ity-evaṁ tā yuvatayo manmathoddāma-cetasaḥ |
kumāraṁ vividhais-tais-tair-upacakramire nayaiḥ || 4.53
In this manner those girls,
With hearts unbridled by love,
Approached the chosen One
Using many and various stratagems.
When Aśvaghoṣa describes the women's hearts/mind as manmathoddāma, “unrestrained because of love,” the question is what kind of restraint he had in mind, and what kind of love.
Were the various stratagems that the women employed part of an overall plan to keep a prince's heart tied down through sensual and emotional attachments? Or were their stratagems part of a still wider and more compassionate plan, which required that the prince's heart and mind should be unbridled, followed in due course by the hearts and minds of all sentient beings?
In setting out for Nanda some such strategems to be employed in work on the self, in Saundara-nanda Canto 16, the Buddha cites:
- Examining the six elements as full of suffering, impermanent and devoid of self (SN16.47).
- Considering one's own strengths and weaknesses (SN16.52).
- Working on a factor ascertained to be calming, when one's mind is excited (SN16.54).
- Working on a factor known to summon up energy, when one's energy is low (SN16.56).
- Working on a factor determined to conduce to equanimity, ordinarily (SN16.58).
- Resorting to an unpleasant factor, when passions are aroused (SN16.60).
- Directing love towards oneself, or being kind to oneself, when feeling hateful (SN16.62).
- Coming back to the law of cause and effect, when deluded (SN16.64).
- Seeing the fault in an idea that is difficult to drop off (SN16.73).
- Seeing a fault as a fault (SN16.75).
- Seeing the good in what is good (SN16.75).
- Study (SN16.77).
- Doing physical work (SN16.77).
- Sleep (SN16.78).
- Becoming physically exhausted (SN16.78).
The strategies advocated by the Buddha were many and various, but all were directed at one target – the eradication of faults, i.e., peace. In the same way, in today's verse as I read it the strategies the women employed were many and various, but all were directed at one target – kumāram, the prince, the regal one.
Kumāram means the boy, the prince, or the heir-apparent, but in order to bring out the sense of use of multifarious means in pursuit of one chosen plan, I have translated kumāram in today's verse as “the chosen One.”
This blog and this translation are, in my book, Plan F – plans C, D, and E all having foundered on the rocks of end-gaining and faulty sensory appreciation. Plan A, however, I have so far managed to stick to, four times every day, and not only as a manifestation of my own bloody-mindedness but rather because Plan A is part of a much wider overall plan that I chose to follow, which is not my plan, but to which – sometimes calmly and totally, and sometimes not so calmly and less totally – I submit. Four times a day.
ity-evam: ind. thus
tā (nom. pl. f.): these, those
yuvatayaḥ (nom. pl. f.): f. a girl , young woman , any young female animal
manmathoddāma-cetasaḥ (nom. pl. f.): minds unbridled by love
manmatha: m. love or the god of love , amorous passion or desire
uddāma: mfn. (fr. dāman with ud) unrestrained , unbound , set free ; violent , impetuous , fiery ; wanton
ud: up, upwards; off, out of, away
dāman: string , cord , rope , fetter
cetas: n. soul, heart, mind
kumāram (acc. sg.): m. boy, youth, son; a prince , heir-apparent associated in the kingdom with the reigning monarch (especially in theatrical language)
vividhaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): mfn. of various sorts , manifold , divers
tais-taiḥ (inst. pl. m.): this and that, various, different
upacakramire = 3rd pers. pl. perf. upa- √ kram: to go near , approach , come to ; to rush upon , attack ; to approach with any object , have recourse to , set about ; to treat , attend on (as a physician)
nayaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. ( √nī) leading (of an army); conduct , behaviour , (esp.) prudent conduct or behaviour , good management , polity , civil and military government ; wisdom , prudence , reason ; plan , design ; leading thought , maxim , principle , system , method , doctrine