mātrāsparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkhadāḥ|
āgamāpāyino’nityās tāṃs titikṣasva bhārata||

“But Kaunteya, the contacts of the senses with their objects, giving heat, cold, pleasure  and pain, are characterized by coming-and-going; they are non-eternal. Put up with them, Bharata.”

mātrāsparśāḥ iti | mātrāḥ ābhiḥ mīyante śabdādayaḥ iti śrotrādīni indriyāṇi | mātrāṇāṃ sparśāḥ śabdādibhiḥ saṃyogāḥ | te śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkhadāḥ śītaṃ uṣṇaṃ sukhaṃ duḥkhaṃ ca prayacchanti iti | The mātrās are the sense-faculties (hearing etc), so-called because by them sound etc are measured. mātrāṇāṃ sparśāḥ – the contacts of the mātrās – are their connections with sound etc. They are śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkhadāḥ – they give cold, heat, pleasure and pain.

athavā spṛśyante iti sparśāḥ viṣayāḥ śabdādayaḥ | Or, sparśāḥ means the sense-objects, sound etc, because spṛśyante = they are contacted. mātrāśca sparśāśca śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkhadāḥ – the senses and their objects give cold and heat, pleasure and pain.

śītaṃ kadācit sukhaṃ kadācid duḥkhaṃ | tathā uṣṇam api aniyatasvarūpam | – cold is sometimes pleasant, sometimes painful; likewise heat; it is without a definite nature.

sukhaduḥkhe punaḥ niyatasvarūpatāṃ na vyabhicarataḥ | ataḥ tābhyāṃ pṛthak śītoṣṇayoḥ grahaṇam | On the other hand pleasure and pain do not deviate from their definite nature; therefore they are understood distinctly from cold and heat.

yasmāt te mātrāsparśādayaḥ āgamāpāyinaḥ āgamāpāyaśīlāḥ tasmāt anityāḥ | Since these, the senses and their objects and so forth, are characterized by coming-and-going, have the nature of coming-and-going, they are non-eternal.

ataḥ tān śītoṣṇādīn titikṣasva prasahasva | teṣu harṣaṃ viṣādaṃ vā mā kārṣīḥ iti arthaḥ || Therefore, put up with cold and heat etc, bear with them; this means do not give rise to delight or sorrow with regard to them.

3 Responses to “Śaṅkara on Gītā 2:14”

  1. Susan Says:

    Here is my rather rough translation, although it isn’t too different from yours, Peter. It helped to have yours to bounce back and forth on.

    “mātrāsparśāḥ” (defined):
    The mātrās are the senses of hearing, etc in that sound, etc are measured by these (senses). The contacts of the sense organs are connections with sound, etc.
    They are śītoṣṇasukhadukhadāḥ – namely, they give cold, heat, happiness and pain.
    Or we can say contacts (sparśa) are the objects of sense such as sound, etc, because they are said to be touched (by the senses).
    The mātras, sense organs, and their sparśas, contacts, give cold, heat, happiness, sorrow.
    Sometimes cold is pleasant. Sometimes it is painful.
    And in this way too heat has an undefined nature.
    On the other hand, both happiness and sorrow do not deviate from having a defined nature.
    And therefore the understanding of heat and cold is different from (happiness and pain).
    Since these senses and their objects and such are characterized by coming and going, namely they have a tendency to come and go, they are non-eternal.
    Therefore, put up with, bear these things such as cold, heat, etc. This means do not sorrow or take delight in them.

    Several things struck me while translating this paragraph:
    1) The senses are the active drivers; the objects of sense are the passive receivers of being “touched” or “measured” by the senses. I don’t know where I had this impression but I thought that the objects sort of “come at” and “touched” the senses. The senses passively receive the contact of the objects.
    Not true. It’s the other way around.

    2) I really struggled with the meaning of niyata / aniyata, but I think you really got the gist of it, Peter. Apparently Shankara sees the two pairs (hot/cold & pleasure/pain) as different in that it is the perceiver who attaches value to the hot and cold, while the 2nd pair IS the value itself arrived at by the perceiver. I’m not sure why he distinguishes between these two pairs — because it’s an interesting observation?
    3) The final verb “kārṣīḥ” is the prohibitive injunctive of the ‘s’ aorist form of /kṛ “to do”, isn’t it?

    • allogenes Says:

      Susan, I like yours! As you say, there aren’t that many differences, but I like the way you lay out the basic structure of the commentary. As to the points you mention,
      1) interesting! Like you and I think most people nowadays, I naturally think of objects as (unwittingly) sending us signals, like sound and light waves, which impact on our senses. I am reminded that in the ancient Greek world people imagined that our eyes sent out rays of some sort that bounce off things and come back with information!
      2) I wondered about that too. Maybe it is just “an interesting observation” on the part of Ś., but… it seems to me the Buddhists also speak of the experience of pleasure and pain as fundamental, more so than the discernment of specific “objective” information… maybe that’s what he’s getting at too. But it isn’t clear how/whether it is necessary to his thinking, or what in the tradition it may contrast with…
      3) Right!

  2. Susan Says:

    Yes, I do want all and every follow-up comment emailed to me. Your website is fabulous, Peter.
    Whenever you want to tackle the next chunk, I’ll try to get at it. I go in for surgery next Fri, April 15.
    I like the idea of doing 1/2 or 3/4 page or so at a time, that way we can fully digest what we are reading.


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