A number of Sanskrit words came into Japanese along with Mahayana Buddhism, one of them being prajna, which means transcendental wisdom.
A Japanese politician wrote an article, in the course of which he described how he and two or three others had made a visit to a Buddhist temple to find out whether all was well with the temple lands, and if not, whether they could do anything to help. The abbot received them kindly and the discussion was amiable. There were only a couple of very minor matters, which could easily be set right, and they promised to do them.
The abbot then invited them to lunch, and a vegetarian meal was served, very well cooked. The abbot asked whether they would like anything to drink with it, and the politician took this to be an invitation to have some Japanese rice-wine. He therefore said that he and his companions would welcome a little saké.
To his amazement, the abbot strongly reprimanded him, saying it was a disgrace to utter such a vulgar word in the sacred precincts. The politician knew that many Buddhist priests do in fact permit the use of wine, provided it does not lead to intoxication; he assumed that this temple was a particularly strict one, and he apologized profusely for his suggestion.
The abbot accepted the apologies with a dignified inclination of the head. He called his attendant, and said, “Serve our guests with some Prajna-water.” The politician wondered what Wisdom Water might be, and prepared himself for something on the lines of a fruit-juice drink.
When the Wisdom Water came, however, it turned out to be saké of high quality. It had been only the word that was prohibited, not the thing itself.