stock phrase about men?

L.S. Cousins selwyn at NTLWORLD.COM
Sat Mar 13 17:42:43 UTC 2004

Looking further at the two Bandhanasuttas in the A'nguttaranikaaya 
(AN IV 196f.) on the eight ways in which a woman binds a man and the 
eight ways in which a man binds a woman, it seems to me that a little 
more can be said.

The sequence is always the same in both cases but the list varies:

Burmese sources:
2. hasita
3. bha.nita
4. aakappa
5. vanabha'nga
6. gandha
7. rasa
8. phassa

Sinhalese e.g. 1977 edition:
1. ruupa
2. hasita
3. bha.nita
4. giita
6. aakappa
7. vanabha'nga
8. phassa

The PTS edition is eclectic but the Mss it cites seem to correspond 
to the above. So we actually have two Pali lists. I do not doubt that 
if we had a critical edition using a wider range of Mss we would meet 
more variants. Clearly the same must have been true of the 
Sanskrit(-based) sources. No doubt we should expect such variations 
in a list which was probably well known to scribes in oral versions, 
both Prakrit and Sanskrit.

Both versions are, I think, intended to approximate to an increasing 
level of intimacy. With the first four or six - tears, laughter, 
speech, dress - we have things heard or seen at a distance. With the 
last three of the Burmese list we have three of the objects of sense. 
The concluding sentence spells this out nicely:
  te hi bhikkhave sattå subaddhå {v.l. subandhå}, ye[va] phassena 
baddhå" ti {v.l. bandhå ti} 'those beings are thoroughly bound who 
are bound by contact'. (I ignore the variant of paasena for phassena 
taken by the PTS edition not from manuscript but from the nineteenth 
century Siamese edition.)

In each case vanabha'nga is after the things seen and heard (at a 
distance) but before actual contact. This seems rather to support the 
interpretation of the Pali commentaries. It also seems to me that the 
list is rather deliberately gender neutral, as it would have to be 
for paired discourses of this kind.

While all this suggests that the Pali version is quite old (i.e. 
pre-commentarial), it doesn't really address the meaning intended by 
the scribe(s) who wrote

Lance Cousins

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