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Thus and Like (iti and iva)

Here are two very common, and very important words: iti and iva.

Iti

This is more or less a Sanskrit quotation mark.

गच्छामि गजमिति मन्यते
gacchāmi gajam iti manyate

“I’m going to the elephant,” he thinks.

But its more sophisticated than the way we commonly use English quotation marks, for example.

स वीर इति गच्छन्ति
sa vīra iti gacchanti

Literally it means: “He’s a hero” they go. But the actual meaning here is, “with the phrase “he’s a hero” they go” – they are going somewhere thinking, quote, “he’s a hero.”

Iti can bracket a very long section too, longer than quotes are usually used for. Then it usually appears at the beginning of a sentence, for example:

इति गच्छन्ति
iti gacchanti

“Thus they go.”

Iti usually starts the last sentence at the end of chapters. (Śrīla Prabhupāda adopted this in English too, which is why the end of all his chapters say, “Thus ends the Bhaktivedānta purports on…”)

Iva

Iva means “like” / “as if” / “it seems”

वीर इव वदति
vīra iva vadati

Like a hero, he speaks. (In other words, he speaks as if he were a hero).

नर इव बालो मां नयति
nara iva bālo māṁ nayati

As if a man, the boy leads me. (In other words, the boy is acting like a man by leading me somewhere).

Here’s a little check on our grammar, we’ll just slightly change the grammar on that last example and see how the meaning changes..

नरमिव बालो मां नयति
naram iva bālo māṁ nayati

The only difference is that in the first sentence the first word is “nara” and in the second the first word is “naram.” This difference, however changes the word from an adjective of the subject (in the first example) to an adjective of the object (in the second). Its more clear without sandhi:

1 — naraḥ iva bālaḥ mām nayati

2 — naram iva bālaḥ mām nayati

In sentence one naraḥ ends the same as bālaḥ, so its a descriptor of bālaḥ (the subject of the sentence). So the meaning there is that the boy (bāla) acts like an adult (nara).

In sentence two naram ends the same as mām, so it is a descriptor of mām (the object of the sentence). The meaning here is that I (mām) am like an adult (nara).

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Emphasis

In English we emphasize things by changing our pitch or tone on a certain word. In Sanskrit there are actual small words that are used to show emphasis.

Eva एव

eva is the most common such word. If you want to translate it, you’d usually describe it as “indeed” or “certainly” or “very.” But maybe the best way to translate it is just by seeing it as a heightened tone or pitch, or in writing a use of italics, to emphasize a word. Here’s an example:

नरो वीरः naro vīra  

It just means “the man is a hero.” Lets change the stress a little:

नरो वीर एव naro vīra eva

 Now it means, “the man is a hero.” Stress the word “hero.” Like as if some people are saying he was wrong, or something, and to contrast it you want to say, “that man is a hero.”

Let’s change it again:

नर एव वीरः nara eva vīraḥ

Now it means, “the man is a hero.” The stress is on “man” as if there was some discussion of where the heroism lies, some saying it was with some animal, or some divinity. Then someone says, “the man is the hero.” nara eva vīraḥ.

“only”

The result of stressing a word, in any language, is that you single the thing out. You single it out in contrast of many other things that could be in a similar group. For example when you stress “hero” (vīra eva) you single out that the man is a hero, out of many other possible things. When you stress “man” (nara eva) you single out that, out of many possible heroes, it is the man who is the hero.

So, stress can also be used to mean “only.” For example, if I say, “you come to the school at 11.” Its communicating that I really don’t want or expect anyone else to come, all I care about is that you will be there.

Same thing happens in sanskrit through use of the emphatic eva. For example:

त्वमेव वनमागच्छति tvam eva vanam āgacchati

“YOU come to the forest” 

Tu / hi तु / हि

Eva is not the only emphatic (word that adds emphasis). “tu” and “hi” are also emphatics – but eva is a bit more “pure” than these, in that “tu” and “hi” do a little more than just emphasize, they also add a little meaning of their own.

Tu

Tu is a lot like “but” in english. It emphasizes, but also shows a little contradiction or difference.

अहं तु नरः ahaṁ tu naraḥ 

I am a man” This emphasis on “I” has a protest-tone to it. Its as if the person was being grouped in with other animals, and protests by saying, “but I am a human!”

Hi

This is an emphatic, but also adds a sense of conclusiveness. Like “…because you’re cute.” The idea there is that, after all is said and done, you’re cute and thats what counts.

स हि सुन्दरोऽश्वः sa hi sundaro ‘śvaḥ

“He is a beautiful horse.” The idea here is that maybe he’s old, or maybe he’s cranky and unrideable, but when it comes down to it, he’s a beautiful horse, and that’s what really matters.

Api अपि

Another emphatic word is api. Like tu and hi this one also adds some additional meaning. It’s almost like its apologizing for something. Like if you say, “I am a human” in a sort of sarcastic or apologetic tone – what you communicate is “sorry for making the mistake, but I am a human.” Its an apologetic sort of emphasis. Api adds that sort of emphasis.

नरो ऽपि वीरः naro ‘pi vīraḥ

“The hero is a man.” The senses is, “yes, he’s a hero, but of course he can falter because he’s also a man.”

त्वमपिवीरः tvam api vīraḥ

“You are a hero.” The idea is, “You may be scared and all that, but you are a hero.”

Example from Bhagavad Gītā

वर्त एव च varta eva ca 

This quote (from 3.22) means “and nevertheless, I act.” The word nevertheless is used to translate the complex sense of emphasis here expressed by the word eva. 

The context is that Krishna explains he has no ambitions to fulfill, but still (“nevertheless”) he acts – he doesn’t just sit around doing nothing (because action is good for the heart, it can purify the heart).

There are many others, but I am out of time. The most famous use of emphatics in Gītā, however is in the api cet sudurācāraḥ verse (9.30). Check it out! 

 

And, Or, Not

And (ca)

च (ca) is the Sanskrit word for “and.”

नरो गजश्च (naro gajaś ca) – “The person and the elephant”

If you have more than two items in the list, you don’t have to say “ca” in between each. Usually you can just put it at the end.

अश्वो नरो गजश्च (aśvo naro gajaś ca) – “The horse, person, and elephant.”

Since ca doesn’t need to be used more than once in a list, if it is intentionally used this way it adds a subtly, like everything in the list is equal.

नरश्च गजश्च (naraś ca gajaś ca) – “Both the man and the elephant.”

Like in English, its fine to use ca to connect actions / verbs.

गच्छामि पृच्छामि च (gacchāmi pṛcchāmi ca) – “I go and ask.”

Or (vā)

The conventions for using vā are essentially the same as for using ca. 

नरो गजो वा (naro gajo vā) – “The person or the elephant.”

अश्वो नरो गजो वा (aśvo naro gajo vā) – “The horse, person, or elephant.”

Same as with ca, if vā is used twice in a list its done on purpose for some emphasis.

नरो वा गजो वा (nato vā gajo vā) – “Either the man or the elephant.”

Not (na)

It usually comes before a verb.

न गच्छामि (na gacchāmi) – “I do not go.”

Translation Practice

The heroes and boys walk to the beautiful village.

We need the following words:

  • heroes – vīra
  • boys – bāla
  • beautiful – sundara
  • village – grāma
  • walk – cara

Heroes and boys are the subjects (plural) so

  • vīrāḥ
  • bālāḥ ca

Village is the object, and beautiful as the adjective of village will take the same inflection.

  • grāmam
  • sundaram

So the sentence should be: वीरा बालाश्च सुन्दरं ग्रामं चरन्ति – vīrā bālāś ca sundaraṁ grāmaṁ caranti.

The black horse stands up with the white rabbit.

The vocabulary:

  • black: kṛṣṇa
  • horse: aśva
  • white: śukla
  • rabbit: śaśa
  • stand: tiṣṭha

The horse is the subject of the sentence, its singular, so it has to end with -ḥ: aśvaḥ. And its adjective, kṛṣṇa, has to share the same ending: kṛṣṇaḥ. Generally put the adjective before the noun: kṛṣṇaḥ aśvaḥ, and then allow the words to blend (sandhi): kṛṣṇo ‘śvaḥ

Saying “with” – you can put words in Case 3 to make them mean “with”. The inflection for Case 3 is -ena. This would go on Rabbit, and on its adjective, white. So: śvetena śaśena.

Make the verb match the grammar of the subject, so put it in 3rd person, singular: tiṣṭhati.

kṛṣṇo ‘śvaḥ śvetena śaśena tiṣṭhati

Both I and the man obtain the fruits

Vocabulary

  • I: aham
  • The man: nara
  • Fruit: phala
  • Obtain: labha

Using the word ca more than once will give the effect of stressing “both”.

ahaṁ ca naraś ca phalan labhāvahe

Neither the elephants nor the wolves see the sun.

  • elephant: gaja
  • wolf: vṛka
  • sun: sūrya
  • see: paśya

gajāś ca vṛkāś ca sūryaṁ na paśyanti

I do not want that fruit

  • I: aham
  • fruit: phala
  • want: iccha

ahaṁ tat phalaṁ necchāmi

 Either the sun or moon is in the sky

  • sun: sūrya
  • moon: candra
  • sky: gagana

sūryo vā candro vā gagane bhavati

The two of us speak with the boy, and you do not go to the city.

  • The two of us: āvām
  • boy: bāla
  • speak: bhāṣa
  • you: tvam
  • city: nagara
  • go: gaccha

āvāṁ bālena bhāṣāvahe
tvaṁ ca nagaraṁ na gacchasi

The men, the boys, the elephants, and the rabbits go with the heroes to the fruits

  • man: nara
  • boy: bāla
  • elephant: gaja
  • rabbit: śaśa
  • hero: vīra
  • fruit: phala

narā bālā gajā śaśāś ca vīraiḥ phalāni gacchanti

The wolves and I lead the boy from the village to the black trees.

  • wolves: vṛka
  • I: aham
  • boy: bāla
  • lead: naya
  • village: grāma
  • black: kṛṣṇa
  • trees: vṛkṣa

vṛkā ahaṁ ca grāmāt kṛṣṇavṛkṣān bālaṁ nayāmaḥ

black trees became a compound word: kṛṣṇavṛkṣa

You and I do not find the trunk of the elephant.

  • you: tvam
  • I: aham
  • elephant-trunk: gajahasta
  • find: vinda

tvam ahaṁ ca gajahastaṁ na vindāvaḥ

Adverbs

Adverbs

Adverbs are words that describe an action (verb) – they do for verbs exactly what adjectives do for nouns.

In sanskrit you can make adverbs at will out of adjectives – simply by inflecting them as a verb in neuter singular case 1/2, which is a very long way of saying you inflect them with a “-m.”

सुन्दर (sundara) is an adjective, it means “beautiful.” If you inflect it like an adverb it becomes सुन्दरम् (sundaram).

Used as an adjective: सुन्दरो नरो गच्छति(sundaro naro gacchati), meaning “the beautiful person goes.”

Used as an adverb: सुन्दरं नरो गच्छति (sundaram naro gacchati), meaning “the person goes beautifully.”

This begs the question of how we can tell Adverbs from nouns in Case 2, because both end in -m.  Not sure how to answer.

Vairāgya: Hostile Lions

The Aggressive Lion Calms Down

A big part of translating from one language to another is to first adjust the source language into words that are more akin to the words used in the destination language. So, we need to ask, how would we say “calm down” if we spoke Sanskrit? Its not the same exactly as asking how to say “calm down” in Sanskrit. Its asking how would we say it in English as if we were saying it in Sanskrit. This is a really great question to ask when translating between any languages.

We could say, “The aggressive lion attains a state of peace.” That’s a “Sanskrity” way of phrasing the English. Or, since we’ve been using the word “dispassionate” lately for this sort of thing, how about “The aggressive lion attains a state of dispassion.”

OK, lion is simple – siṁha.

Aggressive? Remember, that word means “the quality of a hero” (obviously the word “hero” is not as inherently positive in Sanskrit as it is in English, indicating more neutrally a brave, powerful person). So “the quality of a hero” is simply the word for hero, with the transparent -a suffix (which has the effect of strengthening the initial vowel). The word for hero is vīra. So “the quality of a hero” (aggression) is vaira.

Dispassion? Passion is rāga. So how about we add the prefix that means “distinct from”, vi-. Now we get virāga. Now we need to abstract it to mean a condition that results from being without passion, which can be done by using the transparent -ya suffix (so, it would literally mean, “the thing that comes from being without passion”). Thus the word would become vairāgya (note that the initial vowel also appears to strengthen from the -ya suffix)

Attains? That’s pretty easy, just the verb gaccha.

Now lets put all the words together.

First, the “aggressive lion” is vaira siṁha. It’s going to be the subject of the sentence, so it gets the -ḥ ending to become vairaḥ siṁhaḥ (both words have to get the same ending to show that they are a group, the first word – “aggressive” – modifies the second – “lion”).

There’s no sandhi to apply here, because ḥ stays as it is when the next sound is “s.”

Now, lets say “calms down” (which we are more literally saying as “attains (goes to a state of) dispassion.”) So we first get the word for dispassion vairāgya, (because typically the verb will come at the end of the sentence, so we’re saving the last spot for the verb). All we need to do with the word is end it in a way that shows it is the object of the sentence. In this case it just means ending it with -m – vairāgyam.

Now we have “vairaḥ siṁho vairāgyam”. We needed to do some sandhi adjustments between siṁhaḥ and vairāgya, the -aḥ became “o”.

Finally, the verb – “attains / goes to (a state of)…” : gaccha. All we need to do is put it in third person singular to match what’s going on in the sentence (there’s one lion and we are talking about him – not to him, nor is he talking). So the word becomes gacchati. There will be a little bit of sandhi between vairāgyam and gacchati, the final “m” will just nasalize to “ṁ.” So, the complete sentence in Sanskrit:

वैरः सिंहो वैराग्यं गच्छति

vairaḥ siṁho vairāgyaṁ gacchati

Hey, it even has a bit of a poetic ring to it!

The word kṣatriya क्षत्रिय

Anyone who has spent more than 42 minutes in ISKCON is familiar with this word, kṣatriya. It’s a bit unclear what it’s root is, because it has irregular grammar, but its most often accepted that the root of kṣatriya is kṣay क्षय् .

Kṣay means “rule, govern, control.” For example, as a simple verb, kṣayati क्षयति it means “he governs.”

The “irregular” part of the grammar is that if you apply the -a suffix to make the root a usable noun, you would expect to get kṣāya – but in this case you get kṣatra. 

But the meaning isn’t irregular. By adding the -a suffix you expect to add the meaning of “from.” Some added to governance (kṣay) the suffix produces the idea of “from governance.” So kṣatra means things produced by rule, governance, and control: power, supremacy, and government. 

Now add a -ya suffix, meaning “as a result of” and you get the word kṣatriya. (-ya makes the final a of kṣatra disappear, and then adding ya directly after the tr causes the vowel i to appear, thus kṣatra + ya = kṣatriya).

So the word refers to people who result from the government, governors.

Another Version

There’s another way to break down the grammar of kṣatriya, kṣa + tra +ya.  Kṣa means “destruction”, tra means “protect”, and the suffix ya meaning “as a result of.” Here the meaning is that a kṣatriya (i.e. a person with political and military power) deserves to be so only as a result of his or her function of protecting others from harm.

Both interpretations of kṣatriya exist side-by-side. The first shows that a kṣatriya is a person with power. The second shows that they must use their power to protect others from destruction and harm. 

A Few Interesting Sanskrit Words (About the Internet)

In any language, reverse-engineering a word back to its root reveals fascinating detail about what the word exactly means.

जल (jala) means water. Add -a and get जाल (jāla). (If you’re baffled how see the post on special suffixes.) Jāla can mean watery, but its more  often used to refer to things like nets, snares, snags, etc. This strand of connotation reveals that jala means liquid as much as it specifically means water. And thus jāla means slippery as much as it means watery – which is why it is so commonly used as a word for situations that are difficult to get traction in, difficult to get out of: nets, snares and so on.

What’s pretty rich about Sanskrit is that nothing stops us from adding more suffixes to a word that already has suffixes. So we can add the -aka suffix to jāla (which itself is jala with the suffix -a). Thus we get जालक (jālaka) – something made of nets, like webs, networks, and clusters.

Which carries the amusing yet very accurate connotation that the internet is a very entangling web, and a very slippery place. 🙂 

वीर (vīra) means hero. But we’ll get a full sense of the exact connotation of vīra if we examine a few words made from it. For example, if we add the -a suffix, the word becomes वैर (vaira) – a word that means aggressive.

नर (nara) means human. Add the -a and we get नार(nāra), humanity.

सूर्य (sūrya) means sun. Add -a and get सौर्य (saurya), solar.

ग्राम (grāma) means village. Add -a and get ग्राम्य (grāmya), village-ish. We hear this word a lot to refer to things that are totally commonplace, sort of boring, provincial, rustic, and not extraordinary in the slightest. Gossip, for example is called, grāmya-kathā – “village talk.” Now that you know this, you know “village talk” also means “boring talk” and “common talk” and “typical talk…” and that says a lot about gossip, doesn’t it?