Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 10.25: Playing (Four-Part Harmony)

yatr' aayataaMsh c' aiva tataaMsh ca taaMs taan
vaadyasya hetuun suShiraan ghanaaMsh ca
phalanti vRkShaa maNi-hema-citraaH
kriiDaa-sahaayaas tridash'-aalayaanaaM

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

There a diversity of musical instruments,

With lengthened [sinews] and widened [skins],
with open tubes and solid matter,

Are born as fruit
by the distinctively bejewelled and gilded trees

Which are the heaven-dwellers' playing companions.

The first line of today's verse not only speaks of music but also has a musical quality in its own sound, which is like a drum roll with its taam .. ta taam . taam taan.

Line 2, as I read, it contains the suggestion that the ultimate means of music making might be the voice of an individual human being -- especially one in which the neck is being allowed to release, to let the head go forward and up, to let the whole torso lengthen and widen.

As in yesterday's verse, the sense of synthesis of the organic and the inorganic is again apparent in line 3, as I read it. And it might be, in heaven as it is on earth, that the fruits of that synthesis are in exact correspondence with the trees that produce the fruits -- in the same way that apples grown on apple trees, and plums grow on plum trees, so that when we look at an apple growing on a tree we can be sure that it is an apple tree, and when we see plums budding on a tree we can be confident that it is nothing but a plum tree (copyright Zen Master Dogen, 1243; see Shobogenzo chap. 43, Kuge).

Line 4, as I read it, raises the question of whether sitting-dhyana can be a kind of play. And the answer might be more often than not that, no it can't. Not if we bring to the practice big desires and tainted attitudes it can't. Not as an ascetic practice it can't. Not as a means to some other important end it can't. Not as a way of trying to be right it can't. Not if our response to it is to give in to the instinctive tendency -- when confronted by any challenging stimulus -- to stiffen the neck, pull the head back, and hold the breath.

EH Johnston:
There the trees, gorgeous with gold and gems, assist the gods in their pastimes by bearing as fruit all kinds of musical instruments, of skin and string, hollow and solid.

Linda Covill:
Assistants to amusements in the gods' abodes, trees aglitter there with gems and gold bear instruments for music, extended in length or pulled taut, hollow or solid.

yatra: ind. wherein
aayataan (acc. pl. m.): mfn. stretched , lengthened
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
tataan (acc. pl. m.): extended , stretched , spread , diffused , expanded
ca: and
taan = acc. pl. m. tad: that, those (tad tad this and that , various , different)

vaadyasya = gen. sg. m. vaadya: mfn. mfn. to be said or spoken; to be played; m. or n. a musical instrument
hetuun (acc. pl.): m cause , reason, means
su-Shiraan (acc. pl. m.): mfn. " having a good tube or channel " , perforated , pierced , hollow
ghanaan (acc. pl. m.): mfn. compact , solid , material , hard , firm , dense ; m. any compact mass or substance (generally ifc.)
ca: and

phalanti = 3rd pers. pl. phal: to bear as fruit
vRkShaaH (nom. pl.): m. tree
maNi-hema-citraaH (nom. pl. m.): conspicuous with jewels and gold
maNi: m. a jewel , gem , pearl
heman: n. gold
citra: mfn. conspicuous , excellent , distinguished; bright , clear , bright-coloured ; variegated ; various , different , manifold

kriiDaa-sahaayaaH (nom. pl. m.): playmates, playing companions
kriiDaa: f. sport , play , pastime , amusement , amorous sport
sahaaya: " one who goes along with (another) " , a companion , follower , adherent , ally , assistant , helper in or to (loc. or comp. ; ifc. " having as a companion or assistant , accompanied or supported by ")
tridash'-aalayaanaam (gen. pl.): m. " abode of the gods " , heaven; n. a heaven-dweller , god
tri-dasha: mfn. 3 x 10 (= 30); the 3 x 10 (in round number for 3 x 11) deities (12 aadityas , 8 vasus , 11 rudras , and 2 ashvins); n. heaven
aalaya: m. and n. a house , dwelling; (often ifc. e.g. himaalaya , " the abode of snow. ")

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