This is a slightly off-topic post but I thought it was interesting to tackle the similarities that I see in the Sanskrit language to one of the major dialects in my country — Tagalog.
This curiosity was always there ever since we began hearing the different names of our asanas. When I first started yoga, Pio would call out the poses in English. He would say Lotus, Forward Bend, Downward Dog, Shoulderstand, etc. After a while though, he started calling them out in Sanskrit.
One day a FilAm yogini, Kristina, left a comment on this blog and told me she studies a lot of Sanskrit in New York. Now that sounded interesting for someone living all the way across the globe! So I began searching for common words I knew in Tagalog which take its roots from Sanskrit. After all, when I stayed in Indonesia for several months, I always delighted in little day-to-day discoveries of Filipino words which were the same as Bahasa: gunting (scissors), payong (umbrella), anak (child), halo (mix), lima (5), nasi (rice) and salamat (thanks).
Here are some Tagalog words I found which are taken from the Sanskrit language:
asa (hope) – asha in Sanskrit
salita (speak) – cerita in Sanskrit
balita (news) – berita in Sanskrit
guro (teacher) – guru in Sanskrit
dalita (suffering) – dharta in Sanskrit
In the site Tagalog 101, this is what they say:
“Philologically, Tagalog belongs to the Malayan branch of the great Malayo-Polynesian linguistic family, which extends from Hawaii to Madagascar and from Formosa to Easter Island west of Chile, including New Zealand, Tonga, and Samoa, as well as Borneo, Celebes, Java, Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines from east to west, a distance of 180º, or half the circumference of the earth.
Tagalog, together with other civilized tongues of the Philippines, such as Visayan, Pampango, Ilocano and Bicol, has preserved the verbal system better than any other. The basis for the comparative study of the family must be taken from the Philippine tongues and not from the more cultivated Malay, Kawi, or modern Javanese, all three of which have been profoundly affected by Sanskrit and to a lesser degree Arabic, something as English has been affected by Latin and French elements. The number of roots or primitive-idea words in Tagalog seems to be about 17, 000 there being 16, 842 words in the Noceda and Sanlucar dictionary of 1832. Of these some 284 are derived from the Sanskrit, and are evidently borrowed through the Malay. Many of these are names for the things unknown to the primitive Malayan peoples, but others are abstracts and various words, some of which would seem to have supplanted a primitive Malayan word. Thus in may cases Americans and Tagalogs use words in their own languages which are from the same remote source in India, and coming around the earth east and west to meet again in the Philippines.”
Next time your teacher calls out asanas in Sanskrit and you feel all strange about it, just remember that we are historically linked to it.
Namasté (नमस्ते [nʌmʌsˈteː]