Canto 7: nanda-vilāpaḥ
Nanda’s Lament


If the hidden meaning of the previous Canto title is “One to Be Cherished, Giving Voice to Suffering,” then the ironic hidden meaning of the present Canto title might be “Joy Expressing Suffering.”

As in his description of the suffering Sundarī, Aśvaghoṣa’s description of the suffering Nanda has a physical component, an emotional component (with mention of sorrow, tearful remembering, and burning desire), but especially a psychological and intellectual component in which Nanda thinks one defeatist thought after another, before arriving at a defeatist conclusion. Since Sundarī is the one who was abandoned, since her physical suffering is described more vividly, and since her emotional suffering has less of a sexual component than Nanda’s does, our feelings towards Sundarī seem to be guided more in the direction of empathic distress. But there is only so much empathic distress that one can take. The desired effect on the reader in the present Canto seems to be to nurture in us the wish to sweep away (a) all Nanda’s defeatist thoughts, along with (b) all the tiresome cultural references with which he seeks to justify his defeatist conclusion.



liṅgaṁ tataḥ śāstṛ-vidhi-pradiṣṭaṁ gātreṇa bibhran na tu cetasā tat /
bhāryā-gatair eva mano-vitarkair jehrīyamāṇo na nananda nandaḥ // 7.1 //

Bearing the insignia, then, whose form was fixed by his teacher – bearing it with his body but not with his mind – / And being constantly carried off by thoughts of his wife, he whose name was joy was not joyful. // 7.1 //

sa puṣpa-māsasya ca puṣpa-lakṣmyā sarvābhisāreṇa ca puṣpa-ketoḥ /
yānīya-bhāvena ca yauvanasya vihāra-saṁstho na śamaṁ jagāma // 7.2 //

Amid the wealth of flowers of the month of flowers, assailed on every side by the flower-bannered god of love, “Flower-bannered one” is an epithet of Kāma-deva, god of love. 01 / And with feelings that are familiar to the young, he stayed in a vihāra but found no peace. // 7.2 //

sthitaḥ saḥ dīnaḥ sahakāra-vīthyām ālīna-saṁmūrcchita-ṣaṭpadāyām /
bhṛśaṁ jajṛmbhe yuga-dīrgha-bāhur dhyātvā priyāṁ cāpam ivācakarṣa // 7.3 //

Standing, distraught, by a row of mango trees amid the numbing hum of hovering insects, / He with his lengthy arms and yoke-like shoulders, thought of his beloved and forcibly stretched himself open, as if drawing a bow. // 7.3 //

sa pītaka-kṣodam iva pratīcchaṁś cūta-drumebhyas tanu-puṣpa-varṣam /
dīrghaṁ niśaśvāsa vicintya bhāryāṁ nava-graho nāga ivāvaruddhaḥ // 7.4 //

Receiving from the mango trees a rain of tiny flowers like saffron powder, / He thought of his wife and heaved long sighs, like a newly-captured elephant in a cage. // 7.4 //

śokasya hartā śaraṇāgatānāṁ śokasya kartā pratigarvitānām /
aśokam ālambya sa jāta-śokaḥ priyāṁ priyāśoka-vanāṁ śuśoca // 7.5 //

He had been, for those who came to him seeking refuge, an abater of sorrow, and, for the conceited, a creator of sorrow, / Now he leant against ‘the tree of freedom from sorrow,’ the a-śoka tree, The Aśoka tree, which is indigenous to India, Burma and Malaya, flowers throughout the year but is especially famed for the beauty of the orange and scarlet clusters which it produces in January and February. It has some romantic connotations with female beauty – for example, the traditions that it will only flower in places where a woman’s foot has trodden, and that a tree will bloom more vigorously if kicked by a beautiful young woman. Aśoka, meaning “without sorrow,” is also the name of the celebrated King Aśoka. 02 and he became a sorrower: he sorrowed for a lover of a-śoka groves, his beloved wife. // 7.5 //

priyāṁ priyāyāḥ pratanuṁ priyaṅguṁ niśāmya bhītām iva niṣpatantīm /
sasmāra tām aśru-mukhīṁ sabāṣpaḥ priyāṁ priyaṅgu-prasavāvadātām // 7.6 //

A slender priyaṅgu creeper, beloved of his beloved, he noticed shying away, as if afraid, / And tearfully he remembered her, his lover with her tearful face, as pale as a priyaṅgu flower. // 7.6 //

puṣpāvanaddhe tilaka-drumasya dṛṣṭvānya-puṣṭāṁ śikhare niviṣṭām /
saṁkalpayām āsa śikhāṁ priyāyāḥ śuklāṁśuke ’ṭṭālam apāśritāyāḥ // 7.7 //

Seeing a cuckoo resting on the flower-covered crest of a tilaka tree, The tilaka tree, aka Clerodendrum phlomoides (Symplocos racemosa), as may be guessed from the context, produces clusters of white flowers. 03 / He imagined Saṁkalpa here evidently means imagine. The verbal root √klp originally means to produce, to arrange, to fix, or to frame; and hence to produce or frame in the mind, to invent, to imagine. See SN13.49-53. 04 his lover leaning against the watchtower, her curls and tresses resting on her white upper garment. // 7.7 //

latāṁ praphullām atimuktakasya cūtasya pārśve parirabhya jātām /
niśāmya cintām agamat kadaivaṁ śliṣṭā bhaven mām api sundarīti // 7.8 //

A vine with ‘flowers whiter than pearls,’ the ati-muktaka, having attached itself to the side of a mango tree, was thriving: / Nanda eyed the blossoming creeper and fretted “When will Sundarī cling to me like that?” // 7.8 //

puṣpaiḥ karālā api nāga-vṛkṣā dāntaiḥ samudgair iva hema-garbhaiḥ /
kāntāra-vṛkṣā iva duḥkhitasya na cakṣur ācikṣipur asya tatra // 7.9 //

The budding teeth of yawning nāga trees The nāga tree is the same ornamental tree referred to in SN4.18. 05 erupted there like ivory caskets filled with gold, / But they drew his anguished eye no better than desert scrub. // 7.9 //

gandhaṁ vamanto ’pi ca gandhaparṇā gandharva-veśyā iva gandhapūrṇāḥ /
tasyānya-cittasya śugātmakasya ghrāṇaṁ na jahrur hṛdayaṁ pratepuḥ // 7.10 //

The gandha-parṇa trees emitted their fragrance like a gandharva’s girlfriend, brimming with perfume, Gandha means perfume or smell, as in the name of the tree gandha-parṇa (“fragrant leaved”). In Sanskrit epic poetry the gandharvas are the celestial musicians who form the orchestra at the banquets of the gods; they belong, together with the apsarases, to Indra’s heaven. 06 / But for him whose mind was elsewhere, and who was sorrowful to the core, they did not win the nose: they pained the heart. // 7.10 //

saṁrakta-kaṇṭhaiś ca vinīla-kaṇṭhais tuṣṭaiḥ prahṛṣṭair api cānyapuṣṭaiḥ /
lelihyamānaiś ca madhu dvirephaiḥ svanad vanaṁ tasya mano nunoda // 7.11 //

Resounding with the throaty cries of impassioned peacocks, Kaṇṭha means throat, neck, or guttural sound emanating therefrom. And vinīla-kaṇṭha, “a blue neck,” is a peacock. So the 1st pāda is lit. “with the the blue-necks with their impassioned neck[-sound]s.” 07 with the satisfied celebrating of cuckoos, / And with the relentless supping of nectar by bees, the forest encroached upon his mind. // 7.11 //

sa tatra bhāryāraṇi-saṁbhavena vitarka-dhūmena tamaḥ-śikhena /
kāmāgnināntar-hṛdi dahyamāno vihāya dhairyaṁ vilalāpa tat-tat // 7.12 //

As there he burned with a fire arisen from the fire board of his wife, a fire with fancies for smoke and darkest hell for flames, / As he burned in his innermost heart with a fire of desire, fortitude failed him and he uttered various laments: // 7.12 //

adyāvagacchāmi su-duṣkaraṁ te cakruḥ kariṣyanti ca kurvate ca /
tyaktvā priyām aśru-mukhīṁ tapo ye cerūś cariṣyanti caranti caiva // 7.13 //

“Now I understand what a very difficult thing those men have done, will do, and are doing / Who have walked, will walk, and are walking the way of painful asceticism, leaving behind their tearful-faced lovers. // 7.13 //

tāvad dṛḍhaṁ bandhanam asti loke na dāravaṁ tāntavam āyasaṁ vā /
yāvad dṛḍhaṁ bandhanam etad eva mukhaṁ calākṣaṁ lalitaṁ ca vākyam // 7.14 //

There is no bond in the world, whether of wood or rope or iron, / As strong as this bond: an amorous voice and a face with darting eyes. // 7.14 //

chittvā ca bhittvā ca hi yānti tāni sva-pauruṣāc caiva suhṛd-balāc ca /
jñānāc ca raukṣyāc ca vinā vimoktuṁ na śakyate sneha-mayas tu pāśaḥ // 7.15 //

For having been cut or broken – by one’s own initiative or by the strength of friends – those bonds cease to exist; / Whereas the fetter made of love, except through wisdom and toughness, cannot be undone. // 7.15 //

jñānaṁ na me tac ca śamāya yat syān na cāsti raukṣyaṁ karuṇātmako ’smi /
kāmātmakaś cāsmi guruś ca buddhaḥ sthito ’ntare cakra-gater ivāsmi // 7.16 //

That wisdom is not in me which might make for peace, and since I am of a kindly nature, toughness also is lacking. / I am sensual by nature and yet the Buddha is my guru: I am stuck as if inside a moving wheel. // 7.16 //

ahaṁ gṛhītvāpi hi bhikṣu-liṅgaṁ bhrātṝṣiṇā dvir-guruṇānuśiṣṭaḥ /
sarvāsv avasthāsu labhe na śāntiṁ priyā-viyogād iva cakravākaḥ // 7.17 //

For though I have adopted the beggar’s insignia, and am taught by one who is twice my guru, as elder brother and enlightened sage, / In every circumstance I find no peace – like a greylag gander separated from its mate. // 7.17 //

adyāpi tan me hṛdi vartate ca yad darpaṇe vyākulite mayā sā /
kṛtānṛta-krodhakam abravīn māṁ kathaṁ kṛto ’sīti śaṭhaṁ hasantī // 7.18 //

Even now it continues to run through my mind how after I clouded the mirror / She pretended to be angry and said to me, as she wickedly laughed, ‘What are you doing!’ // 7.18 //

yathaiṣy anāśyāna-viśeṣakāyāṁ mayīti yan mām avadac ca sāśru /
pāriplavākṣeṇa mukhena bālā tan me vaco ’dyāpi mano ruṇaddhi // 7.19 //

Again, the words she spoke to me, while her girlish eyes were swimming with tears, ‘Before this paint on my face is dry, come back’: those words, even now, block my mind. // 7.19 //

baddhvāsanaṁ pāda-ja-nirjharasya svastho yathā dhyāyati bhikṣur eṣaḥ /
saktaḥ kva-cin nāham ivaiṣa nūnaṁ śāntas tathā tṛpta ivopaviṣṭaḥ // 7.20 //

This beggar meditating at ease, who has crossed his legs in the traditional manner, and is of the waterfall, arising out of the foot [of the hill] A play may be intended on the word pāda, whose meanings include 1. a human foot (as placed upon the opposite thigh when assuming the traditional sitting posture under discussion) and 2. a hill at the foot of a mountain. 08: / Surely he is not as attached as I am to anybody, since he sits so calmly, with an aura of contentment. // 7.20 //

puṁs-kokilānām avicintya ghoṣaṁ vasanta-lakṣmyām avicārya cakṣuḥ /
śāstraṁ yathābhyasyati caiṣa yuktaḥ śaṅke priyākarṣati nāsya cetaḥ // 7.21 //

Deaf to the cuckoos’ chorus, his eyebulls never grazing upon the riches of spring, / This fellow concentrates so intently upon the teaching, that I suspect no lover is tugging at his heart. // 7.21 //

asmai namo ’stu sthira-niścayāya nivṛtta-kautūhala-vismayāya /
śāntātmane ’ntar-gata-mānāsāya caṅkramyamāṇāya nir-utsukāya // 7.22 //

Credit to him who is firm in his resolve, who has retreated from curiosity and pride, / Who is at peace in himself, whose mind is turned inward, who does not strive for anything, as he walks up and down… // 7.22 //

nirīkṣamāṇāya jalaṁ sa-padmaṁ vanaṁ ca phullaṁ parapuṣṭa-juṣṭam /
kasyāsti dhairyaṁ nava-yauvanasya māse madhau dharma-sapatna-bhūte // 7.23 //

And beholds the lotus-covered water and the flowering forest where cuckoos come calling! / What man in the prime of youth could keep such constancy in those months of spring which are, as it were, the rival of dharma? // 7.23 //

bhāvena garveṇa gatena lakṣmyā smitena kopena madena vāgbhiḥ /
jahruḥ striyo deva-nṛpa-rṣi-saṁghān kasmādd hi nāsmad-vidham ākṣipeyuḥ // 7.24 //

With their way of being, their pride, their way of moving, their grace; with a smile or show of indignation, with their exuberance, with their voices, / Women have captivated hosts This is an example of Aśvaghoṣa using as a collective noun for miscellaneous beings the word saṅgha, which he nowhere uses in the ‘Buddhist’ sense given in the MW dictionary – a clerical community, congregation, church, (esp.) the whole community or collective body or brotherhood of monks (with Buddhists).” 09 of gods and kings and seers: how then could they fail to bewilder a bloke like me? // 7.24 //

kāmābhibhūto hi hiraṇya-retāḥ svāhāṁ siṣeve maghavān ahalyām /
sattvena sargeṇa ca tena hīnaḥ strī-nirjitaḥ kiṁ bata mānuṣo ’ham // 7.25 //

Overcome by desire, the fire god Hiraṇya-retas, ‘Golden Sperm,’ Hiraṇya-retas is an epithet of the fire-god Agni. 10 succumbed to sex with his wife ‘Oblation,’ Svāhā, Svāhā means an oblation or offering to the gods. As a proper noun, Oblation personified, Svāhā is the wife of the fire-god Agni, and is thought to preside over burnt-offerings; her body is said to consist of the four Vedas, and her limbs are the six vedāṇgas or limbs of the Vedas. 11 as did ‘The Bountiful’ Indra Maghavat, “the Bountiful,” is an epithet of Indra. 12 with nymph Ahalyā; / How much easier to be overwhelmed by a woman am I, a man, who lacks the strength and resolve of the gods. // 7.25 //

sūryaḥ saraṇyūṁ prati jātarāgas tat-prītaye taṣṭa iti śrutaṁ naḥ /
yām aśva-bhūto ’śva-vadhūṁ sametya yato ’śvinau tau janayāṁ babhūva // 7.26 //

Our tradition has it that the sun god Sūrya, roused to passion for the dawn goddess Saraṇyū, let himself be diminished for the sake of pleasure with her; / He became a stallion so as to cover her as a mare, whereby she conceived the two charioteers. The Ṛg-veda tells the tale of how the sun god and dawn goddess, taking the form of a stallion and a mare, brought into being “the two charioteers” who appear in the sky before the dawn in a golden carriage drawn by horses, or by birds. 13 // 7.26 //

strī-kāraṇaṁ vaira-viśakta-buddhyor vaivasvatāgnyoś calitātma-dhṛtyoḥ /
bahūni varṣāṇi babhūva yuddhaṁ kaḥ strī-nimittaṁ na caled ihānyaḥ // 7.27 //

When the mind of Vaivasvata, son of the Sun, and the mind of the fire god Agni turned to enmity, when their grip on themselves was shaken, / There was war between them for many years, because of a woman. What lesser being, here on earth, would not be caused to stray by a woman? // 7.27 //

bheje śvapākīṁ munir akṣamālāṁ kāmād vasiṣṭhaś ca sa sad-variṣṭhaḥ /
yasyāṁ vivaśvān iva bhū-jalādaḥ sutaḥ prasūto ’sya kapiñjalādaḥ // 7.28 //

And through desire the sage Vasiṣṭha, Vasiṣṭha is the legendary owner of the cow of plenty. See SN1.3. 14 who even among the upstanding was eminent, had his way with an outcaste, Śva-pakī is lit. “a woman who cooks dogs.” 15 Akṣa-mālā, ‘String of Beads,’ Akṣa-mālā, so called because she wore a rosary, is a name of Vasiṣṭha’s wife Arundhatī. 16 / To whom was born his son Kapiñjalāda, an eater of earth and water to rival the Sun. // 7.28 //

parāśaraḥ śāpa-śaras tatha rṣiḥ kālīṁ siṣeve jhaṣa-garbha-yonim /
suto ’sya yasyāṁ suṣuve mahātmā dvaipāyano veda-vibhāga-kartā // 7.29 //

So too did the seer Parāśara, user of curses as arrows, have intercourse with Kālī, Kālī, “Black Colour,” is a name of Satyavatī (see verse 41 below). According to the Mahā-bhārata, she and Parāśara were the mother and father of Vyāsa, author of the Vedas. 17 who was born from the womb of a fish; / The son he conceived in her was the illustrious Dvaipāyana, Dvaipāyana, “Island-Born,” so called because his birthplace was a small island in the Ganges, is a name of Vyāsa, author or compiler of the Vedas. 18 classifier of the Vedas. // 7.29 //

dvaipāyano dharma-parāyaṇaś ca reme samaṁ kāśiṣu veśya-vadhvā /
yayā hato ’bhūc cala-nūpureṇa pādena vidyul-latayeva meghaḥ // 7.30 //

Dvaipāyana, equally, while having dharma as his primary object, enjoyed a woman at a brothel in Kāśi; Kaśi broadly corresponds to modern-day Varanasi. See also SN3.15. 19 / Struck by her foot, with its trembling ankle bracelet, he was like a cloud being struck by a twist of lightning. // 7.30 //

tathāṅgirā rāga-parīta-cetāḥ sarasvatīṁ brahma-sutaḥ siṣeve /
sārasvato yatra suto ’sya jajñe naṣṭasya vedasya punaḥ pravaktā // 7.31 //

So too did brahma-begotten Aṅgiras, Aṅgiras is celebrated as the inspired bard/seer who authored the hymns of the Ṛg-veda. “Brahma-begotten” refers to the legend that Angiras was born from Brahma’s mouth.20 when his mind was seized by passion, have sex with Sarasvatī; Sarasvatī, “Abounding in Ponds,” was the name of a river, and of a goddess associated with that river. 21 / To her was born his son Sārasvata, who gave voice again to missing Vedas. // 7.31 //

tathā nṛpa-rṣer dilipasya yajñe svarga-striyāṁ kāśyapa āgatāsthaḥ /
srucaṁ gṛhītvā sravad ātma-tejaś cikṣepa vahnāv asito yato ’bhūt // 7.32 //

Likewise Kāśyapa, at a sacrifice under the aegis of the royal seer Dilipa, while fixated on a celestial nymph, / Took the ceremonial ladle and cast into the fire his own streaming semen, whence was conceived Asita. Kāśyapa is regarded as another of the authors of the Ṛg-veda, and Asita (also called Asita Devala) is known as one of his male progeny. 22// 7.32 //

tathāṅgado ’ntaṁ tapaso ’pi gatvā kāmābhibhūto yamunām agacchat /
dhīmattaraṁ yatra rathītaraṁ sa sāraṅga-juṣṭaṁ janayām babhūva // 7.33 //

Aṅgada, Aṇgada was a brother of Rāma.23 equally, though he had gone to the ends of ascetic practice, went overwhelmed by desire to Yamunā Yamunā also was originally the name of a river. 24 / And in her he begat the super-bright Rathītara, ‘The Super Charioteer,’ and friend of the spotted deer. // 7.33 //

niśāmya śāntāṁ nara-deva-kanyāṁ vane ’pi śānte ’pi ca vartamānaḥ /
cacāla dhairyān munir ṛṣya-śrṅgaḥ śailo mahī-kampa ivocca-śṛṅgaḥ // 7.34 //

Again, on catching sight of the princess Śāntā, ‘Tranquillity,’ though he had been living in tranquillity in the forest, / The sage Ṛṣya-śṛṅga, ‘Antelope Horn,’ was moved from steadfastness, like a high-horned mountain in an earthquake. // 7.34 //

brahmarṣi-bhāvārtham apāsya rājyaṁ bheje vanaṁ yo viṣayeṣv anāsthaḥ /
sa gādhi-jaś cāpahṛto ghṛtācyā samā daśaikaṁ divasaṁ viveda // 7.35 //

And the son of Gādhin who, in order to become ‘the Brahman Seer,’ Refers to Viśva-mitra “Friend of All,” who was born into the warrior caste of kṣatriyas but after a requisite number of years of ascetic self-denial eventually gained the epithet “Brahman Seer,” signifying a purported elevation from the kṣatriya into the brahmin caste.25 renounced his kingdom and retired to the forest, having become indifferent to sensual objects: / He was captivated by the nymph Ghṛtācī, Ghṛtācī, “Abounding in Ghee,” is the name of another notable nymph. 26 reckoning a decade with her as a single day. // 7.35 //

tathaiva kandarpa-śarābhimṛṣṭo rambhāṁ prati sthūla-śirā mumūrcha /
yaḥ kāma-roṣātmatayānapekṣaḥ śaśāpa tām apratigṛhyamāṇaḥ // 7.36 //

So too, when hit by an arrow fired by Love, did Sthūla-śiras, ‘Thick Head,’ lose his senses over Rambhā. Rambhā was reputed to be the most beautiful of all the beautiful nymphs in Indra’s paradise; she is the nymph referred to at the end of SN Canto 6. 27 / He with his libidinous and wrathful nature was reckless: when she refused him he cursed her. // 7.36 //

pramadvarāyāṁ ca ruruḥ priyāyāṁ bhujaṅgamenāpahṛtendriyāyām /
saṁdṛśya saṁdṛśya jaghāna sarpān hriyaṁ na roṣeṇa tapo rarakṣa // 7.37 //

And Ruru, after his beloved Pramadvarā had been robbed of her senses by a snake, / Exterminated snakes wherever he saw them: he failed, in his fury, to maintain his reserve or his ascetic practice. // 7.37 //

naptā śaśāṅkasya yaśo-guṇāṅko budhasya sūnur vibudha-prabhāvaḥ /
tathorvaśīm apsarasaṁ vicintya rāja-rṣir unmādam agacchad aiḍaḥ // 7.38 //

As grandson of the hare-marked moon, as son of ‘The Learned’ Budha and the goddess Iḍā, and as one marked by personal honour and virtue, [Purū-ravas] had the special powers of the lunar and the very learned; The son of Budha is Purū-ravas, a royal seer of the lunar race whose love affair with the nymph Urvaśī is much celebrated in Indian art and literature – most notably in Kālidāsa’s drama Vikramorvaśī (“Urvaśī [Won] by Valour”). But the story of the love between Purū-ravas and Urvaśī is as old as the Ṛg-veda, one hymn of which consists of a dialogue between the two lovers. See also verse 42. 28 / But thinking of the apsaras Urvaśī, this royal seer also went mad. // 7.38 //

rakto girer mūrdhani menakāyāṁ kāmātmakatvāc ca sa tāla-jaṅghaḥ /
pādena viśvāvasunā sa-roṣaṁ vajreṇa hintāla ivābhijaghne // 7.39 //

And when ‘Long Shanks’ Tāla-jaṅgha, on top of a mountain, was reddened, in his libidinous state, with passion for the apsaras Menakā, / From the foot of ‘All-Beneficent’ Viśvā-vasu he got an angry kick, like a thunderbolt striking a hin-tāla palm. Tāla-jaṅgha literally means “Having Legs as Long as a Palm Tree,” and so the metaphor of lightning striking a palm tree is a play on Tāla-jaṅgha’s name.29 // 7.39 //

nāśaṁ gatāyāṁ paramāṅganāyāṁ gaṅgā-jale ’naṅga-parīta-cetāḥ /
janhuś ca gaṅgāṁ nṛpatir bhujābhyāṁ rurodha maināka ivācalendraḥ // 7.40 //

When his favourite female drowned in the waters of the Ganges, King Jahnu, his mind possessed by disembodied Love, The first line includes an alliterative play on the word aṇga, which means a limb of the body or the body itself, and sounds like gaṇga, “Swift Goer,” the name of the river we call the Ganges. “Favourite female” is paramāṇgana lit. “chief [woman] of well-rounded limbs”; and “disembodied Love” is an-aṇga, the Bodiless One – i.e. the god of love Kāma whom Śiva angrily disembodied when Śiva’s love for Pārvatī came into conflict with his ascetic practice. 30 / Blocked the flow of the Ganges with his arms, as if he were Mount Maināka, the paragon of non-movement. Many Indian legends link the royal sage Jahnu with the River Ganges; one legend says that Jahnu drank up the waters of the Ganges. This version as described by Aśvaghoṣa seems to have more of a connotation of the kind of blocked flow, or fixity, that is liable to accompany ascetic practice. 31 // 7.40 //

nṛpaś ca gaṅgā-virahāj jughūrṇa gaṅgāmbhasā sāla ivātta-mūlaḥ /
kula-pradīpaḥ pratipasya sūnuḥ śrīmat-tanuḥ śantanur asvatantraḥ // 7.41 //

And King ‘Good Body’ Śan-tanu, when separated from goddess Gaṅgā, shook like a śāla tree whose roots the Ganges was washing away: / The son of Pratipa and light of his family, he of the body beautiful, became uncontrollable. Despite his devastation when when the goddess Gaṇga left him to return to the Ganges whence she came, King Śan-tanu was able to perk up again when he set eyes on Satyavatī the fisherwoman, also known as Kālī (see verse 44 below). 32// 7.41 //

hṛtāṁ ca saunandakinānuśocan prāptām ivorvīṁ striyam urvaśīṁ tām /
sad-vṛtta-varmā kila somavarmā babhrāma cittodbhava-bhinna-varmā // 7.42 //

Again, when the avatar Saunandakin Saunandakin means “Bearer of the Saunanda,” Saunanda being the name of the club born by Bala-rāma, who was the elder brother of Kṛṣṇa and said to be the 8th avatar of Viṣṇu. Bala is mentioned again in SN10.8. 33 took away his Urvaśī, “She of the Wide Expanse,” the wife whom, like the wide earth, Soma-varman Soma-varman, “Moon-Armoured” is another epithet of the protagonist of verse 39, Purū-ravas; the epithet reflects his provenance as founder of the lunar dynasty. 34 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. Cittodbhava, “He whose Existence Is Mind,” again means Kāma-deva, god of Love, who was rendered bodiless as a punishment for bothering Śiva. 35 // 7.42 //

bhāryāṁ mṛtāṁ cānumamāra rājā bhīma-prabhāvo bhuvi bhīmakaḥ saḥ /
balena senāka iti prakāśaḥ senā-patir deva ivātta-senaḥ // 7.43 //

A king who followed his departed wife in death was ‘The Dreaded’ Bhīmika – he who was dread power on earth; / He who was famed, because of his military might, as Senāka, ‘The Missile of War’; he who was, with his war machine, like a God of War. Senā-pati, “Army Leader” or “Lord of the Lance,” is an epithet of Kārttikeya. Senā-pati-deva, “army-leading god,” therefore means Kārttikeya, the ancient Indian god of war, the son of Śiva and Pārvatī, who directs the fight against demons. 36 // 7.43 //

svargaṁ gate bhartari śantanau ca kālīṁ jihīrṣan jana-mejayaḥ saḥ /
avāpa bhīṣmāt samavetya mṛtyuṁ na tad-gataṁ manmatham utsasarja // 7.44 //

Again, when Kālī’s husband Śan-tanu had gone to heaven, Jana-mejaya, ‘Causer of Trembling among Men,’ in his desire to marry Kālī, / Came up against Bhīṣma ‘The Terrible,’ and accepted death from him, rather than relinquish his love for her. Bhīṣma was the son of King Śan-tanu and his first wife Gaṇga (see verse 41). When Śan-tanu remarried the fisherwoman known as Kālī (or Satyavatī), the latter therefore became Bhīṣma’s step-mother, and Bhīṣma evidently did not take kindly to Jana-mejaya’s designs on her. Jana-mejaya, incidentally, like the Ruru mentioned in verse 37, had it in for snakes and set about exterminating them en masse. 37 // 7.44 //

śaptaś ca pāṇḍur madanena nūnaṁ strī-saṁgame mṛtyum avāpsyasīti /
jagāma mādrīṁ na maharṣi-śāpād asevya-sevī vimamarśa mṛtyum // 7.45 //

And Pāṇḍu ‘The Pale One’ having been cursed by Passion to die on coupling with a woman, / Went nonetheless with Mādrī: he heeded not the death that would result from the great seer’s curse, when he tasted what he was forbidden to taste. Pāṇḍu’s mother Ambālikā, the story goes, was instructed by the Satyavatī/Kālī of the previous verse, to keep her eyes closed in childbirth so as not to bear a blind son. When Ambālikā eventually opened her eyes and saw the formidable form of her offspring, she became pale. That is how Pāṇḍu got his name, “the Pale,” or, more exactly, “the [One whose mother became] Pale.” When he became a king, Pāṇḍu married the princess Mādrī along with another princess named Kuntī. While out hunting in the woods Pāṇḍu had the misfortune to shoot the sage Kindama while the latter had taken the form of a deer and was mating with a doe. The wounded sage Kindama placed a curse on Pāṇḍu. Aśvaghoṣa says that the curse was placed madanena, which could mean “by [the sage, one of whose names was] Madana, ‘Passion’ ” or could mean “by [the god of] Passion,” or possibly could mean “because of passion.” Since Pāṇḍu had shot the sage in flagrante, the curse was that if Pāṇḍu himself had sex with any woman, he would die. Pāṇḍu then remorsefully renounced his kingdom and lived with his wives as a celibate ascetic. After 15 years of ascetic celibacy, however, when his second wife Kuntī was away, Pāṇḍu was irresistibly drawn to his first wife Mādrī. As soon as Pāṇḍu set about enjoying what he was not to enjoy, he fulfilled the sage’s curse and died. Mādrī, out of repentance and grief, committed so-called ‘sati,’ burning herself alive on her husband’s funeral pyre. 38 // 7.45 //

evaṁ-vidhā deva-nṛpa-rṣi-saṅghāḥ strīṇāṁ vaśaṁ kāma-vaśena jagmuḥ /
dhiyā ca sāreṇa ca durbalaḥ san priyām apaśyan kim-u viklavo ’ham // 7.46 //

Hordes Saṅghāḥ. See note to verse 24. 39 of gods and kings and seers such as these have fallen by dint of desire into the thrall of women. / Being weak in understanding and inner strength, all the more discouraged, when I cannot see my beloved, am I. // 7.46 //

yāsyāmi tasmād gṛham eva bhūyaḥ kāmaṁ kariṣye vidhivat sa-kāmam /
na hy anya-cittasya calendriyasya liṅgaṁ kṣamaṁ dharma-pathāc cyutasya // 7.47 //

Therefore I shall go back home again and properly make love, as I please! / For the insignia do not sit well upon a backslider from the path of dharma, whose senses are restless and whose mind is elsewhere. // 7.47 //

pāṇau kapālam avadhāya vidhāya mauṇḍyaṁ mānaṁ nidhāya vikṛtaṁ paridhāya vāsaḥ /
yasyoddhavo na dhṛtir asti na śāntir asti citra-pradīpa iva so ’sti ca nāsti caiva // 7.48 //

When a man has taken the bowl in his hand, has shaved his head, and, putting pride aside, has donned the patched-together robe, The four verbs in this line are all from the root √dhā, to put or place, viz: ava-√dhā, to place down; vi-√dhā, to put in order; ni-√dhā, to put or keep down; pari-√dhā, to put on. Hence, a more accurate reflection of the original might be: “When a man has put the bowl in his hand, has put his head in order, and, putting pride aside, has put on the patched-together robe….” 40 / And yet he is given to pleasure and lacking in firmness and tranquillity, then like a lamp in a picture, he is there and yet he is not. // 7.48 //

yo niḥsṛtaś ca na ca niḥsṛta-kāma-rāgaḥ kāṣāyam udvahati yo na ca niṣkaṣāyaḥ /
pātraṁ bibharti ca guṇair na ca pātra-bhūto liṅgaṁ vahann api sa naiva gṛhī na bhikṣuḥ // 7.49 //

When a man has gone forth, but the red taint of desire has not gone forth from him; when he wears the earth-hued robe but has not transcended dirt; / When he carries the bowl but is not a vessel for the virtues; though he bears the insignia, he is neither a householder nor a beggar. // 7.49 //

na nyāyyam anvayavataḥ parigṛhya liṅgaṁ bhūyo vimoktum iti yo ’pi hi me vicāraḥ /
so ’pi praṇaśyati vicintya nṛpa-pravīrāṁs tān ye tapo-vanam apāsya gṛhāṇy atīyuḥ // 7.50 //

I had thought it improper for a man with noble connections, having adopted the insignia, to discard them again: / But even [such a scruple] fades away, when I think about those royal heroes who abandoned an ascetic grove and went home. // 7.50 //

śālvādhipo hi sa-suto ’pi tathāmbarīṣo rāmo ’ndha eva sa ca sāṁskṛti-rantidevaḥ /
cīrāṇy apāsya dadhire punar aṁśukāni chittvā jaṭāś ca kuṭilā mukuṭāni babhruḥ // 7.51 //

For the Śālva king, The Śālva king was a noted enemy of Viṣṇu, whose pseudonyms include “Śālva’s Enemy.”41 along with his son; and likewise Ambarīṣa and Rāma and Andha, Ambarīṣa was a royal seer, as presumably were Rāma and Andha. 42 and Rantideva, son of Saṁkṛti Rantideva – another ancient Indian hero who was not necessarily a good role model for devotees of the Buddha – was a king of the lunar dynasty famed for spending his riches in performing grand sacrifices; the blood which issued from the bodies of the slaughtered victims was changed into a river called Charmaṇ-vatī “Containing Hides.” It is the modern River Chambal.43 / Cast off their rags and clothed themselves again in finest fabrics; they cut their twisted dreadlocks off and put their crowns back on. // 7.51 //

tasmād bhikṣārthaṁ mama gurur ito yāvad eva prayātas tyaktvā kāṣāyaṁ gṛham aham itas tāvad eva prayāsye /
pūjyaṁ liṅgaṁ hi skhalita-manaso bibhrataḥ kliṣṭa-buddher nāmutrārthaḥ syād upahata-mater nāpy ayaṁ jīva-lokaḥ // 7.52 //

Therefore as soon my guru has gone from here to beg for alms, I will give up the ochre robe and go from here to my home; / Because, for a man who bears the honoured insignia with unsound judgement, stammering mind and weakened resolve, no ulterior purpose might exist, nor even the present world of living beings.” // 7.52 //

saundaranande mahākāvye nanda-vilāpo nāma saptamaḥ sargaḥ //7//
The 7th canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled “Nanda’s Lament.”