Friday, January 29, 2010

aah water - अजीर्णे भेषजं वारि

water is curative in indigestion, water is nourishing after digestion;
water is appetizing during food, and ill-affects immediately after food.

ajIrNe bheShajam vAri, jIrNe vAri balapradam |
bhojane chAmRitam vAri, bhojanAnte viShapradam ||

अजीर्णे भेषजं वारि, जीर्णे वारि बलप्रदम् ।
भोजने चामृतं वारि, भोजनान्ते विषप्रदम् ॥

Water - the least appreciated thing, right before air. We just take it for granted. There was a time, not too long ago, when you could drink water from pretty much any tap in india, or a well, river. There would be water sheds called 'pyaaoo' on road sides, sponsored by local businessman or charitable person, manned by local hands. You would get some of sweetest natural water, along with some jaggery and roasted grams (at least in hot and dry Rajasthan), easing your travel-related travails. Thanks to recent decades of industrial progress, even in india it is difficult to find drinkable water from free natural resources. And the rivers, the life line of any civilization, are terribly polluted as well like the gangA (गङ्गा) and yamunA (यमुना).

Water - different effects on the same body, depending upon how or when it is consumed.

Medicinal -
Sometimes, we get food poisoning, or an upset stomach and can't eat anything. We should not eat in such times but take enough of water. Today, there are electrolytes, earlier they had salt and sweet lime water or such home made drink that would act as electrolyte as well keep you hydrated. In such condition of upset stomach, drinking plenty of water flushes out the toxins, keeps the stomach light, and helps recover faster, almost like a medicine, a medicine that washes inside out!

One of the reasons for weekly fasting is to give the stomach some rest. The spiritual, religious meanings are also attached, but there is simple medicinal purpose as well. Various kinds of fasting are observed - fruits only, fruits and milk, only water. And then the modern exceptions added like tea, coffee, roasted peanuts etc. which ultimately defeat the purpose of fasting itself.

Appetizer -
During the meal, it is very nice to take a sip of some drink, maybe water or juice. Instead of cold juices, or cold water or cold drinks, one should sip water. It enhances the sense of eating, between two different tastes, a sip of water is great. Throat doesn't feel dry, or choking with a small sip in between. But this should be a sip.

Thanks to the incessant marketing by carbonated drinks, water is considered useless in many 'developed' countries, specially US. In all my long stay in US, I rarely saw any born-American drinking water at restaurants, it was always large coke or pepsi or sprite or something like that. Carbonated drinks upset the digestion, contrary to what advertisements make you believe, and they rot the teeth as well. Kids who get this habit early on at home, suffer from bad stomach and bad teeth, and consequently bad health. A simple solution is to not have it at home at all, don't stack the refrigerator with 12 pack of coke, just because it is cheap. Drink water when you need a drink. And that too not too cold.

Harmful -
If we drink a lot of water during the meal or immediately after a meal, then we are inviting for trouble. Stomach upset, indigestion (and subsequent gastro problems) is a common lament these days, next only to back-aches and cell-phone-induced ear-aches. What is the cause of this? Stress, lack of sleep, fast food, lack of exercise, lack of water in diet, and addition of carbonated drinks to add just a few.

But it is interesting that many people don't realize that drinking water immediately after meal is also bad for digestion. The reason is simple. Like a chemistry lab experiment, drinking water after meal, and that too cold, dampens the digestive juices and hinders proper digestion. Over the long run, the habit causes bad metabolism, bad digestion, bad absorption of nutrients.

Nourishing -
So when should we drink water? After a couple of hours of eating the full meal, is the best time to drink to your fill! That time water will actually help the body by not interfering with digestion and helping the movement as well.

So next time you see water, greet it with glee, and know when to drink and when not to, so it aids the body naturally.

Some more useful links about modern statements on the benefits of water -

and now the language aspects of the shloka -

this shloka appears in vRiddha-chANakya.

ajIrNe = अजीर्णे = a- prefix + jIrNa + -e suffix
jIrNa = old, broken down (structure), tattered (cloths), ruined (building), digested (food)
jIrNe = in (-e suffix) digestion
a-jIrNe = in indigestion

bheShajam = भेषजं = medicine.
the etymology for this word is - "bheSham rogamayaM jayati" which means one that wins over the fear of the sick.

vAri = वारि = water

jIrNe = जीर्णे = in digestion
balapradam = बलप्रदम् = strengthening, nourishing (for food)
bala = strength
pradam = that which gives. root 'da' (to give)

bhojane = भोजने = literally in food (i.e. during meal)
bhojanam = meal, food

chAmRitam = चामृतं = cha + amRitam = and nectar
appetizer, nourisher (and not literally nectar, ambrosia)

bhojanAnte = भोजनान्ते = in the end of the meal
bhojanam = food
anta = end; ante = in the end

viShapradam = विषप्रदम् = poison giving
viSha = poison. here ill effects, not fatal poison, but bad digestion
pradam = that which gives

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

four types of blinds - न पश्यति जन्मान्धः

the birth-blind doesn't see (physical world), 
but the ones blinded by desire, intoxication or wealth 
don't see any flaws (in doing things to get their goals). 
na pashyati janmAndhaH, kAmAndho naiva pashyati | 
na pashyati madonmatto, hyarthI doShAnna pashyati || 
न पश्यति जन्मान्धः कामान्धो नैव पश्यति । 
न पश्यति मदोन्मत्तो ह्यर्थी दोषान्न पश्यति ॥

one who is blind by birth, is ridiculed, for not being able to see the physical world. but there are bigger blinds than him/her. there are people blinded by their lust, ego or avarice. these are also three of the six internal enemies - ShaDripu (षड्रिपु - ShaT=six and ripu=enemy]. the other three being krodha (anger), moha (delusion, [illusion of] attachment), matsara (jealousy).

the blindness caused by the burning lust, ego, greed (or anger, jealousy, attachment) make us blind to what is good or bad, right or wrong. we don't care about the means at all, and not even the goal - if our own goal set is a good one or not!

indra blind in lust seduced ahalyA. rAvana blind in his ego kidnapped sItA. like a glutton doesn't care the quality of food, but only quantity, the blind in lust, ego or greed doesn't care for the rightness of the means or end. it itself becomes a self-fanning fire which never subsides. no matter how much ghee of gratification you put in the fire of senses, the fire only blazes more.

the third eye of shiva, is the eye of awakening, of true knowledge, truth. when we meet with ourselves without the masks of social status or mutual egos, we are able to see truth. we all know what is ultimately right and wrong.

but with not much self-restraint, some people never meet with themselves. they just never could find an appointment with self in their busy days running after the blinding pursuits.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

human or animal, what is the difference? आहार-निद्रा-भय-मैथुनं

food, sleep, fear and mating, these acts of humans are similar to animals' |
of them (humans), dharma (right conduct) is the only special thing, without dharma humans are also animals ||

AhAra-nidrA-bhaya-maithunam cha
samAnam_etat_pashubhir_narANAm |
dharmo hi teShAm adhiko visheSho
dharmeNa hInAH pashubhiH samAnAH||

आहार-निद्रा-भय-मैथुनं च समानमेतत्पशुभिर्नराणाम् ।
धर्मो हि तेषामधिको विशेषो धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः ॥

the king sudarshana, in the preface of hitopadeshaH, out on a stroll had heard two shlokas that set him thinking about the foolish, young, wealthy and powerful sons. after all he had to leave the kingdom to them one day! (see previous posts.)

then he thinks this shloka, also attributed to chANakya where he uses 'vidyA' (knowledge) instead of dharma (right conduct). both are appropriate, since without being aware of right conduct, proper way to use the knowledge, it is mere collection of facts.

biology teaches us, darwin postulated, and the wisdom of indian land always held that all living beings are of common stock, made from similar life units - cells, evolved, changed, mutated through time. put in other words, at a gross material level, we are all similar. basic functions of all life forms is breathing and digestion. kRiShNa says in gItA - 'aham vaishvAnaro bhUtvA, prANinAm dehamAshritam| prANApAnasamAyuktaH pachAmyannam chaturvidham' i.e. armed with breath and digestion, residing in the life forms, i digest four types of foods.' all life forms are upheld by the divine force of Life.

incarnation theory says that since life principle is same in all living forms, a soul can travel in various physical forms. human body is the epitome of life perfection. why? how? we see that we can NOT run faster, smell better, bite harder, swim deeper, hear better than animals. nothing! left alone in the forest, we won't survive for long.

or would we?

Monday, January 18, 2010

thank you for the century!

धन्यवादः ।
dear friends and sanskrit enthusiasts! thank you for your support, we have today a full 100 fans following the blog. on facebook, it has crossed 1000 a while back.

your suggestions, comments, feedback is very important and most welcome. do take a few minutes and post a comment on the posts.

how did you like it?
did you find it practically useful?
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has it impacted your thinking and hence your life in any way?

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

power of the language

without dairy, what is the taste of food?
without land, what is the importance of a king?
without senses, what is the meaning of beautiful damsels?
without sweet words, what is the essence of wisdom?

vinA go-rasam ko raso bhojanAnAM
vinA go-rasam ko raso bhUpatinAm |
vinA go-rasam ko raso kAminInAm
vinA go-rasam ko raso paNDitAnAm ||

विना गो-रसं को रसो भोजनानां
विना गो-रसं को रसो भूपतिनाम् |
विना गो-रसं को रसो कामिनीनां
विना गो-रसं को रसो पण्डितानाम् ||

at first glance, this looks like a simple shloka in meaning, even useless putting together of some catchy one liners! no, no, it is okay to assume that not everything written in sankrit is of transcendental value :) after all, everything written in english today is neither technical nor of high value.

but this simple shloka is important when read in its original, rather translated form. and it unravels an important point while studying sanskrit works, specially that of antiquity.

the key word here is 'go', which has many meanings - cow, land, senses, speech among the few.

'rasam' means juice, essence, interest, mood etc. sanskrit words, many times, taken implied meanings, not just literal. e.g. juice is the essence of a fruit, interest shows liking whether to a performance, thing or to the juice itself :) mood is critical to drama, theater and is the essence of performing art. can the performer sway the mood of the spectators based on his/her performance? even when we know it is all fake, we get emotional watching a specially well enacted movie or story.

an actor is called 'abhinetA'. nIyati = takes, leads. netA = leader. abhinetA = one who takes (not in real). an actor takes us along with him/her on the emotional trip, be it joy or sorrow, anger or greed, disgust or love.

so what is the important thing to learn from this?

'go' has four meanings in the four occurrences in this shloka. each time, meaning different.

go = cow.
go-rasam = milk
rasam = taste
where is the taste in food, without milk products? think about it! those who know ghee, and have tasted it, swear by it! no indian sweet is authentic unless made in pure ghee, a form of clarified butter that can last a very very long time, just like swiss cheese properly processed. and those who don't know of ghee, also swear by milk chocolates, cheese, yogurt or many such other products.

go = land
go-rasam = kingdom
rasam = importance, essence.
what is the importance of a king without his kingdom? a king's purpose is served on this earth only if he can have a [large] kingdom and serves his subjects well.

go = senses of perception
go-rasam = essence of senses, well functioning senses, "well-oiled"
rasam = interest
without well functioning senses, what is the interest in beautiful women? here, of course it is meant that one can't enjoy beautiful women without proper functioning senses, and it goes the same for women as well :) they too need well functioning senses to enjoy men.

here of course, some can bring in hair-splitting arguments that all enjoyment of senses is done by brain, and once that input is there, no more senses are needed, brain can enjoy its own archived sensations. true, but even for the first time, to get the full essence of the physical beauty (epitomized in the healthy and attractive opposite gender) is only obtained with healthy senses. :)

go = speech
go-rasam = sweet speech, meaningful words
rasam = interest
and without sweet, wise words of content, what is the big deal of being a wise person? i.e. if one claims to be a wise person, his or her words, speech should have content and delivery, sweet, useful, wise, kind words. else, anyone can speak harsh, useless, foolish or rude words, you don't need wisdom for that!

so what do we learn from this shloka, so critical to interpreting sanskrit? and more so for older works?

don't jump to conclusion that it is stupid to say without milk there is no use of food, king, women and wise. if it doesn't make sense, we should not discard it outright, but say that 'TO ME, it doesn't make sense NOW. maybe later it may.'

and why so much benefit of doubt to sanskrit works? there is something special about the wise people whose works were found to be worth preserving for generations. they really didn't have the distraction of TV ratings, magazines or new york best-sellers listing, mega-million dollar projects and foundations or non-stop barrage f information in forms of twitter, facebook status, RSS news feeds from all over the world. they didn't have hidden motives and agenda. specially the really larger than life characters like vyAsa, vidura, vAlmIki, or the vedic seers.

that is the only reason, one should always give a benefit of doubt to anything one doesn't understand, specially in lack of the background or context of the saying. there have been massacre of sacred vedic sutras due to arrogant and ignorant translations done by early indologists who had not lived the tradition.

here is an excerpt from
"Rigveda- Verse (1.7.3)

gobhiH adrim airayat
go: cow, water (as per sAyaNa), ray of knowledge
adri: mountain, cloud, force of ignorance
airayat: destroy

Translation 1: (Indra) destroys the forces of ignorance with the knowledge.
Translation 2: (Indra) charged the clouds with water [as per sAyaNa].
Translation 3: (Indra) smashed the hill for getting the cows [as per Griffith].

Translation 1 is the esoteric interpretation. It is difficult to understand the translation 3. Supposedly the cows are hidden in the caves by robbers. By smashing the hill, even the cows are destroyed along with the hill. Translation 2 is acceptable but where is the wisdom in it?"

so, always be humble when interpreting ancient wisdom. for श्रद्धया सत्यमाप्यते (yajurveda 19.30) (shraddhayA satyam_Apyate) i.e. reverence brings out the truth. not blind faith, blind following, but reverent pursuit.

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

vinA = without
go = cow, land, senses, speech
rasam = essence, juice, interest, mood
ko = kaH = what
raso = rasaH = interest, importance, value
bhojanAnAM = of food (bhojanam)

bhUpatinAm = of kings (bhupati)
bhU = earth, land
pati = owner, master, husband etc
patinAm = of pati
kAminInAm = of beautiful women (kAminI)
paNDitAnAm = of wise (pANDita)

like it? then become a fan of the blog. please rate the post as well.
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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the four enemies in the family - ऋणकर्ता पिता शत्रुः

debt giving father is enemy, and mother of loose character.
a beautiful wife is enemy, enemy is a foolish son.

RiNa-kartA pitA shatrur_mAtA cha vyabhichAriNI |
bhAryA rUpavatI shatruH, putraH shatrur_apaNDitaH ||

ऋणकर्ता पिता शत्रुर्माता च व्यभिचारिणी ।
भार्या रूपवती शत्रुः पुत्रः शत्रुरपण्डितः ॥

the king sudarshana, in the preface of hitopadeshaH, out on a stroll had heard two shlokas that set him thinking about the foolish, young, wealthy and powerful sons. after all he had to leave the kingdom to them one day!

debtor father
father is one who protects, shelters, helps in growing to full potential, guides.
in mahAbhArata, when the yakSha asks pANDava prince yudhiShThira - "who is more bearing (patient) than the earth, higher (greater) than sky, more than grass blades and faster than wind?" and yudhiShThira says - "mother is more bearing (patient) than earth, father is higher/greater than sky, worries are more than the grass blades and the mind (manas, imagination) is faster than the wind."

such is the role of the father. we feel protected, secure, in good hands with father. on his shoulder, or holding his finger, or going to the market, using his cycle/bike/car/phone for the first time, ... what all memories we make!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

like father like son - yathA rAjA tathA prajA - यथा राजा तथा प्रजा

as the land so the [ground] water, as the seed so the sprout.
as the region [country] so the language, as the king so the people.

यथा भूमिस्तथा तोयं, यथा बीजं तथाऽङ्कुरः ।
यथा देशस्तथा भाषा, यथा राजा तथा प्रजा ॥

yathA bhUmis_tathA toyaM, yathA bIjaM tathA'nkuraH |
yathA deshas_tathA bhAShA, yathA rAjA tathA prajA ||

the last part of this shloka - yathA rAjA tathA prajA - is an often quoted famous saying, used in perhaps all languages of india, specially in sanskrit and hindi. a good friend asked me for some quote on 'If we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil.' and in that connection i ended up searching the internet for it, maybe in an attempt to give a quick link. but i never found the full shloka anywhere. i don't remember the original source, so that is still a mystery. any help would be appreciated.

as the land, so the water.
the ground water differs from place to place. the mineral content, the medicinal powers are different. even the contamination! bottled water is sold as 'From the Source in the Alps!'. why does it matter, when it is only H2O. but no, it matters. different natural water sources have different healing powers, like hot springs. and all because of the particular composition of the land, the earth in that area.

there are people who get, or are cured of, skin problems when they move from one place to another. people have solved gray hair, stomach troubles and many such problems by moving to another place. as 'they' say - oh, it is in the water! or e.g. in india when someone moves to a new place and gets health issues, people would say 'the water didn't suit you.'