Translating the Udanavarga into spanish

As we spoke earlier today, I am starting a Spanish translation of the Udanavarga, so far so good, but I am having problems translating this line:

29. Shame on you, coarse old age which causes ugliness, since a face that was so lovely has been dishonoured by you!

Bhante @Sujato Do you have any insights about this?
I think that verse is trying to say that we should use young age in order to practice, that if we reach old age with an old body and no advance was accomplished, that is a shame. But to be honest, I am quite lost with it.

The part ‘shame on you’ is not so easy to translate directly into Spanish.

1 Like

to me is sounds like rhetorical vituperation against impermanence and one aspect of suffering which is old age with the aim to evoke with the reader disgust from or better yet disenchantment with all impermanent

the adjacent lines speak of that too


I am not used to such ‘hidden’ meanings, so far I feel the texts are more straight forward, it might just be me trying to be specially careful since I am doing a translation. Better be safe :slightly_smiling:

Are there any back stories for this texts? Like the Dhammapada.

This gives us a nice chance to see how the translation has survived the journey from Sanskrit to English via French. Note that the Sanskrit itself was probably translated from an earlier, more Pali-ish, dialect. The text is this:

dhik tvām astu jare grāmye
virupakaraṇī hy asi |
tathā manoramaṃ bimbaṃ
jarayā hy abhimarditam

With my very limited Sanskrit, here’s what I think is going on.

dhik tvām astu jare grāmye
Shame on you! Vulgar old age,
virupakaraṇī hy asi
for you’re a deformer.
tathā manoramaṃ bimbaṃ
So this lovely face/appearance
jarayā hy abhimarditam
is crushed by old age.

Only the last line appears to be mistaken. Perhaps understandable, as abhimardati doesn’t appear to be in the Sanskrit dictionaries. Not sure what the translator was intending by rendering it as “dishonor”, but the basic meaning is to “crush”.

The verse has quite a close parallel in Pali, SN 48.41:

Dhī taṃ jammi jare atthu,
dubbaṇṇakaraṇī jare;
Tāva manoramaṃ bimbaṃ,
jarāya abhimadditaṃ.

Thank you very much for the explanation. It certainly clarifies that verse.

I will work with the new wordings to do a better translation, it is much clearer now.

In line 10, Chapter II
Gradually, little by little, tirelessly, the wise man should cast out the defilement in himself, like the workman that in silver.

That part in bold, could be my English, but I think it is not well phrased, I guess it means like the person who works in silver will cast out the impurities, or it could be polishing the silver or some other process that I am not familiar with.

Any thoughts?


it echoes a simile from a sutta (don’t remember the name) of gold purification from impurities

a part of the first clause (should cast out the defilement) is implied in the second therefore the second is abridged, the demonstrative that i think references the word defilement while the verb is altogether omitted

not sure how much this is in accord with English syntax, but it sounds poetic


this may be of interest to you

1 Like

That was one of my thoughts, but again, I am not good in poetry in Spanish, much less in English!
I will avoid such form in the Spanish version.

Thanks for your feedback.

I will have it in mind for when I get there, thanks.

One more.

Chapter III
2. But he who delights in appeasing doubt, who thinks only of suffering, ever aware, he will escape craving; he, most certainly, causes his rotting bond to fall away.

I am not sure about what he is saying here, you escape craving by thinking about suffering? But only if you are aware of it? Like being mindful of it?