The ancient Indian language of Sanskrit has been in existence since the second millennium BCE, with the oldest works in the Sanskrit language, the 'Rigveda', dating back to late second millennium BCE.
Tattoos have also been around for ages, but it is only recently that the ones in Sanskrit font are gaining in popularity. People across the globe are using phrases and symbols from this language to adorn their bodies. Tattoos like 'Om' have been immensely popular worldwide; the word 'Om' in Sanskrit encompasses the entire universe.
Many ancient cultures used tattoos to show their affiliation or their devotion, and tattoos were also used to ward off evil spirits in some cultures. Various tribes in Japan, New Zealand, and Africa sported facial tattoos.
The word tattoo has originated from the Polynesian word 'Tatau', and is an art of inserting indelible ink in the epidermal layer of the skin. Tattoos have been around since Neolithic times, and are used as symbols of spirituality and decoration. In different cultures tattoos have different meanings, and while in some they were used to mark slaves and enemies, other cultures used it to mark the rank of warriors and as marks of fertility. The Nazi's also used them to mark the prisoners in concentration camps.
Tattoos, with the help of new age technology, are finding their way back into mainstream society. According to a recent survey, 1 in every 17 Americans sport a tattoo. Some of the popular fonts used in tattooing are English, Chinese, and Latin. One of the oldest languages known to man, Sanskrit is also making it's mark on the tattoo industry. This has especially been made famous by Hollywood celebrities.
Celebrity Sanskrit Tattoos
Let us first take a look at some of the celebrity Sanskrit tattoos and their meanings.
- David Beckham, the ace soccer player, has the name of his wife 'Victoria' written on his arm in Sanskrit script. Some experts, however, believe that it has been misspelled as 'Vhictoria'.
- Singer Rihanna has a Sanskrit prayer tattooed on her hip, it has the words 'forgiveness', 'honesty', and 'truth' from the Hindu holy book the 'Bhagavad Gita'.
- Jessica Alba has the Sanskrit word 'Padma' which means lotus, tattooed on her wrist. Lotus grows in a muddy pond, but is beautiful and isn't affected by the muck around it, and hence symbolizes purity of heart in the Hindu culture.
- Tommy Lee, the Motley Crue drummer, has the religious Hindu syllable 'Om' tattooed under his navel.
- Kimberly Wyatt of Pussy Cat Dolls has a Sanskrit tattoo on the back of her neck, which says 'let all the being be happy and let my actions contribute to their happiness'.
- Gillian Anderson has a Sanskrit tattoo on her wrist which translates to 'Every Day'.
- Alyssa Milano has a wrist tattoo of the Hindu syllable 'Om'.
Some of the other reasons for the popularity of Sanskrit tattoos are their originality and spirituality. People like to tattoo their favorite quotes from Hinduism and Buddhism to showcase their beliefs and mindsets.
Words like 'Shanti', meaning peace, and 'Karma', meaning duty, are used extensively in such tattoos. The placement of the tattoo depends on the choice of the individual, and sometimes is dictated by the word that is chosen. 'Tathastu', a Hindu phrase meaning 'so be it', is also an example of the deep, meaningful content of the Sanskrit language.