Saturday, April 6, 2019

Happy New Year - Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Bihu, Baisakhi, Chaitr Navaratri ...

Image result for ugadi

Wishing all the readers a very Happy Hindu New Year which is celebrated under various names across India. 6th April 2019 is also the Pratipada prathama (date 1), shukla paksha (waxing phase of moon) for the year 2076 Vikram Samvat (year of Vikram)

Ugadi in Andhra and Karnataka, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Chaitra Navaratri. You may find more details here. The reason is the same - Spring is here.

Mangoes of the first season are seen in the market now. Dishes of unripe green mangoes is common in many parts. Coconut, jaggery, neem leaves are also special for the occasion.

Image result for chaitra navratri

Then of course, we have the Navaratri begin as well. The Chaitra Navaratri, the other one being about 6 months later with the onset of Sharat season.

It has been some time since I have been active regarding Sanskrit writing - blog or Facebook.
With this New Year, I am happy to announce that I am back, with a commitment to much more time for Sanskrit works, and soon full time.

I will be transitioning to spending more and more time working on various projects related to making Sanskrit more relate-able and enjoyable for even those just starting out who may not have enough exposure to it.

Here is to more time spent with ancient wisdom expressed in Sanskrit works, and making them relevant today.

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Saraswati - how we learn - shraddhA, dhAraNA, medhA

One who is shraddhA, dhAraNA, medhA, divinity of speech and dear to the Creator BrahmA, who resides on the tip of the tongue of the devotee and gives many virtues such as self-control (peace) etc.

Shloka as is:

या श्रद्धा धारणा मेधा वाग्देवी विधिवल्लभा ।
भक्तजिह्वाग्रसदना शमादिगुणदायिनी ॥

yā shraddhā dhāraṇā médhā vāgdévī vidhi_vallabhā |
bhaktajihvāgrasadanā, shamādiguṇadāyinī || (IAST+)

yA shraddhA dhAraṇA medhA vAgdevI vidhi_vallabhA |
bhaktajihvAgrasadanA, shamAdiguNadAyinI || (ITRANS)

Simplified for reading:

या  श्रद्धा       धारणा     मेधा    वाग्देवी     विधिवल्लभा ।
yā  shraddhā dhāraṇā  médhā  vāgdévī  vidhi_vallabhā |
yA  shraddhA dhAraṇA  medhA  vAgdevI  vidhi_vallabhA |

भक्त     -जिह्वाग्र      -सदना    शमादि    -गुण    -दायिनी ॥
bhakta  -jihvāgra  -sadanā, shamādi -guṇa  -dāyinī ||
bhakta  -jihvAgra  -sadanA, shamAdi -guNa  -dAyinI || (ITRANS)

Anvaya (अन्वय)/prosification and sandhi-break:

या  श्रद्धा       धारणा     मेधा    वाक्-देवी     विधिवल्लभा ।
yā  shraddhā dhāraṇā  médhā  vāk-dévī  vidhi_vallabhā |
yA  shraddhA dhAraṇA  medhA  vAk-devI  vidhi_vallabhA |

भक्त     -जिह्वा-अग्र      -सदना    शम-आदि    -गुण    -दायिनी ॥
bhakta  -jihvā-agra  -sadanā, shama-ādi -guṇa  -dāyinī ||
bhakta  -jihvA-agra  -sadanA, shama-Adi -guNa  -dAyinI || (ITRANS)

One who is shraddhA, dhAraNA, medhA, divinity of speech and dear to the Creator BrahmA, who resides on the tip of the tongue of the devotee and gives many virtues such as self-control (peace) etc.

This describes the process of learning. How do we learn?

shraddhA. absorbing, reading to receive the knowledge.
First we must have shraddhA. The mindset to absorb, learn from the guru, book, speaker, experience, whatever that we are trying to learn from. If we don't trust the teacher to be knowledgeable, even he or she reads from a standard textbook, we will doubt. But if we believe in a palm reader, we will trust any prediction made. Children grow because they trust their parents. Every single moment is learning for them in early years. They won't survive if they didn't have the shraddhA in their parents, that whatever parents are doing is for my good.

This also means one is attentive and alert to receive.

All of a sudden many traditional practices make sense - respect for teacher and books, early morning bath (fresh and alert), sitting appropriately while studying etc.

Then we must have the ability to retain what we have heard or read or experienced. This is the memory part.
Whatever we learn, must remain with us, else it is no use listening from one ear and letting go out from the other, as mothers scold their kids in India who don't listen to her sometimes. Attention  and retention. This memory power can also be helped by certain foods, regular practice of being still in body and thought.

After that we must be able to process it, analyze it with our intellect. What use is it to absorb and retain if we can't process it? This too can be helped by certain foods, regular practice of being still in body and thought. But even as modern science proves, one is born with one's IQ, intellect, and there is not much that can change it.

And finally, once we have learned, solved the problem that we were having (whether to cook, build a road, find why I am on this planet, any kind of problem that caused us to sit up and search an answer by learning), once we have solved that, we must communicate it to others for their benefit as well. That is vAk. Communication. Oratory. Teaching ability. Transmitting the knowledge. The power that is knowledge.

Then the other will start a new circle of ‘absorb, retain, analye, communicate’.

And thus, learning is a cyclic process, a paramparA.

Notice how this is what a computer does as well. Input device (absorb), RAM (retain), CPU (process) and output device (communicate).

It is not that everyone has all the four abilities, actually very few have all the four. But those who do, they shine anywhere, no matter what field.

After a devotee (student) has followed this process thoroughly, what happens? A person who has all four abilities, and has used them appropriately, what happens to that person? Saraswati herself packs her bags and shifts her house. She builds a tiny little house on the tip of the tongue of such a devotee, student, learner. Whatever this person then speaks is truth, elegant, easily understood, and communicated. There is a very common saying in India 'Saraswati sits on his/her tongue', specially said for the great poets.

And what else happens to the student, learner?

After knowing there is so much to know, first things happens to a true student is humbleness. And then knowing how the ‘show’ works, how things interconnect, and world is interconnected, the person becomes calm. Fear comes from the unknown. Once you know, the fear is not there. You can avoid it, you can accept it, you can embrace it. After knowing the transient nature of everything, the desire quenches. One doesn’t run after this and that. One becomes self-content. If this doesn’t happen, one has not yet learned truly. The knowledge is shallow.

This lack of disturbance is called sham, the control suppression of. Of what? Of the chaos? Which chaos? The chaos of fluctuating mind-variations (chitta-vRitti). Hence a positive word like peace (shanti) has a negative word like suppress in it. Because, you natural state is peaceful and healthy (svastha). Most animals are peaceful in their own except when driven with body needs. We have created most of the un-peace due to our own mind variations, our own wanton, uncontrolled, ever multiplying desires.

When we know, we control them. We attain peace. So she is the giver of virtues like self-control and peacefulness as well.

[ There are many shlokas, aShTakamas, mantras of divinities. Many would simply think of them as religious talk, with no other value than to the devotee of that religious form. The beauty of most Indian forms is that the form is there to help you, interest you, hold your attention, inspire you. But the real value, wisdom is equally applicable to anyone. There are two layers to everything. For a gyAna-yogI (j~nAna-yogI), one who is only interested in knowledge and not the form, they too can gain. But none should deny the other. That is a gyAna, karma and bhakti are multiple ways to move forward, and most of us have all three types of tendencies in us. ]

And now the language aspects -

yā = she who [is]

shraddhā = the mindset of, being worthy to receive the truth, ready to receive the truth

dhāraṇā = retention, holding.

médhā = intellect, mental vigor or power, intelligence

vāk-dévī = speech-divinity. vAk = speech, voice.

vidhi_vallabhā = dear (vallabhā) to the creator brahma (vidhi)

bhakta = devotee

jihvā-agra = tongue-tip

sadanā = resider. sadana = house, abode. sadanā = one who resides (fem)

shama-ādi = control-etc.

guṇa = virtues

dāyinī = giver (fem)

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Five qualities of a man - पात्रे त्यागी गुणे रागी

Five qualities of a man – giver, virtuous, sharer, intelligent, brave.

(हिन्दी में व्याख्या नीचे दी गयी है)

(Another variation of the fourth quarter goes as ‘sa vai puruSha uchyate’ = he is said to be a man.)

Five qualities of a (real) man:
1) gives to the worthy needy (thoughtfully, not carelessly). Just giving to anyone is not a good giving. Good giving is that which gives to the worthy, needy, in right amount, at right time in the right place. There is not point giving to someone who already has, or will make bad use of it, or when it is too late or too little for the needs.

2) indulges in virtues (not vices). A real cultured man is naturally inclined towards virtues and virtuous, developing good qualities, sponsoring inculcation of good qualities. They are sponsors and pursuers of arts and sciences, dance, music, sports etc.

3) shares [prosperity] with relatives (doesn’t usurp property, or enjoy his good fortune alone). With so many inheritance laws, and land being one of the basic cause of fights from long long time, (Mahabharata!?), the real man does not cheat his relatives of their share. Even from his own share of prosperity, he shares with relatives, so no one feels jealous or inferior.

4) intelligent enough to understand shastra (classics of science and art). A real man is not just about muscles, he is equally smart and intelligent and keen thought leader as well. He is smart in real life situations, negotiator, understand his stuff so no one can fool him!

5) and brave like a warrior in battle. When the time comes, situation demands, he faces it bravely like a fierce warrior in battle.

It may not be possible for one man to have all of them, specially 4 and 5, but it is not that difficult either. Maybe today when we have forgotten how to raise good upright citizens, just (partially) skilled robozens from schools, we may think that you can either be smart academically or strong physically. But bravery is a mental virtue of not giving up, facing what may come in the fight for justice and truth.

Now the language part:
pAtre = in the worthy
tyAgI = giver , one who gives to the worthy, needy
guNe = in qualities
rAgI = one who loves
saMvibhAgI = one who divides equally
cha = and
bandhuShu = among relatives
shAstre = in shAstras, scriptures, sciences
boddhA = knower, knowledgeable
raNe = in battle
yoddhA = warrior
puruShaH = man
pa~nchalakShaNAH =(is) of five characteristic

हिन्दी व्याख्या:
पात्रे त्यागी गुणे रागी संविभागी च बन्धुषु ।
शास्त्रे बोद्धा रणे योद्धा पुरुषः पञ्चलक्षणः ॥

सुपात्र को दान देना, गुणों में रुचि, बन्धुजनों के साथ बाँट कर भोगना, शास्त्रों का ज्ञाता और रण में योद्धा - पुरुष के ये पाँच लक्षण हैं ।

(एक अन्य पाठ्यान्तर में चौथा भाग ‘स वै पुरुष उच्यते’ है ।)

सत्पुरुष के पाँच लक्षण होते हैं –
१) सुपात्र दान । केवल नाम के लिए दे दिया ऐसे नहीं – अच्छा दान वह है जो देश, काल, पात्र, मात्रा देख कर दिया जाए । समय के बाद, गलत जगह पर, गलत मात्रा में या ऐसे किसी को जो उसका दुरुपयोग करे – ऐसा दान ठीक नहीं ।

२) गुणों में रुचि । एक सुसंस्कृत पुरुष स्वभाव से ही गुणों व गुणियों की ओर आकर्षित रहता है । स्वयं गुणों को बढ़ाता है, औरों की भी सहायता करता है । संगीत, नृत्य, कला, विज्ञान आदि स्वयं भी अनुसरण करता है, अन्य लोगों को भी प्रोत्साहित करता है ।

३) बन्धुजनों के साथ बाँट कर भोगना । भूमि को लेकर बहुत पुराने समय से ही विवाद होते रहे हैं (महाभारत !?) । सत्पुरुष पैत्रिक सम्पत्ति में से बन्धुओं का भाग नहीं हड़पता, अपनी समृद्धि में से भी मिल बाँट कर खाता है जिससे किसी में ईर्षा या हीनभावना न आ जाए । गीता कहती है – जो अकेला खाता है वह पाप खाता है ।

४) शास्त्रों का ज्ञाता । शास्त्र का अर्थ है कोई ज्ञान क्षेत्र या किसी भी ज्ञान क्षेत्र में सर्वमान्य अधिकारी कार्य । पुरुष केवल शारीरिक बल का ही प्रतीक नहीं अपितु बौद्धिक बल का भी प्रतीक है । वह व्यवहारकुशल और विचारकुशल है । जीवन के पहलुओं में मध्यस्थता में कुशल, और कोई मूर्ख न बना सके इतना चतुर भी ।

५) और रण में योद्धा । जब समय आ जाए और परिस्थिति की माँग हो तो वह एक निर्भीक योद्धा की तरह लड़ता भी है ।

शायद आप सोच रहे हैं कि यह सब एक ही पुरुष के लिए सम्भव नहीं, विशेषतः ४ और ५, पर यह इतना असम्भव भी नहीं । आज जब स्कूल अच्छे जागरूक नागरिक की बजाय केवल दक्ष रोबोट बना रही है, तब लगे कि या तो बौद्धिक या शारीरिक बल ही बढ़ाया जा सकता है । लेकिन शौर्य या वीरता मानसिक गुण है, जो हमें सत्य और न्याय के लिए लड़ने की शक्ति देता है ।

और अब भाषा विश्लेषण –
पात्रे = (सु)पात्र में
त्यागी = (दान) देने वाला (अपनी वस्तु का त्याग कर किसी और को देने वाला)
गुणे = गुण में
रागी = राग/रुचि रखने वाला
संविभागी = बराबर व ठीक से बाँटने वाला
च = और
बन्धुषु = बन्धुओं में
शास्त्रे = शास्त्र में
बोद्धा = बुद्धिमान, समझने वाला
रणे = रण, युद्ध में
योद्धा = योद्धा, शूरवीर
पुरुषः = पुरुष
पञ्चलक्षणः = पाँच लक्षणों वाला (होता है)

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Take it easy. No one is perfect.

Take it easy. No one is perfect.
Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have or could have.

कस्य दोषः कुले नास्ति व्याधिना को न पीडितः ।
व्यसनं केन न प्राप्तं कस्य सौख्यं निरन्तरम् ॥
= kasya doṣhaḥ kule nāsti vyādhinā ko na pīḍitaḥ |
vyasanaṃ kena na prāptaṃ kasya saukhyaṃ nirantaram || (IAST)
= kasya doShaH kule nAsti vyAdhinA ko na pIDitaH |
vyasanaM kena na prAptaM kasya saukhyaM nirantaram || (ITRANS)

Whose family doesn’t have faults? Who is never afflicted with disease?
Who has not got troubles? Whose happiness has been eternal?

The meaning of this shloka is pretty much straight forward. The main point is, everyone has troubles, no one is perfect, so don’t brood over faults, defects, shortcomings; focus on what can be done, achieved; what you have, rather than what you could have!

Remember Chanakya was a very practical person, so in every one of his utterances, there is an element of practical wisdom, urging to get up and achieve, be careful in the world of ambitions.

And now the language aspects -

kasya doṣhaḥ kule nāsti
vyādhinā ko na pīḍitaḥ |
vyasanaṃ kena na prāptaṃ
kasya saukhyaṃ nirantaram ||

After sandhi vichchheda and anvaya (rearranging) becomes:

kasya kule doṣhaḥ na asti
kaḥ na vyādhinā pīḍitaḥ |
vyasanaṃ kena na prāptaṃ
kasya saukhyaṃ nirantaram ||

kasya = whose? kaḥ/kā/kim = who (m/f/n)

kule = in (extended) family. kulam = family lineage

doṣhaḥ = doShaH = defect, abnormality, fault, bad quality

nāsti = nAsti = na asti = not is

vyādhinā = vyAdhinA = by disease (vyAdhi)

kaḥ = kaH = who

na = not

pīḍitaḥ = pIDitaH = afflicted, stricken by

vyasanaṃ = vyasanaM = bad time, trouble

kena = by whom

na = not

prāptaṃ = prAptaM = obtained

kasya = whose

saukhyaṃ = saukhyaM = happiness. sukha -> saukhyam

nirantaram = without gap, continuous, nir/niH/nis + antaram

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

बर्बर = barbara = barbarian, uncivilized

बर्बर = barbara = barbarian, uncivilized

A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be uncivilized or primitive.

It was used as early as Mahabharata, where Ghatotkacha's son was named barbarIka, having curly hair. He is worshiped as Khatushyamji today in Rajasthan.

Ghatotkacha was born with no hair on his head - ghaTa ut kacha - head without hair.

The Greeks used the word to mean non-greek. The Greeks and Romans used the term as they encountered scores of different foreign cultures, including the Egyptians, Persians, Medes, Celts, Germanic peoples, Phoenicians and Carthaginians. In fact, it became a common term to refer to all foreigners. However, in various occasions, the term was also used by Greeks, especially the Athenians, to deride other Greek tribes and states (such as Epirotes, Eleans, Macedonians and Aeolic-speakers) but also fellow Athenians, in a pejorative and politically motivated manner.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

क्षुरः - kShuraH - razor, knife

Remember those days when you (or your dad) would go to the barber shop and get a shave done with the 'ustaraa' (उस्तरा)? Some even thought of having one for home, to save on the constant expense on the flimsy blades that went blunt in 3 shaves.

The word for knife in common parlance is chhura (छुरा), or chhuri (छुरी).

The famous Zanjeer movie song that went -
chakku chhuriyaan ~~~~
tez karA lo
chakku ki aisee dhaar
ke chakku ban jaaye talwar
(चक्कू छुरियाँ ~~~~~
तेज़ करा लो
चक्कू की ऐसी धार
के चक्कू बन जाए तलवार)

THAT chhuri.

The word comes from Sanskrit word - kShuraH (क्षुरः) .

kShur = क्षुर् = to scratch, to cut
kShuraH = क्षुरः = razor
kShurikA = क्षुरिका = knife, dagger

And we know how 'kSha' gets modified into 'chha' or 'kha' or 'Sha' in languages derived from Sanskrit. That is normal linguistic simplification.
kShetra (क्षेत्र) becomes khet (खेत) (field)
kShetrapaala (क्षेत्रपाल) become khetarpaal (खेतरपाल) (surname)

Only real macho guys get a shave with a 'kShuraH' anymore.
All others are safe in the hands of Mach 5 Twin Blade Smooth Glide Razor Blades.
Sounds like some space mission! :)

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

हरिद्रा - haridrA - turmeric

So, yesterday we saw why ginger is called 'adarak'. Ardra (आर्द्र) = moist, and we mentioned turmeric as well.

The color of turmeric powder is bright yellow. And it is a common material to give the yellow color of paintings and dyes. India has been famous for its vibrant colors from time immemorial. Just see any festival dresses, or see the desert designs of Rajasthan. Even before they were writing, they were coloring and making alloys. Remember steel and brass and bronze and the Ashoka pillar?

So, turmeric was used to dye cloths as well. And the color yellow is mentioned many times in names like 'peetambar/pitambar' in shlokas for Vishnu and his avatars.

The cloth on Lord Vishu's chest is of a characteristic yellow color. And Lord Vishnu is called pItAmbaraH (पीताम्बरः = One whose cloths are yellow) or pItAmbaradhArI (पीताम्बरधारी = one who wears yellow cloths). Yellow is also a primary color in the CMYK scheme.

"On the dark skinned (shyAma) Vishnu/Rama/Krishna the yellow cloth seems like the lightening in the dark rain-bearing (hence life giving) clouds" - thus go most of the descriptions of the three. (E.g in shrI rAmachandra kRipAlu bhajuman haraNa bhavabhaya dAruNam ...)

So, turmeric has got the color that is favorite of Hari, i.e. Lord Vishnu.

And hence it is called हरिद्रा (haridrA), - "the moist one with Hari's color."

Turmeric is very beneficial for bones and immunity development and is a natural antiseptic. It was applied on open wounds (after some preparation, not directly as powder) to prevent infection as well. Taking a pinch of it with warm milk daily is a great practice for healthy bones and great immunity and no extra cost.

It is also called haritA. The word 'haladee' is also used in later works of Sanskrit, and is the name in Hindi and many other languages.

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

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

आर्द्रिका - ArdrikA - ginger

We all love a 'kadak adarak-wali chai' - strong ginger tea (with milk, black tea leaves and sugar - of course)

Wah Taj! 
Raindrops dancing on my balcony railing ...
... while I don't have to drive :)

and all that come rushing to the mind.

But what is up with the word 'adarak'? Where did that come from?

I always wondered these things way back in middle school - where do words come from? How did potato come to India? Where did ginger come from? Imported? Do we know if we had potato sabji 3000 years ago? Or ginger cold remedy back in 2000 BCE? And if not imported, what were they called earlier? And how did the new names come up?

Seems that ginger has been around for a while.
It was called aardrika/ArdrikA (आर्द्रिका).
Comes from the base word - aardra = आर्द्र = moist

Now, if you are an old timer, and have seen raw ginger or turmeric (or if you grab the fresh ginger at the vegetable vendor) , you will know that the ginger roots are moist when fresh. So, is turmeric. And then you dry them. Chop them in small pieces or grind them to powder, and use liberally to strengthen your immunity and bones.

So what is turmeric called?

adarak is also called - आर्द्रकम् (aardrakam)

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

तत्त्वम् - tattvam - essence

We all know this word to mean essence of something. But the etymology is even more enlightening. 

tat = it, that
-tva = suffix to denote -ness

For example, 
apanatva = अपनत्व = feeling something, someone as one's own, say with a good friend
mahattvam = महत्त्वम् = greatness, importance
puMsatvam = पुंसत्वम् = manliness

So why does it-ness or that-ness mean essence? 
The Supreme Divine has no gender. It is referred as 'it' or 'that'. The word that itself comes from tat.

The essence of everything is That. It. 
What more indication of the depth of the language and its philosophy!

तत्त्वमसि = tat tvam asi = tattvamsi = That Thou Art!

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Saturday, October 17, 2015

भूत - bhUta - beings or ghosts?

In many Indian languages, the word bhoot/bhoota (भूत) would inspire some flurry of electrical current up the spine. It means - ghost. There are movies with names like bhoota bangalaa (ghost bungalow) that were the pioneers of the horror genre in India. And then the Bib-B starrer recent flick called Bhootnath (protector/king of ghosts!)

And yet, Shiva (शिव) is also called bhUta-nAthaH (भूतनाथः). This of course gives fan to the fire that Shiva is the Lord of the ghosts, and wanders the cemetery, smears the ashes of the burning grounds. And trust me, all this has deep metaphorical meaning that will scare 'The Brief History of Time' out of you. More on this below.

The verb 'bhU/bhoo' (/भू) is a very basic verb. Out of the ten classes of verbs, one of them is called bhu-Adi-gaNa (भू-आदि-गण) or bhavAdigaNa (भवादिगण) i.e. "group of bhU and other verbs."

bhU means - to be.
bhava - you be.
bhavati = she/he/it becomes.

It is slightly different from 'is'. We say -
He became angry.
Water becomes ice.

It is a state change.

That which *has* become - bhUta.

Now, who has become (past tense) is relative as well.
All beings you see, were not beings earlier, in these bodies. They were souls. Before that part of the Supreme Soul. Before that unmanifest 'unperceivable' para-brahma.
Upon birth (or conception, if you are a nit-picker) , they *became*. Before that they were not.
They were, but not in a form that could have been perceived by us.

So, all beings are called 'bhUta'. All of life, not just you and me, the supreme creation, but even the lowly earthworm is a bhUta.

Now, when someone dies, from this life's point of view they 'were'. Had been. Had become, not now anymore. They are also called bhUta - one who *had* become (past perfect?).

And hence the word for one who had been is bhUta. And if that "had been" tries to become "is being" we really get our spines jolted and scream - ghost!!

So, why is Shiva called bhUtanAtha? Well, Shiva is the deity of transformation, of time. And from unmanifest to manifest, spirit to matter and to spirit again, are all transformations. And at the cemetery, you change from is to has been. And turn to ash. His smearing of ash on his body signifies that all came from Time and go back to Time. Only Time rejoices in Time. All else is illusion.

So, you must be thinking how I can say that bhUta = all beings.
Is it extrapolation?
Modern day stretchable interpretation?

Well, look no further. Remember this shloka in praise of the Mother Devi?

या देवि सर्व-भूतेषु, शक्ति-रूपेण संस्थिता ।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै, नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥   
yā dévi sarva-bhūtéṣhu, shakti-rūpéṇa saṃsthitā |
namas_tasyai namas_tasyai, namas_tasyai namo namaḥ||   

The Dévī who is well established among "all beings" in the form of Shakti (power, energy, ability), salutation to her, salutation to her, salutation to her, salutation,  salutation.

And why three times? Because 'Three is a charm'?

No silly, the three salutations are referring to the three forms of the Dévī – Sarasvatī, Lakṣhmī, Durgā. And why three Devi-s? Because three is a charm indeed! :)

Happy NNF.

The Nine-Night Festival!
May the Devi keep you safe, healthy and happy.

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