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liṅgaṃ tataḥ śāstṛ-vidhi-pradiṣṭaṃ gātreṇa bibhran-na tu cetasā tat /

Bearing the insignia, then, whose form was fixed by his teacher -- bearing it with his body but not with his mind --

bhāryā-gatair-eva mano-vitarkair-jehrīyamāṇo na nananda nandaḥ // 7.1 //

And being constantly carried off by thoughts of his wife, he whose name was joy was not joyful.


sa puṣpa-māsasya ca puṣpa-lakṣmyā sarvābhisāreṇa ca puṣpa-ketoḥ /

Amid the wealth of flowers of the month of flowers, assailed on every side by the flower-bannered god of love,1

yānīya-bhāvena ca yauvanasya vihāra-saṃstho na śamaṃ jagāma // 7.2 //

And with feelings that are familiar to the young, he stayed in a vihāra but found no peace.


sthitaḥ saḥ dīnaḥ sahakāra-vīthyām-ālīna-saṃmūrcchita-ṣaṭpadāyām /

Standing, distraught, by a row of mango trees amid the numbing hum of hovering insects,

bhṛśaṃ jajṛmbhe yuga-dīrgha-bāhur-dhyātvā priyāṃ cāpam-ivācakarṣa // 7.3 //

He with his lengthy arms and yoke-like shoulders, thought of his beloved and forcibly stretched himself open, as if drawing a bow.


sa pītaka-kṣodam-iva pratīcchaṁś cūta-drumebhyas-tanu-puṣpa-varṣam /

Receiving from the mango trees a rain of tiny flowers like saffron powder,

dīrghaṃ niśaśvāsa vicintya bhāryāṃ nava-graho nāga ivāvaruddhaḥ // 7.4 //

He thought of his wife and heaved long sighs, like a newly-captured elephant in a cage.


śokasya hartā śaraṇāgatānāṃ śokasya kartā pratigarvitānām /

He had been, for those who came to him seeking refuge, an abater of sorrow, and, for the conceited, a creator of sorrow,

aśokam-ālambya sa jāta-śokaḥ priyāṃ priyāśoka-vanāṃ śuśoca // 7.5 //

Now he leant against 'the tree of freedom from sorrow,' the a-śoka tree,2 and he became a sorrower: he sorrowed for a lover of a-śoka groves, his beloved wife.


priyāṃ priyāyāḥ pratanuṃ priyaṅguṃ niśāmya bhītām-iva niṣpatantīm /

A slender priyaṅgu creeper, beloved of his beloved, he noticed shying away, as if afraid,

sasmāra tām-aśru-mukhīṃ sabāṣpaḥ priyāṃ priyaṅgu-prasavāvadātām // 7.6 //

And tearfully he remembered her, his lover with her tearful face, as pale as a priyaṅgu flower.


puṣpāvanaddhe tilaka-drumasya dṛṣṭvānya-puṣṭāṃ śikhare niviṣṭām /

Seeing a cuckoo resting on the flower-covered crest of a tilaka tree,3

saṃkalpayām-āsa śikhāṃ priyāyāḥ śuklāṃśuke 'ṭṭālam-apāśritāyāḥ// 7.7 //

He imagined4 his lover leaning against the watchtower, her curls and tresses resting on her white upper garment.


latāṃ praphullām-atimuktakasya cūtasya pārśve parirabhya jātām /

A vine with 'flowers whiter than pearls,' the ati-muktaka, having attached itself to the side of a mango tree, was thriving:

niśāmya cintām-agamat-kadaivaṃ śliṣṭā bhaven-mām-api sundarīti // 7.8 //

Nanda eyed the blossoming creeper and fretted "When will Sundarī cling to me like that?"


puṣpaiḥ-karālā api nāga-vṛkṣā dāntaiḥ samudgair-iva hema-garbhaiḥ /

The budding teeth of yawning nāga trees5 erupted there like ivory caskets filled with gold,

kāntāra-vṛkṣā iva duḥkhitasya na cakṣur-ācikṣipur-asya tatra // 7.9 //

But they drew his anguished eye no better than desert scrub.


gandhaṃ vamanto 'pi ca gandhaparṇā gandharva-veśyā iva gandhapūrṇāḥ /

The gandha-parṇa trees emitted their fragrance like a gandharva's girlfriend, brimming with perfume,6

tasyānya-cittasya śugātmakasya ghrāṇaṃ na jahrur-hṛdayaṃ pratepuḥ // 7.10 //

But for him whose mind was elsewhere, and who was sorrowful to the core, they did not win the nose: they pained the heart.


saṃrakta-kaṇṭhaiś-ca vinīla-kaṇṭhais-tuṣṭaiḥ prahṛṣṭair-api cānyapuṣṭaiḥ /

Resounding with the throaty cries of impassioned peacocks, with the satisfied celebrating of cuckoos,

lelihyamānaiś-ca madhu dvirephaiḥ svanad-vanaṃ tasya mano nunoda // 7.11 //

And with the relentless supping of nectar by bees, the forest encroached upon his mind.


sa tatra bhāryāraṇi-saṃbhavena vitarka-dhūmena tamaḥ-śikhena /

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,

kāmāgnināntar-hṛdi dahyamāno vihāya dhairyaṃ vilalāpa tat-tat // 7.12 //

As he burned in his innermost heart with a fire of desire, fortitude failed him and he uttered various laments:


adyāvagacchāmi su-duṣkaraṃ te cakruḥ kariṣyanti ca kurvate ca /

"Now I understand what a very difficult thing those men have done, will do, and are doing

tyaktvā priyām-aśru-mukhīṃ tapo ye cerūś-cariṣyanti caranti caiva // 7.13 //

Who have walked, will walk, and are walking the way of painful asceticism, leaving behind their tearful-faced lovers.


tāvad dṛḍhaṃ bandhanam-asti loke na dāravaṃ tāntavam-āyasaṃ vā /

There is no bond in the world, whether of wood or rope or iron,

yāvad dṛḍhaṃ bandhanam-etad-eva mukhaṃ calākṣaṃ lalitaṃ ca vākyam // 7.14 //

As strong as this bond: an amorous voice and a face with darting eyes.


chittvā ca bhittvā ca hi yānti tāni sva-pauruṣāc-caiva suhṛd-balāc-ca /

For having been cut or broken -- by one's own initiative or by the strength of friends -- those bonds cease to exist;

jñānāc-ca raukṣyāc-ca vinā vimoktuṃ na śakyate sneha-mayas-tu pāśaḥ // 7.15 //

Whereas the fetter made of love, except through wisdom and toughness, cannot be undone.


jñānaṃ na me tac-ca śamāya yat syān-na cāsti raukṣyaṃ karuṇātmako 'smi /

That wisdom is not in me which might make for peace, and since I am of a kindly nature, toughness also is lacking.

kāmātmakaś-cāsmi guruś-ca buddhaḥ sthito 'ntare cakra-gater-ivāsmi // 7.16 //

I am sensual by nature and yet the Buddha is my guru: I am stuck as if inside a moving wheel.


ahaṃ gṛhītvāpi hi bhikṣu-liṅgaṃ bhrātṝṣiṇā dvir-guruṇānuśiṣṭaḥ /

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,

sarvāsv-avasthāsu labhe na śāntiṃ priyā-viyogād-iva cakravākaḥ // 7.17 //

In every circumstance I find no peace -- like a greylag gander separated from its mate.


adyāpi tan-me hṛdi vartate ca yad-darpaṇe vyākulite mayā sā /

Even now it continues to run through my mind how after I clouded the mirror

kṛtānṛta-krodhakam-abravīn-māṃ kathaṃ-kṛto 'sīti śaṭhaṃ hasantī // 7.18 //

She pretended to be angry and said to me, as she wickedly laughed, 'What are you doing!'


yathaiṣy-anāśyāna-viśeṣakāyāṃ mayīti yan-mām-avadac-ca sāśru /

Again, the words she spoke to me, while her girlish eyes were swimming with tears,

pāriplavākṣeṇa mukhena bālā tan-me vaco 'dyāpi mano ruṇaddhi // 7.19 //

'Before this paint on my face is dry, come back': those words, even now, block my mind.


baddhvāsanaṃ pāda-ja-nirjharasya svastho yathā dhyāyati bhikṣur-eṣaḥ /

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]7:

saktaḥ kva-cin-nāham-ivaiṣa nūnaṃ śāntas-tathā tṛpta ivopaviṣṭaḥ // 7.20 //

Surely he is not as attached as I am to anybody, since he sits so calmly, with an aura of contentment.


puṃs-kokilānām-avicintya ghoṣaṃ vasanta-lakṣmyām-avicārya cakṣuḥ /

Deaf to the cuckoos' chorus, his eyebulls never grazing upon the riches of spring,

śāstraṃ yathābhyasyati caiṣa yuktaḥ śaṅke priyākarṣati nāsya cetaḥ // 7.21 //

This fellow concentrates so intently upon the teaching, that I suspect no lover is tugging at his heart.


asmai namo 'stu sthira-niścayāya nivṛtta-kautūhala-vismayāya /

Credit to him who is firm in his resolve, who has retreated from curiosity and pride,

śāntātmane 'ntar-gata-mānāsāya caṅkramyamāṇāya nir-utsukāya // 7.22 //

Who is at peace in himself, whose mind is turned inward, who does not strive for anything, as he walks up and down...


nirīkṣamāṇāya jalaṃ sa-padmaṃ vanaṃ ca phullaṃ parapuṣṭa-juṣṭam /

And beholds the lotus-covered water and the flowering forest where cuckoos come calling!

kasyāsti dhairyaṃ nava-yauvanasya māse madhau dharma-sapatna-bhūte // 7.23 //

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?


bhāvena garveṇa gatena lakṣmyā smitena kopena madena vāgbhiḥ /

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,

jahruḥ striyo deva-nṛpa-rṣi-saṃghān kasmādd-hi nāsmad-vidham ākṣipeyuḥ // 7.24 //

Women have captivated hosts of gods and kings and seers: how then could they fail to bewilder a bloke like me?


kāmābhibhūto hi hiraṇya-retāḥ svāhāṃ siṣeve maghavān-ahalyām /

Overcome by desire, the fire god Hiraṇya-retas, 'Golden Sperm,'8 succumbed to sex with his wife 'Oblation,' Svāhā,9 as did 'The Bountiful' Indra10 with nymph Ahalyā;

sattvena sargeṇa ca tena hīnaḥ strī-nirjitaḥ kiṃ bata mānuṣo 'ham // 7.25 //

How much easier to be overwhelmed by a woman am I, a man, who lacks the strength and resolve of the gods.


sūryaḥ saraṇyūṃ prati jātarāgas-tat-prītaye taṣṭa iti śrutaṃ naḥ /

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;

yām-aśva-bhūto 'śva-vadhūṃ sametya yato 'śvinau tau janayāṃ-babhūva // 7.26 //

He became a stallion so as to cover her as a mare, whereby she conceived the two charioteers.11


strī-kāraṇaṃ vaira-viśakta-buddhyor-vaivasvatāgnyoś-calitātma-dhṛtyoḥ /

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,

bahūni varṣāṇi babhūva yuddhaṃ kaḥ strī-nimittaṃ na caled-ihānyaḥ // 7.27 //

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?


bheje śvapākīṃ munir-akṣamālāṃ kāmād-vasiṣṭhaś-ca sa sad-variṣṭhaḥ /

And through desire the sage Vasiṣṭha,12 who even among the upstanding was eminent, had his way with an outcaste,13 Akṣa-mālā, 'String of Beads,'14

yasyāṃ vivaśvān-iva bhū-jalādaḥ sutaḥ prasūto 'sya kapiñjalādaḥ // 7.28 //

To whom was born his son Kapiñjalāda, an eater of earth and water to rival the Sun.


parāśaraḥ śāpa-śaras-tatha-rṣiḥ kālīṃ siṣeve jhaṣa-garbha-yonim /

So too did the seer Parāśara, user of curses as arrows, have intercourse with Kālī,15 who was born from the womb of a fish;

suto 'sya yasyāṃ suṣuve mahātmā dvaipāyano veda-vibhāga-kartā // 7.29 //

The son he conceived in her was the illustrious Dvaipāyana,16 classifier of the Vedas.


dvaipāyano dharma-parāyaṇaś-ca reme samaṃ kāśiṣu veśya-vadhvā /

Dvaipāyana, equally, while having dharma as his primary object, enjoyed a woman at a brothel in Kāśi;17

yayā hato 'bhūc-cala-nūpureṇa pādena vidyul-latayeva meghaḥ // 7.30 //

Struck by her foot, with its trembling ankle bracelet, he was like a cloud being struck by a twist of lightning.


tathāṅgirā rāga-parīta-cetāḥ sarasvatīṃ brahma-sutaḥ siṣeve /

So too did brahma-begotten Aṅgiras,18 when his mind was seized by passion, have sex with Sarasvatī;19

sārasvato yatra suto 'sya jajñe naṣṭasya vedasya punaḥ-pravaktā // 7.31 //

To her was born his son Sarasvata, who gave voice again to missing Vedas.


tathā nṛpa-rṣer-dilipasya yajñe svarga-striyāṃ kāśyapa āgatāsthaḥ /

Likewise Kāśyapa, at a sacrifice under the aegis of the royal seer Dilipa, while fixated on a celestial nymph,

srucaṃ gṛhītvā sravad-ātma-tejaś-cikṣepa vahnāv-asito yato 'bhūt // 7.32 //

Took the ceremonial ladle and cast into the fire his own streaming semen, whence was conceived Asita.20


tathāṅgado 'ntaṃ tapaso 'pi gatvā kāmābhibhūto yamunām-agacchat /

Aṅgada,21 equally, though he had gone to the ends of ascetic practice, went overwhelmed by desire to Yamunā22

dhīmattaraṃ yatra rathītaraṃ sa sāraṅga-juṣṭaṃ janayām-babhūva // 7.33 //

And in her he begat the super-bright Rathītara, 'The Super Charioteer,' and friend of the spotted deer.


niśāmya śāntāṃ nara-deva-kanyāṃ vane 'pi śānte 'pi ca vartamānaḥ /

Again, on catching sight of the princess Śāntā, 'Tranquillity,' though he had been living in tranquillity in the forest,

cacāla dhairyān-munir-ṛṣya-śrṅgaḥ śailo mahī-kampa ivocca-śṛṅgaḥ // 7.34 //

The sage Ṛṣya-śṛṅga, 'Antelope Horn,' was moved from steadfastness, like a high-horned mountain in an earthquake.


brahma-rṣi-bhāvārtham-apāsya rājyaṃ bheje vanaṃ yo viṣayeṣv-anāsthaḥ /

And the son of Gādhin who, in order to become 'the Brahman Seer,'23 renounced his kingdom and retired to the forest, having become indifferent to sensual objects:

sa gādhi-jaś-cāpahṛto ghṛtācyā samā daśaikaṃ divasaṃ viveda // 7.35 //

He was captivated by the nymph Ghṛtācī,24 reckoning a decade with her as a single day.


tathaiva kandarpa-śarābhimṛṣṭo rambhāṃ prati sthūla-śirā mumūrcha /

So too, when hit by an arrow fired by Love, did Sthūla-śiras, 'Thick Head,' lose his senses over Rambhā.25

yaḥ kāma-roṣātmatayānapekṣaḥ śaśāpa tām-apratigṛhyamāṇaḥ // 7.36 //

He with his libidinous and wrathful nature was reckless: when she refused him he cursed her.


pramadvarāyāṃ ca ruruḥ priyāyāṃ bhujaṅgamenāpahṛtendriyāyām /

And Ruru, after his beloved Pramadvarā had been robbed of her senses by a snake,

saṃdṛśya saṃdṛśya jaghāna sarpān hriyaṃ na roṣeṇa tapo rarakṣa // 7.37 //

Exterminated snakes wherever he saw them: he failed, in his fury, to maintain his reserve or his ascetic practice.


naptā śaśāṅkasya yaśo-guṇāṅko budhasya sūnur-vibudha-prabhāvaḥ /

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;26

tathorvaśīm-apsarasaṃ vicintya rāja-rṣir-unmādam-agacchad-aiḍaḥ // 7.38 //

But thinking of the apsaras Urvaśī, this royal seer also went mad.


rakto girer-mūrdhani menakāyāṃ kāmātmakatvāc-ca sa tāla-jaṅghaḥ /

And when 'Long Shanks' Tāla-jaṅgha, on top of a mountain, was reddened, in his libidinous state, with passion for the apsaras Menakā,

pādena viśvāvasunā sa-roṣaṃ vajreṇa hintāla ivābhijaghne // 7.39 //

From the foot of 'All-Beneficent' Viśvā-vasu he got an angry kick, like a thunderbolt striking a hin-tāla palm.27


nāśaṃ gatāyāṃ paramāṅganāyāṃ gaṅgā-jale 'naṅga-parīta-cetāḥ /

When his favourite female drowned in the waters of the Ganges, King Jahnu, his mind possessed by disembodied Love,28

janhuś-ca gaṅgāṃ nṛpatir-bhujābhyāṃ rurodha maināka ivācalendraḥ // 7.40 //

Blocked the flow of the Ganges with his arms, as if he were Mount Maināka, the paragon of non-movement.29


nṛpaś-ca gaṅgā-virahāj-jughūrṇa gaṅgāmbhasā sāla ivātta-mūlaḥ /

And King 'Good Body' Śan-tanu, when separated from goddess Gaṅgā, shook like a śāla tree whose roots the Ganges was washing away:

kula-pradīpaḥ pratipasya sūnuḥ śrīmat-tanuḥ śantanur-asvatantraḥ // 7.41 //

The son of Pratipa and light of his family, he of the body beautiful, became uncontrollable.30


hṛtāṃ ca saunandakinānuśocan prāptām-ivorvīṃ striyam-urvaśīṃ tām /

Again, when the avatar Saunandakin31 took away his Urvaśī, "She of the Wide Expanse," the wife whom, like the wide earth, Soma-varman32 had made his own,

sad-vṛtta-varmā kila somavarmā babhrāma cittodbhava-bhinna-varmā // 7.42 //

'Moon-Armoured' Soma-varman whose armour, so they say, had been virtuous conduct, roamed about grieving, his armour pierced by mind-existent Love.33


bhāryāṃ mṛtāṃ cānumamāra rājā bhīma-prabhāvo bhuvi bhīmakaḥ saḥ /

A king who followed his departed wife in death was 'The Dreaded' Bhīmika -- he who was dread power on earth;

balena senāka iti prakāśaḥ senā-patir-deva ivātta-senaḥ // 7.43 //

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.34


svargaṃ gate bhartari śantanau ca kālīṃ jihīrṣan jana-mejayaḥ saḥ /

Again, when Kālī's husband Śan-tanu had gone to heaven, Jana-mejaya, 'Causer of Trembling among Men,' in his desire to marry Kālī,

avāpa bhīṣmāt samavetya mṛtyuṃ na tad-gataṃ manmatham-utsasarja // 7.44 //

Came up against Bhīṣma 'The Terrible,' and accepted death from him, rather than relinquish his love for her.35


śaptaś-ca pāṇḍur-madanena nūnaṃ strī-saṃgame mṛtyum-avāpsyasīti /

And Pāṇḍu 'The Pale One' having been cursed by Passion to die on coupling with a woman,

jagāma mādrīṃ na maharṣi-śāpād-asevya-sevī vimamarśa mṛtyum // 7.45 //

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.36


evaṃ-vidhā deva-nṛpa-rṣi-saṅghāḥ strīṇāṃ vaśaṃ kāma-vaśena jagmuḥ /

Hordes of gods and kings and seers such as these have fallen by dint of desire into the thrall of women.

dhiyā ca sāreṇa ca durbalaḥ san priyām-apaśyan kim-u viklavo 'ham // 7.46 //

Being weak in understanding and inner strength, all the more discouraged, when I cannot see my beloved, am I.


yāsyāmi tasmād gṛham-eva bhūyaḥ kāmaṃ kariṣye vidhivat sa-kāmam /

Therefore I shall go back home again and properly make love, as I please!

na hy-anya-cittasya calendriyasya liṅgaṃ kṣamaṃ dharma-pathāc-cyutasya // 7.47 //

For the insignia do not sit well upon a backslider from the path of dharma, whose senses are restless and whose mind is elsewhere.


pāṇau kapālam-avadhāya vidhāya mauṇḍyaṃ mānaṃ nidhāya vikṛtaṃ paridhāya vāsaḥ /

When a man has taken the bowl in his hand, has shaved his head, and, putting pride aside, has donned the patched-together robe,

yasyoddhavo na dhṛtir-asti na śāntir-asti citra-pradīpa iva so 'sti ca nāsti caiva // 7.48 //

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.


yo niḥsṛtaś-ca na ca niḥsṛta-kāma-rāgaḥ kāṣāyam-udvahati yo na ca niṣkaṣāyaḥ /

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;

pātraṃ bibharti ca guṇair-na ca pātra-bhūto liṅgaṃ vahann-api sa naiva gṛhī na bhikṣuḥ // 7.49 //

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.


na nyāyyam-anvayavataḥ parigṛhya liṅgaṃ bhūyo vimoktum-iti yo 'pi hi me vicāraḥ /

I had thought it improper for a man with noble connections, having adopted the insignia, to discard them again:

so 'pi praṇaśyati vicintya nṛpa-pravīrāṁs-tān-ye tapo-vanam-apāsya gṛhāṇy-atīyuḥ // 7.50 //

But even such a scruple fades away, when I think about those royal heroes who abandoned an ascetic grove and went home.


śālvādhipo hi sasuto 'pi tathāmbarīṣo rāmo 'ndha eva sa ca sāṃskṛti-rantidevaḥ /

For the Śālva king,37 along with his son; and likewise Ambarīṣa and Rāma and Andha,38 and Rantideva, son of Sāṅkṛti39

cīrāṇy-apāsya dadhire punar-aṃśukāni chittvā jaṭāś-ca kuṭilā mukuṭāni babhruḥ // 7.51 //

Cast off their rags and clothed themselves again in finest fabrics; they cut their twisted dreadlocks off and put their crowns back on.


tasmād bhikṣārthaṃ mama gurur-ito yāvad-eva prayātas tyaktvā kāṣāyaṃ gṛham-aham-itas-tāvad-eva prayāsye /

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;

pūjyaṃ liṅgaṃ hi skhalita-manaso bibhrataḥ kliṣṭa-buddher nāmutrārthaḥ syād-upahata-mater-nāpy-ayaṃ jīva-lokaḥ // 7.52 //

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."



saundaranande mahākāvye nanda-vilāpo nāma saptamaḥ sargaḥ //7//

The 7th canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Nanda's Lament."




1 “Flower-bannered one” is an epithet of Kāma, god of love.

2 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.

3 The tilaka tree, aka Clerodendrum phlomoides (Symplocos racemosa), as may be guessed from the context, produces clusters of white flowers.

4 Saṁkalpa here evidently means imagine. The verbal root klṛp 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 13.49-53.

5 The nāga tree is the same ornamental tree referred to in 4.18.

6 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.

7 A play may be intended on the word pāda, which means a human foot (as placed upon the opposite thigh when assuming the traditional sitting posture under discussion) and also means a hill at the foot of a mountain.

8 An epithet of the fire-god Agni.

9 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 aṇgas or limbs of the Vedas.

10 Maghavat, “the Bountiful,” is an epithet of Indra.

11 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 birds.

12 Legendary owner of the cow of plenty. See 1.3.

13 Śva-pakī: lit. “a woman who cooks dogs.”

14 Akṣa-mālā, a name of Vasiṣṭha's wife Arundhatī, so called because she wore a rosary.

15 Kālī, “Black Colour,” is a name of Satyavatī. According to the Mahā-bhārata, she and Parāśara were the mother and father of Vyāsa, author of the Vedas.

16 Dvaipāyana, “island-born,” is a name of Vyāsa, author or compiler of the Vedas, who was so-called because his birthplace was a small island in the Ganges.

17 Kaśi broadly corresponds to modern-day Varanasi. See also 3.15.

18 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.

19 Sarasvatī, “abounding in ponds,” was the name of a river, and of a goddess associated with that river.

20 Kāśyapa is regarded as another of the authors of the Ṛg Veda, and Asita (also known as Asita Devala) is known as one of his male progeny.

21 Aṇgada was a brother of Rāma.

22 Yamunā also was originally the name of a river.

23 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.

24 Ghṛtācī, “abounding in ghee,” is the name of another notable nymph.

25 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 Canto 6.

26 Refers to 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”). 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 earthly king Purū-ravas and his heavenly lover Urvaśī.

27 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.

28 The first yuga-pāda 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 literally "chief [woman] of well-rounded limbs" (paramāṇgana); 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.

29 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.

30 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 7.44).

31 Saunandakin means “Bearer of the Saunanda,” the latter 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.

32 Soma-varman, “Moon-Armoured” is another epithet of the protagonist of 7.39, Purū-ravas; the epithet reflects his provenance as founder of the lunar dynasty.

33 Cittodbhava, "He whose Existence Is Mind," again means Kāma, god of Love, who was rendered bodiless as a punishment for bothering Śiva.

34 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.

35 Bhiṁṣa was the son of King Śan-tanu and his first wife Gaṇga (see 7.41). When Śan-tanu remarried the fisherwoman known as Kālī (or Satyavatī), the latter therefore became Bhiṁṣa's step-mother, and Bhiṁṣa evidently did not take kindly to Jana-mejaya's designs on her. Jana-mejaya, incidentally, like the Ruru mentioned in 7.37, had it in for snakes and set about exterminating them en masse.

36 Pāṇḍu's mother Ambālikā, the story goes, was instructed by the Satyavatī/Kālī of the previous verse, to keep her eyes open 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] was 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 killed the pair 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.

37 The Śālva king was a noted enemy of Viṣṇu, whose pseudonyms include "Śālva's Enemy."

38 Ambarīṣa was a royal seer, as presumably were Rāma and Andha.

39 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.






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