Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Adhika Pathyam

Yesterday was Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day for undertakings, like marriages. I finished a book I started work on when I was a Gurukula teacher of Sanskrit at SRSG. I showed it to Swamiji and I am glad to say that he was very enthusiastic. Like me, he hopes that it will be of some interest to other devotees of Swami Veda and Swami Rama, as it includes explanations of all the verses that are chanted in the morning and evening at the ashram, including Gita verses and Ishopanishad. The name Adhika Pathyam is temporary. It needs a catchier title. Adhika Pathya means "extra reading material" for the course, to supplement other text books and reading materials, so that the students would feel that even if they did not learn Sanskrit that at least they would know what the prayers mean!
Here is a sample:

1. Guru-vandanā


गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।
गुरुः साक्षात् परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः॥

gurur brahmā gurur viṣṇur gurur devo maheśvaraḥ |
guruḥ sākṣāt paraṁ brahma tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ ||

§  devo maheśvaraḥ = See the comments to Verse 6 (p. 6). mātā tu pārvatī, etc.
§  gurur = guruḥ. This is a visarga sandhi. When visarga is preceded by a vowel other than a or ā, and is followed by a soft consonant (all consonants other than ka, kha, ca, cha, ṭa, ṭha, ta, tha, pa, pha, śa, ṣa, sa), the visarga changes to r. In this verse, since s is a hard consonant, guruḥ did not become gurur in front of sākṣāt. These are visarga-sandhi rules 4a and 1a. See pages 104-105.
§  viṣṇur = viṣṇuḥ. Same rule. See also in Mealtime prayers, Gita 4.24 (p.16 of this book) havir.


§  tasmai = to him (caturthī vibhakti, dative case). This is a sarvanāma (pronoun)
§  śrī-gurave = to the guru (caturthī vibhakti, dative case)

Important: The word namaḥ always takes the caturthī vibhakti. Examples: oṁ namaḥ śivāya, oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya, namas tasyai namas tasyai namas tasyai namo namaḥ.

This verse contains several short sentences.
  • gurur brahmā = The guru is Brahmā (creator god)
  • gurur viṣṇuḥ = The guru is Vishnu (god of maintaining the universe)
  • gurur devo maheśvaraḥ = The guru is Maheshwara (Śiva, god of destruction)
  • guruḥ sākṣāt paraṁ brahma = The guru is directly the Param Brahma, the Supreme Absolute Truth


अखण्डमण्डलाकारं व्याप्तं येन चराचरम्।
तत्पदं दर्शितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः॥

akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākāraṁ vyāptaṁ yena carācaram |
tat-padaṁ darśitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ ||

Sandhis: Final m becomes anusvāra () in front of any consonant.

Main part of sentence: tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ. (See Verse 1)

Syntax: This verse is a little more complicated than the other ones because of the use of relative pronouns, i.e. yena. Normally, wherever there is a tat, there is a yat, and vice versa.

So “I bow down to that (tasmai) guru…” Which guru? tat-padam darśitaṁ yena

§  yena = (the guru) by whom (tṛtīyā vibhakti, instrumental case)
§  tat padam = that thing, substance, state, place, position.
§  darśitam = was shown. This is a past participle, like dattam. It works like an adjective, agreeing with the subject, tat-padam, a neuter noun.

This is a passive construction, but Sanskrit uses the passive much more often than English, so we can translate “who showed me that state”

Now tat padam is doing the same thing. The tat here is looking for a yat. In the second quarter of the verse we find another yena. So in answer to which substance, thing, position or state, we have:

§  akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākāraṁ carācaram = “the unbroken (akhaṇḍa) circle (maṇḍala) form (ākāraṁ), moving (cara) and unmoving (acara),” i.e., the universal creation. The word carācaraṁ and cognates are often used to mean the entire universe of moving and unmoving beings.
§  yena = “by which” (refering to pada)
§  vyāptaṁ = is pervaded. This is also a past participle. It agrees with the subject carācaram.

Again, this is a passive construction. Translate: “which pervades the universe of moving and unmoving creatures, shaped like an unbroken circle.”

So: I pay obeisances to Śrī Guru, who showed me that state (Brahman), which pervades the creation.