Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spelling Bee 2014 co-winners and 'real' Americans

Congratulations to the co-winners Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe of Spelling Bee contest.

And of course the racial remarks of frustration as to why 'Americans' are not winning it. Check this as well.

Indian-Americans have won 11 out of 15 times since 1999. That is indeed a trend and feat. Shows Indians have an affinity to languages. Now if some kids will focus on Sanskrit as well :) Or is it just their 'tiger' parents behind them!

In all this, a few thoughts came to mind:

No Spelling Bee for Sanskrit
Sanskrit and related Indian languages won't have such a thrilling spelling bee contest because once you learn the alphabet (the sound to letter mapping) there is no more mystery to it. You could have a sandhi (सन्धि) and samAsa (समास) contest though! Where long words are shortened and short words combined to make really long words! The longest word is also a Sanskrit word. (निरन्तरान्धकारिता-दिगन्तर-कन्दलदमन्द-सुधारस-बिन्दु-सान्द्रतर-घनाघन-वृन्द-सन्देहकर-स्यन्दमान-मकरन्द-बिन्दु-बन्धुरतर-माकन्द-तरु-कुल-तल्प-कल्प-मृदुल-सिकता-जाल-जटिल-मूल-तल-मरुवक-मिलदलघु-लघु-लय-कलित-रमणीय-पानीय-शालिका-बालिका-करार-विन्द-गलन्तिका-गलदेला-लवङ्ग-पाटल-घनसार-कस्तूरिकातिसौरभ-मेदुर-लघुतर-मधुर-शीतलतर-सलिलधारा-निराकरिष्णु-तदीय-विमल-विलोचन-मयूख-रेखापसारित-पिपासायास-पथिक-लोकान्)

Useless words merely for contests?Kids should stop wasting their brains on learning spellings of words that are merely used in contests, when they don't even follow phonetics. Might as well learn the 3000+ characters of Chinese! (no disrespect meant for anyone) But each word of English which violates phonetics rules is a new 'character' (sound-to-symbol mapping) to remember. One has to remember the entire combination of letters. So there are many more than 26 'letters' of English. There are too many examples of the inconsistencies. Try reading this poem for a challenge

(Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I’ Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.)

'Real' Americans prefer sports over language, Bubba?
Americans, the so-called 'real' ones who claim that America is theirs alone, those ones) should realize that even at their own language (which they have made EZ and Kool) they are not excelling, this must be a low for their own kids' study efforts. Why crib when the 'real' American kids are busy with football and basketball, Pokemon and Clash of Clans? After all, sports has more money than spelling bee! :)

America progresses in matters, not where it matters.
These kids who won are US citizen, mostly born in US itself, and are equally American. Just their parents couldn't shrug off their Indian baggage and imposed the importance of education and knowledge on the kids at an early age. This current spate of racism shows that despite the progress America has made in material things, it has not made much on social and human levels. They not only still feel averse to diversity, want success without working on it. This is not what made US succeed in the hundred years!

Despite all the technological growth guns and prisons are still a 'major blow to the American society', apart from racism and killer capitalism. 6-year old shoots grand-dad and 36-month old shoots 18-month old !

Bilingual is not bad
The 'real' Americans tell the Spanish to learn English if they want to live in America. Now the Indians are just following the commands of the 'real' Americans. Why this kolavari di?
Shouldn't the real Americans be proud that these immigrants (and/or their kids) not only learn English, they far exceed the 'real Americans themselves! What a faithful bunch of immigrants.

People of narrow-minded thinking are in every society. It is exposure to more ideas, thoughts, places, opportunities that broaden the minds. But when so-called advanced society and educated people express so racially insultingly, then one starts to wonder the claims of human progress.

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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hindi newspaper from 1925

Found this piece of newspaper from 1925 CE. It was used to wrap a book (that was not a Sanskrit book). But these are the kind of nostalgic treasure trough one finds when visiting back to the rural roots.

For those who cannot read devanagari, some points are :

  1. Hindi daily from Kolkata (Calcutta), printed on 23 March 1925
  2. The mission statement says - "dharme te dhIyatAm buddhir_manas_te-mahad_astu cha" That is, roughly, "May your intellect be steadfast in dharma, and your heart be magnanimous" from Mahabharata.
  3. Catastrophe in America - referring to the Tri-State Tornado.  As of the news 300 killed in Frankfurt, 150 in Murphysboro, Perry was wiped out, 2700 injured.
  4. Lord Curzon died in London.
  5. Freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose arrested.
  6. Mahatma Gandhi visits Madras (Chennai).
  7. 2 dead, 12 houses damaged in Mandale fire in a godown of dry tea.
  8. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya bought Hindustan Times for 50,000 Rupees in 1925.

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Good governance and 16 percent tax

After the recent government change in India, with the promises and expectations of development and good governance, let us look at some signs of good governance from Sanskrit sources. We can learn some Sanskrit while discussing relevant modern topics as well.

"The guilt/crime/sin that a king gets, whose people are unprotected even after taking one-sixth (of the income as tax), may the he get upon whose counsel Rama went to exile in the forest."

The background of this shloka from Ramayana is when Rama’s brother Bharata comes back from Kekaya to find Rama has gone at the behest of his own mother Kaikeyi. When Rama’s mother Kaushalya scolds him, a sad and repentant Bharata says he had nothing to do with this. And then as if to prove his point, he hurls the curses on the one who instigated this whole thing. When today’s curses are of lowest level possible, the curses that Bharata gives show the elegance of the writer Valmiki and the high standards of the society and its elites.

From the above curse of Bharata two things are very clear.

One, it was a serious matter that a person doesn't do his duty. Dharma is one’s chosen duty. A king’s duty is to protect and prosper the citizens. That is the reason the tax is collected. Not for the enjoyment of the king. The king simply gets his salary (a higher but limited salary). If a king does not do that even after taking the tax, he is guilty, sinner, criminal; whichever way you want to look at. And this was so grave a matter, that Bharata curses the instigator with this grave curse.

Two, the tax at that time was one-sixth. That is 16%. And Ayodhya was one of the richest city of its time. And it was called the Golden Goose (Sone ki Chidiya in Hindi). And the world clamored to come here, in peace and in violence and in deceit, but came they all!

Why is it not possible today to have 16% tax and all the benefits, riches. Because the greedy corporations siphon off the resources of the society. The corrupt politicians swindle the money.

Even if we simply stop the corruption of present day (lakhs of crores of Rupees), we can lower the tax rate and still make progress. If we are able to get the Swiss bank black money of Indians then we will know what development can be.

There is enough to fulfill everyone’s needs
but not enough for even one person’s greeds.

And now the language aspects -

bali = sacrifice (tax)
ShaD = sixth
bhAgam = part (sixth part of the income)

uddhRitya = having taken, after taking (ut- = up, out; + hRit = to take away; + -ya = prefix to denote ‘after having done’)

nRipasya = of the protector (-pa) of people (nRi)

arakShitaH = unprotected (a- = not; rakSh = to protect; rakShitaH = protected)
prajAH = subjects of the king, citizens, people of a land (literally those that are born, generations, descendants)

adharmo = adharmaH = not right/just/fair (the guilt/sin of not being right) [ dharma = dhArayati iti dharmaH, right thing/action at the right time ]
yo’sya = yaH asya = that which is of such a king (whose people are unprotected even after 1/6 tax) [yaH = that which’ asya = of this]
so’syAstu = saH + asya + astu = that be of him [astu = may it be]
yasyAryo’numate = yasya + AryaH + anumate = upon whose counsel Rama [AryaH = noble, sir, contextually rAma; mati = thought, opinion; anumata = counsel, advice; anumate = in/by the advice of ]
gataH = went (to exile) [gaM = to go; gataH = that which is gone]

Pronunciation help with other Sanskrit words used in text:
rAmAyaNa रामायण ; bharata भरत ; kaikeyI कैकेयी ; kaushalyA कौशल्या ; vAlmIki वाल्मीकि ; dharma धर्म

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

What does 'Narendra Damodardas Modi' mean?

What does the name Narendra Damodardas Modi mean?

नराणां इन्द्रः = नरेद्रः
narāṇāṃ indraḥ = naréndraḥ
= Protector of people
= Lord, ruler, governor of people.

Though he has called himself  ‘Mazdoor #1’ i.e. ‘Worker #1’. Keeping up with his background as a had working man, and able administrator.

He is new Prime Minister of India, Honorable Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Congratulations to the largest democracy in the world and, for those who know, the oldest as well. The concept of jana-pada (region ruled by the people) is older than Emperor Ashoka the Great, and older than Mahabharata.
After a very long time the people of India have got a leader who oozes confidence and determination. People may differ politically, but no one can deny we have a leader who wants to do a lot, and has the ability to do a lot good for the country.

The first prime minister to openly ask people to contribute with ideas, time, skill and energy. And to embrace technology with open arms.

Check out the Official website of the PM , Official site of Narendra Modi

Word meanings:
narendra / नरेन्द्र = nara + indra / नर + इन्द्र = Ruler of the people

dāmodara-dāsa /dAmodara-dAsa / दामोदरदास = ‘devotee (dāsa ) of Krishna’

dāmodara = dāmā (rope) + udara (belly) = The one with rope around the belly. This name refers the incident in Krishna's life when his mother, tired of his bothering her with his antics, tried to tie him to a drum so she could finish morning chores. But to her surprise, the rope she used was two finger-breadth short. No matter how much more rope she got, it was always short by two finger-breadths. Hence the name for Krishna as Damodar (dāmodara)

modī / modI / मोदी = Glad, pleased, cheerful. (from modin मोदिन्)
In Panchatantra comes the word goShThika-karma गौष्ठिककर्म as one of the seven businesses. This would translate today to a ‘supplier, event manager, resource organizer’.

Click to jump to his oath taking at 10min 30 sec

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