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  • Writer's pictureisobelcollyer

Speaking in Tongues

I love language, literally tongue-ness, and the fascinating comparisons between mother and other.

In Vedanta Study we seek ultimate knowledge; jňānam, and we study the texts which promise us this knowledge in the ancient language of Sanskrit, which means sacred or perfect script.

The sound jňā has no equivalent in English, (think of the Italian word gnocchi) but from Sanskrit, via the Greek gnosis, (gnostic/agnostic), we derive the seemingly unrelated silent K of knowledge, and the hard g of the word ignorance. Knowledge and ignorance are opposite sides of the same coin. In English, the words appear dissimilar, but in Sanskrit only a syllable divides knowledge from ignorance. Jňānam from ajňānam. This ‘a’ is unaccented, dull, like the 'u' in but, and indicates the opposite, a negation or reversal. It is pronounced lightly, as an upbeat, a stop, a hiatus.

Ignorance has no beginning, and knowledge has no end. A mere heartbeat divides them.


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