sanskrit: सुमनाः सर्वदा धर्मे चेतो दध्यात् ।

MindBoggle

Senior Member
Danish. English from childhood
Hello guys!

My book has:

सुमनाः सर्वदा धर्मे चेतो दध्यात् ।

- and I don't get it.

My translation:

The mind always wants to put the beautiful [women] in the dharma.

Either my translation is wrong, or I don't get the point. Or both.
Looking up धा - normally 'to put' - I found a secondary meaning: 'to possess'. This seems to make some sense here. In that case, maybe:

The mind always wants to possess the beautiful [women]...
- but what about the धर्मे?
The mind in dharma? Or possess in dharma? Or the women in dharma? Or what? :confused:

If somebody can see what this weird sentence is supposed to mean, please share.

Regards,
MindBoggle
 
  • MindBoggle

    Senior Member
    Danish. English from childhood
    Ah, maybe always goes with dharma?

    - id est:

    The beautiful women, [who are] always in dharma, [is what] the mind wants to possess.

    That would make a lot of sense. I think maybe I solved it. Or what do y'all think?

    - or is there a typo or some kind of weird sandhi?

    सुमनः (short a) सर्वदा धर्मे चेतो दध्यात् ।

    would mean (I guess): A good-minded [person] ought to fix [his] mind always in dharma.

    - which would also make a lot of sense.

    Aha! I found this:
    "S-final nouns in masc. and fem. have their stem vowel lengthened in the nom. sing."

    That explains it! It is सुमनः after all, only with a long a because it is nom. sing. masc!

    Suddenly everything is clear, and the translation simply becomes:

    A good-minded [person] wants to fix [his] mind always on dharma.

    :)

    Indeed he does.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Aha! I found this:
    "S-final nouns in masc. and fem. have their stem vowel lengthened in the nom. sing."

    That explains it! It is सुमनः after all, only with a long a because it is nom. sing. masc!


    Nice detective job there! :)

    Suddenly everything is clear, and the translation simply becomes:

    A good-minded [person] wants to fix [his] mind always on dharma.

    I am wondering, don't you think "A good-minded [person] ought to fix [his] mind ... etc." would be closer in meaning? Unless, of course, there is a larger context that demands your interpretation.
     

    MindBoggle

    Senior Member
    Danish. English from childhood
    I am wondering, don't you think "A good-minded [person] ought to fix [his] mind ... etc." would be closer in meaning? Unless, of course, there is a larger context that demands your interpretation.

    I thought about that too, but decided against it. My reasoning was that everybody ought to fix their minds on dharma (I guess), but that which characterizes the good-minded person in particular is the fact that he wants to do good.

    - but I don't know. Ought to is definitely also possible. :)
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    I think you're over-thinking it a bit, MindBoggle, although on the other hand, don't get me wrong, thinking hard about capturing the sense of the sentence so as to give the perfect, subtlest translation is certainly commendable. But this is only a little Deshpande sentence and I don't think the author really had any special meaning in mind, I think he just wanted to help you practise the grammar :p

    The reason I say this is that दध्यात् dadhyāt is an optative, as you know, and I wouldn't want to say you were wrong to translate it as 'wants to', but its really much more common to see this rendered as should (or, depending on context, might/can/will, etc.) Sanskrit has other ways of saying wants to, you can use the verb इष् iṣ-, of course, with an infinitive, or you can use the desiderative.

    Having said that, I do have written down:

    "The optative is used to express a wish, or a desire, usually expressed in English by modals such as: may, would, should." But perhaps "wants to" would work after all, I just think it's reading a bit too much into it, personally. On the other hand, it's your translation and it reflects a good deal of thought. I don't like conducting this thought-experiment myself and I don't think really that you should be very concerned with always trying to please examiners or anything like that, but I would - as a word of caution - say some people may be surprised to see the optative translated like this and may think you've misunderstood. (Then again, they may just know better than I do! :p) And although I don't necessarily encourage preoccupation with exams, I do have a suspicion that you might find that other Sanskritists would expect a "should/ought to" over a "wants to" here, which may be a convention worth following :)
     

    MindBoggle

    Senior Member
    Danish. English from childhood
    "The optative is used to express a wish, or a desire, usually expressed in English by modals such as: may, would, should." But perhaps "wants to" would work after all, I just think it's reading a bit too much into it, personally.
    I do have a suspicion that you might find that other Sanskritists would expect a "should/ought to" over a "wants to" here, which may be a convention worth following :)

    I hear you. Delbrück believes (and I agree) that the indoeuropean optative, historically speaking, primarily expressed a wish (or at least some sort of inner disposition in the direction of performing the action indicated by the verb).
    I'm sure you are right that in classical sanskrit things are more complex. Nevertheless, I feel that an 'inner dispostion'-translation should still be correct even in classical sanskrit (which, of course, is what Deshpande is trying to teach). :)

    But you're probably right - I'm thinking too much. :eek:
     
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