , continually , perpetually
viruddhaaH (nom. pl. m.): mfn. opposed , hindered , restrained , arrested , kept back ; hostile , adverse , at variance or at enmity with
viShamaaH (nom. pl. m.): mfn. uneven ; unequal , irregular , dissimilar , different , inconstant ; hard to traverse , difficult , inconvenient , painful , dangerous , adverse , vexatious , disagreeable , terrible , bad , wicked
iva: like
ura-gaaH (nom. pl.): m. (" breast-going ") , a serpent , snake

bhavanti = 3rd pers. pl. bhuu: to be, become
an-arthaaya (dat. sg.): m. disappointing occurrence , reverse , evil
shariiram (acc. sg.): n. the body
aashritaaH (nom. pl. m.): mfn. attaching themselves self to , joining; inhabiting , dwelling in , resting on , being anywhere , taking one's station at
aa- √ shri: to affix ; to apply anything ; to join ; to seek refuge in , enter , inhabit

katham: how?
balam (acc. sg.): n. strength, robustness
roga-vidhaH (nom. sg. m.): a sick type
roga: m. ( √ ruj) " breaking up of strength " , disease , infirmity , sickness (also personified as an evil demon)
vidhaa: f. form , manner , kind , sort ; fodder
vyavasyasi = 2nd pers. sg. vy-ava- √ so: to settle down ; to determine , resolve , decide , be willing ; to settle , ascertain , be convinced or persuaded of take for (acc.) ; to ponder , reflect , consider

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