Ambiguity, thy name is Sanskrit! Perhaps a little more than most other natural languages. A poet’s/reader’s delight and a (lexical) parser’s nightmare.
A mere reordering of words below yields a delightfully new perspective! Read on:
There lived a Queen who wanted to understand Bhagavad Gita – its essence.
‘How many shloka’s (verses) make up the Gita?’ She asked a Pundit at her court.
‘700, my lady,’ he said.
She summoned the minister: ‘Kindly get 700 gold coins ready from the treasury. Tomorrow as the venerable Pundit here explains each shloka, he be given a gold coin. That makes it 700 coins.’
700 gold coins for him? The Pundit was elated at his good fortune. He returned home in high spirits and pulled out all his notes for perusal so he may best explain the shloka’s to the Queen.
Next day he made it to the royal court at the appointed time. His eyes popped on seeing before him the pile of glittering gold coins on a plate.
He mentally prayed to Lord Krishna to be on his side and help him out in his endeavor. And thus he began in a booming voice with the first shloka: ‘Dharma kshetre Kuru kshetre…’
(Meaning: At a place where Dharma reigned supreme, at a place belonging to the Kuru’s…)
The Queen was moved to tears on hearing this.
‘Please stop right there, say no more, Sir,’ she addressed the Pundit.
The Pundit paused.
The Queen turned to her minister: ‘Get the palanquin ready, we leave immediately.’
Had he offended the royalty in any manner? He didn’t think so. Not able to make any sense of what was happening, the Pundit pleaded: ‘My lady, we haven’t even started…’
‘Where is the need after you’ve explained so concisely, so beautifully the essence of Gita? Please do take these 700 gold coins. Not a moment more to be wasted here…I’m off to do exactly what you bade.’
’The Pundit’s head went for a spin. Vexed, he cried meekly: ‘What did I explain?’
‘What more after your excellent sum up of Gita – when you said ‘Dharma kshetre Kuru kshetre…it just leaped at me…I could make out the message therein right away: Kshetre kshetre or ‘at place after place’ dharma kuru or ‘do dharma (charity).’ So well said. Beautiful. I’ve decided to follow it right away. And so here I’m taking off…’
An interpretation absolutely unheard of! Why did it not occur to him? Thoroughly humbled, the Pundit offered the coins back to the Queen, requesting her to use the same for the charity she was setting out to do. And, renounced the worldly life in pursuit of Knowledge.
Source:With grateful thanks to tamilandvedas quoting a monk from Ramakrishna Mutt.