⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Kīrti)ayaṁ kila vyāyata-pīna-bāhū rūpeṇa sākṣād-iva puṣpa-ketuḥ |
−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−tyaktvā śriyaṁ dharmam-upaiṣyatīti tasmin hi-tā gauravam-eva cakruḥ || 3.24
“He of arms so lengthened and full, so they say,
Who is like a flower-bannered god of love in his manifest form,
Will give up royal sovereignty and pursue dharma.”
Thus the women conferred on him the full weight of their estimation.
A recent paper (by Petersen & Sznycer, published in Pyschological Science, and featured in the science section of this week's Economist), found that the strength of a man's opinion on the subject of redistribution of resources tended to depend on his physical strength. As a proxy for physical strength the researchers took the circumference of the flexed biceps of an individual's dominant arm. Previous work, the Economist assures us, has shown that bicep circumference is an accurate proxy for strength – though I have known one or two martial artists whose power emanating from their centre might falsify this general conception.
In any event, the 1st pāda of today's verse can be read as expressing the male object of female desire as the stereotype of a strong man – taking Schwarzenegger-like arms as a proxy for all-round strength.
The 2nd pāda can be taken as antithetical to the 1st pāda in suggesting that the women were interested in more than ticking of generic boxes likes “strong-armed man” and “love god”: they appreciated the particular excellence of the form which the prince (vidyotamāno vapuṣā pareṇa; “with his supremely fine form shining forth”; BC2.27) was presenting before their eyes.
A flower-bannered god of love (puṣpa-ketuḥ) means a figure as romantic as Kāma, the disembodied god of love who pops up in several verses in Saundara-nanda Canto 7:
Amid the wealth of flowers of the month of flowers, assailed on every side by the flower-bannered god of love, / And with feelings that are familiar to the young, he stayed in a vihāra but found no peace. // SN7.2 //
When his favourite female drowned in the waters of the Ganges, King Jahnu, his mind possessed by disembodied Love, / Blocked the flow of the Ganges with his arms, as if he were Mount Maināka, the paragon of non-movement.// SN7.40 //
Again, when the avatar Saunandakin took away his Urvaśī, "She of the Wide Expanse," the wife whom, like the wide earth, Soma-varman had made his own, / 'Moon-Armoured' Soma-varman whose armour, so they say, had been virtuous conduct, roamed about grieving, his armour pierced by mind-existent Love. // 7.42 //
Flower-bannered Kāma is also known as “Disembodied Love” and “the Mind-Existent,” so the story goes, because when Śiva was doing his damnedest to concentrate, in the Brahmanical tradition, on ascetic practice, his mind kept wandering instead in the direction of the lovely Pārvatī. The frustrated Śiva vented his wrath on Kāma, the god of love, whom he consigned to an existence without a body.
The 3rd and 4th pādas, as I read them, have Aśvaghoṣa's characteristic dry humour running through them, suggesting that a generic strong arm and individual good looks are all very well, but in the final analysis what a woman really wants – the object that really earns the full weight of her estimation – is what she can't have.
In Japanese there is a particular phrase for this kind of desire: nai mono nedari, the persistent longing after something impossible to attain.
FM Alexander, like Aśvaghoṣa, had no medical or academic qualifications, but again like Aśvaghoṣa he was way ahead of the likes of Sigmund Freud in his practical grasp of the psychology of desire.
The technique that bears Alexander's name is becoming increasingly professionalised and pseudo-scientific. Because of a back-pain trial that has gained some credence in medical and academic circles, everybody nowadays seems to think Alexander work is all about back pain; whereas truly it is all about a struggle against unconsciousness. It is, as FM himself said, “the most mental thing there is.”
It has to be the most mental thing there is because, as Alexander correctly observed, with a dryness of which Aśvaghoṣa would have approved: The most difficult things to get rid of are the ones that don't exist.
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this one, he
kila: ind. (a particle of asseveration or emphasis) indeed , verily , assuredly ; " so said " " so reported "
vyāyata-pīna-bāhur (nom. sg. m.): with lengthened and full arms
vyāyata: mfn. opened , expanded ; long
pīna: mfn. swelling , swollen , full , round , thick , large , fat , fleshy , corpulent, muscular
bāhu: mf. the arm
rūpeṇa (inst. sg.): n. any outward appearance or phenomenon or colour (often pl.) , form , shape , figure ; handsome form , loveliness , grace , beauty , splendour
sākṣāt: ind. (abl. of sākṣa, ) with the eyes , with one's own eyes ; before one's eyes , evidently , clearly , openly , manifestly ; in person , in bodily form , personally , visibly , really , actually
puṣpa-ketuḥ (nom. sg. m.): " characterized by flower " , the god of love
ketu: m. bright appearance ; sign , mark , ensign , flag , banner
tyaktvā = abs. tyaj: to leave , abandon , quit ; to give up, surrender
śriyam (acc. sg.): f. royal power, majesty
dharmam (acc. sg.): m. dharma
upaiṣyati = 3rd pers. sg. future upa- √iṣ: to tend towards , endeavour to attain
tasmin (loc. sg. m.): towards him
tāḥ (nom. pl. f.): those women
gauravam (acc. sg.): n. weight ; importance , high value or estimation ; n. gravity , respectability , venerableness ; n. respect shown to a person
cakrur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. kṛ: to do, make