Friday, October 14, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.18: Back to Bread & Butter

catur-vidhe naikavidha-prasaṁge
yato 'ham-āhāra-vidhāv-asaktaḥ /
amūrcchitaś-cāgrathitaś-ca tatra
tribhyo vimukto 'smi tato bhavebhyaḥ //18.18 //

- = - = / = - - / = - = = // - = - = / = - - / = - = =
- = - = / = - - / = - = = // - = - = / = - - / = - = =

There is all manner of indulging in four sorts of food,

But since I am not attached to how I take food,

Since when it comes to food
I am unthickened and untrussed,

I am free, on that score,
from the three realms of becoming.

A verse in Upajāti metre in which each pāda is Upendravajrā (U), beginning with a light syllable, is classed as Upendravajrā. It is a relatively rare metric scheme in Aśvaghoṣa's poetry. In Aśvaghoṣa's other epic poem Buddha-carita, according to Ānandajoti's analysis of the Upajāti verses, more than ten verses in the heavy IIII Indravajrā scheme occur for every one verse in this UUUU Upendravajrā scheme.

In today's verse as I read it there is not only lightness in the first syllable of each pāda but also a lightening up of Nanda's intention, following the declaration he has just made as a stout meditator.

People who are stupid and attached are said -- for example in the Lotus Sutra -- to be living in three realms of becoming/existence, or three worlds.

In the 3rd pāda, I think the intention may be to use amūrcchitaḥ and āgrathitaḥ as adjectives which express such stupidity and attachment, and at the same time carry a humorous connotation of being cooked or uncooked.

Don't ask me what the four sorts of food and three realms of becoming are, but in a chapter of Shobogenzo titled "The Sutra of Mountains and Water," Dogen asks us to investigate whether or not in the practice places of buddha-ancestors, there is water. It is not really a serious question. The answer is: of course there bloody well is.

In a similar vein, today's verse as I hear it is suggesting a line of enquiry something like this:

Being restricted by the still state while the whole Universe instantaneously appears and disappears is all very well, but what's for breakfast?

EH Johnston:
Since I am not attached to the four kinds of nutriment with its manifold attachments and am not deluded by it or bound to it, therefore I am liberated from the three spheres of existence.

Linda Covill:
Attachment to the four kinds of food takes many forms, but I do not cling to them; I am not fooled or fettered by them. Therefore I am free of the three realms of existence.

catur-vidhe (loc. sg.): fourfold
catur: four
vidhaa: f. division , part , portion (often ifc. = " fold " ); form , manner , kind , sort
n'aika-vidha-prasaNge (loc. abs.) there being attachment of many kinds
n'aika: not one , more than one , various , manifold , numerous, many
vidha (ifc. = vidhaa): form , manner , kind , sort
prasaNga: m. adherence , attachment , inclination or devotion to , indulgence in , fondness for

yatas: ind. (correlative of tatas) from which, whence
aham (nom. sg. m.): I
aahaara-vidhau (loc. sg.): method of taking food
aahaara: m. taking food; food
vidhi: m. rule, formula, injunction; any prescribed act ; method , manner or way of acting
a-saktaH (nom. sg. m.): free from ties , independent; detached from worldly feelings or passions , unattached or indifferent to (loc.)

a: not
muurchitaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. fainted , stupefied , insensible ; calcined , solidified (said of quicksilver) ; intensified , augmented, increased , grown , swollen (ifc. = filled or pervaded or mixed with); tall , lofty ; agitated , excited
ca: and
aa: not
grathitaH: mfn. strung , tied , bound , connected , tied together or in order , wound , arranged , classed ; coagulated , thickened , hardened ,
ca: and
tatra: ind. therein, with regard to that

tribhyaH (abl. pl.): three
vimuktaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. unloosed , unharnessed &c; set free
asmi: I am
tatas: ind. (correlative of yatas) from that , because of that
bhavebhyaH = abl. pl. bhava: m. becoming ; being , state of being , existence , life; (with Buddhists) continuity of becoming (a link in the twelvefold chain of causation)

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