What did the Beatles mean by “Jai Guru Deva”?
While many people may be familiar with this famous line from the Beatle’s song, ‘Across the Universe’, most people won’t know exactly what it means. The simplest translation of the line is “I give thanks to the Heavenly Teacher”, in Sanskrit. Still fewer will know that the word ‘deva’ is closely linked to ‘deus’ (Latin) meaning ‘god’, ‘daiva’ (Old Persian) meaning ‘demon, evil god’, ‘deivai’ (Old Church Slavonic ). Predictably, these in turn lead to words like ‘diva’ (Latin) meaning ’goddess’, ‘divine’ and ‘deity’. Other forms include the Greek Zeus, which was originally a title (‘God’) rather than a name. Similarly, ‘Dione’ is really more a title than a name, meaning "Goddess", etymologically a female form of Zeus (gen. Dios). After the Iliad, Aphrodite herself was sometimes referred to as Dionaea and even Dione. The Roman goddess Diana has a similar etymology and was similarly worshipped but not otherwise connected to Dione. On the tablets of Linear B, a goddess named Di-u-ja is thought to be the female Zeus.
Zeus’s Roman counterpart, Jupiter, originally a contraction of Diovis pater or Diespiter (Gk. Zeus pater, Sansk: Dayaush-pitar) and literally meaning ‘Father God’, also generates its own set of commonly used words. Older forms of Jupiter include: Diovis, Djovis, Jovis. The same transition from ‘di’ to a ‘j’ or ‘z’, exists today in Brazilian Portuguese where ‘de’ is pronounced as ‘dje’. The relation of the letters ‘z’ and ‘d’ is also evidenced by the name of ‘z’ in the ancient Greek alphabet (‘zdeta’). Also note that ‘u’ is closely related to ‘v’ (in fact ‘u’ originated from ‘v’ sometime in the Middle Ages).
As you may have already noticed, the word “jovial” also has heavenly origins. Jovial was originally used to mean “under the influence of Jupiter” and its definition, “good-humored or of joyous humor”, comes from the belief that people born under Jupiter share these characteristics.
Additional words from the same root include: July (L. Iulius, “descended from Jupiter”), Juno and June (fr. Diuno, fr. Gk. Dione, although some sources link this word to another Indoeuropean root), Tuesday (fr. Germanic god of war Tiw, etymologically related to Zeus), and dies (L. for ‘day’).
It seems that, out of this root, ♪ words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup… ♬
Posted September 5, 2013
Filed Under: Blog