Req: "dirty" words in Sanskrit
mmdesh at umich.edu
Sun Nov 3 11:14:13 UTC 1996
Bijoy Misra has a good point. How do we know which expressions were felt
to be "dirty" and therefore were either used or avoided in different
contexts. This reminds me of the word "sa.spa in Sanskrit which can mean
either grass or pubic hair. In old Brahman Marathi usage, in order to
express something like "I don't lose anything, if such and such happens",
one would literally say "I don't lose my "saspa". Now how do we know this
word was felt to be dirty? At least to my Sanskrit teachers in Pune, the
word was felt to be so dirty, that even when Kalidasa uses it to mean
'grass', they changed Kalidasa's wording. A case in point is Kalidasa's
expression from the second canto of Raghuvam"sa:
gauriiguror gahvaram aavive"sa
Our teachers had altered the first line to replace the word "sa.spa with
the word t.r.na.
This particular case raises some interesting possibilities. For
example, when one reads the Sanskrit expression aham tvaam t.r.naaya
manye, it is now possible to see an extended meaning of the word t.r.na.
All the best,
On Sun, 3 Nov 1996, Bijoy Misra wrote:
> The question would be what's dirty. The sex related materials,
> either the description of it or the elaboration of human sexuality
> do not go as "dirty" in a literary sense. Some of them might
> turn out to be obscene depending upon the social attitude.
> This is again different than the metaphorical use of phrases
> with their possible meanings to the purviewer.
> The cursing or expression of anger and frustration in words
> results in "dirt". These seem to be less in number in common
> knowledge. At least there is no obvious word usage as used
> in modern day slangs. It's possible that the slangs existed,
> but were not much written down as is the case with the present
> day use of the languages. One keeps the "dirt" out when writing!!
> Is there merit to this hypothesis?
> - Bijoy Misra.
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