Anvāssavati; Anussavati

Renderings

anvāssavati: to pursue

anussavati: to pursue

Introduction

Etymology

• Anvāssavati is anu+ā+savati

• Anussavati is anu+savati

Alternative spellings

Their alternative spellings are

• anvāsavati

• anusavati

Equivalence in practice

The two words are used in similar ways, which suggests their equivalence, for example:

• spiritually unwholesome factors do not pursue him
akusalā dhammā nānussavanti (S.4.188).

• spiritually unwholesome factors will pursue him
akusalā dhammā anvāssavissantī ti (M.3.113).

To pursue: to continue to afflict

Because savati means ‘to flow,’ it is tempting to render both words in terms of ‘flow,’ as translators often do, and so does DOP (‘flows after, flows upon, flows continually over’). But the PED suggests anvāssavati means not just ‘stream into’ but also ‘attack, befall.’ We prefer ‘pursue’ because it means ‘to continue to afflict’ (Webster’s). One simile in particular shows the incongruity of ‘flow,’ where flies ‘attack and pursue’ someone smelling like a rotten corpse. See illustrations below.

Illustrations

Illustration: anvāssavissantī, pursue

’The flies will surely attack and pursue one who has putrefied himself and who is full of inward rottenness. They cannot fail to do so.
Taṃ vata bhikkhu kaṭuviyakataṃ attānaṃ āmagandhe avassutaṃ makkhikā nānupatissanti nanvāssavissantī ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjatī ti.

‘His thoughts bound up with attachment will attack him like flies.’
Makkhikā anupatissanti saṅkappā rāganissitā (A.1.280).

Illustration: anvāssavissantī, pursue

While I am pacing back and forth thus, neither greed nor dejection nor unvirtuous, spiritually unwholesome factors will pursue me.
nābhijjhādomanassā pāpakā akusalā dhammā anvāssavissantī ti (M.3.113).

Illustration: anvāssaveyyuṃ pursue

If you abide with the faculty of sight unrestrained (from grasping, through mindfulness), greed, dejection, and unvirtuous, spiritually unwholesome factors would pursue you.
cakkhundriyaṃ asaṃvutaṃ viharantaṃ abhijjhādomanassā pāpakā akusalā dhammā anvāssaveyyuṃ (S.4.178).

Illustration: anussavanti, pursue

I abide mindfully in such a way that perceptually obscuring states do not pursue me
tathā sato viharāmi yathā sataṃ viharantaṃ āsavā nānussavanti (S.2.54).