Two Words That Show The Intelligence Of Sanskrit Construction

[Krishna's lotus feet]“According to the Vedic version, there is a hellish planet called Put, and one who delivers a person from there is called putra. The purpose of marriage, therefore, is to have a putra, or son who is able to deliver his father, even if the father falls down to the hellish condition of put.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.21.46 Purport)

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They call it the language of the gods. The script is Devanagari, which has a literal translation of “city of the demigods.” The idea is that the complexity and structure are not easily understood. It is not a way to merely talk cryptically, to mask what is being said for fear of unauthorized access.

The language has deep significance in each sound, best exemplified by the derivative meanings of its words. More than the direct meaning, the sounds are placed together with intelligence; not randomly. Interacting with these sounds and gaining a full understanding help in realizing the importance of mantra meditation, such as the chanting of the holy names.

1. Putra

In basic conversation, this means “son.” Vedic culture provides guidance on all aspects of life. A person should not be a miser. When they are born, they automatically incur three debts. One of them is to the forefathers. I may want to forego family life and the troubles of raising children, but if others before me had followed that path then I never would have appeared in this world.

“That’s fine, but who says I wanted to come here? Who is anybody else to determine my fate? Life is a struggle, don’t you see? Shouldn’t I be plotting revenge on my parents and forefathers for playing a hand in this fate?”

In truth, the human birth is the most auspicious. The realization only materializes when there is pursuit of the highest goal, purushartha. Otherwise, the human being faces increased miseries in comparison to the animal and plant species, which are also individual soul at the core.

Once I am aware that the aim of this birth is to inquire into Brahman, to realize the spiritual essence of living, then indeed there is a debt to pay to my family of generations before. One way to pay off that debt is to beget a son. In that way I have done the same as those appearing before me.

Yet the word putra has a deeper meaning. The two component terms taken separately mean “hell” and “deliverance.” Essentially, a putra is one who can deliver the father from a hellish condition. “Put” references a specific place in the hellish region, i.e. the place of punishment for the sinful after death.

A wise person realizes that there are hellish and heavenly conditions already experienced in the earthly region. In this way we see that the afterlife destinations are merely extended stays in specific conditions in comparison to the average lifespan on earth.

[pinda-dana]A person who is overly sinful has the misfortune of not receiving a gross body in the next life. They remain with mind, intelligence and ego. This form is commonly known as a ghost. The way out of the ghostly form is help from future generations within the family. The putra delivers through specific deeds; not merely by their status. They have the potential to visit the holy city of Gaya and offer pinda in charity. This food then gets eaten by the ghostly ancestors, jumpstarting the process for their eventual release.

2. Mamsa

The teacher in the bhakti division of Vedic culture will warn against eating meat. This is a component of the broader restriction on foods outside of the mode of goodness. Material life consists of three modes, and mixed together they create varieties in so many aspects, such as body types, religions, ways of learning, places of residence, charitable giving, and even eating.

The mode of goodness is ideally suited for the human being, as the animals and plants lack the potential to reach this stage. If I can eat foods only in goodness, then I have a better chance of understanding Brahman. As previously mentioned, this is the ideal goal for the soul in the human birth.

Meat belongs to the categories of passion and ignorance. In times past animal flesh was taken only in moderation and with an associated religious observance. The animals would be sacrificed in a formal ceremony, by qualified priests, resulting in promotion to a higher birth.

Even so, the Sanskrit word mamsa has an interesting derivative meaning. The two component terms mean “me” and “he.” The idea is that I am killing another living being right now for the purpose of consumption. What I don’t realize is that I am essentially eating myself. This is because the victim has the license to get revenge on me in the future. I am killing them today and they can come back and kill me to return the favor. In this way consuming mamsa is very risky.

[Krishna's lotus feet]As the son can deliver me from hell, so a mantra can deliver the mind from disturbance. The maha-mantra is the best formula for purification, for elevation to the mode of goodness and beyond: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Sanskrit more than just sound,

With derivative meaning profound.

Like putra referencing the son,

Saving from hell by pinda done.

Mamsa for flesh of animals eating,

Return fate in future meeting.

Power from maha-mantra see,

Holy name’s sound to free.



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