Friday, August 5, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.8: Affection of One Who Knows and Has Arrived

taM vyavasthitam aajNaaya
bhaaryaa-raagaat paraaN-mukhaM
abhigamy' aabraviin nandam
aanandaH praNayaad idaM

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

Knowing him to be adamant,

Turned away from passion for his wife,

Ananda, having come that way,

Said to Nanda with affection:

This point of this verse, as I read it, is not so much to describe where Nanda was (because we should already know that by now), but rather to tell us where Ananda was.

The key words in this verse, as I read it, are aajNaaya and abhigamya.

aa-√jNaa means to notice, to see, to understand, to know. Ananda knew what state Nanda was in. He knew Nanda to be vyavasthitam, adamant, i.e., fixed, determined, firmly attached to an end. Perhaps Ashvaghosha by describing Nanda as vyavasthitam, which also means settled or constant, was again playing with irony. But if anybody thinks that doing ascetic practice while having one's heart set on union with a sexy nymph is the cause of settling down, that person has probably never had the experience of doing ascetic practice with their heart set on union with a sexy nymph.

means to go or come up to, to meet, to find; when used with manasaa it means to meet with the mind, to understand. As is so often the case in Ashvaghosha's poetry, the word has a surface meaning, which is that Ananda came up to Nanda, and a deeper meaning which is that Andana knew exactly where Nanda was coming from, having already been there himself.

And because Ananda had been there himself, he spoke to Nanda not with the so-called "compassion" that Buddhists sometimes try to show for each other, or to each other, but with the emotion that bloke A feels for bloke B when bloke B is struggling with a problem that bloke A has already struggled with -- i.e., genuine frankness and affection.

Thus, Ananda emerges in this canto as a true friend of Nanda. Whereas the striver of cantos 8 & 9 was the preacher of propriety, posing as a friend, who encouraged Nanda to try to be right, Andanda is the bloke who lets Nanda know where Nanda, in his end-gaining, is going wrong.

"Tell me where I am wrong," FM Alexander said, "and you are my friend for life."

Working on the self for Alexander, evidently, was not a matter of trying to be right. It was primarily a matter of understanding and learning to prevent what goes wrong.

When we followers of the Buddha who sit are just sitting, so the buddha-ancestors say, our original features are manifesting themselves. But what does this mean? Are our original features a state of rightness or propriety? Speaking for myself, I think not. Rather than a state of rightness, my original features seem to be more akin to a lengthening and widening direction.

A lengthening and widening direction is by no means adamantine. There is nothing fixed or definite about it. Except that it is definitely not a shortening and narrowing direction.

EH Johnston:
Ananda, learning that Nanda had settled down and turned away from passion for his wife, came to him and said affectionately:--

Linda Covill:
Noticing that Nanda had settled down and had turned away from his passion for his wife, Ananda came up to him and affectionately said:

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
vyavasthitam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. placed in order; placed , laid , put , stationed, situated , standing or being in or on or at (loc. or comp.) ; based or dependent on (loc.), resolved upon (loc.); persevering in , sticking or adhering to (loc.); settled , established , fixed , exactly determined ; constant
aajNaaya = abs. aa- √ jNaa: to mind , perceive , notice , understand

bhaaryaa-raagaat (abl. sg.): from passion for his wife
bhaaryaa: f. wife
raaga: m. redness, passion
paraaN-mukham (acc. sg. m.): mfn. having the face turned away or averted , turning the back upon

abhigamya = abs. abhi-√ gam: to go near to , approach (with acc.); to meet with, to find; to undertake; to get, gain, obtain (with manasaa o hRdayena) to understand
abraviidt = 2nd pers. sg. imperfect bruu: to speak , say , tell
nandam (acc. sg.): m. Nanda

aanandaH (nom. sg.): m. Ananda
praNayaat: ind. confidentially , affectionately , openly , frankly
praNaya: m. affection , confidence in (loc.) , love , attachment , friendship , favour
idam (acc. sg. n.): this

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