||Re: lots of questions
||তন্ময় ভট (guest, 18.104.22.168)
||January 7, 2007 at 8:43:14 AM
||Re: lots of questions by Akis
Sorry, that is not how Sanskrit works. And, to understand it, you have to look at the spelling in a Brahmi derived script, or a transliteration of that where you know the transliteration being used.
In any case, there are two completely different letters: the a which is pronounced as a short closed sound schwa like the sound at the beginning of English about; and the A which is long open like the vowel in English car. The negative prefix is a- not A-, and, in front of a vowel (with one exception) becomes an-. `Not not' is therefore usually ana-, never aa-. In fact, the combination of two vowels without intervening consonant in the same word does not happen (for one possible definition of what counts as a word) in classical Sanskrit, and is rare even within a sentence.
Ananda is the correct spelling in the transliteration I am using. Unfortunately, this transliteration scheme uses both lower and upper case to denote separate letters, so one gets crazy looking transliterations like nandinI, and it is difficult to use when lower and upper case distinctions are not maintained. In such cases, people use a different transcription in which the Sanskrit A is represented as aa. It is the latter scheme which gives you aananda, which, since case distinction is not important in this scheme, can be written as Aananda.
As to the meaning, the prefix A- also exists. Its root meaning is a preposition, and like most prepositions is not translatable literally between divergent languages. It is used to mean from something towards or near something else (the ablative case with one exception signals the from, and the accusative case the to); but in many uses it means totally (`from something to itself'). Of course these do not correspond exactly to the English prepositions: `from' a group is often better translated into English as `amongst' a group; and in some uses it becomes a conjunction: `towards' is better translated in these cases as `furthermore'. Similarly, the meaning `as far as' is expressed by both the `to' and the `from' usages: A samudram and A samudrAt both mean roughly the same. And, in some uses, it weakens the word it controls: compare the English phrase `punishable by actions up to and including termination' is much weaker than just saying `punishable by termination'.
This brings us to A-nand. The A- here is being used in the completeness or intensifying sense. So, instead of `not not joy', a better translation is `complete joy'. But, literal meanings are rarely useful: the common word for joy is Ananda, not nanda. The latter word exists, but was the name of a cruel semi-mythological king, and is not associated today with joy. The other words historically related to the root nand also have a variety of meanings unconnected in the modern mind with joy: nandan is son or beautiful, nandinI is daughter, nanadR is husband's sister, etc. For these reasons, the best translation of Ananda is `happiness': and here I am making a subtle distinction between the connotations of English joy and happiness.
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