Thursday, February 7, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 4.68: Out of the Mouths of Babes

saṁnatiś-cānuvttiś-ca strīṇāṁ hdaya-bandhanam |
snehasya hi guṇā yonir-māna-kāmāś-ca yoṣitaḥ || 4.68

Humility and submissive behaviour are,

For women, what captures the heart  

Because excellent acts engender tender feelings,

And women are lovers of honour.

Once again, Udāyin is ostensibly expressing a shallow and immature view which brings back to mind the old Fast Show character Swiss Toni. 

And once again a contrary reading is that Udāyin, unbeknowns to himself, might be speaking profound truth.

In the former reading, the way for a man to win a woman's heart is by pandering to her every whim, with chocolates, flowers, opening of doors for her to pass through, laying of cloaks over puddles for her to walk on, and so on and so forth. By such excellent acts of chivalry is won the affection of women, who love men to show them respect.

What is being expressed in the contrary reading, out of the mouth of a babe, might be the fundamental principle of how a woman, or how a man, truly gains control over her or his own mind – not by direct means but by the indirect means of calm, submissive behaviour, aka donkey work. In support of this reading, whereas the first two pādas seem to mean “Humility and submissive behaviour are the way [for a man] to capture a woman's heart," the literal meaning is “Humility and submissive behaviour are, for/of/in women, heart-binding/uniting.” 

In that case, the 3rd pāda might be suggesting the truth that if a woman (or a man) wishes to feel good about herself (or himself), the wisest course might be to manifest good qualities in her (or his) everyday life – by doing a good job of, say, doing a prostration, or making a fire, or milking a cow, or translating a verse of epic poetry. 

And in the 4th pāda māna-kāma, “desiring honour,” which ostensibly describes a vain woman's desire to be honoured, might really indicate an aspiration which has nothing to do with vanity, and which need not always be bound up with trying to be right;  namely, an aspiration not to do what is dishonourable but to allow what is honourable – in accordance with the universal precept of the seven ancient buddhas. 

saṁnatiḥ (nom. sg.): f. bending down , depression , lowness ; inclination , leaning towards , favour , complaisance towards (gen.) ; subjection or submission to , humility towards (loc.)
ca: and
anuvṛttiḥ (nom. sg.): f. following , acting suitably to , having regard or respect to , complying with
anu- √ vṛt: to go after ; to follow , pursue ; to attend ; to obey , respect , imitate ;
ca: and

strīṇām (gen. pl.): f. women
hṛdaya-bandhanam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. captivating or winning the heart
hṛdaya: n. the heart
bandhana: mfn. binding; captivating (with gen. or ifc. cf. bhāva-bandhana [fettering or joining hearts (as love)]); n. the act of binding , tying , fastening , fettering ; n. a bond , tie (also fig.) , rope , cord , tether
bandh: to bind , tie , fix , fasten , chain , fetter; to catch , take or hold captive , met. = to attach to world or to sin ; to fix , direct , fasten , rivet (eyes , ears or mind) on (loc. or inf.); to arrest , hold back , restrain , suppress , stop , shut , close ; to join , unite , put together or produce anything in this way , e.g. fold (the hands) , clench (the fist) , knit or bend (the eyebrows) , arrange , assume (a posture) , set up (a limit) , construct (a dam or a bridge) , span , bridge over (a river) , conceive or contract (friendship or enmity) , compose , construct (a poem or verse)

snehasya (gen. sg.): m. blandness , tenderness , love , attachment to , fondness or affection
hi: for
guṇāḥ (nom. pl.): m. good quality , virtue , merit , excellence
yoniḥ (nom. sg.): m. place of birth , source , origin , spring , fountain

māna-kāmāḥ (nom. pl. f.): being desirous of esteem
māna: m. ( √ man) opinion ; self-conceit , arrogance , pride ; consideration , regard , respect , honour ; a wounded sense of honour , anger or indignation excited by jealousy (esp. in women) , caprice , sulking
kāma: n. (ifc.) desirous of , desiring , having a desire or intention
ca: and
yoṣitaḥ (nom. pl.): f. women

愛欲増憍慢 無過於女人
[Relation to Sanskrit tenuous]

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