Adverbs in Sanskrit

Adverbs are one of the eight parts of speech, viz. (1) noun (2) pronoun (3) adjective (4) verb (5) adverb (6) preposition (7) conjunction (8) interjection.

Adverbs again are of different types – adverbs of manner, time, condition, (reason, purpose), place.

In a sentence they can be identified as answers to the four interrogatives – how, when, why, where.

In a sentence adverbs could be specific words such as “fast”, “suddenly” or there can be adverbial phrases such as “in the morning”. In a complex sentence, there can be adverbial sub-clauses.

In the grammar of Indian languages, the terminology for “adverb” is क्रियाविशेषण. But in the grammar of Sanskrit, there is no such term as क्रियाविशेषणम्. If so, are there no adverbs in Sanskrit ? There have to be. Every language has to have adverbs. If Sanskrit also has adverbs, but they are not called क्रियाविशेषणम्, what is the Sanskrit terminology ?

Actually, even in English grammar “adverb”s are not a class of words. In the phrase “in the morning”, “in” is a preposition, “the” is an article (a type of preposition), “morning” is a noun. Yet the total phrase “in the morning” is adverbial. So, parts of speech are not classes of words.

A word or a phrase or a clause in a sentence becomes that part of speech, depending upon what role it is performing.

We also know however, that nouns and pronouns are different classes of words. So words are of different classes.

In “cold water” the word “cold” is adjective of “water”. In “I am having cold”, “cold” is noun. In “It is so cold here” cold is adverbial. That raises a question, “What class of word is the word “cold” ?

I think great confusion is caused by them being called as parts of speech. A “class of a word” and a “part of speech” ought to be understood as different grammatical concepts. But when I search on the internet for explanation of “classes of words” I get “classes of words (or parts of speech)”.  Isn’t this wrong ?

Since adverbs perform adverbial functions, it would be good to understand what the adverbial functions are. Basically an adverb adds to the verb, i.e. it gives more information about the action connoted by the verb. The additional information will be answers to four interrogatives – how, when, why, where कथम् कदा किमर्थम् कुत्र.

Now, adverbs do not undergo any inflection, even when other words in a sentence may. For example He walks fast (singular) सः वेगेन चलति (एकवचनम्) They walk fast (plural) ते वेगेन चलन्ति (बहुवचनम्) A word, which does not undergo any inflection are called as indeclinable अव्ययम्. Is वेगेन an indeclinable ? It is already declined from the root word वेग. In Sanskrit declensions of words are obtained by affixing suffixes प्रत्यय-s. Should that mean that indeclinables are words, which do not have any प्रत्यय-s affixed ?

By the above, we have following questions to explore –

(1) What are अव्यय-s, the indeclinables ?

(2) How are adverbs related to अव्यय-s ?

(3) Are there adverbs other than अव्यय-s ? If yes, where and how does one get them ?

  1. In अष्टाध्यायी अव्ययम् is defined by the सूत्रम् – स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् (1’1’37) – Note, here स्वरादि does not mean beginning with a vowel (स्वर+आदि) It means स्वर्+आदि, rather स्वः-आदि i.e. स्वः &c. There are two exhaustive lists of अव्यय-s in गणपाठ* – Note, study about गणपाठ* is linked here.
    1. स्वरादि-list with reference to (1’1’37) beginning with स्वर्
    2. चादि-list beginning with च, with reference to चादयोऽसत्त्वे (1’4’57).
    3. Words in these lists do not have any explicit  प्रत्यय-s and stay indeclinable. Hence they are अव्यय-s very truly.
    4. These lists include conjunction-pairs of अव्यय-s such as यथा-तथा (so .. as) यदा-तदा (when … then) यदि-तर्हि (If .. then) यतः-ततः (because .. hence) यत्र-तत्र (where .. there).  These are adverbial.
      1. But there are also in these lists words which are conjunctions, which are non-adverbial, e.g. च वा अथवा किंवा परन्तु अपि
    5. These lists also contain interjections (or exclamatories) such as हे, भोः, उ, उत, अहो, बत, रे etc. Interjections are often not connected with the sentence. They hence would not be adverbial.
    6. These lists also contain interrogatives, which are considered to be adverbial in English grammar.
    7. In these lists there are words, which are adverbial forthright, e.g. अद्य ह्यः श्वः अत्र तत्र सर्वत्र अन्यत्र सदा अधुना इदानीम् तदानीम् प्रातः सायम् पुरा अनन्तरम् etc.
    8. It seems, it would be good to to sort out the स्वरादि-s and चादि-s into four data-classes viz. Adverbial conjunctions, non-adverbial conjunctions, adverbs and interjections.
  2. अव्ययीभावः – One comes across this word अव्ययीभावः in as many as eight सूत्र-s in अष्टाध्यायी 1’1’41, 2’1’5, 2’4’18, 2’4’83, 4’3’59, 5’4’107, 6’2’121, 6’3’80. Note, अव्ययीभावः means the sense of being indeclinable, though not exactly undeclined or indeclinable. For example “everyday” = प्रतिदिनम् (दिने दिने प्रतिदिनम्) अव्ययीभाव-words are mostly adverbial.
  3. कारके (1’4’23) – Adverbials can also be obtained by declining a word in a case-form कारके by affixing विभक्ति-प्रत्यय-s. In English, prepositions to, unto, with, by, for, from, in, at, on, upon, above, under, etc. help composing adverbial phrases. In Sanskrit कारक case-forms are six –
    1. कर्तृकारका प्रथमा the first case is used for subject words.
    2. कर्मकारका द्वितीया 2’3’2, 2’3’8 the second case, e.g. “Goes home” गृहं गच्छति
    3. करणकारका तृतीया 2’3’18 the third case e.g. “walks fast” वेगेन चलति
    4. सम्प्रदाने चतुर्थी 2’3’13 the fourth case e.g. “pleads for peace” शान्तये आह्वयते
    5. अपादाने पञ्चमी 2’3’28 the fifth case, e.g. “outside of house” गृहात् बहिः
    6. अधिकरणे सप्तमी 2’3’36 the seventh case e.g. “sits on the throne” सिंहासने उपविशति.
      1. As has been explained above by examples, adverbials can be obtained in case-forms विभक्ति-s, द्वितीया to पञ्चमी and सप्तमी.
      2. Although I have not any example of प्रथमा विभक्ति in the adverbial sense, adjectival word in neuter gender, singular often become adverbial, e.g He walks fast सः द्रुतम् चलति.
      3. So, we can say that the कारक-concept, as is set in case-forms विभक्ति-s in Sanskrit is substantially the adverbial concept.
      4. This discussion of case-forms विभक्ति-s does not include the sixth case षष्ठी विभक्ति. This is because षष्ठी विभक्ति connects two or more nouns, adjectives etc. and concerned words would suffer change in form, in concordance with each other, e.g. sword of a soldier सैनिकस्य खड्गम् swords of soldiers सैनिकानां खड्गानि. The word “soldier” becoming plural will cause the word “sword” also to become plural.
  4. In Sanskrit certain verbal suffixes कृत्-प्रत्यय-s also give adverbial effect e.g. ऋणं कृत्वा घृतं पिबेत्. Here the क्त्वा-प्रत्यय in कृत्वा acts as a conjunct between two actions – (i) ऋणं कृत्वा get loan (if you have to, but) (ii) घृतं पिबेत् do enjoy ghee.
  5. There are also two special constructs in Sanskrit known as सति-सप्तमी and सच्छष्ठी. They make adverbial clauses. For example
    1. इत्थं विचारयति कोषगते द्विरेफे हा हन्त हन्त नलिनीं गज उज्जहार = just when the honeybee in the bosom of the lotus flower was engrossed in such thoughts, alas, an elephant uprooted the lotus. Note, all the words विचारयति कोषगते द्विरेफे are in the seventh case सप्तमी विभक्ति and they make an adverbial sub-clause of time, English translation of this is the long-winding “just when the honeybee in the bosom of the lotus flower was engrossed in such thoughts”.
    2. यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः (गीता 2’69) – Here पश्यतो मुनेः (पश्यतः मुनेः) both words – one verbal derivative, the other the subject-word of that verbal derivative – both are in षष्ठी विभक्ति Here पश्यतः मुनेः is in the style of a sub-clause, यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः means, when all the world is awake, it is night (idiomatically) for the sage who is seeing. Note
      1. यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि is adjectival clause qualifying the word निशा
      2. सा निशा = is the main clause
      3. पश्यतो मुनेः = is adverbial phrase of time.
  6. Among numerical words also there are adverbials, e.g. “He stood first”. “First” is a definite number. But in “He came last”, “last” is indefinite. Actually “first” “last” are basically adjectival, but in these example-sentences they are adverbial.

As such grammar of Sanskrit, अष्टाध्यायी in particular, is the science of formatting words, such that the formatted words become parts of speech. Adverbial is also an essential aspect of speech. I have been able to identify as above, six different ways available in Sanskrit for fulfilling this aspect.

शुभमस्तु !