Saturday, September 10, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.47: Losing Heaven; and Not Leaving It

asuraaH puurva-devaas tu
surair apahRta-shriyaH
shriyaM samanushocantaH
paataalam sharaNaM yayuH

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

Whereas the asuras, who had been gods in heaven

When the suras robbed them of their rank,

Went bemoaning their lost glory

Down to their Patala lair.

The tu (but, whereas) at the end of line 1, as I read it, is important. I think it confirms that Ashvaghosha is affirming the attitude of excellent kings like Yayati who eventually transcended the samsaric desire for personal gain. The point of the tu is to contrast this transcendent attitude with the endless complaining of moaning minnies who can never let go.

What true transcendence is, I haven't been able to figure out yet. But what it is not, I have been investigating in a lot of detail over a good number of years. And those investigations are continuing, as I skulk here in my Middle England lair, indulging in recurring bouts of angry brooding.

Today's verse as I read it does not exhibit knowledge of ancient Indian mythology as much as it exhibits understanding of the human condition, and a sense of humour.

EH Johnston:
The primeval gods, the Asuras, were robbed of their power by the Suras and took refuge in Patala, bewailing their power.

Linda Covill:
The asuras, former divinities, were robbed of their rank by the gods; they took refuge under the earth, jointly grieving for their lost glory.

asuraaH (nom. pl.): m. an evil spirit , demon , ghost , opponent of the gods
puurva-devaaH (nom. pl. m.): former gods, ancient gods
puurva: mfn. former, ancient
deva: m. god
tu: but

suraiH (inst. pl.): m. (prob. fr. asura as if fr. a-sura) a god , divinity , deity
apahRta-shriyaH (nom. pl. m.): robbed of their glory / high rank
apahRta: mfn. taken away , carried off , stolen , &c
shrii: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory ; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches ; high rank , power , might , majesty , royal dignity

shriyam (acc. sg.): f. glory, majesty
samanushocantaH = 3rd pers. pl. pres. part: sam-anu- √ shuc: to mourn over , regret (acc.)

paataalam (acc. sg.): n. one of the 7 regions under the earth and the abode of the nāgas or serpents and demons (sometimes used as a general N. for the lower regions or hells)
sharaNam (acc. sg.): n. shelter , place of shelter or refuge or rest , hut , house , habitation , abode , lair (of an animal) , home , asylum; n. refuge , protection , refuge with (śaraṇaṁ √ gam or yaa or i &c , " to go to any one for protection , seek refuge with " [acc. or gen.] )
yayuH = 3rd pers. pl. perfect yaa: to go

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