Wednesday, May 11, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.42: Going For Results

shariiram iidRg bahu-duHkham adhruvaM
phal'-aanurodhaad atha n' aavagacchasi
dravat phalebhyo dhRti-rashmibhir mano
nigRhyataaM gaur iva shasya-laalasaa

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

You do not see the body as it is
-- full of suffering and inconstant --

Because of fondness for its effects:

Let the mind that chases after effects,
like a cow after corn,

Be restrained by the reins of steadfastness.

In today's verse the gist of the striver's words seems to be very good, at least in theory. The striver seems to be expressing the principle of not chasing hastily after effects, of not going directly for results, of non-end-gaining.

But in practice who is the one in this scene who is going directly for a result? Nanda? Or the striver? While apparently on the right track in theory, it is the striver who is wrong in practice. The striver is evidently the one who is striving after a result. The result the striver has in mind is that Nanda should resist the urge to go directly for the sensual fruit that Nanda has in mind. And the striver goes directly for the result he has in his mind, by recommending Nanda to restrain, or suppress, his mind.

The Buddha, in contrast, when in the next canto he presents Nanda with a vision that inflames Nanda's lust out of all proportion, seems to be somehow wrong in theory, though ultimately the Buddha's strategy works in practice.

The direct approach of the striver, who recommends that Nanda suppress his desire, does not work in practice. It is not effective. The indirect approach of the Buddha, who presents a vision of ultimate desirability and encourages Nanda to go for it, ultimately is effective. The Buddha uses skillful means to guide Nanda in the direction of the fourth effect, the realisation of an arhat, one who deserves to be revered because he has succeeded in making the teaching of the noble truths his own.

Evidently, when a preacher of propriety preaches that end-gaining is bad whereas adherence to a means-whereby principle is good, those excellent words somehow lack the real effectiveness of the actions of one who is not worried about good and bad.

The example of Ashvaghosha's striver demonstrates to us that trying to be right, in the end, is sod all use to anybody.

The example of the Buddha demonstrates, contrarily, that the directed actions of a man of wisdom who has given up bothering about right and wrong, can be remarkably effective.

Trying to be right is end-gaining, which buddhas negate. But when buddhas negate end-gaining, it should be clearly understood, that negation is for the purpose of effective gaining of ends.

Thus Canto 18 begins like this:

And so like a young initiate who mastered the Vedas, like a trader who turned a quick profit,/ Or like a royal having conquered a hostile army, Nanda, having accomplished his purpose, approached the Guru. // For it is pleasant, at the time when knowledge has been fully acquired, for teacher to see student, and for student to see teacher,/ Each thinking, "Your toil has rewarded me"...

The British concept of reverence for the plucky loser is nowhere championed in Saundara-nanda. Each reader, rather is, encouraged to be -- with the kind of "can-do" attitude more commonly found among Germans and Americans than among cynical Brits -- a winner. Each one of us is encouraged, by hook or by crook, to work out for ourselves an effective means of kicking Mara's ass.

EH Johnston:
Again, if, because you enjoy the results, you fail to understand that the body is such, afflicted by much suffering and ephemeral, still you should hold back your restless mind from those enjoyments with the tethering-ropes of self-restraint as you would a cow that was eager to crop the corn.

Linda Covill:
You don't accept that this is the way the body is -- unstable and prone to much suffering -- because you like the wages of physical action. Restrain your mind, which chases after results, with the halter of steadfastness, as if it were a corn-loving cow!

shariiram (acc. sg.): n. body
iidRk (acc. sg. n.): mfn. endowed with such qualities , such
bahu-duHkham (acc. sg. n.): with much suffering
a-dhruvam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. not fixed , not permanent ; uncertain , doubtful
dhruva: mfn. fixed , firm , immovable , unchangeable , constant , lasting , permanent , eternal ; settled, certain, sure

phal'-aanurodhaat (abl. sg.): because of fulfillment of [your] wishes in [its] fruit; because of fondness for results
phala: n. fruit; fruit (met.) , consequence , effect , result , retribution (good or bad) , gain or loss , reward or punishment , advantage or disadvantage; enjoyment, benefit
anurodha: m. obliging or fulfilling the wishes (of any one); obligingness , compliance ; consideration , respect
anu- √rudh: to adhere to , be fond of , love ; to coax , soothe , entreat.
atha: ind. and, now, then, moreover, but
na: not
avagacchasi = 2nd pers. sg. ava- √ gam: to hit upon , think of , conceive , learn , know , understand , anticipate , assure one's self , be convinced ;

dravat = nom. sg. n. pres. part. dru: to run , hasten , flee; to run up to, attack
phalebhyaH (dat. pl.): n. results
dhRti-rashmibhiH (inst. pl.): with the reins of constancy
dhRti: f. holding ; firmness , constancy , resolution
rashmi: m. a string , rope , cord , trace , rein , bridle , leash , goad , whip
manaH (nom. sg.): n. mind

nigRhyataam = 3rd pers. passive imperative ni- √ grah: to hold down , lower , depress ; to keep or hold back ; to seize , catch , hold , hold fast , stop , restrain , suppress , curb , tame , punish
gauH (nom. sg.): f. a cow
iva: like
shasya-laalasaa (nom. sg. f.): ardently desirous of corn
shasya: n. corn , grain
laalasa: mfn. (fr. Intens. of √ las) eagerly longing for , ardently desirous of , delighting or absorbed in , devoted or totally given up to (loc. or comp.)
√ las: to shine

No comments: