Bliss Blunder

Bliss Blunder

Bliss by Naim Fadil
Bliss by Naim Fadil
Pullman Lake, Putrajaya, Malaysia

Sanskrit itself is straightforward. Each letter is pronounced one way. Yet every letter is also a mantra with known effects. The grammatical rules are complex and often trip up scholars and teachers. Unlike Western languages, Sanskrit words flow together into unbroken phrases as they represent the flows of consciousness. We need some finesse when we break the flow up into word-ideas.

Many grammatical rules revolve around the meeting of consonants in a flow. They may be combined, changed, or a vowel inserted to retain the flow. One example is Rig Veda, the core book of the Vedas. The first word is Rik but when it’s joined with a V-word, K becomes G; like a soft K.

There is also some corruption from modern Hindi habits, such as in the famous mantra Om. I explore that here.

Turns out there’s another common bug. That’s in spelling bliss “ananda.”

The word for bliss is usually combined with other words. For example, satchitananda. Typically, it’s broken up into sat:absolute, chit:consciousness, and ananda:bliss, aka absolute bliss consciousness, a term for established Self Realization.

However, ‘A’ starting a word is its negation. For example, asat is non-absolute or non-truth. Ananda actually means not-bliss.

The correct word for bliss is Nanda.

Here we have another example of stumbling over Sanskrit word-joining rules. When the T of chit bumps against the following N, TA is retained, a vowel between 2 consonants.

Update: I blundered also. In the example Satchitananda, the Sanskrit uses Taa with a long A. Again, the aa is being passed to Nanda. Long-A aananda means joy, enjoyment. Short a is negation as above, long aa is superlative.
We have three flavours in play:
ananda = joyless
aananda, as in satchitaananda = joy, enjoyment
nanda = delight, bliss

Another definition: Nandi = happy person.

However, I stand by my original point. Taa is part of Chit. Aananda is a valid word for joy but nanda is closest to the feel of bliss. It’s the core word in the example too. I’m going by feel rather than academic expertise here.

Why not divide it as Chita Nanda? Chita implies Chitta, meaning activity in consciousness or thinking. That changes the meaning. Punting the A to the next word is also wrong. The A just needs to be dropped.

Chitananda is bliss consciousness. But Chit Ananda is blissless consciousness. (laughs)

Satchitananda should thus be broken out as Sat, Chit, and Nanda.

Typical of a dark age that bliss would be lost to a grammatical error.

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  1. Jim

    “Typical of a dark age that bliss would be lost to a grammatical error.”
    Yep, that’s why they call it His-Story 🙂
    What about my mentor Brahmananda Saraswati?
    “Brahm Nanda”? or, “Brahman and uh, Saraswati”?

  2. Herwig

    My life was too busy to learn Sanskrit (I shamefully admit that the true reason was my laziness 😉 )

    But you make me rethink. Maybe I should start learning? I am afraid I won‘t find a teacher out here though)
    I remember Maharishi saying that the ancient Sanskrit texts and words could change their meanings throughout the ages. He explained it with the example of “a”, which could function as a negation (as you have shown above and like it still is in most Indo European languages), but could also mean the opposite. In Sat Yuga it was fullness, in Kali Yuga emptiness.
    This is corresponds to Maharishi’s frequently repeated elaboration of the beginning of Rik Veda “Agnim ile purohitam …”
    The open vowel representing unboundedness is confronted with an abrupt stop (boundary) in the plosive “g”, and thus starts creation, all the rest of the Veda being an elaborate commentary on the first step into duality.

    To me this explanation of two values of “a” has also served as a help to understand the Buddhist concept of Anatma (Anatta).
    The apparent contradiction to the concept of Vedanta disappears when the point value merges into the universe. When all is one, nothing really exists any more in the sense of being a separate unit. On the other hand, absolute nothingness becomes fullness from the point of view of unlimited possibilities.
    It really depends on the state of the epoc or society which approach is more appropriate.

    In order to avoid misunderstanding, Maharishi insisted on describing the relationship of individual and cosmos in terms of “growing” rather than “dissolving” into.

    (we could here start another debate about stages of consciousness and road maps, which I am trying to avoid, because it is beyond my range of comprehension).

    1. Hi Herwig
      An academic study of Sanskrit is very involved. But learning the basics just means learning the alphabet and proper pronunciation. Lots of practice, then you can read it and speak it. That’s most of what you’d want. MUM offers an online course.
      I’m wondering if he was referring to short and long A’s. Unlike English, Sanskrit is very defined. Vowels, like music notes, have single, double, and triple. Short and long (double) letters can change the meaning as we’ll discuss below.

      1. Herwig


        It is very long ago when I heard M. say that. Probably before the mid 70s. I definitely remember the statement that the semantics changes with time and that the a-thing had to do with negation vs superlative.
        He certainly did not go into further phonetic details.

        Thanks for the hint. I will check out the MUM-course. Basics are enough.
        Depends on the amount of effort. I still have to struggle a bit with improving my Spanish here.

        1. Hi Herwig
          He did speak of saving First Nations languages as they expressed the laws of nature of the area. We can certainly see how languages develop distinctly in different parts of the world. British English, US English, Canadian English, for example.
          It makes sense that it also changes by time.
          It also changes with stage of development. In Unity, for example, we live in a world of distinctions yet recognize it all as one and within my Self.
          Interesting detail as that matches the Update about short and long a’s – negation and superlative.
          My Sanskrit is rusty as I don’t read enough (as made obvious by this article) but I still value having that.

          1. Herwig

            No need for excuses. I know enough about language to understand how difficult it is to learn Sanskrit. That’s why I am so reluctant. And I know people who studied Indian Philology for 10-15 years until they finally got a degree. They had to learn several languages, but they could count Sanskrit as two because it is so old. The vedic language and the later Sanskrit were recognized as different languages. Makes sense. E.g. medieval English is probably easier for Germans to understand than for English native speakers.

            Anyway, interesting topic!

            1. 🙂
              But because it’s so consistent, it isn’t difficult to learn the basics. But yes, the nuances… There was an Indian PhD student studying Sanskrit while I was in grad school. She went to India to refine her pronunciation. Someone else was spending their entire PhD research reading Kalp (the text).
              It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if early Vedic language differed from Sanskrit. I don’t agree with some academics that Sanskrit migrated from the Middle East. It does seem to have arrived fully formed (cognized), then all the rules were added after.

              1. Herwig

                Wow! This is a big debate that you open up here. Stuff for lots of posts.

                What academics say about the origin is not much more than speculation, as far as I know. It is obvious that Sanskrit is an Indo European language – more closely related to European languages than to East Asian or even Southern Indian languages.
                Especially German romanticists got very enthusiastic when they discovered Sanskrit and thought it to be the mother of all languages. The English term “Middle East” does not seem very precise to me. I suppose it includes what we call the Near East, but not only. I do not believe that Sanskrit migrated FROM, but rather TO the area where the Abrahamic religions sprouted. The phonetic similarity is striking, isn’t it? The Vedic tradition forbid the worship of the creator – monotheism forbids the worship of all others except the creator. Which culture is the older one?
                On the other hand there are lot of similarities with European languages – even modern ones. The numbers are very much like those in Romanic languages. Or the German Word Atem (n), atmen (v.) is related to “atman”. This is no coincidence.

                I agree to much of what you say in “Sanskrit – Dead or Alive?” In the tradition of my family learning Latin still had a role. Training of logic and understanding complex structures in language.

                But there is one point that I can’t figure out when it comes to Sanskrit “being the language of nature itself” Interesting though as is definitely is – I can hardly talk about that (take a close look at the back rest of the chair in your Guru Dev picture, maybe then you understand)

                Have you ever been in India? After all we are talking about a culture that colonised another one. The Brahmins have been separated from the lower classes for millennia. And you can easily see that.

                The Myths, Puranas, revelations, Avatars etc are closely linked to the geography. For me personally this has never been a problem. But to claim this to be the universal stencil for all …?

                Of course, there is the same problem with the abrahamic traditions. But there I do not accept their claim of universality either.

                And then, there is my nationality (sigh). In Germany it is hardly possible to talk about our history BC without becoming a suspect. But the first time I read a translation of Rik Veda, I was struck by the similarity with the Edda. I have been in love with the old stories since childhood.

                This is our real heritage. But some people abused it.
                But it is not the right time for understanding this, I am afraid. Very delicate!

                I apologize for this flood of words. This is very emotional to me. Even my name. Herwig (my real first name) is the protagonist of a medieval German heroic epic, which can be considered an abbreviated northern European version of the Ramayana.


                Thank you for your patience.

                Shanti, shanti shanti

                1. Ah, lots of topics…
                  There’s an article here somewhere where I talk about English words that have Sanskrit roots.
                  I wouldn’t say the Vedas forbid worship of the creator so much as recommended using a form you resonate with. It’s hard to worship something without form or qualities.
                  Houston’s article linked in the article you may also like.
                  If you mean the wheel of karma symbol, thats something Hitler reversed and adopted. It’s unrelated to how it’s understood in India.
                  Sanskrit I’d describe as close to the human version of the language of nature. Nature itself uses core tones in resonant harmonies to create form, etc. Whereas humans speak linearly. That can tap into nature but are not as sophisticated.
                  I’ve spent some lifetimes in India but have not been there yet in this. The myths point to universal principles but are not in themselves universal. Other parts of the world have some similar history but it’s been largely lost. The story of “Atlantis” would be an example.
                  My bloodline is Norman on my fathers side. Invaded the UK in 1066 and stayed. 🙂
                  We all have histories as the conquerors and the conquered. The Brahmins have been Sudras, etc. It all comes out in the wash…

                2. It’s worth mentioning Buckminster Fuller’s Critical Path book. In there, he talks about how humans developed in the S. Pacific and the center of civilization has been migrating progressively east. SE Asia, India, Middle East, Europe, N America.
                  Of course this entirely based on the current historical narrative and leaves out a number of other civilizations, like in Africa and S America. But it contributes a more global perspective.

  3. Jeff

    As you add certain letters to a mantra, you experience greater detail in the diety that it represents. That is why once an individual integrates a certain level of silence, listening to Vedic recitation can be very very powerful. More and more letters syllables, verses, etc provides greater and greater detail. That way you can really pinpoint the results that are desired. It also makes transcending more and more interesting.

    1. Hi Jeff
      Right, but not just the deity but the larger field of qualities. You can start with a single law of nature but it always branches to others quickly into a symphony.
      But yes, you can focus directly into the desired result with the correct sound. There are examples of such things in the ancient stories from both West and East.
      The word, the true name, the sound that brought the wall down, and so forth.
      Thanks for commenting.

  4. David kolb

    You are incorrect about the Sanskrit word ānanda! Yes, a at the beginning of a Sanskrit word is usually a negation, but the a in the beginning of ānanda is a long ā and is not a negation. If you look up the word ananda with a short a in any Sanskrit dictionary you will find it means joyless, and if you look up ānanda with a long ā you will find it means joy.

    1. Ah – good point, David. I didn’t go far enough researching the article. We have 3 words in play.
      ananda, meaning joyless
      aananda, meaning joy or enjoyment
      nanda, meaning delight or bliss

      Nanda is definitely the word closest to the feel of bliss. Will update the article.

      1. Jim

        Thank you all for a great discussion on the subtleties of Sanskrit! I agree with your take on Nanda Davidya – it just vibrates that way. and also ananda – oh no!
        I have experimented with placing such phrases in the context of a pop music soundtrack to make the Sanskrit more accessible while retaining its power or effect.
        All I can say by virtue of my 45 year old TM mantra is the creative intelligence imbued within Sanskrit is so pure and precise, a real gift, and not a language at all as others are; more fundamental, the true language of creation.
        I would often get lost within when listening to the chanting of the Maharishi Vedic pandits. I managed to record much of the coronation of the rajas when it was on the Maharishi Channel years ago. Felt like my entire internal architecture was being purified and reconstructed. A little goes a long way. 🙂
        Thanks again!

  5. Jeff

    The eeg research team at MUM has found that the graduate students studying Sanskrit are the fastest in structuring coherence in the brain.

    Also, it is said that traditionally, only Brahmins are allowed in India to study to become pundits because they are the only ones who can accurately pronounce all the different sounds.

    Last summer, I spent a month in India at an Ashram that teaches young Brahmans to become pundits. The combination of listening to Vedic recitation, doing Panchakarma, doing group meditation program with the pundits; all in view of the Himalayas was pure bliss. The silence in group meditation was flavored with a Devi quality. I think that is because they spend a lot of time chanting Devi recitation.

    1. The movie Arrival is a fascinating story of language. In the process of trying to learn their language, the linguist drops out of linear time and starts remembering the future, etc.
      Sanskrit has that closer association between name and form. The sound of the word corresponds more closely to the sounds used to create the form the word represents. Sound, form, and meaning are more integrated, leading to better internal integration.
      One of the reasons I quote the Isha Upanishad at the bottom of the blog is the effect reading it in Sanskrit has.
      The caste system is about guiding the dharma of people in their lifetime so they’ll get the best results. But it’s been corrupted by egos thinking they’re better than, failing to remember they’ve been all of them.
      Brahmins are supposed to serve as the light-holders of society. They are nothing without the leadership and the society around them. If they put themselves above others, they have failed their dharma. Historically everyone used the sounds of nature to get work done. Keeping knowledge to themselves stunts society. Big topic.
      Beautiful. I’d like to do longer panchakarma. That may lead me to India. I’ve done all of those things but not together.

      1. Jeff

        I realize that both the caste system and discrimination of gender are controversial, especially in this day and age. But Brahman boys chanting the Vedic literature as pundits is an Indian tradition that has been upheld by Maharishi. I am not in a position to argue this decision one way or another. All I know is that by my experience, their recitation is very powerful. Also, by my own experiences of the subtle, Maharishi did a better job of describing them.

        But both men and women, both who are not Brahmins, have a powerful effect in reading and speaking Sanskrit. While I was in India, the pundits went through intensive training that included video tapes of Maharishi teaching them in Hindi.

        I did 33 days of Panchakarma. That and the organic food was very purifying.

        1. I don’t dispute what Maharishi was able to accomplish. And I agree, the chanting is very powerful. However, he was breaking the caste system himself by teaching. He worked tirelessly to revive many traditions, including causing the resurgence of pandits in India. I’m just suggesting there is a great deal more understanding yet to flower.
          It is suggested that only those in the lineage should be chanting the Rig Veda but yes, most other texts are available to everyone.
          Nice. I’ve done 5 days, the max that was available locally. It was very potent.

          1. Jeff

            When. I was in a India, I would sit and watch the instructional process for teaching Vedic recitation. There was a young pundit instructor who had a toddler son. The boy would sit on his father’s lap. As we know from early childhood research, the optimal time for learning language is at a very young age. Here, the boy was learning at the the maximum rate and he didn’t even know the he was doing it. A completely effortless educational process. He was born into the family with the inherited aptitude for the profession he will spend the rest of his life doing.

            Compare that to the tradition western education process, where especially at a young age, everyone is taught the same stuff, whether or not they are suited for instruction. Most people find this process to be boring and certainly it is very stressful. I still have dreams of not bringing prepared for a test. Certainly, our traditional system is not in tune with the laws of nature. I knew that when I was in first grade.

            I think in the full sunshine of the Age of Enlightenment we will return to the caste system. A system passed down from father to son or mother to daughter that is suited to our natural inclinations. Effortless, spontaneous, fulfilling.

            1. Hi Jeff
              School age is about when kids start developing their minds. In that sense, it’s good timing. But you’re right. Some kids come in already reading. Others with nothing.
              I took a program in adulthood that should be given to every kid in school – some decent career guidance. Then you can start to focus rather than drifting around. Kids so often make decisions based on friends or whims or boredom, things that effect the rest of their lives.
              Right, but a true caste system of mutually supportive dharma. Not what is practiced currently.

    1. Hi Bojan
      I remember a little from the last Sat Yuga. That was about 13,500 years ago by recollection. (partly why I agree with Yukteswar) Life was simpler than current life and needs easily met. People had roles in society but no “jobs” as now. Most lived as if enlightened, supported by group consciousness. There was a smaller population and people lived longer, peaceful lives. We seemed to be physically larger too.
      Most of the rest of it is details of the specific life.
      Many of the megalithic monuments that remain come from the later desceding Treta Yuga. There was more formal leadership then and pomp and ceremony. Large cities and physical technology are more characteristics of Dwapara.

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