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The Sanskrit – English Glossary etc.

Sanskrit, that poetic language of our ancient teachers, does not have any  capacity to linger  in my brain. I read a Sanskrit word, comprehend its translation and I forget it before I’ve turned the page. This is my brain. I’ve learned to live with it. Although, I have to confess, having just written that sentence, I’m struck by the images of a certain public service announcement slightly re-written… “This is your brain”… “This is your brain on Sanskrit” but I digress, …

Excuse me, but is this the week we’re discussing citta-vritti, mind fluctuation you’ve come to know and love? How apropos that I can’t freaking focus on anything during New Brunswick’s official Citta-vritti week.

Again, focus, Kate, focus… Back to the Sanskrit-English Glossary, Compendium, Concordance, Cheat sheet, All Purpose, One Size Fits All, Your Mileage May Vary, Objects May Appear Closer In the Mirror, Laundry List of All Things Sanskrit I have Encountered and Lived to Tell the Tale. Back in 2008, when I was studying for my teaching certification, I was even MORE scatter brained about Sanskrit than I am today. In a valiant effort to keep my neurons from spontaneously combusting, I started entering the terms on a little electronic data organizer that I kept beside me while I was reading. When it was time to write the final exam for the course, I printed off a copy for each of my classmates and it was received well by them. This started as my little private stash of terms and terminology to be disposed of, once and for all, when I got the teaching certificate in my hot little hands. So much for plans..

And over time, it’s grown. The electronic gizmo died and now I have way MORE room on the ‘big computer’. The little one word quick reminders have grown into paragraphs in places. This summer, after doing my training on Chapter One of the Yoga Sutras, I cross-referenced where each word fell in the aphorisms. This could come in handy during your next Pub Trivia night out. For example, if the question is “How many times does the word “va” (or) appears in Chapter One of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali?”, you’ll be able to state with some degree of confidence and the sound of authority ringing in your voice ” Seven”. If you’re a real smart-arse, you’ll be able to list them off in numerical order: YSP 1.23, YSP 1.34, YSP 1.35, YSP 1.36, YSP 1.37, YSP 1.38, and YSP 1.39. At which point, none of your friends will talk to you, so don’t say you weren’t warned. Nobody likes a wise acre, particularly at Pub Trivia night.

All the time I was collecting this stuff, I kept mumbling that Somebody ought to pull all this stuff together. As usual, when that thought goes through my head, it takes me about 6-8 months to figure out that Somebody is actually me. When I was starting this ‘blog, I decided to put the original version of the glossary on the web. It was very well received. It’s the most popular page on this blog by far and I’ve left it up as a public service for anyone who is interesting in these topics.

This entire preamble is leading into my current challenge. In the past three years, I have probably read 80 or more books on some aspect of yoga, yoga philosophy, Buddhism, Ayurveda, blah, blah, etc. I have read countless magazine articles, electronic yoga forum bulletin boards. I have visited more Websites than I can possibly enumerate. I’ve taken classes and discussed some of these ideas with fellow students. And not ONCE in that entire process did I ever think to write down any information that would allow me to attribute the contributions of the original authors. This was always intended as my private reference.

So now I’m feeling a little awkward about putting the Sanskrit-English Glossary, Compendium, Concordance, … Laundry List of All Things Sanskrit I have Encountered and Lived to Tell the Tale on the Web. I might have compiled it and put it in one document but I did not write it. I’m not a Sanskrit scholar. Every one of these terms, I got from someplace else and it’s too late for me to figure out the footnotes.

So here’s the current version of the conundrum. Is it ethical for me to publish this for other people to access? Or is this theft? Am I stealing from the original contributors? Is this plagiarism in the larger sense of the concept? This might sound trivial but when I signed on to teaching yoga, I signed on to broad code of ethics, which includes not lying and not stealing and I want to live up to those values.

I’ve given this a fair bit of thought and for now, I’ve left the Glossary etc up on the Web. My rationale behind that decision is that I’m not making any attempt to pass this off as my own original work. Secondly, I am not making any money from it. My accountant can promise you that this is NOT a commercial venture. Revenue Canada can back up the claims. Thirdly, I know that my intention in this matter is laudable – allowing people to more easily access the philosophy of yoga. This is offered in the spirit of seva – selfless service for the joy of it, a work offered to God. If one of the entries on it happens to be yours and I’ve cribbed it without attribution, please contact me and I’ll correct that as quickly as possible.

Secondly, I’m going to ask that people access it all they want but that they don’t copy the document and print it out. First, I’m always changing it as I read more and as I learn new things. Secondly, as it stands today, broken up into two columns, the entire thing prints out on 21 pages. If everyone accessing that page prints it, we’ve just killed a lot of trees. And that would definitely be wrong.

Of course, no sooner had I hit the publish button on it then I noticed two..three..four.. mistakes. I’ll go back and correct them as time goes on but consider yourself warned. There are duplicate entries, usually because there was a slight variation on spellings in the transliteration process from the little squiggly lines to Roman alphabet characters. I haven’t got all those weeded out. I’ll get to that as soon as I figure out which set of “rules” I’m going to follow.

Namaste and thanks for reading,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

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