Every sound in Sanskrit which emanates from the realm of possible phonetic formations and combinations has its own inquiry-based meaning and reality-based meaning; thereby, every sound signifies a certain aspect of reality. The entire language of Sanskrit is built upon the significance of sound to indicate some aspect of the nature of reality in its various attributes. Thus, the very sound of Sanskrit as it is uttered or heard is replete in the representation of truth as expressed in and through the relative, physical world. The truth after which the metaphysical inquiry reaches in Sanskrit is of course absolute or universal; that truth is known as sTym! satyam. sTym! satyam means universal truth and is defined as that truth which remains the same in all three periods of time. The conclusion will be henceforth demonstrated in this primer as valid that the language of Sanskrit enlightens at the level of sound perception -- through sound light is shed. That is why this primer on metaphysics is entitled, "Sound and Light: The Sanskrit Primer of Metaphysics."
Consider that if each sound whether vowel or consonant has its own discrete meaning which sums up in its placement in a word with other sounds with their own discrete meanings, then the overall word has been formed in a most profound way of the meaning of truth; therefore, a simple word in Sanskrit is complete in its own meaning based upon sounds themselves. No sound is arbitrary, indeed, in this most ancient language of great resolve unto truth. Since sTym! satyam enlightens the Seeker after truth, then the sounds of Sanskrit give light towards sTym! satyam; even so, these sounds give light in a way which is individuated unto those sounds. The meanings of the sounds of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet will be explicated herein as reflective of reality and as derived from absolute truth. Since the meanings of the sounds of the letters of the Devanagari alphabet are thus derived and so reflect reality, they should be understood as inquiry-based wherein the inquiry poses the ultimacy of truth known as sTym! satyam.
Just as the words of a mantra or sloka are parsed and understood for their place and power to unravel in meaning the higher truth for the Seeker or the pundit, so do the letters which combine to comprise those words being parsed have the same place and power to point to that truth. Indeed, the words will have a richer meaning if they are understood hypostatically for the foundation of inquiry lent them by the letters of which they are made. For example, Aae< tTst! oà tatsat (om tat sat) is a standing mhavaKy mahäväkya whose terse reach of words belies the expanse of the vision it can lend to a sincere and qualified Seeker after sTym! satyam until the words are understood in view of the phonetic meanings of the letters of which they are composed.
Like a teacher throwing fruit to a Seeker, even before the strict unfolding of the exact phonetic meanings to follow in this treatise allow me to at once pose a consideration of this mhavaKy mahäväkya from its comprise of letters in the way of introducing the quintessential meaning of sound in Sanskrit here at Sound and Light as per shining example. Let us begin with this preliminary exercise in truth, therefore.
Now consider that Aae< om is comprised of 'a', 'u' and 'm'. 'a' is hereby introduced cursorily as that which indicates the first, the beginning; we will see more of why this is so later on. 'u' is indicative of dynamics which are marked by being bound to continuation. 'm' considers all that of the physical realm for its dual oppositeness as it ends or resolves somehow into such duality; for instance, the need for provision of a basic physical need such as food will come into mind in certain considerations of the nature of the world. Question: what is there about Aae< om which matches the nature of sound? What is the nature of sound in the first instance? Sound correlates to the relative world in the time-space continua in a way which is closer to us in a sense than light so correlates; we can hear an echo of sound upon yelling into a cavern where space can contain the sound emanating from the mouth. On the other hand, we have no such instantaneous sense of time when rays of light at the dawn of day bring warmth to the air about us -- we simply cannot logically connect by empirical power of an immediate perception that the sunlight took, say, eight minutes in its traverse from the sun to reach the surface of the earth where we stand. Although we observe that the sun gives the earth certain diurnal rhythms of light as per magnitude relating to temperature variations, the exact time-frame of the traverse of sun rays to our place in an immediate sense is not known to us except by what can be read in the world of scientific explanation through calculations. That means that light has a distance from time in the sense of perception as to source; sound, on the other hand, is of a grosser level of reality. Therefore, a sound can be made, heard to continue and then stop in three distinct points in time. In a thunder storm, this comparison of sound and light is elegantly demonstrated when lightning is observed before the thunder sounds; we say that light travels faster than sound. This is correct, of course. How nice it would be if we could gather up more rays of sunlight when needed by relating to light as we can relate to sound since sound is of a grosser level of reality; a musician can use the close timing of sound-making to actually speak in the language of music. Can a householder improve the warmth of his abode by manipulating rays of sunlight on an instantaneous basis through a direct manual interaction with that sunlight akin to beating on a drum or strumming a guitar? Obviously, the answer is no. Any solar heating would require several technological steps in a process. By inference Aae< om must therefore relate to the same three periods of time through its lettered comprise as sound: the beginning, the continuation and the termination. However, Aae< om may be a closer cousin to sound than light in the relative world since sound can be discerned empirically by our senses more acutely than light; nevertheless, just as sound travels through air so does light. Aae< om encompasses all that exists in all three periods of time no matter how distant our recognition of that phasic attribute of all that Aae< om concerns. When you lay down a flagstone to build a pathway to the garden, do you relate directly with its qualities in time which are ancient beyond ancient in the way of any manual relationship to the flagstone? Certainly not. You simply use the material as if there were no yesterday; you are only concerned with the future of your local project to beautify the grounds about your house and to end the tracking of mud into your kitchen. You are not consciously interacting with the timing of the creation in any way from a practical standpoint. This observation will point out succinctly that Aae< om does concern itself with both the age of rocks and the speed of light. Why is this so? It is so because that is the nature of metaphysical sound. Metaphysically understood sound reflects the primordial founding mode of the relative physical world; then that sound continues before it ends.
The higher nature of reality, the absolute, beckons the rational mind to consider instead that there is no question of time at all in the scope of universal truth. In a sense of didactics, Aae< om serves to dip down into the plane of existence, describe in terms of its source in the absolute, and then by that description of truth and reality catapult the self-realized knower of truth back into the absolute with a refutation of the relative realm in ready reckoning. Yes, but can this be elaborated upon some more beyond Aae< om alone? In the mhavaKy mahäväkya Aae< tTst!! oà tatsat we see the introduction of tt! tat and st! sat where 't' is the inquirer's grand, omnipresent platform for all that is real and true to be considered and known. 'a' follows that 't' inexorably as the inquiry begins just after Aae< om has recited the unfathomable reach of all three periods of time only by invoking sound itself. Aae< om simultaneously flattens those three periods of time just by stating them as there; to wit, all opposites lead to Rome, to wax poetic, where Rome knows no opposites. Aae< om gathers in all opposites by implicitly sounding the nature of the relative world for its hypostatic matrix in time. It is that very all-collective summation of the power of Aae< om which allows all of the opposites it intends to be refuted by the power of contemplative ardor for truth, satyam; this is possible to realize. Now, after 't' and 'a' combine to pose that which must be determined as true there arrives another 't' straight away in the word tt! tat which means 'that' as much as the all-inclusive objective venue can itself mean. To translate the three letters of tt! tat accordingly becomes our quest if we place them in the construct of an inquiry after sTym! satyam; tt! tat means an inquiry will lead again to an inquiry. Aae< om had prepared the inquisitive mind for this. Aae< om had recited its voice in the matters of the universe now being considered from the paltry locale of the rough world with its jigs and jags, its starts and stops, its talls and shorts and all of its inherent polar, dual opposites. Now this applies to all inquiry, as well? Any 't' or point of inquiry will begin, 'ta', only to be regrouped back to the inquiry phase of mind, tt! tat ? Accept this from tt! tat and prosper in it. To aid your acceptance of this, imagine such an endless inquiry as rarefied. Imagine such a repetitive inquiry as continuous and flowing. Now does that kind of bottomless inquiry threaten you? s sa means that which flows and is rarefied in our intellectual stance to approach all of reality in quest. s sa gains its final stamp in meaning in the mhavaKy mahäväkya at hand when a 't' or t is added to make st! sat; indeed, the inquiry of 'om tat' has now been validated by the adjoined 'sat'. Apparently, by stating the grand truth of all-commanding inquiry after truth of a universal nature one can go no further since if that inquiry is complete enough such that it is seemingly circular and also rarefied all questions end. 'sat' means existence. Existence calls in the nature of the place where 'tat' is to be considered -- existence is where all of 'that' everywhere at all times inheres and occupies, occupies and inheres -- in fact, it just is. 'sat' caps the challenge to pose the oceanic inquiry whose answer must come out of the sky perhaps where sky and ocean meet. Two eyes can see a snake turn into a rope for what it really is. Can those same two eyes also see from the vantage of knowing past or above or beyond the three phases of time which are encompassed by the sound of om all of that in existence about us past its supposed form as formless? Om tat sat starts from om; om starts from that which has no start with the birth of sound for the sake of argument over the absolute to relative dichotomy. Therefore, tat and sat can relate back to om and prove that form can change from a snake to a rope to a piece of clay with no substance except the clay itself of self-realization. Indeed, if this leap from knowing the more real to the most real cannot express from form to formless in order to know God and the self, then perhaps God would appear in definite physical form if only to console the one who braves the endless inquiry of 'om' and 'tat' and 'sat' which connect together and challenge such endless inquiry succinctly as they do. Before concluding this precocious interlude herein at the beginning of Sound and Light, let us be reminded that any problem if seen most totally writes its own solution; similarly, it is said that if om tat sat is seen most totally, there is nothing else more replete to be seen ever by the one who realizes its truth -- om tat sat can be solved upon total self-realization. Indeed, its very letters do drive that point home succinctly, do they not, if one accepts the totality of inquiry posed by the metaphysics of the phonetics in the words of this venerated mahavakya, om tat sat?
The language of Sanskrit is also known as devÉa;a devabhäñä, frequently translated as the language of the Shining Ones since the noun Éa;a bhäñä means language, and the deva> devas are the Shining Ones, the deities. As the reader studies this primer, the reader must be advised that this name for Sanskrit, devÉa;a devabhäñä, cannot be taken literally enough if the language is to be regarded as a means or tool to better understand the nature of truth and of the self, AaTma ätmä. Indeed, while studying here at "Sound and Light," it is beneficial to view the actual source of the delivery of this language to humankind for what it is; most importantly, that delivery of Sanskrit to mankind should best be realized by you, the reader, as a most ultimate delivery in the spiritual sense. In truth, the language Sanskrit in its beginning among us was handed as from higher source; this higher source was from such a cultural birth as can be conceptually embraced as that of Avtar avatära itself. Moreover, the reader should take this on faith. From faith can a vision of truth build as the mind expands into the very nature of Sanskrit as well as by its innate power. Once the mind is receptive to this fundamental attribute of the source of Sanskrit as it came from avatar, then my purpose as teacher here will have been greatly fulfilled; in fact, that purpose is to found an inquiry in the reader's mind. The truth will unfold if an inquiry in Sanskrit is formulated according to the premise of sound; from the sound and letter even behind the syntax and grammar in various prayers and writings of spiritual worth lies an ultimate key not only to a better, more exacting understanding of Sanskrit but also to a more profound inquiry. May the reader learn of this phonetically disposed fundamental mode that is comprised elementally of the sounds of Sanskrit, knowing that such a fundamental mode of sound itself is none other than the very root key of devÉa;a devabhäñä; therein will you come to know an inquiry of resolve which truthfully approaches the greatest potential which Sanskrit can offer you for its close resolution unto truth. May you, the reader here, become by study at Sound and Light: The Sanskrit Primer of Metaphysics such an in-depth Seeker whose inquiry can be so magnified as I can only at the outset of this primer first set forth as a stated description; you must discover that your inquiry can gain the leverage of the great resolution unto absolute truth, sTym! satyam, if you learn what each sound means as it breaks down into a constituent of word in an overall process and disposition unto metaphysical inquiry by the word, the word of a uniquely endowed language, Sanskrit.
Those great i\;y> riñayaù (i\i;> as nominative singular, meaning seer) who also have become conveyors of spiritual wisdom as realized in Sanskrit had been so elevated unto its reception since their intense austerities and purity allowed the directness of message from the spiritual plane. Thus is Sanskrit so endowed for its spiritual birth and spiritual source; once again, may the reader be made more and more aware of this spiritual endowment of Sanskrit for the purpose of greater instruction herein. Those ancient seers had a belief in avatar; some of them also knew avatar through the physical presence of avatar.
Even more specifically, upon the realization of the nature of Sanskrit as reality-based and as the language of Divinity one may conceptualize in Sanskrit as according to the most fundamental precept that the perception of truth and reality through this language will rarefy unto the way that the deva> devas think and perceive. Naturally, this leap of intellectual worth cannot be made in a single discrete feat or as in an event since all of the objective world and one's relationship to it are realized yet as completely as one's total vision might allow. In fact, such realization is born of deeper self-realization and is highly intuitive. This self-realization draws from the intellect, certainly; however, such self-realization is also beyond the intellect in the sense that sheer logical reasoning cannot accomplish the full metaphysical task at hand, that of total self-realization. Words, all words, in no matter what language serve as tools which may appoint the mind for the seeking of deeper self-realization and then also point the mind in both its emotional and rational aspects to the leap of faith which constitutes the fusing of self with an ultimate realization of also ultimate reality measure. Logic and reasoning are useful and necessary to a point beyond which a leap occurs, and the mind resolves into the full picture of sTym! satyam.
Sanskrit is highly useful in accomplishing the preparation for this task of seeking after greater truth since it is synthesized from unitary sounds which carry the fullness of the meaning of such ultimate reality as that which remains the same in all three periods of time, inTy nitya. The task of the seeker who appeals to Sanskrit for such utility and beauty towards this goal of finding the truest nature of reality and self and how they interrelate becomes an inquiry, therefore. As we proceed to the descriptions of the sounds and their meanings in such an inquiry as this which is slated to reveal through self-realization the nature of sTym! satyam as it expresses in and through the relative context in which we live, we will see minutely how the the study at hand is indeed based upon inquiry. Yes, one has an inquiry after truth, an inquiry after reality in an ultimate sense. That same larger inquiry is reflected now upon the inquiry as it sounds phonetically in the ancient devÉa;a devabhäñä wherein each sound addresses the same inquiry to an extent. Thus, if one thinks of the deities as all-knowing, then to think that their language should be beyond inquiry as a reflection of that attribute of omniscience is in a sense erroneous to the purpose at hand for a Seeker. Once sound was born in the formation of a world, the relative sphere came about. The divine principle of description of the reality of a relative world where time works in three phases and can be perceived as such and where such description arises as devÉa;a devabhäñä will also include an unfolding of that reality as from the absolute into the relative now born, or as the relative once arisen out of the absolute. Either way, the algorithmic embrace of reality is constituted hypostatically as ikm! kim or ikmiSTa kimasti, "What is?" To a dev deva that might be, 'What is', in the non-interrogative context. Whichever way the reality is stated whether as outright inquiry stretching from nescience as in the case of a seeker or as a metaphysically apt statement arising from the perception of the knower such as a dev deva, the perception in and of itself of reality will inevitably and necessarily involve that which IS at the level of language utterance.
Let us begin forthwith to explore the correlation between sound and reality or between sound and nature, àk«it prakåti, whilst realizing that our understanding of nature can by careful inquiry be elevated unto the question further of sTym! satyam, remembering that sTym! satyam is of the truest nature; remember that sTym! satyam is of reality of an ultimate sort. Accordingly, as we look at the world about us, we see the most obvious, and we see at least the very simple world of objective reality, of WHAT IS. What is the sound which would match this concept of the raw place in the physical before us? In terms of the simplest utterance available through our vocal equipment as beings, there is the vowel 'a', taken first as a short vowel. (The short vowel 'a' in Sanskrit sounds like the a in the adjective 'afoot', for instance, or like the e in the article 'the'.) This is the first sound in a sense since its articulation is comparatively effortless -- neither the tongue nor the lips are involved as its origin is guttural. The guttural sounds come out of the throat, and the throat represents reality. This may strike you intuitively as correct when you realize how the throat will tighten and constrict upon the realization of an extremely moving event or disclosure of vital news. However, that rarefied sense of beginning which the first vowel honors is just that metaphysically: 'a' is the first, the inception, the sheer beginning. As the seeker views the physical realm for what it is, that importance of sheer beginning does not supersede conceptually as much as the perception that it already is might supersede. There is a substance, a material basis to the world, which captivates and invites an understanding, a deeper understanding. That substance, that of which the world is comprised, simply WHAT IS, must be represented as well by sound. In terms of a Sanskrit word, s&iò> såñöhiù is known as the creation including its cause.
In terms of a sound which can be used much as a building block to represent the material world about us, we should find the most fundamental level of sound production, the guttural, and see what sound is produced to correlate with s&iò> såñöhiù. If the throat meets itself and makes a hard sound as compared to a soft one, the sound is the consonant 'k'. (The soft sound so made is the consonant 'g'.) Thus, inexorably the sound uttered will be 'ka', which includes the short vowel 'a' by its own natural effort. If we look grammatically into the existence of the sound k 'ka' as a word, we will find it as the nominative singular feminine of the interrogative pronoun, ikm! kim, with the difference that the vowel has been lengthened to a long 'a', or Aa ä, like the a in 'saw'. Thus, ka kä means literally, 'What is'? with the verb to be understood, since it is in the nominative case. Why is this lengthening of a to ä so? Why is this word ka kä found in the feminine? The short a, or A akära, is lengthened to the Aa äk ära, or long a, so as to represent the basic continuation of the reality and of the inquiry into that reality before the seeker, the jivNmuKt jiivanmukta. However, this is not so much a total continuation, as it drawn from a resolve to go past the beginning, to make a determined picture in the mind of the inquirer. The vowel u represents the grosser idea of continuation. As to the feminine gender being used to form the basic word which means, 'What is'? -- the feminine gender represents the material realm, the mother of the creation, as it were. This word formation taken in its grammatical context matches now the founding inquiry as to the nature of the physical realm about us, kä or 'What is'? The first consonant and the first vowel have combined to make a word whose meaning suits the zeroing in point for any jivNmuKt jiivanmukta standing at a juncture of living in a world which is there for metaphysical inquiry. Note also that the construct grammatically of the sentence 'What is'? in Sanskrit more strictly would be ikm! kim, since the neuter pronoun is more likely to be used. However, for didactic reasons the interrogative pronoun ka kä has been translated straight out. (If we so follow the progression of the vowels from the first vowel forward, combining this with the first consonant, then the language teaches us its meaning in a way which precedes the grammatical perfection. Grammatical precision can then be understood as founded also upon the phonetics, which is a more advanced topic than that which presents here immediately, although this topic is a leading topic of this Sanskrit primer.)
If this world is slated for such inquiry after 'what is', then with all of its attributes, objects, changes and complexities, why would the number of the word formed from the first consonant and the extended first vowel not be plural? Indeed, the feminine plural nominative of the interrogative pronoun is ka> käù, where the visarga is added, the visarga being the guttural aspirate which is the h hakära. Note further that in pronouncing this word the effort in the aspirate ù is such that it does not equal a syllable. Rather, it is on the order of a sounded breath, which is onomatopoetic in the sense of phonetics.
guttural h hakä
correlates to the life-sustaining and/or life-giving attribute of breath.
Any devotee of
nature understands the sheer power and presence of life in its awesome
expression all about, as creatures and plants express through being and
activity. To tie all of the world of pluralistic presence in nature
together with a visarga in the nominative plural, feminine case, is to unify
that 'which is' as to life and living processes, the most fundamental of which
is breath itself for the seeker.
This use of the interrogative pronoun to lend a certain personification has been observed for example in the g[ez p<crÆm! Gaëeña Païcaratnam in the compound ivnaizteÉdETykm! vinäçitebhadaityakam in the first verse. This author has translated that compound as follows: "without whom they would be devoured by those who have erred unto demonism." The use of the accusative case of k> kah, which is km! kam, points up in the sense of that particular prayer, that the interrogative pronoun is employed so as to intend the unknown. Lord Gaëeña in this beatific prayer is cited as the one who is the leader of those who have no leader. Thus, using the interrogative pronoun lends sense to the meaning in the prayer, since g[ez Gaëeña is to be discovered as the one who can lead beyond all, and even beyond anarchy: from the unknown to deliverance can g[ez Gaëeña lead. Throughout the g[ez pÂrTnm! Gaëeña Païcaratnam, one is inspired to discover g[ez Gaëeña by the sense of asking who is he from the connotation of the suffix km! kam, taken from the actual interrogative pronoun itself. Therefore, the nominative singular masculine interrogative pronoun kaù k> can be stretched in its meaning to include one under consideration, a being, in this case the deity, Lord Gaëeña. The visarga is useful in that sense so as to lend life, the breath of a personified identity, though yet to be understood, and even as yet in an interrogatory vein. Hence does the language of Sanskrit describe the process of becoming close to the deity right from the phonetics onward, when one closely considers the meaning of the first consonant, kakära.
k> kaù is also a noun of the masculine gender meaning Brahman or Vishnu. When translated as Brahman, k> kaù exactly equals the creation, all that is. When used in the sense of Vishnu, there is the creation now with the concept of preservation, and which preservational concept matches the fundamental sense that any inquiry into what is should include survival, or harmony. Moreover, k 'ka' as an addition to a substantive or a verbal root connotes doership or agency. Consider the verbal root sax! sädh, for instance, which means to accomplish or to be accomplished. With the addition of k 'ka' to become saxk sädhaka the substantive is formed, and which substantive means a yaeign! yogin or a magician, one who is well accomplished. Similarly, consider the verbal root t¨ tè ,which means to traverse, to cross over. When a vowel opens up this concept of traverse the verbal root (dhätu xatu ) becomes the word tr tara, which means passage. (The term pd pada means word, which is formed of the stem, or A¼ aìga. The aìga is that part of the elemental verbal entity which does not change with inflection, and it of course may derive from the dhätu xatu, which as a root is more elemental still than is the aìga.)
A passage is indeed a traverse. As we proceed, we will study more of how
specific vowels operate to lend meaning in forming words by expanding and
modifying them, such as in this case, where the long 'a', or ä,
modifies t¨ tè
into tar tära
and also tara
both of which are nouns meaning star. It can be seen that the lengthening
of the vowel A akära
into Aa äk
has changed the meaning of the noun from the discreteness of the action of a
traverse into the more expansive realm of such a passage, whereby a star in
Heaven's firmament guides the passage. The word tar
also means the bank of a river, which bank helps form or guide the river's
also means the pupil of the eye, which eye is the star, the spark of light of
the sentient being, the jInNmuKt
Now if k 'ka'
is added to tar tära
to become tark täraka,
in the masculine gender it means the one who is the doer of the passage, the
pilot. As a neuter noun, tark
means again the pupil of the eye, signifying the persona of the one who is the
guide in all of life's passage, or the vision for that passage. Nouns in
the feminine formed of k
ka are given
long a or Aa
ra after the kakära,
such as tarka tärak
which again means a star, a meteor or the pupil of the eye.
As the sound of the \ å is made, the tip of the tongue points to the top of the head while locating just next to yet not touching the roof of the mouth, and this position of the tongue causes the back of the tongue to bunch up and block any resonance which could stem from the fullness of the mouth, its forward spaces and those of the palatal region. The sound of the § è is made in the same way as the \ å except that it is held for two mäträ s, or measures, so that it will actually vibrate longer and make at least two rolling sounds. The sound thus physically formed mimics the essential nature of the type of action meant by \ å and § è as by constraint in a rudimentary, structural, ultimately biological way. A living thing is constrained unto action for the purpose of continued existence.
Note that the rolling sound of this vowel \ å is vague in and of itself as compared to an actual r rolling at the dental level, since the \ å, the åakära, has less of a resonating effect, and seems to be accomplished with less facility than the more fluid repha, or r. Its sound is flat compared to a dentally rolled r. To illustrate this, let us consider two words which utilize the \ å in their formation, x&traò! Dhåtaräñöra and k«:[ Kåñëa. In a word such as x&traò! the tongue is moving from the dental positioning of the dental-sounded x dhakära to the cerebral positioning of the \ åakära This accentuates the rolling nature of the sound of the \ åakä ra, since it is dynamically approached from a proximate locus by the tongue, from the dental to the cerebral, which are regions structurally right next to one another. Compare this movement of the tongue from a vantage point proximal to the cerebral \ å, to the sequence of efforts required to sound the \ å from the more distal guttural position of the kakära in the word k«:[ Kåñëa. It tends to be a more labored pronounciation to find the \ å in such a word, and fewer people will be heard with a well delineated \ å in the word k«:[ Kåñëa. Indeed, the name of k«:[ Kåñëa is more often pronounced with an i sound substituted for the \ å , and this is true even among the most ardent Devotees of k«:[ Kåñëa. The spelling of Kåñëa is typically as Krishna, and that may be partly due to limitations of script as well as of knowledge.
Furthermore, the vowel \ å, the åakära, is fundamentally a modified short i, or a long i until further practice of this exercise: sound a long i for a time, and as you do so, move the tip of the tongue from its place behind the bottom teeth to its place on the roof of the mouth pointing upward. Leave enough space between the tongue's tip and the roof of the mouth so as to form a very small passage for the movement of air and vocal vibrations. The resultant sound is the åakära if it is held for one mäträ, and it will become the èakära if held for two mäträs. It should now be more understandable to the one who performs this simple exercise to see how the short a has evolved first to a short i and then then to a long i, from whence it becomes easier to develop the sound of the å, and then the è. In strict terms beyond the teaching of proper sound in this exercise, however, both the \ å and the § è arise from the short i, since the è is a closer modification of the å than it is of the long i.
Indeed, that the \ å arises from the short i fundamentally explains how it is that the actual word for the language of Sanskrit in the language itself is s<Sk«tm Saàskåtam. The \ å in the word Saàskåtam beomes a short i in the vernacular of the English representation of the word Saàskåtam, which is understandable, since there does not exist a symbol for the kind of r sound which is sounded for the \ å in the English alphabet. Indeed, this word for the language, Saàskåtam, is comprised of the past participle of the verbal root kå, discussed earlier, kåtam. Sam as an affix can mean well or together, and that in the sense of equal, which is a typical meaning of the adjectival form sama of the combination of letters in order s, a and m. Thus, the rigorous interpretation of the meaning of the word Saàskåtam from the phonetics up would be that which is done well, or that which is sounded equally. The connotation of the meaning of the sam in this sense of equal is that the sounds utilized are equal to the reality, equal to the truth of all that is. This is the rare match of the language of metaphysics that is Saàskåtam to the ultimate truth, satyam.
By considering the quasi-consonant r comparatively, or r
is learned of \
and of § è
and is a semi-vowel. Sound-wise,
is of shorter duration than its analogous vowel counterparts, the \
å and the §
thereby representing the extraction by sound from the pluralistic into the
unitary, the unified. The
is only an increased expression of \
meaning 'more dynamic, or increasingly dynamic.' Question: does \
also mean to unify? Yes, as much as action itself will bring about a fusion
by its nature of self to world, of AaTma
to jgt! jagat,
to $Zvr éçvara,
and that on the behalf of survival.
Or, in the case of
a saxu sädhu,
all actions are brought to bear upon the metaphysical inquiry itself.
n ih kiZcT][mip jatu itóTykmRk&t! ,
kayRte ývz> kmR svR>
Now the question arises as to how the vowel A akära, which signifies beginning, or rare beginning, can be construed to negate, to undo the entire meaning of a word, and turn it into its opposite sense, when it is used at the beginning of a word as a prefix. If we trace this prefix A akära according to its exact implication of beginning, and listen to it as it is repositioned for its new meaning, we observe that as a prefix A akära does not operate to open a consonant; for we saw that when medially placed, the A akära lends the consonant which precedes it a furtherance from the simplest utterance of the guttural, and which simplest guttural utterance is of course the A akära. Rather, the consonant stops the opening sound of the akaara when the akaara stands beofore a consonant at the beginning of a word; another example to ponder would be asat.
Let us apply this observation of reversion: in the word kmRk&t! karmakåt the idea of performing action is conveyed, and since the suffix k&t! "kåt" is added, the action is characterized as concerted, more willful. When the A akära is added to kmRk&t! karmakåt to form AkmRk&t! akarmakåt, A akära arises from the sense that a new contemplation is necessary before any action is willfully undertaken. There is a new beginning of inquiry, or a new facet of reality, which has caused a reversion to the former idea before action had been deemed necessary and is now moot. Notice how the phonetic nuance of A akära as a medial vowel, and then as a prefix, with the accompanying changes in meaning, exactly matches Arjuna's inquiry, wherein he painfully re-disposes himself to the fundamental idea of his path of spiritual pursuit as divided between action or inaction as he sees it. Kåñëa advises Arjuna that action is superior to inaction, for even maintenance of the body would not be possible without action. The answer to Arjuna's inquiry unto Kåñëa can only be found by the institution of sacrifice itself in the very creation of the world, so that duty alone will solve the question of Arjuna, and that is duty unto sacrifice. This is the root of the moral imperative, that the world is bound by actions other than those formed of the sense of sacrifice. Furthermore, that sense of sacrifice nourishes the detachment in all action, which has the power to free Arjuna from his moral dilemma in war. Thus, the ninth verse of the third chapter reads:
yGNaawRaTkmR[ae=NyÇ laekaey< kmRbNxn> ,
tdwR< kmR kaENtey muKTs<g> smacr .9.
In the case of the s sakära, s, is neither a vowel, nor a semi-vowel, yet it is more faceted than a strict consonant in its dynamic departure from a single-pointed sound, lending continuity not by opening, as a vowel might do, but by its facile rendering ability. In its very nature as a sound it renders a continuation by its continuing effect, no matter from which level of the vocal apparatus it might emanate. Indeed, all of the sibilants match that effect of ongoing action in their very meaning as letters: they mean flow, dynamism, even harmony and purity. For the sibilants are the rarefying elements of sound in devabäsh^ä, and as such they also bind with an emphatic and often beautiful effect. The sibilants are true to their nature as signifiers of flow, since they add smoothness to words in sequence, often making a captivating legato result which catches the ear most remarkably. Consider this line from a verse this author has written in an exposition on the metaphysics of skiing, tÅv ihms<spR[m! tattva himasaàsarpaëam, for an example of the powerful beauty of the skara> sakäras to grant a sense of flow, and a flow which has a unifying power both in its direct sound and its ability to binds sounds together:
ïI ySyaiíÇ< inTySm&teí
The question naturally arises from the foregoing commitment metaphysically to
the importance of action in understanding and realizing sTym!
universal truth: if action is natural and inheres in the physical realm among
living beings by willful choice and readiness, and also in inanimate matter as
in the course of innate destruction and redistribution by transpositional events
in nature, yet by the laws of nature, physics; then, what of action which
is determined by a reasoning jIvNmuKt
jiivanmukta? What of discrimination as a component in the choice
over deed? That one, sh>
can surrender, or bow, s&
sr^, who is able, sh
bear, sh! sah,
whatever IS, As! as,
who can harmonize with whatever dynamically is as in 'to do', As!
as; what of
jiivanmukta? Let us determine the sound which appropriates greater
discrimination to action, and gives forth the founding considerations more
succinctly to the moral imperative. The letter which follows k
the aspirate o
is an intensified form of k
as are all aspirates intensified forms of their non-aspirate counterparts.
indeed, much as breath assures ongoing life, so does the guttural h hakära,
which simulates the sound of a breath, when added to a letter, modify the
meaning of the sound which accompanies that letter in the assurance of greater
learning and discovery as a matter of the course of life. Also, since the h
hakaara has its origin at the guttural level, it cogently signifies the
intensification of realization due to a greater reality base, and that base is
of course yet the throat, the seat of reality, as we saw. In
understanding some of the Vedic culture which has fostered the use of Sanskrit
as a scientific guide and tool in the lives of those devoted to it, breath as a
continuum of ongoing life support is relevant. A wandering saxu
exactly performs in the world-at-large on total faith that sustenance and
nourishment, and protection from all evil, will preserve and allow life's course
to unfold. There is no more pithy companion to a saxu
living on the metaphysical landscape of reality, than the beatific sounds of
Sanskrit. For a saxu
these sounds of Sanskrit emanate as sung, and reverberate in the mind's eye, as
truth is sought, propounded, proven, lived by, and even discovered
serendipitously at times, even miraculously. The actual sound of Sanskrit,
and the various sounds of Sanskrit, are consoling to a saxu
If one listens to the beautiful sounds of Sanskrit as it is recited, the \ r^kära imposes a non-resonating, closing-in effect upon the consonant which precedes it, upon the consonant to which it is affixed directly. The name of the king x&traò+ Dhr^taräsh^t^ra is interesting in its sounds, since the first syllable x&t! dhr^t is flat-sounding. The \ r^kära is then followed by two smooth, connecting r's rephas in subsequent syllables in the word. Further, these two r's rephas are positioned such that a long a, Aa äkära, stands as the vowel which joins them: "atRraò+a> Dhärtaräsh^t^räh^ Thus, the word x&traò+ Dhr^taräsh`t^ra is a word which opens up from the non-resonating. Arjuna says unto Krishna:
te=viSwta> àmuoe xatRraò+a> (Ch.2,Vs.6)
...te=vasthitäh^ pramukhe dhärtaräsh^träh^ *
t te those ; [==avagraha (a silent symbol which is used to elide an A akära which is located at the beginning of a word)] ; AviSwta> avasthitäh^ (are) standing; àmuoe pramukhe in the face of; xatRraò+a> dhaartaräsh^traah^ sons (children) of Dhr^taräsh^t^ra.
...those are standing facing off the sons of Dhr^taräsh^t^ra.
Notice how the brilliant phonetical sounds of Sanskrit tell the battle even in this brief section of words: the labial 'f' sound gives emphasis at the beginning of the critical word àmuoe pramukhe, the facing off concept; and then that concept of confrontation is followed by the personifying word xatRraò+a> dhärtaraash^träh^, which word is expansive with the sounds of the three Aa's äkäras, yet it stands in contrast to x&traò+ Dhr^taräsh^t^ra, which is more contained in its opening syllable, as was pointed out heretofore.
Every sound speaks its sense in this language, and therefore, formulating an understanding of the sounds for what they mean will exemplify the actual truth being conveyed throughout the study of the scriptures. Since speaking and hearing such passages as this one order the mind for truth, how implemental it becomes to parse the sounds for the minute contributing sense of reality they actually convey. If there is a familiarity with the sonorous words of Sanskrit, then to understand the why of its sonorousness becomes an essential contribution in learning more fully this classical language.
Nor are all verbal roots or words as succinct in their derivational meanings from the phonetics to an inquirer who has not yet met the realization of self requisite to such derived meaning. As an example of this, consider the verbal root As! as. This root has differing meanings, which are: 'to take,' 'to shine,' 'to go,' 'to do.' Since action is of predominant importance in the metaphysics at hand, and that through this phonetic unfoldment of Sanskrit, it is useful to analyze the verbal root As! as in its vital meaning 'to do.' If the other meanings of this verbal root As! as are explained in a more elaborate, deeper sense, then an even greater understanding of the phonetics before us will have been realized for all. As these phonetics become more explicitly clear, it will also become equally clear that such phonetics are built from the realization of self of a saxu sädhu who has already set out upon the vast metaphysical landscape of inquiry appropriate to life in the jgt! jagat, the world-at-large. Therefore, to countenance this study of the phonetics of Sanskrit as a way to pose a general level inquiry after truth, is to seek the same self-realization which had taught the language to that saxu sädhu, this author, myself.
*Please note here the appearance of a labial h hakaara, which actually sounds like an f in English, and is formed before the p pakära and ) phakära, like this-- > p. This visarga represents the labial h hakära, and is simply a suspended 'f' sound, with no vowel sound such as 'a' made to accompany it. Usually the visarga disappears when it is positioned within in a sentence, according to certain rules of sandhis, and which rules direct how consonants and vowels combine in given combinations of words adjacent to one another. Before the consonants k kakära, o khakära, p pakära, ) phakära, and the three sibilants, however, the visarga is retained, and may alter the resulting sounds.
© 1999-2005 By Marilynn Stark All Rights Reserved
Copyright 1999-2010 by Marilynn Lea Stark All Rights Reserved
Edited March 14, 2007
UPDATE as of May 14, 2010:
This page is being refurbished and edited at this point in time.
On another note: it should be helpful to know that this page was written with Itranslator 99. Therefore, in order to view the Devanagari script correctly and also the transliterated words, please make certain that you have the appropriate fonts added to the fonts on your C: drive. Information as to these fonts that are used in the software known as Itranslator 99 can be found at Swami Omkaranada's website by clicking here. Also note that it is not necessary to install the entire software of course for the sheer purpose of gaining an intelligible array of letters on this web page; rather, the software that produced this page uses a group of fonts that are necessary in viewing the material intelligibly. This has been my experience. MLS
May I also extend the deepest gratitude to Swami Omkarananda for the provision of this Itranslator software that has made this work possible.
Marilynn Stark May 14, 2010
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