Monday, July 15, 2013

The Kena for Fools 1:1-1

Here’s my attempt at translating the Kena Upanishad by utilizing three translations: an unattributed one from, another by Sri M in his book entitled ‘Wisdom of the Rishis, and that classic work of Swami Gambhirananda in ‘Eight Upanishads, with the Commentary of Sankaracarya, Vol. I.’

Each utilizes a similar diacritic-free transliteration of Sanskrit which works simply well for this fool. My intent is to borrow freely from them while trying to keep some of the wordplay and rhythm apparent in the original or as I feel fit.

I once attempted a transliteration of the Tao Te Ching with each chapter reduced to 140 characters for twitter, which I ultimately published as the Tao Te Tweet. I’m not keeping myself to such constraints here, but the intent is the same: having fun with words of wisdom. It’s what this mind does.

Here’s the first line of Kena 1:1. First comes the Sanskrit transliteration. Second is a section in blue consisting of all three translations described above, word by word if possible, and their ultimate translation in bold. Lastly comes my translation, for what it’s worth.

keneshitam patati preshitam manah

kena--by what, or whom;
ishitam--toward what is desired;
manah--the mind;
Impelled by what or whom does the mind pursue its desires?

‘By whom is the mind activated?
M, Sri. Wisdom of the Rishis

Kena, by what agent; being
isitam, willed, directed;
manah, the mind;
patati, goes, goes towards its own object
Presitam is a form of the same root, with pra prefixed to it, in the sense of directing. If the word presitam alone were used (without isitam) there would arise such an inquiry about the particular kind of director and the direction as: `By what particular director? And how is the direction?' But the attribute isitam being there, both the questions are set at rest, because thereby is ascertained a special meaning, viz `directed (presitam) through whose mere will?'
Willed by whom does the directed mind go towards its object?
Swami Gambhirananda. Eight Upanishads, with the Commentary of Sankaracarya, Vol. I

By whom and toward what rebounds the mind?

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