Sunday, September 18, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.55: Peeling Off from the Ruck of Samsara

tasmaad a-sv-antam a-traaNaM a-vishvaasyam a-tarpakaM/
vijNaaya kShayiNaM svargaM apavarge matiM kuru//11.55/

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

Knowing heaven, therefore,

To be ill-fated, precarious,

Unreliable, unsatisfactory, and transitory,

Resolve to get off the merry-go-round.

An ironic play seems to be intended on svargam (from su + varga), "heaven," and apavarge (from apa + varga), "exemption, turning off" -- since su and apa are prefixes used to express something good, and something bad, respectively. From Ananda's viewpoint, paradoxically, su-varga is undesirable and apa-varga is good.

So Ananda is telling Nanda that, knowing one kind of varga (heaven) to be unreliable and transitory, he should set his mind on another kind of varga, namely, apa-varga (exemption, turning off).

apa-varga means exemption from or turning off of the cycle of samsara; it means getting off of the swing of samsara, or, in other words, getting on the vigorous road of getting the body out. For this purpose, Dogen recommends learning of the backward step of turning light.

Since the Rugby World Cup is in progress, a stray image that springs into my mind is a rugby player peeling off a rolling maul and galloping into open space.

In any event, a translation of apa-varga that retains a sense of peeling or turning off, of turning in the right direction, might be more honest than a translation that expresses finality. Because what finality is, I do not know. Finality for me is not in sight.

apavarge matiM kuru
Set your mind in the direction of a turning off/away.

Speaking for myself, Mike Cross, I don't know what EHJ means by "final release" or what LC means by "emancipation." Equally I don't know what the Monier Williams dictionary means by the "emancipation of the soul from bodily existence, exemption from further transmigration; final beatitude." All I can say is that I, Mike Cross, continue to park my backside on a black cushion and wish to allow the head (1) to release forward in such a way that the back lengthens and widens, and (2) to go up in such a way that the back lengthens and widens.

Reflecting thus, particularly in light of verses 16.87 to 16.91, I am no longer going to allow anonymous comments. May the force be with the true individual.

EH Johnston:
Therefore recognise Paradise to be transitory, ending in misfortune, without resource, not to be relied on and unsatisfying, and set your mind on final release.

Linda Covill:
Therefore recognize that heaven has no favorable outcome, and is vulnerable, unreliable, unsatisfactory, and perishable, and set your mind on emancipation.

tasmaat: ind. from that, therefore
a-sv-antam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. ending ill, not having a good outcome
a-traaNam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. not protected
traaNa: n. protecting , preserving , protection , defence , shelter , help (often ifc.)

a-vishvaasyam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. not to be trusted or confided in , untrustworthy
vi- √ śvas: to draw breath freely , be free from fear or apprehension , be trustful or confident , trust or confide in , rely or depend on
a-tarpakam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. not satiating , not satisfying

vijNaaya = abs. vi- √ jñā: to distinguish , discern , observe , investigate , recognize , ascertain , know , understand
kShayiNam = acc. sg. m. kShayin: mfn. wasting , decaying , waning ; persihable
svargam (acc. sg.): mfn. (or su-varga) going or leading to or being in light or heaven , heavenly , celestial ; m. heaven ; the abode of light and of the gods
varga: m. (fr. √vṛj) one who excludes or removes or averts ; a separate division , class , set , multitude of similar things (animate or inanimate) , group , company , family , party , side ; everything comprehended under any department or head , everything included under a category , province or sphere of
vṛj: to bend , turn ; to twist off , pull up , pluck , gather ; to avert , remove ; divert , withhold , exclude ; to select, appropriate

apa-varge (loc. sg.): m. completion , end ; the emancipation of the soul from bodily existence , exemption from further transmigration; final beatitude ; opp. to svarga (in phil.)
apa- √ vṛj: to turn off , drive off ; to tear off ; to leave off , determine , fulfil
apa: ind. (as a prefix to nouns and verbs , expresses) away , off , back (opposed to úpa , ánu , sam , pra); When prefixed to nouns , it may sometimes = the neg. particle a e.g. apa-bhī , fearless ; or may express deterioration , inferiority , &c
matim kuru = 2nd pers. sg. imperative matiṁ √ kṛ: to set the heart on , make up one's mind , resolve , determine

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