Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Variation on a Meaning

By Healingyoga

The other day a friend and I were talking about stambha because...well, doesn't everyone talk Sanskrit and apply philosophical concepts to their lives? What, it's just me???? I jest, I jest. Yes, it was just another day in the life of the yoga chick who likes to chat philosophy, metaphysics, and other mind-bending topics with her friends (I can be quite the Riddler, asking friends questions that often start with the phrase "What if...?). We were talking about stambha in relation to having a column of support in oneself, as opposed to relying on support outside of oneself. 

Our chat had me researching stambha, which reminded me of the fun of Sanskrit -- multiple meanings. Back when I first studied Sanskrit, I discovered that a Sanskrit word could have multiple meanings and contexts thereby multiple interpretations, and by multiple, I mean typically more than 10. At the time I found it frustrating. Now I find it extremely cool and interesting. After all, we tend to live in a culture that has too few meanings for something -- usually black or white. 

I found this list of meanings for stambha and had quite the fun going through the origins for each one. My friend and I were talking about this specific definition and put it into a more personal context -- internal support, a link to the divine that provides personal support. Clearly, we put the term into our own context and interpreted it in a bit of a non-traditional way.

Call it a quirk of mine, but I love to extrapolate things out and consider a larger meaning. It made me think about something that happened to me over the weekend. I pulled into a parking spot that someone on the other side of the street wanted. She had her blinker on, clearly wanting the spot, which it appeared that I ignored. I had seen the spot when I was a block or so away, excited that a spot in front of a restaurant opened up just as I was driving past. I was focused on the car ahead of me, who had stopped to let the person back out of the spot. I was not paying attention to the car in the opposite lane with its blinker on. I would say that I saw that spot before the other car and that the spot was on my side of the street. The other driver could say that she saw the spot before I did and that she put her blinker on to indicate that very fact. Who's right? Both of us, neither of us. 

You could interpret the situation as me stealing a parking spot. You could interpret it as a car was on the other side of the street and would have to make an illegal u-turn to get into the spot. You could say that I saw the spot first. You could say she saw the spot first. I actually pulled out of the spot because the woman seemed irate over my "stealing" her parking spot and because who gives a damn (it's a parking spot, not world peace, after all). My giving her the spot didn't seem to alter her attitude, as she was visibly angry. Clearly, she gave that situation a meaning in which I was the bad guy and my actions didn't change her mind.

I have a confession -- I wasn't all that well-behaved about it. I was annoyed by her shaking her head at me (even after I got back in my car to give her the spot) in some sort of disapproving way like she was completely right about the situation and made a not nice comment as I backed out. Later I laughed about it. She thought the spot was rightfully hers. She was right from her position. And I could argue that I was right because I saw the spot a block away, the spot was on my side of the street and that I was being the bigger person in giving it up to her. If the positions were reversed, I probably would have had her reaction and she would have probably had mine. It depends upon where you're coming from. Just like with Sanskrit, it depends upon the usage and context.

How about applying a little ancient language fun to your life -- where are you giving something in your life a meaning that could change if you reconsidered the context? How could you interpret a meaning in a different way? How could you shift your perspective and give something a totally different meaning? Perhaps it's that breakup that you thought was so awful only to realize that it was a huge learning experience for you in regards to what you want in relationship? Or that work situation that you hate only to realize that it's showing you a very important aspect of your relationship to work in general? Or maybe it's reconsidering your thought that someone is wrong and seeing his/her perspective? Like in Sanskrit, things often have a number of meanings. Which one are you going to pick -- one that serves you or one that doesn't? 

Sanskrit may be an ancient language that isn't all that popular, but it holds some wisdom that we can all learn from.


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