Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sanskrit science Lesson 2 – Dhatu, Magic Roots of Sanskrit

himalayas-17339_640So we saw in our first lesson how in Sanskrit we do not give names, but derivenames of objects and things. Giving a name is just assigning a name that we like to a place, person or thing. Many a times these names are random in English. Deriving a name on the other hand is using a name that tells something about the place, person or thing based on its attributes and properties. For instance the name of the place Ayodhya means the one which can never be conquered, derived from Yuddha meaning war. Rama means delighting, pleasant, beautiful and Chandra means MoonRamachandra hence means as pleasant, delighting and beautiful like Moon.

Identify Object just by Looking at its Name or Names

Since an object can have multiple properties or attributes, in Sanskrit same object can have multiple names each describing a property of that object. Similarly more than one object can have the same name if they share the same property or attribute. By looking at the name of an object in Sanskrit we can guess which object it is without having to memorize its name. In Sanskrit we understandnames not remember them. In case of attributes which are common among many objects, by mentioning a few more attribute names of that object, we can tell which object is exactly being referred to.
Take the case of the word School. If you already don’t know what a School is then you will have to look into the English dictionary for its meaning. On the other hand in Sanskrit, a term used for School is Vidyaalaya, where Vidya means knowledgeand aalaya means place. So just by looking at its name in Sanskrit you can say that School is a place where one earns knowledge, or where one learns.
Similarly Shauchaalaya is a place where one can fresh up, Shuchi means cleanor fresh. So Shauchalaya means Toilet.
Aushadhaalaya means a medical shop, because Aushadha is medicine, so the place where you get medicine is Aushadhaalaya. Hima means Snow, Himalayais the abode of Snow, the name used to refer to the famous Snow capped Mountain range, The Himalayas. Deva means heavenly, Devalaya is any divine place, like a Temple.
Take the name of the Indian state Meghalaya, in Sanskrit Megha is a term describing clouds. So Meghalaya means Land of Clouds. Meghalaya receives one of the highest amount of rainfall on this planet. Places in Meghalaya like Mausynram, Cheerapunji receive world’s highest rainfall. See how much of general knowledge is hidden in Sanskrit names!
Take the case of the word Bird. In Sanskrit a term used for birds is Khaga, and if you know Sanskrit Grammar, then you don’t need a Sanskrit Language dictionary to know what Khaga means. ga means to move or to go.
kha means sky. So Khaga is something that moves in the sky – can be used to describe not just birds, but also Sun, even for planes and helicopters! They all move in the sky.
Take the case of the word MrgaMr means kill. So Mriga means the one that moves to kill. All predator animals like Lion, Tiger, etc can be called Mrga. When a person is called Mrga in Sanskrit, it means that person is behaving like a wild animal with killer instincts, with an intention of harming. Mrgalaya is a name for zoo, a place of wild animals! Cow is not a Mrga, Lion is. Cow is a Pashu. Pashu means being  restrained to a specific perimeter. Cows and cattle are restrained by tying them up using ropes.
Tura means quickly. So Turaga means the one that moves quickly. In Sanskrit one of the names of Horse is Turaga. Similarly Ura means belly, uraga is something which moves on its bellyUraga is used to refer to Snakes, Serpents in Sanskrit. 
Dur means difficult, so Durga is something that is difficult to move into ordifficult to access. Durga hence is one of the names of Fort in Sanskrit.
In other words, Sanskrit names themselves are like General Knowledge, packed with facts. Just by looking at its names we can tell that a Lotus is pale red in color(Kamala), is born in water (Jalaja), is born in mud (Pankaja), and so on. If you cannot be sure what an object is by looking at its single attribute name, look for multiple attribute names of that object. One of the reasons why Sanskrit verses use multiple names while referring to the same object or person is so that the reader can be sure which specific object or person is being referred to. Also, as described in the previous lesson, context plays a very important role in understanding the true meaning of a Sanskrit sentence.

In Sanskrit you don’t need a traditional Dictionary if you know Sanskrit Grammar

As we saw earlier, in other languages, say for example in English you just call itLotus. Now if you don’t know what ‘Lotus’ means in English, then there is absolutely no information you can derive about which object this name represents without looking into an English dictionary. Even if you are an expert in English grammar, you cannot know what a name means because unlike in Sanskrit, names are independent of the grammar in English and other languages. They are simply categorized as nouns, and you have categories like proper nouns, common nouns – but nothing in the grammar which gives rules about how to derive a name. In other words, names in English are absolute, may or may not say anything about the object, and always refer to a given object.
There is no fixed rule as such in English grammar about how you name things. English names are absolute in the sense there is a one-to-one mapping between a name and an object, for instance a Violin is always that, the musical instrument it refers to. Lotus is always that, the flower it refers to. Sometimes you might have multiple objects in English with the same name. For instance, a Mouse might be either an animal, or a computer hardware device. But again, they are absolute names. On the other hand in Sanskrit, you can use the names to refer to anything that has the attribute being described by that name. For instance, as we saw earlier, Khaga can be used for anything that moves in the sky. You cannot do that in English because the names themselves do not describe any properties as such, they are not derived names, but given names.
So while in English you require a separate dictionary of names to look into the meaning of words, in Sanskrit all you need to know is Sanskrit grammar and in most cases can easily guess the object from its name. If the name in Sanskrit is referring to a more common attribute, then you need to look into the context of the sentence in Sanskrit, or there will be adjacent words hinting at additional attributes of that object with more names, and you can guess the object easily. For instance, if the sentence is about a flower, and says it is pale red and born in water, then it is referring to the pink lotus.
You cannot identify an object in English with its name if you do not know its meaning, even if you are an expert in English grammar. Because in English, grammar has nothing to do with names. But if you are an expert in Sanskrit grammar, you rarely need a Sanskrit dictionary. In fact, a Sanskrit dictionary similar to an English dictionary is not possible in the first place because objects do not have names in Sanskrit, only attributes do. So even if  you write a Sanskrit dictionary, Jalaja should not mean Lotus there, but it should only say,
Jalaja = born in water. For example, Lotus.
And if you know Sanskrit grammar, you will know that Jala is water, Ja is “to be born”. So what is the use of a Sanskrit dictionary then?
Wait, wait. But don’t we need a dictionary to at least say
Jala = Water
Ja = to be born
and so on.
Well as I said earlier, Jala is one of the names of water. Jala in itself is the attribute of having a cool touch, which is a property of water. So we can use Jala while referring to water. Thus your dictionary will actually be
Jala = having a cool touch. For example, Water.
Ja = to be born
and so on.
But you don’t need a separate dictionary like this in Sanskrit, if you are an expert in Sanskrit grammar! Why? I will explain, but before that…

Difficulty in Computational Parsing of English and Ease of Representing Structured Information in Sanskrit

English is an unnecessarily complicated language in terms of its grammar, which adds absolutely no value to the intention of conveying the information that it intends to, makes sentences ambiguous, and this is one of the primary reasons why it is extremely difficult for knowledge representation in Computers using English. If Sanskrit were the language of Choice in computation, then you could have directly written compilers to parse Sanskrit, instead of having to invent new programming languages like C or Java. What I mean is, suppose English were well structured like Sanskrit, then you could have written a compiler which directly compiles English sentences into programs, instead of having to invent new syntax for programming languages! The very fact that you have to invent new structured representation for  programming languages means that English Grammar is not well structured, is ambiguous and difficult to interpret by computational logic.
If you write a compiler based on Sanskrit grammar, you can have it compile a Sanskrit sentence directly! You cannot do that in English. For example, if you had to write a for loop in Sanskrit like how you write in programming languages, you could simply write a Sanskrit sentence which unambiguously says that what computation should be repeated how many times or till what condition is met. You can’t do that in English!
The same holds true for querying stored information. In Sanskrit you wouldn’t need to invent a separate structured database querying syntax like SQL, the Structured Query Language, Sanskrit is already a Structured language and Sanskrit sentences querying information are structured naturally, because the language itself is structured extremely well. If Sanskrit were used then there would be no need for SQL, and database engines like Oracle, MySQL, etc would be just parsing Sanskrit queries, not SQL.
You need SQL today because English is the predominant language in the world which invented computers and computing, and English cannot be used to represent structured queries like SQL because English sentences themselves are not structured well, and are ambiguous. If all those software pundits who invented various computational technology knew Sanskrit, then it would be an all Sanskrit digital world on which Computers would be running today.
In fact, the world’s oldest binary system of representing knowledge using just two symbols is found in the ancient Sanskrit work ChandahShastra by Pingala where enumeration of meters is done using short and long syllables.
Many are not aware that Sanskrit is already being used in the very foundationof modern Computer programming languages.
If you don’t know what BNF notation (Backus-Naur Form) is, it is a notation for writing context free grammars and all modern computer programming languages make use of these notations. This idea of writing context free grammar is based on the works of the ancient Indian grammarian Panini who used them to describe the structure of Sanskrit words. In fact there are suggestions to rename Backus-Naur Form  as Panini–Backus Form.

Parts of Speech – English and Sanskrit

If you know English grammar, you must be also aware of the Parts of Speech in English. In the traditional English Grammar you have eight parts of Speech – Noun, Verb, Pronoun, Adjective, Adverb, Preposition, Conjunction, Interjection. Then you have this broad classification of words into Open word classes and Closed word classes, where open word classes include the ones like Nouns, Adjectives etc to which new words can be continuously added as the language evolves. Then you have closed word classes like pronouns, conjunctions etc which are a fixed set of predefined words in English.
Now as we know Noun is the name of a person, place or thing. But there is no grammatical rule in English about how to name a person, place or thing. Similarly there are no rules about how names of verbs are derived and so on. In short, in English there is no fixed rule about how you can name a word – be it a noun, verb etc.
So you have two issues here. The first is, you will need a separate English dictionary independent of English grammar, to understand the meaning of different words in English. Grammar and names are totally disconnected in English and are independent of each other. The second natural consequence of this is, the names may or may not give you any information of the object it represents. For instance, while the word Thermometer can imply that it is a device which measures temperature, the word Scissor on the hand implies nothing about what it is! On the other hand in Sanskrit, a term used to denote Scissor is Kartari, where inKart means to Cut. So, the term Kartari also tells us what exactly it does, unlike in English.
But we are back to our original question of, how do we know in Sanskrit that Kartmeans cut, Ja means born, etc?
The answer is that unlike English grammar whose basic building blocks are eight (sometimes even more like determiners, preverbs, clitics etc ) Parts of Speech, the basic building blocks of Sanskrit grammar are just a group of root wordscalled Dhatu.

Dhatu – The magical building block of Sanskrit Grammar

You do not start learning Sanskrit Grammar by learning different parts of Speech, but instead there is an even more fundamental building block called Dhatu. Dhatu is a fixed set of words in Sanskrit Grammar representing ideas – any idea like an action, a property, etc. In English they call it Verb Roots, but more specifically these represent ideas like to beto goto do, etc. There are 2012 Dhatus in all in Sanskrit, and this is a fixed set. Everything else in Sanskrit Language is built on top of these 2012 Dhatus. If you know the meanings of these Dhatus, you can derive the  meaning of ANY Sanskrit word! That is because all Sanskrit words are built on top of these Dhatus. Each word is derived from one or more Dhatus using the rules of Sanskrit grammar. So Sanskrit never needs any loan words, because the very process of word creation is inbuilt in Sanskrit grammar. Unlike English where Dictionary and Grammar are independent of each other, Sanskrit starts with a dictionary of Dhatus and Sanskrit grammar is just the rule of creating words and forming sentences using words derived from these Dhatus!
You should by now have understood what I meant when I said you don’t need a Sanskrit dictionary if you are an expert in Sanskrit Grammar. If you know Sanskrit Grammar, then you also know the Dhatus which are the basic building blocks of Sanskrit, and if you know them you also know the meaning of every word, because all Dhatus have meanings and all words in Sanskrit are derived from these Dhatus. So you will never need a separate dictionary to find meanings of names, because names themselves are meanings in Sanskrit.
If you are from a computer programming background, then Dhatu words are like base classes, and all other words in Sanskrit are like derived classes. They represent various attributes, and when you apply these attributes to specific objects, they become like instances of those classes. For instance, Mr andGa are base classes from which the class Mriga is derived, which means anything that moves to kill. Now when you apply this attribute to a specific object like say a Lion, it becomes an instance of this derived class Mrigam. More on this instance creation later. For now just remember that Dhatu is a abstract base class, vyaya is a derived class and avyaya are instances of derived classes.Dhatu is abstract because you don’t create instances of abstract classes, you derive Vyaya words from Dhatu, and then create instances of those Vyaya words i.e Avyaya words. There will be a separate detailed lesson on this later. So don’t worry much if you don’t understand this yet.

Samskrit – A Language thoroughly refined

Sanskrit has remained a language unchanged, never evolved but was perfectly designed in the very beginning with everything in place. No new grammar rules were added to Sanskrit at any point of time later. All new words created in Sanskrit can be traced back to a combination of these 2012 dhatus and related grammar rules, and also retaining the original idea of those dhatus. So you don’t need ever expanding dictionaries in Sanskrit as new words are created, because they can easily be split into their root dhatus to extract the meanings of these new words.
In Sanskrit the set of Dhatus remains fixed, and all new words are derived from these Dhatus. But English dictionary because of it being independent from its grammar, is ever expanding, started with around 3000 words, and today has nearly 300,000 words! For most of these words you need to have a dictionary of English to find its meaning, where as in Sanskrit you can create millions of words and still there wouldn’t be need for a dictionary! Just split the words into its Dhatus and you will get the meaning!
This is also the reason why even the best experts in modern English find it next to impossible to read and understand old English, or for that matter those who know modern Kannada (Hosagannada) cannot understand Old Kannada (Halegannada), same in other languages as well. But in Sanskrit, there is  nothing like modern, old etc because there has been no evolution of Sanskrit in the first place. The creative style of writing might have differed in different Sanskrit, texts, but the language remains the same, the grammar rules remain the same.  Sanskrit that was spoken thousands of years ago remained the same throughout because of its perfect structure. The dhatu meaning of the word Samskrit itself isthe one that has been thoroughly refined. It was already perfected in the very beginning of its creation.
The entire process of learning Sanskrit is learning Dhatus and the rules of playing around with these Dhatus creating extremely beautiful and innovative combination of words and sentences. There is no unnecessary complication unlike English. We will have a very brief look at some Dhatus now, and as we move forward in future lessons, make ourselves more comfortable with more Dhatus and the rules of using Dhatu to form words and use them in sentences. As I said in the beginning of this series in the first lesson, this Sanskrit learning series will be more like practical classes, than plain boring theory classes.
We now know that Dhatu is a basic building block of Sanskrit words. All other names in Sanskrit are derived from these fixed set of Dhatus. When we said earlier that Khaga denoted a bird, implying the one that moves in the sky, we saw that this meaning came from splitting the word in kha and ga where khameant sky and ga (from the dhatu gam) meant to move. So by now it should be clear that in Sanskrit to understand the meaning of a word, all we need to do is split it into its root Dhatus and using the meaning of the ideas behind that dhatu we can understand the meaning of the word. So simple and beautiful, isn’t it?
This processing of splitting a word into its dhatu format is called Dhatu Roopa. Remember this term, as we will be using it quite often. Dhatu Rupa means theDhatu Form. By Dhatu Roopa we mean finding out the root Dhatus of the word, doing the reverse process of word creation using Dhatus to find word meanings.
Let us start with the very word Dhatu, because even this is a Sanskrit word and hence should be derived from some Dhatu word :) This word is derived from the Dhatu called Dha in Sanskrit. Dha means foundationrootbasic building block. How is the word Dhatu derived from Dha? More on this in future lessons. For now, just remember that Dhatu is derived from the Dhatu word Dha. Since, the meaning of this is root or foundation, all the root words of Sanskrit which form the building block of Sanskrit language are called Dhatu. Moreover, as we saw earlier, since these are names of the properties, and since the property name Dhatu represents root, foundation, basic building block, it can be used to represent any such object.
So in Chemistry for instance Dhatu represents Chemical Elements, Metals etc which are the basic building blocks there. In Ayurveda, Dhatu represents the basic building blocks of our body like for instance Asti Dhatu represents the building blocks of bones, as Asti represents Bone in Sanskrit. Rakta Dhatu represents the building blocks in blood, where Rakta represents Red Color and henceBlood in Sanskrit.
Kr is a Dhatu which means to doKarman is a derived word of this Dhatu meaning deedKriya is derived from this dhatu and means action. The wordPrakriya is derived from this dhatu and means process. Then the word Sakriya is derived from this Dhatu and means being active. And so on. In fact there is a huge number of combinations possible from each dhatu, and we will learn about the actual process of creating words, combination of words, sentences, meanings and so on in the future lessons of Sanskrit grammar.

Summary of Lesson 2

Today we learnt that
  • In Sanskrit, attributes and properties have names, and all the names in Sanskrit are derived from a fixed set of 2012 root words called Dhatu.
  • Dhatu, not the Parts of Speech, forms the basic building block of Sanskrit, unlike in languages like English.
  • The process of deriving names is in built in Sanskrit Grammar, because of which Sanskrit never requires any loan words from other languages. If there is a new invention, a new object or a new information discovered, Sanskrit grammar can be used to easily create one or more new words to represent it. We saw an example of representing download and upload in our First Sanskrit Lesson.
  • Since the Dhatus have meanings attributed to them, and since there is a predefined process of deriving names in Sanskrit, all names in Sanskrit have meaning inherent in the name itself unlike in other languages like English. For example in English the word English itself means nothing without a dictionary, or the word Verb itself means nothing without  a dictionary. However in Sanskrit, the very word Samskrit means the one that is thoroughly refinedDhatu means basic building block and so on. In other words, all Sanskrit names state facts – describe the nature and attributes of the thing they represent.
  • Since Sanskrit is an extremely well structured language with no ambiguity in its grammar , Sanskrit Sentences can easily be used in computational language unlike other natural languages like English whose sentences are extremely ambiguous and whose grammar is extremely complex making it difficult to write compilers which can understand English sentences. For instance, if Sanskrit was used as a language for database queries, you wouldn’t have needed SQL, because queries in Sanskrit are as structured as SQL.
  • Dhatu words have meanings over a vast range covering all possible basic meanings representing all human knowledge and actions. Words are derived from Dhatus using one or more Dhatus and a set of grammar rules to represent compound properties and attributes like we saw for “moving in sky”, “born in water” and so on. These attributes are then used to represent objects which have the properties matching these attributes, as we saw for Birds, Lotus, etc.
  • So Sanskrit language words are an encyclopedia in itself, with each namedescribing  one or more properties of what it represents.
  • More in next lesson. Questions, corrections, criticism is welcome. Please do not forget to share this lesson. Knowledge grows by sharing 
  • SOURCE-Jai gurudev

Sanskrit science Lesson 1 – Science behind the Sacred Sanskrit

  • What makes Sanskrit so different from all other human spoken languages?
  • Why is the Sanskrit grammar described to be so scientific, structured and accurate?
  • What makes Sanskrit so special that it is called the Deva Bhasha, language of the Gods?
  • Why is Sanskrit said to be the only human spoken language which is unambiguous and suitable to be used in Computers?
  • Why is Sanskrit said to be context sensitive in meaning, context free in grammar, and without any need for evolution?
  • Why Sanskrit does not require any loan words?
  • How is it possible that we can frame sentences, write books in Sanskrit such that the same text can have different meaning when read in a different context?
In this series on learning Sanskrit, we will first try to understand the greatness of the Sanskrit language, the  reason which makes Sanskrit stand apart among all the thousands of human spoken languages. The reason for its beautiful structure, accuracy, great potential and representation of knowledge. But please note that this series is unlike any conventional Learn Sanskrit courses. The approach followed here would be more like watching a suspense thriller movie rather than a boring documentary. So if you are looking for something like a ‘Learn Sanskrit in 5 days‘ tutorial or ‘Sanskrit for dummies‘ quick book, I am afraid this is not for you. My efforts here are so that you appreciate the beauty of this language, and in doing so, learn it as well, slowly but surely.
If you are new to Sanskrit, what is being taught in this lesson here, which is one the core features of Sanskrit alone, will leave you spell bound, for if you do not know Sanskrit yet, you will understand and realize its greatness now and here. But before that…
Without being consciously aware about it, I was extremely happy to realize that the day on which I started writing this series was Guru Poornima (Jul 22, 2013), the birthday of Maharshi Veda Vyas. Even though my name is Gurudev, I am a student forever, and my infinite respect and salutes to all the Great Gurus of the past, present and future. My teachers are numerous, almost all of them taught me through their writings via books, and nature has been my greatest teacher.Gurudevobhava

Why Hindu Gods have hundreds or more than thousand Sanskrit names?

Usually a person has one official name, may be a pen name, some pet names, nick names and so on. So you might be known by at the most 4 or 5 different names. But how about 108 names or even say 1000 names?
If you are a Hindu or know Hinduism closely, you will be aware that in the vedic culture there are deities with just too many names. There are multiple lists of 108 names, 1000 names of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. How can somebody be known by so many different names?
The answer is that each of these names describe different attributes and properties of those Gods or Goddesses. If we take Ganesha for instance
  • Ekadatanta refers to his attribute of having one tusk
  • Gajavadana refers to his attribute of having an Elephant face
  • Mushaka Vaahana refers to his attribute of Mouse being his vehicle
  • Vaktratunda refers to his attribute of having a broken tusk
  • Vigneshwara refers to his attribute of being the remover of obstacles and so on.
  • Ganesha itself refers to his attribute of being the Lord of Ganas, the semi divine beings.
If everything refers to his attributes, then what is the real name of Ganesha? Interesting, isn’t it? Let’s move on.

Create multiple names for a Single Object – a core feature of Sanskrit Language

Another similar interesting aspect you come across in Sanskrit is a thing or a person having multiple names. Take the case of Lotus for instance, Kamala is what it is popularly known as in Sanskrit, but also has numerous other names likeJalaja, Vaarija, Ambuja, Neeraja, Pankaja and so on. Similarly ‘Sea’ which is popularly known as Samudra in Sanskrit has numerous other names like Jaladhi, Vaaridhi, Ambudhi, Neereadhi and so on.
Now if you keenly observe the names of Lotus and Sea given above, they look similar except for the last letter. For Lotus the names end with ‘ja‘, while for sea they end with ‘dhi‘. What do the common terms represent then?
The common terms, jala, vaari, ambu, neera all refer to water. Each of them define an attribute of water, and hence they represent water.
Ja in Sanskrit means ‘born of‘. So when you add ‘ja’ to the names referring to water in Sanskrit, you are referring to something that is born of water. Lotus being a flower born in water naturally earns all these names. So take any attribute in Sanskrit which represents water, add ja to it, there  you have another name for Lotus.
But why am I here referring jala, vaari, ambu, neera etc as attributes or properties of water, and not as names of water? Aren’t they actually the names of water? We will come to that in a moment.
Before that we will look into the  names of sea. dhi in Sanskrit means abundance. Water is abundant in a sea. So you take any name in Sanskrit which refers to the attributes of water, and add a ‘dhi’ to it. There you have a name for sea!
If you were keen enough to observe the other name of Lotus Pankaja, you will see that I didn’t mention a similar name for sea, Pankadhi. That is because, Panka refers to an attribute of mud in Sanskrit, not an attribute of water as you might have expected. Lotus is born in mud and hence also earns the name Pankaja. So what is Pankadhi then? Well, if you know something which is abundant in mud, like how a sea is abundant in water, you can call it Pankadhi. You just created a new name in Sanskrit! :)
What about the names Kamala and Samudra? Kamala refers to something that has an attribute of pale red color. Since Lotus has this attribute of being pale red in color, it is also called Kamala. Anything which has this attribute of pale red color can be called Kamala as well.
Samudra refers to an attribute or a property of gathering of waters. So anygathering of waters can be called Samudra, be it a Sea or an Ocean.
Sam refers to gathering, like in the word SamsadUdra again refers to an attribute of water. Sea is a gathering of river waters, Ocean is a gathering of sea waters, hence both Sea and Ocean could be called Samudra. Now just think what areUdraja and Udradhi :)
If you are wondering about Samsad, sad refers to the act of sitting. So Samsad is sitting together, members sit together in the parliament, or for that matter any place where people sit together can be referred to as Samsad.
Bonus:  What is Kamalaja? You should be able to easily make out, it can refer to anything born out of Lotus, because we saw earlier that Kamala refers to Lotus and ja refers to born of. So who is born of Lotus? Brahma! which is why he is also called Kamalaja. Because he is born of Lotus!
Similarly KamalaNaabha refers to Vishnu because Lotus sprouts of his navel. Naabha refers to an attribute of navel. So AmbujaNaabha, VaarijaNaabha all refer to Vishnu!
Now we are ready for the great dive into Sanskrit. Before that please note, attribute names themselves do not have a single meaning either. They in turn depend on the attributes of their roots and so on till the very base root. For instance ambaracan refers to the attribute of Sky or to the attribute of Cloth. So when we sayShwetambara we are referring to the attribute of cloth, where Shweta means white, so Shwetambara means white cloth or white dress. Even Shukla refers to the attribute of white, so Shuklambhara refers to white dress andShuklambharadharam refers to the one who is wearing white cloth. But when ambara is used to refer to the attribute of being limitless, it refers to Sky which is limitless.
Ambara can also refer to other attributes like that of a perfume, saffron, a lip, cipher code and so on. These different attribute names are derived from the roots of the word ambara itself! More on these Sanskrit roots in future lessons. Before that…

Sanskrit, all about names of attributes and properties, not of things and objects

There are no names for objects and things in Sanskrit, its only about referring to them by the names of their attributes or properties. While you slowly start digesting this fact, I will explain it further. Let me make it clear again, there are no names in Sanskrit language which refer directly to an object without having to mean anything else related to that object. You cannot simply name an object as for instance Farhanitrate or a procedure as Prerajulisation :)
Or to be more clear, there are no ‘fixed’ name representations in Sanskrit for Objects. Sanskrit is not a language based on names of objects, unlike other languages. It is purely based on names of attributes. Everything, including people are given names based on their attributes.
Remember ancient Indian history like Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas?Krishna was called so because of his dark complexion, Krishna refers to an attribute of having a dark complexion. But were you ever confused why Veda Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata was also called Krishna Dvaipayana. I was confused a lot on this in my childhood. Differentiating between Krishna and Krishna Dvaipayana was an issue for me! Krishna is Lord Krishna, while Krishna Dvaipayana was the original name of Veda Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata.
Veda Vyas was called Krishna Dvaipayana initially because he had a dark complexion as well and he was born in an island. Dvaipayana means the one who was born in an island. In Sanskrit Dveepa is an attribute referring to an island. So he was originally called Krishna Dvaipayana, while Lord Krishna because of his dark complexion was called Krishna.
Krishna Dvaipayana later collected, re arranged and compiled all the veda into the form as we know them today, and hence he was called Veda Vyasa or the compiler or differentiator of the Vedas. Krishna Dvaipayana was his name by birth, and Veda Vyasa was his name based on his achievements. You can refer to anybody who is of a dark complexion and born in an island as Krishna Dvaipayana, but there is only one Veda Vyasa.
As you can see, throughout the ancient Indian history Scholars and Kings were given different names based on their achievements and other later life attributes. Children were usually given names based on their attributes when they were born or in their early childhood, and most of the popular figures in Indian history grew up to earn many different names based on their achievements and based on other incidents in their lives.
Since any thing or a person can have multiple attributes, we find things, Gods, people, all having multiple names in Sanskrit based on such attributes. The next time you come across multiple names in Sanskrit for the same thing or person, remember that is because Sanskrit names are not ‘fixed’ names of objects, but describe their attributes. In other words, just by knowing the name of something in Sanskrit, you get an idea of one of its attributes, which you cannot get in any other languages we speak. Which is also the reason you find in many Sanskrit verses the same person or object being referred by its many attribute based names to make it clear who or what is actually being referred to. Kesari can refer to Saffron or Lion, but when we say Kesari Gajaari, it definitely is referring to Lion because Gajaari means enemy of elephant and saffron cannot be an enemy of elephant, while Lion is. Continue reading for details.
To make things even clear, in English for instance we just have names, and by looking at the name we can’t say what we are talking about unless we know it already. Take for instance the name Lion, it is just that, a Lion. On the other hand look at the names of Lion in Sanskrit. Simha, Kesari, Gajaari all refer to its different attributes like being violent and strong, its body color, it being the enemy of elephants and so on.
So while in English, Lion is the name of a specific animal, in Sanskrit any attribute of a Lion can be used to refer to it. There is no specific name for a Lion as such. And the same attribute can also be used to refer to something else which has that same attribute. For instance, Kesari can also be used while referring to Saffron which has the same color, like that of Lion. Simha can be used to refer to somebody who is as powerful or violent.
So remember this always, names in Sanskrit do not refer to objects or persons or entities, they refer only to attributes and properties. You cannot simply go and give an arbitrary name to a thing. That is meaningless in Sanskrit. Sanskrit has a science of its own, it is well structured, well defined, you cannot break these rules. More rules in future articles, but something more interesting follows below.

Sanskrit is a Context based Language

Now you should have also understood why meanings of sentences or words in Sanskrit is context sensitive. And why most of the English translations by those half baked Sanskrit pundits who did direct word to word translations are so messed up. You should also by now have understood why when you read those mis-translations, they sound so funny, meaningless. You break the rules in Sanskrit, that is not Sanskrit anymore!
For instance, ambara can refer to an attribute of cloth or sky. If a person translatesambara as sky when it is actually referring to cloth, then you have a goof up! A sentence which was intended to mean “Sun in the Sky” ends up being translated as “Sun is in the dress”. And our wise intellectuals then start mocking Sanskrit texts as being childish, illogical, crap so on, all because the translation was wrong!
It doesn’t stop here, people can even misinterpret the Sanskrit texts as saying something else while it originally meant something totally different! That is how you end up with all those numerous translations on the Internet of Sanskrit verses being anti-woman, promoting caste system, texts contradicting each other, and so on.
Take for instance the translations making round about people eating beef or killing the cow during the vedic period. The whole basis of this myth is translations of Sanskrit verses like the one which actually means “control your sense organs” which was translated as “kill the cow“, all just because the word used wasgo/gau can refer not only to cow, but also to sense organs in Sanskrit. So when taken out of context and translated using its most popular object, you end up with misinterpretations like these. Sanskrit translation can never be done by going word by word, the entire context should be used as the basis to understand the meaning. And there are multiple rules and hints to understand the context of words which we shall learn in the future lessons of this series. But before that…

Embedding Secrets and Mystery in Samskrit Sentences

Because of its context based word meanings, one can intelligently frame great malleable sentences in Sanskrit which can be used to represent multiple facts, ideas etc. This is where the beauty of the sentences in Veda and Upanishads come into picture. Simple sentences can be used to represent n number of different ideas and facts. And vedas and Upanishads are full of such innovative beautifully framed sentences. This is also ONE  OF THE reasons why one can form extremely short sentences in Sanskrit meaning extremely complex things, like the famous mahavakyas (great sentences) in the Upanishads, like tat tvam asiaham brahmasmi, ayam atma brahma etc. Simple they may look, they have enough information hidden in them for one to keep writing books after books on the information hidden in these sentences or the ideas they represent.
If you are still not clear, in English when we say Sun rises in the Eastwe just mean that. Sun is an object, which rises in a direction which we call East. But in Sanskrit we refer to Sun not by a name of its own, but by any property representing Sun. Similarly East is referred to by some property of that direction, so is rising represented by an attribute of the act of rising. So a sentence in Sanskrit which says Sun rises in the East can also represent any fact or information that is a combination of these three attributes.
All the core 8800 verses (shlokas) of Mahabharatha are said to be filled with such hidden information and secrets! It is said that only Vyasa and his son Shuka were completely aware of all the hidden meanings in them, while Sanjaya (who narrated the war to Dhritarashtra) was aware of some of them!

Sanskrit can create New Names , no need of Loan words from other languages

All languages are filled with loan words borrowed from other languages. English itself has too many loan words borrowed from languages across the world. Sanskrit has fed loan words into core English via languages like Greek, Latin, German etc which themselves had taken numerous loan words from Sanskrit. Read this article for the  List of core words in latin and english derived from Sanskrit. Even today English continues to import loan words from Sanskrit like Yoga, Guru, Avatar, Maya, Nirvana, Pundit, etc.
On the other hand in Sanskrit because of its attributes based nature there is no need for any loan words. Loan words are only required when you come across something or some knowledge which is new to that language’s culture. For instance, Yoga was new to English, became a loan word there. With the advent of Internet and related terminologies, many terms like, ‘Download’ and ‘Upload’ were imported into Indian languages. So they have become loan words in our languages. On the other hand in Sanskrit, because of its attribute based nature, you can always create a new word which can then be used to refer to an attribute of that new knowledge or thing! You will never need a loan word which would be meaningless on its own in a language. For instance in mainstream English, Yogahas no meaning of its own. In Kannada, or Hindi, the word Download has no meaning of its own. But in Sanskrit you never need such imported words. Because of its attribute based naming convention, you can always create as many new words you want. In fact the possibilities are infinite, so immense that you can go on creating new words even for existing objects! This is also one of the reasons why there is no need for Sanskrit to evolve unlike other languages.

An Example of creating new words in Sanskrit

Edit: Since many readers asked about giving a practical example of creating new words in Sanskrit by giving one for Download, have updated the article with one for download and upload. The attribute of descending or fetching is Avataara in Sanskrit, so one word for Download in Sanskrit could be Avataarayati or the act of fetching. Avaroha represents the attribute of going down, so Download can also be Avarohayati
Similarly for Upload we can call it Urdhvayati where Urdhva is an attribute representing upwards in Sanskrit. Aaroha also represents the attribute of ascent or going up and hence Upload can also be called Aarohayati
Not only these, you can create any number of words for upload and download in Sanskrit using the attributes representing upward or ascent, and downward, fetching or descent. For instance consider the terms Unnati and Avanati, which represent progress and downfall respectively. Take the Sanskrit attribute which can represent File, Patrika. So File uploading and File downloading could bePatrikonnati and Patrikavanati respectively! The options are limitless!
Now you also understand why Hindu Gods have chants with 108 names, 1000 names called Ashtotthara, Sahasranaamaavali etc? and why even historic persons like Vyasa, Krishna, Rama, etc have so many names.
Take the case of the names of Lord Shiva. Shiva, Manjunatha, Jagannatha, Vishwanatha, Eeshwara, Ardhanaareeshwara, Mrityunjaya, Mrda, Gangadhara, Shoolapaani, Pashupati, Nagabharana, Nandivaahana, ChandraShekara, and many more all refer to the various attributes of Lord Shiva.

Summary of Sanskrit Lesson 1

  • In Sanskrit you cannot simply given an arbitrary name to a thing.
  • In Sanskrit things and objects do not have names, it is the properties which have names.
  • In Sanskrit you name things by referring to their different properties, and hence the same object, person, place, etc can have various different names each referring to a property or an attribute of that object, person, place etc.
  • In Sanskrit you don’t need loan words, because as we come across new knowledge, new things etc we can simply refer to them based on their attributes and properties.
  • You can always create as many new names as you want in Sanskrit as long as they refer to the correct property names.
  • Sanskrit is context sensitive in meaning of its words and sentences because the same property can refer to different things, objects, persons, places etc in different contexts.
  • In Sanskrit you can create great sentences which reveal multiple information in a single sentence or even in a single word. In other words, entirely different information can overlap within a single word or sentence in Sanskrit. The possibilities for composers, writers, poets to be creative in their composition, writings and poems, to encode secretive information in an ordinary looking sentence are all immense. Sky is the limit for Sanskrit authors.
  • And we have only touched the tip of the iceberg, more lessons to follow…
  • Sanskrit is not a mere language, it is a science in itself and is the mother of human speech. Most of the world languages have been either derived or have been at influenced or at least touched by Sanskrit. Samskrit itself refers to an attribute which means the one that has been thoroughly refined.
Bonus: Since most Indian languages are based out of Sanskrit or are heavily influenced by Sanskrit, we can easily apply these attribute based names in our languages as well. As you all know, almost all these names are equally valid in our local Indian languages as well. So for Indian languages it has been always so easy, every time you need a name, just look towards Sanskrit and there you have it. And they sound so native in our languages, naturally. Be it Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Bengali and even European languages including Greek, Latin, English, Russian German, Lithuanian – Sanskrit has donated numerous words to world vocabulary.
But beware, a fake theory in the name of PIE is being spun to deny Sanskrit its rightful place in history by saying that all ancient world languages including Sanskrit have their roots in some imaginary language called PIE (Proto-IndoEuropean!), just so that Sanskrit could be made one of’ those languages instead of the root language. The issue is, nobody knows who spoke this PIE, where, when, no books, no literature, no civilization, no culture, no proof of its existence.  PIE is a big LIE. The bigger issue, why only Sanskrit became what it is with all its unique features which we just described, and which we will be describing in forthcoming articles? No explanation. PIE for me simply never existed.
if anybody says Sanskrit evolved from this or that language like some imaginary PIE, then they simply dont know Sanskrit. There is NOTHING in Sanskrit which is progressive evolution, it is a “designed” language, like computer programming languages. The 2012 root words, its ability to create new words on the fly are proof of it. You evolve only when you are not perfect. Sanskrit is a perfect language.
More interesting stuff in the next article. Did you find this first article not just useful, but interesting as well? For I want to make it as interesting as possible. Don’t want to scare people away with complex terminologies and math equations like content. Sanskrit is a complex language, so is Mathematics, but learning both can be fun, only if its presented in the right way. Someday will also come up with similar articles in Mathematics. Please leave comments, be it queries or criticism or suggestions. Also request learned Sanskrit scholars to point out any mistakes that might have crept in.
Most importantly, please share as much as possible. The world really needs to learn Sanskrit. It is a great language, the greatest ancient innovation, mother of human speech, and has a great potential in creating a universal brotherhood. Look at some of its great quotes
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam meaning ‘Whole Earth is a family’.
Sarve jana sukhino bhavantu meaning ‘May all people live happily’
Ekam sat, viprah bahudha vadanti meaning ‘Truth is One, learned scholars know it by many names’
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Heem
source- Jai Gurudev