Those who haven’t taken a year or two of Sanskrit classes have trouble making sense of the diacritical marks – the accents and dots that modify the Roman letters to indicate the sounds of Sanskrit. It is fatiguing for non-experts to read more than a few words with the unfamiliar codes. That is why I made the difficult decision to display the Sanskrit with a purely Romanized transliteration with no diacriticals.
Let’s take the first part of the text of verse 28, Dharana 5, as an example. The standard encoding, for example that done by Dott. Marino Foliero and posted at the University of Goettingen’s site, presents the text in this way: āmūlāt kiranābhāsām. There are several dots not shown here: a dot under the n, called a retroflex n, and a dot under the m, called the anusvara. Jaideva Singh and others use this encoding exactly. John Hughes and Lakshmanjoo present it as ā mūlāt kiranābhāsām. And Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati spells it out phonetically as aamoolaat kiranaabhaasaam.
Any way you spell it, aamoolaat is a beautiful sound. It means, up from the root, up from the muladhara, the root chakra at the base of the spine. Kirana means “a ray of light, a sunbeam or moonbeam.”
It is not an accident that there are modern popular expressions along the lines of “Blowing sunshine up your ass.” An expression like that originates in sensation. People describe orgasm as inner fireworks, and the energy surges upward from the area around the genitals. There is a lot happening between the legs – many nerves in the area around the genitals and the perineum. Yogis, and lovers, develop the capacity to sense energy flows upward from “the base” all along the spine. The text is referring to experiences that are earthy, sensual, humorous, and intuitively understandable. We all know what an orgasm is, and we all want to get better at it. It is worthwhile to approach the Sanskrit in that mood. This text is very much about what it feels like to be in love, how to cherish that love so that it grows and becomes a primary tone of your interaction with the universe.
Eventually, at your own pace, you may want to get comfortable with Sanskrit words such as muladhara, because there is no substitute. Sanskrit is just fabulous when it comes to describing areas of the body. Listen to the sound of the word – mooolah.
Moola and then, dhara. “Root” doesn’t do it, nor does “First Chakra,” or perineum, or “base of the spine.” The muladhara is actually located in your magnetic subtle body, not the body of flesh; it vibrates in accord with the nerves and glands around the base of the spine, but it is not a physical organ or location.
In order to make the wonderfulness of the Sanskrit sounds more easily available, I have made up variations of the phonetic spelling (the transliteration) of the Sanskrit, dropped the diacritical marks, and most of the Portmanteaux words, (an English example would be motor + hotel = motel) have been expanded so that the root structure is more apparent.
I have to admit, I was tempted to leave long words as is. For example Sutra 50 refers to focusing on the ecstasy of music. It begins:
Sutra 46 is a meditation on becoming absorbed in the excited vibrant energy of sexual intercourse, and reads:
The Sanskrit here is absolutely hypnotic, caresses the nerves, and begs to be played with. Perhaps in some future elaboration of this text or in the audio versions we can let the Shakti speak for herself and tell us more.
The 1991 census of India reported 49,736 fluent speakers of Sanskrit out of a population nearing a billion – that is only a small fraction of one percent, even in the country of origin. In the United States, the percentage of fluent speakers is probably less, but the use of Sanskrit is on the rise, especially among yoga and meditation practitioners.