Sanskrit: strange grammatical structure

MindBoggle

Senior Member
Danish. English from childhood
Hello everybody! :)

My book has:

सुर्यः स्वतेजसा जगति प्रकाशं तनोति । तथा सुपुरुषो जगति ज्ञानदीपेन अज्ञानतमो भेत्स्यामीति मनुते ।

I can't make sense of the second sentence. My translation - from the start - runs like this:

The sun sheds light on the world with its radiance. In that way the wellspirited in the world by the lamp of knowledge the most ignorant I shall destroy, one thinks.

Clearly there is some sort of metaphorical parallel going on, and it seems clear what the second sentence should mean, but I can't seem to make it do so. I don't understand the structure. भेत्स्यामि seems to be first person sing fut, I shall break/destroy, but there doesn't seem to be an object. What shall I destroy? सुपुरुषो and अज्ञानतमो appear to be in the nominative and therefore, logically, seems to describe an implied अहं (who shall destroy). Is the point that भेत्स्यामि should be taken as intransitive (meaning 'I shall fall asunder') In that case the translation should be:

In that way, I, the wellspirited, the most ignorant in the world, by the lamp of knowledge, shall fall asunder.

It sounds somewhat strange, and furthermore the parallel seems to be lost, so I suspect something is wrong.

What am I doing wrong?

Any ideas?

Best regards,
MindBoggle
 
  • Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    You had me worried for a moment there MindBoggle! But it is, of course, सूर्यः sūryaḥ - simple typo :)

    You know, I'm sure I have a vague recollection of people struggling with sentence back when I was doing 1st year Sanskrit two years ago! Maybe it was just something similar.

    There's also an oddity in the saṃdhi in that I can't work out why it is ज्ञानदीपेन अज्ञानतमो and not ज्ञानदीपेनाज्ञानतमो - unless that's just to help us out

    Okay, let's see:

    सूर्यः = nom sg of masc noun sūrya- "the Sun"
    स्वतेजसा = ins sg of neut noun svatejas- (obviously from sva- + tejas-) "its own splendour"
    जगति = loc sg of the neut noun jagat- "the world"
    प्रकाशं < प्रकाशम् = acc sg of masc noun prakāśa- "light"
    तनोति = 3 sg, pres, act from the root tan- "shine"
    तथा = ind. "so, in that way"
    सुपुरुषो < सुपुरुषः = nom sg masc of supuruṣa- (su- + puruṣa-) "good man"
    जगति = loc sg of the neut noun jagat- "the world"
    ज्ञानदीपेन = ins sg of the masc noun jñānadīpa- (jñāna- + dīpa-) "lamp of knowledge"
    अज्ञानतमो < अज्ञानतमः = acc sg of the neut ajñānatamas- (a- + jñāna- + tamas-) "the darkness of ignorance"
    भेत्स्यामी < भेत्स्यामि = 1 sg, fut, act from the root bhid- "destroy"
    ति < इति = ind. marks the end of a quotation
    मनुते = 3 sg, pres, mid from the root man- "think"

    I think मनुते manute agrees with सुपुरुष supuruṣa-, i.e. the good man thinks "जगति ज्ञानदीपेन अज्ञानतमो भेत्स्यामि," with the इति iti obviously marking the end of what he (the good man) thinks. In English this may be best expressed as an indirect quotation 'So/similarly/thus the good man thinks that he will ..."

    As for what he thinks, I think अज्ञानतमो must be the acc sg ajñānatamas-, which would be formed from ajñāna- (a- + jñāna-) "without knowledge/ignorance" + tamas- "darkness".

    And so it becomes:

    "The Sun shines light upon the whole world with its own radiance. So the good man thinks: 'I will destroy the darkness of ignorance in the world with the lamp of knowledge.'"
     

    MindBoggle

    Senior Member
    Danish. English from childhood
    You had me worried for a moment there MindBoggle! But it is, of course, सूर्यः sūryaḥ - simple typo :)

    Oops, yes of course. :eek:

    You know, I'm sure I have a vague recollection of people struggling with sentence back when I was doing 1st year Sanskrit two years ago! Maybe it was just something similar.

    Yes, I'm on 1st year. ;)

    There's also an oddity in the saṃdhi in that I can't work out why it is ज्ञानदीपेन अज्ञानतमो and not ज्ञानदीपेनाज्ञानतमो - unless that's just to help us out.

    He often omits sandhi to help out, so no doubt that's it.

    अज्ञानतमो < अज्ञानतमः = acc sg of the neut ajñānatamas- (a- + jñāna- + tamas-) "the darkness of ignorance"

    Ahh! I thought it was superlative of ajñāna. Now it makes sense!

    I think मनुते manute agrees with सुपुरुष supuruṣa-, i.e. the good man thinks

    Yes, I had that idea myself, but because of the ajñāna-thing I got wrong, it still didn't make sense, and so I thought maybe it wasn't right.

    As for what he thinks, I think अज्ञानतमो must be the acc sg ajñānatamas-, which would be formed from ajñāna- (a- + jñāna-) "without knowledge/ignorance" + tamas- "darkness".

    And so it becomes:

    "The Sun shines light upon the whole world with its own radiance. So the good man thinks: 'I will destroy the darkness of ignorance in the world with the lamp of knowledge.'"

    Yes. Agree.

    Thanks a bunch! :)

    MindBoggle
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    It's alright, I too thought it was ajñānatama-. I saw this post when it first went up or not long after and I wrote up my little grammatical analysis and then I was pulled up short, because I couldn't make any sense of it. So I left it, hoping that someone would come along who could clarify and then I could just chip in with a few other observations like the one about saṃdhi and then provide the grammatical analysis for completeness, but nobody ever did. So I puzzled over it some more and was just typing up a fairly useless reply explaining how and why I was totally stuck too when it occurred to me at the last minute that having ajñānatama- as a nominative and the verb being in the 1 sg and the semantics not working - it just wasn't right, something was up - and only then did it occur to me to have another look in the dictionary and to give tamas- a go :p
     

    MindBoggle

    Senior Member
    Danish. English from childhood
    It's alright, I too thought it was ajñānatama-. I saw this post when it first went up or not long after and I wrote up my little grammatical analysis and then I was pulled up short, because I couldn't make any sense of it. So I left it, hoping that someone would come along who could clarify and then I could just chip in with a few other observations like the one about saṃdhi and then provide the grammatical analysis for completeness, but nobody ever did. So I puzzled over it some more and was just typing up a fairly useless reply explaining how and why I was totally stuck too when it occurred to me at the last minute that having ajñānatama- as a nominative and the verb being in the 1 sg and the semantics not working - it just wasn't right, something was up - and only then did it occur to me to have another look in the dictionary and to give tamas- a go :p

    Thank you for your effort, Au. You are most generous. :thumbsup: :)
    - and it's encouraging that it's not just I who find it difficult. :cool:

    Best regards,
    MindBoggle
     
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