Om?s the word
Some weeks ago I asked readers to enlighten me on the exact connotation of the word ?Swaha? which appears at the end of many mantras including the opening line of the Gayatri: ?Om Bhur Bhuwa Swaha.?india Updated: Jan 15, 2006 04:08 IST
Some weeks ago I asked readers to enlighten me on the exact connotation of the word ‘Swaha’ which appears at the end of many mantras including the opening line of the Gayatri: “Om Bhur Bhuwa Swaha.” I received hundreds of letters, booklets, etc. from all over the country explaining what the word stood for. I was happy to note that so many people were eager to know what the prayer meant rather than simply repeat it like a parrot. Many readers, however, were of the opinion that the first line quoted above was not a part of the Gayatri Mantra. I can scarcely believe that as every text I have seen has this line. And millions of Hindus who chant it everyday always begin with it. So it is right and proper to include it. I also stress that a prayer should stand on its own as one piece and should be in as simple a language as possible.
The word ‘Om’ has no English equivalent. It is mystic syllable, a sonorous sound to still the mind from wandering. I don’t know any better way of doing so than chant a long-drawn ‘Hari Om’ in silence. Both Buddhists and Sikhs have taken its derivatives — ‘Hom Mani Padme Hom’ (Buddhists) and ‘Ek Omkar’ (Sikhs). Also, both equate it with God. So it is legitimate to use the word ‘God’ for ‘Om’. ‘Bhur’ stands for earth, ‘Bhuwa’ for the sky or heavens. ‘Swaha’ is an exclamation of wonder.
Some readers wrote to say that in the Gayatri, it is ‘Swah’, not ‘Swaha’. It is uttered when ingredients like sesame seeds, rice, etc. are tossed into the Yagna fire (agni) because Swaha was the wife of Agni. I prefer to use the word as an expression of awe, wonder and acclaim, as the English word ‘hallelujah’ (pronounced ‘hal-ley-looyah’, meaning ‘Praise the Lord’) is. So, I translated the opening line as follows:
Om — God, Lord Creator of the Earth and heavens, hallowed be your name.
The second line Tat (That) Savitur (sun), Varenyam (desirable) should follow the first as something to ask for, as in a prayer. I translate it thus: “You who make the sun rise at dawn and give light and life to all things, infuse our beings with hope of enlightenment.”
The third line Bhargo (the purest), devasya (gift of God) Dhimayi (object of meditation), I render as “Lord grant us the power to cleanse our minds of dross and make them pure.”
The fourth and last line reads: Dhiyo (intellect) Yoh (who) nah (our) prachodayat (inspire). Simply put: “Inspire our minds to perform noble actions.”
I sum up my second attempt to translate the Mahamantra: “Om, Lord Creator of the Earth and heavens, hallowed be your name.
You, who makes the sun rise at dawn and gives light and life to all things, infuse our beings with hope of enlightenment.
Lord, grant us the power to cleanse our minds of dross and make them pure.
Lord, inspire our minds to perform noble actions.”
Readers are welcome to suggest improvements.
Money be good
Nidhi Jain is the eldest of four daughters and she went on from Queens Mary’s School to Miranda House, got a degree in Mathematics and got a good job with Care (Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere). She married a young chartered accountant and has two children, a daughter aged 11 and a son almost five. She gave up her job to look after her children. Living in comfort with no financial worries but having nothing to do besides seeing her children off to school and helping her mother-in-law run the joint family home was not good enough for her. She read an article in Outlook about the balwaris run by Nanak Kohli’s Charitable Trust in the slums of Delhi. She decided to take a look herself. At the time, the trust had 53 balwaris in three clusters with 15-22 balwaris with an average of 40 children in each. They have children between two-and-a-half and five years of age, providing them with nursery training, school uniforms, mid-day meals, books and stationery.
She volunteered to help for two-and-a-half hours twice a week. A crisis in the trust (a senior employee cheated it of a large sum of money) made Nidhi change her mind. She became a full-time worker and threw all her energies in the project. She means to double the number of balwaris within a few months. She works for the balwaris round the clock seven days of week. I asked her what she got out of it. She replied, “The project is now an integral part of my being… it is a truly satisfying and rewarding experience.” The moral of Nidhi Jain’s story is: making money is a challenge; giving it away to the needy is the highest reward.
Q: What is the difference between Parliament and Kaun Banega Crorepati?
A: In Kaun Banega Crorepati you get paid for answering questions.
(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, Delhi)
Asales manager was looking for an experienced assistant. After rejecting about a dozen applicants, he asked for the next candidate. A young man in a smart blue suit came forward. The manager asked him. “Have you any previous sales experience?” The man replied: “Yes sir, I have lots of experience. I sold my house, my motorbike, the refrigerator and all my wife’s jewellery.”
(Contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)