Monday, September 12, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.49: Indra's Luminous Sidekick Falls

saMsadaM shobhayitv" aindriim
upendrash ca tri-vikramaH
kShiiNa-karmaa papaat'
orviiM madhyaad apsarasaaM rasan

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

Again, Indra's luminous sidekick,

He of the three strides, lit up Indra's court,

And yet when his karma waned

He fell to earth from the apsarases' midst, screaming.

First of all, I have been informed by an authoritative source that in each verse the last syllable of the 1st and 3rd lines is always heavy, and should be marked as such, unless in the seam of a compound where changing it's length may change its meaning.

What this means in practical terms is
1. the analysis of metre that I have been supplying is not always correct
2. it is hard to take the verses pada by pada, because sometimes the words go over the seam.

So a decision has to be made whether to continue presenting the Sanskrit text in four lines, as above, or to start presenting it as it probably should be presented, in two lines, thus:

saMsadaM shobhayitv" aindriim upendrash ca tri-vikramaH /
kShiiNa-karmaa papaat' orviiM madhyaad apsarasaaM rasan //

I think that as soon as possible I should make the transition to Unicode and present the Sanskrit text in two lines instead of four.

Doing translation work like this involves constantly making decisions, usually small ones, one after another. As good decisions arise out of an integrated acceptance and use of the self in samadhi, it helps to sit in lotus allowing the head to go forward and up, et cetera. Equally it helps not to be silly. Thus, on reflection, I have decided against translating Upendra in line 2 as "Indra's little bro' pendra" or as "Indra's younger broth' Upendra."

Upendra (from upa = near to, and indra), meaning Indra's younger brother, is one of the many names of Vishnu. When I was pondering yesterday whether and how to render Upendra into English, it occurred to me to render Upendra as "Indra's little bro' pendra." And something inside me knew that this was a silly translation, which would only attract opprobrium from serious readers and which I would doubtless want to revise and rewrite later on. But still I decided to go with it. Something else inside deems it necessary to not mind attracting opprobrium -- because enemy number one in seeking the truth is trying to be right.


Again, Indra's little bro' pendra,

He of the three strides, lit up Indra's court,

And yet when his karma waned

He fell to earth from the apsarases' midst, screaming.

Now, having slept on it, I have reversed my decision. What I felt yesterday, on balance, to be OK, I now deem to be not OK.

According to Wikipedia, in the Rigveda, Vishnu is mentioned 93 times. He is frequently invoked alongside other deities, especially Indra, who he helps in killing Vritra, and with whom he drinks Soma. (So Vishnu is Indra's boozing partner.) His distinguishing characteristic in the Vedas is his association with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 are dedicated to Vishnu. In 7.99, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth. This characteristic he shares with Indra.

Hymn 7.100 refers to the celebrated 'three steps' of Vishnu by which he strode over the universe and in three places planted his step. The 'Vishnu Sukta' (RV 1.154) says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides (those encompassing the earth and air) are visible to men and the third is in the heights of heaven (sky).

Since shobhayitvaa in line 1 means "having lit up" and kShiiNa in line 3, when describing the moon, means "waned" or "grown dim," Ashvagosha seems to be alluding in this verse to the fact that Vishnu (depicted left in the midst of two apsarases) has as his distinguishing characeristic an association with light.

So I decided to bring out this aspect of light, letting go of whatever prosodic possibilities might be presented by the word Upendra, and translating Upendra in a more explanatory and only mildly silly way as "Indra's luminous sidekick."

But allowing for incorrectness, my decision is always subject to revision.

And thus I limp on, with sore left knee, wobbling even more than usual, riding uncertainly in the swing of samsara....

EH Johnston:
Upendra graced the court of Indra and covered the universe with three strides, yet when his store of merit ran out he fell roaring from among the Apsarases to earth.

Linda Covill:
Upendra, who covered the world in three strides, graced the court of Indra. When the credit for his deeds was spent, he fell to earth from among the apsarases, screaming.

saMsadam = acc. sg. saMsad: f. " sitting together " , an assembly meeting , congress , session , court of justice or of a king
shobhayitvaa = abs. causative shubh: to cause to shine, beautify , ornament , decorate
aindriim = acc. sg. f. aindra: mfn. (fr. indra) , belonging to or sacred to indra

upendraH (nom. sg.): m. " younger brother of indra " , N. of viṣṇu or kṛṣṇa (born subsequently to indra , especially as son of aditi , either as āditya or in the dwarf avatāra)
upa: ind. near to; prefixed to proper names upa may express in classical literature " a younger brother " (e.g. upe*ndra , " the younger brother of indra ")
ca: and
tri-vikramaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. or m. who strided over the 3 worlds in 3 steps (viṣṇu); n. the 3 steps (of viṣṇu)
vikrama: m. a step , stride , pace

kShiiNa-karmaa (nom. sg. m.): when his karma waned
kShiiNa: mfn. diminished , wasted , expended , lost , destroyed , worn away , waning (as the moon)
karman: n. act , action ; work ; product , result , effect ; former act as leading to inevitable results , fate (as the certain consequence of acts in a previous life
papaata = 3rd pers. sg. perfect pat: to fall
urviim (acc. sg.): f. " the wide one " , the wide earth , earth

madhyaat: ind. (abl. sg.) from the midst of
apsarasaam (gen. pl.): f. apsarases, celestial nymphs
rasan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. ras: to roar , yell , cry , sound , reverberate


jiblet said...

Hi Mike,

What I know about Sanskrit prosody you could write on the back of a postage stamp. But you might be re-assured by this, from Thomas Egenes' "Introduction to Sanskrit":

"The last syllable of a pada, even if marked light, is considered heavy because it is followed by a caesura, or a pause (yati). The pause takes time, making the previous syllable heavy." (emphasis mine)

So, IMVHO, I think your analysis and marking of the metre is correct. The modification of light to heavy made naturally in recitation at the end of a pada doesn't change the syllable's length - not for the purpose of analysis/marking. Or so it seems to me. I've certainly seen slokas marked just as you have done.

jiblet said...

...I only found this in Whitney (p 79):

"The last syllable of a reckoned as either heavy or light."

- Which isn't much help, and doesn't address the issue Egenes acknowledges.

And this in Kale (Appendix, #5):

"The last syllable of a pada is either heavy or light according as the exigence of the metre requires it, whatever be its natural length."

- I've no idea what "natural length" might mean.

And Coulson - very thorough in his discussion of metrical options and ambiguities - seems to contradict your source when he writes (p 251):

"The final syllable of the second and fourth padas...and also of the first and third padas may, in fact, be either heavy or light."

None are as simple and clear as Egenes. It would be nice if he was right.

Can you provide some directions to the relevant passage in your link?

Regardless, presenting the Sanskrit text in two lines does seem to be the more 'proper' way, and - as you say - solves some problems.

jiblet said...

...On reflection, by "natural length" I guess Kale means the length of a syllable considered apart from other factors like its position in the pada.

Hmm. Egenes doesn't distinguish between first/third and second/fourth padas...

Gripping isn't it!

Mike Cross said...

Hi Malcolm,

The source was personal communication with the monk Ananandajoti (originally a product, like me, of the Birmingham area), and to be fair the criticism was in response to my explicit request for negative feedback on how I was handling the metre.

A few days ago, I searched the internet for a transliteration of Buddhacarita, with a view to tackling that next, and thus came upon Anandajoti Bikkhu's websites including this page devoted to Buddhacarita. As you can see, it includes a very detailed metrical analysis and description of the metres in Buddha-carita. The website also includes some audio readings in Pali, from which one begins to get a sense of what the metre is all about. It would be great to be able to hear Saundara-nanda read like this in Sanskrit, by somebody who understands the prosody of it -- as Anandajoti certainly seems to, though of course I am no judge.

As soon as I found the ancient-buddhist-texts website, I asked Anandajoti if he would be prepared to post this Saundara-nanda translation on it, and he agreed to include it in his Texts and Translations section -- at least, that is, when I finish the translation, which all being well should be in about 80 days time.

Since there are less than 80 verses left out of more than a thousand, maybe i will just carry on with the four-line transliteration format, as befits a work in progress. But then when the thing is published in the Texts and Translations section, it will probably be more appropriate to go with the conventional two-line format. Plus Anandajoti may agree to do a separate metric analysis of Saundara-nanda, as he has done for Buddha-carita.

Thanks as always for your input and encouragement.


jiblet said...

Thanks a lot for that, Mike.

Re the weight/length of the last syllable of a pada, this, from p96 of Ananandajoti's pdf "Sanskrit Prosody" seems nicely to clarify and confirm the various sources I quoted:

"X = the syllable may be light or heavy, but as it occurs at the end of the line, where there is a pause, it is always taken as heavy."

- and is a neat way of solving the problem of how to mark those syllables. Still, I'd suggest the approach you've taken thus far can't be wrong(?).

I owe my scant knowledge of the sound of classical Sanskrit recitation to youtube. For example:

and to Peter Scharf's Sanskrit Library -

> Pedagogy
> Kramapatha Reader
> Ramopakhyana
> Menu -->
> Text

- and press P for sound.

Ananandajoti's recitation of Pali is fascinatingly different - melodically, at least. Since I started studying Sanskrit a little over five years ago, I've sought in vain for online information about the melodies/musical conventions used...

Very good news about Ananandajoti's offer!

All the best,

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Malcolm.

The really good news, as I see it, is that there are people in this world who, in spite of bearing such labels, as "Theravada Buddhist" or "Zen Buddhist" or "scientist" or "Jew," are diligently pursuing the truth for the sake of the truth, in a way that is free from sectarian arrogance.