Tuesday, March 30, 2010

qualities of the wise - know thyself - आत्मज्ञानम्

self-knowledge, initiative, forbearance, steadfast in core values
(helped by these four) who is not distracted from goal, that is called a wise person.

ātmajñānam samārambhastitikṣhā dharmanityatā ।
yamarthānnāpakarṣhanti sa vai paṇḍita uchyate ॥

AtmaGYaanam samArambhastitikShA dharmanityatA |
yamarthAnnApakarShanti sa vai paNDita uchyate ||

आत्मज्ञानं समारम्भस्तितिक्षा धर्मनित्यता ।
यमर्थान्नापकर्षन्ति स वै पण्डित उच्यते ॥

this gem of vidura tells about four essential qualities of wise people.

know thyself
it is very important to know oneself. be it spiritually, or practically. in real world's success, one must know oneself. likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, skills, interests. this applies to start-up entrepreneurs or to large scale leaders of masses. we need to know what ticks us and what ticks us off.

a lot of start-up businesses fail. one of the main reasons is not knowing oneself properly. is this a short term excitement, or am i in it for long term? am i doing this because it is the cool thing, in thing, will make lot of money? even though my heart is not into it? socrates to modern workshops all say - know yourselves.

if you run for a type of job just because it gives more money, even if you don't like the subject, you may be more miserable than happy, for money can't buy happiness, even if you shop at the right exclusive stores :) not everyone is cut out to be a lawyer, many of us have some ethics left! not everyone can be a doctor, no matter what the indian parents want their children to be. the crux of the latest hindi blockbuster movie '3 idiots' is also that only.

it doesn't mean to escape from work and responsibility, but to understand your self and be content with what your personality allows you to do and succeed, less or more. find yourself, flourish in your strengths rather than fall in your weaknesses.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

where not to live - part 2 - धनिकः श्रोत्रियो राजा

rich man, wise man, ruler, river, and fifth, doctor.
where these five are not, don't make residence there.

धनिकः श्रोत्रियो राजा नदी वैद्यस्तु पंचमः ।
पंच यत्र न विद्यन्ते तत्र वासं न कारयेत् ॥

dhanikaḥ shrotriyo rājā nadī vaidyastu pañchamaḥ ।
pañcha yatra na vidyante tatra vāsaṃ na kārayet ॥

continuing from the previous post on where not to live, we come to the next shloka that describes a place where not to live. in the last post we saw that one should not live where there is no respect, livelihood, relatives or knowledge. that was from personal standpoint.

from social standpoint, one should make sure that five things are present where one wants to move and live. or one should move out if these five are not present.

financial system
this is what is meant by 'dhanikaH' (धनिकः) . today, we nee a financial institution like a bank to keep our money safe, or to take an occasional loan when needed. we discuss which bank offers better rates on loans, cards, mortgage etc. people do revolving credit in a vain attempt to even escape the interest but keep the loan!

in india, even then, the role of the rich man was important. shreShThi (श्रेष्ठी) means a rich merchant, from which comes hindi word seTh (सेठ) and the last name shetty (शेट्टी) as in Shilpa Shetty, comes from the sanskrit word shreShTha (श्रेष्ठ) meaning better. the highly developed arithmetic and algebra also had a reason in debt calculations. complicated multiplication tables of 1.25 and 1.5 were taught in ordinary indian schools as late as 3-4 decades ago! good or bad, the rich man was needed for drought relief, wedding expenses, safe keeping.

educational system
wise, learned man is what is meant by 'shrotriyaH' (श्रोत्रियः ). shruti श्रुति (hearing) is veda वेद , that which is heard. shrotriyaH is one who is well versed in veda-s, which contain both religious ritualistic knowledge as well immense wisdom on spiritual matters as well as human mind, social matters. its proper study gives discipline in life and self restraint. such a wise person is required always. be it for the education of children, counseling of grown ups or to perform important rituals of life - birth, wedding, death.

in today's world that would amount to places of education and worship.

legal system
law and order is meant by the word rAjA राजा . without an effective king, society becomes lawless, anarchic and goals of social togetherness are defeated - safety of people, prosperity and peace. be it from external attacks or internal decay, crime, unemployment. a king is akin to today's government, some may argue that even better than it! the word rAjan राजन् comes from rajas रजस्, i.e. active guNa गुण. society is the name of action, not renunciation. the renunciate guides, but the king propels! an effective king stimulates the economy, generates environment for fruitful employment or entrepreneurship, while keeping everyone's interests intact. he also helps maintain law and order.

transportation and water system
nadI नदी is river. all great civilizations have happened by rivers, and even today all great cities are close to a river. earlier it was a source of water and transport, today it is an industrial waste drainage par excellence. wither way, we need good water, potable water and good transport system. good infrastructure is the backbone of an economy. and good drinking water is the backbone of life as we know. it is sad that today rivers are unsuitable for even the worst of the life forms! and drinking water is only in bottles, so much for progress!

charaka चरक - the great sire of ayurveda आयुर्वेद

health care system
vaidya वैद्य is a doctor. ayurveda आयुर्वेद is the science of life, health. it is not witchdoctor or witchcraft, it is a long tradition of serious study of medicine, surgery, cosmetics. not many are aware today of the huge volume of charaka चरक and shushruta's work, that is one of the hottest sanskrit work being printed today. and modern allopathic doctors are the biggest consumers of it. this fact was revealed to me when i went to a reputed sanskrit publisher with a list of books marked off from their catalog. i was told for most of the books that they are out of print. so i asked, what is being printed then? and the answer was - course books (in colleges), ayurveda, astrology  and yoga.

health is the most important aspect, and the extreme step of it is life or no life. and the world is only so long as you have life. the world dies with you. so, do the best to keep alive! and if alive but not healthy is worse than death! for you have the mind that desires but a body that can't fulfill it due to bad health. be it diabetes stopping you from sweets, arthritis from traveling, obesity from eating.

these are the basic pillars of a civilized society - financial, educational, legal, infrastructure and health management.

as mentioned in earlier posts, and in hitopadesha हितोपदेशः itself, the compilation of hitopadesh has taken shloka-s of worth from all sources. and just to make sure the copying is identifiable, the compiler modified a word or two to ensure the original is not quoted exactly, thus creating confusion.

here too, these shloka-s are taken from garuDa purANA गरुडपुराण (1.110.26), the last place one would expect to find full course on shubhAShita-s सुभाषित in a purANa! but it is true! what boggles my mind, is the compiler of hitopadesh, had such a wide reading, and memorized all of them, and could pull shloka-s as needed for the context. today, it is difficult to do so even with a search engine, google and wikipedia!

the one in garuDa purANa goes thus (and means pretty much the same):
dhaninaH shrotriyo rAjA, nadI vaidyastu pa~nchamaH |
pa~ncha yatra na vidyante na kuryAt tatra samsthitim ||

and in chANakya nIti it goes as:
dhanikaH shrotriyo rAjA, nadI vaidyastu pa~nchamaH |
pa~ncha yatra na vidyante, na tatra divasam vaset ||

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

dhanikaH = rich man
dhana = wealth
dhanika = one with wealth

shrotriyo = learned man
shruta = heard
shruti = vedas
shrotra = ears
shrotriyaH = one who is learned (in the vedas)

rājā = rAjA = king

nadī = nadI = river

vaidyastu = vaidyaH + tu
vaidya = medicine man

pañchamaḥ = fifth

pañcha = five
yatra = where
na = not
vidyante = do not reside (plural), vidyati (singular)

tatra = there

vāsaṃ = residence
na = not
kārayet = should do

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

meditate on rama shriramachandra kripalu bhaju mana - श्रीरामचन्द्र कृपालु भजु मन

shrīrāmachandra kṛipālu bhaju mana, haraṇa bhava-bhaya dāruṇam ।
nava-kañja-lochana kañja-mukha kara-kañja pada-kañjāruṇam [1]
kandarpa agaṇita amita chhavi navanīla nīrada sundaram ।
paṭapīta mānahu taḍita ruchi shuchi naumi janaka-sutā-varam [2]
bhaju dīnabandhu dinesha dānava-daitya-vaṃsha-nikandanam ।
raghunanda-ānanda-kanda kaushalachanda dasharatha-nandanam [3]
shira-mukuṭa-kuṇḍala tilaka-chāru udāra-aṅga-vibhūṣhaṇam ।
ājānubhuja shara chāpa dhara saṅgrāmajita khara-dūṣhaṇam [4]
iti vadati tulasīdāsa shaṃkara-sheṣha-muni-jana-rañjanam ।
mama hṛidaya-kuñja nivāsa kuru kāmādi-khala-dala bhañjanam [5]

श्रीरामचन्द्र कृपालु भजु मन, हरण भव-भय दारुणम् ।
नव-कंज-लोचन कंज-मुख कर-कंज पद-कंजारुणम् ।
कन्दर्प अगणित अमित छवि नवनील नीरद सुन्दरम् ।
पटपीत मानहु तडित रुचि शुचि नौमि जनक-सुता-वरम् ।
भजु दीनबन्धु दिनेश दानव-दैत्य-वंश-निकन्दनम् ।
रघुनन्द-आनन्द-कन्द कौशलचन्द दशरथ-नन्दनम् ।
शिर-मुकुट-कुण्डल तिलक-चारु उदार-अंग-विभूषणम् ।
आजानुभुज शर चाप धर संग्रामजित खर-दूषणम् ।
इति वदति तुलसीदास शंकर-शेष-मुनि-जन-रंजनम् ।
मम हृदय-कुंज निवास कुरु कामादि-खल-दल भंजनम् ।

o heart! pray to the merciful, compassionate shrI rAma!
who takes away the terrible fears of the mortal world|
eyes like new lotus, lotus-faced,
lotus hands, even feet are like red lotus ||1||

the eternal image (exceeding) innumerable kAmadEva,
beautiful like new water-bearing clouds|
and the yellow garments look (on the dark complexion) like lightning,
i bow to the husband of the daughter of janaka ||2||

Monday, March 22, 2010

where not to live - यस्मिन्देशे न संमानो

the place where there is neither respect, nor income, or relatives
nor earning of any knowledge, leave that place.

yasmindeśhe na saṃmāno na vṛttirna ca bāndhavaḥ ।
na ca vidyāgamaḥ kaśhcittaṃ deśhaṃ parivarjayet ॥

yasmindeshe na sammAno na vRittirna cha bAndhavaH .
na cha vidyAgamaH kashchittam desham parivarjayet ..

यस्मिन्देशे न संमानो न वृत्तिर्न च बान्धवः ।
न च विद्यागमः कश्चित्तं देशं परिवर्जयेत् ॥

this is said in hitopadesh, when hiraNyaka wanted to leave his place and go with his friend crow, because he was planning to leave for another larger lake. in this connection, hiraNyaka says three shlokas, about where should or should not one live? the first one is this.

from a practical standpoint, why do we live in or go to a place to live in?

either we were born there, and all our family has been living there. there are people who haven't left their village for 19 generations who have lived and died in the same village which was founded when their great-great-great-great grand father 19 generations before, en route, sat down to rest and found the place to be worth setting camp! and lo and behold, after 19 generation, it is a small village with its own zip code!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

meet the alphabet - letters and vowels e and ai

first compound vowel 'e' as 'a' in 'fate' (11th vowel and letter)

this is ए e, é (to emphasize the accent).
a, aa, i, ii, u, uu, Ri, Rii, LRi, LRii make it 10.
e/é is the 11th vowel/letter. it is pronounced like the name of the english letter a; as 'a' of 'fate', mate, date etc.

but we skipped three very extremely rarely used vowels Rii, LRi, LRii. i think they were there purely because of linguistics rules, 'there ought to be a vowel here, as per the rules. but it is difficult to say, so maybe we will not use it.' must have been the thought.

just like in chemistry's periodic table of elements, as soon as they figured out the reasoning and structure of the table, scientists started to give names to elements not yet discovered but predicted. the not yet discovered elements were called eka-XYZ, e.g. eka-silicon, eka-boron in 19th century, and eka-mercury much later in 20th century. a little digression into eka-mercury, in 1996 scientists made it in lab, and it lasts for 30seconds before disintegrating. "in total, about 75 atoms of Copernicium (that is the new name of eka-mercury) have been detected using various nuclear reactions." - wow! that is LRi and LRii for us right there! :)

linguistically, e is formed with a + i/ii = e= ए
  • eka = एक = one, alone, the only, OM, 
  • ekaveNI = एकवेणी = one with a single plait, usually sign of a wife whose husband is away.
  • eka-shRinga = एकशृंग  = one horned, rhinoceros.
  • ekatra = एकत्र = collected in one place, gathered
  • ekAdasha = एकादशी = 11th, 11th day in the lunar calendar, holy day
  • etad = एतद् = this. compared to tat = that
  • elA = एला = ilAyachI (इलायची hindi), cardamom
  • eva = एव = only (ahameva = only me); for emphasis (evameva = exactly, surely, certainly)

how to write 'e' :

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

large shoes, small footprint - भोगा न भुक्ता वयमेव भुक्ताः

pleasures weren't consumed, only we were; penance weren't 'done'; only we were 'done';
time didn't pass, only we passed; thirst was not 'over', only we got 'over'.

bhogā na bhuktā  vayameva bhuktāḥ,  tapo na taptaṃ  vayameva taptāḥ ।
kālo na yāto vayameva yātāḥ, tṛṣṇā na jīrṇā vayameva jīrṇāḥ ॥

bhogA na bhuktA  vayameva bhuktAH,  tapo na taptaM  vayameva taptAH |
kAlo na yAto vayameva yAtAH, tRiShNA na jIrNA vayameva jIrNAH ||

भोगा न भुक्ता वयमेव भुक्ताः, तपो न तप्तं वयमेव तप्ताः ।
कालो न यातो वयमेव याताः तृष्णा न जीर्णा वयमेव जीर्णाः ॥

we all have desires, for pleasures. even the ancient upaniShads accept it "this human is made of desires." but we don't have enough time and money to pursue them all. a lot of hollywood movies also reinforces that. we think that if we have enough money, we will pursue all pleasures, fulfill all our desires and be happy. but interestingly, the pleasures are innumerable and never get over.  e.g. the number of pizzas we can consume is only limited by our stomach, not by the taste buds or pizza makers.

we think we are consuming the pleasures by pursuing them, but they are consuming us, eating us up all the time. to enjoy all the pleasures coming at us at a rate of gushing oil-well, we must earn more, work more, have less time or patience for others and family, get more loan, stick to our current job that pays bills but sucks blood, ... and one day we realize we can't consume any more pleasures because the doctor has advised against it and god might be calling soon as well, but the pleasures are still there!

we don't consume pleasures, they consume us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

meet the alphabet - letters and vowels Ri and Rii

the vowel Ri, calligraphic (left), single stroke cursive (right)

this vowel sound is the one of the most confusing sounds in sanskrit, that have also got modified in regional languages in two different ways, unlike any other sounds. the other sound being that of 'GY'/'jn' (ज्ञ) as in GYaana/JNaana (ज्ञान)

short sound - RRi (ITRANS); ऋ (devanAgarI); ṛ (IAST)
long sound - RRI (ITRANS); ॠ (devanAgarI); ṝ (IAST)
as for sanskit use, a single Ri is sufficient, but since there is another sound in marAThi language, ITRANS chose RRi, rather than just Ri.

these are sixth and seventh letters and vowels of sanskrit. the longer vowel is extremely rarely used. the shorter vowel is also used in very few words, but it is used in some of the most common or important words. i for one, never understood why such a rarely used vowel was used for such important words (see later).

a few pointers will help in its pronunciation.
  • in its current usage, in northern indian languages it is said as 'ri', just like 'r' + 'i'. in this case ripu (रिपु, enemy) and RiShi (ऋषि, sage) would sound the same.
  • in southerns indian languages, the pronunciation is like 'ru', 'r' + 'u'. in this case ruchi (रुचि, interest) and Ruchaa (ऋचा, verse) would sound the same.
  • just like 'i' + 'a' makes 'ya' sound, and 'u' + 'a' makes the 'wa' sound, 'Ri' + 'a' makes 'ra' the normal 'r' of rain, ring etc.
  • it also means that just like 'i' and 'ya' are said from front palate (moordhaa, between the base of teeth and roof of mouth cavity); 'u' and 'wa' are labials, said with the help of the lips; 'Ri' and 'ra' are also said from the same place, the moordhaa, roof of the palate. so trying to say 'wa' by quickly saying 'u' and 'a' gives us how to say 'u'. similarly, trying to saying 'ra' slowl, breaking it into '??' and 'a' will give us a good idea on how to say 'Ri'. put your tongue on the roof of the palate, and try to say 'a'.
  • remember, 'Ri' is a vowel sound, which means you should be able to sustain it for long. what do ii mean? if you say 'ka' for long and 'cha' for long, you will only hear 'a' vowel sound, after 3 seconds, you can't say whether the speaker was saying 'ka' or 'cha' since all that is left after the first split second is the vowel sound. so when you say 'Ri/ऋ/ṛ', if you make it sound like 'ri' you will hear a sustained 'i'. if you make it sound like 'ru', you will hear a sustained 'u', both of which will be incorrect. so your tongue should remain at the roof while you say this vowel.

how to write 'Ri'?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Where women are respected - यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते

The divine are extremely happy where women are respected ;
where they are not, all actions (projects) are fruitless.

yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ|
 yatraitāstu na pūjyante sarvāstatrāphalāḥ kriyāḥ ||

yatra naaryastu puujyante ramante tatra devataaH |
yatraitaastu na puujyante sarvaastatraaphalaaH kriyaaH ||

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः ।
यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफलाः क्रियाः ॥

Happy Women's Day!

Manusmṛiti is one of the most influential social text that has moulded much of practical social behavior, practices of Hindu society in India. In the last century, it has been grossly criticized for political, sectarian and divisive reasons by people who don't understand sanskrit, metaphors and have no compassion.

On woman's day, let see what this great text has to say on woman, wife. This is only a very small extract from this large book. This should at the same time pay respect to women everywhere and also give back some good name to this awesome work of social importance.

i had written the main article in response to a Times of India article last year.

  • The wise father (of the girl) shall not take anything by way of 'fee' from her groom. By taking a dowry out of greed (bride price), he becomes the seller of his offspring [3.51].
  • The relatives who, out of folly, live off of the woman's property like vehicle, clothes; those sinners go to worst hells [3.52] (forget about dowry given by the bride's father, it was more prevalent for the groom to give bride price, as is in many other cultures as well).
  • Many Ṛiṣhi-s have prescribed a token fee of a pair of cow and bull in 'ārṣha' (आर्ष) marriage, but even that is akin to selling your daughter [3.53].
  • Where such fee is not taken (but may be given out of affection by the groom's side), that is not selling, but worshiping/respecting and showing affection to the woman [3.54].
  • If desiring more prosperity in life, father, brother, husband, husband's younger brother (older is considered as father only) they all should respect the bride and adorn her (with ornaments) [3.55].
  • The divine are extremely happy where women are respected (worshiped, figuratively), where they are not, all actions (projects) are fruitless [3.56].
  • The family in which the daughters or newlywed brides mourn, that family suffers a quick destruction; and where they don't it surely prospers [3.57].
  • Those homes that these disrespected women (daughters, daughters-in-laws) cast curse upon, they are eradicated as if destroyed by (the tantric deity of black magic) Kṛityā (कृत्या) [3.58].
  • Hence, men who seek prosperity should always respect women, (and) on solemn occasions and festivals, adorn with ornaments, clothes and food [3.59].
  • The family in which the husband is content with the wife and the wife is content with the husband, is certain to have divine blessings. [this doesn't mean only sexual contentment but how the two perform their duties to the home, family, their conduct, etc. like how a wife manages the whole house, relations, children, finances etc. or how the husband protects, earns, has social reputation, standing and circle etc.] [3.60].
  • If the wife is not attractive (and/or doesn't attempt to attract with makeup etc.) and/or the husband is not attracted; the husband's progeny is not possible on that account of lack of attraction [3.61].
  • When the women look beautiful (adorn jewelry, do makeup, dress up) the whole family looks good, and when they don't everything looks insipid. [3.62]"

My eyes are misty just translating this, imagine what great benevolent people must have said it first! How practical, spiritual and open-hearted people! Salutations to such Ṛiṣhi-s, seers.

And to women all over - mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, friends, in whatever form they meet us, they bring the divine energy with them.

Now this doesn't at all mean to throw the relation off-balance by thinking it is only the woman who is divine. But it is to emphasize that they too are divine, and not property, slave or object. This also doesn't mean that all women are always right and good, just like not all men are right or good.

The women in Hindu society have always had an equal right, equal doze of respect, disrespect, suffering and showering, property and poverty as men. Equality doesn't mean exact same, it has to appropriate to the person's ability, role etc. Due to fast, external influences a millennium ago, the society became rigid in an attempt to preserve its identity, and the ill practices started to creep in. They had property rights, rights to leave and remarry, widow remarriage, marry on their own if beyond age (Chāṇakya’s Arthshāstra mentions all these explicitly)

A marriage is always of respect, and is not just for lust, it is family building, providing a happy, safe trusting environment, where both husband and wife have to be happy to complete the picture. If the husband is called pati-parameshavara i.e. "husband is ultimate god", then the wife is also called gṛiha-lakṣhmī i.e. "prosperity of the home". Only a balanced, respectful relationship will give any meaning to it.

We will discuss other great sayings about women in later posts. For now, express your respect to the women in your life, get misty eyed and tell them how much they mean to you. Yes, you can do it :) :)

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।

Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

meet the alphabet - letters and vowels u and uu

the short sound is 'u' and sounds like 'u' of put. (उ)
the fifth letter and vowel of sanskrit.
it is said for 1 unit of time. the longer vowel, or diirgha is said for 2 units of sounds (represented in ITRANS as oo, uu, or U

meaning of 'u'
  • shiva. the second sound of om a+u+m
  • used as a filler word in verse
  • exclamatory word expressing - calling someone; anger; order; approval; question
  • also used typically with atha, na, kim to make atho, no, kimu. 'ek-ekam-api-anarthAya, kimu yatra chatuShTayam' (see earlier post)
how to write 'u'?

some common words starting with 'u' are -
  • ukta (adj) = उक्त = spoken word, that which is said.
  • ukti = उक्ति = saying
  • ugra (adj) = उग्र = violent, scary, cruel. (n) shiva
  • uchita = उचित = appropriate, worthy
  • utkaNTha (adj) = उत्कण्ठा = (one with out-stretched neck) eager, ready to do
  • uttara = उत्तर = north; better (uttam = best); of later; left (opposite of dakShiNa)
  • uttaram = उत्तरम् = answer
  • udAharaNa = उदाहरण = example
  • upadesha = उपदेश = advice, direction, mentoring

the sixth letter and vowel of sanskrit alphabet, and is spoken for two units of time, compared to 'u'.
the long vowel 'U' is written very much like the short vowel, except for a curl at the side.

how to write the letter 'U'?
some common words starting with 'U' are -
  • UDha = ऊढ = married; pra+UDha = prauDha = matured man (-aa , woman)
  • Una = ऊन = less; one less, as in 1 less than 20 (ekonavishanti, ek-Una-vinshati), 30 (ekontrinshati, ek-Una-trinshati), and in hindi unnees, unnatees, unchaalees etc
  • UrUH = ऊरूः = thigh
  • UrjA = ऊर्जा = food, energy
  • UrNam = ऊर्णम्= wool; UrNanAbha = spider (as if making wool from navel)
  • Uha = ऊह = to conjecture, guess, to understand, to put forward a point (as in for a topic)
  • UhApoha = ऊहापोह = remove conjectures, consider both sides of the debate and find the right answers, to remove dilemma thus.

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