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Monday, September 1, 2014

Categories and Definitions in Sanskrit - Continued


Guṇa means quality or attribute. According to the Saṅkhya system, the three constituents (guṇa) of prakriti are sattva, rajas and tamas. Their balance determines the inherent characteristics of all things in this universe. The word Guna is also applied to organs of actions (karmendriya) which are driven by these guṇas.

Guru is so called because  gukārah antakārasyāt rukārah tan nivartikah, antakāra nirōditat guru iti ucchyate budhaih ( Gu stands for darkness ru stands for removal of that darkness; hence guru)

            Ᾱdi Śankara gives the following characteristics of a Guru.  Śāntā mahānto nivasanti santo, vasantavat lōkāhitam carantah, tīrṇāh svayam bhīmabhavārṇavam janān, ahetuna anyān api tārayantah.  They always live in peace (and harmony). They move like spring breeze in this world. They have crossed the ocean of life and can help everyone cross it with ease.

Indra:   The original name seems to be idandran, which is a combination of “idam” (this, Brahman) and “dran” (have seen). One who has seen Brahman, is Indran.(Idam aadarsham ithi tasmaat idandrah, vai naama idandrah) .

            The root word is ind, means to be powerful.The other etymology for the word Indra is indati iti, indrah.

Indriya:            Indralingam indradriṣtam indrasriṣtam indrajruṣtam indradattham ithi Indriyam” says the definition. In other words, the organs of sense and action owe their origin, power and qualities to Indra, the Lord of the Deva’s. In Uddhava gīta (11:36), Lord Kriṣna says: sarvaindriya indriyam, that is “I am the one who gives the power for the organs to function”.

Īśvara  has 7 qualities. They are sarvgñatā (all knowing), tripti (self contained), anādibhodam (beginning-less knowledge), svatantratā (in His own power), nitya (eternal) aluptaśakti  (undiminished energy) and anantatā (endless). (look for Jīva below)

Jāti, Kulam and Varṇam are related concepts and the source of so much problems in the Indian society.

Jāti is defined as fixed by birth and therefore, includes race and lineage. Therefore it is specific and defines a “species”. It may include members of a caste (varṇa) or tribe (hunting or fishing) or religion or a class (economic).

Kulam is more a genus than a species and includes tribes and families

Varṇam means color and is applied to what is now called Caste. This word is an unfortunate introduction by the Portugese to whom the word castas means “tribes, clans or families”. The word came to be used to both the varṇa and jāti. Incidentally, the so called caste was not prevalent in the Dravidian culture.

The main point was that there were several guilds (coppersmiths, ironsmiths, carpenters etc) in those days. They formed several jātis (later called castes) who practised the same profession, who married only within their group kula (class or caste) or married “up”, and did not eat in the company of the other groups.

Jīva  also called Paśu is bound by vidya (limited knowledge), rāgam (desires), avidya (ignorance), niyati (fate and luck), kalā (limited expertise) and kāla (time). In the Advaita system, Jīva  is individualized ātman.

Kaiśava as in ka (Brahma), a (Viṣṇu), īśa (śiva) and va (vaśa, or under control). One who is in control of creation, protection and dissolution.

Kumaran         Kutsitān mārayati iti - because He conquers the asurāh (demons) of Kāma (desire, lust) and Krōda (anger). Another derivative is Kutsitō mārō yainah which means one who is more handsome than Māran, another name for the God of Love Manmadan.

Mantra is so called because mananāt trāyate, it protects because of being contemplated on, because it is kept in the mind (manas). In japa, the mantra is not uttered aloud.  (the name mantri for minister is based on the requirement that a minister should keep secrets to himself).

Mōkṣa is defined as:   Mōkṣaya nahi vāsōsti na grāmāntaram vā; agñahrdayagrantināśo Mōkṣa iti smrutah. (from Gita Rahasya of Tilak, Vol 1, page 343) This means that Liberation is not in any particular place. You do not have to go to some other place to get it. Destruction of ignorance in the form of a knot in your heart is known as Liberation.

Muni is different from a riṣi. Muni is defined as a sage, ascetic, saint; one who is indifferent to pain and pleasure; devoid of fear, desire and anger and one of steady mind. The term riṣi denotes a poet; the seer. This is reserved for those who obtained the Vedas and gave them to us.

Nārāyaṇa        Ᾱpo nārā iti proktā āpo vai narasūnavah.  Tā yad asyāyanam pūrvam tena nārāyaṇa smrutah.   Two meanings. Nāra means water; it also means human. He is also the source from which we came (ayanam means abode)

OM (Pranav mantra) is so called because akārō viṣṇuh uddhiṣto, ukārastu maheśvarah, makārastu smrutho brahma, praṇavatu trayātmikah

Pragna is a natural state in that it is in this state we are aware of all the other states – namely awake (vaishvanara) and dream (taijasa). Pragna is the general (   ) which functions as a particular (visesha) in the other two states.  It is also called Ishvara (in the Yoga or Nyaya) or Atman (advaita) or Antaryamin (visishtadvaitam). In the advaita system it is the material and the efficient cause of this universe. Chit is the perceiving consciousness. Buddhi is the content or the object of this perceiving consciousness.

Prāṇa  Prakarṣena aṇah iti     because it is an excellent breath, life itself

Pratyaksha is the direct perception of particular and/or inference and related to physical things and mental objects.
Purāṇa is socalled because pura api nava iti though it is old, it is new

Puruṣa is so called because sarvāsu pūrṣu puriśayah iti, one who dwells in all bodies (this is from Brhadāraṇyaka Upanishad 2:5:18)

Riṣi denotes a poet; the seer. This is reserved for those who obtained the Vedas and gave them to us.

Rudra is so called because rjam drāvayati, He drives away suffering; or rōdayati, He makes us cry.

Ramā is one who makes you happy, ramayati iti.

Stobha are special sounds/mantra uttered in Sāma veda.    e (for invocation), ō hau (rpresent Vāsudeva), him (represent prajāpati) and (food).

             These are shortened forms of mantras for convenience of recitation and have symbolic meanings. There are 13 of them. Hā ū stand for Earth (prithvi), hā ī (vāyu, air), a ya (chandra, moon), ī ha ( jīvātman, Self), ī (agni, fire), u (sun, āditya), e (invocation), ō hau (Vāsudeva), him ( prajāpati) and (food, annam), hu (indeterminate), vāk ( virāt) and svarah (prāṇa).

Also, the word Swaaha is used during homa/yagna when offering oblations to the devāa thru agni (fire). The word swadha is used when the offering is to ancestors.

Sūtra means a thread, in simple meaning. Figuratively, it means the material cause of the universe, just as the thread is the material cause of a piece of cloth. This meaning is implied in slokā’s which describe the process of creation in terms of spider weaving its abode out of itself and taking it back. 

            Sūtra also means aphorisms. They are cryptic statements which condense plenty of meaning in as few words as possible in order to facilitate memorization and recall. Since they are cryptic, they need explanation (bhaṣya). This, in turn, leads to different explanations for the same statement.

            It is also used to name sacred and philosophical texts. The word grantha means a condensation of an elaborate treatise. Sutra is tighter than that. In these texts the word thread (sutra) is in relations to Brahman, and signifies one of three things:  1. Holds together the Universe, as a thread holds together a string of pearls; 2.is inherent in the universe, weaved into it just as threads are weaved into clothes and 3. The Universe comes out of Brahman and receded into Him, just like the thread of a spider which comes out of its mouth.

Sutra is defined as :    alpaksharam asamdhigdham saaratah vishwathomukham

                                                Asthobham anavadyam cha sutram sutravidho vidhuh

            Finally, sūtra also stands for Mahat or Cosmic Energy (energy portion of the material cause) and therefore often equated with prāṇa, hiraṇyagarbha, sūtratma, and vāyu. Mahat also stands for buddhi.

Vāsudeva        because vasati, vāsayati  lives and makes it live (sarvabhūtativāsah – lives in every creature)

Vishnu so called because viṣ vyāpane (He expands into)

Vyāsa is so called because he categorized the Vedas Vivāsa vedān yasmāt sa vyāsa iti smrti

Yantra so called because yamati trāyate iti (protects by containing within). This includes geographic designs of various shapes such as Mandala, Chakra etc.

Yōga so called because the root word is yuj which means to unite (the individual with the universal). It is defined by Patanjali as chitta vritti nirōdhah meaning that it is control of the mental activities. In Karma yōga, however, yōga is defined as samatvam yōga uccyate (Bhagvat Gīta 2:48) which translates to “Equanimity is yōga”

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