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athaivam-ukto 'pi sa tena bhikṣuṇā jagāma naivopaśamaṃ priyāṃ prati /

Though the beggar reproached him in such a manner, Nanda did not arrive at any kind of tranquillity with regard to his beloved;

tathā hi tām-eva tadā sa cintayan na tasya śuśrāva visaṃjña-vad vacaḥ // 9.1 //

So much did he think about her that he failed, as if he were unconscious, to hear a word the other said.


yathā hi vaidyasya cikīrṣataḥ śivaṃ vaco na gṛṇhāti mumūrṣur-āturaḥ /

For, just as an invalid who wants to die does not accept the kind advice of a doctor who intends to do him good;

tathaiva matto bala-rūpa-yauvanair-hitaṃ na jagrāha sa tasya tad-vacaḥ // 9.2 //

So Nanda, bubbling with strength and looks and youth, did not accept that salutary advice of the striver.


na cātra citraṃ yadi rāga-pāpmanā mano 'bhibhūyeta tamo-vṛtātmanaḥ /

It is not surprising, in such a case, that one whose mind is shrouded in darkness should be overpowered by the wrongness that arises out of a tainted desire;

narasya pāpmā hi tadā nivartate yadā bhavaty-anta-gataṃ tamas-tanu // 9.3 //

For a person's wrongness ceases only when the darkness of ignorance, having reached its limit, begins to diminish.


tatas-tathākṣiptam-avekṣya taṃ tadā balena rūpeṇa ca yauvanena ca /

And so, observing Nanda to be caught up, as he was, in his own strength and looks and youth,

gṛha-prayāṇaṃ prati ca vyavasthitaṃ śaśāsa nandaṃ śramaṇaḥ sa śāntaye // 9.4 //

Seeing him all set to go home, the striver chastised Nanda, in the name of tranquillity.


balaṃ ca rūpaṃ ca navaṃ ca yauvanaṃ tathāvagacchāmi yathāvagacchasi /

"Your strength and looks and youthfulness I recognize as you do;

ahaṃ tv-idaṃ te trayam-avyavasthitaṃ yathāvabuddho na tathāvabudhyase // 9.5 //

But that these three are impermanent you do not realise as I do.1


idaṃ hi rogāyatanaṃ jarāvaśaṃ nadītaṭānokahavac-calācalam /

For this body is a domicile for disease and in the face of senility it teeters helplessly, like a tree with its roots on a riverbank.

na vetsi dehaṃ jala-phena-durbalaṃ balasthatām-ātmani yena manyase // 9.6 //

Because you do not know it to be as fragile as froth on water, therefore you feel there to be abiding strength in you.


yad-ānna-pānāsana-yāna-karmaṇām-asevanād-apy-atisevanād-api /

When, through failure to eat and drink, or sit down, or move about, and also through over-indulgence in those acts,

śarīram-āsanna-vipatti dṛśyate bale 'bhimānas-tava kena hetunā // 9.7 //

The body manifestly goes to ruin, what reason is there for you to have the conceit of physical strength?


himātapa-vyādhi-jarā-kṣud-ādibhir-yadāpy-anarthair-upanīyate jagat /

By cold and heat, by sickness and aging, and by hunger and other such adversities, the living are being reduced

jalaṃ śucau māsa ivārka-raśmibhiḥ kṣayaṃ vrajan kiṃ bala-dṛpta manyase // 9.8 //

Like water in the hot season by the sun's rays. In these circumstances, what are you thinking, O taker of pride in strength! as you wander towards your end?


tvag-asthi-māṃsa-kṣataj-ātmakaṃ yadā śarīram-āhāra-vaśena tiṣṭhati /

When a body made of skin, bone, flesh and blood owes its very existence to the taking of food,

ajasram-ārtaṃ satata-pratikriyaṃ balānvito 'smīti kathaṃ vihanyase // 9.9 //

When it is always ailing, needing continuous intervention, how can you labour under an illusion like 'I am inherently strong'?


yathā ghaṭaṃ mṛn-mayam-āmam-āśrito naras-titīrṣet kṣubhitaṃ mahārṇavam /

Like a man who aspires to cross the stormy ocean in an unbaked earthen pot,

samucchrayaṃ tadvad-asāram-udvahan balaṃ vyavasyed viṣayārtham-udyataḥ // 9.10 //

Is he who would assume the sapless accretion of his body to be strong as he carries it around, striving after an object.


śarīram-āmād-api mṛn-mayād ghaṭād-idaṃ tu niḥsāratamaṃ mataṃ mama /

But even more fragile than an unbaked earthen pot, in my opinion, is this body;

ciraṃ hi tiṣṭhed vidhivad dhṛto ghaṭaḥ samucchrayo 'yaṃ sudhṛto 'pi bhidyate // 9.11 //

For a pot that is properly kept might survive for many ages whereas this accretion crumbles even if well maintained.


yad-āmbu-bhū-vāyv-analāś-ca dhātavaḥ sadā viruddhā viṣamā ivoragāḥ /

When the elements of water, earth, wind and fire are in constant opposition, like antagonistic snakes,

bhavanty-anarthāya śarīram-āśritāḥ kathaṃ balaṃ roga-vidho vyavasyasi // 9.12 //

When they meet in a body only to make for calamity, how can you, in your propensity to sickness, be convinced of your strength?


prayānti mantraiḥ praśamaṃ bhujaṁgamā na mantra-sādhyas-tu bhavanti dhātavaḥ /

Snakes are lulled by charms, but the elements are not apt to be charmed.

kva-cic-ca kaṃ-cic-ca daśanti pannagāḥ sadā ca sarvaṃ ca tudanti dhātavaḥ // 9.13 //

Snakes bite some people some of the time; the elements strike all people all of the time.


idaṃ hi śayyāsana-pāna-bhojanair-guṇaiḥ śarīraṃ ciram-apy-avekṣitam /

For this body, though long tended with good habits of sleeping and sitting, and of eating and drinking,

na marṣayaty-ekam-api vyatikramaṃ yato mahāśī-viṣa-vat prakupyati // 9.14 //

Does not forgive a single step too far -- at which it rears up in anger, like a great venomous snake.


yadā himārto jvalanaṃ niṣevate himaṃ nidāghābhihato 'bhikāṅkṣati /

Pained by cold, one turns to fire; oppressed by heat, one longs for cold;

kṣudhānvito 'nnaṃ salilaṃ tṛṣānvito balaṃ kutaḥ kiṃ ca kathaṃ ca kasya ca // 9.15 //

When hungry, one longs for food; when thirsty, for water. Where then is strength? What is it? How is it? Whose is it?


tad-evam-ājñāya śarīram-āturaṃ balānvito 'smīti na mantum-arhasi /

So see a body as ailing and do not think 'I am possessed of strength.'

asāram-asvantam-aniścitaṃ jagaj-jagaty-anitye balam-avyavasthitam // 9.16 //

The world is insubstantial, inauspicious, and uncertain, and in an impermanent world, power is undependable.


kva kārta-vīryasya balābhimāninaḥ sahasra-bāhor balam-arjunasya tat /

Where is the power of Kṛta-vīrya's son, the thousand-armed Arjuna, who fancied himself to be so strong?2

cakarta bāhūn yudhi yasya bhārgavaḥ mahānti śrṛṅgāṇy-aśanir-girer-iva // 9.17 //

In battle, Bhārgava, 'The Scion of the Bhṛgus,' severed his arms like a thunderbolt lopping off the lofty horns of a mountain.3


kva tad balaṃ kaṃsa-vikarṣiṇo hares-turaṅga-rājasya puṭāvabhedinaḥ /

Where is the strength of Hari Kṛṣṇa, 'The Kaṁsa-tormentor,'4 who broke the Horse-King's jaw?5

yam-eka-bāṇena nijaghnivān jarāḥ kramāgatā rūpam-ivottamaṃ jarā // 9.18 //

With one arrow from Jaras6 he was brought down, like utmost beauty brought down, in due order, by old age.


diteḥ sutasyāmara-roṣa-kāriṇaś-camū-rucer-vā namuceḥ kva tad balam /

Where is the strength of Namuci son of Diti, light of an army and provoker of the gods?

yam-āhave kruddham-ivāntakaṃ sthitaṃ jaghāna phenāvayavena vāsavaḥ // 9.19 //

He stood his ground in battle, furious as death, but Indra slew him with a spattering of foam.7


balaṃ kurūṇāṃ kva ca tat-tadābhavad yudhi jvalitvā tarasaujasā ca ye /

And where is the power once possessed by the Kurus who blazed in combat with speed and stamina

samit-samiddhā jvalanā ivādhvare hatāsavo bhasmani paryavasthitāḥ // 9.20 //

And then lay in ashes, like sacrificial fires whose firewood has burned, their life-breath snuffed out?


ato viditvā bala-vīrya-mānināṃ balānvitānām-avamarditaṃ balam /

Know, therefore, that the strength of powerful men, who fancy themselves imbued with strength and drive, is ground down;

jagaj-jarā-mṛtyu-vaśaṃ vicārayan bale 'bhimānaṃ na vidhātum-arhasi // 9.21 //

And do not, as you survey a world in the sway of aging and death, take pride in strength.


balaṃ mahad vā yadi vā na manyase kuruṣva yuddhaṃ saha tāvad-indriyaiḥ /

Whether or not you think your strength is great, just do battle against the senses!

jayaś-ca te 'trāsti mahac-ca te balaṃ parājayaś-ced vitathaṃ ca te balam // 9.22 //

If you are victorious in this, your strength is great; if you are defeated, your strength is nothing.


tathā hi vīrāḥ puruṣā na te matā jayanti ye sāśva-ratha-dvipān-arīn

Less heroic are those men thought who conquer enemies armed with horses, chariots and elephants,

yathā matā vīratarā manīṣiṇo jayanti lolāni ṣaḍ-indriyāṇi ye // 9.23 //

Than those heroic thinkers are thought who conquer the restless six senses.


ahaṃ vapuṣmān-iti yac-ca manyase vicakṣaṇaṃ naitadidaṃ ca gṛhyatām /

Again, that you think 'I am good looking' is not astute. Let this be grasped:

kva tad-vapuḥ sā ca vapuṣmatī tanur-gadasya śāmyasya ca sāraṇasya ca // 9.24 //

Where are the good looks, where the beautiful bodies, of Gada, Śāmba, and Sāraṇa?


yathā mayūraś-cala-citra-candrako bibharti rūpaṃ guṇavat sva-bhāvataḥ /

Just as a peacock, flashing the eye in its tail, naturally carries its excellent looks,

śarīra-saṃskāra-guṇād-ṛte tathā bibharṣi rūpaṃ yadi rūpavān-asi // 9.25 //

That is how, without any distinction got from grooming the body, you must carry your looks -- if after all you are good-looking.


yadi pratīpaṃ vṛṇuyān-na vāsasā na śauca-kāle yadi saṃspṛśed-apaḥ /

If its unpleasantness were not covered with clothes, if it never touched water after excretion,

mṛjā-viśeṣaṃ yadi nādadīta vā vapur-vapuṣman vada kīdṛśaṃ bhavet // 9.26 //

Or if it never received a good washing, tell me, O handsome one! what might a body be like?


navaṃ vayaś-cātma-gataṃ niśāmya yad-gṛhonmukhaṃ te viṣayāptaye manaḥ /

Again, perceiving the prime of life to be a personal belonging, your mind looks forward to going home and gaining its sensual end:

niyaccha tac-chaila-nadīrayopamaṃ drutaṃ hi gacchaty-anivarti yauvanam // 9.27 //

Curb that mind! for, like a river coursing down a rocky mountain, youth passes swiftly and does not return.


ṛtur-vyatītaḥ parivartate punaḥ kṣayaṃ prayātaḥ punar-eti candramāḥ /

A season that has passed comes around again, the moon wanes and waxes again,

gataṃ gataṃ naiva tu saṃnivartate jalaṃ nadīnāṃ ca nṛṇāṃ ca yauvanam // 9.28 //

But gone, gone, never to return is the water of rivers, and the youth of men.


vivarṇita-śmaśru valī-vikuñcitaṃ viśīrṇa-dantaṃ śithila-bhru niṣprabham /

When you are white whiskered and wrinkled, with broken teeth and sagging brows; when you are lacking in lustre;

yadā mukhaṃ drakṣyasi jarjaraṃ tadā jarābhibhūto vimado bhaviṣyasi // 9.29 //

When, humbled by age, you see your face grown old, then you will sober up.


niṣevya pānaṃ madanīyam-uttamaṃ niśā-vivāseṣu cirād vimādyati /

Having wasted nights and greeted dawns drinking the most intoxicating liquor, one finally comes around,

naras-tu matto bala-rūpa-yauvanair-na kaś-cid-aprāpya jarāṃ vimādyati // 9.30 //

But drunk on strength, looks and youth, no man ever comes round – until he reaches old age.


yathekṣur-atyanta-rasa-prapīḍito bhuvi praviddho dahanāya śuṣyate /

Just as sugar-cane, when all its juice has been squeezed out, is thrown on the ground to dry, ready for burning,

tathā jarā-yantra-nipīḍitā tanur-nipīta-sārā maraṇāya tiṣṭhati // 9.31 //

So, pressed in the vice of aging and drained of energy, does the body wait to die.


yathā hi nṛbhyāṃ kara-pattram-īritaṃ samucchritaṃ dāru bhinatty-anekadhā /

Just as a saw worked by two men cuts a tall tree into many pieces,

tathocchritāṃ pātayati prajām-imām-ahar-niśābhyām-upasaṃhitā jarā // 9.32 //

So old age, pushed and pulled by day and night, topples people here and now who are high and mighty.


smṛteḥ pramoṣo vapuṣaḥ parābhavo rateḥ kṣayo vāc-chruti-cakṣuṣāṃ grahaḥ /

Robber of memory; destroyer of looks; ender of pleasure; seizer of speech, hearing and sight;

śramasya yonir-bala-vīryayor-vadho jarā-samo nāsti śarīriṇāṃ ripuḥ // 9.33 //

Birthplace of fatigue; slayer of strength and manly vigour: for those with a body, there is no enemy to rival aging.


idaṃ viditvā nidhanasya daiśikaṃ jarābhidhānaṃ jagato mahad-bhayam /

Knowing this great terror of the world named 'aging' to be a pointer on the way to death,

ahaṃ vapuṣmān balavān yuveti vā na mānam-āroḍhum-anāryam-arhasi // 9.34 //

Do not rise to the ignoble conceit of an 'I' that is beautiful, or young, or strong.


ahaṃ mamety-eva ca rakta-cetasaḥ śarīra-saṃjñe tava yaḥ kalau grahaḥ /

With your mind tainted by 'I' and 'mine,' you are latching onto the strife called a body.

tam-utsṛjaivaṃ yadi śāmyatā bhaved bhayaṃ hy-ahaṃ ceti mameti cārchati // 9.35 //

Let go of that, if peace is to come about, for 'I' and 'mine' usher in danger.


yadā śarīre na vaśo 'sti kasya-cin-nirasyamāne vividhair-upaplavaiḥ /

When no-one has dominion over a body that is ravaged by manifold misfortunes,

kathaṃ kṣamaṃ vettum-ahaṃ mameti vā śarīra-saṃjñaṃ gṛham-āpadām-idam // 9.36 //

How can it be right to recognize as 'I' or as 'mine' this house of calamities called a body?


sa-pannage yaḥ ku-gṛhe sadāśucau rameta nityaṃ prati-saṃskṛte 'bale /

One who would delight in a flimsy snake-infested hovel that was always unclean and constantly needing repair:8

sa duṣṭa-dhātāv-aśucau calācale rameta kāye viparīta-darśanaḥ // 9.37 //

He is the man of perverted view who would delight in a body with its corrupted elements and unclean, unstable state.


yathā prajābhyaḥ ku-nṛpo balād balīn haraty-aśeṣaṃ ca na cābhirakṣati /

Just as a bad king takes forcibly from his subjects his full toll of taxes, and yet does not protect;

tathaiva kāyo vasanādi-sādhanaṃ haraty-aśeṣaṃ ca na cānuvartate // 9.38 //

So the body takes its full toll of provisions such as clothes and the like, and yet does not obey.


yathā prarohanti tṛṇāny-ayatnataḥ kṣitau prayatnāt tu bhavanti śālayaḥ /

Just as in soil, grass sprouts readily but rice is grown through sustained effort,

tathaiva duḥkhāni bhavanty-ayatnataḥ sukhāni yatnena bhavanti vā na vā // 9.39 //

So too does sorrow arise readily whereas happiness is produced with effort, if at all.


śarīram-ārtaṃ parikarṣataś-calaṃ na cāsti kiṁ-cit paramārthataḥ sukham /

For him who drags around a hurting, perishable body, there is no such thing, in the supreme sense, as happiness;

sukhaṃ hi duḥkha-pratikāra-sevayā sthite ca duḥkhe tanuni vyavasyati // 9.40 //

For what he determines to be happiness, by taking counter-measures against suffering, is only a condition wherein suffering remains minimal.


yathānapekṣyāgryam-apīpsitaṃ sukhaṃ prabādhate duḥkham-upetam-aṇv-api /

Just as the intrusion of even a slight discomfort spoils enjoyment of the greatest longed-for pleasure,

tathānapekṣyātmani duḥkham-āgataṃ na vidyate kiṁ-cana kasya-cit sukhaṃ // 9.41 //

In a similar way, nobody ever enjoys any happiness by disregarding suffering that is upon him.


śarīram-īdṛg bahu-duḥkham-adhruvaṃ phalānurodhād-atha nāvagacchasi /

You fail to see the body as it is -- full of suffering and inconstant -- because of fondness for its effects:

dravat-phalebhyo dhṛti-raśmibhir-mano nigṛhyatāṃ gaur-iva śasya-lālasā // 9.42 //

Let the mind that chases after effects, like a cow after corn, be restrained by the reins of steadfastness.


na kāma-bhogā hi bhavanti tṛptaye havīṃṣi dīptasya vibhā-vasor-iva /

For sensual enjoyments, like offerings fed into a blazing fire, do not make for satisfaction;

yathā yathā kāma-sukheṣu vartate tathā tathecchā viṣayeṣu vardhate // 9.43 //

The more one indulges in sensual pleasures, the more the desire for sensual objects grows.


yathā ca kuṣṭha-vyasanena duḥkhitaḥ pratāpayan-naiva śamaṃ nigacchati /

Again, just as a man suffering from the blight of leprosy does not obtain a cure by way of application of heat,

tathendriyārtheṣv-ajitendriyaś-caran-na kāma-bhogair-upaśāntim-ṛcchati // 9.44 //

Similarly, one who goes among sense objects with his senses unconquered does not tend towards peace by way of sensual enjoyments.


yathā hi bhaiṣajya-sukhābhikāṅkṣayā bhajeta rogān-na bhajeta tat-kṣamam /

For just as desire for pleasure from one's medicine might cause one to accept one's infirmity instead of taking proper measures against it,

tathā śarīre bahu-duḥkha-bhājane rameta mohād viṣayābhikāṅkṣayā // 9.45 //

So, because of desire for one's object, might one ignorantly rejoice in that receptacle of much suffering which is a body.


anartha-kāmaḥ puruṣasya yo janaḥ sa tasya śatruḥ kila tena karmaṇā /

One who wishes adversity on a man is said, because of that action, to be his enemy.

anartha-mūlā viṣayāś-ca kevalā nanu praheyā viṣamā yathārayaḥ // 9.46 //

Should not sense objects, as the sole root of adversity,9 be shunned as dangerous enemies?


ihaiva bhūtvā ripavo vadhātmakāḥ prayānti kāle puruṣasya mitratāṃ /

Those who were his deadly enemies in this world can in time become a man's friend;

paratra caiveha ca duḥkha-hetavo bhavanti kāmā na tu kasya-cic-chivāḥ // 9.47 //

But not benign for anybody, in this or other worlds, are the desires which are the causes of suffering.


yathopayuktaṃ rasa-varṇa-gandhavad vadhāya kimpāka-phalaṃ na puṣṭaye /

Just as eating a tasty, colourful and fragrant kiṁpāka fruit leads to death not nourishment,

niṣevyamāṇā viṣayāś-calātmano bhavanty-anarthāya tathā na bhūtaye // 9.48 //

So an imbalanced person's devotion to objects makes for misfortune, and not for well-being.


tad-etad-ājñāya vipāpmanātmanā vimokṣa-dharmādy-upasaṁhitaṃ hitam /

As an innocent, then, heed this good advice pertaining to liberation, dharma, and so forth;

juṣasva me saj-jana-saṃmataṃ mataṃ pracakṣva vā niścayam-udgiran giram // 9.49 //

Affirm my opinion, with which the righteous concur. Or else speak up and state your agenda."


iti hitam-api bahv-apīdam-uktaḥ śruta-mahatā śramaṇena tena nandaḥ /

Though reproached at length in this salutary fashion by a striver so great in hearing what is heard,

na dhṛtim-upayayau na śarma lebhe dvirada ivātimado madāndha-cetāḥ // 9.50 //

Nanda neither found firmness nor took comfort: he was like a tusker in full rut, mind blinded by lust.


nandasya bhāvam-avagamya tataḥ sa bhikṣuḥ pāriplavaṃ gṛha-sukhābhimukhaṃ na dharme /

Then, having assured himself that Nanda's being was not in the dharma but was turned unsteadily towards the comforts of home,

sattvāśayānuśaya-bhāva-parīkṣakāya buddhāya tattva-viduṣe kathayāṃ-cakāra // 9.51 //

That beggar reported back to the investigator of living creatures' dispositions, tendencies and ways of being, to the Buddha, knower of reality.



saundaranande mahākāvye madāpavado nāma navamaḥ sargaḥ //9//

The 9th canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Negation of Vanity."





1 NB the title of this canto is “Negation of Vanity” or “Denunciation of Conceit.”

2 Arjuna (son of Kuntī; see note to 7.45) was an ambidextrous master-archer, renowned as the greatest warrior on earth. He is one of the Pāṇḍava heroes of the Mahābhārata. The Bhagavad Gita is addressed by Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna, on the eve of the great battle between the Pāṇḍavas and the Kurus.

3 Bhārgava, lit. 'Belonging to the Bhṛgus,' is a name of Paraśu-rāma "Rāma with the Axe," who according to one version of ancient history was Arjuna's nemesis.

4 Kaṁsa, a king of Mathurā, was a relation (uncle or cousin) of Kṛṣṇa, and became his implacable enemy; hence Kṛṣṇa's epithets include kaṃsa-vikarṣin (Kaṃsa-tormentor) and kaṃsa-jit (Kaṃsa-slayer). The Hari of Hari Kṛṣṇa is though to derive from the root √hṛ, “to take away [evil].”

5 EHJ notes that the story of how Kṛṣṇa broke the jaw of the horse Keshin is recorded in Canto 10 of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, which focuses on devotion (bhakti) to various incarnations of Viṣṇu but especially to Kṛṣṇa.

6 Jaras (masculine) is the name of a hunter who wounded Kṛṣṇa. Jaras (feminine) means old age.

7 Ṛg Veda 8.14.13: "With waters' foam you tore off, Indra, the head of Namuci, subduing all contending hosts."

8 A typical example of the pessimistic, interventionist view of human health, posture, et cetera. See also 9.9.

9 The striver's words somehow sound like the Buddha's teaching – until we investigate the two in detail. For example, if in the Buddha's teaching there is a sole root of adversity, does it lie in the object, or in the tendency to thirst for that object? Aśvaghoṣa's intention may be to cause us to ask such questions and to conduct such investigations.






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