Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ginger merchant and ship - किमार्द्रकवणिजः

किमार्द्रक-वणिजो वहित्र-चिन्तया
kimArdraka-vaNijo vahitra-chintayA
kimārdraka-vaṇijo vahitra-cintayā

What [would] a ginger merchant [have to do] with worry about ships?

This nyAyaH (न्यायः) is used to denote totally unrelated subjects. e.g. Why would a merchant who sells ginger, worry about ships?

Interestingly, the present word for ginger in Hindi is adaraka/adarakha (अदरक/अदरख), a direct descendant from the Sanskrit Ardraka. This is the fresh ginger root, which is moist. The word Ardra (आर्द्र) means moist, wet.

Other interesting words for ginger are :
  • Ardra-ja = आर्द्रज = Ardra+ja = born (-ja) in moist[ure] (Ardra)
  • uShaNA = उषणा = heat (uShNa) producing
  • kaTu-kanda =कटु-कन्द = sharp tasting (kaTu) stem  (kanda)
  • kaphAri = कफारि = kapha+ari = enemy (-ari) of kapha (phlegm)
  • indra-bheShaja = इन्द्र-भेषज = medicine (bheShaja) of the gods (indra the king of gods)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We are what we eat - दीपो भक्षयते ध्वान्तं

दीपो भक्षयते ध्वान्तं कज्जलं च प्रसूयते |
यदन्नं भक्षयेन्नित्यं जायते तादृशी प्रजा ||

dIpo bhakShayate dhvAntam kajjalam cha prasUyate |
yadannam bhakShayennityam jAyate tAdRishI prajA ||

Lamp eats darkness and produces [black] soot!
What food (quality) [one] eats daily, so will [one] produce.

This shloka is a simple one, appearing in "vRiddha-chANakya" (वृद्ध-चाणक्य), but it has deeper implications.

The lamp eats away the darkness. Light has always been a metaphor for good, and a lamp that of a person who does good even if it burns inside and causes its own extinction!

Taking this simple observation of every day life, the poet - yes, even prose in Sanskrit is poetic, for no writings are without metaphors and a second layer of vision, that is so essential to being a poet - picks up the other side of this example.

Chanakya (chANakya, चाणक्य), the wise and shrewd statesman of emperor Chandragupta (चन्द्रगुप्त) may not evoke an image of a poet in anyone, but that is because the English word poet is limited, and the Sanskrit word kavi (कवि) has been restricted in use to mean simply, 'word rhyming'. A kavi is one who has vision, s/he is a seer, feels and thinks beyond just the words!

चाणक्य says that a lamp 'eats' darkness. Figuratively we all know. But even literally, for the effect of eating away the darkness the result is that a black soot is what remains when it dies out.

We are what we eat
Similarly, he says, the food we eat affects our seeds directly, both men and women. Modern medicine has been doing clinical studies and they agree on how diet can impact fertility. Marketing, hype, economics of huge corporations and market segments may not allow simple truths to reach the public, but sometimes they do trickle down.

For long, among the young men, there has been a fashion of tight undergarments. A clinical correlation was established among many men with low fertility and their tight undergarments. It is simply biology, nothing else.

Similarly, food intake directly affects our body. After all, exercise doesn't make the body, food makes the body. Exercise shapes the body, not make it. While the fact that food impacts our own body directly is well understood, (whether implemented or not), the fact that our food and other intake may impact our next generation directly may not be so clear. There is enough evidence now that they are related, and intake of tAmasika (तामसिक, impure, unhygienic and negative) food, tobacco, alcohol can effect the quality of the reproductive cells.

We are what we do repeatedly
There is a third level of inference from here, which is metaphoric, which I think चाणक्य may have surely meant. If not, then I present this as my inferred interpretation as a poet. The critical term here is 'birth' hinted in all words - prasUyate, jAyate, prajA etc. One thing is the physical effects on the physical birth of children after impacting our physical body negatively through bad physical food.

The other is the mental food. What values we nibble for breakfast, eat for lunch and savor for dinner, what we imbibe, what we do everyday, what our children see us doing everyday, is what is going to be their mental food and making their character and value system. And the makeup and shape-up of the mind is equally important as the body, for worse than a strong mind in a weak body is a weak mind in a strong body. The latter can do much harm if gone out of control.

There is a famous saying 'yathA rAjA, tathA prajA', which means 'as the king, so the subjects' and in English it is called 'Like father, like son'. See again the change of king-subject to father-son. These are related.

The king, the leader is to his subjects like a father is to his children. He takes care of the food (physical needs) and character (value needs) through good effort and policies. You can see this in society or at home. It is just a matter of difference in scale.

Care with examples
This shloka also points out one more thing. Writer should take care to give appropriate example and reader should take care to interpret an example appropriately. There could be many readers jumping up and down for defaming the great lamp, the symbol of light, sacrifice and all. Some political parties may even call for national strike or street protests in India. And indeed lamp is such a symbol, we light it at any function as a symbol of enlightenment and all things positive.

In this sense, the writer, चाणक्य did not pick a good example. His example can be misinterpreted, misconstrued, and give the listener a reason to 'dismiss' the statement.

But here is the caution to the reader. When someone gives an example, and there are many facets to it, please don't debate on other aspects. Don't do ku-tarka (false logic) and try to 'defeat' the point. Debates get biased and are a win-lose situation. Discussions are productive. So, see only that aspect of an example that the writer wishes to bring in. Here e.g. he says the lamp begets the ill results of its ill-diet, then one should not say , "But look, what a sacrifice." The sacrifice of the lamp is not being questioned or brought in for discussion.

Here, the lamp eating darkness, hence producing dark soot is a different angle of the same physical phenomenon, and चाणक्य should be commended for this. Of course, he was not a big fan of being politically correct. Diplomacy was another thing.

Eat good, keep the body and generations healthy.
Be good, keep the mind and generations healthy.
Do good, keep the society and generations healthy.

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Did you notice that the word Chanakya (chANakya, चाणक्य ) appears only once in roman character? After that only appears as devanAgarI (देवनागरी). A small experiment in Sanskrit script and how fully are people reading the posts!

and now the language aspects of the shloka -

dIpo = dIpaH = lamp
-aH become -o due to sandhi rules

bhakShayate = eats

dhvAntam = darkness

kajjalam = black soot (also the kohl to be applied to eyes)

cha = and

prasUyate = begets, gives birth to, brings forth
prasUtA = a woman who has just given birth (still in the maternity section!)

yadannam = yat + annam = what/that food
yat = that which
annam = grain, cereal, food
yat-tat pair to indicate what you sow, so you reap.

bhakShayennityam = bhakShayet + nityam = [one] eats daily

jAyate = gives birth, begets

tAdRishI = tA + dRishI = that kind/type/like

prajA = people, children, citizens of a nation.
prajanan = giving birth.
prajA is the result of prajanan. in yathA rAjA, tathA prajA it is the citizens. there it means the subjects, not direct biological next generation.

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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

the cars, oops kAra's in sanskrit

the suffix -kAra makes the 'doer of' 'maker of/by/with'
  • स्वर्णकारः = swarNa-kAraH = maker (kAraH) [with] gold (swarNa)= goldsmith; 
  • लौहकारः = lauha-kAraH = maker [with] iron (lauha) ; 
  • मालाकारः = mAlA-kAraH = maker of garlands, gardener; 
  • चित्रकारः = chitra-kAraH = maker of drawings (chitra), painter; 
  • चर्मकारः = charma-kAraH = maker with leather, cobbler (charma = leather); 
  • कुम्भकारः = kumbha-kAraH = maker of pots, potter (kumbha = pot)

but don't confuse with other words like
  • पुरस्कार = puraskAra = prize
  • सत्कार = satkAra = hospitality
  • निराकार = nirAkAra = formless
  • चमत्कार = chamtkAra = miracle
  • नमस्कार = namaskAra = salutation
  • तिरस्कार = tiraskAra = neglect, insult
  • उपकार = upakAra = favor
  • अ-कार, उ-कार, म-कार = akAra, ukAra, makAra = sound of a-, u-, m- (as in OM)

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

Friday, July 16, 2010

when the pigs fly or rocks float - अम्बुनि मज्जन्त्यलाबूनि

in the epic mahAbhArata, duryodhana the kaurava prince was ever jealous of the pANDavas and invited dhRitarAShTra for a gambling game, a roll of dice. vidura the wise minister opposed the idea, for its sinister plot. shakuni, duryodhana's uncle has a biased dice, made of his own father's bones! and was known for winning. because the official invite went from the king dhRitarAShTra, yudhiShThir didn't refuse.

one by one, yudhiShThir loses his wealth, kingdom, his brothers, himself and finally their wife, draupadI. at this duryodhana orders vidura himself, the wise and old minister to bring draupadI, the princess wife of the pANDavas and ask her to sweep the palace like a maid-servant.

enraged by this, the saddened vidura says that 'Bottle gourds may sink and stones may float, but this kid of dhRitarAShTra will never like my good advice.'

he uses "मज्जन्त्यलाबूनि शिलाः प्लवन्ते ..." (majjantyalAbUni shilAH plavante) i.e. "bottle gourds (a variety of cucumber) sink and rocks float" [sabhA parva, 66:11]

this is used to indicate an impossible situation which will never happen, similar to 'when pigs fly ...'

this has become a nyAyaH or a maxim/saying in sanskrit. the full phrase is :
अम्बुनि मज्जन्त्यलाबूनि ग्रावाणः प्लवन्ते
= ambuni majjantyalAbUni grAvANaH plavante

breaking up the words (anvaya):
अम्बुनि मज्जन्त्ति-अलाबूनि ग्रावाणः प्लवन्ते
= ambuni majjanti-alAbUni grAvANaH plavante
= in water, sink cucumbers stones float

in rAmAyaNa, this had already been achieved, when the rocks thrown in the sea to build the bridge were sinking, it is said that, when the name rAma was written on them, they started to float, so that the bridge could be made faster and easily. (tulasIdAsa's rAma-charita-mAnasa)

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

ambuni = in water
ambu = water
-ni suffix after -u ending neutral denotes 'in, on' (saptamI vibhakti)

majjanti = [they] drown (plural)
alAbUni = alAbU = bottle gourd
alAbUni = plural

grAvANaH = grinding stones
grAvan = grinding stone, as in grinding herbs

shilAH = huge rocks
shilA = huge rock

plavante = [they] float (plural)

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

Monday, July 12, 2010

Indic transliteration on computers - brief history and now

There was a time when the computers only allowed Roman characters, called ASCII characters, which were 128 in number, increased to 256, to accommodate extra symbols.

Back in early 1990s, there was a newsgroup called soc.culture.india, where every Indian student sitting in US university was venting out, good, bad, ugly and the very ugly! In 15 different languages! And many errors of understanding happened due to the limitation of English alphabet.

The two passions - Hindi movie songs and Sanskrit
People (including me) on a newly formed music newsgroup (RMIM) were having a torturous time when people mistook the words of evergreen Hindi legendary lyricists' words from super golden hits. Confusions between t (त) and T(ट) or d (द) and D (ड) were causing havoc. No one was at fault, there were people who heard the words, but didn't know the proper meaning or the spelling, and for the first time, finding a venue to ask and share, started asking away.

Another area that needed this unambiguity was Sanskrit mailing lists, which were seeing the erudite blasting people for the tiniest mistake due to misinterpretation in the limited Roman alphabet. Sanskrit enthusiasts were trying to figure out their place in the promotion of Sanskrit. And it settled at encoding of Sanskrit documents to enable people access online.

Birth of ITRANS
So, some schemes, conventions, mappings started developing. One of the successful ones out of those growing pains was named ITRANS, and Avinash Chopde quickly developed a software for it. Those days of no web, and Latex being the coolest software for techie geeks, the software was only for techie use! Options to switch between English and devanAgarI were embedded, and much more complex stuff.

The Sanskrit Documents project took off with encoding using ITRANS. Similarly the Hindi movie songbook took off for Hindi movie songs (and other Indian languages as well). These two projects fueled the majority of online transliteration efforts like nothing else - both matters of extreme passion for the followers.

Sample encoding
A typical encoded text would look like this:
hariH AUM .. sha.n no mitraH sha.n varuNaH . sha.n no bhavatyaryamaa .
sha.n na indro bR^ihaspatiH . sha.n no vishhNururukramaH ..
namo brahmaNe . namaste vaayo . tvameva pratyakshaM brahmaasi .
tvaameva pratyakshaM brahma vadishhyaami . R^ita.n vadishhyaami .
satya.n vadishhyaami . tanmaamavatu . tadvaktaaramavatu .
avatu maam.h . avatu vaktaaram.h .. AUM shaantiH shaantiH shaantiH ..
AUM saha naavavatu . saha nau bhunaktu . saha viirya.n karavaavahai
. tejasvi naavadhiitamastu . maa vidvishhaavahai .
AUM shaantiH shaantiH shaantiH ..

devanAgarI -
हरिः ॐ ॥ शं नो मित्रः शं वरुणः । शं नो भवत्यर्यमा ।
शं न इन्द्रो बृहस्पतिः । शं नो विष्णुरुरुक्रमः ॥
नमो ब्रह्मणे । नमस्ते वायो । त्वमेव प्रत्यक्शं ब्रह्मासि ।
त्वामेव प्रत्यक्शं ब्रह्म वदिष्यामि । ऋतं वदिष्यामि ।
सत्यं वदिष्यामि । तन्मामवतु । तद्वक्तारमवतु ।
अवतु माम् । अवतु वक्तारम् ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सह वीर्यं करवावहै
। तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु । मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

hariḥ oṃ ॥ śaṃ no mitraḥ śaṃ varuṇaḥ । śaṃ no bhavatyaryamā ।
śaṃ na indro bṛhaspatiḥ । śaṃ no viṣṇururukramaḥ ॥
namo brahmaṇe । namaste vāyo । tvameva pratyakśaṃ brahmāsi ।
tvāmeva pratyakśaṃ brahma vadiṣyāmi । ṛtaṃ vadiṣyāmi ।
satyaṃ vadiṣyāmi । tanmāmavatu । tadvaktāramavatu ।
avatu mām।h । avatu vaktāram।h ॥ oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥
oṃ saha nāvavatu । saha nau bhunaktu । saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai
। tejasvi nāvadhītamastu । mā vidviṣāvahai ।
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥

Later on, some modifications or to say added conventions were used to ease it out a bit, like M for .n (anuswAra).

Then came Omkarananda Ashram's (omkArAnanda Ashrama) standalone ITransliterator, which is still available. It was the in thing, people frantically typed, gave feedback, improved it, with multiple scheme, ITRANS, IAST etc.

Then with computers reaching India with GUI, windows, fonts etc, the printing world started to change. Off set printing was going away, and early devanAgarI fonts started to develop. They used the same 256 character space, and replaced English character with devanAgarI. Various styles developed. Mappings were more like a Hindi typewriter, making someone like me who knew nly English keyboard, go nuts wondering why I get क (k) when I press t, or how to get ddha (द्ध).

If you typed in one font and put up content on web, people had to download your font. And if YOU went to 5 Hindi websites, you ended up with five fonts installed on your computer. And there was no way to take a text typed by X in font X1 and change it to a nicer/different font Y2. Nope. Someone will have to retype the whole thing. And if English characters were also used in the same piece, and you did "Select All" and change font, then you lose the English content.

Oh, the pains!

WWW as we know it
With the advent of web, and PHP and all the other things, better versions came out for web based transliteration. Back in 2003 I started a Hindi/English magazine in Cleveland, and I found a lot of fonts had many conjugate characters missing, and their mapping was messed up for someone who was typing English 9 hours a day. So I created two fonts, 'shashi' and later an improved version 'bhaarat', which had English intuitive mapping of keys and created new conjugates for the important ones. Great, but the problems still remained the same of changing fonts etc.

So I tried my hands at a web based Lex parser that would take ITRANS and my added convenience factors (eased a bit for for Hindi), and I did it for bhaarat and for Kruti font. Then I found that within Kruti itself fonts had minor mixups of key mappings.

Then came Unicode for Indic languages. This changed a lot of things. Firstly, you now needed only ONE font for all your needs. You want to write English, Greek, mathematical symbols, Hindi, Arabic, Tamil - all using one single font. Yep, the font file size bumped from a few kilobytes to 25MB!! My Big Fat Unicode Wedding, huh!

This brought in new problems though. Not all fonts were Unicode, and you had to find the Unicode font for your platform. Bigger problem was how to write in it? Since the font had thousands of characters now, you couldn't type with the normal keys. You would go to "Insert" -> "Symbol" all the time in say, MS Word. Anyways, I didn't bother to figure out this piece at all.

The advantage of Unicode was tremendous. Any site using Unicode can be viewed by any visitor. You could use different languages with same font. The greatest one was - web sites could be searched uniformly with this code! AND you could actually sort words in their native script simply by using 'Sort' of any software. This last point is a bit difficult to understand for non-techies.

The English characters are listed internally in alphabetical order. That is, after A come B and C and D etc, internally for the computer. For devanAgarI though, the consonant order is k kh g gh ~N ch chh ja etc. These when sorted by a software will not remain in this order, they will become ~N ch chh g gh ja k kh.

With Unicode this problem is solved. Want to see it? Go to Word or something, and choose Insert -> Symbol and choose Arial MS Unicode, and see the characters laid out in order!

Microsoft started to ship Windows with Indic fonts pre-installed. That was a boost to see 10+ Indic languages listed in your computer.

An exceptional tool
A wonderful tool has also been developed at which is much more powerful and precise than others. It allows multiple encoding exchanges. ITRANS, IAST, Hindi, Bengai, Gujarati etc. A highly recommended tool indeed. But this tool is unforgiving, in the sense that it does not attempt any guess work, related spellings etc. So you need to be careful in typing the exact encoding. Its use and power is still there even after Google's tools, for batch processing, multiple encoding and precision of encoding. If you know what you are typing, there is no guess work even for the not so usual or new words, not in Google's dictionary.

The G factor
The next step of real help for transliteration came from Google with its India operation and focus on Indian languages. The first time I noticed (this could have been before or different) was in Blogger editor, there was a choice of transliteration on the fly. You type the approximate spelling as if typing in English, and it changes it to proper devanAgarI script! It would given suggestions, in case of ambiguities. It even had a virtual keyboard, where you could handpick the characters for the difficult words and combinations.

They also had a widget, and added transliteration in Gmail as well. It was a wonderful thing. Then they came with the new editor, in which they removed manual editing or the keyboard. That was a step back, since it didn't give you all choices, and no choice to manually edit!

Then they also launched a web-based transliteration service that overcame all these problems, had a virtual keyboard again, and gave some 15+ language choice. Once again, great job.

Google IME - the equalizer
The latest in the series is the IME, a downloadable piece that run on your computer after a single install. Many readers outright reject it saying why install a software when you can do it on the web!

There is a major advantage of this IME from Google. While it has the full power of the existing service, here are some advantages -
  • With the net based, you needed a good network connection u all the time. Some people can't afford that, since they pay for the connect time as well, or are on a very slow connection.
  • At times, due to the browser misbehaviour or something, typing in Blogger or Gmail would cause cursor jumping. That is, you type on line 5, characters show up in line 2! No kidding, happened many times with me. This doesn't seem to happen with IME so far!
  • The IME comes between your keyboard and OS, so now for almost all softwares on your computer, you can directly type in Indic languages. Be it Firefox, Safari browsers, or Word, Excel, Powerpoint. Earlier you had to use a tool to type in Sanskirt, copy and paste from there to other destination software.

In the above image, the small floating toolbar on the upper right (above column B in the Excel spreadsheet) is that of the IME. As you type, the possible choices are displayed underneath (under namastubhyam in the example above).

To install the IME, go to the IME link and download the proper version for your computer. Watch out for the 32 bit and 64 bit versions. For each language, you will need to install one IME. This is only one time, so go ahead.

After the download, install the program.

In the settings, do set up shortcut keys, so that you can switch between English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali easily. I have set up Control-Shift-1 for English, Control-Shift-2 for Sanskrit and Control-Shift-3 for Hindi.

Now, for any application that takes Unicode, you can press the shortcut key sequence, and a small 3 icon menu pops up, that sows you that you are typing using the IME. Try it out. You can type directly in the comment field of Facebook, or in Blogger or Wordpress like in this post, MS Word, Notepad, Photoshop, Excel, Powerpoint, Skype, Gtalk ... anywhere. No more cutting and pasting from a website, when you are out of reach!

And here is even better part. If you have multiple softwares open, like a chat window and a browser, you can choose to type in English in one, Sanskrit, Hindi in another, Greek in yet another! Now that is heaven!

Give it a try. It is almost perfect solution for transliteration and computers.

Next stop? Voice to words for other languages. Let us see how long will that take.

If you have any comments, suggestions, links to new tools, or questions on transliteration on computer, please leave a comment below (Click on the Comments link or click on the post title to see all the comments below) or send an email. Do not let your desire to type in your Indian language even on computer be hampered by technical difficulties.

Disclaimer: This is not an official, complete, historical account, but my personal account of the events as I saw and followed. Any omissions are either due to ignorance or to keep the story short.

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

Friday, July 9, 2010

body is instrument for all (good) deeds - शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्

शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्

śarīramādyaṃ khalu dharmasādhanam

sharIramAdyaM khalu dharmasAdhanam.

this body is surely the foremost instrument of doing [good] deeds
kAlidAsa in kumArasambhavam [5.33]

this is also the motto of AIIMS - All India Institute of Medical Sciences, premiere medical institute in New Delhi, akin to John Hopkins of USA.

when pArvatI (पार्वती) decided she was only going to marry shiva, she had tried to impress shiva with her beauty. she became an attendant at his Ashram. at the appropriate moment, prodded by indra, and aided by vasant (spring), kAmadeva shot the arrow of desires at shiva, just when he saw pArvatI.

when shiva was disturbed for a moment, he quickly regained his focus, found the culprit in kAma (desire), vanquished it by burning it to ashes with his third eye of knowledge. i.e. he killed his desire through the laser of his knowledge eye.

thus humiliated, pArvatI became determined to win him with her penance, if not by beauty. she decided to win shiva with penance and austerity. when her mother heard of this resolve, that her flower-delicate princess-daughter of tender age will do penance like hardened ascetics in the cold snowy himAlayas, she tried to stop her, and said 'u maa' (उ मा) "oh [dear] no!". and from that day on, pAravtI was also called 'umA'

pArvatI did penance that was unheard of. there were grades of hardship ascetics were doing. some would eat no grain. some would eat only fruits, no roots since eating the root kills the plant. some would eat only fallen fruit. some gave up fruits also and only survived on leaves. some would only eat fallen leaves.

what hardships! self inflicted to experience the lack of desire, and control of kAma.

but pArvatI went one step further, because shiva was not yet impressed with her penance. she vowed to not even eat the fallen leaves! people cried out at such harsh vow, and old ascetics tried to convince her to leave such hard resolves. but she stuck to her resolve. and she was called aparNA (अपर्णा), a-parNa-aa = one without [eating] leaves. -aa suffix makes it feminine.

over time, pArvatI lost much body fat, and she was looking bodily weak, more like a sannyAsI than a young maiden princess. then moved by this, shiva comes to her, disguised as a ascetic himself.

after accepting her hospitality, he asks:
- are you getting wood [for fire rituals, yaGYa] and kusha grass easily [making bed]?
- is the water suitable for bathing?
- are you doing penance according to your abilities only [and not overexerting yourself]?
- [for] the body is surely the foremost instrument for all [good] deeds [actions, duties].

on knowing her intention of penance, to test her, or for his own amusement, the disguised shiva starts to talk bad about shiva, of his being poor, roaming the cemeteries, having serpents around him for garlands and wristbands, elephant skin for a dress ... to which the devout pArvatI vehemently counters.

of course, we know how the movie ends :) :)
happily ever after!

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and now the language aspects -

sharIramAdyaM (शरीरमाद्यम्) = sharIra (शरीर) + Adyam (आद्यम्)
sharIra = body
Adyam = first
Adi (आदि) = beginning

khalu (खलु) = for emphasis and also used at times as meter filler

dharmasAdhanam (धर्मसाधनम्) = dharma (धर्म) + sAdhanam (साधनम्)
dharma = duty, right act, what needs to be done ...
sAdhanam = instrument

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

brave, smart, wise giver - शतेषु जायते शूर

among a hundred is born one valorous; among a thousand [is born] an intelligent.
an orator among ten thousand; a [true]giver, may or may not [be born]!

shateShu jAyate shUra, sahasreShu cha paNDitaH ।
vaktA dashasahasreShu, dAtA bhavati vA na vA ।।

शतेषु जायते शूर, सहस्रेषु च पण्डितः ।
वक्ता दशसहस्रेषु, दाता भवति वा न वा ॥

śateṣu jāyate śūra, sahasreṣu ca paṇḍitaḥ ।
vaktā daśasahasreṣu, dātā bhavati vā na vā ॥

(some places it says dAtA lakSheShu jAyate, i.e. a giver is born among 100,000)

valor, intelligence, oratory, giving - they are considered rarer and rarer than the previous one. that is the main point of this shloka. what is the significance of this order?

valor or bravery is executed at the body level. in times of emergency, the decision is even made by the nervous system, doesn't even need permission from the brain. a component of this is at an animal level, the urge to fight and prove the might, turf protection. or to fight injustice.

the word for bravery is sAhasa (साहस), which comes from sahasA, all of a sudden. so sAhasa is not an admirable quality most of the time, but invaluable in emergencies, where it can make you climb 5 floors and rescue someone. it is also dangerous if you overestimate your powers out of emotional surge.

but still, valor is not everyone's cup of tea. hence, one in 100 has valor, the strength and will to fight injustice or do heroic deeds.

this is still a physical thing, in the sense that a lot of it is nature endowed. you are born with the brain capacity so to say, and the infrastructure on which intellect builds. nurture helps a lot in making or losing the synapses, the neural connections, which ultimately define how much of it we are using.

even among those born with great brains, many lose out the neural connections simply because they are not given enough stimulation in the early childhood. and brain uses the 'use it or lose it' law. if certain neural connections are not used, they die away. others get reinforced. these are the ones which become our 'second nature'. we don't have to think about these, like eating, walking, etc.

yet, intellect is rarer. and if we take paNDita to mean wise as well, then the element of patience, time, experience also comes, which still reduces the numbers.

why is this rarer than the wise? one may ask. well, what is meant by a vaktA (वक्ता)? one who can convey his/her ideas effectively. not just one who can speak or talk. but really speak, talk, reach out to the souls of people. shake their thinking, convince them that the sun comes out in night!

how many such people do you see around? when they talk, all listen intently! see across the ages, among the celebrities or anyone. the charisma of words to hold the audience captive is rare.

to learn is one thing, to understand and be able to teach it, get it across to another properly, without ambiguity or doubt, is totally another. all wise people are not good teachers either. not all swAmIs are good gurus. a swAmI controls himself, a guru teaches others. it needs special skills in handling a student.

when hanUmAn finds sItA in la~NkA in rAvaNa's garden, he thinks how to speak. if he spoke in chaste saMskRitam (sanskrit) she may not believe him and think it was sorcery of rAvaNa. whenever hanUmAn speaks in rAmAyaNa, it is always filled with wisdom and thought and are very convincing. even rAma listens to his advice. when rAma and lakShmaNa first meet hanUmAn as a human, rAma can not stop praising the beautiful way of his speaking, flawless, poetic, wise...

when you see the movie industry, many are involved in the making, few are actors, even fewer are leads that hold a movie just by their screen presence, but among all these, fewer are those who give back, as in charity, social causes etc.! just a crude analogy to our times.

valor or bravery was at the body level, intellect at the mind level, wisdom over time, but what about giver? one who gives has reached the heart level. s/he has started to identify everyone with oneself, AND started to act upon that realization by giving, helping others.

the intelligent may know that one should give, the orator may convince you to give and yet, only when you actually give have you reached the stage of going beyond yourself and stepping in the divinity. but give without ego.

what is true giving? sAttvika dAna? we already discussed this -
given with a sense of compulsion/duty, to someone who can't pay back, given in proper time, place and to worthy receiver is called true giving.

how many of us have so much to spare, yet we don't give much to the needy. we don't even give our full attention to anyone these days! what to say of giving materials to the needy. when we give, we give as a result of our need to be guilt free, rather than the others' need. hence, when we don't want to give, we can quickly make excuses for why we should not give. we give what we don't need, not what someone needs.

that is why it is said that "a true giver? well, may or may not be (born even) in a hundred thousand!"

be brave. be smart. be wise. give.

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

shateShu = in hundreds
shatam = hundred
-eShu suffix for 'in', plural
related words:
shatAbdi = 100 years
shataka = century (as in cricket also)

jAyate = takes birth, is born
not to be confused with jayate (which means, wins; as in satyameva jayate)

shUra = valorous.
the word sAhasI is not valorous, but someone who does something 'sahasA', suddenly. so sAhasa is not an admired quality, shaurya or valor is.

sahasreShu = in thousands
sahasra = 1000
mahAbhArata is called shata-sahasrI = 100x1000 shlokas in it!
-eShu suffix for 'in', plural
also, it is NOT sahastra

cha = and
paNDitaH = intelligent person, wise person (though the word for wise is 'dhIraH') :) :) )

vaktA = speaker
vAk = speech
vAgdevI = saraswatI, deity of speech

dasha-sahasreShu = in ten thousand
dasha = ten

dAtA = giver
dad = to give
dAna = charity

bhavati = happens
vA = maybe
na vA = or maybe not (na = not)

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

three hurdles to happiness - लोभ-मूलानि पापानि

if only life was perfect! in the mortal world, what comes between us and the statement - 'life is beautiful'?

after a mantra, there are three shAntiH, shAntiH, shAntiH. why three?

our troubles are three fold - self, others and nature. of mind, body and soul. and with three shAntiH we ask for peace and balance of all three forces that can go wrong and cause us troubles. there are three basic pains in life - crime/sin (others), disease (body), sorrow (mind).

what are the roots of these?

why does someone do crime? out of greed. when we want more than we deserve, we take wrong means to the end. in the process of taking more than our share, we deprive someone else of theirs. and sometime, or many times, others' greed deprives us of our share of things. be it road space, taxpayers' money, respect, dignity, or even life. the greatest of crimes of largest of corporations have been due to greed of a few. last few years have thrown up a whole bunch of such ugly truths, be it the oil spill of BP, citibank, AIG, enron.

or be it small crimes. at the root of it, is greed, small or large.

disease or ailments of body is next. even after being the costliest health care system in the world, the american society is yet to accept that most of the health problems are due to bad food choices in the market (due to corporate greed aka fast food industry lobbying) and due to people's inherent desire for taste rather than nutrition.

ayurveda maintains that you are what you eat. and mind you, even your skin eats, yes! that is why it is advised not to put anything on your skin, what you won't put in your mouth. there goes the whole cosmetic bag! why do all the expensive body care products claim aloe vera and milk cream and herbal this and herbal that, mud packs! the mass consumes synthetic, cheap products and the class consumes expensive organic products! the same products that you could procure easily at home!

even in times before synthetic food, the problem of bad food choices had arisen! sugar, fat and starch in access were never available to humans in nature. we have made them easily available through agriculture and production. and hence, our body has the problem of easy access to sugar, fat and carb! and the mind doesn't help even a bit! who doesn't like french fries, pizza and a bucket of chocolate!

that is where most diseases start. ayurveda again says that most diseases start in the stomach. i.e. by the food we eat, and the lack of digestion (due to lifestyle etc). another saying in india (in hindi) goes - daanta kaa kaam aanta se mat lo, i.e. don't let the intestine do the teeth's job. i.e. chew with your teeth and not with your intestines! eat good and chew properly.

so where does the disease come from? bad food, bad chewing, bad digestion. and the root for that? taste! taste makes us choose less nutritious food, makes us gulp it down quickly to eat more, and ends up with less absorption of nutrients.

and how about sorrow? where does that come from? sorrow comes from liking something/one. only when we like someone and s/he departs we are sad. we love our home and comes tsunami, katrina, and comes sorrow. when we are involved as first party, it hits us more. when we have no control over the situation and we can become third party (observer), we can overcome sorrow and be back on our thinking feet.

if we leave greed, taste and desires, we can be free from sins, diseases and sorrow. in the rajas world we live in, it is not possible totally to do this, but it is a life long process. the more you can leave these, the happier you will be. how much? that, you decide!

and so goes the shloka,

lobha-mUlAni pApAni, rasa-mUlAni vyAdhayaH |
iShTa-mUlAni shokAni, trINi tyaktvA sukhI bhava ||

लोभ-मूलानि पापानि, रस-मूलानि व्याधयः ।
इष्ट-मूलानि शोकानि, त्रीणि त्यक्त्वा सुखी भव ॥

lobha-mūlāni pāpāni, rasa-mūlāni vyādhayaḥ ।
iṣṭa-mūlāni śokāni, trīṇi tyaktvā sukhī bhava ॥

sins have root in greed, diseases have root in taste.
sorrows have root in desire, leave the three and be happy

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

lobha-mUlAni = that which has greed at its root
lobha = greed
mUla = root, base
lobha-mUla = one who base is greed
lobha-mUlAni = plural

pApAni = sins (crimes)
pApa = sin
pApAni = plural

rasa-mUlAni = that which has taste at its root
rasa = chemical (rasAyana-shAstra = chemistry), juice (Amra-rasa = mango juice), taste (rasika = connoisseur)
mUla = root, base
mUlAni = plural

vyAdhayaH = diseases
vyAdhi = disease (singular)

iShTa-mUlAni = that which has liking at its root
iShTa = desired, liked as in iShTa-deva = one's own desired (preferred, family) deity.

shokAni = sorrows (shoka = singular)

trINi = three

tyaktvA = after leaving
tyAga = act of leaving, sacrifice, giving up

sukhI = happy, comfortable

bhava = be
i.e. be happy after leaving the three, the greed-based sins, tastes-based diseases, desires-based sorrows.

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

defeating the main opponent - प्रधान-मल्ल-निबर्हण-न्यायः

watching the FIFA quarter finals between netherlands and brazil, yesterday (2nd july) one felt sorry for brazil and happy for netherlands. this is assuming that one was not partial towards any of the teams, like being a citizen of that country!

watching germany defeat argentina 4-0 today (3rd july), again emphasized that the domination of south america was over for this FIFA.

can one assume from this that the finals will be played between germany and netherlands? after all they have defeated the best of the opponents. here i am reminded of the "pradhAna-malla-nibarhaNa-nyAyaH", i.e. "the maxim of defeating the main wrestler of the opponent team". if one has defeated the main opponent, surely the others can be defeated! of course, nothing can be said of soccer, but you get the idea.

= प्रधान-मल्ल-निबर्हण-न्यायः
= pradhAna-malla-nibarhaNa-nyAyaH

pradhAna = main
malla = wrestler
nibarhaNa = (n) removal, ouster, pulling out
nyAyaH = maxim

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