Saundarananda, or Handsome Nanda

Post sayings or stories from Buddhist traditions which you find interesting, inspiring or useful. (Your own stories are welcome on DW, but in the Creative Writing or Personal Experience forums rather than here.)
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Zhen Li
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Location: Canada

Saundarananda, or Handsome Nanda

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:25 am

Has anyone read Aśvaghoṣa's Saundarananda?

I believe it has some of the most beautiful expressions of the Dharma to be found, and if anyone is interested I'd like to suggest doing a bit of a shared reading and discussion.

I had translated some myself, but the full text would take many months. There's a very nice version on this site by Mike Cross: ... nanda.html

Let me know if you're interested.

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Zhen Li
Posts: 1472
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Saundarananda, or Handsome Nanda

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:39 pm

What I find most useful about the text is that it highlights skilful means that can be used, which, while not taking one to nirvana, can be useful for developing dispassion. There's similar stuff in the Buddhacarita.

Nanda's thirst for his wife is compared to the stupidity of animals:
"What a pity! In its longing for the herd, a rushing stag that has escaped the mortal danger of the hunter's arrow, /
Is about to enter the hunter's trap, deceived by a call that the hunter sang. // 8.15 //

Truly, a bird that was caught in a net and set free by a benevolent person, /
Desires, as it flits about the fruiting and blossoming forest, to fly of its own volition into a cage. // 8.16 //

A baby elephant, truly, after an adult elephant has pulled it up out of the deep mud of a dangerous riverbed, /
Is wishing, in its thirst for water, to enter again that crocodile-infested creek. // 8.17 //

In a shelter where slithers a snake, a sleeping boy, awoken by an elder who is already awake, /
Has become agitated and, truly, he is about to grab the horrible reptile himself. // 8.18 //

Truly, having flown up and away from a tree that is blazing in a great forest fire, /
A chick in its longing for the nest is wishing to fly there again, its former alarm forgotten. // 8.19 //

Truly, a pheasant separated from its mate through fear of a hawk, and so stupefied by desire as to be helpless, /
Is lacking in resolve and lacking in reserve: the pathetic little beggar is living a pitiful life. // 8.20 //

Greedy and untrained, devoid of decency and intelligence, /
Truly, a wretched dog is wishing to eat again some food that he himself has vomited." // 8.21 //

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