Tag Archives: Sanskrit

The Gender of Sanskrita Nouns

Sanskrit nouns have genders. Sometimes, a noun may even have two or three genders. Every noun, whether used for a sentient being or an insentient object, has a gender. That means even objects such as water, table, chair, and so on have genders. It is important to know the gender of a noun because Sanskrit does not have prepositions; it has postpositions. Sanskrit nouns are declined depending upon their usage as an agent, object, instrument, and so on. Declensions also depend upon gender. Sanskrit dictionaries thus mention the gender of a noun in addition to its meaning. Different names used for the same object may have different genders. Thus, it is not always necessary that the gender of the word matches its referent. Besides Sanskrit, Deutsch also has this peculiarity. There may be others as well, but I have no knowledge of them.

Nouns are words. It may sound strange that words possess gender, but it is understandable that a word has gender if its referent has gender. But for words to have a gender that represents some insentient object seems illogical. However, there is a reason behind it, which is rooted in the process of creation as described by Sāṁkhya darśana. According to Sāṁkhya darśana, everything in the material world consists of the three guṇas. Generally, we think of things like food or human nature to consist of the three guṇas. In Bhagavad Gītā, however, Śrī Kṛṣṇa divides happiness, knowledge, the agent, intellect, actions, charity, yajña, and tapas into three divisions, based on the three guṇas. The division of the society into four varṇas is also based upon the principle of the three guṇas (Gītā 4.13). Kṛṣṇa’s concluding statement regarding the pervasive nature of the guṇas is stated in Gītā 18. 40: 

na tad asti pṛthivyāṁ vā   divi deveṣu vā punaḥ
sattvaṁ prakṛti-jair muktaṁ yad ebhiḥ syāt tribhir guṇaiḥ

“There is no being or object on earth, in the celestial realm or among the devas, which is free from these three guṇas born of material nature.”

Such being the case, it is natural that the names of objects also consist of the three guṇas. Names are nothing but sound, which also evolves from prakṛti.

Then, the question is raised, “What do the guṇas have to do with the genders of nouns?” This has been answered by Patañjali in his magnum opus—the Mahābhāṣya on Pāṇini’s sūtras. He gives a lengthy explanation about it in the sūtra for “striyām” (Pāṇini 4.1.3). This is an adhikāra sūtra, which means that the sūtraṣ following it apply to the feminine gender. He speaks about the gender of words which represent the gender of their referent. He says that for human beings, one can ascertain the gender by seeing the physical appearance but that is not possible for insentient objects, such as a cot or speech. One can also not argue that their gender is hidden just as a human being can cover its body and thus one cannot see the gender. He writes that even if you scrape a tree with a reamer, you do not see any gender in it. The same is true of other objects. So how does one ascertain the gender of insentient objects or words?

Patañjali responds by saying that the gender is to be known from the status of the guṇas. Like any other entity, words also have guṇas, as confirmed by Bhartṛhari (Vakyapadīyam 3,14): “All words referring to various objects have the three guṇas of prakrti at all times.” Patañjali writes that if all three guṇas are in balance, then the object will be in neuter gender. If two of the guṇas are prominent, then it will be in masculine gender and if only one guṇa is prominent, then it will be in feminine gender. 

Later grammarians debated as to whether gender was rooted in the word or in the referent. For example, does the word khaṭvā, which is in feminine gender, possess gender or does the object it denotes, i.e., “a cot”, possess gender? According to Bhaṭṭoji Dīkṣita, the famous author of Siddhānta-kaumudi, gender is rooted in the word. But the author of Mañjuṣā, Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa, says that the object itself possesses gender. Here it may be noted that in Sanskrit, the word and its referent may have different genders. For example, the word dārā is in masculine gender but its referent i.e., “a wife”, is in feminine gender. Moreover, sometimes an object can be referred to by the same word but have two different genders. For example, the lotus flower can be referred to by the word padma which is in masculine gender, or by padmam, which is in neuter gender. Certainly, the gender of the referent lotus does not change by using the word padma instead of padmam. There are also objects that are referred to by the same word in all three genders. The bank of a river can be referred to by the word taṭaḥ in the masculine gender, taṭī in the feminine gender, or taṭam in the neuter gender. Finally, it may be added that in Sanskrit, there are also some words that have no gender, such as svaḥ meaning “heaven”. The conclusion is that just as the guṇas pervade everything in the material creation, gender also pervades everything because gender is based upon the combination of the guṇas. Sanskrit nouns have three genders, but at present in human society, there are scores of genders. The reason for this is also due to the mixture of guṇas. With the advent of technology, there have been changes in lifestyle, food habits, and the mixing of different races. This has increased the number of genders. The language, however, has not yet evolved to accommodate all the genders, although attempts are being made through the novel usage of pronouns. 

The practical importance of knowing the gender of a noun is its usage in dharma. If a word is not pronounced properly, then it does not give the desired dharmic result. In this regard, Patañjali writes:

duṣṭaḥ śabdaḥ svarato varṇato vā
mithyā-prayukto na tam artham āha
sa vāgvajro yajamānaṁ hinasti
yathendra-śatruḥ svarato’parādhāt

“An improper pronunciation of a word, either by intonation or by a letter, does not convey the proper meaning. Such an improper utterance [in a yajña] will ruin the performer, as happened to [Tvaśṭā] by pronouncing the mantraindra-śatro vivardhasva” with a wrong intonation.”

This is a reference to the story of Vṛttrāsura, who was created by a yajña to kill Indra, who in turn had killed Viśvrūpa, son of Tavṣṭā (See SB, Sixth Canto, chapters 7 to 12).

In fact, the basic purpose of Sanskrit Vyākarana (loosely translated as grammar) is to separate sādhu-śabda (proper words) from asādhu-śabda (improper words). It is because of Sanskrit Vyākaraṇa that Sanskrit has remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Satyanarayana Dasa

Sanskrit Non-Translatables—The Rationale Behind the Book

The  new publication “Sanskrit Non-Translatables” is a ground-breaking and audacious attempt at Sanskritizing the English language and enriching it with powerful Sanskrit words. While it is commonly observed that Sanskrit terms have been inadequately translated into English and thus lost some of their original connotations and crucial nuances, with this book the authors attempt to reverse the process. It is a reference guide to protecting key Sanskrit terms and philosophical concepts from being distorted, plagiarized, or trivialized to the point of obsolescence.

Babaji has co-authored this book with author and researcher Rajiv Malhotra, the founder-director of the “Infinity Foundation.” The Foundation’s books have the common approach of presenting an analysis of distorted theories about ancient Indian religious culture and of exposing the falsity and Eurocentric assumptions of such theories. The book is now available here through this website

In the following Babaji explains the rationale behind the book:

As human beings we have the ability to think and formulate ideas in our minds. We also have the ability to communicate our ideas, knowledge, and experiences to others through the medium of language. Language is composed of words, which themselves have meanings. According to Sanskrit Vyakaranam, translated as “grammar,” there are four categories of word meanings: substances, qualities, actions, and names. Substances are those things which have both qualities and action inherent in them. For example, a table is a substance because it has qualities such as color, form, weight, etc. A quality is that which inheres in a substance and cannot exist without that substance. Qualities may be taste, colors, weight, shape, size, and so on. An action is that which also inheres in a substance and has a beginning and an end. It denotes a change in matter. The fourth category of meaning is that of the names which we give to objects, such as “cell phone.” Names are given as per our preferences.

Sanskrit words are derived from basic units of language, called dhatus or roots, and are formed by applying suffixes to these dhatus. Therefore, Sanskrit words often have some derivational meaning due to the variety of ways of combining dhatus with suffixes. For example, the word “pachaka” or a “cook,” derived from the root “pach,” meaning “to cook,” is formed by applying a “nak” suffix to express a sense of agency. Because of this characteristic of Sanskrit words, it may not be always possible to translate them adequately into English. The reason for this is that English nouns may not convey the same derivational sense that was conveyed by the original Sanskrit word. For example, the Sanskrit word “atma” is commonly translated as “soul” in English. But if we compare the sense of the word “atma” to that of “soul,” then we find that it is an incorrect translation. The word “atma” is derived from the root “at,” which means “to move,” and thereby signifies continuity or eternality. According to Bhagavad Gita (2.20), atma is neither created nor destroyed. However, “soul” does not have that connotation at all. Therefore, once we translate the word “atma” as “soul,” it loses its original sense. And those who understand what a soul truly is would misunderstand what atma is. Atma and soul have different and even opposing characteristics. According to Christian theology, animals and plant life do not have a soul. But according to Vedic scriptures, there is an atma in every living being, including plants and creepers. Generally, the word atma refers to the innermost conscious being beyond body and mind. However, it also can mean “mind, body, intelligence, supreme being, and object of love.” None of these meanings are conveyed by the word “soul.”

Furthermore, because Sanskrit nouns have a derivational sense, one word can have various meanings. For example, the Sanskrit word “go,” commonly used for “cow,” is derived from the root, “gam,” which means, “to go.” Thus, originally, the word “go” signified anything that moved. Although it is primarily used for “cow,” that is not the only meaning of this word. The word “go,” as per Apte’s Sanskrit dictionary, also means, “earth, ray of light, a star, sky, thunderbolt of Indra, a cattle, a diamond, heaven, an arrow, speech, Sarasvati, mother, water, the eye, a bull, the hair of the body, a sense organ, the sign Taurus of the zodiac, the sun, the number 9, the moon, a singer, a billion, a cow sacrifice, a house, a cow’s hoof, a mule, a snake, a kind of deer, and a pestle.” But if you translate the word “go” as “cow” or any of these other meanings, then it becomes fixed in that meaning only. However, if the word “go” is kept as it is, then it can be given any of those meanings according to the context. That is why a Sanskrit sentence or sloka would have different meanings as per the context and the intent of the speaker. After all, language is used by the speaker to convey some meaning, and the meaning depends upon the intention of the speaker.

Besides this, there are certain words in Sanskrit that have no equivalent in English. Many words contain a specific idea, which cannot be translated into just one word. Therefore, it is prudent to refrain from translating such Sanskrit words into English only for the sake of convenience. The unintended consequence of convenient translation is that the Sanskrit word loses its original sense and thus the very purpose of the speaker is lost.

The intention behind our book, Sanskrit Non-Translatables, is to preserve the deep and rich meanings of some important Sanskrit words. Our hope is to educate modern Indians as well as Western English speakers who may have the tendency to loosely translate Sanskrit words into English without paying attention to the deep meaning contained in the word. By translating these words, one acquires an improper understanding. Unfortunately, this may lead to misconceptions, biased thinking, and wrong actions. Therefore, it is wiser to use the original Sanskrit words when writing or speaking in the English language. We have many words in our local Indian languages that are borrowed from English, for example, “telephone,” “computer,” and “train station.” Thus there is no harm in reversing the process for the sake of maintaining and disseminating the legitimate knowledge and wisdom of our sages.

More in this topic in the media: Babaji’s article about Sanskrit Non-Translatables.

Bhakti Tirtha Inspires

At the end of this semester, Babaji completed two classes that began in the latter half of the second year. One of them was the study of Alaṅkāra Kaustubha, Kavi Karnapūra’s massive work on poetry, its embellishments, how it creates rasa, and the flaws to be avoided, expertly revealing these features and flaws by using poetic stanzas of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the gopīs. 

The second class completed was on Bhagavad Sandarbha, the second of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s Ṣaḍ Sandarbha. Bhagavad Sandarbha elaborates further the answer to the question of how we can know the Absolute Truth, which was introduced in Tattva Sandarbha with the “vadanti tat” verse and will continue through Paramātma Sandarbha. In Bhagavad Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva defines Bhagavān, Paramātmā and Brahman and explains the distinctions between them. He then elaborates on Bhagavan’s characteristics and expounds that He can be known theoretically through scriptures (śabda-pramāṇa) but ultimately experienced only through bhakti. 

On Friday 29th, the last day of this semester, our teachers Babaji Maharaja, Jagadananda prabhu, Swamini Radhika Devi, and Navadvipa prabhu as guest speaker offered a closing ceremony. Babaji pointed out that there are many books in our sampradāya that have either not yet been discovered or that have been lost due to a lack of interest. In the past, these books were copied by hand, and if they were not read, were bound to disappear. 

“With this course,” he said, “We are making Jīva Gosvāmī happy because his books are being studied. The Gosvāmīs had no economical motive in writing them but were happy if people applied these teachings and thus made their lives successful.”

He further mentioned that this Bhakti Tirtha course is an inspiring model for other Vaiṣṇava groups, who are now also taking up similar systematic studies. Finally, Babaji thanked the students because without students, there is no course. A teacher’s success depends on the students.

Sanskrit teacher Jagadananda prabhu pointed out that Jiva Institute is a developing Institution that offers and supports intellectual discussions on Vaishnavism. In the same vein, our vernacular and Sanskrit poetry teacher Radhika Devi appreciated the diversity and high level of philosophical tolerance at Jiva Institute. She wants her students to have an experience of the real Vrindavan and strives to give them the tools for such an experience.

Babaji’s longstanding friend and Sandarbha editor, Navadvipa prabhu, shared his early experiences with Babaji in ISKCON and the formative years of Jiva Institute. He spoke about Babaji’s struggle to establish the Institute and his determined vision to translate the Sandarbhas and create a sanctuary for teaching, where he could speak openly and without any reservation. The Bhakti Tirtha course is the fruit of this endeavor. 


Preview of Bhakti Tirtha Level 4

The new course will start on October 15th and will run until end of March. New students are welcome but are recommended to listen to the previous recordings before the new semester starts.

Class schedule from Monday through Friday:

10.20 – 11.20 am Sanskrit Level 2 (by Jagadananda Das)
11.20 – 12.20 am Paramātma Sandarbha  (by Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa)
12:30 – 1:20 pmĪśvara Kṛṣṇa’s Sāṅkhya-kārikā (by Babaji)
4 – 5 pmSanskrit Level 1 (by Jagadananda Das) 


5 – 6 pm A Course in Sanskrit and Vernacular Devotional Poetry with special accents (by Radhika Devi)

Every morning there will be kīrtana from 9.00 to 9:50. Everyone is welcome to join.

Besides the regular schedule, we will also have additional classes and weekend seminars, which will be announced in our Bhakti Tirtha email group. Further, a japa retreat is planned before or after the course. 

During the Rutgers student program (tentatively at the end of the year and the first two weeks of 2020), there will be a winter break, but students are welcome to attend the program.

Registration Details:

For registration please write to: bhaktitirtha@jivaseva.com

Registration fees: until end of June: $ 200 US Later registrations: $ 300
Food per month: $ 250.
Accommodation: Ashram: $ 150 per month. $ 800 for 6 months in advance.
Student Hostel: $ 210 per month. $ 1100 for 6 months in advance.
Guest House: $ 300 per month. $ 1600 for 6 months in advance.
There are other options for food and accommodation in the vicinity, which students are free to choose.

Remote, On-Line Study:
$ 550 for complete recordings of the whole course.
Recordings for registered students who attend the course: $ 150.
Each course can also be purchased individually. Details can be given upon request.
Course materials are not included in the above fees.

Please go through the product description before making a purchase as we don’t entertain refunds.

Jiva Students Enact Sanskrit Drama about Jiva Gosvami

Vrindavan Today, 2019.01.10 (VT): The 508th disappearance day of Srila Jiva Goswami was celebrated at the Jiva Institute with a short play in the Sanskrit language depicting a portion of his life. The students studying Sanskrit at the Institute were the main actors. The play was called “Jīve Dāya Nāṭtkam”, a play on the words “Compassion to Jiva” and “Compassion to all living beings.”

The first of the five acts depicts Jiva’s leaving the family home in Bengal after a dream vision of Chaitanya and Nityananda, who pacify his mind of any doubts that he was being called to serve Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis in Vrindavan. The second act shows his arrival in Vrindavan and entry into the service of Rupa Goswami as the editor of his books.

P.C. Gregor Schaller

Gaur-Nitai appear before Jiva Goswami

The second act shows his arrival in Vrindavan and entry into the service of Rupa Goswami as the editor of his books. In the third act, there is an encounter with the arrogant Digvijayi Brahmin, whom he felt had shown disrespect to Rupa Goswami. Rupa is not pleased with Jiva’s behaviour, which he feels is unbecoming of a Vaishnava in the Holy Dham and banishes him from his service.

The fourth act shows Sanatana Goswami, Rupa’s older brother and guru, chastising him for being so hard on Jiva. If they are writing books to show compassion on all the lost souls of this world, then how can they not show compassion on Jiva? Rupa admits that his work on the Bhakti-rasamrita sindhu has slowed to a halt in Jiva’s absence and that he feels great separation from his dear disciple. The two brothers set out to look for their nephew.

Sanatana Goswami begging

The final act shows Sanatana arriving in the village of Nandaghat, where Nanda Maharaja was stolen away by Varuna. Begging a roti from a Vrajavasi woman, he learns of the young sadhu practicing difficult tapasya in a nearby gopha. Sanatana goes there and finds that it is indeed Jiva. Rupa appears on the scene and the play finishes with Rupa giving Jiva a blessing, and then Jiva asking them to bless the entire audience that they will get Radharani’s mercy.

Ananda Gopal Dasji Shastri, Vedanta-Nyaya Tirtha, one of the teachers in the Chaitanya Sanskirt Shiksha Sansthan in Radha Kund, graced the performance. Speaking in Sanskrit, Shastriji Maharaj said that he was very pleased that this had been attempted as one rarely, if ever, sees such plays being written or performed anywhere. “It was very impressive to see that the students, many of whom were foreigners and only new to the language, were still able to pronounce so clearly and with such good intonation.”

The author of the play, Jagadananda Das, who also played the role of the Sutradhara and the Digvijayi Brahmin, said:

“The play was written in easy Sanskrit so that the students could learn a more conversational and practical use of the language. It was also important that the audience should understand what was being said. Many of the people in the audience were Bengali Sanskrit students from Radha Kund and Vrindavan also.”

Digvijayi Brahmin after reading Jiva Goswami’s manuscript.

The actors were Malati Manjari Dasi (Germany), Jamie Lessard and Alanah Correia (Canada), Bharat Das and Marky Perez (USA), Maria Christanell (Italy), Willi Müller (Germany), Sujani Dasi (Spain), Jagadananda Das (Canada), Ananda Mohan Das, Rasamrita Dasi, Raghava and Neel Madhava (India).

Malati Manjari Dasi played a dramatic role as Jiva Goswami’s mother crying over her son leaving home after becoming lost in to the renounced life of a sadhu.

Jiva Goswami’s mother talks to her friends about her son leaving.

Jagadananda Prabhu delighted the audience with his portrayal of the Digvijayi Brahmin who emphatically tells Jiva Goswami that he has insulted the Vedas by ignoring karma kanda rituals. Sujani Dasi was convincing as a modest yet upfront Brajwasi woman who gives madhukari to Sanatan Goswami, then directs him to Jiva Goswami, who was living in a cave.

In the lead up to the presentation, the Mahant of Jiva Institute, Shri Satyanarayana Babaji, addressed the audience. There were several musical interludes, including kirtan at the beginning and end. Afterwards, the guests and actors sat together for a feast.

The drama was well attended by both locals and foreign guests and was filmed by local TV stations.

Translation and Transliteration here.

The complete Video

Update: Bhakti-tirtha Course 2016

The classroom at Jiva
The classroom

The first Bhakti-tirtha Course at Jiva Institute will be inaugurated on 16th October 2016. His Holiness Srivata Gosvami of Radha-raman Mandir will be the chief guest.  This course is a unique opportunity to study Gaudiya Vaishnava scriptures in specific and the Sad Darshanas in general, which are necessary to understand Gaudiya philosophy properly. Such an opportunity may not come again because our lives are not eternal.

Jiva Institute
Jiva Institute for Vaisnava Studies

Therefore anybody who is serious about knowing the Gaudiya siddhanta in a systematic and lucid way and who can afford to come and study at Jiva Vrindavan for six months a year for the next five years, should not miss this opportunity.

All classes are free of charge, but there will be a yearly registration fee of US $250 to cover administrative expenses. Students who plan to stay at Jiva ashram need to pay for boarding and lodging.

The details of the various courses and the books required are as follows:

1) Introduction to Sanskrit

2) Study of the Yoga Sutras for the first part of the course, followed by Tattva Sandarbha and further by Bhakti-rasamrita Sindhu.

3) Nyaya Sutras for the first part of the course followed by Tarka-sangraha (Nyaya)

4) Readings from Gopala Campu


Class schedule from Monday through Friday:

Period Time Part 1 Part 2
1 10 am Sanskrit (16th Oct – 31st March 2017)
2 11 am Yoga Sutras (16th Oct. – Mid. Dec.) Tattva Sandarbha / BRS
3 12 am Nyaya Sutras (16th Oct. – End of Nov.) Tarka-sangraha
4 5 pm Gopal Campu (16th Oct – 31st March 2017)


Babaji in Vilnius May 2015The classes on Sanskrit, Tattva Sandarbha by Jiva Gosvami, Bhakti-rasamrita Sindhu by Rupa Gosvami, and Tarka-sangraha will be given by Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa. Tarka Sangraha is an entry level book which is a systematic overview of Nyaya/Vaisheshika in its newer (navya) period.

Edwin_TeachingAdvaita Prabhu Das (Prof. Edwin Bryant) will teach the Yoga Sutras, which is helpful in understanding the first two chapters of Bhakti-rasamrita Sindhu. This course will consist of a close reading the the Yoga Sutras, the classical Vaidica text on the nature of mind and consciousness. It will especially engage the first chapter, which outlines the various stages of samadhi, as well as the second chapter, which focuses on the mechanisms underpinning rebirth and samsara, and the requisite practices for purifying the mind such that it can engage in meditative practices culminating in samadhi.  Additionally, the course will compare and contrast the goals and techiniques underpinning Patanjali’s classical dhyana yoga with the smarana practices of Vaishnava bhakti. Students will be provided with a copy of the Sutras with the Sanskrit text and English translation.

Prof. Matthew R. Dasti will teach the Nyaya Sutras. This course will study the fundamental text of ancient Nyaya by lookingDasti, Matthew at some of its most important debates and discussions. These include a defense of the existence of the self, an argument that God must exist as creator, and a vindication of the reality of the world against Buddhist skeptics and idealists. Readings will be English translations of passages of the sutras with portions of important commentaries. This course is coupled with the Tarka Sangraha taught by Babaji.

jagatJagadananda Das (Dr. Jan Brzezinski) will read from Jiva Gosvami’s classical literary composition Gopala Campu, which narrates the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. We will start in the beginning, referring to the relevant portions of Krishna Sandarbha and Vaishnava Toshani Bhagavata commentaries, reading from there also according to need. We will start by explaining things in easy Sanskrit and then translate into English, according to the level of qualification of the students . The point will be to make the readings as enjoyable as possible rather than to make it an intellectual exercise per se.


Importance of Sanskrit and Nyaya

Knowledge of the Sanskrit language and Nyaya is essential to understand any school of Vedic thought. Therefore, one should not think that these two subjects have no utility for a devotee.

Among the traditional Indian Sanskrit scholars there is a very popular saying, kanadam paniniyam ca sarva sastropakarakam (“The knowledge of Logic and Sanskrit grammar are indispensable to understand any scripture”).

This course is not meant to just give theoretical knowledge, but also to have a personal experience of Gaudiya Philosophy and an understanding of how to practically apply it in life.


The course will cover the most important aspects of the entire Sanskrit grammar. It will give students a working knowledge of the most important aspects of Sanskrit grammar together with core vocabulary and prepare them to the more advanced Sanskrit grammar studies taught in the traditional way.

The goal of this course is to give a student the basic knowledge of the Sanskrit language which will enable him or her to study the original Bhagavat Gita, Upanishads, Ramayana, etc., initially aided by word-by-word translations. This will be the first step to prepare a student to approach more complex Sanskrit Vaishnava literature such as Srimad Bhagavatam with its commentaries or the Gosvamis’ works. The knowledge of Sanskrit acquired in this course will be put to immediate use while studying Nyaya and Tattva-Sandarbha, two other subjects of the 6-month program. This course will give a student a working knowledge of the most important aspects of Sanskrit grammar together with core vocabulary. It will also prepare a student to the more advanced Sanskrit grammar studies taught in the traditional way  using Aṣṭādhyāyī by Pāṇini or Śrī Harināmāmṛta-vyākaraṇam by Jiva Goswami.

The course will cover the most important aspects of the entire Sanskrit grammar, including the following topics:

  1. Pronunciation and alphabet. 2. Sandhi 3. Parts of speech and Sanskrit sentence. 4. Noun declension system 5. Pronouns and their declension 6. Numerals and their declension. 7. Verb present system and gaṇa conjugations. 8. Non-gaṇa tenses and conjugations 10. Participles 11. Other verbal forms (Gerund, Gerundive, etc.) 12. Secondary verb conjugations (causative, desiderative, intensive) 13. Aorist system 14. Adverbs 15. Common prefixes and suffixes 16. Samasa (compounds) 17. Syntactic constructs (locative/genitive absolute constructions, etc.)

Daily Class and Homework:

A daily 45-min class will include an explanation of a particular grammar topic, a short grammar and/or vocabulary quiz, reading and translation exercises, homework-based short story telling and question answering in Sanskrit, etc. Daily homework will include grammar exercises, reading and translation of original Sanskrit texts, such as Bhagavat Gita or Hitopadesha, memorization of Sanskrit vocabulary as well as word paradigms.

Note: Given the richness and complexity of the Sanskrit language a fair amount of grammar and vocabulary daily memorization is necessary. This is actually a great blessing as memorization is one of the best ways to keep one’s brain sharp.

Prerequisites: This introductory course does not require any prior knowledge of Sanskrit except the knowledge of the Devanagari script.

Textbooks: This course will primarily use the textbook by R. Goldman and S. Sutherland Goldman, Devavāṇīpraveśikā (available from Amazon)

In addition “A Sanskrit Grammar for Students” by Arthur McDonell is quite useful.

There are a number of useful Sanskrit resources for the smart phones (iPhone, Android), such as “Sanskrit Primer”, a free application, and Sanskrit-English Dictionary, a paid application by Academic Room.

Here is playful way a learning Sankrit declensions online: Memrise


Tarka Sangraha: Introduction to Nyaya philosophy


  1. Navya-Nyaya-Bhasa-Pradipa

(Mm. Mahesh Chandra Nyayaratna)

A primer of Nava Nyaya Language and Methodology to understand the terminology of Nyaya.

English translation, printed by Asiatic Society 2004

  1. Tarka Sangraha with Nyaya-bodhini commentary

Textbooks on Tarka Sangraha, Yoga Sutras and Nyaya Sutras are available in Vrindavan and will be made available at Jiva Institute at the cost price. For Sanskrit we will supply free soft copies.

Bhakti-Tirtha Teachers
Board of Professors


Those who are not able to attend the course thiso year can receive all audio lectures for a fee of $ 108 per month on a monthly basis. They also have the facility to participate in weekly Question and Answer sessions over an electronic conference system. For the complete course it will $ 550.- for distant learners, payable before the course starts. Those who are registered and physically attend the course in Vrindavan can receive the recordings for 30 US $ per month or for 150 US $ if paid in advance for 6 months. Registrations should be addressed to: jaya@jivaseva.com. Payments can be made through the website.

Next year a new Bhakti-tirtha course will also be offered for beginners.

Classes on the Yoga Sutras, Tattva Sandarbha, Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu and Gopal Champu will be open to the public, and not restricted only to registered students. The classes on Sanskrit and Nyaya can only be attended by students who are registered for the complete course.




Karma, Sex, Sincerity and Buddhist Mantra

Karma and Destination

Question:  Karma is a complex process in evolution. At what point is the sadhaka, who has a sad-guru and is strictly following the process of bhajan, subjected to karma, and when is the karma nullified and the will of the Lord acting?

Answer:  If one has surrendered to sad-guru, he is out of the law of karma and directly under the control of the law of bhakti. There are only two laws – law of karma and law of bhakti.




Question: Why should spiritualists avoid sex?

Answer: Everyone hankers for love, but it is misplaced. Out of ignorance atma identifies with the physical body, and then the need of atma for love becomes translated at the body level. However, on the bodily level this love cannot be fulfilled, it turns into sex. Even though there is an intense desire for sexual union, the physical act cannot give satisfaction because it does not touch the soul. It is only on the physical level and makes the bodily identification even stronger or intense. Therefore in spiritual societies there are restrictions about sex. One cannot enjoy sex unless one identifies with the physical body. Since we are trying to realize ourselves we try to avoid activities which put us into the illusion that we are this body. Sexual union puts one into complete illusion.



Meaning of Sincerity

Question:  In Bhagavatam I read that as soon as a true representative of the Lord is met by a devotee of the Lord, the devotee is assured to go to Krishna’s abode just after leaving the present body. This however, depends on the sincerity of the devotee himself. What is the meaning of sincerity in this context?

Answer:  Sincerity means full surrender without any material motive.



Om Mani Padme Hum

Question: I’m wondering about the meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum. There is a bunch of stuff on the internet about how special it is within the Buddhist context, but is there a Vaishnava interpretation of the mantra?

Babaji in LithuaniaAnswer: This mantra originally must come from Sanskrit, but in the present form it is not pure Sanskrit and thus it is hard to give the meaning.

Om is the essence of the vedic knowledge. It is also the primeval sound the source of creation. The three sounds a, u and m in Om signify various things, such as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; creation, maintenance and dissoultion, three states of life – wakeful, dream and deep sleep; Radha, Krishna and jiva, and so on.

Mani means a jewel.

Padme means in the lotus lower.

Hum is another primal sound or seed mantra.

So it menas, a jewel in the lotus flower. This can be interpreted according to one’s process. This mantra is supposed to be the essence of Buddha’s teachings.


What Is Jnana?

By Satyanarayana Dasa

The word “jnana” is usually translated as “knowledge,” but, in fact, it is not that simple.  In English, one says, “I know the name of a good restaurant,” or “I know Java,” and it is easily understood.  But the simplicity of the word “know” or “knowledge” is not the same in Sanskrit.

Before beginning the explanation of jnana, let’s look at a hypothetical situation.  A man is in a coma for 10 years and wakes up in his hospital bed.  Sitting on the table next to him is an iPad, left there by a visitor.  The man picks up the iPad and looks at it.  Through his senses, he makes some observations about it, but he can’t really figure out what it is.  Later the visitor explains it to him.

“It is a small computer and was invented about two years ago”

“You can read books, newspapers, and even magazines on it.”

“You can listen to music on it, play games on it, and watch movies on it. “

“You can use it almost anywhere, and it doesn’t require any wires”

“In some schools, these are being provided to children instead of giving them textbooks.”

Finally, the visitor turns on the iPad and gives the man a demo of it.  The man now has some knowledge of an iPad.

In this example, there is a subject (the man), an object (the iPad), and there is knowledge.  Initially the man has a few observation, which he makes on his own, then he is given some information (in this case, verbally), and finally he sees it being operated.  Through the use of his senses and intellect, the man now has some, but not complete, knowledge of an iPad. Whatever knowledge he acquires in this way, creates a specific impression or modification in his mind, called citta-vritti.

Knowledge basically is the relation between a word and the object denoted by it. By this knowledge, the subject can deal with or think of the object. The knowledge can be of a substance, a quality, a class, a relation or an action. All the knowledge we posses can be subsumed in one of these categories.

In Sanskrit the word jnanam is derived from the root jna avabodhane (to know) and has three etymological meanings:

1. As a verbal activity or state of being, jnaptih jnanam means understanding, awareness, experience, knowing, consciousness. Jnana in this sense is without any content. It does not reveal anything except the subject itself. It is the intransitive usage of the word jnana, for example, “to know”.

2. As an instrument (jnayate anena iti janam), it denotes that by which something is known, or that which reveals something (artha-prakasakah). Jnana in this sense has content. It has a subject to which it reveals and an object which is revealed by it. In Vedantic terminology, it is called vrtti-jnana. In the example above, the information about the iPad, would be the “instrument” which allows someone to have knowledge of the iPad.

3. As a substratum (jnanam asti asminiti), it is that which knows or possesses knowledge.  It is consciousness.

The second meaning is the most general meaning of the word jnana. The function of knowledge, taken in this sense, is to reveal an object. It reveals an object to a conscious self, atma.  By revealing the object, it also reveals itself. This is described as svayam-prakasa, self-luminous. The self knows what is revealed to it by knowledge. Knowledge, however, cannot know the object it reveals.  That which knows but does not reveal the objects outside it except itself is called pratyak or svasmai svayam prakasa, self-luminous and self conscious. This is the characteristic feature of the self.

Knowledge of The Self

The fundamental difference between knowledge (used in the second sense) and the self is that knowledge reveals an object for a knowing subject (atma) while the self, although it illuminates or makes the body conscious, cannot reveal the objects but knows what is revealed to it by knowledge. Knowledge thus belongs to a subject and has a content or reference to an object.

Atma, or self, is called jnana-svarupa to signify its conscious nature. Here, the word jnana is not used in the general sense, but to signify that it is conscious and not inert, and is the substratum of knowledge. But it does not mean that it is mere consciousness as contended by Advaitvadis. It is conscious and possesses consciousness.

It also does not mean that it possesses knowledge in the normal or popular sense of the word. Not knowing this distinction, some scholars misconstrue that atma, or the pure soul, is full of knowledge, omniscient. They propose that if the soul’s ignorance is removed, then the atma will be automatically situated in knowledge.

Five States of Existence in Three Bodies

A human being a made up of the atma and a material body. The material body is made from the products of prakrti (the causal state of matter), and it has three divisions:

  • The gross body is the visible body consisting of hair, skin, blood, fat, veins, bones marrow etc.
  • The subtle body is made of five pranas, five motor senses, five cognitive senses, mind, intellect, ego and chitta.
  • The causal body consists of ignorance (avidya in the form of svabhava and karma).

Based upon these three bodies we experience five states of existence: wakefulness, dreams, deep sleep, unconscious, and samadhi.

Wakefulness is related to the gross body; dream state to the subtle body; and the remaining three to the causal body. The one who makes these bodies conscious and is beyond them is the atma. He is the only conscious being, jnana-svarupa, and has the potential to know. He exists in all five states of the three bodies, but is completely untouched or affected by them. He is unchanging, and everything else is mutable.

The word jnana is thus used both for atma, and the knowledge acquired as a vrtti through the senses. The confusion arises because of the use of a single word for both. This distinction must be understood clearly to know the nature of atma. The knowledge which arises through the senses, internal and external, is not inherent in the atma.  Atma, by its proximity, infuses consciousness into the chitta, the mind, which comes in contact with sense organs, which in turn contact the sense objects (Bhagavata Purana 6.16.24).

Self-Luminous Knowledge from Sense Perception

The knowledge of an object thus arises when the atma comes into contact with the object through the inner and external senses. This knowledge is called vrtti-jnana, a form of mental modification. (See the second etymological meaning above.)   It undergoes contraction and expansion, warranted by experience, while being conditioned by avidya-karma, ignorance of the self as distinct from the body.  This knowledge is different from jnatrtva of the atma in the sense that the latter is pratyak or conscious of itself while the former is parak or reveals itself to the self. This knowledge is like the luminosity of a flame. Although a substance, it is considered as an attribute of atma because it is sheltered in atma. The knowledge appearing from the sense perception is self luminous but not self conscious. It is called mano-vrtti, a particular state of mind in relation to the object perceived.

Sri Krishna (Bhagavad Gita 13.6) refers to mano-vriti, as cetana, or awareness, and counts it as part of the material body. This cetana should not be confused with the cetana of the atma. Although cetana, or consciousness, is the natural quality of the atma, it is counted as a mental characteristic, because, in the conditioned state, the consciousness of atma is manifest only through the material body, senses and mind. Hence, all knowledge, both valid and illusory, is a mental state.

Sri Kapila says that there are five types of vrittis (Bhagavata Purana 3.26.30):

“The characteristics of buddhi by its various functions, vrittis, are said to be doubt, illusion, valid knowledge, remembrance and sleep.”

All types of experiences, both external and internal, in different states of mind, such as wakeful, dream and deep sleep, fall within these five vrttis. There is no experience outside these vrttis. It may be noted here that even deep sleep is the experience of a type of vrtti. The vrttis are not within atma; therefore, all knowledge is outside atma.


No Knowledge of External Objects in The Self

Atma by itself is devoid of any knowledge of external objects, because there are no vrittis in it. This is experienced by everyone in the state of deep sleep, unconsciousness or samadhi.  If there were any knowledge, as understood in the popular sense, then it should be experienced by a person in deep sleep. But it is everyone’s experience that in deep sleep, one forgets even oneself.

One experiences happiness in deep sleep, therefore, on awakening, one says, “I slept happily. I did not know anything.” One may argue that one does not experience anything in deep sleep because of the covering of ignorance. However, even in nirvikalpaka samadhi, which is realized when one is free of ignorance, there is only experience of bliss but not of knowledge of anything. Patanjali says that when a person becomes free of all vrittis, one is situated in one’s own self (tada drastuh svarupe’vasthanam, Yoga-sutra 1.3). There is no knowledge. Thus, when it is said that atma is jnana-svarupa, it does not mean that it is full of knowledge. It means that it is a conscious being and can have vritti-jnana. The word jnana in jnana-svarupa is used in the sense of first and third derivative meaning, and not the second. Therefore it is understood that atma is conscious by nature, but does not possess any knowledge in it except the sense of “I”.