Yesterday I got all excited about learning some new stuff about Sanskrit. Why? Isn’t it the main problem with us being stuck here – we want to learn new stuff so we have to get born again and again?
Srila Prabhupada has already given us the way out and knowledge of Sanksrit is not necessary, could be even dangerous. So why bother?
In my defense I want to say that it’s not really about learning Sanskrit but rather about learning “sanskrit” outlook on life.
Languages are a dime a dozen and I’m not talking about natural ones, I’m talking about computer languages, every year there seems to be a new one being invented or greatly improved on. Every new language or a new, improved variation is supposed to be better, clearer, more convenient and so on. Why don’t I learn the driving principles behind that? After all the initial point of sudden interest in Sanskrit was a claim of it being perfect for computers.
“Sanskrit” outlook on life is not about precision or convenience, though.
English or French or Latin are not that much different from Sanskrit, they are all languages, they are meant to help people express themselves and communicate with each other, and in that sense English is so much better, judging by the results. Can’t we pray in English? Can’t we think or talk about Krishna in English? Can’t we express our devotion in English? What has Sanskrit’s precision got to do with it? Not much.
The real difference lies in setting a common word and system value. We need to share the meanings of all the words we use in order to be be understood. We need to know that “tree” describes trees and “sun” describes sun, and that “good” is good and “stink” is unpleasant.
In this sense English or any other language people use describes the world from the point of view of a deluded sense enjoyer. Our common system we use to translate from one language to another describes a completely erroneous world view with completely skewed up values, but yeah, it helps us communicate, or rather share our association, which we need to avoid if we are to pursue the spiritual path.
Sanksrit, on the other hand, describes the world as Krishna and all the Vedic sages see it. It describes the reality – the existence of conditioned living entities, the nature of illusion, and the instruments of illusion. It describes the kind of knowledge Krishna tells us we need in order to achieve liberation and engage in His service. That’s what He was talking about in the eighteenth chapter of Bhagavad Gita leading to the “brahma bhuta prasannatma” verse where he introduces devotional service to Him.
The whole point of self-realization is attaining this kind of world view. That’s what also we mean by “shastra-chakshusha”, seeing the world through shastra.
We don’t need to know Sanskrit so that we can discuss the same topics in the language of spiritual perverts, ie translate into our vernacular. We don’t need to learn that mriga means deer in English, we need to learn what mriga means when Krishna says it. We need to learn what mind means when Krishna says it, we need to learn what ego means when Krishna says it.
I seriously doubt that I would even attain that level of Sanskrit even if I tried, but we always can start somewhere and pick up whatever we can. We can understand focus on the actions rather than their agents and their properties. I don’t know if we can adequately express ourselves in English if we take a similar approach, but we can understand it, and that’s a good start, I hope.
Mriga, btw, turns out is not a deer, it’s something that wanders on land. Cow, go, means animal wandering in search of food, I guess, senses, go, means something wandering in search of their objects. “Go” means something that wanders.
I’ll talk about Sanskrit nouns tomorrow, they are no less fascinating that Sanskrit focus on verbs.