Monday, January 30, 2012

Saraswati Stuti 7 - यया विना जगत्सर्वं

Without whom the entire world would become eternally dumb (without speech) and like insane, that divinity who is the presiding protector of Speech, for that Vani, salutation, salutation. || 7 ||

Imagine no speech. Just dumb. No speech whatsoever. Just grunts, chirps, screechs like monkeys and birds.

Without speech it will be very insane indeed. All our day passes by listening to people - at office, at home, on TV, on the phone, singing our favorite songs, in movies, in games (rarely to ourselves!). How insane it would be, without speech!

Thanks to Speech, Saraswati, for giving us not only faith, retention, intelligence, but sanity.

See other shloka-s from Saraswati Stuti.

And now the language aspects -

यया विना जगत्सर्वं मूकमुन्मत्तवत्सदा ।
या देवी वागधिष्ठात्री तस्यै वाण्यै नमो नमः ॥७॥

yayā vinā jagat-sarvam mūkam_unmattavat-sadā ।
yā dévī vāgadhiṣhṭhātrī tasyai vāṇyai namo namaḥ ॥7॥

yayA vinA jagat-sarvam mUkam_unmattavat-sadA ।
yA devI vAgadhiShThAtrI tasyai vANyai namo namaH ॥7॥

yayA = by which
vinA = without
jagat = world
sarvam = entire
mUkam = dumb, speechless
unmattavat = like insane (unmatta)
sadA = always
yA = that which
devI = goddess
vAgadhiShThAtrI = presiding diety of speech (vAk)
tasyai = for her
vANyai = for Speech (vANi)
namo = namaH = salutation
namaH = salutation

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Saraswati Stuti 5 - ब्रह्म-स्वरूपा परमा

Salutations and salutations to the one who is like Brahma, the Supreme, Illuminating, Eternal, overseer of all knowledge, to Speech. || 5 ||

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saraswati Stuti 4 - भद्रकाल्यै नमो नित्यं

Bow to the auspicious Kali daily, and salutations again and  to Saraswati, who emanates from the Veda-s, Vedanga, Vedanta and other sources of knowledge. || 4 ||

Saraswati Stuti 3 - नमामि यामिनी-नाथ-लेखालंकृत-कुन्तलाम्

I bow to the one who has ear-rings adorned with the shine of moonlight, to Bhavani, to the one who is like a river of nectar to extinguish the scorching of this mortal world. || 3 ||

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

scissor-faced, कर्तरीमुख, kartarī-mukha

कर्तनम् (kartanam) = something that has been cut. Even today the word for cloth clippings (as at a tailor shop) or newspaper cuttings are called कतरन (katarana).

कर्तरी (kartarī / kartarI ) = scissors. The modern Hindi word for scissors is कैंची (kai.nchī)

कर्तरीमुख (kartarī-mukha / kartarI-mukha) = scissor-faced.

sate hitam satyam - सते हितं सत्यम्

There has been some questions and confusions about the word sat, the literal meaning. Spiritually, the word can gain many infered meanings like unchangeable, supreme divine etc. Searching the web, there seems to be a lack of the exact understanding of the word and phrase.
Some web links are: Wiki,, Melindanicity, Ryan, SOYA etc.

But what is the exact meaning of word sat (सत्) and satya (सत्य)? Sometimes it is referred as 'being', sometimes as 'truth' or 'true', sometimes as 'reality'...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Displaced and disgraced - राजाकुलवधूर्विप्रा

King, lady, scholar/priest, adviser, breasts,
teeth, hair, men, fingernails - displaced are disgraceful.

rAjA-kulavadhUr_viprA mantriNAsh_cha payodharAH |
sthAna-bhraShTA na shobhante dantAH keshA narA nakhAH || [ITRANS]

rājā-kulavadhūr_viprā mantriṇāsh_cha payodharāḥ |
sthāna-bhraṣhṭā na shobhanté dantāḥ késhā narā nakhāḥ || [IAST]

The shloka appears in the Hitopadesh (hitopadésha, हितोपदेश), when the crow Laghupatanaka (laghu-patanaka, लघुपतनक) tells his friend the mouse Hiranyaka (hiraṇyaka, hiraNyaka, हिरण्यक) that he wants to move from his current home to somewhere else, since he is unable to find much food around.

The mouse in return warns him of when to move and when not to. He says that "A lion, saint or elephant keep moving from place to place, but crows, cowards and animals/deer end up dying when they leave their abode."

There are some things that look graceful only in their own place, not displaced. Here 'place' is also used metaphorically to mean character, integrity, purity as well as literal place.

A king who is supposed to protect and provide for the state, graces the throne. A deposed king who has been defeated does not look very graceful. Being defeated itself means he was unable to defend and win. It also means that the grace of the king comes from his place, the crown and throne.

A lady of good upbringing is respected, graces her status only if she behaves like a lady. If she lets her character loosen, she is not attracting the same respect as before. Once fallen, it is almost impossible to regain the respect.

A 'vipra' (विप्र) is one who is learned, famous, scholar, a priest. One who is in pursuit of truth, who speaks the truth, and is known for his wisdom. It also means a brāhmaṇa (brAhmaNa, ब्राह्मण, the one in pursuit of truth), and one of the duties of a brāhmaṇa is the upliftment of all the sections of the society. If one doesn't stand by the truth, doesn't behave for the good of others (i.e. behaves selfishly) he has fallen from his place of duty and is not respectable. Once losing face, a vipra is never trusted or respected. Priests should not betray their followers, who trust lives and faith with them. Once betrayed the people don't trust the priest again. A priest should be selfless, divinely inclined.

An adviser, a minister (to the king), a counselor who does not give proper advice can cause the ruin of the kingdom or the corporate. A corporate executive fired for misconduct or under-performance doesn't look good at all. A defeated politician or a former politician doesn't exact the same respect or awe as an incumbent one.

A person who slides down from his place of upright character is not graceful. A fallen man is a pitiable thing, a picture of disgrace. Keep your character intact. It is a life long exercise, falling takes only a moment.

These were metaphorical examples. Now for some literal examples.

Breasts are a very visual aspect of the physical beauty of a woman and they have been praised liberally by ancient and modern poets and writers and movie directors alike. But, displaced (sagging) from their natural youthful place, they are not very appealing.

Beautiful white teeth enhance a smile, and are attractive as well as sign of good health and pedigree. They have been compared to flying lines of swans, and white pearls. But, fallen teeth are rarely enticing.

Lot of lover boys have lost their path in the long, black, fragrant, silken tresses of a young damsel, like inspired travelers lost in the dark wraps of the night. But the hair, fallen from the head is not at all inspiring.

There are enough salons to give you a pedicure, polish your nails with Glass Slippers or Adore-a-Ball nail-polish, give it the extra shine that makes you look like a princess. Nails can enhance the beauty of a hand and the overall beauty of a woman. But who wants to see nail clipping lying on the floor?

Somethings look good where they ought to be. Not every change is good.

Knowing this, the wise does not leave his place. 
इति विज्ञाय मतिमान्स्वस्थानं न परित्यजेत्
iti viGYAya matimAn_svasthAnam na parityajet [ITRANS]
iti vijñāya matimān_svasthānam na parityajét [IAST]

What it means is that we should know who we are, what we stand for, what we are suitable for in the social role, and do justice to that role, that place. Displaced from our duties, we fall and no one likes one who doesn't fulfill his or her duties.

The wise don't shun from or betray their duties. Displaced, they are disgraced.

And now the language aspects -

rājā = king

kulavadhūrviprā = lady, priest
kula = family
vadhūḥ = bride
kula-vadhū = bride of a respected family.
vipraḥ = learned people, priests

mantriṇāsh_cha = and advisor
mantriṇāḥ = advisors, ministers
cha = and
mantra = secret
mantraṇā = advising, counselling.
mantri = advisor, minister

payodharāḥ = breasts
payaḥ = milk
dharāḥ = holders

sthāna-bhraṣhṭāḥ = displaced
sthāna = place
bhraṣhṭāḥ = ruined, misguided

na = not

shobhanté = [do] grace (verb, plural first person)

dantāḥ = teeth
késhāḥ = hair
narāḥ = men
nakhāḥ = nails

In many words the trailing visarga is disappearing. For example,  narāḥ becomes narā. This is due to the sandhi rule, that a visarga disappears if followed by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th letter of the group.

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New and old - नवं वस्त्रं

Happy New Year 2012!

New is always good! A new year, new resolutions, new opportunities to pursue old resolutions...

New is always good, be it new clothes on Diwali or Christmas, a new toy or gadget. That is why companies keep releasing new versions of their products like a slow release medicine capsule. Be it the "Pod", or cars, or phones, computers and operating systems. The human need to have something new, the charm of new, is always there.

But somethings are better old, or older. Like a faithful old dog. Or old photographs, bringing alive old memories. Old friends!

Here is a shloka from NitiPradeep (nIti-pradIpa / nīti-pradīpa / नीतिप्रदीप) giving a very practical advice about what is better off as new and what as old.

New dress (cloth), new umbrella, newly turned woman, new house;
everywhere new is praised, [but] servant and grain are [recommended] old[er]. 

नवं वस्त्रं, नवं छत्रं, नव्या स्त्री, नूतनं गृहम् ।
सर्वत्र  नूतनं  शस्तं,  सेवकान्ने  पुरातने ॥

navam vastram, navam chhatram, navyA strI, nUtanam gRiham |
sarvatra nUtanam shastam, sevakAnne purAtane || (ITRANS)

navam vastram, navam chhatram, navyā strī, nūtanam gṛiham |
sarvatra nūtanam shastam, sévakānné purātané || (IAST)

New cloths, either new in construction or new in fashion are always exciting, even new school uniforms. There was a time, not too far back, when the only way you got new dress was to get the piece of cloth, go to the tailor, give your measurement and then every other day check if they are ready or not. What excitement. What anticipation. Now, all it takes is a drive to the mall or the outlet store and get for the whole year, more than what you can even fit in the closet! The charm of anticipation and waiting?

In India where rain and sun are equally forceful, a new umbrella was also exciting. Nowadays new cars have replaced that charm

New date or spouse is also exciting. Though the word used is strī (woman), we can extend it to man or woman. And strī does not mean wife only. It means woman. So 'navyā strī' means a new woman, that is, a girl who has newly become a woman, that is, a young woman. Same goes for the other gender, a young strapping man. So, new youth is exciting. In case of spouse, it is said that the older the better, that is, the older the marriage (not older at time of marriage!) the better it is. With time, trust and memories, understanding are built. Both learn to compromise and understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Expectations are more realistic.

A new house is exciting as well. Transition into a new phase of life. Becoming a home-owner! Earlier, a new house was built when you moved or the joint family became too large. Now, a new house need not be owned but can be rented as well. Regardless, the charm of a new start is there.

Servants who have been serving for long time are loyal, trustworthy and efficient. They don't need training. 'sevaka' can also mean any subordinate, not just a house help. An older employee knows his or her work. Getting a new one will require training. That is why companies want to retain good employees.

'annam' means grain of cereal, like rice, wheat, barley etc. These grains become more digestible if used after a year of storing. We are not talking of cooked food, but raw grain. Grains that are newer than a year are heavier to digest and also gas producing.

Even a decade back, people used to store a year's worth of grain not just in villages, but in towns and cities as well. Large drums were used to store the grain, and periodically it was spread out in the sun in the open to keep it clean. Neem leaves were also mixed in the storage bins to avoid any insects getting in.

Now, thanks to the packaging industry and transportation, you get the flour in 10 different flavors, conveniently packed for you. With the news about how the Indian government stores the grain in its storehouses, one would rather have new grain which goes in the flour mills.

But such is the price of progress.

What else do you think should be new and what should be preferred old?

And now the language aspects -

navam = new

vastram = clothing, dress

chhatram = umbrella

navyā = new (fem.)
strī = woman
a newly turned woman, a young woman

nūtanam = new
gṛiham = house / home

The words navam, navyā, nūtanam all refer to new.

sarvatra = everywhere
sarva = every, all
-tra denotes place. For example, atra = here, tatra = there, kutra = where, yatra-tatra = where-there as in "Where there is will, there is a way."

nūtanam = new
shastam = praised

sévakānné = both servant and grain
sevaka = one who serves. servant, subordinate, employee
annam = grain, like rice,, wheat, corn etc.

purātané = [both] old
sevaka+annam = dual, two. so purātanam changes to purātané to reflect the number.

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