Saturday, June 25, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 10.35: Women in Heaven, As on Earth

aindraM vanaM tac ca dadarsha nandaH
samantato vismaya-phulla-dRShTiH
harSh'-aanvitaash c' aapsarasaH pariiyuH
sa-garvam anyonyam avekShamaaNaaH

= = - = = - - = - = =
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Nanda beheld Indra's forest all around him,

His eyes wide open with amazement.

And the apsarases surrounded him,
bristling with joyous excitement,

While eyeing each other haughtily.

Why do I find Ashvaghosha's vision of women in heaven, as portrayed in today's verse, more convincing than the striver's view of actual women on earth?

The striver's view of women, as beings which are inherently disgusting, is not credible to me because it does not tally with my actual experience of women here on earth. But is it, then, that Ashvaghosha's vision of women in heaven does tally with actual experience?

As I reflected on this during the long journey back from France, comprising a six-mile hike, three bus journeys, an overnight ferry crossing, a coach trip, another bus journey, and a lift home from my wife on the last leg, I thought of memorable scenes from the "road to" movies which invariably featured some scenario in which Bob and/or Bing woud be the centre of attention of some bevy of adoring beauties.

But it also occured to me that this Hollywood fantasy might be grounded in the actual experience most of us have just after we are born, at which time a cotery of adoring mother, midwife, grandmothers, aunts et cetera is likely to surround our newly arrived selves, cooing for our attention as if competing to cause us to smile.

EH Johnston:
And Nanda beheld the grove of Indra on all sides with eyes staring with surprise ; and the Apsarases, full of joy and eyeing each other haughtily, came round him.

Linda Covill:
Nanda gazed at Indra's forest all around him, his eyes wide in amazement; and the apsarases drew round him, full of joy and eyeing each other disdainfully.

aindram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. (fr. indra) , belonging to or sacred to indra
vanam (acc. sg.): n. forest
tat (acc. sg. n.): that
ca: and
dadarsha = 3rd pers. sg. dRsh: to see, behold
nandaH (nom. sg.): m. Nanda

samantataH: ind. on all sides, around
vismaya-phulla-dRShTiH (nom. sg. m.): his eyes opened wide in amazement
vismaya: m. wonder , surprise , amazement
phulla: mfn. opened wide , dilated (as eyes)
dRShTi: f. seeing, eye, pupil

harSh'-aanvitaaH (nom. pl. f.): full of joyous excitement
harSha: m. bristling , erection (esp. of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight) ; joy , pleasure , happiness
anvita: mfn. joined , attended , accompanied by ; endowed with
ca: and
apsarasaH (nom. pl. f.): the apsarases, nymphs
pariiyuH = 3rd pers. pl. perfect pari- √i: to go about , move in a circle; (trans.) to go or flow round (acc.) , circumambulate , surround

sa-garvam: ind. proudly, haughtily
anyonyam: ind. each other, mutually
avekShamaaNaaH = nom. pl. f. pres. part. ava-√iikSh: to look at, to have in view

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