Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back to the grindstone? - पुनरपि घरट्टः

New Year Day is over. Now it is the rest of the year remaining.
365 days of पुनरपि घरट्टः = punarapi gharaTTaH = once again, the grindstone.

gharaTTaH = a grindstone, millstone. A class of devices made of heavy stone and used to grind grain, extract oil from seeds etc.

What is shown in the picture is a home millstone, a simple device with two heavy circular slabs of stone. The upper one had a handle using which the stone could be moved in a circle. The bottom was connected to a bigger base and a moat kind of collection facility for the ground flour. The grain was poured in the hole at the center of the top slab. It is still found in many rural homes, but is fast becoming a museum piece, as the 'luxuries' of urban reach the rural.

It was one of the simple, utilitarian and wonderful way to keep your joints moving in advanced old age as well. Of course, only if you keep doing it all along in youth too though. You can't just start at 60!

Many other things that were part of normal life were a good way to keeping healthy. Even today some of the motions in those tasks are prescribed as physical therapy and as prevention of age related joint problems. For example,
  • Washing cloths the old style.
  • Scrubbing the floor, great for waist movement.
  • Grinding your own grains fresh every week or half an hour a day, as a group activity.
  • Kneading the flour to make your own fresh bread twice a day - great for wrist and avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

Life was tough, for it was filled with lot of physical work. There was domestic help for those who could afford or needed time to focus on mental work. But everyone else had a good workout while keeping busy.

Today, everyone can afford mechanical help, and has much more time but very little exercise. You can still find many roads in India, traveling by which gives you an excellent back massage only at the cost of your car's shock absorbers. But otherwise, people have saved a lot of time so that they can spend it in important activities like -
  • Stuck in traffic; 
  • Shop useless things that appear great on TV;
  • Go to a high-paid gym to do workout and break a sweat and get hearing problems because of the ear-buds from the iPod stuck deep in the ear canal;
  • Watch useless TV soaps that bring our intelligence lower than an earthworm's belly button;
  • Talk on the mobile phone with people living far away while we are oblivious of our neighbors.
Many things to fill up our new found empty time.

This year, why don't we think of doing some of the chores of our own life, by our own hands and body, so that we feel involved in our own activities, get a workout, and don't get bored while working. Making it a group/family activity can make it more fun.

Think of doing some of these things this year.
  • Knead dough for making fresh bread, at least once a day. It will be great for your wrist and whole hand. Don't worry, you will become an expert in just 5-6 attempts.
  • Once a week, try mopping your own floor using the old style wash cloth. No stick mop. If you feel tired, stop and switch to the stick mop.
  • Plant some plants, in the garden, or in pots depending upon the size of your 'empire'.
  • When the hem of the jeans wear off, cut the bottom strip and sew the hemline.
  • Iron your own cloths.
  • Wash a few cloths in the old style.
  • Wash a few dishes the old style.

When Ramana Maharishi was asked how to realize the divine, he said, "do everything as if you are doing for the divine, even washing your own utensil."

If you imagine that tonight, the lord is coming for dinner. How nicely and with love will you cook your food? Carefully clean your dishes? Clean up your house? Wear nice dress even in the house and wear an extra big smile?

Do that everyday, anyways!

There is also a tradition of some Vishnu devotees to consider themselves as caretakers of their own house, and the Lord Vishnu being the actual owner of the house. When you do it as a duty given to you by the divine, your attitude towards the task changes. You don't slack, you put in an extra effort. You don't cut corners (Which you may and do with your own house.)

Do that everyday, anyways!

When you do that, you will notice that you will enjoy the chores as you are doing your own work. Don't use an iPod, enjoy the silence and maybe even mull over your own thoughts.

In ancient Mesopotamia, even the king had to know at least one trade of hand. Mahatma Gandhi used to take care of his goat. If big leaders came at that time, they had to wait or sit with him as he tended the goat. It is held in high regard for one to have a cow at home - one gets to care for someone, workout, get discipline, get good milk and calves for the field.

Now that the Welcome Party for the New Year 2011 is over, we need to let the reality sink in that nothing has actually changed except when writing the date, you will draw one less circle, and one more line.

But change your attitude, and do not think you are getting back to the grindstone.

Enjoy your work, and it will not be work anymore.

Anyways, back to the grindstone :)

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and now the language aspects -

पुनरपि = punarapi = punaH + api = again + also (once again)

घरट्टः = grindstone.
This is an onomatopoeia, ghar-ghar (yes, it is the basal sound, not gar-gar, but ghar-ghar. give it a force.) is the sound made by the grindstone as it moves around at a frequency of about 40 RPM (revolutions per minute).

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


  1. Hello Shashikantbhai,

    Where are you from India ?

    Very Good. Doing good job for making people understand.

    Dr.Dinesh Pandya, Bridgewater, NJ USA

  2. Dear Sri Sashi,
    Happy new year!
    Adiyen is extremely happy to be a follower of your blog -- rather you -- since you often enlighten and educate us the values of our Indian tradition. Today's message is great and must be circulated widely.

  3. Like a breath of fresh air, Pandit-ji. Looking at of how surrender is in 2011 and always. At the feet, my love, where all are one.

    Thanks to founder of Facebook, and all the communications of all kinds that allow me to thank you.

    Dale Anne Rafferty
    Longmont, Colorado

  4. thank you for such kind words. please do check out on facebook as well.

  5. @--Now that the Welcome Party for the New Year 2011 is over, we need to let the reality sink in that nothing has actually changed except when writing the date, you will draw one less circle, and one more line.

    बहुत कुछ बदल गया है । पिछले छः माह में मैं बदल गयी हूँ। मेरे साथ ये दुनिया बदल गयी है। मेरे देखने का नज़रिया बदल गया है। दुनिया में अगर बदलाव देखना है , तो पहले ये यकीन करना होगा की समय के साथ बदलाव होता है। भले ही इस परिवर्तन की गति बहुत ही धीमी हो।

    पृथ्वी का अपनी धुरी पर घूमना और सूर्य की परिक्रमा करने की गति चाहे जितनी धीमी हो , और भले ही हम उस गति को महसूस न कर पाते हों , लेकिन गति है...बदलाव है ....

    " Change is the only thing which is constant "



  6. divyA-jI,
    welcome to the blog.

    what was meant by the line 'nothing has actually changed' was in connection to the 'NEW" year. time keeps on moving. nothing new happened due to a date change. the only change due to the date change is that instead of 10, we will now write 11. but it is not that somehow this year we will have less responsibility, escape from reality! rules of obtaining success with hard work still remains, mundane duties still remain!

    BUT, if we change our attitude our quality of work and life can become better.

    otherwise, change is always happening.
    time is nothing but measurement of change. no change, no time! that is why shiva, who is mahA-kAla (the great time), is called mahA-deva (the great lord).


  7. Dear Shashikant,

    Thanks, excellent information, particularly on Maharshi Ramanna's thought.

    I read different/new Sanskrit shokla/proverb, I learn from it.

    Keep posting it throughout the year.

    Uday Kanhere

  8. Dear Shashi
    Nice relevant thought. I will attempt to bring about these changes.
    Would like to share the blog with my friends.
    Sadhna Vashistha

  9. dhanyavAda sAdhanAji, lease do share it with your friends.


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