[Advaita-l] Brief speech in Sanskrit

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 21 01:20:50 CDT 2007

----- Original Message ----
From: Ajit Krishnan ajit.krishnan at gmail.com
> That's because Sanskrit is the only language
> until modern times where the grammar came first than the speech. If you
> speak ungrammatical English then you are just speaking bad English.  If
> you speak ungrammatical Sanskrit then you are not speaking Sanskrit at
> all.
Perhaps I misunderstand.
Of vedic samskritam and puranic samskritam, which one is wrong? Of the
Maheshwara, Saraswata and Aindra systems of samskritam, which ones are
wrong? What was the need for the supplementary unadi etc sutras? Does
Kalidasa stick to the letter of the grammatical letter of the law when
it comes to the lakArA-s...particularly with the multiple futures and
pasts? Why are there no newly coined words which retain their suffixes
in samasas (vanecaraH etc)?
* Dear Sri Ajit Krishnan, praNAm.
* Your observations are very interesting and I can see where you come from. However, on balance, I think Sri Jaladhar's insistence on grammar is not misplaced, as I explain below.
* To start with, if you differentiate between CHAndasam (the language of the CHandas, Vedas) and samskritam, the issues clear up. Specifically, post-Paninian language is samskritam; and the earlier one, CHAndasam.
* Your point that in spite of Panini's samskaraNa, other great persons like Kalidasa deviate from the code is true, but the custom of treating those as Arshaprayogas (usages of Rishis) is not linked to whether grammar came first or language first. Similarly, you are right that aluk samAsas, and other such examples in almost every prakaraNa (say the pUrvAdeSasandhi, excepting the rules of guNa- and vriddhi- sandhis), show earlier usage patterns, but then they were used before the samskaraNa, so to speak, and we are talking only about the refined language. 

Samskritam was codified by the grammarians, that much is clear. The
grammar reflects the diversity in speech, that much is also clear.
* The above are narrow, technical points which deflect your valid portrayal that in the language now called Sanskrit, usage definitely preceded grammar, as is the case with all languages (I do not disagree with your view on that) except that universal language proposed as an alternative to English, called 'Espanol' or whatever; it is better to focus on the two underlying topics - on the centrality of grammar and reverence for accomplished persons.
The problem with divinifying everything is that no-one makes an
attempt. Such is the case with Samskritam. So also with mahApuruShas
who are said to be avatAra-s. "They were avatAra-s so it was possible
for them. It is not possible for me. Therefore I should not aspire,
neither should I try". This line of reasoning is much too common.
* The ancient Indian custom of reverence for accomplished persons of the past has to be seen as a desire for maintaining high standards, not a means to shirking ones duty. These high standards are visible from the ancient practice of limited syllabus, near 100% being the pass mark; the depth of coverage in works such as the nATyaSAstra (imagine analysing the source of joy meticulously - so much so that it lays the standard for the later works of poetics - in a work on dramaturgy), and of course the darSanAs that were developed. These contrast with the vast syllabus (a person studying for a B. Sc. in mathematics is supposed to learn complex partial differential calculus, Fourier analysis and so on), low pass marks (using past question papers and guides, he somehow clears it and becomes a clerk in a bank or some such thing), lower expectations (neither he nor anybody else even pretends that this guy might know any math higher than arithmetic and algebra) and near zero
 achievement of present times. You might observe that persons who have such high regard tend to have more SraddhA in what they do and end up achieving more; Sri Jaladhar is definitely one such.
* On the issue of how best to learn Sanskrit, one should look at the environment in which one is learning. If learned people speak or use Sanskrit in ones environment, one does know quite a bit without actually learning any Sanskrit formally (most women in traditional families of two or more generations earlier, though not formally educated in Sanskrit, would know more Sanskrit than a lot of present day students and quote 'uktis' most appropriately); otherwise the Sanskrit one ends up with is quite jarring. For instance, nowhere does Panini say that the root 'as' should not be liberally used, but asti / asi / asmi being superflous are usually avoided by the learned. Not withstanding this, the Arya Samaj and RSS Sanskrit has so many 'astis' (on account of the influence of Hindi and its ubiqutous 'hain') that it is jarring. Or, take the word order. Despite linguistic claims to the contrary, verbs occur before the noun, and nouns before the adjectives (as in 'asti godAvarItIre
 SyAmalItaruh' - actual opening line of the story of the old eagle and the cat in hitopadeSa) in the prauDhaSaili of Sanskrit, but with those who learn Telugu (I suspect other dravidian languages as well) first and then Sanskrit, the word order is completely reversed to adjective-noun-verb (godAvarItIre eko mahAn SyAmalItarurasti). The problem is not merely with unnecessary astis or reversed word orders: dual number is urged to be ignored; the usage of verbs is severely restricted with preferences for participles like kritavAn and paThitavAn; and so on. All these are reminiscent of the joke about how English will end up as German if the EU were allowed to dictate the spelling of English; in our case, Sanskrit will end up as the Suddh Hindi of the RSS brigade.

* When I first saw the mail advocating learning Sanskrit through samskrita-bhAratI I desisted from the above criticism because teaching Sanskrit resembling Suddh Hindi (which has its own merits) is better than not teaching anything. I think both the Arya Samaj and RSS are doing a great job of popularizing Sanskrit (as is the Sri Ramakrishna Mission who have much better standards), but as the highest authorities in those institutions would themselves admit, they do sacrifice complexity at the altar of popularity (or dilute standards to enroll more members). That this be known by people who desire to learn Sanskrit is not bad at all.
* Finally, if one is desirous of giving a speech on Sankara in Sanskrit, one might consider the following.
1. Use a mature style (no asti except if absolutely necessary; proper forms of verbs preferred to participles; measured and justified use of upasargas; use appropriate roots - for instance if you want to compare Sankara to a tree, better to use taru, not vriksha (one which is cut) or bhUruha (which grows on earth) # ; avoid long compounds; use third-person, passive voice, definitely so in a sabha of elders (the second person, direct voice may be used in a gathering of juniors); and such others)
2. Start with ma~NgalAcharaNa - so much the better if it is relevant to the particular aspect taken up by the speech (which could be the shaNmatasthApana, bhAshyAnugrahaNa, or sanAtanadharmoddhAraNa).
3. Do not repeat (punarukti is a dosha according to poeticians; and repetition of every adjective usually means a different interpretation has to be supplied, or at least a justification for the repetition).
4. Introduce-expand-summarise is a preferred style in Sanskrit.
5. Precision is also a standard feature. For instance, if one praises the Acharya with eight adjectives in the introduction, from mature speakers, we can expect support for all the eight adjectives in the main body of the speech; like, "brahmavidApnoti param" is expanded by later sentences.
6. Proper ending. Usually after spending preparing a speech, one is so full of all the main aspects that versifying these main aspects results in a good introduction (preferred) or summary (the modern preference). Compiling anushTHubs is not particularly difficult.
P.S. (For those who require that I must have done the above before offering advice, my submission is that though I have not actually delivered a speech, I did construct essays, including one using future tenses of 100+ verbs, and a couple with summarising verses, while learning Sanskrit. No speech was delivered because whenever precious audience could be assembled, too many wanted to show off. That said, I am still a student, hopefully eligible to start a proper text like the Siddhanta Kaumudi)
# EenADu, the leading media group of Andhra Pradesh (imagine a Rupert Murdoch, with twice the market share), our teacher told us, once ran the headline "Diviseema is transformed into a marubhUmi", when the area called diviseema was devastated by a cyclone (1977). The intent was to highlight the number of corpses lying around, but the sub-editors missed the point that marubhUmi actually means a desert and hence the understanding of a "land full of corpses", but that it is inappropriate to compare an area devastated by cyclone with a desert.

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