Wednesday, December 18, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 8.60: T.. T.. Talking 'Bout My Lamentation

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
tato dharāyām-apatad-yaśodharā vicakravākeva rathāṅga-sāhvayā |
śanaiś-ca tat-tad-vilalāpa viklavā muhur-muhur-gadgada-ruddhayā girā || 8.60

Then Yaśodharā, “Bearer of Glory,” dropped to the bearing earth

Like a goose named, for her circular call, rathaṅga,
without the circle-making gander.

And, in dismay, she stuttered bit by bit this and that lament,

Her voice by sobbing gagged and gagged again.

Today's verse, like BC8.29refers by its less common name rathāṅga to the duck or goose usually called in Sanskrit cakra-vāka. The bird in question is identified in the MW dictionary as the ruddy goose (Anas Casarca). EBC goes with ruddy goose, EHJ with Brahminy duck, and PO with a swan (“like a swan without its mate”). The conclusion I came to when editing Saundara-nanda was that the bird in question is the greylag goose, the male and female of which species are said to call hauntingly to each other with an aṅg, aṅg sound. When I discussed this in the comment to BC8.29 I wrote about the bar-headed goose, when I meant to write about the greylag goose... and I compounded the mistake with photos of bar-headed geese. Here to set the record straight are some photos of pairs of greylag geese.

In any event, these geese or ducks feature as romantic symbols in Sanskrit poetry. In the same way that we think of swans as exemplifying a species in which male and female bond for life, ancient Indians thought about cakra-vāka ducks or geese, particularly in view of the mournful way in which these birds were heard to call out to each other in the night... aṅg, aṅg, aṅg.

The first half of today's verse, then, describes Yaśodharā as being out of the audio-vocal loop in which reside pairs of contented ducks and in which resides the fluent and resonant speech of a happy person.

And the second half of today's verse, especially with the repetition of the hard consonants in tat-tad and gadgad, seems designed to bring that point home with words that sound like stammering  – i.e. with words that sound like suffering. 

By using his own words that sound like Yaśodharā's stammer, Aśvaghoṣa somehow causes me to sense some correspondence between her and him. Both he and she, after all, are expressing in their own way the truth of suffering.

What is this suffering?
What is this stuttering?

According to Wikipedia, prior to the recording of My Generation, Roger Daltrey had not rehearsed the song and he was unable to hear his own voice through the monitors. The stutter came about as he tried to fit the lyrics to the music as best he could (from outside of the audio-vocal loop). The band then decided that the stutter – seeming to convey as it does anger and frustration – had been “one of those happy accidents.”

A contrast can be drawn between yesterday's verse in which the women, though shedding tears, do not say anything and today's verse in which one named individual, Yaśodharā, speaks up in an emotion-hampered stammer.

I am caused to reflect that as a bloke who just sits anonymously, and who likes to listen to discussions and documentaries on BBC Radio 4 without ever contributing to those programmes, I am like one of the nameless women in yesterday's verse. But as someone who speaks up on this my own blog, I am more like Yaśodharā. (Other drama queens are also available for comparison.)

I am free just to sit, keeping my mouth closed, not sobbing, not gasping, not stuttering, not saying anything in words. I am also free to speak up and express, as an individual, whatever views and opinions I like, within the limits of the laws of the land... and if you don't like it, why don't you all just f.. f.. f.. f.. fade away?

Finally, to tie up a textual loose end (further to the discussion in the comment to BC8.50), a note on the Chinese translation:

The content of today's verse corresponds in the Chinese translation to
嫌責心消除 熾然大苦息
躃地稱怨歎 雙輸鳥分乖
i.e., to verse 629 in Beal's translation into English, and from here the order of the Chinese verses begins again to match the order of the original Sanskrit verses.

The subject of today's verse, Yaśodharā, is conveyed in the Chinese translation by
耶輸陀聞説 心生奇特想
天神之所爲 非是斯等咎
i.e., by verse 628 in Beal's translation.
Since there is no Sanskrit corresponding to
天神之所爲 非是斯等咎
(Beal: “the deeds accomplished by the gods could not be laid to others’ charge, as faults;”),
I suspect that these four lines of Chinese characters, specifying Yaśodharā as the subject, were added by a later editor of the Chinese translation in an attempt to preserve some logical flow, following the mistaken transposition of a block of text. 

tataḥ: ind. then
dharāyām (loc. sg.): f. " bearer , supporter " , the earth
apatat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect pat: to fly , soar , rush on; to fall down or off , alight , descend (with acc. or loc.)
yaśodharā: f. 'Bearer of Glory'; Yaśodharā

vi-cakravākā (nom. sg. f.): cakravāka-less
vi-: without; -less
cakravāka: m. the cakra bird (Anas Casarca ; the couples are supposed to be separated and to mourn during night)
cakra: wheel
vāka: speaking
iva: like
rathāṅga-sāhvayā (nom. sg. f.): “having the same name as a chariot's wheel”; a female greylag goose (see BC8.29)
rathāṅgasāhva = rathāṅga-tulyāhvayana: m. " having the same name as a chariot's-wheel " , the ruddy goose
rathāṅga: n. a chariots-wheel; a discus (esp. that of kṛṣṇa or viṣṇu); m. the Anas Casarca or ruddy goose (= cakra-vāka q.v.)
sāhvaya = sāhva: mf(ā)n. having a name , named , called
ā-hvā: f. a name , appellation

śanaiḥ: ind. quietly , softly , gently , gradually , alternately [EBC: slowy; EHJ: NA; PO: softly]
ca: and
tat-tad (acc.): this and that , various , different
vilalāpa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vi- √ lap: to utter moaning sounds , wail , lament , bewail (acc. with or without prati) ; to speak variously , talk , chatter
viklavā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. overcome with fear or agitation , confused , perplexed , bewildered , alarmed , distressed ; timid, shy ; faltering (as speech)
vi- √ klav: to become agitated or confused
√ klav: to fear , be afraid

muhur-muhur: ind. now and again , at one moment and at another , again and again
gadgada-ruddhayā (inst. sg. f.): mfn. (speech) stopped by sobs, Bcar.
gadgada n. stammering , indistinct or convulsive utterance (as sobbing &c )
ruddha: mfn. obstructed , checked , stopped , suppressed , kept back , withheld
girā (inst. sg.): f. praise, song ; f. speech , speaking , language , voice , words

耶輸陀聞説 心生奇特想
天神之所爲 非是斯等咎

嫌責心消除 熾然大苦息
躃地稱怨歎 雙輸鳥分乖

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