ARTICLE : An Article on Triple Connotations of a Single Syllable 'da' - 'dama, dAna and dayA'

Posted By Shikaripura Harihareswara (
Sun, 23 Nov 1997 13:27:28 +0000

One Syllable with Triple Connotations
"da, dA, da - dama, dAna and dayA"
[Instructions For All The Three Disciplines of Mankind !]

S K Harihareswara
(8412 Fontenay Way, Stockton, CA 95210-5237)

A few years ago, there was a music concert by the noted
melody queen of classical Karnatak music Srimati
M S Subbalakshmi specially arranged at the United Nations.
She concluded her concert by a benedictory song,
composed in Sanskrit for the occasion by the great
saint-scholar preceptor Shankaracharya of Kanchi
kAmakoTi pITha, India.

Appealing for friendship that conquers all hearts,
for non-violence, and tolerance to live and let-live,
requesting to eschew aggression among peoples of
all the nations of the world and to forsake unhealthy
competition, aspiring for universal peace, and
showering blessings of prosperity for
the whole mankind - the song runs like this:

"maitrIm bhajata, akhila hrit jaitrIm |
Atmavad Eva parAnn api pashyata |
yudhham tyajata, spardhAm tyajata |
tyajata parEShu akrama-AkramaNam ||

jananI prithivI kAma-dukhArtE |
janako dEvah sakala dayALuh |
'dAmyata, datta, dayadhvam' janatA |
shrEyO bhUyAt sakala janAnAnAm ||
shrEyO bhUyAt sakala janAnAnAm ||
shrEyO bhUyAt sakala janAnAnAm ||"

Here the poet has used 'dAmyata, datta,
dayadhvam' phrase in the last stanza, very
significantly. There is a story and scope for
wide ranging interpretation on it.

The story occurs in Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad
(and some other places). In Br Ar Upanishad 5.2.2,
it runs like this:

Long back, there were three kinds of children (sons)
for Prajapati, the Creator.
In olden days father himself would be the teacher for
most of their kids, to start with.
After their studies under him all these three groups of
children approached Prajapati and asked him for a
sort of final sermon-like-teaching before they say good-bye!

Sanskrit & (English) format now:

devA Uchuh "bravItu no bhavAn" - iti |
(Gods said to him: "Please teach us")
tEbhyo ha etad akSharam uvAcha 'da' iti |
(He said to them, the single syllable 'da.)
vyjNAsiShTA - iti |
( 'Did you understand?' - (he asked them))
'vyajNAsiShma' iti ha Uchuh |
("(Yes), we have understood" - they told (him))
"dAmyata iti na Attha"- iti |
("(What) you said (to us is) 'Control yourselves
"Om" - iti ha uvAcha, vyajNasiShTA iti |
"That is OK", he said, "you have understood (it)!"

(Now I will continue the story only in English.)

Then, the men approached him and asked,
"Please teach us, father!"
He told them also the same single syllable 'da',
and asked them too, "Did you understand
what I told you?"
They, the men told, "Yep, we have. You told us to
'be charitable' ('datta'), isn't it?" "That is OK", he said,
"you have got it!"

Next was the turn of the demons. When they too approached
their father and asked him, "Please teach us", he told them
also the same single syllable 'da'.
"Have you understood it?", he asked them.
They said, "Ya, we have. You told us to 'be merciful
('dayadhwam'); isn't it?" "That's OK", he said, "you have
grasped it!"

Then, at that instant, a heavenly voice is heard thundering"
"da, da, da; dAmyata, datta, dayadhwam !"
That is why one should learn this triad, triple axioms:
self-control('damam'), charity('dAnam') and mercy('dayA')!

In the above story, even though the author has used the
terms as gods ('dEvAh'), men ('manuShyAh') and demons
('asurAh'), they may also be construed as the good men
in respectable positions, common men and aggressive men
in power with evil potentials - respectively. Every one may
have more than one, even triple personalities, depending on
several factors such as circumstance, interaction etc.
Hence, the basic instruction is to observe all the three "da's"
meant for all the disciplines.

[Students of Bhagavad Gita may cross reference the idea with:
dAna: Gita 17: 20 - 22 (main entry)
Also, 8:28, 10:5, 11:48 & 53, 16:1, 17:7 & 28
18:2, 5 & 43 etc.
dama: Gita 10:4, 16:1, 18.42
dayA: Gita 16.2]


Copyright 1977, S.K.Harihareswara (209)957-6825