|कमल - ka+mal 2 syllables||क+म+ल 3 syllables|
|नाथ - 1 syllable||ना+थ 2 syllables|
|केशव ke+shav 2 syllables||के+श+व 3 syllables|
|अर्थ 1 syllable||अर्+थ 2 syllables|
|शिव 1 syllable||शि+व 2 syllables|
|नीलकंठ 2 syllables||नी+ल+कण्+ठ 4 syllables|
Monday, 20 August 2012
Aiyyo-Ram-a! The joke's on me!!
Growing up in Bangalore, we often had ‘North-Indian’ relatives visit whose constant refrain was a fairly disdainful “अरे इनको हिंदी नहीं बोलनी आती? यह 'रामा रामा' क्या लगा रखा है? यह 'राम' नहीं बोल सकते क्या?" And I did grow up wondering why ‘we’ said Ram and ‘they’ said Rama (which to me sounded like Raamaa). It was only when I began to learn Sanskrit, that I realized that the joke is on me – because in fact Rama (pronounced 'Raam' in Hindi) is actually 'Ram+a' in Sanskrit.
One of the fundamental challenges I faced as a Hindi speaker learning Sanskrit was to train myself to consciously add the ‘a’ at the end of an ‘a’ ending word. We are hard-wired to drop the ‘a’ when we speak – and if you want to be true to Sanskrit, you will have to make a conscious effort to switch language hats – and not equate Hindi to Sanskrit. It's very difficult, but not impossible.
What makes it even more difficult is the English spellings we are used to – which are geared to the Hindi pronunciation. So, automatically हम आखरी 'अ' खा जाते हैं. In Hindi we pronounce the word like as if it ends on a consonant (Raam) - in the process we drop a complete syllable. In Sanskrit, the 'a' at the end in conjunction with the consonant (म्+अ) counts as a separate syllable. Let me give you some examples:
We have no problem with any other vowel, आ, इ, ई, उ, ऊ, ए, ऐ, ओ, औ - there we understand that it is a halanta (not halant :-)) consonant -क् च् ट् etc + the vowel, so क्+ई=की. But in the case of 'अ' we forget, or just slip into the familiar 'Hindified' version.
This will become very important when we proceed to words in Sandhi - for instance सतसत् is not सत+सत् . but सत्+असत् (real and unreal/true and untrue). Likewise धर्मधर्मः is not dharma and dharma as it seems at first glance, but dharm+'adharma' in a copulative compound. So you could get the meaning of a word, a line, a verse completely wrong.
So please do make it a habit to look at the end of a word carefully if it ends in 'a' - what are called a-kaarant words - and pronounce the 'a', or at least be aware of it - that'll be a good start!