Saturday, October 1, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.5: True Colours Shining

kāṣāyavāsāḥ kanakāvadātas
tataḥ sa mūrdhnā gurave praṇeme/
vāteritaḥ pallavatāmrarāgaḥ
puṣpojjvalaśrīriva karṇikāraḥ//18.5//

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

And so, a glowing gold in his yellow-red robe,

He bowed his head to the Guru

Like a karnikāra tree, with an outburst of ruddy shoots,

And a glorious blaze of flowers, nodding in the wind.

The metre of today's verse is exactly the same in every respect as the metre in yesterday's verse. That is to say, the 2nd pāda, is in the Upendravajrā form of the Upajāti metre, while the other three pādas are in the Indravajrā form of the Upajāti metre.

In Ānandajoti Bhikku's analysis of the Sanksrit prosody of Buddha-carita, this IUII scheme is identified as the type of verse called Vāṇī (sound, voice, music).

Aśvaghoṣa is describing the colour of the robe worn by Nanda as kāṣāya, which means brown red, dull red, or yellowish red. At the same time, he writes of Nanda dazzling or glowing like gold, which perhaps suggests a reddish yellow more than a yellowish red. Finally he says that Nanda looks like a karnikāra tree, i.e. a
Bayur tree, whose shoots are said to be rusty brown, and whose flowers appear from this photograph to be yellow or gold.

The Wikipedia entry on the Bayur tree states that its small twigs and new growth can sometimes seem feathery and are commonly more of a rusty-brown color.... The Bayur tree produces large, white, finger shaped flowers in the spring. Flowers begin as one long bud, then separating into five more slender sepals as it matures. Each sepal can be up to seven inches long. The sepals of the flower curl outward and around the white and gold stamen located at the center.

Apart from confirming that Nanda's robe must have been dyed with earthen hues like yellow, red, or brown, is any deeper meaning intended in today's verse?

If any ironic or subversive meaning is intended in today's verse, it might be hiding in the word rāga, which on the surface, in the context of today's verse, seems simply to mean red.

But red is the colour of my emotion -- always has been, and always will be. If perchance you have a problem with that, on the basis, for example, of belief in the Buddha as a paragon of dispassion, or on the basis of a reductionist theory that the state of buddha is just balance of the autonomic nervous system, then forgive my non-Buddhist outburst, but sod off.

Speaking of emotion, I found this Youtube clip deeply worrying and at the same time totally impressive. Whatever stereotype I used to have about professors at Japanese universities, this bloke shattered it. Even among eminent Japanese, evidently, there are true individuals.

EH Johnston:
Then clothed in the earth-coloured robe and pale like gold, he bowed his head to the Guru, like a karnikara tree stirred by the wind with the shining glory of its flowers and its copper-coloured shoots.

Linda Covill:
Shining like gold in his ochre garments, he bowed his head to the guru, like a wind-stirred karnikara tree with its shoots coppery crimson and its flowers radiantly blazing.

kaashaaya-vaasaaH (nom. sg. m..): with ochre robe
kaashaaya: mfn. (fr. kaṣāya) , brown-red , dyed of a reddish colour ; n. a brown-red cloth or garment
kaṣāya: red , dull red , yellowish red (as the garment of a Buddhist bhikṣu)
vaasa: m. a garment , dress , clothes
kanak'-aavadaataH (nom. sg. m.): golden clean; dazzling like gold
kanaka: gold
avadaata: mfn. cleansed , clean , clear ; blameless , excellent ; of white splendour , dazzling white; m. white colour

tataH: ind. thence
saH (nom. sg. m.): he
muurdhnaa = inst. sg. muurdhan: m. head
gurave (dat. sg. m.): to the guru
praNeme = 3rd pers. sg. perfect praNam: to bend or bow down before (often with mUrdhnA , zirasA &c ) , make obeisance to (dat,)

vaata: m. wind
iiritaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. sent, dispatched
iir: to go , move , rise , arise from ; to go away , retire ; to agitate , elevate , raise (one's voice)
pallava-taamra-raagaH (nom. sg. m.): sprouts-coppery-redness
pallava: a sprout , shoot , twig , spray , bud , blossom
taamra: of a coppery red colour
raaga: act of colouring; colour , hue , tint , dye , (esp.) red colour , redness

puShpa-ujjvala-shriiH (nom. sg. f.): flower-blazing-radiance
puShpa: flower, blossom
ujjvala: mfn. blazing up , luminous , splendid
shrii: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory , beauty , grace , loveliness
iva: like
karNikaaraH (nom. sg. m.): the karnika tree, Pterospermum acerifolium

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