Thursday, July 30, 2009

"The Force" is in your hands - कराग्रे वसते लक्ष्मीः

lakShmI in the finger tips, saraswatI on the palm |
shaktI is situated in the wrist, it is auspicious to see the hands ||

कराग्रे वसते लक्ष्मीः, करमध्ये सरस्वती ।
करमूले स्थिता गौरी, मंगलं करदर्शनम् ॥

karAgre vasate lakShmIH, kara-madhye saraswatI |
kara-moole sthitA gaurI, mangalaM kara-darshanam ||

there is another variation as it appears in AchAra-pradeepa as follows -
करमूले स्थितो ब्रह्मा, प्रभाते करदर्शनम्
but i think it makes more sense to use the gaurI. more on that below.

this shloka is to be recited in the morning. when you get up, just sit in the bed, don't rush out to get ready. say this shloka with eyes still closed, and open them by the fourth part (ma~NgalaM karadarshanam) and see your hands and smile. after this still don't rush out, say another shloka (coming up in next post), and THEN get down from the bed.

this exercise is so good, that it helps you stabilize your blood pressure. if after lying for 6-7 hours, you suddenly get up, there can be a pressure drop in the brain and this is known to be the most important factor in early morning strokes. both shlokas when said slowly will take about 1-2 minutes which is sufficient to get your brain used to new blood pressure.

there are many beliefs, faiths and for many we don't know the reason or there might be no reason but to simply strengthen the faith (maybe superstition?)

in hinduism a central idea is that the creator entered the creation, and enlivened it! that is why we say that there is the divine in all of us, all life forms, even inanimate things। that is why the supreme is also called 'antar-yAmI' (अन्तर्यामी) i.e. one who moves inside (us, living things).

the shine of the diamond, the stickiness of the gecko feet, the long snapping tongue of a frog, the "7 tons a day feeding frenzy" of an orca whale are all the same divine shining! but what does it mean to say that the divine is in us?

and what about the trinity of creator, sustainer and the transformer (also called the destroyer)? how do we interpret them in tangible ways, for those who are more into GYaan yoga (ज्ञान-योग) than bhakti yoga (भक्ति-योग) ?

there are three phases of a thing - creation (coming into existence), sustenance and destruction (going out of existence). destruction is just a type of transformation.

creation needs knowledge, hence the creator brahmA's (ब्रह्मा) consort is saraswatI (सरस्वती) - the divinity of knowledge. sustenance needs resources, hence the sustainer viShNu's (विष्णु) consort is lakShmI (लक्ष्मी) - the divinity of wealth, resource, prosperity. transformation needs energy, hence the transformer shiva's (शिव) consort is shakti (शक्ति) - the divinity of energy, also called as pArvatI (पार्वती) gaurI (गौरी) etc.

now the shloka!
lakShmI is in our fingers. why? because all we do to make resources, create or earn them, to type in a blog, to make a space shuttle or to plough the fields, we do it because of the opposable thumbs! because we can HOLD things in our hands and make tools etc. imagine if we didn't have the fingers and opposable thumbs! any progress ever? see the pigs and lions, still as they were!

the palm like a book! the destiny on our palms! we make our own destiny with knowledge! or maybe they just didn't find a better place for saraswatI :) but there lies saraswatI.

and the wrist, the power to use the hands is from the wrist, where lies the shakti, pArvatI. also, just like shiva is mahAdeva ('greatest god', explanation in later posts), pArvatI being shakti is the most important one! she powers the other two! imagine without energy to work or think would your body or brain be of any use? you first need energy, only then can you do anything.

the divine manifestation is divided in three main categories - creation (kartA, कर्ता) , sustenance (bhartA, भर्ता), transformation (hartA, हर्ता) . and all these are powered by the three goddesses! and all these three powers are right there in your hand.

so when you get up in the morning, don't whine, but rise and shine!
the entire power of this universe - create, sustain and transform - is in your hands!
be glad you have your hands, think for a moment if you didn't! it will be like you were without the divine force!

while you have this faith in the divine, please do not let anyone take advantage of you because of your faith. that is not faith anymore, that is your foolishness and others' selfishness! beware of fake gurus, and fake godmen! the real ones don't ask for any favors, they don't try to save god or truth. we all HAVE to pay for our actions!

so why is the version with "gaurI" better than that with "brahmA"? well, the other two are the goddesses, and wrist goes well with power, energy.

[sun photo,courtesy Karasán Krisztina]
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and now the shloka at hand:

kara = hand
agra = front, ahead; agre = in the front (-e suffix for in, on) [careful, it is not the same as the city Agra of the Taj Mahal, that should be correctly written as AgarA (आगरा)]
karAgre = in the front of the hand i.e. fingers
other words: agra-ja = born (ja) ahead (agra) = elder brother
agra-jA = elder sister (jA = born, feminine)

vasate = lives; root vas, vasati - singular, third person

lakShmIH = the divinity of prosperity (material and spiritual); consort of divine lord viShNu, the sustainer
from the word lakShya = goal

kara-madhye = palm;
madhya = middle, (of hand); madhy-e = in middle

saraswatI = divinity of learning, knowledge; consort of divine lord brahmA, the creator

kara-moole = in wrist
moola = base, root; mool-e = in the base
kanda-moola-phala = stems, roots and fruits (diets during fasting that avoid grains)

sthitA = situated
gaurI = pArvatI, shaktI, consort of shiva; fair colored; consort of shiva the transformer.
mangalaM = auspicious
kara-darshanaM = looking at hands

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Science is the only eye - सर्वस्य लोचनं शास्त्रं

It blasts many doubts, foresees what is not obvious |
Science is the eye of everyone, one who hasn't got it, is like a blind ||

अनेकसंशयोच्छेदि, परोक्षार्थस्य दर्शकम् ।
सर्वस्य लोचनं शास्त्रं, यस्य नास्त्यन्ध एव सः ॥

aneka-saMshayo_chchhedi, paroksh_Arthasya darshakam |
sarvasya lochanam shAstram, yasya nAstyandha eva saH ||

[ _ and - used for pronunciation help only. see below ]

It would come as a surprise to many that unlike Europe, where there was a constant friction between religion and science, in India both went together.

Here, in the opening chapter of Hitopadesha, the king who was on a morning stroll along the river, hears some students reciting their homework early in the morning. they recited two shloka-s, one of which is this, the second we will cover later.

It shows the importance of shAstra, science, fields of study.
shAstra is a field of science, study like - rasAyana-shAstra (chemistry), khagola-shAstra (astronomy), artha-shAstra (economics, politics), chhanda-shAstra (study of verses, meter, poetry), nATya-shAstra (dramatics, theater). Some classics works are called xyz-sUtra. These are part of the shAstra, but composed in form of tight formulae, like kAma-sUtra, yoga-sUtra, chhanda-sUtra.

So not only were there names for various branches, which shows they were highly developed, their importance well accepted.

Science, unbiased pursuit of truth, is the only path to find facts. These could be hard sciences with labs and apparatus. or it could be soft sciences like the study of society, mind, behavior, philosophy. Science is finally the method, not the field.

One has to be a bit careful today about science. Because of multi-million dollar funding, many times facts of science (truths) are hidden, released at 'appropriate' times. e.g. Phillip Morris knew of the addictive nature of nicotine (science), but they distorted it, hid it (incomplete picture of science). Same goes for formula/powder milk for babies, synthetic diapers, and many other views of so called experts. That is not the fault of science, but of scientists and big corporates.

If we have a doubt, and science has uncovered it so far, then the doubts are blasted, cleared, settled, quickly. Else, some research and the doubts can again be blasted. Well, not for some chronic doubters! Because as they say, there is no medicine for doubt :)

And what about prophecy? Future telling? Well, science can tell us the results of somethings without having to do it every time. E.g. if we chop off the trees for urban development, the local climate will change. Science is used to guide our social policies and how it will impact our future. It can foresee our path of success or doom, we rarely care about that is a different story :)

This science is the true eye of people. Those who merely think of the physical eye as the eye, are actually like blind people. They can't see the future, the far reaching effects of their deeds.

There are many examples of science found scattered in "religious" texts of sanskrit. We will touch upon those as time comes and if their sanskrit is simple!

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Now the shloka at hand:

the use of - and _ is only for pronunciation aid. sanskrit itself doesn't have either.

- where two words break properly. e.g. aneka-saMshaya
_ where the words don't break exactly, but approximately.
e.g. paroksha + arthasya = parokshArthasya --> too long to pronounce. so parokash_Arthasya

aneka = an + eka = not one = many; an- prefix
eka = one. it is used in chemistry's periodic table as well! Elements as eka-mercury, eka-bismuth, eka-lead.

saMshayo_chchhedi =
saMshaya = doubt
uchchhedi = blaster
chhed = hole; chhidra = hole, loophole
chhidrAnveShI = chhidra (loop-hole) + anveShi (discoverer) = loophole discoverer
uchchheda = ut + chheda = tear through the hole, blast, explode (like a pricked balloon)

paroksh_Arthasya = paraH + aksha + arthasya
paraH = not here, in front, other, else where
aksha = eyes
paroksha = not in front the eyes, (future), elsewhere
parokshArtha = paroksha + artha (meaning) = meaning of the future, the (yet) unseen
darshakaM = viewer, spectator, one who sees;

parokshArthasya darshakaM = viewer of the unforeseen, what is not obvious (in front of the eyes)

sarvasya = of (-sya suffix) all (sarva)

lochanaM = eye

shAstraM = science; see the post on shastraM, shAstraM

yasya = whose; yaH = who + -sya suffix

nAstyandha = na + asti + andhaH = is (asti) not (na);

eva = like

saH = he (generic, group pronoun)
sA = she
tat = it

[Thank you Srinivasn for pointing out the error, it has been corrected]

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

the four poisons - अनभ्यासे विषं विद्या

when not practiced, knowledge is poison; in indigestion, food is poison |
poison is gathering/festivities of poor; old man's young wife is poison ||

अनभ्यासे विषं विद्या अजीर्णे भोजनं विषम् ।
विषं सभा दरिद्रस्य वृद्धस्य तरुणी विषम् ॥

anabhyAse viShaM vidyA, ajIrNe bhojanaM viShaM |
viShaM sabhA daridrasya, vRiddhasya taruNI viShaM ||

half knowledge is dangerous. and the knowledge not remembered properly is decaying like radioactive material, reaching its half life in a few years or months if we don't use it, practice it. e.g. how many of us remember what is "Pb" or "Ag" or "Mn" in chemistry? or what is "d" energy level in an atom? but when we base our discussion, decision, argument on half remembered facts or knowledge without adding "i think so, or maybe" but with full authority, we can have a difficult situation!

the same food which gives us nourishment and energy to live, the most essential thing in this life after air, the same food can become poison, worse, in indigestion! the best medicine for indigestion is lot of water, and fasting. a day or two of minimal, simple food and lot of water, cures most stomach ailments. one of the main reasons for fasting is this. it is not to please god, god doesn't need pleasing, s/he is already "sat-chit-Ananda" i.e. "truth-consciousness-bliss".

prayers are for us, fasting is for us, vows are for us, austerity is for us. it purifies us, sets a goal for us, hardens our resolve. some words for fasting have nothing to do with fasting. "vrata" means a pledge. and "upa-vAsa" means 'to be next to'. the idea of 'upavAsa' is to forget about food (and mortal) worries, and spend the extra time near god, in thoughts of the higher issues, beyond just the material needs. that can be done by studying spiritual texts, or the religious texts (if they are not constipated texts), or in the company of wise, selfless people.

even that is a boon - to meet selfless, wise, content, enlightened people - also called "santa" in sanskrit and hindi and saint in english. 'one gets to meet santa, sajjan only by the grace of god' - so says tulasi-dAsa.

why is gathering of poor called poison? don't they have rights to enjoy, or unite? surely this is a sign of extreme oppression and bias against the less privileged sections of the society! one should avoid such readings, such writers, such texts, such society or 'religion' that says such things.

this type of questioning and conclusion are so dangerous! the true intent has to be understood without presumptions. else we may miss out on a treasure trough of wisdom.

there are two versions of this shloka, one uses 'sabhA' (assembly, gathering, senate, council), other uses 'goShThi', (party, function).

using the first one, means that gathering of resource-less people doesn't accomplish much. using the second means that the poor should not waste time and money in useless extravagant partying maybe in imitation of the 'rich'. they should rather find jobs, work harder and become better off economically.

a young wife of an old man is poison for him. sometimes literally! if the old man is stinking rich as well! but the expectations of a young woman might be too much to keep up with for an old (not just older) man. there is a lot of mismatch - physical stamina, mental maturity, perspectives in life. and per kAmasutra, and many other sources, an unsatisfied wife goes astray, which then ruins the reputation of the involved parties! it is again a matter of matching up the person and skill sets :) as covered in the other shloka (ashvaH, shastraM, shAstraM...)

now the shloka at hand -

anabhyAse = in (-e) not (an-) practice (abhyAsa)

viShaM = poison, bad for

vidyA = knowledge, studies

ajIrNe = in indigestion, from a + jIrNa = not jIrNa
jIrNa = decaying, tattered. jIrNa-avasthA = old age, tattered stage.
food is broken down in the stomach for absorption of nutrients. this also hints at a deeper understanding of the human body and metabolism, which has a long tradition in ayurveda and yoga (all diseases start with bad metabolism). there are many, many references to this.

bhojanaM = food
root bhuk, to consume. other words - bhog (use, consumption, offering of food sample to the divine), bhojya (that which can be consumed); in hindi, bhojana = food, bhookha = hunger

sabhA = gathering

daridrasya = of (-sya) the poor (daridra)

vRiddhasya = of (-sya) the old (vRiddha)

taruNI = young woman (wife) [masc. taruNa]

hitopadesh has gathered lot of simple and good wisdom from various sources, as declared in its preface itself. taking the structure of panchatantra, and wisdom from everywhere. a lot from chANakya is inevitable for neeti works. and to be honest, wherever this lifting is done, the author changes some little thing to indicate the reference.

there is another, older version of this shloka attributed to chANakya:
durAdhItA viShaM vidyA ..
and durAdhItA means badly undertaken/understood.

duH- dur- prefix for bad, wrong e.g. durjana, durbhAgya
adhItA = that which was studied (fem.). other words - adhyayana (study), adhyApana (teaching), adhyApaka (teacher), adhyAya (chapter).
aShTAdhyAyI = eight chaptered (pANinI's classic work on linguistics and sanskrit grammar)

another famous place where adhItaM is used is:
om, saha nAvavatu [nau avatu], saha nau bhunaktu, saha vIryaM karvAvahai,
tejasvI nAvadhItamastu ...

this is a shAntI pATha (peace invocation) where the students (and possibly including the guru in the prayer) are praying for their togetherness and success.

here bhunaktu comes from bhunk. "me we eat, enjoy the fruits, together"
tejasvI (brilliant) nau (our) adhItaM (studies) astu (may/let be) = let our studies (undertakings) be brilliant (successful)

PS: photos are for visual appeal only and bear no other connection or importance to the article!

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Monday, July 20, 2009

worthiness of men and women- अश्वः शस्त्रं शास्त्रं वीणा

horse, weapon, science, musical instrument, speech, and man and woman.
(they all) become worthy or unworthy, based on who gets to use (employ/utilize) them.

अश्वः शस्त्रं शास्त्रं वीणा वाणी नरश्च नारी च ।
पुरुषविशेषं प्राप्य भवन्ति योग्यायोग्याश्च ॥

ashwaH shastraM shAstraM vINA, vANI narashcha nArI cha |
puruSha-visheShaM prApya, bhavanti yogyAyogyAshcha ||

the arabian horse lost the race.
the gun misfired.
the science of nuclear weapons.
Cacophonix the bard (Asterix comics anyone?)
the politician lost election after the bad speech.
he failed.
she failed.

whose fault is it?

in mahAbhArata, a horse trader from west (arabia?) comes to court of emperor shAntanu, to see if anyone could ride his fine horses, specially one uncontrollable white steed. everyone failed, but devavrata, the future grandsire bhIShma, did it. so, whose fault? horse's? you need a special person to control a wild horse.

why the control on deadly weapons? without proper security and training, they might get stolen or misused/abused. that is why the CTBT and IAEA controlling the world's nuclear weaponry.

what percent of the population is scientist? not everyone can discover or invent new things. and how are the inventions used? chemical weapons don't make chemistry bad, but it the bad user (terrorist/dictator/or super power).

it is not the fault of the lute that Cacophonix can't play it. if you don't tune the musical instrument, the guitar, how can you get good music?

similarly for people. if the person and skill sets are not matched properly, how can anyone be successful? if the credit for success goes to the leader, the blame for failure should also go to the leader.

here is the big management mantra!
proper resource allocation doesn't mean just the head count, but the head "content" as well! it is very important to recognize the skills properly, and then assign people. the talents need to be recognized and used appropriately.

there are few more related shlokas, and we will cover them as time comes.

now the shloka at hand:

ashwaH = horse; other words - haya, turanga

shastraM = weapon; instrument, apparatus, iron, steel
weapons were made of iron and steel. indian steel, wootz steel, was perfected even before the roman empire and was used to supply swords to the roman army!
[from root 'shas' to cut, kill, destroy.]
compare to astraM - a weapon that is thrown like arrow, spear etc.

shAstraM = science.
interesting note:
from root shAs = rule, reign. [cf. shAsanaM = rule, reign of a king]
so shAstraM = the science, the pursuit of truths, are like command of the king.
i.e. how can truth be disobeyed!
interesting insight into the fact that science and "religion" or "god-stuff" was never in confrontation. shAstra-ukti - statement of science - was respected, revered.
shAstrI = one who is adept in the shAstra. also a degree in sanskrit studies, like paNDita, viSharada, shAshtrI etc.

vINA = one of the earliest musical instrument of india; divine saraswatI is shown holding it, celestial sage nArada carries it. music has a very long tradition in india.

vANI = speech. from root 'vAk' - speech.
other words - vAgdevI - divinity of speech (saraswatI), vAda = -ism; vAda-vivAda = debate.

narashcha = naraH (man) + cha (and)
nArI = woman

puruSha-visheShaM prApyaM = 'gotten by'/'given in charge of' (prApyaM) the special/specific (visheSham) person (puruSha)

bhavanti = happen, become (plural) [from bhava - to be, happen]

yogyAyogyAshcha =
yogya + ayogya -> yogyAyogya
plural -> yogyAyogyAH ; + ch -> yogyAyogyAshcha

yogya = worthy; from yoga-> yogya, i.e. worthy of union/use/utilization
ayogyaH = not worthy
cha = and

the second line of the shloka appears in hitopadesh (2-75) as:
पुरुषविशेषं प्राप्यं हि, भवन्ति योग्या अयोग्याश्च ॥
the problem with this is that now the number of vowels (or sounds, varNa) is 6+2+1=9 and 3 + 2 + 4 = 9
instead of 8 and 8. i think it is an error, and the way to make it 8 + 8 would be as i have put it.
if someone has the correct definite form of the shloka, please let me know.

also, this shloka might be from vidura-neeti, but i am unable to find it in my copy of the same.
vidura-neeti is another master gem of a book, but its sanskrit is not always simple. so i will have to cherry pick only those that have vocab and simple sanskrit.

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

Practical Sanskrit radio appearance

on friday 17th july, 9:30pm there was a brief on air discussion on practical sanskrit, on AIR bangalore 101.3 radio rainbow,

the talk is available on slideshare, the quality of sound is not the greatest since i was not able to manage a good recording device in time.

the shlokas used in the talk are being put on the blog as well. one is already posted (cranes among swans), second one is coming.

thank you for your support, please do give your suggestions, comments, feedback, whether you like or not like something, what else would you like to see.

please use this link to give general suggestion on the site:

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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

crane among swans - हंसमध्ये बको यथा

mother is enemy, father is competitor, by whom the child is not educated |
(who) doesn't grace the (august) assembly, as the crane amongst swans||
माता शत्रुः पिता वैरी, येन बालो न पाठितः ।
न शोभते सभामध्ये, हंसमध्ये बको यथा ॥ ०-२९

mAtA shatruH pitA vairI, yena bAlo na pAThitaH |
na shobhate sabhAmadhye, haMsamadhye bako yathA ||

the importance of education has been a hallmark of indian culture and tradition. even today we find indians go abroad to many countries, and no matter where they go, they flourish and thrive and add to the local economy and society. president obama is even asking the american children to stand up and measure up to the indian and chinese students in competition.

education and knowledge have always been important. there are many shlokas on the importance of education itself. and even today, in modern india, when education is fast becoming a business, the thirst of the parent to send the children to good school, or just to school is so strong that now it is sometimes difficult to distinguish which school is good school!

why this importance of education? and what kind of education?
there are two types of "education" - one is to acquire a skill to help in livelihood, the other is a much more in depth study of a topic, with more abstract or far reaching effects. either one, needs education, a trainer, teacher, an environment where one can learn.

so it is not just for the "upper class" engineers, bankers, lawyers, doctors etc. that education is important. even the child of a glass-smith, farmer, factory worker, coal miner needs education. and contrary to modern beliefs that education was only the right of the "upper class", there were types of education and students chose according to their own needs and capacity.

here in this shloka from hitopadesh, of course, the king is thinking about his useless princes who are not worthy yet of being a king. and he is thinking that as a parent it is his responsibility to educate his children, else they will be like crane among swans.

now the shloka at hand:

mAtA = mother, from mAtri, root of word like mother, mader, madri, mater (alma mater), matriarchal, matri-mony

shatruH = enemy

pitA = father, from pitRi, root of words like father, padre, paternal, patri-cide, patriarchal

vairI = opponent, from veera = brave. one who has a posture of bravery against you, as if your opponent, competitor.
so a father who doesn't educate the child, is like a jealous competitor who doesn't want the child to excel the father. and a true father is always happy to see his children excel him, just like a true leader is happy to see his people excel himself.

yena = by whom
bAlo = bAlaH, child, boy

na = not
pAThitaH = (the one who) is educated, taught

shobhate = graces
sabhAmadhye = sabhA + madhye
sabhA = assembly, gathering (of august people)
madhya = center, among, between
madhye = in the center

haMsamadhye = haMsa + madhye
haMsa = swam

bako = bakaH, crane. this is an interesting word.
vaGk (vank) = crooked, a bend in a river course.
[*G is the nasal of the ka-group, sounds like n in gang, slang, sang]
a crane is a crooked bird in design as it dupes the fish and grabs them in its claws.
any person of such nature is called bakaH in sanskrit or "bagulA" in hindi.
there is also the story of the crane and crab!
there is an Asana in yoga named after it, bakAsana.

yathA = as, like

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

poison of the scorpion - वृश्चिकस्य विषं पुच्छे

poison of scorpion is in the tail, of the bee on her head |
poison of snake is in its fang, of the evil person in all its parts ||

वृश्चिकस्य विषं पुच्छे मक्षिकायाश्च मस्तके ।
तक्षकस्य विषं दन्ते सर्वांगे दुर्जनस्य च ॥

vRishchikasya viShaM puchchhe, makShikAyAshcha mastake |
takShakasya viShaM dante, sarvAMge* durjanasya cha ||

* sarvAGge or sarvAMge G is the nasal of the cha-group

while the poison of these deadly animals lies in the tail, head or fangs, only one part of the body, an evil person is poison head to toe! reminds on of the saying "the most dangerous animal is human being".

now the shloka at hand:

poison (viShaM) of scorpion (vRishchika) in its tail (puchchhe) (sting), of the fly/bee (makShikAyA) on her head (mastake) (tongue) |
poison of snake (takShakasya) is in its fang (dante), of the evil person (durjanasya)in all its parts (sarva-aMge) ||

vrashch = to bite, cut, tear
vrashchayati = verb. bites, cuts
vRishchika = scorpion, crab, centipede
vRishchikasya = of scorpion; -sya suffix = (masculine) of

viShaM = poison
viSha-dantakaH = poison teeth (fang), snake

puchchha = tail; puchchh-e = in the tail
puchchha-kaNTakaH = sting on tail, scorpion

makShikA = fly, honeybee
makShikAyAH = of the fly
mastaka = head; mastak-e = on/in head (-e suffix for in/on/over)

durjana = duH + jana = evil person
sarvAnge = sarva + ange = all parts

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

leave the country where the evil lives - शकटं पंचहस्तेन

(save yourselves) (from) a cart by being five hands (away), (from) a horse by ten hands, (from) an elephant by a thousand (hands), (and) (from) the evil person by leaving the country.
शकटं पंचहस्तेन दशहस्तेन वाजिनम् ।
हस्तिनं तु सहस्रेण देशत्यागेन दुर्जनम् ॥

shakaTaM panchahastena, dasha-hastena vAjinaM |
hastinaM tu sahasreNa, desha-tyAgena durjanaM ||

what precaution should one take when dealing with various hazards?
from a cart, keep a distance of five hands. avoid accidental cart toppling!

keep a distance of ten hands from a horse, avoid getting it nervous!

and an elephant, keep a thousand hands' distance, unless you are a trained mahout.

the inanimate, the smaller animal, and the larger animal with streaks of brute strengths have been considered, but did we miss something? what about the worst animal - human, and even among them - the evil person (durjanaM) !

nothing can save you from the evil person. you should simply leave the country itself! is that one of the reason why people from all over still like to go to USA?

now the shloka at hand:

shakaTaM = cart
panchahastena = pancha = five, hasta = hand. technical it is not pancha but paJcha, where J is the 5th nasal of the cha-varga (ch, chh, j, jh, J)
panjAba = paJn + Abafive rivers' water.

dasha-hastena = by a measure of ten hands from a (new, stranger) horse.
vAjinaM = horse
hastinaM = elephant
sahasreNa = by the thousand hands
desha-tyAgena = desha - region, tyAga = renounce
durjanaM = evil person; duH = bad, janaM = person

the bad person is to be shunned so much, for they will bring some or the other trouble.

notice the -ena suffixes? that denotes 'by'.

PS: an error was in the original post, and has been corrected.
the word was shakaTaM and not shaTakaM
any RSS feeds would have the error. please consider this correcton.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

give to the needy - वृथा वृष्टिः समुद्रेषु

rain in ocean is waste, food for the already-fed is waste |
charity to the opulent is waste, and lamp, even in daytime, is waste ||

वृथा वृष्टिः समुद्रेषु, वृथा तृप्तेषु भोजनम् ।
वृथा दानं धनाढ्येषु वृथा दीपो दिवापि च ॥

vRithA vRiShTiH samudreShu, vRithA tRipteShu bhojanaM |
vRithA dAnaM dhanADhyeShu, vRithA dIpo divApi cha ||

the act of giving has to be done to the needy.

another famous shloka from bhagawadgItA says - the giving that is done with a sense of duty, without chance of return favor, considering the time, place and need of the recipient is considered as the best type of giving.

so while it is true that one should give as if it is one's duty, a must chore, but the need of the recipient must be considered.

same is for a gift given for the sake of giving, not keeping in mind who is getting and whether s/he needs or not. lot of times, we give birthday gifts without considering if the child needs it, already has it or will even use it. that gift is truly wasted.

anyone remember how all state governments in india wanted to give prizes to abhinav bindra, the first solo gold medal in olympics 2008. why? because all wanted to come in the news, so and so has given an award of 5 lakhs, or 10 lakhs. one state government even announced 1 crore ($250,000)

and how poor is this star abhinav bindra? his dad gives him a multi-story five-star hotel as GIFT? does he really need $10,000 or $250,000 ? it would have been better if these entities who wanted to cash the publicity, made a sports complex in the name of abhinava bindra! that way, it wuld have been a full win-win situation! abhinav gets name, govt/entity gets press coverage, future sportsmen get facility!

nope, वृथा दानं धनाढ्येषु (vRithA dAnaM dhanADhyeShu), charity to the opulent ...

note the alliterative use of vRi sound.

also, in writing धनाढ्येषु, the ढ्य has a weird looking य, it indicates the previous consonant is half, specially used for consonants that don't have the trailing bar of 'a' mAtrA, the vertical bar at the end, as in म प च etc.

now the shloka at hand -

vRithA = in vain, waste, useless, pointless, meaningless
vRiShTiH = rain, showering of something
samudra = ocean; samudreShu = in the ocean

tRipta = content, well fed, well nourished (tRip - verb, to be content)
tRipteShu = in the satisfied; i.e. for the satisfied/well-fed person
bhojanaM = food

dAnaM = giving, charity, alms; from dad - to give
ADhya = rich;
dhanADhya = rich of wealth; dhana (wealth) + ADhya
guNADhya = rich of qualities; guNa (qualities) + ADhya
dhanADhyeShu = in the rich man; i.e. charity to the rich ... is a useless

dIpaH = lamp; from dIpta = brilliant; divya = illuminating; deva = the divine (illuminating light) being.
divA = day
api = also, even

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

the four friends - knowledge, wife, medicine, dharma

knowledge is a friend in foreign lands, wife a friend at home |
medicine is a friend to the ill, and dharma is a friend to the dead ||

विद्या मित्रं प्रवासेषु, भार्या मित्रं गृहेषु च ।
व्याधितस्यौषधं मित्रं, धर्मो मित्रं मृत्तस्य च ॥

vidyA mitraM pravAseShu, bhAryA mitraM gRiheShu cha |
vyAdhitasyauShadhaM mitraM, dharmo mitraM mRittasya cha ||

for the one who is living away from home, knowledge is the best friend. one can read up on the place even before going, know the language, customs, do's and don'ts, customs, quirks, everything, and not be so left out like a stranger. (sure money is also a good friend, but you might get cheated out of it all, if you are aware of the new place. e.g. now in the city of bangalore in india, cops can't stop you just to check the paperwork, after a recent news. if one is from outside and doesn't know this, one may end up paying fine for not carrying insurance paper but driving perfectly fine.

(there is another shloka that goes "kaH videshaH savidyAnAM" - i.e. what is foreign to the knowledgeable)

at home, wife is the best friend. among her many roles, the wife plays the role of mother, friend, confidant, adviser, lover (just like a husband to the wife).

to the ill, medicines are the best friend!

but all these friends are only of this mortal world. one comes alone, goes alone. then who is the friend after life? in afterlife?

dharma. what we did here in this world. i.e. people will remember us by what we did herein this world, even after we are gone. our fame or ill-fame depends on what we do in this world. the merits earned here will also give us the various travel classes in the other world - platinum/gold/silver member (hopefully not the frequent flyer miles!) business, economy, coach.

so do good here, while you can, to the best of your ability. the only way you can be immortal for the short span of civilization's memory is with the impact of your deeds.

simple sanskrit. great ideas.

now the shloka at hand

vidyA = knowledge
mitraM = friend; indra, the king of the divine gods, is also called mitraM, and so is the sun, both being friends of humans and life in general.

pravAseShu = in living away
vAsa = act of residing, AvAsa = residence, home, coming and/to reside
pra-vAsa = going out and residing, away from home, in foreign lands

bhAryA = wife
vyAdhi = illness
vyAdhitasya = of the one who is ill (-sya suffix for "of" in masc. gender)
auShadha = medicine

dharmaH = right deeds, actions; policy, duty, innate nature, defining characteristic
mRittasya = of the dead
mRittikA = soil. mRita = dead, that which has become soil again (back in the elements)

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

knowledge leads to happiness - विद्या ददाति विनयम्

(true/complete) knowledge gives discipline, from discipline comes worthiness, from worthiness one gets wealth, from wealth (one does) good deeds, from that (comes) joy.

विद्या ददाति विनयं विनयाद्याति पात्रताम् ।
पात्रत्वाद्धनमाप्नोति धनाद्धर्मं ततः सुखम् ॥ ५ ॥

vidyA dadAti vinayaM, vinayAdyAti pAtratAM |
pAtratvAddhanamApnoti, dhanAddharmaM tataH sukhaM || 5 ||

interestingly, a recent article in Ode magazine talked about altruism in economy. 40 years of research results in the dawning of one fact - it may be that economy is not all about money, but about the over all good of the society.

arthashAstra - the classic treatise of economics and polity by chANakya stresses time and again (and so do wise men before and after him) that society comes together not for one person's benefit but for each other's benefit. so how come we can call it a success if only a few benefit and many suffer - which is what happens in modern 'free market'.

the very concept of society is for the good of all the involved parties.
and this is also where a great tenet of karma-yoga comes.

since whatever you have, has come due to the collective effort of the society as a whole (e.g. the cloths you wear, food you eat, car you drive, could not be created by you alone, it needed society's collaboration), similarly the money and resource you have under your control is also for all, you merely have the CONTROL over its use.

the one who eats alone is the greatest sinner. - thus speak the shAstra!

think about it.
simple sanskrit. great ideas.

about the shloka at hand:

vidyA = knowledge; from root vid, there are many words.
sam-vedana = to know together, know same as other, sympathy)
A-vedana = announcement, to be let known
ni-vedana = request, inform
vid = to be present, as in vidyamAn

dadAti = dad verb, to give. -da as suffix makes adjectives

vinayaM = training, discipline, cultured mannerism (from training), humbleness.
root 'nee' which means to take (away).
e.g. netA = leader; who leads, takes (to the goal)
abhinetA = actor, who leads us emotionally through the story by his/her acting
neeti = policy, that which leads (the nation, organization, person to their goal)

vinayAt = from discipline, humbleness

yAti = comes. yA = movement
AyAta = import (coming in)
niryAta = export (going out)
yAtAyAta = traffic, transportation

pAtratAM = worthiness
pAtra = container, vessel, recipient
a-pAtra dAna = charity to an undeserving, unworthy

pAtratvAt = from worthiness

dhanaM = wealth, money

dhanAt = from wealth (-At suffix meaning from)
dharmaM = the right thing, charity, good deeds, duty [NOT religion]
tataH = from that
sukhaM = happiness, opposite of sorrow, lack of pain. cf. sukhAsana = the comfort posture.

Check out the book Attitude Shift - Sanskrit Maxims for Contemporary Life and Leadership.

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Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Follow knowledge and wealth like immortal youths

Like ever-young immortal, the wise should think about knowledge and wealth; as if 'grabbed-by-the-hair-by-Death' one should follow the path of dharma.

अजरामरवत्प्राज्ञो विद्यामर्थं च चिन्तयेत् ।
गृहीत इव केशेषु मृत्युना धर्ममाचरेत् ॥

ajarāmaravat-prājño vidyāmarthaṃ cha chintayet |
gṛihīta iva keśheṣhu mṛityunā dharmamācharet ||

Like (-vat) the ever-young (ajara) immortal (amara), the wise (prājñaḥ) should think (chintayet) about knowledge (vidyāṃ) and (cha) wealth (arthaṃ); as if grabbed (gṛihīta) by the hair (keṣheśhu) by Death (mṛityunā) one should follow the path (ācharet) of dharma (dharmam).

jara = decayed, one that decays, get old;
a-jara = one that doesn't get old
amara = a-mara = that which doesn't die, immortal
-vat as in amaravat = suffix denoting 'like' (an immortal)
prājñaḥ = wise, from pra + jña = complete, full knowledge; one who has full, complete knowledge
kesha = hair; kesheṣhu - (in)/by the hair; hand in the hair grabbing the locks
mṛityu = death; mṛityuna= by death
ācharet = from char - wander, walk; ācharaṇa = behaviour, āchārya = a teacher who can teach just by example of his behaviour.

So the question obviously is why follow knowledge and wealth like a greedy immortal youth? But dharma only as if an old man on death bed?

Not so.

To gain full knowledge it takes time. There is no short cut to knowing and learning something properly. As another shloka says that one learns a quarter from the teacher, quarter from self-study, quarter from colleagues and the last quarter only with the passage of time. Just like slow cooked food is yummy, slow cooked knowledge, deliberated upon, reflected upon, which seeps in slowly deep in the brain, where it can create new knowledge - that takes time.

Acquiring of wealth is also a time consuming process, if done legally. Nowadays, people want to be rich, quick.
That is not possible if you are planning to earn the wealth yourselves, legitimately. Shortcuts in getting rich always involves some wrongdoing. Maybe in the digital age when you can reach almost the whole world, one may become rich quickly even by collecting a dime per person, but we are talking the traditional works.

So give time, don't rush in acquiring knowledge and wealth. Do them right.

In doing good deeds, there is no need to wait, on the other hand, one should go as muchgood as possible, as soon as possible. For who knows when one may have to go. This sense of doing good can also be for executing one's duty, job, work. Very good work ethics, finish off whatever you have to do. Why wait?

Do good, as if today is your last day to make the deposits of good karma, do good hastily!

Simple Sanskrit. great ideas!

[Modified on 2015-07-30]

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