Sanskrit tatoo fail

Herman Tull hwtull at MSN.COM
Sat Sep 3 05:25:48 UTC 2011

McComas, et al:

This tattoo belongs to Katie Perry (a pop singer), and matches the tattoo on her husband, the actor/comedian Russell Brand.  One of my students pointed out this tattoo to me a few years ago, and I too looked at the “pravaaha” and thought the artist forgot to decline the noun.  A better image, however shows that it is not pravaaha, but “pravaaham”—the tattoo artist used (improperly) the anusvara to indicate the final of the accusative.  The grammar is still creaky: “One must go to the river”???


Herman Tull
Princeton, NJ

From: McComas Taylor 
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2011 9:45 PM
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Sanskrit tatoo fail

Colleagues - I thought this might amuse you.

My sharp-eyed daughter spotted this tatoo and asked me what is meant:

I looked at  anugacchatu pravāha, and came up with the nonsensical 'let he/she/it follow' + 'O current'

On being informed, my daughter, with Gen-Y insight, immediately said, 'O right - she probably meant "Go with the flow".'

Such are the dangers of D-I-Y Sanskrit translations.

McComas Taylor
Head, South Asia Program
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +61 2 6125 3179
Location: Baldessin Precinct Building, 4.24
Learn about my courses:  Sanskrit 1  |  Indian Epics 

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