Sanskrit Lesson


(cont. from issue #114)
by Bhikshuni Heng Hsien

      "Why 1s that?"

      After describing how the hamsah "geese,"  krauncah "curlews," and mayurah "peacocks"

chant the Buddhadharma in Sukhavatt, Sakyamuni Buddha asked his disciple Sariputra if

he thought the birds were tiryagyonigatah,  born as animals because of karmic retribution.

Before Sariputra could answer, the
Buddha said: Na punar evam drastavyam, "It shouldn't be 

seen that way." Now the Buddha asks: tatkasmaddhetoh, "Why is that?"

      tat is the nominative neuter singular of the demonstrative pronoun "this/that." In

the Sanskrit writing system, the final -t is joined to the initial k- of kasmad, but

they are separate words.

      kasmat is the ab1ative singular masculine
of the interrogative pronoun "who/what?"  

Here it is written kasmad, final unvoiced
-t changing to voiced -d before the initial h- of 

hetoh. The initial h- of hetoh is
in turn influenced to become dh-, and for economy in 

writing, the two words are also
joined in the script.

      hetoh is the ablative singular of  the 
masculine noun hetu "cause/reason." The 

ablative case here expresses cause or origin, and so kasmad-d-hetoh means "for what

reason?" and tad kasmad-d-hetoh literally
asks, "This to what reason?" That is, why

shouldn't we consider the birds in the Land of Happiness beings that have fallen into

destiny of animals, one of the three
evil destinies?

                                                                          - to be continued