"samsara" meaning "life"

Dean Michael Anderson eastwestcultural at YAHOO.COM
Wed Feb 4 10:13:49 UTC 2009

The Hindi world maps they sell here in India use the word "samsaara" on 
them for "world". Or maybe "samsaar", I don't have one in front of me.

Although they show the planet quite accurately, they don't seem to have 
an 'exit' marked anywhere, so they aren't much use for religious purposes.


Dean Anderson

Dipak Bhattacharya wrote:
> I should, perhaps, explain my translation of samsaara as 'world'. I used the word 'world' not in its strict literal sense but more in the sense of life in general ie in the sense of the relevant world. Like samasaara 'world'  too has polysemous facets. 'Lara is the greatest batsman in the world' should mean 'in the cricketing world' and not 'in the universe'. Sorry for too much advice!
> --- On Tue, 3/2/09, mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU <mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU> wrote:
> From: mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU <mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU>
> Subject: Re: "samsara" meaning "life"
> To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
> Date: Tuesday, 3 February, 2009, 7:29 PM
> Some observations seem to confirm Peter Friedlander
> and Dipak Bhattacharya's thoughts on the 
> relatively recent origin of samsara in this sense:
> Both Platt's Hindustani Dictionary (1884) and 
> Turner's Nepali Dictionary (1931) know the
> world only in its traditional Sanskrit sense:
> the round of transmigration, mundane existence,
> worldly concerns (but NOT "the world").
> Both have the adj. samsaarik as meaning "worldly."
> In Tibetan, where the word 'khor ba, "the round," is
> the standard trans. of Skt. samsara, the term
> can be extended to mean roughly worldly, or lay life,
> in contrast with renunciate life, and can be used
> to mean something like "worldly confusion," but again,
> there is nothing in traditional literature that
> matches the use we find in "Apu Sansar." Nevertheless,
> if a modern writer were to extend the usage in this
> way, I suspect that it would be readily understood.
> All in all, it seems that the extension of meaning
> we find in the modern use of samsar has been long 
> present as a possibility, but one that only became
> current in recent times.
> Matthew T. Kapstein
> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies
> The University of Chicago Divinity School
> Directeur d'études
> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris
>       Unlimited freedom, unlimited storage. Get it now, on http://help.yahoo.com/l/in/yahoo/mail/yahoomail/tools/tools-08.html/

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list