Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.58: Miraculous Directions

bravītu tāvat puri vismito janas-
tvayi sthite kurvati dharma-deśanāḥ /
aho batāścaryam-idaṃ vimuktaye
karoti rāgī yad-ayaṃ kathām-iti // 18.58 //

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Just let the astonished people in the city say,

While you are standing firm, voicing dharma-directions,

'Well! What a miracle this is,

That he who was a lover boy is preaching liberation!'

If my translation of the 2nd line of today's verse seems to have been informed by my practice of the FM Alexander Technique, damn right it has.

In Alexander work, directions (deśanāḥ [plural]) are what Alexander called "the means-whereby," which he opposed to the attitude of going directly for an end without due attention to process.

Thus Alexander work, rather like translation work, is very modest work. Intuition plays a part, but trying to show oneself to be inspired or original sometimes produces results that are not so good -- because trying is always end-gaining.

In Alexander work we usually talk about giving directions, or attending to directions, or thinking directions (as opposed to trying to do directions), as an internal process. But in the context of today's verse, kurvati (lit. doing or making) is understood to mean speaking, teaching or voicing directions.

For example: "I wish to allow my whole self to expand in expanding space, so that the neck releases, to allow the head to go forward and up, so that the back lengthens and widens, and the limbs are released out."

The approach of working indirectly for future ends by paying attention to present directions caused Alexander to get results which people who had previously been suffering from various ailments related to "bad posture" regarded as miraculous. But Alexander did not see himself as a miracle-worker, just a bloke in the middle way working to a means-whereby principle. "There are many miracles in nature" was how Alexander put it.

EH Johnston:
Just let the inhabitants of the town be astonished while you preach the Law and let them say, "Look, this is a miracle that he who was addicted to passion now tells the tale of final emancipation!"

Linda Covill:
Just let the astonished people in the city say, when you stand giving instruction in dharma, 'Goodness! It's amazing that this man, who was a libertine, gives talks on liberation!'

braviitu (3rd pers. sg. imperative bruu): let it say!
taavat: ind. at once , now , just ; indeed, truly etc.
puri = loc. sg. pur: f. a rampart , wall , stronghold , fortress , castle , city , town
vismitaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. amazed , surprised
janaH (nom. sg.): m. people

tvayi = loc. sg. tvad: you
sthite = loc. sg. sthita: mfn. standing firm (yuddhe , " in battle ") ; standing , staying , situated
kurvati = loc. sg. pres. participle kR: to do , make , perform , accomplish , cause , effect , prepare , undertake ; to execute , carry out (as an order or command); to think of (acc.); to give an order ; to proceed , act , put in practice
dharma-deshanaaH (acc. pl.): dharma-directions
dharma: m. the Dharma, the law, the teaching
deshanaa: f. (fr. dish, to point out) direction , instruction

aho: ind. a particle (implying joyful or painful surprise) Ah! ; often combined with other particles of similar signification , as aho bata , &c
bata: ind. an interjection expressing astonishment
aashcaryam (nom. sg. n.) mfn. appearing rarely , curious , marvellous , astonishing , wonderful , extraordinary; n. a wonder , miracle , marvel , prodigy
idam (nom. sg. n.): this
vimuktaye = dat. sg. vimukti: f. release , deliverance , liberation ; release from the bonds of existence , final emancipation

karoti = 3rd pers. sg. kR: to do, make etc.
raagii = nom. sg. m. raagin: mfn. coloured ; red , of a red colour ; impassioned , affectionate , enamoured ; m. a lover , libertine
yad: that
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this one, this man
kathaam (acc. sg.): f. conversation , speech , talk ; story , tale , fable
iti: ".....", thus

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