Learning Sanskrit - Tips
Here are a few of my favorite words, some of them from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Feel free to play with the sounds, make friends with them. Sanskrit has a huge vocabulary to describe delicious states of consciousness. Many of these words are in the process of migrating into English, becoming part of our spoken and written language.
Sanskrit has sounds that we don’t have in English, ways of moving the tongue in a kind of tongue-asana. People who have studied Sanskrit since childhood sound marvelous when they make the sounds unique to Sanskrit. Others tend to sound unnatural and forced. But you can approximate the sounds, and feel your way into them. Learn to be relaxed with Sanskrit, and let your body like the sounds and resonances.
By the way, the word Sanskrit is an English term
to refer to the ancient way of speaking. The Sanskrit equivalent is saṃskṛta, (sam "together" + krta- "to make, do, perform.”) संस्कृता वाक्
saṃskṛtā vāk, or संस्कृतभाषा
saṃskṛtabhāṣā, "refined speech.”
in a footnote to his preface to the Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Monier-Williams writes, "Sanskrit is now too Anglicized a word to admit of its being written as it ought to be written according to the system of transliteration adopted in the present Dictionary – Saṃskṛit." p. xii, footnote 1
: put together, constructed, well or completely formed,
perfected, made ready, prepared, completed, finished, dressed,
cooked, purified, consecrated, sanctified, hallowed, initiated,
refined, adorned, ornamented, polished, highly elaborated (esp.
applied to highly wrought speech, such as the sanskrit language as opp, to the vernaculars)
Dropping the Diacriticals
Except for a few loanwords from French (soufflé), Italian (caffè), and Spanish (jalapeño), English does not have diacriticals, so they have mostly been dropped in these pages, even though they give clues to pronunciation. When a language such as English is importing and assimilating words from a language such as Sanskrit – which has sounds not found in English – then it is anyone’s guess how the pronunciation will turn out. However, I am inconsistent, sometimes I have included diacriticals!