Learning Sanskrit by a fresh approach – Lesson 17

Learning Sanskrit by a fresh approach – Lesson 17
संस्कृत-भाषायाः नूतनाध्ययनस्य सप्तदशः पाठः

In Lesson 16 we studied a a सुभाषितम् on विद्या rather on विद्याधनम्. In श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता the concept of विद्या is taken to a much higher level. The concept detailed is ज्ञानम्.

And, on how to acquire ज्ञानम्, one श्लोकः, which has appealed to me the most is #34 in chapter 4.

The process of and requisite attitude for acquiring ज्ञानम् has been called as ज्ञानयज्ञः in the previous श्लोकः i.e. 4-33.

For this lesson, I would like to study श्लोकः ४-३४, which reads
तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया |
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ||४-३४||

Before proceeding with संधिविच्छेदा:, I must mention an interesting, very illuminating episode, which is detailed in the 39th chapter in श्रीसाईसच्चरितम्.
Nanasaheb Chandorkar was murmuring something to himself, when sitting beside Sai-Baba.
Baba asked him, “What is it, that you are murmuring ?”
Nanaji replied, “just reciting गीता.”
Baba said, “Although I am a Muslim, I am not averse to a sacred scripture like गीता coming to my ears. Why not say it aloud ?”
Nanaji had completed 4-33. So he started aloud with 4-34. Just when he was to proceed further to 4-35, Baba intervened.
Baba said, “This seems interesting. Can you please explain the meaning ?”
Nanaji explained.
Baba would not let go just at that. He asked further, “Meaning of first line seemed okay. But a thought comes to mind, whether it is possible to fit in an अवग्रह in the second line.”

Wow ! It does ! With the अवग्रह the second line would be उपदेक्ष्यन्ति तेऽज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः |

In Lesson 14, we had a समास, “लोकनाथ” which could be deciphered in two different ways. Here we have one phrase, which can be written in two different ways ते ज्ञानं or तेऽज्ञानं.

By that संधिविच्छेदा: would be different and obviously would render very different meanings.

Now, you would appreciate, why I thought it good to indulge in this interlude, before proceeding with the first step —
संधिविच्छेदान् कृत्वा सामासिक-शब्दानां पदानि सुस्पष्टतया दर्शयित्वा च –

तत् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया |
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ||

By taking cognisance of अवग्रह, the second line would be —

उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते अज्ञानं ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ||

२ समासानाम् विग्रहाः
There is only one सामासिकशब्दः viz. तत्त्व-दर्शिनः However involved within it is a very challenging word त्त्वम्, which also is a सामासिकशब्दः.
By taking Baba’s hint, we shall have another सामासिकशब्दः viz. अज्ञानम्

अनुक्र. सामासिकशब्दः मूलशब्दः पूर्वपदम् उत्तरपदम् समास-विग्रहः समासस्य प्रकारः शब्दार्थः
तत्त्व-दर्शिनः तत्त्व-दर्शिन् तत्त्व दर्शिन् तत्त्वं दर्शयति इति उपपद-तत्पुरुषः he, who shows (explains)
the (underlying) principle
त्त्वम् तत्त्व तत् त्व “त्व” इति भावः
“तत्” भवितुं यद्भावः तदेव तत्त्वम्
उपपद-तत्पुरुषः “That”, which has the
Characteristics of “That”
अज्ञानम् अज्ञा ज्ञानम् ज्ञानम् नञ्-तत्पुरुषः ignorance
For all the challenge involved in deciphering त्त्वम्, one may like to (or rather, should) also internally deliberate on the महावाक्यानि “sentences or quotes of great import” तत्त्वमसि (= तत् त्वं असि) or अहम् ब्रम्हास्मि or सोऽहमस्मि (= सः अहम् अस्मि). From all internal deliberation, one would realise that for the full import of these quotes to dawn upon us, we shall definitely need guidance and blessings of the seers and sages तत्त्व-दर्शिनः who can “show” “That” !

One should note that in the deciphering of त्त्वम्, “त्त्व” has to be written with doubling of त् because तत्त्व = तत् + त्व

३ संज्ञानाम् विश्लेषणम्
अनुक्र. संज्ञा मूलसंज्ञा संज्ञायाः प्रकारः लिङगम् विभक्तिः वचनम् शब्दार्थः
तत् तत् सर्वनाम नपुं. द्वितीया एक. that
प्रणिपातेन प्रणिपा सामान्यनाम पु. तृतीया एक. by bowing
परिप्रश्नेन परिप्रश्न सामान्यनाम पु. तृतीया एक. by (sympathetically) enquiring
सेवया सेवा सामान्यनाम स्त्री. तृतीया एक. by doing service
ते युष्मत् सर्वनाम पु. चतुर्थी एक. to you
ज्ञानम् ज्ञा सामान्यनाम नपुं. द्वितीया एक. knowledge
अज्ञानम् अज्ञा सामान्यनाम नपुं. द्वितीया एक. ignorance
ज्ञानिन: ज्ञानिन् सामान्यनाम पु. प्रथमा बहु. those who know
तत्त्वदर्शिनः तत्त्वदर्शिन् सामान्यनाम पु. प्रथमा बहु. those, who explain “the principle
१० त्त्वम् तत्त्व सामान्यनाम नपुं. द्वितीया एक. the (underlying) principle
११* प्रणिपातेन प्रणिपा सामान्यनाम पु. तृतीया एक. by intensive, thorough analysis
१२* परिप्रश्नेन परिप्रश्न सामान्यनाम पु. तृतीया एक. by circumspect enquiry
(by circumspect questioning of logic)
१३* सेवया सेवा सामान्यनाम स्त्री. प्रथमा एक. by verification

* Meanings of words प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन and सेवया given at २, ३ and ४ are rather the conventional meanings. Meanings given at ११, १२ and १३ are rather deeper meanings. How those meanings are obtained will need more detailed analysis of the words.

४ क्रियापदानाम् धातुसाधितानाम् च विश्लेषणम्
अनुक्र. क्रिया./धातुसा. प्रकारः तिङ्त-
मूलधातुः गणः पदम् पदमत्र प्रयोजकः ? प्रयोगः कालः/अर्थः पुरुषः वचनम् शब्दार्थः
विद्धि क्रियापदम् विद् प. प. कर्तरी आज्ञार्थः द्वितीय- एक. know, understand,
get to know
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति क्रियापदम् उप + दिश् . प. कर्तरी भविष्य. तृतीय- बहु. will guide
(will advise)
(will instruct)
दर्शयति क्रियापदम् दृश् प. प. म् कर्तरी वर्त. तृतीय- एक. shows, explains
भवितुम् धा. अव्ययम् तुम् भू प. प. कर्तरी for being (to be)
५ वाक्यविश्लेषणम्
अनुक्र. क्रिया./
कर्तृपदम् कर्म
कथम् कदा किमर्थम् कुत्र इतराणि
विद्धि (त्वम्) तत् (ज्ञानम्)


उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते ज्ञानम्


२. उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते (त्) ज्ञानम् गौणम् तत्
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते अज्ञानम्


६ अन्वयः


वाक्य-क्र. वाक्यम्
(त्वम्) तत् (ज्ञानम्) प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया विद्धि |
ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते ज्ञानं उपदेक्ष्यन्ति |
By taking cognisance of अवग्रह
२. ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते अज्ञानं उपदेक्ष्यन्ति |

६.२ By considering the sentence in second line as गौणवाक्यम्

वाक्य-क्र. वाक्यम्
ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते (त्) ज्ञानं उपदेक्ष्यन्ति,
तत् (त्वम्) प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया विद्धि |
By taking cognisance of अवग्रह
१. ज्ञानिन: तत्त्व-दर्शिनः ते (त्) ज्ञानं उपदेक्ष्यन्ति,
७ अनुवादः
From 6.1 – Get to know that, by bowing, by (sympathetically) enquiring, by service.
Those who know (and) who (can or would) show (or explain) will guide (will advise) (will instruct) the knowledge to you.

From 6.2 – By bowing, by (sympathetically) enquiring, by service, get to know that (knowledge), (which) those who know (and) who (can or would) show (or explain) will guide (will advise) (will instruct) to you.

8. Some deliberation

As mentioned in the foot-note to table “३ संज्ञानाम् विश्लेषणम्”, we need to deliberate on, what analysis of the words प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन and सेवया would lend the meanings given at ११, १२ and १३.

The word प्रणिपातेन has two prefixes प्र and नि. As was mentioned in an earlier lesson, every prefix has a meaning of significance.
प्र means (stands for) प्रकर्षेण meaning intensively.
नि means (stands for) नितान्तम् meaning “to the ultimate detail” or “thoroughly”.
Root word in पातेन is पातः or पातनम् meaning “fall or break-down or analysis”
Together, प्रणिपातेन means “by intensive, thorough analysis”.
In the theory of education, such intensive, thorough analysis has been acknowledged by educationists as the first step in the process of learning, acquiring knowledge, “getting to know it”.
For example, in textbooks of geometry, we have the illustration of “bisecting a given line segment”. Implicit in the illustration are the steps, which are to be understood by analytical view of the illustration.
When taking an analytical view, questions may arise, rather, questions should arise. For example, there is the step, “draw arcs from one end-point with radius larger than half the length of the line-segment.” That is where the second word परिप्रश्नेन should be understood. This word also has the prefix परि. This stands for “all round”. Human mind is susceptible to fall into the trap of single-track thinking. The prefix परि gives a caution against that ! परिप्रश्नेन means “by all-round (or circumspect) questioning (of the logic)”
There is a popular acronym OTA in the theory of education. OTA = Observation, Thinking, Action. The word प्रणिपातेन exactly details what is to be observed. Likewise, the word परिप्रश्नेन comprehensively and summarily details, what and how good all-round, the “thinking” should be. A student ought to be inquisitive, questioning, daring to question so-called conventions.

For the example of bisecting a given line-segment, a student may raise questions – “Why the radius larger than half the length ?” or for the next step, for arcs from the other end-point, “Why with the same radius ?”.

The example taken is of course a very simple example. So, the questions may sound unintelligent. But at advanced stages of learning, every question will be significant. Even seemingly silly questions may lead to revolutionary knowledge. That is why the prefix परि in परिप्रश्नेन.
I remember a very thought-provoking quotation “प्रश्नेष्वेव उत्तराणि” “Answers are in the questions themselves !”
But answers should be verified. Hence सेवया, meaning “put it into service”, “A” = Action in OTA. It comes to mind that one can do verification in three ways – Exercise with it, Experiment with it, Experience it – 3 “E”s !!! There is a famous question in the realm of philosophy and spiritual awakening, कोऽहम् (= कः अहम्) ? How can any other person give a definitive answer to this question ? There has to be the exercise of deep meditation. And the answer may dawn at the culmination of the superlative experience of self-realisation !
Does it now appeal that तत् (त्वम्) प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया विद्धि | summarises in a single line, in 16 letters, the theory of learning as one part of the theory of education ? Does it not apply to learning of any topic of any subject ? And the sequence of the words प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया is exactly the sequence in OTA !

Other part of theory of education is teaching. Second line details that. It lays down two essential eligibility criteria for teachers – ज्ञानिन: तत्त्वदर्शिनः They ought to be knowledgeable. Apart from being knowledgeable, they should have the skills of transmitting their knowledge. It would be readily appreciated that every knowledgeable person does not necessarily have the skill of transmitting the knowledge.

Even for teachers having the skill to transmit, there is the cardinal guideline on how the knowledge should be transmitted. That guideline is in the word उपदेक्ष्यन्ति, more so in the prefix उप, which stands for “near”. What is implied is “be with the student, take him as near to the zenith, as appropriate, but beware not to hold his finger right up to the zenith. No, absolutely not !” From some stage ahead, the student must trek the path by himself.

The word उपदेक्ष्यन्ति is a declension of the verb उप + दिश्. Noun from उप + दिश् is उपदेशः which means “advice”. Teacher is गुरुः. His advice is गुरूपदेशः. The boundary limit of how much and in what manner, to what extent गुरुः should render गुरूपदेशः is set in the prefix उप !
So, the whole theory of education – learning and teaching in just two lines – 32 letters !
It would be wrong to close this discussion without discussing Baba’s suggestion of the अवग्रह ! That अवग्रह gives totally converse meaning to what a teacher should teach. Without the अवग्रह, the meaning becomes that “teachers should impart knowledge”. With the अवग्रह, the meaning becomes that teachers should advice on “what is not knowledge” !

Again, in the theory of learning, it is acknowledged that knowledge is self-same. It will reveal to any inquisitive mind. It is still taught by all teachers, maybe, because you do not want everyone to keep reinventing the wheel. But a good teacher is really concerned for the pitfalls and stumbling blocks on the path of knowledge. All those  pitfalls and stumbling blocks are अज्ञानम्. Who else, if not the teacher should lead the student across the अज्ञानम् ? Wasn’t Baba really smart in asking an innocent sounding question, “Would an अवग्रह fit in there ?” Not only that it fits in, it must fit in there. It ought to be there !

There is great justification in making this statement “It ought to be there !” I came across a श्लोकः in a स्तोत्रम् prayer to Lord दक्षिणामूर्तिः It reads
गुकारस्त्वन्धकारो वै, रुकारस्तन्निवर्तकः । अन्धकारनिवर्तित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥
Maybe, we can study this in detail sometime later. But quickly, it means, “गु” stands for darkness (of ignorance) “रु” is the remover of darkness. The remover of darkness is hence called as “गुरु:”. This श्लोकः is a “definition” of the word गुरु:”. By his innocent sounding suggestion, Baba hinted exactly that, didn’t he ?

Maybe, when व्यासमुनिः dictated and श्रीगणेशः noted down, श्रीगणेशः did write it with the अवग्रह. But because it does not get pronounced, in the passage of time as “out of sight, out of mind”, the अवग्रह is lost in available texts. We should consider ourselves fortunate that श्रीसाईबाबा has blessed us by revealing it again !

Very humbly I submit this write-up at the sacred feet of श्रीसाईबाबा !

शुभमस्तु ।


One thought on “Learning Sanskrit by a fresh approach – Lesson 17

  1. Thanks for such nice presentation. Very educative to those who do not have teachers and started learning Sanskrit on their own.

    Personally I liked the approach and specially the part -“संधिविच्छेदान् कृत्वा सामासिक-शब्दानां पदानि सुस्पष्टतया दर्शयित्वा च ” of every Shloka very interesting. Thanks for including “संधिविच्छेद” section.


    -Govind Gopal

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