Sanskrit tatoo fail

George Hart glhart at BERKELEY.EDU
Sat Sep 3 23:06:55 UTC 2011

There's already an Indian proverb for "go with the flow."  A Malayali friend used it yesterday.  They translated, "If your cows go where you don't want them to, just keep hitting them and go where they go anyway."  I don't know the Malayalam -- people speak the language too fast to catch the words, though I did hear aṭiccu.  In any event, if anyone wants to use this (as a tattoo or slogan), I'll ask and get back with the original.  George Hart

On Sep 3, 2011, at 7:25 AM, Herman Tull wrote:

> Yes. Of course. Reading it late at night I ignored the prefix on the root. The widely reported translation is "go with the flow.".  
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert Zydenbos <zydenbos at UNI-MUENCHEN.DE>
> Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2011 13:54:38 
> To: <INDOLOGY at>
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Sanskrit tatoo fail
> 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 pravaha? translates as "let one follow the flow" (though I 
> think "pravahamanugaccha" comes closer to GWTF).
> On 03.09.11 09:22, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
>> See, Sanskrit is important and useful.
> Tathastu.
>> 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.
> RZ
> -- 
> 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
> Deutschland

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