Sanskrit Writing Practice #4

Not too long after the pandemic began and we were told to stay home, I started writing one of the 108 Names of Amma ten times in Devanagari (the script used to write Sanskrit words) each day. Many of the “names” are events in Amma‘s early life or one of her characteristics. The list was written by a devotee decades ago and is frequently used as a chant before meditation or singing.

I have been having health problems, not related to covid, so it has been a week or more since I last wrote any Sanskrit. I finished line 78 last night. In this post, I will share lines 71 and 78.

I frequently make errors when I write. Usually by the 10th time I write the line, it is correct but not always, I still slip up. I also have discovered there are occasionally discrepancies between the transliteration and the Devanagari versions. Since I don’t know which is right, I just write it the way it is in the various books I am using. I also do not differentiate between the different kinds of “a”s, “i”s, “u”s, “n’s, “sh”s (and a few others) when I write the transliteration in blog posts. And last, there are occasionally times when letter combinations I use when I write the Devanagari script are different than the keyboard I am using for the post.

Line 71
सुप्रसन्न मुख़ाम्भोज वराभयद पाणये नम:
suprasanna mukhambhoja varabhayada panaye namah
… who has a bright, beaming face, as beautiful as a lotus flower, and who holds her hand in the posture of blessing

Line 78
प्रेमभक्ति सूधा सिक्त साधू चित्त गूहजूषे नम:
premabhakti sudha sikta sadhu citta guhajushe namah
… who resides in the cave of the heart of the pious that are drenched with the nectar of devotion

Sanskrit Writing Practice: Post #3

It has been 58 days since I started writing one of the 108 Names of Amma in ten times in Devanagari (the script used to write Sanskrit words) each day. Many of the “names” are events in Amma‘s early life. The list was compiled decades ago and is frequently used as a chant before meditation or singing.

In my last Sanskrit post, the lines related to Amma having had a vision of Lord Krishna. In this post I am using three lines that follow the one about Amma having had a vision of the Divine Mother holding an instrument called the veena. So these three lines are about what happened once her vision disappeared.

Day 48

देवी सद्य: तिरोधान ताप व्यथित चेतसे नम :
devi sadyas tirodhana tapa vyathita chetase namah
…whose heart was burnt in the fire of sorrow on the Divine Mother’s sudden disappearance,

Day 50

त्यक्तान्न पान निद्रदी निद्रादि सर्व दैहिक धर्मणे नम:
tyaktanna pana nidradi sarva daihika dharmane namah
… who gave up all bodily activities like eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.

Note: In doing this post, I see that I didn’t write pana in any of my sentences. Whoops.

Day 51

कुररादि समानीत भक्ष्य पोषित वर्ष्मणे नम:
kuraradi samanita bhakshya poshita varshmane namah
whose body was nourished by the food brought by birds and other animals

Note: I only wanted to use three lines in this post. Day 49 was “… whose sorrowful wailing was rending the ears of the four quarters.”

Day 38 and 39 Sanskrit Writing

In a recent post, I wrote about having decided to use a beautiful chant consisting of 108 characteristics of Amma as a spiritual practice and an opportunity to start writing in Sanskrit again. My plan was to start at the beginning of the chant and write each line 10 times in Devanagari (Sanskrit script) … completing one line per day.

Today is the 40th day of that practice. I decided to share my journal pages from Days 38 and 39 with you. (I choose to write using a pen so you will see numerous corrections.)

Many of the lines in the chant are about events that happened during Amma’s early life. That is true of these two lines.

Day 38
वियोग शोक सम्मूर्व्व्हा मुहु: पतित वर्ष्मने नम:
om viyoga shoka sammurccha muhurpatita varshmane namah
… who often fell down unconscious due to the grief of non-union with Krishna

Day 39
सारमेयादि विहित शुश्रूषा लब्ध बुद्धाये नमः
sarameyadi vihita shushrusha labdha buddhaye namah
… who regained consciousness by the proper nursing given by dogs and other animals

Writing Sanskrit as Spiritual Practice

During the previous decade, I attended Sanskrit classes for about five years. For a while I even attended two classes a week. My goal was to be able to converse in Sanskrit.

I became discouraged, however, when class after class of Indian students zoomed past me. I may have known more Sanskrit when each class began, but many of the Indian students’ native languages were rooted in Sanskrit so they were able to easily able to develop a Sanskrit vocabulary. I couldn’t do that. I progressed in my studies, but the time came when I was no longer willing to dedicate the hours it would take to reach my goal; besides, I was no longer convinced my goal was even possible.

One day during the current pandemic, it occurred to me that I could write in Sanskrit as a form of spiritual practice. It had been a long time since I’d written the Devanagari letters and I knew I would enjoy doing that once again.

Many years ago, a devotee of my spiritual teacher, Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi), wrote a beautiful chant consisting of 108 characteristics of Amma. I realized I could focus on one line of that chant each day by writing it in Devanagari script ten times. I have been doing that exercise for the last 28 days!

In the past, I often wrote about my Sanskrit studies on this blog. I decided a few days ago that I would do that again. But each day, I determined that my writing wasn’t good enough or the line of the chant wasn’t the right one. Today, I decided that since my purpose was to share the process, nothing about it had to be perfect.

I picked the 24th and 25th lines of the chant to share:

om nissabda janani garbha nirgamadbhuta karmane namah (Salutations to Amma who did the miraculous deed of keeping silence when she came out of her mother’s womb.)

om kali sri krishna sangkasha komala shyamala tvishe namah (Salutations to Amma who has the beautiful dark complexion reminiscent of Kali and Krishna.)

I hope the pandemic ends before I reach the 108th day, but even if it does, I may continue this practice until I have finished the last line.

I will end my post with the following prayer:

Om Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings in the world live in peace

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Peace, Peace, Peace

Videos: Awe-Inspiring, Fun, and/or Beautiful

I’ve watched more videos than normal lately- ones that weren’t political for a change. I decided to share three of them with you.

Awe-Inspiring– wish I had seen this one 40+ years ago!

Fun- This video was Seattle Police Department’s response to a lip sync challenge from officers in Virginia.

Beautiful: A friend sent me this one earlier today.

Breakfast Time!

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Today I decided I would make breakfast with vegetables from my garden.  The garden is small and some of the vegetables are already getting sparse, but I was able to include beets, two kinds of carrots, spinach, chard, yellow squash, a squash blosssom, a potato and basil. I realized later that I forgot to include a zucchini and I chose not to use my last bok choy plant.

I was particularly excited about the beet because I’ve never had any luck growing them.  But today the one I pulled out was BIG, at least in comparison to any I’ve had in my garden in the past.

I decided I would steam them with a bit of dill. They tasted uttamam! (Uttamam means “very good” in Sanskrit.)

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Later, I realized that I could have cooked some of the beet greens, but I know the worms in my two worm bins will thoroughly enjoy eating all of the scraps.  It seems fitting since they deserve a lot of the credit for the harvest.

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I am still very much a beginning gardener.  I love how much I learn each year

 

The Daily Prompt: Struggle

NagariAlphabet

When I think of the word “Struggle,” my attempt to learn to read, write and speak Sanskrit is what comes to mind. For the last four and a half years it has been a major focus in my life, one I feel very passionate about.

The classes I have been taking recently focus on immersion. The goal is to have no English spoken in the class, although some allowances are made. Almost all of the students are Indian and many of the words in their native languages are rooted in Sanskrit. Therefore, the Indian students tend to learn the Sanskrit vocabulary very fast. Even when they don’t know a word they may have a good idea of what it means.

When I start with a class of new Sanskrit students, I feel on reasonably even ground with them, or even ahead. As I proceed in the course, however, they quickly pull ahead of me and by the end I am not understanding much of the conversation that occurs. Eventually, I hit a brick wall where I feel hopeless.

I am in that place again. I have tried retaking the class and have learned a lot by doing that, but I don’t think I can meet my goal by continuing to retake it. I’m going to take a break from that kind of learning and do some independent study focusing on reading Sanskrit; listening to Sanskrit video conversations; speaking with and writing to friends who are also learning Sanskrit; and on building vocabulary. I intend to stay committed to my goal and hope to come back to a class format sometime in the future.

Another struggle I have been dealing with this year has been lower back problems. My life has been very different since that started in mid-February. Now that the problem is resolving, I can see that it would have been a perfect time for me to focus on my Sanskrit and on doing the spiritual practices I neglect. I feel sad that I didn’t take advantage of the long hours of down time to do those things but at the same time I know I can learn from the experience rather than live in regret. I can have compassion for the choices I made this time, and make different ones in the  future.

I appreciate today’s Daily Prompt. It was helpful for me to examine the struggles in my life.

 

Naiva Klishta Na Cha Kathina नैव क्लिष्टा न च कठिना

Each week, the Sanskrit class I attend opens with us singing “Naiva Klishta Na Cha Kadhina.”  I love the song and it frequently plays in my head during the day and during the night.

Last week I found it on YouTube.

I asked my teacher what the words meant and he suggested that members of the class translate it.  One of the other students and I are going to do that.  As you can see below, there are lots of verses.

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I finished my attempt at translating the first verse.  It appears to be a list of some of the qualities of Sanskrit.

Sanskrit is:

lovely, easy to understand, universally agreeable to the mind.

elegant, beloved, to be enjoyed

sweet speech

not obscure and not difficult

I look forward to working on  the other verses.  And I am also looking forward to seeing what my classmate comes up with!

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

I have many loves but the one that I am most immersed in at the moment is my study of Sanskrit. Almost every night, I am dreaming of Sanskrit. In my sleep I’m formulating sentences, reviewing vocabulary, hearing the song we sing in class. I’m learning words faster now and I believe some of that is due to whatever is happening during the night.

Here is a photo from the Samskrita Bharati camp I attended for three days last summer.  I’m quite easy to spot!

Samskrita Bharati

Written for Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

शन्त्याः श्वेतपुष्पाणि (White Flowers of Peace)

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अम्मा वदति ध्याने श्वेतपुष्पाणि आकाशात् वर्षन्ति पश्यतु इति
Amma says: “During meditation, see white flowers raining from the sky.”

श्वेतपुष्पाणि सर्वम् आच्छादयन्ति
The white flowers are covering everything

लोकाय तानि शन्तिम् आनयन्ति
They bring peace for the world

***

सर्वानि एतानि श्वेतपुष्पाणि आम्बायाः अमृतपुर्याम् आश्रमे सन्ति
All of these white flowers are in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram.