Learning Sanskrit - Tips
Play with the sounds, make friends with them. Sanskrit has a huge vocabulary to describe delicious states of consciousness. Don’t worry about mispronouncing. Sanskrit has sounds that we don’t have in English, ways of moving the tongue in a kind of tongue-asana. But you can approximate the sounds, and feel your way into them. Learn to be relaxed with Sanskrit, and let your body like the sounds and resonances.
Dropping the DiacriticalsExcept for a few loanwords from French (soufflé), Italian (caffè), and Spanish (jalapeño), English does not have diacriticals, so they have been dropped in most cases even though they give clues to pronunciation. When a language such as English is importing and assimilating words from a language such as Sanskrit – which has sounds not found in English – then it is anyone’s guess how the pronunciation will turn out.
Sanskrit into English
Living languages do this all the time, adopt and integrate new words, adapting the vocabulary to fit the needs of the time, place, and circumstance. English has already integrated many Sanskrit words. For example, the first two lines of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra contain these words: shri devi uvacha - shrutam deva maya sarvam rudra yamala sambhavam. Four of these ten words are now in English dictionaries: devi, sruti, deva, rudra.
A word is counted to be part of a language when it is in use, being spoken to describe what you are feeling or doing, and when it shows up in magazines, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, and in books. Many Sanskrit words are being used in this way, and are becoming English. The Sanskrit remains where it is, perfectly frozen in time, and at the same time it inspires modern Yoga practitioners to expand their vocabulary.
There are tens of millions of yoga practitioners in Europe and the Americas, and the Sanskrit yoga lexicon is becoming part of the English language, which has already integrated hundreds of words such as ananda, kama, sutra, shanti, shakti, chakra, yoga, prana, bhakti, asana, pranayama, mantra, maya, Kali, Shiva, Durga, Krishna, Marut, sunya, tantra, indriya, puja, Mahatma, Agni and avatar – these terms are in English dictionaries, part of our evolving language, and growing in usage every day.
Besides pronunciation, it is going to be interesting to see how much of the full meaning of the words comes across. For example, Bhakti, which is generally translated as “devotion to God,” sings a wonderful and complex melody, of the relation of the part to the whole, the river to the ocean, the play and interplay of separation and union.
• distribution, partition, separation
• a division, portion, share
• a streak, line, variegated decoration
• a row, series, succession, order
• being a part of
• belonging to
• that which belongs to or is contained in anything else, an attribute
• attachment, devotion, fondness for, devotion to,
• trust, homage, worship, piety, faith or love or devotion (as a religious principle or means of salvation)
To get all poetic, we could say, Bhakti is the song the river sings as it flows toward union with the ocean.
The word for desire, Kama, has a wide semantic range – its meanings resonate in the areas of wish, desire, longing, love, affection, object of desire, pleasure, enjoyment, love, sexual love, sensuality, Love or Desire personified, the God of Love, a stake in gambling, semen, having an intention.
Every Sanskrit word means itself, its opposite, a name of God, and a position in sexual intercourse- Wendy Doniger
Sanskrit Word of the Day:
From the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary
Sanskrit, it turns out, is good for expressing certain forms of subjectivity, delicate inner experiences. Many if not most of us know these experiences, through love and following our passions, but we may not have the language to express.
Rasa seems to have started life as a word for the sap or juice of anything, and then become sublimated into a word for feelings and the essence of something.
The blue numbers below (that look like this: 869 work as links to the MW dictionary, the other blue abbreviations don’t work.)
Sanskrit Word of the Day:
Svarasa - your own essence.
|(H3)svá--rasa [p= 1276,2]||m.|
|natural or peculiar flavour|
|proper taste or sentiment in composition|
|the sediment of oily substances ground on a stone|
|own inclination (|
|feeling for one's own people |
|instinct of self-preservation (?) |
|(H1)sva-rasa [p= 1282,1]||sva-r|