It's been a while, I know. New subscribers please feel free to catch up by going to my website, ashtangayogaphulla.com (in the about section, bottom right of the screen), for the first eight slokas. Now, without further ado...
When mind and breath are completely stopped She, blessed Kevala-Kumbha, arrives, spreading [through consciousness] like ripples on a still pond. She is experienced by those ever-mindful heroic practitioners while they contemplate the unstruck sound.
This śloka is another when/then statement, quite straightforward. So what I’d like to discuss in more depth is one word, a verb, to shed just a little more light on all the nuance one can find in Sanskrit. It’s the nuance that makes it so challenging and rewarding to try to translate. And again, I claim no mastery or authority here. My goal with this endeavor has always been to share my process and my journey with you, my readers. That’s all.
Now the word of the day is jrmbh. I still haven’t downloaded the more comprehensive Sanskrit diacritics yet, so I’ll just have to tell you that the “r” in the word is the vowel form and not the semi-vowel form. Like in Krshna. It should have a dot underneath it, and it’s pronounced as a quick, single-rolled r. As in “mira,” in Spanish. According to Monier-Williams, jrmbh means:
to open the mouth, yawn; to gape open, open (as a flower); to fly back or recoil (as a bow when unstrung); to unstring a bow; to unfold, spread (as a flood); expand, occupy a larger circuit; to spread (as sound); to feel at ease; to cause to yawn; to spread everywhere
Clearly there are many choices for a translator. Some of them are obvious. One wouldn’t want to describe the arrival of a transcendent state of consciousness as yawning, or recoiling, or unstringing a bow. Spreading like a flood doesn’t really work because floods are destructive. A similar image that came to mind for me was the spreading of the shock wave from a nuclear bomb from old newsreels, or the shock wave from a meteor hitting the earth as imagined by computer animators. Again, both destructive. But on the other hand, the image of a flower blossoming, gently unfolding it’s petals was, for me, a little too frou-frou. Maybe this is just some toxic masculinity talking, but I figured it’s enough that I’m a stay-at-home-dad yoga teacher, and I’ve already decided against shock waves, so I can do without the unfolding petals. In the end I chose the last definition, to spread everywhere, and took a little license with the image of ripples over still water. This lines up nicely with the śloka in that it states the spreading doesn’t happen until there is stillness. There can’t be ripples over choppy water.
I can understand why some might find it strange, especially given the difficulty of it, but this whole process of translating makes me so happy. It doesn’t necessarily make me more yogic or given me any extra pull, so to speak. I guess it’s just another way to seek and in some small measure create beauty in my life. I think/hope I’m coming out of a long fog of writers’ block and I have a lot of catching up to do with this commentary business. The treatise itself is almost finished, only three ślokas left! In the coming weeks I’ll probably bundle several of them, so please stay tuned!