[Advaita-l] to be and to have in Sanskrit

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 30 11:13:24 CDT 2007

Sri Werlings, 


The Sanskrit root 'as' means 'to be', as in ahamasmi (I am); 'bhuj' means 'to have' in the senses of 'to eat', 'to consume', 'to possess', usually kingdom, lordship etc., 'to enjoy'. bhoktA - the enjoyer, is commonly used to convey the sense of ownership [of the fruit or result of an action] in vedanta. 

The sense of 'to have' as in 'to possess' is conveyed by 

a) the genitive case as in mama vAmahastah (my left hand), 
b) the affix i~n (actually I am not sure about the right form of the affix, but it is the one we see in SankhI, chakrI, gadI, SAr~NgI, guNI etc. meaning the one with/having/possessing Sankha, chakra, gada, SAr~Nga, guNa etc.) and gives the sense of one possessing; with respect to body - deha - the transformation is to dehin (one with a deha)
c) the affix mayak as in SrImAn, SaktimAn, balavAn, buddhimatI etc. which mean one with wealth, power, strength, intellect etc.

The above are the most commonly used. There are 84 or so krit affixes (not being a pundit, I don't know all of them), a few of which in certain contexts convey the sense of 'to have'; many of the secondary affixes also convey that meaning; and then we have compounds doing the job sometime.

'to get' is the exact meaning of the root 'Ap' as in AtmA SarIramApnoti (the soul gets a body). There are a number of roots meaning 'gati' which usually mean 'to go' but frequently also mean reaching / obtaining / getting, when the object of the verb is knowledge.

To convey the sense of 'I possess a body, but I am not the body' a crude way to put would be 'asti mama dehah paramtu nAham dehah'; a better way would be 'aham dehI na tu dehah [asmi]', but usually the reflexive Atman is used in the context: ayam AtmA na dehah, na annah, na prANah, na manah, na vij~nAnah, suddhachaitanyameva [asti]. (This atma is not the body, not the anna, not the life breath, not the mind, not the knowledge; [it is] verily pure consciousness)

Where the first person, active voice is the preferred mode of expression in English; third person, passive voice is the preferred form in Sanskrit. When I write to my mother in Telugu, I write (due to the strong influence of Sanskrit on Telugu) along the lines of 'Having bowed to dear mother, it is being written by Senani'. This preference explains to some extent why we come across dehinah (the ones with body) or prANinah (the ones with the life breath) most commonly as equivalents of "to possess the body / prANa". 

With the hope that what is foresaid is found useful by the asker, the one obedient to the learned rests. (Indian way of closing a letter :-))


----- Original Message ----
From: Guy Werlings <werlings.guy at wanadoo.fr>
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 7:36:58 PM
Subject: [Advaita-l] to be and to have in Sanskrit

he priya mitrANi |

I am rather surprised nay disappointed to see that my earlier question as to 
the verbs to be and to have in Sanskrit did not arise the slightest interest 
from the many learned members of the list.

Provided it is really true that there is no verb corresponding to «to have» 
in Sanskrit, is there at least a verb meaning «to get» so that one could at 
least say in Sanskrit «I got a body, but I am not the body» if one cannot 
say «I have a body but I am not the body». Or are they verbs meaning «to 
own, or to possess», so that one could say «I own or I possess a body, but I 
am not the body»?

Most of you will probably think that I am just a hair-splitter, but if such 
a basic idea cannot be conveyed in Sanskrit, then it raises very serious 
philosophic questions and the claim that Sanskrit is such an elaborate and 
perfect language has to be seriously considered again.

I do feel very sorry if I am irking anybody.



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