There is a line in Dhp 341 that seems to have befuddled the translators. As so often in poetry, the language itself is not difficult, but the exact sense is obscure.
- Saritāni sinehitāni ca, Somanassāni bhavanti jantuno
- Anandajoti: There are flowing streams of affection and mental happinesses for a person,
- Buddharakkhita: Flowing in (from all objects) and watered by craving, feelings of pleasure arise in beings.
- Norman: To a creature wide-flowing and lovely delights occur.
- Thanissaro: Loosened & oiled are the joys of a person.
Buddharakkhita’s is the most coherent, but to achieve this it is quite interpretive. Norman’s is barely comprehensible. Thanissaro’s relies on reading the first terms as referring to loose bowel movements; a reading he says is “common”, but for which I cannot, alas, find support anywhere.
Let’s look a bit closer!
The difficult terms are the first two. Sarita refers to something flowing, a stream. Sinehita either means something moist or oily, or in psychological metaphor, affection or love. Note that Anandajoti reads the psychological sense, Buddhaakkhita has both, Norman very loosely has it as “lovely”, while only Thanissaro has the basic sense.
Given, however, the close pairing of the two terms, and the fact that they occur among a series of verses using the metaphor of stream, it seems likely that the physical sense is intended here.
An examination of the syntax will show that the translators quoted above render the grammar differently, but I think Norman is correct to treat the first terms as adjectives for somanassa.
After struggling with this line for some time, it occurred to me that the root metaphor is probably the transience of worldly joys: they slip through your fingers like a stream of water or something oily. I’m thinking of rendering it something like:
Fleeting and slippery are a person’s joys.