“I have two daughters”. Translate into Sanskrit.
This was one of the questions in the exercise I was working on. If I had to translate this into French, it would be “J’ai deux filles”. The verb for ‘to have’ is very clear in French. It is ‘avoir’. However, as I got down to translate the sentence into Sanskrit, I realized there is not definite verb equivalent to ‘to have’ in Sanskrit. Then, I started checking if there was a word in my mother tongue Telugu and other Indian languages. This is what I found:
Telugu: Naaku Iddaru Kumartelu written as నాకు ఇద్దరు కుమార్తెలు ఉన్నారు.
Hindi: Meri do betiyaan hai written as मेरी दो बेटियाँ हैं|
Kannada: Nanage ibbaru putriyariddāre written as ನನಗೆ ಇಬ್ಬರು ಪುತ್ರಿಯರಿದ್ದಾರೆ.
Malayalam: Enikk raṇṭ peṇmakkaḷuṇṭ written as എനിക്ക് രണ്ട് പെൺമക്കളുണ്ട്
Punjabi: Mērē dō dhī’āṁ hana written as ਮੇਰੇ ਦੋ ਧੀਆਂ ਹਨ
Tamil: Eṉakku iraṇṭu makaḷkaḷ uḷḷaṉar written as எனக்கு இரண்டு மகள்கள் உள்ளனர்.
The verb used in all of the languages is “is” and not “have”. If I have to loosely translate word by word what is generally said in most of the Indian languages, it would be something to the effect of – There are two daughters for me. The closest to indication of ‘have’ is in the subject where I is translated as “my” and the sentence reads “My two daughters” with the plural form of “is” being the verb used. We have trained our minds to translate it using the verb have (because that is the way it is said in English) but I don’t find any verb equivalent for “have” in any of the Indian languages. If you do, please share here.
I found this very fascinating – a great testimony of non-possessiveness in the language. Our culture endorses non-possessiveness and makes sure that we don’t even have a verb to indicate possession.
It is certainly not in our culture to possess, hoard or obtain ownership. All we do is use what is needed, safeguard what is there with us in our life time and when it is time to go, we leave everything behind and move forward. This is what is referred to as Aparigraha in Hinduism, Jainism and perhaps others religions too. There is no point in ownership. We seem to have forgotten this ultimate reality that our languages subtly tell us all the time.