Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kena Upanishad 2:3 & Carefully Chosen Words

For whom not conceived, to whom conceived.
Conceived to whom, does not know himself.
Not understood by understanding.
Understood by not understanding.

yasyaamatam tasya matam
matam yasya na veda sah
avijnaatam vijaanataam
vijnaatam avijaanataam

Note: There are three words here used for the concept of understanding: matam, veda, and vijanatam. Most translators appear to use them all as a single meaning. Sri M chooses ‘know.’ As does Nikhilananda, Manchester/ Prabhavananda, and of course, Gambhirananda via Shankara. On the other hand, Paramananda and Easwaran use a combination of think and know. Only Aurobindo differentiates each meaning: think, know, discern. I lean towards his understanding, but have chosen different translations in ‘conceive’ and ‘understand for 'think' and discern.’ Basically, I didn't agree with the translation: “For whom not thought, to whom thought.” I feel ‘conceived’ offers more depth. As for ‘discern’ rather than ‘understand,’ it’s just a pure sense of appropriate language there. But I could certainly be persuaded by Aurobindo's choice in time.

Also, In this translation, I am continuing to stay with the placement of the words as much as Englishly possible. This is especially noticeable in the translation of the second line. Aurobindo translates this as such: “…he by whom It is thought out, knows It not.” But I find it important that ‘sah’ or ‘him’ come at the end of the line. First, in the first line, that word is not used. Yasya or ‘whom’ is used twice. For me, this indicates that the knowing is not done by the person. Whereas in the second line, the one that wrongly conceives is that 'person.' Moreover, because of that incorrect conception, that person “does not know himself.”

These are the intricacies I feel the Rishi Kena is teasing out in a few carefully chosen words, and exactly what is missing in the other translations.

No comments:

Post a Comment