"samsara" meaning "life"

victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Thu Feb 5 16:57:03 UTC 2009

Could you provide some telephone-numbers to actual texts where the term
samsarachakra occurs?
Greeting and thanks
Victor van Bijlert

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] Namens Maheswaran Nair
Verzonden: donderdag 5 februari 2009 13:21
Aan: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
Onderwerp: Re: "samsara" meaning "life"

It is true.Usually in Vedanta the term used is samsAracakra which  
denotes the cycle of birth,death and rebirth.The word samsara comes  
from the root sr gatau meaning to proceed, to go, to continue.
K.Maheswaran Nair

Quoting victor van Bijlert <victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL>:

> Clearly, in the light of the discussion of these other words (by Werba),
> words which we (emphasis added) translate by the English containerterm
> 'world', the term samsara comes closest to the social world. Samsara can
> understood as a shorthand for the hierarchical social system of varna and
> jati. The socio-religous order behind the hierarchy is based on a gliding
> scale of increasing proximity to the ultimate impurity of death. Samsara
> the endless cycle of 'rebirth'and reaping the fruits of previous actions
> (karma theory as a social ideology) denies the impurity of real actual
> physical death in the socio-religious order because one does not really
> but endlessly reincarnates. Moreover, reincarnation - I wonder how
> and widely held this concept is among average Hindus - explains and
> legitimizes the socio-religous inequality of the sacred order of
> varna-society. Hence it is perfectly explicable that the word samsara
> evidently means 'family' in Bengali, and also in Marathi? If I understood
> correctly.
> Victor van Bijlert
> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] Namens Dr. Chlodwig H.
> Verzonden: woensdag 4 februari 2009 15:24
> Aan: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
> Onderwerp: AW: "samsara" meaning "life"
> It may not matter in the given context of sa.msaara - but, anyway which
> words for 'world' are supposed to refer primarily to the social world and
> what criteria? If You take loka-, its primary denotate is the free space,
> filled with light (its meaning 'people' is clearly secondary); the
> of jagat-, as Narten has demonstrated in India Maior more than 35 years
> is its being a substantivization of a Part. Pr. of gaa 'go', referring
> primarily to the totality of creatures that can move; bhuu(mi)- and
> belong to bhuu 'to become (more)' etc.
> Thanking you for your attention
> Chlodwig H. Werba
> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] Im Auftrag von Dominik
> Wujastyk
> Gesendet: Mittwoch, 04. Februar 2009 12:37
> An: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
> Betreff: Re: "samsara" meaning "life"
> There is an interesting point at stake here.  As far as I can see, most
> words for "world" in Sanskrit mean, first of all, the social world, not
> the physical, exterior world.
> [I've got a feeling I've said this before ... :-(]
> --
> Dr Dominik Wujastyk
> On Wed, 4 Feb 2009, 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
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