Sunday, September 25, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 11.62: Samsara vs Abstinence for the Sake of Abstinence

tajjanmavyādhimṛtyuvyasanaparigataṃ matvā jagadidaṃ
saṃsāre bhrāmyamāṇaṃ divi nṛṣu narake tiryakpitṛṣu ca /
yattrāṇaṃ nirbhayaṃ yacchivamamarajaraṃ niḥśokamamṛtaṃ
taddhetorbrahmacaryaṃ cara jahihi calaṃ svargaṃ prati rucim //11.62//

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

saundarananda mahākāvye svargāpavādo nāma aikādaśaḥ sargaḥ

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

Therefore, see this world to be shot through
with the calamities of birth, sickness, and death

And -- whether in heaven, among men, in hell,
or among animals or the departed --
to be reeling through samsara.

For the sake of that fearless refuge,
for that sorrowless nectar of immortality
which is benign, and beyond death and decay,

Devoutly practice abstinence,
and abandon your fancy for a precarious heaven.

The 11th canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Negation of Heaven."

Canto 11 thus finishes with a prosodic flourish in which each pāda has 20 syllables.

This canto has given cause for thought on how best to translate brahmacaryam, and the English word that seems to me at present best to fit the bill is abstinence. The dictionary defines to abstain as "to refrain from something: to choose not to do something."

Understood like that, Ananda's exhortation is an exhortation to practise abstinence for the sake of a state of abstinence, or in other words to choose not to do for the sake of freedom from doing.

When we speak of abstinence, we mainly think of abstaining from drink, or from sex, and the latter connotation seems to be strong in the original meaning of brahmacaryam.

But if we bring the discussion back to the one great matter which is sitting in lotus, to sit in lotus simply as ascetic abstention from indulgences like alcohol and sex is hardly the one great matter.

The original teaching of the Buddha is to sit in lotus abstaining from what?

Little by little we are endeavoring to answer this question and, happily, today's verse seems a significant one towards completion of the jig-saw puzzle. For a start, I would venture to assert that, as a means of stepping off the merry-go-round of samsara, our primary wish in sitting is to refrain either from stiffening up like an over-excited sergeant major or from pulling down into a slump.

EH Johnston:
Therefore recognise this world to be encompassed about by the disasters of birth, disease and death and to be revolving still in the cycle of existence, whether in heaven, among men, in Hell, or among animals or Pretas ; and leading a holy life for the sake of that refuge which is happy and beyond all fears, delivered from old age and death ; sorrowless and immortal, give up your designs on this fleeting Paradise.'

Linda Covill:
Therefore be aware that this existence -- wandering in samsara, perhaps in heaven, or among men, or in hell, or in the animal or ancestor realm -- is permeated with the afflictions of birth, sickness and death. So practice abstinence for the sake of that sheltering state which is safe and benign, which is without danger, without aging and dying, sorrowless and deathless, and give up your appetite for that shifting heaven."

tad: ind. so, therefore
janma-vyaadhi-mRtyu-vyasana-parigatam (acc. sg. n.): filled with the predicaments of birth, sickness and death
janma-vyaadhi-mRtyu: birth, sickness, and death
vyasana: n. moving to and fro ; evil predicament or plight , disaster , accident , evil result , calamity , misfortune
parigata: mfn gone through; filled , possessed of , visited by , afflicted with (comp.)
matvaa = abs. man: to think, to regard or consider any one or anything (acc.) as (acc.)
jagat (acc. sg.): n. that which moves or is alive ; the world, this world
idam (acc. sg. n.): this

saMsaare (loc. sg.): m. samsara; going or wandering through ; course , passage , passing through a succession of states , circuit of mundane existence
bhraamyamaanam = acc. sg. n. pres. part. bhram: to wander or roam about , rove , ramble ; to move to and fro or unsteadily , flicker , flutter , reel , totter
divi (loc. sg.): heaven
nRShu (loc. pl.): m. a man, hero ; mankind , people (mostly pl.)
narake (loc. sg.): mn. hell , place of torment
tiryak: ind. across , obliquely , transversely , horizontally , sideways
tiryaNc: mfn. going or lying crosswise or transversely or obliquely , oblique , transverse; m. n. " going horizontally " , an anima; ; the organic world
pitRShu (loc. pl.): m. father ; m. pl. the fathers , forefathers , ancestors , (esp.) the pitṛs or deceased ancestors
ca: and

yat (acc. sg. n.): [that] which
traaNam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. protected; n. protecting , preserving , protection , defence , shelter , help
nir-bhayam (acc. sg. n.): n. fearlessness , security ; mfn. fearless , not afraid ; mfn. free from danger , secure , tranquil
yat (acc. sg. n.): [that] which
shivam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign ; n. welfare , prosperity , bliss
a-mara-jaram (acc. sg. n.): not subject to death or aging
a-mara: mfn. undying , immortal , imperishable
a-jara: mfn. not subject to old age , undecaying , ever young
niH-shokam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. free from sorrow or care
a-mRtam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. free from sorrow or care ; n. immortality ; n. the nectar (conferring immortality , produced at the churning of the ocean)

tadd-hetor (gen. sg. m.): for the sake of that state
tad: that
hetu: m. " impulse " , motive , cause , cause of , reason for (gen. hetoH for a cause or reason ; on account of)
brahmacaryam (acc. sg.): brahma-carya: n. study of the veda , the state of an unmarried religious student , a state of continence and chastity (acc. with √ grah , char , vas , aa- √gam , upa- √i , to practise chastity ; cf. -chaarin)
brahma: holy life (esp. continence , chastity ; cf. brahma-charya) ; religious or spiritual knowledge (opp. to religious observances and bodily mortification such as tapas &c ); holy life (esp. continence , chastity ; cf. brahma-charya)
cara = 2nd pers. sg. imperative car: to move, continue performing, undergo , observe , practise
jahihi = 2nd pers. sg. imperative haa: to leave , abandon , desert , quit , forsake , relinquish
calam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. moving , trembling ; unsteady , fluctuating , perishable
svargam (acc. sg.): m. heaven
prati: ind. towards
rucim (acc. sg.): f. light, colour ; liking , taste , relish , pleasure , appetite , zest (ifc. taking pleasure in , desirous of, longing for ; with prati)

saundara-nande mahaa-kaavye (loc.): in the epic poem Handsome Nanda
svarg'-aapavaadaH (nom. sg. m.): negation of heaven
svarga: m. heaven
apavaada: m. evil speaking , reviling , blaming , speaking ill of (gen.); denial , refutation , contradiction
naama: ind. by name
aikaadashaH sargaH (nom. sg. m.): 11th canto

No comments: