Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 10 years ago

How do you write "Sarpashana" in Sanskrit (any script)?

I am getting a tattoo to represent and solidify quitting drinking. This word means "poison eater" or "snake eater" (I've gotten two different answers) in Sanskrit. The Peacock is classically associated with the consumption of poison, or evil, and neutralizing it, acting as a protector. If anyone could help me out, that would be great!

2 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Now, from your transliteration, I can only derive so much information. In order to accurately transcribe it into Devanagari, I'd need to know a few more things.

    However, I can provide you with a rough transcription, and some additional information so that you can amend my transliteration yourself if you find out anything more.

    I'd initially suggest सरपशान based on the way you chose to spell it. Below, I'll endeavor to provide you with a basic understanding of why I've written in that way, and what you can do to fix it if the need arises.

    Devanagari is an abugida. This means that every consonant has an inherent vowel (which is [ə] in the case of Sanskrit). This vowel is automatically attached to every consonant sound, unless otherwise indicated.

    1. The inherent schwa is generally transliterated as "a," while the vowel [a] (rare in English-- most speakers use it in "ah") is written as ा when it follows a consonant (you don't need to worry about other forms of [a] since it isn't relevant to your tattoo). This longer sound is usually romanized as "aa" or "ā" in scholarly work dealing with Sanskrit, though it is not uncommon to see it written as a single a when precision is not required.

    What you can do: try and ascertain the exact quality of the four vowels in your word. Based on my knowledge of Sanskrit, I've used 3 [ə]'s, and one [a]. If you find out that any of the three [ə]'s should be [a], then place the maatra (dependent form of a vowel) ा after the appropriate consonant. Since [ə] is the inherent vowel, it doesn't get written down. If you find out that the [a] I've used is [ə], then just remove the maatra.

    2. There are two ways of writing "sh" in Sanskrit. I believe they were two distinct sounds at some point in history, but would later merge, leaving two characters that make the same sound. I've used श, which is more common, and is transliterated as ś. The other is ष, and is transliterated as [it's an s with a dot below, I can't seem to find it in my character map]. Again, when precision isn't required, people will use "sh" for both.

    What you can do: find out whether it's ś or [s-dot]. If ś, leave श, if not, replace it with ष.

    3. Sanskrit contained a few nasals that aren't used in Hindi (except in Sanskrit loans), with which I'm much more familiar. न [n] (n as in nose) is the most common, with the second most common being ण [ɳ] (retroflex nasal). The latter is usually romanized as nn, perhaps with caps used to distinguish the retroflex from two regular n's in succession.

    What you can do: again, find out the quality of the nasal, and make appropriate adjustments.

    If you have any further queries, you can message me. I'm always happy to help with Devanagari.

  • 10 years ago

    The answer is



    Sarpa (सर्प) means 'snake', and aśana (अशन) means "eating" or "food", and together, sarpa-aśana becomes sarpāśana (सर्पाशन), which means "one who has snakes for food" or "snake-eater", thus a peacock.

    You can verify this by going to the Monier-Williams dictionary at and typing "sarpAzana" (that's the Harvard-Kyoto ASCII transliteration for sarpāśana/सर्पाशन) in the search bar. This should give you "सर्पाशन" as the entry and "m. 'snake-eater' , a peacock" as the definition. You can also see the word in the dictionary (though in English script):

    page 1184, column 3, line 9

    Source(s): * — Sanskrit-English dictionary * Own knowledge of Sanskrit
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