There are in every language polysemic words for which there are no English equivalents, words that have not a single meaning but a range of meanings, and Sanskrit is particularly prone to this semantic proliferation: it has been said that every word in Sanskrit designates its basic meaning, the opposite of that, a word for an elephant, a name of God, and a position in sexual intercourse. In confronting a Sanskrit text, therefore, the translator must make choices that reflect his or her opinion of what the text is most likely to be about (an elephant, God, …) - Wendy Doniger, The Laws of Manu (Penguin Classics) p. lxxiii
Verse 39 (Sutra 16) describes a mantra practice, and Shiva uses the word pluta, defined in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (M-W) as “floated, floating or swimming in, bathed, overflowed, submerged, covered or filled with, protracted, prolated or lengthened, flown, leaping, a flood, deluge . . .). These all are evocative of the experience of meditating with a mantra, especially as attention shifts from outer pronunciation to subvocal speech, then to the energy impulse of the word. You could reverse-engineer these descriptors by interviewing yoga practitioners. If you ask them what they are experiencing, those who know how to meditate will spontaneously say, “I feel flooded by the sound, bathed in the mantra.”
The usual translation of pluta is simply “protracted.” I like to use as much of the polysemy as I can fit in to a sutra.
|(H2)pluta [p= 715,2] [L=141548]||mfn.|
|[p=715,3] [L=141549]||protracted , prolated or lengthened (as a vowel) to 3|
|[L=141551]||leaped , leaping|
When Devi, the Goddess, dares her lover to speak the secrets of yoga, she uses the word samshaya (saṃśaya), one of the meanings of which is “doubt.” The primary dictionary definition of the word, however, is “lying down to rest or sleep,” from sam (together) + saya (lying, sleeping), as you can see by looking up the roots in a Sanskrit dictionary or reading Christopher Chapple’s luminous translation of The Yoga Sutras.
Saya also means, “a bed, a couch.” This is the second sentence Devi speaks, and already she is suggesting that perhaps they can lie down together and he can tell her all about it. In Sanskrit, as Michael Coulson points out, “... punning is made possible on a scale inconceivable in a natural language –” (Teach Yourself Sanskrit, p. xxii.) The language abounds in earthy humor and sexual innuendo.
|(H1)saṃ-śaya [p= 1117,2] [L=226555]||&c|
|(H2)saṃ-śaya [p= 1117,3] [L=226571]||m.|
|[L=226572]||uncertainty , irresolution , hesitation , doubt in or of (|
|[L=226573]||a doubtful matter|
|[L=226575]||difficulty , danger , risk of or in or to (|
When Shiva describes the Yoga of Kissing in Sutra 47 (verse 70) the word he uses is lehana. Usually translated as “kissing,” the actual definition is “the act of licking, tasting, or lapping with the tongue.” To lovers, licking is an utterly different word than kissing. When monks, nuns, and arid scholars translate this word, they tend to edit out the juiciness.
|(H2)lehana [p= 903,1] [L=182746]||n.|
When Devi uses the word, bindu, it means “a detached particle, drop, globule,” and also, resonating there to add meaning and humor: “a spot or mark of colored paint on the body of an elephant,” and “a mark made by the teeth of a lover on the lips of his mistress.”
|(H2)bindú [p= 731,2] [L=145141]||m.|
|[p=731,2] [L=145143]||a drop of water taken as a measure|
|[p=731,2] [L=145144]||a spot or mark of coloured paint on the body of an elephant|
|[p=731,2] [L=145146]||a zero or cypher|
|[p=731,2] [L=145148]||a mark made by the teeth of a lover on the lips of his mistress|
|[p=731,2] [L=145149]||a coloured mark made on the forehead between the eyebrows|
|(H2B)bindú [p= 731,2] [L=145151]||m.|
|(H2B)bindú [p= 731,2] [L=145152]||m.|
|(H2B)bindú [p= 731,2] [L=145153]||m.|
|(H2B)bindú [p= 731,2] [L=145154]||m.|
The language is coded as densely as if I said to you, “BB King, Clapton, Hendrix, Beck.” That is eight syllables. If you know these musicians, each word evokes a style, a set list, a series of legendary, era-defining performances, and the awakening that the music evoked in the listeners. In the Vijnanabhairava, each verse is composed of four feet of eight syllables each. Saying to the future, “Here is 32 syllables, a text, a tweet. Here is the greatest thing I have ever learned, it is encoded so there is not one extra syllable, one extraneous thought. It’s as perfect as I know how to make it.”
Lets look at some more examples. Everyone uses the word sevā as if it means, “service” but it has rich overtones:
sevā- Visiting, service, worship, sexual intercourse with, addiction to, indulgence in
f. going or resorting to , visiting , frequenting.
service , attendance on, "to be in the service of ") Mn. MBh. &c
worship , homage , reverence , devotion to (gen. or comp.) ib.
sexual intercourse with (comp.) Hit. Subh.
addiction to , indulgence in , practice or employment or frequent enjoyment of (comp.) Nir. Mn. MBh. &c
Great puns there within the word sevā!
The word samdhi (saṃdhí) used to describe the modifications to Sanskrit words, the way they are always messing with the pronunciation of their sounds.
Sandhi (saṃ-dhí)- Junction
- containing a conjunction or transition from one to the other
- association, intercourse with
- euphonic junction of final and initial letters in grammar (every sentence in Sanskrit being regarded as a euphonic chain)
- place or point of connection or contact
- the space between heaven and earth
- the vagina or vulva
- a juncture or division of a drama
- a period at the expiration of each yuga or age
- a part, portion, piece of anything
- a goddess presiding over junction or union
āsana-Sitting, or the place on an elephant where the driver sits
-sitting , sitting down
-sitting in peculiar posture according to the custom of devotees, (five or , in other places , even eighty-four postures are enumerated ; » padmā*sana , bhadrā*sana , vajrā*sana , vīrā asana svastikā asana: the manner of sitting forming part of the eightfold observances of ascetics)
-halting , stopping , encamping
-abiding , dwelling
-seat , place , stool
-the withers of an elephant , the part where the driver sits L.
-maintaining a post against an enemy
Now lets look at indriya, a word used in yoga to refer to the senses - or semen
indriyá mfn. fit for or belonging to or agreeable to indra RV.
m. a companion of indra(?) RV. i , 107 , 2 AV. xix , 27
n. power , force , the quality which belongs especially to the mighty indra RV. AV. VS. TS. AitBr.
n. exhibition of power , powerful act RV. VS.
n. bodily power , power of the senses
n. virile power AV. VS. S3Br.
n. semen virile VS. Ka1tyS3r. MBh. &c
n. faculty of sense , sense , organ of sense AV. Sus3r. Mn. Ragh. Kir. &c
n. the number five as symbolical of the five senses. (In addition to the five organs of perception , buddhī*ndriyāṇi or jñāne*ndriyāṇi , i.e. eye , ear , nose , tongue , and skin , the Hindus enumerate five organs of action , karme*ndriyāṇi i.e. larynx , hand , foot , anus , and parts of generation ; between these ten organs and the soul or ātman stands manas or mind , considered as an eleventh organ ; in the vedānta , manas , buddhi , ahaṃkāra , and citta form the four inner or internal organs , antar-indriyāṇi , so that according to this reckoning the organs are fourteen in number , each being presided over by its own ruler or niyantṛ ; thus , the eye by the Sun , the ear by the Quarters of the world , the nose by the two aśvins , the tongue by pracetas , the skin by the Wind , the voice by Fire , the hand by indra , the foot by viṣṇu , the anus by mitra , the parts of generation by prajāpati , manas by the Moon , buddhi by brahman , ahaṃkāra by śiva , citta by viṣṇu as acyuta ; in the nyāya philosophy each organ is connected with its own peculiar element , the nose with the Earth , the tongue with Water , the eye with Light or Fire , the skin with Air , the ear with Ether ; the jainas divide the whole creation into five sections , according to the number of organs attributed to each being.)
(H2) indriya [p= 1321,1] [L=321420] (in comp.)
indriyagocara - mfn. being within the range of the senses , perceptible , capable of being ascertained by the senses.
In verse 8 of the VBT, Bhairava refers to Devi with the term Bhadra - Blessed, gracious, beautiful lover, hypocrite, kind of elephant, class of gods under the third manu.
In Sutra 26 (verse 49) Bhairava says, padma samputa. Just look at the definitions:
padmā - lotus, mark on face of elephant, pillar, temple, body posture, treasure of the god Kubera, particularly cold hell
(H1) padma [p= 584,2]
mn. (2. or 3. pad?) a lotus (esp. the flower of the lotus-plant Nelumbium Speciosum which closes towards evening ; often confounded with the water-lily or Nymphaea Alba) MBh. Ka1v. &c (ifc. f(ā).)
the form or figure of a lotus R. Ma1rkP. (a N. given by the tāntrikas to the 6 divisions of the upper part of the body called cakras q.v.)
a partic. mark or mole on the human body R.
red or coloured marks on the face or trunk of an elephant L.
a partic. part of a column or pillar Var.
a kind of temple ib.
an army arrayed in the form of a lotus Mn. MBh.
a partic. posture of the body in religious meditation , Veda7nt. (cf. padmā*sana)
a kind of coitus L.
one of the 9 treasures of kubera (also personified) R.
one of the 8 treasures connected with the magical art called padminī MBh. Hariv. &c
a partic. high number (1000 millions or billions) MBh. R. &c
a partic. constellation Var.
N. of a partic. cold hell Buddh.
a partic. fragrant substance MBh. (v.l. °maka)
the root of Nelumbium Speciosum L.
a species of bdellium L.
(H1B) padma m. a species of plant L.
yama - rein, bridle, driver, restraint, minor observance, any rule or observance, twin, forming a pair, the God of Death, Saturn, pitch of the voice, tone of utterance …
(H2) yáma [p= 846,1] [L=170382]
m. a rein , curb , bridle RV. v , 61 , 2
a driver , charioteer ib. viii , 103 , 10
the act of checking or curbing , suppression , restraint (with vācām , restraint of words , silence) BhP.
self-control forbearance , any great moral rule or duty (as opp. to niyama , a minor observance ; in Ya1jn5. iii , 313 ten yamas are mentioned , sometimes only five) Mn. MBh. &c
(in yoga) self-restraint (as the first of the eight aṅgas or means of attaining mental concentration) IW. 93
any rule or observance Pa1rGr2.
(H2B) yamá [L=170388]
mf(ā́ or ī́)n. twin-born , twin , forming a pair RV. &c
(H2B) yáma [L=170389]
m. a twin , one of a pair or couple , a fellow (du. " the twins " N. of the aśvins and of their twin children by mādrī , called nakula and saha-deva ; yamau mithunau , twins of different sex) ib.
(H2B) yáma [L=170390]
m. a symbolical N. for the number " two " Hcat.
(H2B) yáma [p= 846,2] [p= 846,1] [L=170391]
m. N. of the god who presides over the pitṛs (q.v.) and rules the spirits of the dead RV. &c IW. 18 ; 197 , 198 &c RTL. 10 ; 16 ; 289 &c (he is regarded as the first of men and born from vivasvat , " the Sun " , and his wife saraṇyū ; while his brother , the seventh manu , another form of the first man , is the son of vivasvat and saṃjñā , the image of saraṇyū ; his twin-sister is yamī , with whom he resists sexual alliance , but by whom he is mourned after his death , so that the gods , to make her forget her sorrow , create night ; in the veda he is called a king or saṃgamano janānām , " the gatherer of men " , and rules over the departed fathers in heaven , the road to which is guarded by two broad-nosed , four-eyed , spotted dogs , the children of śaramā q.v. ; in Post-vedic mythology he is the appointed Judge and " Restrainer " or " Punisher " of the dead , in which capacity he is also called dharmarāja or dharma and corresponds to the Greek Pluto and to Minos ; his abode is in some region of the lower world called yama-pura ; thither a soul when it leaves the body , is said to repair , and there , after the recorder , citra-gupta , has read an account of its actions kept in a book called agra-saṃdhānā , it receives a just sentence ; in MBh. yama is described as dressed in blood-red garments , with a glittering form , a crown on his head , glowing eyes and like varuṇa , holding a noose , with which he binds the spirit after drawing it from the body , in size about the measure of a man's thumb ; he is otherwise represented as grim in aspect , green in colour , clothed in red , riding on a buffalo , and holding a club in one hind and noose in the other ; in the later mythology he is always represented as a terrible deity inflicting tortures , called yātanā , on departed spirits ; he is also one of the 8 guardians of the world as regent of the South quarter ; he is the regent of the nakṣatra apa-bharaṇī or bharaṇī , the supposed author of RV. x , 10 ; 14 , of a hymn to viṣṇu and of a law-book ; yamasyā*rkaḥ N. of a sāman A1rshBr. )
(H2B) yáma [L=170392]
m. N. of the planet Saturn (regarded as the son of vivasvat and chāyā) Hariv. BhP.
(H2B) yáma [L=170393]
m. of one of skanda's attendants (mentioned together with ati-yama) MBh.
(H2B) yáma [L=170394]
m. a crow L. (cf. -dūtaka)
(H2B) yáma [L=170395]
m. a bad horse (whose limbs are either too small or too large) L.
(H2B) yáma [L=170397]
n. a pair , brace , couple L.
(H2B) yáma [L=170398]
n. (in gram.) a twin-letter (the consonant interposed and generally understood , but not written in practice , between a nasal immediately preceded by one of the four other consonants in each class) Pra1t. Pat. on Pa1n2. 1-1 , 8
(H2B) yáma [L=170399]
n. pitch of the voice , tone of utterance , key Pra1t.
sampuṭa - bowl, kind of coitus
(H1) sam-puṭa [p= 1173,1] [L=236158] m. (ifc. f(ā). ; cf. puṭa) a hemispherical bowl or anything so shaped Ka1v. Sus3r. Hcat.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236159] the space between two bowls Bhpr.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236160] a round covered case or box or casket (for jewellery &c ) Ni1lak.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236161] a hemisphere Gol.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236162] the kurabaka flower L.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236163] a kind of coitus L.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236164] credit , balance (°ṭe- √likh with gen. , " to write down to the credit of ") Katha1s.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236165] N. of wk. Buddh.
[p= 1173,1] [L=236166] = eka-jātīyo*bhayamadhya-vartin Tantras.