Sanskrit tatoo fail

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Sat Sep 3 13:54:38 UTC 2011

On 03.09.11 07:25, Herman Tull wrote:

> [...]  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”???

The grammar is all right, since anu-gam "to follow" is construed with 
the accusative (cf. Boehtlingk and Roth's dictionary for examples): thus 
anugacchatu pravāhaṃ translates as "let one follow the flow" (though I 
think "pravāhamanugaccha" comes closer to GWTF).

On 03.09.11 09:22, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:

> See, Sanskrit is important and useful.


> What interests me most about all this is that they don't want to know 
> something from the Sanskrit tradition. [...]
> Is it that putting it in Sanskrit gives it some charm, or even 
> authority, that it wouldn't otherwise have?  Or do they want, rather, 
> to suggest that "go with the flow" (henceforth GWTF) is really a 
> Sanskrit saying?  Or that if Sanskrit is the Language of Truth, then 
> something true (?) must have been said in Sanskrit, somewhere.

That seems to be what many of my students expect. They come to class 
expecting to learn more about 'what is good', and if don't tell them 
what is 'good' according to their wishful thinking, then I must be 
'wrong'. (Fortunately they sometimes explicitly say so, which leads to 
amusing discussions and gives me the opportunity to set things straight 
and to be a greater guru than their gurus.)

In any case, Sanskrit is cool. My wife actually made a little bit of 
money through a tattoo: a fellow wanted to have some rather 
un-Sanskritic phrase tattooed on his arm, and he asked her to translate 
the phrase and give the translation in "Sanskrit script" (sic). She 
wrote back that she would do it only for a fee since, after all, she had 
spent a good deal of time learning the language and wanted to see her 
skill rewarded. He was decent and paid.


Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
Department fuer Asienstudien - Institut fuer Indologie und Tibetologie
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen
Tel. (+49-89-) 2180-5782
Fax  (+49-89-) 2180-5827

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