Friday, July 11, 2008

Latin mottos are nice! But why not Sanskrit?

Veritas, motto of a famous University. E pluribus unum, found on the coins of a country. Nulla tenaci invia est via, the motto of a car company. Forget the new world, even schools in Bangalore, India have latin mottos! A famous school in Bangalore has the motto on its coat of arms as Nec Dextrorsum Nec Sinistrorsum. I wonder how many in that institution have understood it!

There is something about Latin mottos. We are simply fascinated by them. Even countries where latin was never a spoken language use latin mottos on their coat of arms. Companies, educational institutions, governments, the list goes on. Can a motto in a common language of the land or the universal language be as interesting or as inspiring?

Several institutions in India have Sanskrit mottos! Most people have either never noticed them or do not care about them. In fact, these mottos as more suitable since they are apt and are taken from a context in our cultural heritage.

To start with my school Vijaya High School's motto, it says 'na hi jnaanena sadrusham pavitram'. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (Ch 4, shloka 38), nothing is as pure as knowledge. What an apt motto for a school!

The motto of the Republic of India is 'Satyameva Jayate', which means Truth Alone Triumphs. Whether truth is currently triumphing is altogether a different issue!

The signature lines of the Indian armed forces are also very beautiful.

The Indian Navy's motto is 'shaM no varunah' which means May the Lord of the Oceans be auspicious unto us. Isn't that the prayer that one wants to say if one lives on the water all the time!?! The INS Mysore's line says 'Na Bhibheti Kadaachana' meaning 'Always Fearless'.

The Indian Air Force's motto is Nabha Sparsham Deeptam, (taken from the Gita) which translates as 'Touch the Sky with Glory'.

Different regiments and combat units in the Indian Army have different mottos. Most of them are so beautiful to hear and I have even heard the War Cry of a couple of them. It really does inspire the soldiers at testing times.

Rajputana Rifles - Veer Bhogya Vasundhara (The brave shall reap the earth)
Madras Regiment - Swadharme Nidhanam Shreyah (It is a glory to die doing one’s duty)
More here.

Several Indian Corporate institutions also have tailored their mottos from our Sanskrit heritage.

LIC - 'yogakshemam vahaamyaham', meaning 'I provide what they lack, and I preserve what they already possess'. This is a beautiful line from the Gita (ch 9, Shloka 22). Can you get a more beautiful saying, if you have to write it yourself? Just exactly what the LIC would want to use!

Doordarshan - Satyam Shivam Sundaram

- Bahujana Hitaaya, Bahujana Sukhaaya’ (Welfare for All and Happiness for All)

- Jnaana vijnanaanam vimuktaye (knowledge is that which liberates).

In fact, Nepal has one of my most favourite lines from Ramayana as its motto! The official motto of Nepal is 'Janani janmabhoomishcha swargaadapi gareeyasi'. Mother and motherland are greater than heaven. The context of this shloka is also beautiful. When Lord Rama defeated Ravana and installed Vibhishana as the ruler of Lanka, Lakshmana asks Rama to stay back for more time in the beautiful city. Lord Rama replies:

api swarnamayee lankaa na me lakshmana rochate
janaanee janmabhoomishcha swargaadapi gareeyasi

(Lakshmana, even though lanka is filled with gold and so beautiful, it does not entice me. Mother and motherland are greater than heaven.)


Karthik said...

Very good post Pratap. Its unfortunate we are still in the mode of slavery. Its not that people don't know we have such great culture, language etc. Its mere lack of self respect and lack 'Self Pride'

Prathibimba said...

So true Karthik. Even in the US, I have so many Indians belittling our own culture in from of people from other nations. It makes me feel disgusted.

lagu said...

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Ray Rhapsodizing said...

Was a pleasure reading through!

geek goddess said...

University of Delhi: Nishtha, Dhhriti, Satyam.

Anand said...

Can you indicate where exactly in the ramayana does this 'janani janmabhoomishcha' appears? I mean the verse number.

AjD said...

i like very much the motto of our Air Force.kahne me bhi proudly feel hota hai"TOUCH THE SKY WITH GLORY"