धातवः Verbs

धातवः Verbs

Shortest sentence in any language, just a single-word sentence is often a sentence with only the verb. For example, shortest sentence in English is “Go”. In Sanskrit गच्छ . This example underlines the importance of the verb as a part of speech !

Verbs have declensions due to tense काल or mood अर्थ, person पुरुष and number वचन “धातुरूपाणि कालार्थपुरुषवचनेभ्यः ।” The verb “Go” is imperative mood, second person, singular आज्ञार्थ, मध्यम पुरुष, एकवचनम्

1. In Sanskrit, tenses and moods are together of ten types, as summarized in the following verse.
लट् वर्तमाने लेट् वेदे भूते लुङ् लङ् लिटस्तथा ।
विध्याशिषौ लिङ्लोटौ लुट् लृट् लृङ् च भविष्यतः ॥
For ease of understanding, given below for each type is third person singular form of the verb भू
(१) वर्तमाने लट् e.g. भवति Only one type of Present tense unlike four in English viz.
Simple Present e.g. I do
Present Continuous e.g. I am doing
Present Perfect e.g. I have done
Present Perfect continuous e.g. I have been doing
Translation of Present continuous, Present Perfect and Present Perfect continuous are provided by use of verbal derivatives, detailed below.
(२, ३, ४) भूते लङ् लिट् लुङ् Three types of Past tense अभवत्, बभूव, अभूत्
Although there are these three types of past tense, they are different from the four types in English grammar. In English grammar the four types are – Past simple, Past continuous, Past Perfect and Past Perfect continuous. In Sanskrit, these variations are provided by use of verbal derivatives, detailed below.
(२) अभवत्  past tense of लङ् type is also known as अनद्यतनः भूतकालः As the name अनद्यतनः suggests, अनद्यतनः = अन् + अद्य-तनः means “not of today”, hence, of some earlier time. To such extent it is simple past tense and is in common use in this manner only.
(३) बभूव past tense of लिट् type is also known as परोक्षभूतकालः Here परोक्ष means “unseen”, i.e. “of a time, past long ago”. An intersting example of this is in a couplet wherein greatness of Kaalidaasa as a poet is eulogised.
पुरा कवीनां गणनाप्रसङ्गे कनिष्ठिकाधिष्ठितकालिदासा ।
अद्यापि तत्तुल्यकवेरभावादनामिका सार्थवती बभूव ॥
Just for the sake of interest in the meaning, this means, “…Long ago, when they were making a count of great poets, Kaalidaasa’s name was placed on the little finger. For want of a poet equal to him even today, the next finger has remained true to its name, “the unnamed finger”….”
परोक्षभूत is widely used in Shreemad-Bhagawad-Geetaa. All phrases धृतराष्ट्र उवाच, सञ्जय उवाच, अर्जुन उवाच, श्रीभगवानुवाच are examples of परोक्षभूत. Here उवाच is परोक्षभूत declension of verbal root वच्
(४) अभूत् past tense of लुङ् type is also called as Aorist by grammarians. It is found in classical literature. Otherwise, it is not in common use for colloquial Sanskrit.
(५, ६, ७) भविष्यतः लुट् लृट् लृङ् च Three types of Future भविष्यति भविता अभविष्यत्
(८) वेदे (=आज्ञार्थे) लेट् Imperative mood i.e. order भवतु
(९) विधौ लिङ् Potential mood as with “should” in English भवेत्
(१०) आशिषि लोट् exclusively for giving blessings or benedictions भूयात् This is in the manner of “may” as in “May God bless you”. A good example of this is the prayer
सर्वेऽत्र सुखिनः सन्तु सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुःखमाप्नुयात् ॥
In another manner, the ten tenses and moods are also mentioned, saying, सर्वेभ्यो धातुभ्यो दश लकारा भवन्ति –
  • लङ्,  लिङ्, लुङ्, लृङ्,
  • लट्, लिट्, लुट्, लृट्, लेट्, लोट् – इति ।
Since the shloka “लट् वर्तमाने….” covers ten tenses and moods, the tenses are basically three
  • वर्तमाने लट्
  • भूते having three formation-modes लुङ् लङ् लिट्
  • भविष्यतः having three formation-modes लुट् लृट् लृङ्
and the moods are three
  • लोट्
  • विधौ लिङ् also called as विधिलिङ्
  • आशिषि लिङ्

In Sanskrit-speech and also in literature and also by grammar it is very much permissible to use the लकार-s in different meanings, and different tenses and moods and not necessarily as detailed above. For example, present tense लट् is very commonly used for future tense. We shall see a good compilation of which लकार is used in what different tenses and moods in the next post.

Schemes to apply suffixes vary depending upon the class of a verbal root. Verbal roots are of one or more of 10 classes. The classes are called as “gaNa”s गणाः.
भ्वादि (भू + आदि) शब्विकरणाः धातवः प्रथमगणे । Verbal roots भू and others having declensions of शब् type are of first class
अदादयः (अत् + आदयः) लग्विकरणाः द्वितीयगणे । Verbal roots अत् and others having declensions of लग् type are of second class
जुहोत्यादयः (जुहोति + आदयः) श्लुविकरणाः तृतीयगणे । Verbal roots जुहोति and others having declensions of श्लु  type are of third class
दिवादयः (दिव् + आदयः) श्यन्विकरणाः चतुर्थगणे । Verbal roots दिव् and others having declensions of श्यन्  type are of fourth class
स्वादयः (सु + आदयः) श्नुविकरणाः पञ्चमगणे । Verbal roots सु and others having declensions of श्नु  type are of fifth class
तुदादयः (तुत् + आदयः) शविकरणाः षष्ठगणे । Verbal roots तुत् and others having declensions of श  type are of sixth class
रुधादयः (रुध् + आदयः) श्नम्विकरणाः सप्तमगणे । Verbal roots रुध् and others having declensions of श्नम्  type are of seventh class
तनादयः (तन् + आदयः) उविकरणाः अष्टमगणे । Verbal roots तन् and others having declensions of उ  type are of eighth class
क्र्यादयः (क्री + आदयः) श्नाविकरणाः नवमगणे । Verbal roots क्री and others having declensions of श्ना  type are of nineth class
चुरादयः (चुर् + आदयः) स्वार्थिकणिज्विकरणाः दशमगणे । Verbal roots चुर् and others having declensions of स्वार्थिकणिज्  type are of tenth class
परस्मैपदी, आत्मनेपदी, उभयपदी
Schemes in all गण gaNa’s are again of two types parasmaipadee परस्मैपदी and Atmanepadee आत्मनेपदी. Verbs which follow both the schemes are called as ubhayapadee उभयपदी.
In dictionaries every verb is designated by its गण gaNa and the schemes followed, i.e. whether परस्मैपदी or आत्मनेपदी or उभयपदी.
For example वन्द् (१ उ वन्दति, वन्दते, वन्दित)
What are mentioned here are
वन्द् the root verb
१ ordinal number of its गण gaNa
उ = उभयपदी meaning both परस्मैपदी and आत्मनेपदी. schemes are followed
वन्दति, specimen declension परस्मैपदी scheme,  usually present tense, third* person, singular
वन्दते, specimen declension आत्मनेपदी.scheme,  usually present tense, third* person, singular
वन्दित root form of past passive participle

Actually in Sanskrit the order of first, second and third person is not the same as in English.

  1. What is first person in English is उत्तम पुरुष  in Sanskrit
  2. What is second person in English is मध्यम पुरुष  (मध्यम  = middle)
  3. What is third person in English is प्रथम पुरुष . (प्रथम = first !)
There are verbs which belong to more than one गण-s and having परस्मैपदी, आत्मनेपदी or उभयपदी schemes in different  गण-s and have different meanings also.

For example, the verbal root धातु “कृ” has schemes in three गण-s

“कृ”-धातुनः गण-पद-विचारः (अष्टाध्यायी- धातुपाठात्)

  • कृ भ्वादि (१) अनिट् उ । कृञ् करणे । = to act
  • कृ स्वादि (५) अनिट् उ । कृञ् हिंसायाम् । = to cause harm
  • कृ तन्वादि (८) अनिट् उ । डुकृञ् करणे । = to do, to act
Voices (प्रयोगाः) – Active कर्तरी Passive कर्मणि and also भावे
As in all languages, verbs are transitive सकर्मक or intransitive अकर्मक. So, one can make sentences in different voices. In English we have only two voices – active and passive. In Sanskrit there are three – active कर्तरीप्रयोगः Passive कर्मणिप्रयोगः and also भावेप्रयोगः
Sentences with transitive verbs can be in active कर्तरी and Passive कर्मणि voices.
For example,
In Active voice, Mother gives mangoes. माता आम्रान् यच्छति ।
In passive voice, Mangoes are given by mother. मात्रा आम्राः दीयन्ते ।
Sentences with intransitive verbs can be in active कर्तरी and भावे voices.
For example,
In Active voice,  I go. अहं गच्छामि ।
In “bhaave” voice भावेप्रयोगः – Going is being done by me मया गम्यते ।

There are of course specific rules for transforming voices or for constructing a sentence in a voice. They are of course similar to transforming into passive voice from active voice in English.

1) Subject in active voice gets a preposition ‘by’ in passive voice. Since function of the preposition ‘by’ is served by third case, in Sanskirt the subject of active voice is put in third case, when making passive voice. See माता to मातया and अहं to मया in the above examples.
2) Object in active voice becomes subject in passive voice. In active voice the object आम्रान् is in objective (accusative or second) case द्वितीया विभक्तिः. In passive voice, on being the subject, it आम्राः is in subjective (nominative or first case) प्रथमा विभक्तिः
3) Whether in active or passive voice, the verb has the same declension of number as of the respective subject. So, in active voice, when subject is माता (mother) which is singular, the verb यच्छति (gives) is also singular. In passive voice when subject is आम्राः (mangoes) which is in plural, the verb दीयन्ते (are given) is also plural.
4) In English during transformation from active to passive, the verb “gives” becomes a participle (given) and also takes an auxiliary verb (are). In Sanskrit, the verb adopts a scheme of declension as of fourth gaNa in aatmanepadam चतुर्थ गण आत्मनेपदम्
5) With intransitive verbs, for transforming from active to “bhaave”, भावेप्रयोगः
  • 5a) subject of active voice gets declension in third case
  • 5b) Since there is no object in active voice, the action itself becomes the psudo subject and verb is invariably in singular एकवचने
  • 5c) Verb adopts a scheme of declension as of fourth gaNa in aatmanepadam चतुर्थ गण आत्मनेपदम्
Causative प्रयोजकः and extended causative प्रप्रयोजकः
Causatives are sentences wherein the subject gets the action done as against doing by oneself.  There is an extension of the causative, in the manner of asking someone else to get the action done प्रप्रयोजकः We shall study these in due course.
Negatives and Interrogatives नकारात्मकम् प्रश्नार्थकम् च
In Sanskrit it is very easy and simple to make negatives and interrogatives.
For interrogation, one can use interrogative adverbs or declensions of the pronoun किम्. For example,
किं तव नाम ? = What is your name ?
कुत्र गच्छसि त्वम् ? = Where are you going ?
कदा आगन्तव्यम् मया ? = When should I come ?
अपि कुशली भवान् ? = Are you alright ? The word अपि at the beginning of a sentence makes it an interrogative.
कुशली भवान् ? = Are you alright ?  In colloquial Sanskrit, just an interrogative tone is also enough.
Negatives can be constructed by using the indeclinable न or just by using an antonym.
अहं एवं न करोमि = I shall not do like this.
एतदकार्यम् = एतत् + अकार्यम् = This is not to be done
Verbal Derivatives धातुसाधितानि
Verbal Derivatives धातुसाधितानि is a speciality of Sanskrit. This facilitates composing sentences without a formal verb. For example, ” I have done it” can be simply put as कृतम् मया This makes colloquial Sanskrit or speaking Sanskrit very, very easy!
One can very well say that in Sanskrit the verb is a very important word-concept. Many nouns and adjectives also are obtained from verbs.
Also, a large number of prefixes उपसर्ग and suffixes प्रत्यय bring forth newer words with newer meanings.
Prefixes उपसर्ग
In books on Sanskrit grammar, one finds a wholesome list of as many as 25 prefixes –
अ, अति, अधि, अन्, अनु, अप, अभि, अव,
उत्, उप,
दुः, दुर्, दुस्,
नि, नि: (निर्, निस्)
परा, परि, प्र, प्रति,
सम् and सु
दुः, दुस्, दुर् are actually different forms of one and the same prefix, to be used appropriately in different contexts, e.g. दुःख, दुष्ट and दुर्जन. These words would not be दुर्ट or दुष्जन. That does not sound proper for the ears also.  Similar logic applies also for नि:, निर् and निस् e.g. निराकार and निस्तेज, निष्कर्म.
There is a good verse, which explains how one gets different words of different meanings by using different prefixes
उपसर्गेण धात्वर्थो बलादन्यत्र नीयते ।
प्रहाराहारसंहारविहारपरिहारवत् ।।
This means, “Prefixes lead to a totally different meaning, different from the meaning of the root verb or noun. This is exemplified by  the words प्रहार, आहार, संहार, विहार, परिहार.” The root verb in all these is ‘हृ’ = to take out or to take away. One would get the noun हार from हृ as also प्र + हार etc. by using different prefixes.
Prefixes have meanings of their own. They are prefixed to get the desired meaning, as has been said above.
The prefixes अ and अन् give a negative meaning to the meaning of the original word, e.g. सत्य-असत्य, अर्थ-अनर्थ  A good example of the prefix अ is seen in the famous prayer –
असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ।
Many prefixes can be understood as pairs making antonyms of each other. For example,
with सु and दुः, we have सुख (pleasure or happiness) and दुःख (sorrow).
Likewise from आ and नि: (निर्, निस्) we have आगम (come in) and निर्गम (go out).
From अभि and अव we have मान (honour) अभिमान (pride), अवमान (disrespect, dishonour).
With आ and अप, we have आकर्षण (attraction) and अपकर्षण (repulsion).
The prefix वि is interesting, since it lends two different meanings one of speciality and another of opposition, e.g.
ज्ञान (knowledge) विज्ञान (specific knowledge, science)
योग (joining, combining, tuning up with) वियोग (separation).
Suffixes प्रत्ययैः पदानि
Verbs and nouns are hardly ever used in their root form. Words to be used in sentences are formed by declining the root forms, applying different suffixes. Words formed after applying suffixes are called as पदम् (singular) पदानि (plural). Suffixes affixed to verbal roots to form  पदानि are called as तिङ-प्रत्ययाः
(1) Infinitives such as “to do” i.e. “for doing” are provided by तुमन्त indeclinables e.g. कर्तुम्
(2) Infinitives such as “to do” or “doing” are used as actions nouns in Sanskrit. There are action nouns related to all verbs e.g.  गमनम् from the verb गम् or आगमनम् from आ + गम्
(3) Suffixes अत् and अन् help make active participles of present tense from verbs. Participles are basically adjectival. In Sanskrit they are called as adjectives derived from verbs धातुसाधित विशेषणानि. A gerund कृदन्त (कृत् + अन्तम् = कृत् अन्ते अस्ति इति कृदन्तम्) such as “doing” as used in present imperfect, e.g. “I am doing” is provided by adjectives derived by a suffix अत् to the verb, e.g. कुर्वत् This is adjectival, hence has declensions. Its masculine first case is कुर्वन् and feminine first case is कुर्वती. Examples of gerunds कर्तरी वर्तमानकालवाचक धातुसाधित विशेषणानि are aplenty in the following shlokaas verses #8 and #9 in Chapter 5 in श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता
नैव किञ्चित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित् |
पश्यञ्शृण्वन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन् अश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपञ्श्वसन् ||५-८||
प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्णन् उन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि |
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ||५-९||
(4) From verbal roots one gets abstract nouns by applying different कृदन्त suffixes. For example, from  ‘कृ’ (to do) we have कृति, कार्यम् कर्तव्यम् करणीयम् Here we have कृदन्त suffixes ति and य, तव्य अनीय.
(5) Participles to mean “on doing” are obtained by using suffixes known as त्वान्त or ल्यबन्त e.g. कृत्वा विधाय Ending य in a ल्यबन्त should not be confused with that in a participle such as कार्य
(6) Past passive participles (ppp) कर्मणि भूतकालवाचक धातुसाधित विशेषणानि (क. भू. धा. वि.) useful for past perfect as in “I have done” or “is done by me” are important derivatives of all verbs, e.g. कृत Past passive participles are, as is obvious, adjectival.
(7) Past active participle useful for past perfect e.g. “I have done” is obtained by using a suffix वत् to the past passive participle, e.g. कृतवत् This is adjectival hence has declensions – कृतवान् is  masculine first case and कृतवती is feminine first case

2 thoughts on “धातवः Verbs

  1. I thought I would play around with this idea of short sentences. Certainly the imperatives tend to be shortest, such as गच्छ, वद, एहि, and so on. It makes sense that these commands would be short, since they would be said in tense or emotional contexts. (“Go away! Come here! Say that!”)

    But we can create some short sentences without verbs, too. The shortest one I can think of is स ना, “he is a man.” I’m curious if there are many others.

    • नमो नमः अरुण-महोदय !
      क्रियापदेन विना वाक्यानि तु भवन्ति विशेषतः संभाषणे, यथा “सः कः ?” “रमेशः” ।
      “त्वमेव माता च _ _” एतस्यां संपूर्णायाम् प्रार्थनायाम् नास्ति किञ्चित् क्रियापदम् !
      अस्तु ।

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