Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.28: Nice Words, Shame about the State

Rtur vyatiitaH parivartate punaH
kShayaM prayaataH punar eti candramaaH
gataM gataM n' aiva tu saMnivartate
jalaM nadiinaaM ca nRNaaM ca yauvanaM

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A season that has passed comes round again,

The moon wanes and waxes again,

But gone, gone, never to return

Is the water of rivers, and the youth of men.

Some strivers have a way with words; some strivers are inarticulate. Some buddhas, like Ashvaghosha and Dogen, have a way with words; some buddhas let their actions do the talking, like Taiso Eka who got Bodhidharma's marrow, like numerous nameless old fists.

Keeping silent is not necessarily evidence of having made the nectar of deathlessness one's own; nor is the speaking or writing of nice words.

This ascetic striver has an excellent way with words. I think Ashvaghosha's intention is that each reader should not be impressed by the excellent words but should instead be clear that the state of ascetic striving is not the state of buddha.

This might be the central irony of Saundara-nanda. It is an epic tale of the power of viirya, manly effort, valour, heroic direction of energy; and at the same time running through the whole of the poem, for those who seek to understand the teaching in their own sometimes painful daily striving, is negation of ascetic effort.

EH Johnston:
The seasons pass and come round again; the moon wanes and waxes again ; but, once they have passed away, neither the water of a river nor the youth of a man returns.

Linda Covill:
The seasons pass and come back again, the moon wanes and waxes again, but gone, gone, never to return are the waters of a river and the youth of a man.

RtuH (nom. sg.): m. an epoch , period (esp. a division or part of the year) , season (the number of the divisions of the year is in ancient times , three , five , six , seven , twelve , thirteen , and twenty-four ; in later time six seasons are enumerated , viz. vasanta , " spring " ; griiShma , " the hot season " ; varShaas (f. pl. nom. ) , " the rainy season " sharad , " autumn " ; hemanta , " winter " ; and shishira , " the cool season " ; the seasons are not unfrequently personified , addressed in mantras , and worshipped by libations)
vyatiitaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. passed away, gone ; departed
parivartate = 3rd pers. sg. pari- √ vRt: to turn round , revolve , move in a circle; to return, come back
punar: ind. again

kShayam (acc. sg.): m. end (kShayaM √ gam , √yaa , √i , or upa √i , to become less , be diminished , go to destruction , come to an end , perish)
prayaataH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. set out, gone ; gone or passed away
punar: ind. again
eti = 3rd pers. sg. i: to go ; (with punar) to come back again , return
candramaaH = nom. sg. candramas: m. the moon

gatam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. gone
gatam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. gone
na: not
tu: but
saMnivartate = 3rd pers. sg. saM-ni- √ vRt: to turn back , return

jalam (nom. sg.): n. water
nadiinaam (gen. pl.): f. rivers
ca: and
nRNaam (gen. pl.): m. men
ca: and
yauvanam (nom. sg.): n. youth

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