Tuesday, May 3, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.34: Denunciation of Ignoble Vanity

idaM viditvaa nidhanasya daishikaM
jar"-abhidhaanaM jagato mahadbhayaM
ahaM vapuShmaan balavaan yuv"-eti vaa
na maanam aarodhum anaaryam arhasi

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Knowing this great terror of the world named "aging"

To be a pointer on the way to death,

Do not rise to the ignoble conceit

That I am beautiful, or young, or strong.

Again, to find fault in this verse it might be necessary, as in the latter stages of dirt-washing, to be a bit picky.

In that spirit, attention is drawn to the penultimate word in line 4, an-aaryam, ignoble.

The striver, preacher of propriety, discusses nobility in the negative -- an-aarya -- in this verse and in his tirade against women in 8.46:

Ungrateful, ignoble, unsteady: such is the mind of women. / What man of wisdom could fasten his heart onto such fickle creatures? // [8.46]

The Buddha, in contrast, nowhere in Saundara-nanda discusses the ignobility of the mind of others. The Buddha's references to nobility are all positive, and generally connected to a noble path of conduct -- as in the following verses from Canto 16:

In conformity with its kind, then, a distinguishable bodily form develops, wherein, O man of noble conduct, / Suffering exists, right there -- for nowhere else will suffering exist or has it existed or could it exist. // [16.16]

Again, the ending of suffering follows from the disappearance of its cause. Experience that reality for yourself as peace and well-being, / A place of rest, a cessation, an absence of the red taint of thirsting, An eternal refuge which is irremovable and noble, // In which there is no becoming, no aging, no dying, no illnesses, no being touched by unpleasantness, / No disappointment, or separation from what is pleasant: It is a step of restfulness, ultimate and indestructible. // [16.26 - 16.27]

Noble insight into the truths, beginning with the truth of suffering, along with thinking straight, and initiative:/ These three, forming the protocol on knowing, are for dissolution, based on wisdom, of afflictions.// [16.32]

Giving oneself to this path with its three divisions and eight branches -- this straightforward, irremovable, noble path -- / One abandons the faults, which are the causes of suffering, and comes to that step which is total well-being.// [16.37]

For he who knows suffering as it really is, who knows its starting and its stopping: / It is he who reaches peace by the noble path -- going along with friends in the good. // [16.39]

So, in order to make the noble truths your own, first clear a path according to this plan of action, / Like a king going on campaign to subdue his foes, wishing to conquer unconquered riches. // [16.85]

If the thoughts of the striver were true, the opposite of ignoble conceit might be noble humility. But in the teaching of the Buddha, evidently, nobility is a function of action. And the most noble act in the house of buddha-ancestors, so they say, is just the act of sitting with right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh.

EH Johnston:
Do not give way to ignoble pride, thinking 'I am beautiful, strong or young' , and recognise that this great danger of the world known as old age but points the way to death.

Linda Covill:
Acknowledge this great death-indicating danger in the world, known as old age, and do not rise to the ignoble and complacent thought, 'I am lovely, strong and young.'

idam (acc. sg. n.): this, this here
viditvaa = abs. vid: to know , understand , perceive
nidhanasya (gen. sg.): n. conclusion , end , death , destruction , loss , annihilation
daishikam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. showing , directing , spiritual guide or teacher

jar"-aabhidhaanam (acc. sg. n.): named "aging"
jaraa: f. aging, old age
abhidhaana: n. telling ; a name , title , appellation , expression , word
abhi- √ dhaa : (in classical Sanskrit generally) to set forth , explain , tell , speak to , address , say , name
jagataH (gen. sg.): n. the world
mahat (acc. sg. n.): great
bhayam (acc. sg.): n. terror , dismay , danger , peril , distress

aham (nom. sg. m.): I
vapuShmaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. having a beautiful form , handsome
balavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. possessing power , powerful , mighty , strong
yuvaa (nom. sg. m.): mfn. young
iti: "....," thus
vaa: or

na: not
maanam: m. ( √ man) opinion , notion , conception , idea ; self-conceit , arrogance , pride
aarodhum = inf. aa- √ ruh: to ascend , mount , bestride , rise up ; to venture upon , undertake
anaaryam (acc. sg. m.): ignoble
arhasi = 2nd pers. sg. arh: ought

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