Monday, August 1, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.7: Neither Stiffening Nor Wobbling

prastaveShv api bhaaryaayaaM
priya-bhaaryas tath" aapi saH
viita-raaga iv' aatasthau
na jaharSha na cukShubhe

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

Even when mention was made of his wife,

He who had been so devoted to his wife

Stood by, seemingly bereft of passion;

He neither bristled nor quavered.

In LC's transliteration, bhaaryaa (wife) in line 1 is in the genitive case bhaaryaayaaH, rather than the locative bhaaryaayaam as per EHJ's original.

EHJ's original text, drawn from the palm-leaf manuscript, has viita-raaga iv' ottasthau in line 3. LC's transliteraion also has iv' ottasthau. EHJ notes that the paper manuscript and H E Shastri's version have iv' aatasthau. The transliteration done under the auspices of the Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon Project of Nagarjuna Institute, Nepal, also has iv' aatasthau. Since I am not clear what ut-tasthau might mean, I have gone with aa-tasthau.

This verse seems to mark the end of Nanda's pre-occupation with Sundari.

The only really reliable maker of ends, however, is death. Hence when Ashley Cole is once more caught playing away, and Cheryl declares with apparent finality, again, "It's over," astute followers of British celebrity gossip wonder whether it really is over or not. And hence, when Nanda in several cantos time sits beside the beryl stream and directs his whole being up...

Though his judgement had been tempered and his soul inspired, now a vestige of desire, arising out of habit, / Made his mind turbid -- like lightning striking water in a monsoon. // [17.7]

Speaking of finality, or absence of it, here is quote from the Alexander teacher Patrick Macdonald which relates to what I have been saying in recent posts about not tying oneself to the tethering post of "right posture."

Do not forget that right and wrong change, and should change as your body and co-ordination change. What is right for you today should be wrong for you tomorrow. Do not, therefore, try and fix a picture of a specific co-ordination in your brain as the right one; it will have to be modified, perhaps many times, over a long period. You must learn to think in trends and tendencies, and not in fixed positions. Everything (so they say) is relative, not least the proper relationship of the neck to the head, the neck and head to the back and neck, and the head and back to the rest of the body. If you can learn to think in tendencies (which is the way I teach you) you may continue to teach yourself. Remember, you are slowly eliminating the wrong. Finality, for most of us, and that includes me, is not in sight.

In short, there is no such thing as a right posture, but there is a right direction. And a timeless guide to pursuing it in sitting is provided by the words, "Let the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, while sending the knees forwards and away."

These words are preventative. They are not for the purpose of fixing a picture of a specific co-ordination. But they might be understood as being for the purpose of steering clear of two reactions which can be pictured, namely: (1) an overall increase in muscle tone which causes the neck to stiffen and the head to pull back (in short, bristling or stiffening up); and (2) an overall loss of muscle tone which causes the head to slump forwards and the body to become more like jelly (in short, quavering or wobbling).

There is no right posture with which, in the middle of these two reactions, one can familiarize oneself. Rather, somewhere in the middle of these two reactions there might be a bit of nothing, characterized by endless unfamiliarity.

How can a bit of nothing be described? It might be described as "Letting the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, while sending the knees forwards and away."

It might be described as neither stiffening up nor going wobbly, neither bristling nor quavering.

EH Johnston:
So he who had been so fond of his wife seemed, even when she was mentioned, to remain free from passion and was subject neither to joy nor to agitation.

Linda Covill:
Although Nanda had cherished his wife, he appeared like someone free of passion, and he neither thrilled nor trembled even when his wife was mentioned.

prastaveShu (loc. pl.): m. a hymn of praise , chant , song
pra- √ stu: to praise before (anything else) or aloud ; to come to speak of , introduce as a topic
api: even, though
bhaaryaayaam = loc. sg. bhaaryaa: f. wife
bhaaryaayaaH = gen. sg. bhaaryaa: f. wife

priya-bhaaryaH (nom. sg. m.): being fond of his wife
priya: mfn. fond of attached or devoted to (loc.) (id. in comp. , either ibc. e.g. priya-devana , " fond of playing " , or ifc. e.g. akSha-priya , " fond of dice)
tathaa: ind. in such a manner, so
api: even, though
saH (nom. sg. m.): he

viita-raagaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. free from passions or affections , dispassionate , desireless , calm , tranquil ; colourless, bleached ; m. a sage with subdued passions (esp. applied to a Buddhist or jaina saint)
iva: like
ud-: a particle and prefix to verbs and nouns. (As implying superiority in place , rank , station , or power) up , upwards ; upon , on
tasthau = 3rd pers. sg. perfect sthaa: to stand , stand firmly ; to stay , remain , continue in any condition or action
aatasthau = 3rd pers. sg. perfect aa-√sthaa: to stand or remain on or by ; to act according to , follow

na: not
jaharSha = 3rd pers. sg. perfect hRSh: to be excited or impatient , rejoice in the prospect of , be anxious or impatient for ; to thrill with rapture , rejoice , exult , be glad or pleased ; to become sexually excited ;
to become erect or stiff or rigid , bristle
na: not
cukShubhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kShubh: to shake , tremble , be agitated or disturbed , be unsteady , stumble (literally and metaphorically)


Jordan said...

Hi Mike, Just visited your storehouse again. If I were a bit more clever I'd figure out a way to get you to consolidate your work into a comprehensive publication or volumes of publications.

Mike Cross said...