Thursday, September 1, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.38: Impermanence As the Celestial Constant

kaamaanaaM praarthanaa duHkhaa
praaptau tRptir na vidyate
viyogaan niyataH shoko
viyogash ca dhruvo divi

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

The pursuit of desires is full of suffering,

The attainment is not where satisfaction lies,

The separation is inevitably sorrowful --

And separation is the celestial constant.

The real satisfaction lies in the process.

That's for damn sure.

On a good day, like today, I really do not give a shit about fame and profit, because the real satisfaction lies in the process. The true gold is already present in the digging for it.

The 4th line of today's verse as I read it refers in its deeper meaning to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

As an adjective dhruvaH means fixed or certain. So if dhruvaH is read as an adjective, the 4th line says that separation is certain in heaven, and Ananda is forewarning Nanda of the impermanence of enjoyment of celestial nymphs. But that would imply that separation might not be certain on earth, which clearly is not Ananda's intention.

As a masculine noun, dhruvaH expresses various things that are relatively fixed, constant or unchangeable -- like a knot, a stake, and the Indian fig tree. But more pertinently to today's verse, as I read it, dhruvaH as a masculine noun means that which was regarded as fixed, constant or unchangeable in the sky, namely the polar star, the celestial pole, the unchangeable longitude of fixed stars, a constant arc.

So I think today's verse contains an ironic expression of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, or impermanence. Ananda is describing impermanence as that which is fixed, invariable, unchageable, not only on earth but also in the sky and throughout the universe. Ananda is describing the tendency for energy to separate out, i.e. change, as the celestial constant.

EH Johnston:
The quest of love is full of suffering and in its attainment there is no appeasement of desire. Grief ensues inexorably from separation, and separation is inevitable in heaven.

Linda Covill:
The longing for sensual pleasures brings unsatisfactoriness; when they come they deliver no fulfillment, yet when one is deprived of them, as is certain in the hereafter, grief is inevitable.

kaamaanaam (gen. pl.): m. desires, objects of desires, sensual pleasures
praarthanaa (nom. sg.): f. wish , desire , request , entreaty , solicitation , petition or suit for (loc. or comp.) ; prayer (as forming part of the worship of the gods)
pra- √arth: to wish or long for , desire (acc.); to demand in marriage , woo; to look for , search
duHkhaa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. uneasy , uncomfortable , unpleasant , difficult

praaptau (loc. sg.): f. advent , occurrence; attaining to , obtaining , meeting with , finding , acquisition , gain
tRptiH (nom. sg.): f. satisfaction , contentment
na: not
vidyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive vid: to find; (esp. in later language) vidyate , " there is , there exists " , often with na , " there is not "

viyogaat (abl. sg.): m. disjunction , separation (esp. of lovers) , loss or absence or want of
niyataH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. fixed , established , settled , sure , regular , invariable , positive , definite
shokaH (nom. sg.): m. sorrow , affliction , anguish , pain , trouble , grief

viyogaH (nom. sg.): m. disjunction , separation (esp. of lovers) , loss or absence or want of
ca: and
dhruvaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. fixed , firm , immovable , unchangeable , constant , lasting , permanent , eternal; settled, certain; m. the polar star; m. celestial pole ; m. the unchangeable longitude of fixed stars , a constant arc
divi (loc. sg.): mf. heaven, the sky


jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

My computer's just been fixed, the motherboard having passed some weeks ago - I've missed all sorts of virtual goings-on.

Looking forward to catching up!


Mike Cross said...

Hi Malcolm,

Good to have you back... not that I realized we had lost you. Hope I haven't committed too many Sanskrit howlers while your eagle eye was averted.