Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More tasmad idam jagat

Now, to take you down the fascinating and tortured path of a translator-cum-editor struggling to earn his crust of bread. The verse was:

tasmād idaṁ jagad aśeṣam asat-svarūpaṁ
svapnābham asta-dhiṣaṇaṁ puru-duḥkha-duḥkham
tvayy eva nitya-sukha-bodha-tanāv anante
māyāta udyad api yat sad ivāvabhāti

Word for word: tasmāt = therefore; idaṁ = this; jagat = world; aśeṣam = entire; asat-svarūpaṁ = unreal/false in essence; svapnābham = like a dream; asta-dhiṣaṇaṁ = setting or disappearing awareness, consciousness; puru-duḥkha-duḥkham = full of abundant and repeated misery; tvayi = in You; eva = alone; nitya-sukha-bodha-tanau = possessing a body of eternity, knowledge and bliss (in apposition to "in You"); anante = infinite (in apposition to "in You"); māyātaḥ = from Maya; udyat = arising (present participle agreeing with jagat); api = even, and; yat = which or since; sat = existing, real, true; iva = as if, like; avabhāti = appears. exists (Jiva ).

The BBT translation:
Therefore the entire universe, which, like a dream, is by nature temporary, nevertheless appears eternal. It covers one's consciousness and assails one with repeated miseries. The universe appears eternal because it is manifested by the potency of Maya emanating from You, whose unlimited transcendental forms are full of eternal happiness and knowledge.
My first draft, given in yesterday's post:
Therefore, this universe, which is completely unreal, like a dream, devoid of consciousness, and full of abundant and endless misery, which arises out of Your Maya potency, still appears to be real because it is situated in You, who are unlimited and possess a body that is eternal, full of joy and knowledge. (SB 10.14.22)
Now, what we have to bear in mind is that a verse like this has an apparent or prima facie meaning, which Sridhar Swami and Jiva Goswami may or may not agree with. Generally speaking, Sridhar is more literal and Jiva is going to make some adjustments in his commentary that may lead us away from that immediate understanding of the verse. So, when Jiva makes his own commentary, it is usually because he is disagreeing with Sridhar in some way. This is such a case.

Now how do you translate a verse that different people say mean different things? Well, you start by giving it as it would appear to anyone with a basic knowledge of Sanskrit. But then, how are you supposed to make sense of the commentary, which is going to completely change the understanding?

The Gita Press follows Sridhar most closely. Here is what they have:
Therefore, appearing and vanishing in Your infinite Self, the embodiment of eternal bliss and consciousness, by virtue of Your Maya, this entire universe, which is unreal by nature like a dream, devoid of intelligence and full of abundant and endless misery, appears as real [as well as eternal, full of bliss and consciousness].
The brackets in Gita Press translations indicate further precisions by Sridhar.

So all the translations pretty much agree. Now what does Jiva do? He starts out right away by saying that we should read the verse in a different way. The word anvaya, which comes at the end of this sentence means "syntax" or "word order," so he is telling us to look at the word order differently.

yasmād (since) evaṁ (thus, i.e., as shown in the verses leading up to this one) prapañcāprapañca-vastūnāṁ sarveṣām api (of even all ephemeral and transcendental objects) tattva-vigraho’si (You are the factual embodiment; SN has "ẏour body is the original cause", Hakim has just mūla, Shastri mūla tattva-vigraha), tasmāt (therefore, which is actually in the verse, what preceded was to explain the meaning of "therefore") eva (certainly, i..e. "for this very reason"), nitya-sukha-bodhana-laksaṇā (characterized by eternity knowledge and bliss) (which) tanuḥ (body), tat-svarūpe (in one who is identical with that [aformentioned body]), anante (in the infinite) tvayi (in You), eva (definitely, alone) aśeṣam (entire), idaṁ (this) jagat (universe) avabhāti (appears) iti (this is) anvayaḥ (the [proper] order in which this verse should be read).

So what's the problem? Well, first of all, Sri Jiva is placing emphasis on Krishna's form, which is what the discussion is centered on. Krishna, who is identical with his body that is characterized by eternity, knowledge and bliss, and which is also infinite. Second, the emphasis on entire universe fitting inside Krishna, characterized by this form. Third, he has taken the sad iva out of the basic reading of the verse, so the important thing is not that appears as if real, but only that it appears, manifests or exists. In other words, the universe appears within Krishna, whether it appears real or not is not of primary importance.

Then Jiva enters into the adjectives. What is this universe like. Here he separates sat from iva entirely:

sat (existing; this is no longer an adjective meaning real or true, but is a present participle) udyat (arising), api (and, even), yat (which) muhu (repeatedly) udbhavat (comes into existence) tirobhavat (disappears) ca (and).

The first part of this sentence contains words taken from the verse, the second half is their explanation. So we get "[This universe] which is existing and arising, i.e. which repeatedly comes into existence and disappears." Notice that the api from the verse, which prima facie reading gave as "even," has here been changed to "and." Now, to further explain what he means, he says:

yad (which, from the previous sentence) yasmin (in which, expanding on the meaning of yat), muhur (constantly, repeatedly) jāyate (is born) līyate (merges) ca (and), tat (that) tasmin (in that) eva (emphatically) avabhāti (appears), bhuvi (in the earth) tad-vikāraḥ (its transformations) iva (like) iti bhāvaḥ (that is the sense).

SN translates these two sentences as follows: "How does it exist? Although rising it appears and disapppears again and again. It exists in Him alone, from whom it appears and in whom it dissolves, just as mud products in the earth."

Now the only problem with this is that it does not show the relations to the verse and how Jiva is transforming the prima facie meaning. How important is that? Well, let's see. Will we have to go back and retranslate the verse?

Next, Jiva asks, taking the role of Krishna answering back to Brahma: “Does this mean I undergo transformation?”

And here the post is truncated, never to be revisited. Probably Not.

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