In view of the recent controversy surrounding singer-model Rihanna’s misspelled Sanskrit tattoo and the surge in celebrity interest in Sanskrit tattoos, Hindus have urged tattoo artists worldwide to undertake basic training in ancient Sanskrit language and the culture surrounding it.
Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that besides affecting tattoo artists, the increasing popularity of Sanskrit tattoo designs and symbols among Hollywood and other celebrities was also recreating interest in this ancient language among youth worldwide.
In addition to Grammy winner Rihanna (who also sports another Sanskrit prayer tattoo besides the new misspelled one), MTV winner actress Jessica Alba (Sin City), musician Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), dancer-singer Kimberly Wyatt (Pussycat Dolls), actress-singer Alyssa Milano (Who’s the Boss), Golden Globe winner actress Gillian Anderson (The X Files), etc., are some of the celebrities who sport Sanskrit tattoos. Footballer David Beckham also carries a misspelled tattoo on his left forearm of his wife Victoria’s name in Devnagri script, which is commonly used to write Sanskrit.
Zed, who is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said that organizations representing the tattooing field, in collaboration with Sanskrit scholars/organizations, should draft a basic curriculum meant for tattoo artists introducing them to the Sanskrit language, script, and philosophy behind it.
Rajan Zed urged celebrities who carry Sanskrit tattoos to go beyond the fashion statement and indulge in serious study of rich philosophical thought, which Hinduism provides. He offered to gladly provide the resources the serious seekers among celebrities needed for their study and research.
According to a quick survey, reasons of popularity of Sanskrit tattoos are: antiquity of the language, frequent appearance on celebrities, for protective charm and achieving success, depth of meaning behind the letters/words tattooed, beauty and elegance of Sanskrit alphabet, etc.
Om, the mystical syllable containing the universe, seems to be the most popular of Sanskrit tattoos, followed by shlokas (verses) from ancient Hindu scriptures, dating back up to around 1500 BCE. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language, the language of the gods. Tattoos go back in history to at least since Neolithic times.