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 !


Only Four Parts of Speech – Part 3 तिङन्तशब्दाः

Only Four Parts of Speech – Part 3



Having discussed सुबन्तशब्द-s in Part 2, here in part 3, the discussion would be on तिङन्तशब्द-s.


In a sentence, तिङन्तशब्द-s make the verbs क्रियापद-s. As in the language of any grammar, verb-words would be either

  • in any of three tenses – Past भूतकाल, Present वर्तमानकाल or Future भविष्यत्काल
  • In English grammar there are sub-types of all the three tenses viz.
    • Simple Present . Similarly Simple Past and Simple Future e.g. I go, I went, I shall go
    • Present (also Past and Future) Continuous e.g. I am going, I was going, I shall be going
    • Present (also Past and Future) Perfect e.g. I have gone, I had gone, I shall be gone
    • Present (also Past and Future) Perfect Continuous e.g. I have been going, I had been going, I shall have been going

or in any of the moods अर्थ-s –

  • Imperative mood आज्ञार्थ, e.g (You) go
  • potential mood विध्यर्थ e.g. You may go
  • benedictine mood आशीर्वादार्थ or आशीरर्थ e.g. May God bless you
  • In English grammar we also have other moods as implied by verbal auxiliaries as in sentences such as You should go, You must go, You can go, You would go, You might go.
  • Constructs of Continuous, Perfect and Perfect continuous would apply to verbal auxiliaries also e.g. I may be going, I may have gone, I may have been going, etc.


As if as many aspects as above are not enough, in most languages there is the style of using Passive Voice instead of the most common Active Voice. In English, change of voice is possible only if a verb can take an object i.e. only if the verb is transitive सकर्मक. Change of voice is not possible, if the verb is intransitive अकर्मक.


Nevertheless, Change of voice will apply for all tenses and moods.


Also, an action may be obtained done by someone else, which is known as the causative mode. Again causative mode can be in all tenses and moods.


Also, sentences can be transformed into interrogatives and negatives.


In English all these varieties of sentences involve playing around with verbs and may involve use of auxiliary verbs and use also of verbal auxiliaries.


A person wanting to do exact translation of an English sentence into Sanskrit would be anxious to understand how all these tenses and moods and constructs with change of voice, causative mode, interrogation, negation, etc. can be expressed in Sanskrit.


To discuss and explain all these varieties, a book of grammar for any language will need to have many chapters. Let me see how much I can discuss in a single chapter here in this Part 3.


To begin with, let me take an example of how a dialogue happens colloquially. Let us say a mother orders her son, “Tom, go, get me some fruits from the market”. Tom is engrossed in something, which he has in mind or he is busy with. Because of which he would just say, “Going mom” Actually Tom may go somewhat later. Should not Tom’s reply be in future tense ? say, “I shall go, mom”. Instead colloquially Tom is responding using the gerund “going”. In Sanskrit it has been recognized by Sanskrit grammar itself that tenses and moods would be loosely used in colloquial interactions. So instead of designating tenses and moods by specific names as present tense, past tense, imperative mood, potential mood, etc., in Sanskrit grammar they are named by 10 लकार-s, which are summarized in a verse –


लट् वर्तमाने लेट् वेदे भूते लङ्ग् लुङ्ग् लिटस्तथा |

विध्याशिषौ लिङ्लोटौ लुट् लृट् लृङ् च भविष्यति ||


As is mentioned here,

  1. लट्-लकार for वर्तमान i.e. Present tense,
  2. लङ्ग् लुङ्ग् लिट्-लकार-s for भूत i.e. Past tense,
    • There are three types of past tense –
    • लङ्ग्-लकार is also called as अनद्यतनभूतकालः (Past tense, which is not of just today). This Past tense is in most common use, especially when no specific time of the event is mentioned. For example They all ran very fast = ते सर्वे वेगेन अधावन्त
    • लुङ्ग्-लकार is called as Aorist Past tense by English grammarians. It seems that it is to be used, when the time of happening of an event is well-known or specific. For example, The sky was cloudy in the morning प्रातः गगनं मेघाच्छादितम् अभूत्
    • लिट्-लकार is also called as परोक्षभूतकालः (परोक्ष means out of sight. This is used referring to an event, which has happened in such past, as has not been personally witnessed) उवाच (= said, in such past, which was out of sight) is a क्रियापदम् which one comes across so many times in गीता
  3. लुट् लृट् लृङ्-लकार-s for भविष्यत्काल i.e. Future Tense, This is also of three types
    • लुट्-लकार This is also called as अनद्यतनभविष्यत्कालः e.g.
    • लृट्-लकार This Future tense is in most common use. For example I shall read the lesson अहं पाठं पठिष्यामि |
    • लृङ्-लकार This Future tense is used to hint what may happen in future. By this token, this लकार is as much a mood अर्थः as a tense कालः. The Sanskrit word to explain its usage is सङ्केतार्थः
  4. Including सङ्केतार्थः there are four moods अर्थ-s –
    • लोट् – Imperative mood आज्ञार्थः
      • There are many example in गीता – पश्यैतां पाण्डुपुत्राणाम् आचार्य महतीं चमूम् (1-3)
      • रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत (1-21)
      • तदेव मे दर्शय देव रूपम् (11-45)
    • विधिलिङ् – Potential mood विध्यर्थः This would translate English sentences containing verbal auxiliaries ‘may’, ‘should’. Some common examples would be –
      • शुभं भवेत्
      • येऽपि स्युः पापयोनयः (गीता 9-32)
      • अजापुत्रं बलिं दद्यात्
    • आशीर्लिङ् – Benedictine mood आशीरर्थः This again would translate English sentences containing verbal auxiliary ‘may, but only of the type “May God Bless you”’ Some common examples would be –
      • कुर्यात् सदा मङ्गलम्
      • सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात्
      • शुभं भूयात्
    • लृङ् – As mentioned above, this लकार is used to hint what may happen in future. सङ्केतार्थः
      • An example from गीता is भविता न च मे तस्मादन्यः प्रियतरो भुवि (18-69)


Usages indicated above are not to be taken as strictly defined and only accordingly permissible usages of these लकार-s. The usages mentioned in the verse and as explained above are generally okay. But that does not mean that a particular लकार can be used only for a particular tense or mood. In a book of Sanskrit grammar one would very well find a chapter on meanings and significance of different लकार-s, a chapter with a title लकारार्थप्रकरणम्. In सिद्धान्तकौमुदी by भट्टोजी दीक्षित there is such specific chapter.


We can leave aside for a while the thought of which लकार to be used when, or in what sense of which tense or mood.


To focus on तिङन्तशब्दाः and लकार-s, the relationship is very simple. All word-formations by affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are word-formations in different लकार-s, In a sentence, the words we get by affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are verbs क्रियापद-s. The seeds to which we affix तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are called as धातु-s. Just to recapitulate, the seeds to which affix सुप्-प्रत्यय-s are प्रातिपदिक-s. So in Sanskrit, धातु-s and प्रातिपदिक-s are two important categories of seeds. Here for discussing तिङन्तशब्दाः we are concerned with धातु-s.


It is important to also bear in mind that धातु-s are not verbs. English grammarians call धातु-s as verbal roots. I would prefer to call them as seeds. धातु-s are the seeds to get verbs, the क्रियापद-s. In Sanskrit we get क्रियापद-s, as formatted words, formatted from धातु-s by affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s. As has been mentioned earlier also, in Sanskrit, word to be used in a sentence has to be a formatted word. It has to be a dressed up seed. Word-formation is a process प्रक्रिया.


All प्रक्रिया-s to get क्रियापद-s from धातु-s involve affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s to धातु-s. Basic तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are eighteen. They are in 2 groups of 9 each, according to a concept of पदम् of a धातु.


In Sanskrit grammar this term पदम् has different connotations.

  • A word appropriately formatted and made fit to be used in a sentence is a पदम्
  • There is a concept of पदम् in the context of धातु-s also.


In the context of धातु-s, the concept of पदम् is somewhat related to the orientation of the meaning of the धातु, whether unto oneself आत्मने-(पदम्) or unto others परस्मै-(पदम्). This is rather too technical. Let us just take it that there is this concept of पदम् associated with धातु-s.


PaNini compiled a list of some 2000odd धातु-s in his compilation known as धातुपाठः

  • पदम् of majority of धातु-s is परस्मैपदम्
  • पदम् of rest of धातु-s is आत्मनेपदम्
  • पदम् of some धातु-s is both, either परस्मैपदम् or आत्मनेपदम्. Such धातु-s are called as उभयपदी धातु-s
  • Nine तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s to be affixed to परस्मैपदी धातु-s are तिप्-तस्-झि, सिप्-थस्-थ, मिप्-वस्-मस्
  • Nine तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s to be affixed to आत्मनेपदी धातु-s are त-आताम्-झ, थास्-आथाम्-ध्वम्, इट्-वहि-महिङ्


There is a pattern as to how both the परस्मैपदी and आत्मनेपदी sets of तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are listed.


In English grammar also, the verbal root ‘to go’ takes six forms in the present tense. The six forms depend upon whether the subject is of first, second or third person and whether singular or plural.

  • Two forms when subject is of first person, singular and plural, e.g. I go, We go
  • Two forms when subject is of second person, singular and plural, e.g. You go (singular) You go (Plural)
  • Two forms when subject is of Third person, singular and plural, e.g. (He / She / It) goes (singular) They go (Plural).


The Sanskrit pattern of तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s has same logic, except that in Sanskrit we have singular, dual and plural. That is why there are nine तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s.


Although I said that In English the verbal root ‘to go’ takes six forms in the present tense, actual forms are only two ‘go’ and ‘goes’. The form ‘goes’ is only if the subject is third person singular.


In Sanskrit every form is different. The forms being different gives the tremendous facility of framing a sentence even without having any subject-word in the sentence ! Different and distinct form also means clear identity, an identifiable dress of the word. This gives another important and great facility that a word with such distinct identity can be placed anywhere in the sentence, because it gets total freedom from rules of syntax.


It would be easy to understand तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s for परस्मैपदी धातु-s by the following pattern –


एकवचनम् Singular द्विवचनम् Dual बहुवचनम् Plural
उत्तमपुरुषः First Person मिप् वस् मस्
मध्यमपुरुषः Second Person सिप् थस्
प्रथमपुरुषः Third Person तिप् तस् झि


Likewise, it would be easy to understand तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s for आत्मनेपदी धातु-s by the following pattern –


एकवचनम् Singular द्विवचनम् Dual बहुवचनम् Plural
उत्तमपुरुषः First Person इट् वहि महि
मध्यमपुरुषः Second Person थास् आथाम् ध्वम्
प्रथमपुरुषः Third Person आताम्


But the process प्रक्रिया of affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s is not so simple, One may say, that the process is – take the धातु, affix the appropriate प्रत्यय and get the formatted word, the क्रियापदम्. It is not simple, because we have to get the क्रियापदम् in different लकार-s also.


Before that, it is also important to note that a धातु, the seed has some growth, becoming, let us say, a root, before it fertilizes. The growth of a seed to become a root is also a process, involving a विकरण. The विकरण-s are of ten types. So, there are ten lists of धातु-s. The ten lists are called as गण-s – First list प्रथमगण, second list द्वितीयगण, ….. tenth list दशमगण. Out of 2000-odd धातु-s, majority of them belong to the first list प्रथमगण.


Connecting this with the previous mention that majority of धातु-s are परस्मैपदी, we can say that majority of धातु-s are of प्रथमगण and परस्मैपदी.


When we spot a क्रियापदम् in a sentence the grammar of the क्रियापदम् can be detailed by mentioning

  1. धातु, the seed
  2. गण, the list-number
  3. पद – परस्मै or आत्मने or उभय
  4. लकार – लट् or लिट् or लुट् or लृट् or लोट् or लङ् or विधिलिङ् or आशीर्लिङ् or लुङ् or लृङ्
    • Note that in the verse quoted earlier, there is a mention of a लकार, called as लेट्. I have not included that here, because in the verse it is clear that one finds लेट् वेदे i.e. primarily in Vedic usage.
    • Even with the omission of लेट्, we still have ten लकार-s, because we have लिङ् of two types विधिलिङ् or आशीर्लिङ्.
  5. पुरुष person – उत्तमपुरुषः First Person, मध्यमपुरुषः Second Person, प्रथमपुरुषः Third Person
    • It ought to be noted that, what is third person in English, is called as प्रथमपुरुष in Sanskrit, whereas, what is First Person in English, is called as उत्तमपुरुष in Sanskrit.
    • I guess that there is some cultural thought behind this. Sanskrit culture seems to advocate that one should not be talking much in उत्तमपुरुष or should be talking, using उत्तमपुरुष, when one is clear in conscience about having attained the stage of उत्तमपुरुष “सोऽहमस्मि” (I am He or He is me)
    • Actually in English the third rank is given to those pronouns, which are maximum in number. Is it not clear that among pronouns, (I, We), (You, You), (He, She, It, They) pronouns of third person are maximum in number ? Why should their rank be third ? In Sanskrit, their rank is first प्रथमपुरुष.
  6. वचन. – एकवचनम् Singular, द्विवचनम् Dual or बहुवचनम् Plural


Being able to detail grammar of a क्रियापदम् in such sixfold detail demonstrates, that one has understood the क्रियापदम् as much thoroughly.


Even in a single-word sentence like “Go” गच्छ the क्रियापदम् is गच्छ. Its grammatical detail would be –

गच्छ – गम्-धातुः (१ प.) | लोटि मध्यमपुरुषे एकवचनम् |

Note –

१ प. is abbreviation for प्रथमगणः, परस्मैपदम्

लोटि = in लोट्-लकार, which is imperative mood आज्ञार्थ.


Change of voice in Sanskrit is identical to change of voice in English. For example –

Teacher gives me knowledge.

In this sentence there are two objects – me and knowledge. So change of voice can be effected in two ways –

  1. I am given knowledge by teacher
  2. Knowledge is given to me by teacher.

In Sanskrit, “Teacher gives me knowledge” = आचार्यः मह्यं ज्ञानं ददाति | Note, that when a verb takes two objects, the personal object पुरुषवाचकं कर्म is in fourth case चतुर्थी विभक्ति. The impersonal object वस्तुवाचकं कर्मपदं वा भाववाचकं कर्मपदम् is in usual second case द्वितीया विभक्ति.


Now two ways of change of voice in Sanskrit would be –

  1. I am given knowledge by teacher अहं आचार्येण ज्ञानं दीये |
  2. Knowledge is given to me by teacher. आचार्येण मह्यं ज्ञानं दीयते |


Note that subject-word in Active voice कर्तरिप्रयोग is Teacher आचार्यः

  • In Passive voice कर्मणिप्रयोग it is changed to have the preposition ‘by’,
  • In Sanskrit, equivalent विभक्ति is तृतीया. Hence, आचार्येण


To transform  to Passive voice, there are two options, because there are two objects कर्मपद-s, –

  • first by changing the personal object पुरुषवाचकं कर्म ‘me’ to be the subject. Hence I am given. अहं दीये |
  • In the second option, the impersonal object वस्तुवाचकं कर्मपदं वा भाववाचकं कर्मपदम् ‘knowledge’ is made the subject. Hence Knowledge is given. ज्ञानं दीयते


Note that in both cases the verb क्रियापदम् conforms to the subject-word कर्तृपदम्.

  • In the first option, the subject-word ‘I’ अहम् is of first person उत्तमपुरुष. So, verb is ‘am given’ क्रियापदम् दीये
  • In the second option, the subject-word ज्ञानम् is of third person प्रथमपुरुष. So the verb is ‘is given’ क्रियापदम्  दीयते.


Concept of word-formation is so strong in Sanskrit, that even for change of voice, there is no need of any auxiliary verb. In English, we have to use an auxiliary verb ‘to be’ and the main verb ‘gives’ is given the form of a participle ‘given’.


English grammarians have been so accustomed to the concept of a participle, that even when speaking of Sanskrit grammar, they call many word-formations in Sanskrit as participles. There are no participles in Sanskrit. By my line of thinking. forming a participle is a half-hearted process of word-formation. In Sanskrit word-formation process is never half-hearted.

It ought to be also noted that when changing voice, there are two changes being made to the धातु.

  • It gets विकरणम् ‘य’. This is also the विकरणम् for धातु-s of the fourth list चतुर्थगण
  • Furthermore, in Passive Voice धातु will always take आत्मनेपदी तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s.

In the above example also

  • In active voice, the क्रियापदम् ददाति has no विकरणम् ‘य’ in it. In दीये and दीयते, it is there.
  • In active voice, the क्रियापदम् ददाति has परस्मैपदी तिङ्-प्रत्यय. In Passive voice the क्रियापद-s दीये and दीयते have आत्मनेपदी तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s.


Most interesting aspect of Change of voice concept in Sanskrit is that in Sanskrit, voice can be changed, even if verb in active voice is intransitive अकर्मक, In English you cannot do change of voice of a sentence such as “I go”, because the verb “to go” is intransitive. In sentences with intransitive verb there is no object.


But in Sanskrit you can do change of voice even of a sentence having an intransitive verb. For example I go = अहं गच्छामि. By change of voice it will be मया गम्यते. Note how the change of voice is obtained.

  • Subject-word कर्तृपदम् in active voice is अहम्. It is changed to its तृतीया विभक्ति मया.
  • क्रियापदम् in कर्तरिप्रयोग is गच्छामि. It undergoes its two changes –
    • the धातु गम् gets विकरण य
    • क्रियापदम् गम्यते has आत्मनेपदी तिङ्-प्रत्यय in it.


When verb is intransitive अकर्मक and change of voice is effected, the changed voice is called as भावेप्रयोग.


Since sentences in active voice कर्तरिप्रयोग can be in all लकार-s, their transformations into कर्मणिप्रयोग or भावेप्रयोग can also be in all लकार-s.


Another important and interesting form of  is in causative प्रयोजक-usage. For example “He does” → “He gets done”. सः करोति → सः कारयति In Sanskrit grammar, causative usage is also called as णिच्.


Again sentences in causative usage would mostly be in active voice. But they also can be transformed into कर्मणिप्रयोग or भावेप्रयोग. In turn  they can be in all लकार-s both when in active voice or कर्मणिप्रयोग or भावेप्रयोग.


To explain this by carrying the above example forward –

  • सः करोति = He does
  • सः कारयति = He gets done
  • तेन क्रियते = Is done by him
  • तेन कार्यते = Is got done by him


Above examples also show how word-formation, especially from धातु-s, makes the sentences short and sweet. Where English statement “Is got done by him” needs five words, in Sanskrit, it is just two words तेन कार्यते.


Yet another interesting and important form of क्रियापद-s is in desiderative usage. This is called as सन्नन्तक्रिया For example सः चिकीर्षति = He wishes to do.


There are also यङ्न्तक्रिया यङ्लुगन्तक्रिया, which are not in common usage. I have come across single usage of यङ्न्तक्रिया (for repetitive action) in this श्लोकः –

पाराशर्यवचस्सरोजममलं गीतार्थगन्धोत्कटम् |

नानाख्यानककेसरं हरिकथासंबोधनाबोधितम् |

लोके सज्जनषट्पदैरहरहः पेपीयमानं मुदा |

भूयाद्भारतपङ्कजं कलिनलप्रध्वंसि नः श्रेयसे ||


Here the word पेपीयमानं (= being drunk again and again) has यङ्न्तक्रिया in it, that too in passive voice.


In Sanskrit there are also नामधातु-s, i.e. धातु-s obtained from नाम-s. The word नाम is to be taken in a broader sense to include adjectives and pronouns also.

  • One interesting example is बुद्बुदायते (= is or becomes effervescent, bubblifies) formed from बुद्बुद (= a bubble).
  • Another interesting example is in a सुभाषितम् – यत्र विद्वज्जनो नास्ति श्लाघ्यस्तत्राल्पधीरपि । निरस्तपादपे देशे एरण्डोऽपि द्रुमायते ।। Meaning “Where there are no learned men, a person with little knowledge is also listened to. In a desert, a eucalyptus plant would also be called a tree.” Note the verb द्रुमायते obtained from the noun द्रुम (= tree).
  • There is another interesting सुभाषितम् – दुर्जनेन समं सख्यं प्रीतिं चापि न कारयेत्। ऊष्णो दहति चांगारः शीतः कृष्णायते करम् ॥ One should not indulge in friendship or affection towards a bad person. A hot embre causes burns, cold one blackens hand. Note the verb कृष्णायते (= blackens).


Although पाणिनि has detailed 2000-odd धातु-s in धातुपाठ, number of धातु-s would become innumerable if we add नामधातु-s obtainable from nouns-pronouns adjectives. From each धातु one can obtain so many क्रियापद-s, when one takes into account not only कर्तरिप्रयोग in all लकार-s, but also भावकर्मणि and क्रिया-s such as णिच्, सन्नन्त, यङ्/यङ्लुक् etc.


Actually there would be prefixes उपसर्गाः which add more shades of meaning to the basic meaning(s) of a धातु. It is rightly said so in a verse –

उपसर्गेण धात्वर्थो बलादन्यत्र नीयते |

प्रहाराहारसंहारविहारपरिहारवत् ||

Meaning, meaning of a धातु is forcibly carried somewhere else, as happens in the case of प्रहार (hitting), आहार (eating), संहार (destruction), विहार (joy-ride), परिहार (relief).

उपसर्ग-s are 22 viz. प्र परा अप सम् अनु अव निस् निर् दुस् दुर् वि आ नि अधि अपि अति सु उत् अभि प्रति परि उप.


It is not uncommon that more than one उपसर्ग-s would be used together. For example, the word अध्यायः(अधि + आ + अयः) has in it two उपसर्ग-s अधि and आ.


Important point to be noted is that when forming क्रियापद-s, when there is/are उपसर्ग-s, one first forms क्रियापदम् of the bare धातु and the उपसर्ग(s) are prefixed to the क्रियापदम् as formatted.


For example अभवत् – भू-धातुः (१ प.) | लङि अनद्यतनभूते प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् |


For लङि अनद्यतनभूते प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् of अनु + भू it would be अनु + अभवत् = अन्वभवत् | Here we have अन्वभवत् which is actually a संधि i.e. joint pronunciation of अनु + अभवत्.


The two pairs of उपसर्ग-s, निस् निर् and दुस् दुर् should better be understood as being विसर्ग-ending निः and दुः When doing joint pronunciation, they would become निस् निश् निष् निर् or दुस् दुश् दुष् दुर् as in निस्सीम, निश्चय निष्कास, निर्मोह or दुस्सह, दुश्चित्त, दुष्कर, दुर्धर or the विसर्ग would stay unchanged as in दुःखित


Certain times, some उपसर्ग-s would cause an otherwise परस्मैपदी धातु to get आत्मनेपदी प्रत्यय-s. For example धातु स्था is basically परस्मैपदी. But with उपसर्ग अनु it gets आत्मनेपदी प्रत्यय-s. Basically लटि प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् of स्था is तिष्ठति But with अनु it becomes अनुतिष्ठते.


Converse also happens. धातु रम् is basically आत्मनेपदी. So its लटि प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् is रमते But with उपसर्ग उप it gets परस्मैपदी प्रत्यय and would be उपरमति.


Certain times उपसर्ग-s also cause an intransitive verb अकर्मकधातुः to become transitive सकर्मकधातुः. For example धातुः भू is as such अकर्मक. But with अनु it becomes transitive सकर्मक.


For example

  • सः सुखम् अनुभवति He experiences happiness.
  • धातुः भू becomes transitive also with उपसर्ग-s प्र, अभि, परा
    • सः मां प्रभवति He influences me
    • तन्माम् अभिभवति It overwhelms me OR it impresses me
    • सः मया पराभूतः He was defeated by me.OR I defeated him


Sentences in all tenses and moods and in all voices and all modes can also be transformed into interrogation and negation. Sanskrit process is much simpler than English process. English process requires use of an auxiliary verb. For example in the interrogative sentence “Did you do that ?”, there are two forms of the verbal root “to do” – one is auxiliary and other is main.


Even when making negative of an affirmative sentence, in English one needs using an auxiliary verb. For example if affirmative sentence is “I went” its negative would be “I did not go”.


In Sanskrit, for interrogation one may use an interrogative pronoun. For example in the first verse of eighth chapter in Geetaa, there are so many questions – किं तद्ब्रह्म किमध्यात्मं किं कर्म पुरुषोत्तम | अधिभूतं च किं प्रोक्तम् अधिदैवं किमुच्यते || Even when there are so many questions, there is no question-mark anywhere. The pronunciation makes it clear that these are questions. Much of Sanskrit text is devoid of punctuation marks !


In fact there would be interrogative sentences in Sanskrit without any interrogative pronoun also. For example गच्छसि can be just pronounced in a questioning tone and that would be interrogative of गच्छसि (affirmative). For more clarity for the reader one when writing one may write गच्छसि ? Or one may use the interrogative गच्छसि किम् ? When one wants to check the consent, one may use an interrogative auxiliary – अपि गच्छसि ?


In Sanskrit transformation into negative is also quite simple. One just uses the negational auxiliary न. One does not have to use any auxiliary verb. For example if affirmative sentence is गच्छसि its negative would be न गच्छसि. In Sanskrit there is one more negational auxiliary, mostly used for imperative mood. For example मा गच्छ (= don’t go).

It would be good to recapitulate and make a summary note of main points discussed about तिङन्तशब्दाः

  1. In sentences तिङन्तशब्दाः are verbs क्रियापद-s.
  2. The seed from which तिङन्तशब्दाः are obtained are धातु-s
  3. There are some 2000-odd धातु-s listed in धातुपाठ by पाणिनि.
  4. In धातुपाठ, पाणिनि listed धातु-s in ten lists called as गण-s
  • The ten गण-s have different विकरण-s, which afflict the धातु-s, before affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s
  1. तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are of two types परस्मैपदी and आत्मनेपदी
  2. धातु-s get तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s depending upon whether it is परस्मैपदी or आत्मनेपदी.
  • With उभयपदी धातु-s क्रियापद-s can be obtained with both परस्मैपदी and आत्मनेपदी प्रत्यय-s.
  1. In both परस्मैपदी and आत्मनेपदी types तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are 9 each which gets क्रियापद-s
  • in उत्तमपुरुष (First person), मध्यमपुरुष (second person) प्रथमपुरुष (third person)
  • in singular एकवचनम् dual द्विवचनम् plural बहुवचनम्
  1. The processes of affixing तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are different according to 10 लकार-s which help to frame क्रियापद-s in different tenses and moods
  • Present tense वर्तमानकालः is called as लट्-लकार
  • Past tense भूतकालः is of three types – लङ् (अनद्यतनभूतकालः) लुङ् (सामान्यभूतकालः) लिट् (परोक्षभूतकालः)
  • Future tense is also of three types – लुट् (अनद्यतनभविष्यत्कालः) लृट् (द्वितीयभविष्यत्कालः) लृङ् (is also a mood सङ्केतार्थः)
  • There are also three other moods – लोट् (Imperative mood आज्ञार्थः) विधिलिङ् (Potential mood विध्यर्थः) आशीर्लिङ् (Benedictine Mood)
  1. In Sanskrit change of voice can be done not only of sentences with transitive verbs, but even of sentences with intransitive verbs.
  2. In Sanskrit, there are more variations of धातु-s with णिच्-क्रिया (causative), सन्नन्तक्रिया (desiderative), यङ्-क्रिया (repetitive). Change of voice would be applicable for these variations also.
  3. In Sanskrit, transforming affirmative sentences into interrogative and negative does not require use of auxiliary verb. In English one needs to use auxiliary verb ‘to do’.
  4. Concept of नामधातु-s would add numerous more धातु-s
  5. Prefixes उपसर्ग-s would bring variety of shades of meaning, often very much different from the meaning(s) of धातु-s themselves.


Having discussed so many aspects of तिङन्तशब्दाः, it must be noted that I have not detailed, even as a specimen example any single धातु in all aspects. But I did not do that even for सुबन्तशब्दाः There I suggested that one could download from website of Mr. GSS Murthy शब्दरूपाणि of good number of specimen प्रातिपदिक-s. He has done that for धातु-s also. See There are books available with such titles as शब्दधातुरूपावली. There is a book बृहद्धातुरूपावलिः wherein one bookseller Mr. R. R. Krishnachar compiled धातुरूप-s of some 629 धातु-s. In a Pocket book रूपचन्द्रिका by ब्रह्मानन्द त्रिपाठी धातुरूप-s of some 279 धातु-s in all ten लकार-s are given. But the pocket book could not have detailed भावकर्मणिरूपाणि, णिजन्तरूपाणि etc. for all as many धातु-s, again in all लकार-s.


It ought to be noted that one cannot find in the dictionary each and every तिङन्तशब्द of every धातु. What one can expect to find is the धातु. So, it becomes important to know the धातु-s and what तिङन्तशब्द-s can be obtained from which धातु. This becomes somewhat challenging, when a धातु has तिङन्तशब्द-s in different lists i.e. in different धातुगण-s. For example –

  • धातु दा in प्रथमगण has तिङन्तशब्द यच्छति Same धातु in तृतीयगण has तिङन्तशब्द ददाति
  • धातु पा in प्रथमगण has तिङन्तशब्द पिबति Same धातु in द्वितीयगण has तिङन्तशब्द पाति


Although पाणिनि put धातु-s in ten lists i.e. in धातुगण-s, according to विकरण-s, that alone would not explain, why, for example, धातु-s वद् and गम्, both of प्रथमगण, have their तिङन्तशब्द-s in present tense as वदति and गच्छति respectively. Thought behind this mention is that one needs to study and practice a great lot with धातु-s.


It comes to mind that the best practice and study of तिङन्तशब्दाः would happen by continued practice of composing sentences in Sanskrit. Since sentences would have सुबन्तशब्दाः also, practising with sentences will give practice with both तिङन्तशब्दाः and सुबन्तशब्दाः.


Actually तिङन्तशब्दाः are not all, what one gets from धातु-s. Yet another Part of Speech कृदन्त-s are also obtained from धातु-s only. Those will be discussed in the next Part.


शुभमस्तु |



Sanskrit is simple – only four Parts of Speech

Sanskrit is simple – only four Parts of Speech.

सुलभं संस्कृतम् – चत्वार्येव वाक्पदानि

When speaking of Sanskrit, there is some natural mention of Sanskrit grammar. It is also well-accepted that Sanskrit has to be grammatically correct. The need for Sanskrit to be grammatically correct is emphasized to the extent of an impression to grow in mind that it is grammarians, who created the language and they would not tolerate any Sanskrit, which is grammatically incorrect.

It is my contention however that grammar does not make the language. Rules of grammar are framed to systematize how the language should be spoken or written. I am clear in my mind that पाणिनि did not create Sanskrit language. In अष्टाध्यायी his treatise on Sanskrit grammar he framed and compiled, in a style and in a scheme of his own, rules of grammar, which are recognized as the norm for Sanskrit.

While पाणिनि’s lifetime is dated to be some 500 BC, Sanskrit existed millennia before पाणिनि. In his aphorisms such as लोपः शाकल्यस्य ८।३।१९ or ओतो गार्ग्यस्य ८।३।२०, he makes mention of many grammarians before him. Since पाणिनि was not the first grammarian, he could not have created Sanskrit. And the logic would apply to any grammarian.

He did find many exceptional usages, especially in texts and speeches very ancient to himself. They were exceptional, because he could not fit them in rules, which he had compiled. Nevertheless he took cognisance of such usages in his अष्टाध्यायी by referring to them as छन्दसि meaning “in ancient texts/usages”, primarily the Vedas.

As far as my own initiation into Sanskrit is concerned, I must also mention that my father taught me Sanskrit to a fairly good level of understanding, without ever mentioning पाणिनि. My father was a teacher of languages. He taught as many as four languages – Marathi, Hindi, English and Sanskrit. On recapitulation, I think his style was of comparative study. Basically, we have thoughts. And language is the aid or medium to express the thought. Any thought can be expressed in any languages, What is needed is the use of relevant words and “constructs”, which are typical of that language. Linguistic study then is getting to understand the words and “constructs” or the diction and the grammar.

Speaking of constructs, in English grammar, one learns of eight Parts of Speech – Verbs, Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections. These eight parts of speech are like bins. Every word in a sentence must get sorted out into one bin or the other. The term “Part of speech” seems to denote types of words. Every word in a sentence is a part of the speech, because a sentence puts the words in such format that the speech becomes meaningful. Every word is then a part of speech and hence would be of one of the eight types.

Having said so, it comes to mind that in a sentence such as “Why did you not go ?”, in which bin do we put the word “not” ? The word “not” is an auxiliary to the verb. But we do not have a part of speech as “auxiliary”. Again, in a sentence such as “That is not good”, the word “not” is more related to the word “good”. What part of speech is the word “not” in this sentence ? In another sentence, “I shall do it, but not now”, the word “not” is more related to the adverb “now”. So a word such as “not” could be more related to the verb or to an adjective or to an adverb or to a pronoun in a phrase such as “not me” or to a noun as in a phrase “not Ganesh”. One can surmise that words need not be, rather, should not be typified. That concept should apply to any language.

Comparatively, in Sanskrit, every word, to be eligible for use in a speech, needs to be so dressed up, as would be appropriate for its intended use in a sentence. Intended use of a given word could be different in different sentences. A word appropriately dressed up is called as a पदम्.

Broadly पद-s are of only two types, either of सुप्-type or of तिङ्-type पाणिनि summarizes this as सुप्तिङन्तं पदम् (पा. 1-4-14)

Does that make one good answer to a question – What is simple in Sanskrit grammar ?

We can say सुप् and तिङ् are two broad types of dresses to dress up raw (or seed) words. The dresses are of two broad types, because raw (or seed) words are of two broad types – nominal roots प्रातिपदिक-s and verbal roots धातु-s. English grammarians have coined for धातु, this term “verbal root”. I don’t like it that way though, because धातु is more basic than a root. Because it is more basic, I would like to call it as the seed. To go further, more basic than even the concept of seed, I would say that धातु is the “formless” state, from which “forms” emerge.

Am I speaking philosophy ? Yes ! One good starting point to understand Sanskrit is to get some philosophical tune up of the mind. Learning Sanskrit grammar is also like learning philosophy. If Vedas are like nourishing food, to digest that food, it has to be first put into the mouth. And grammar is the mouth, through which the Vedas are to be sent in for assimilation and digestion. So, they say, मुखं व्याकरणं स्मृतम् | Grammar is the mouth for the vedas.

The concept of “… “formless” state, from which “forms” emerge …” has been dwelt upon also in GItA. See the mention अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत | अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना ||2-28|| Before they become manifest, all beings are in unmanifest state. Being manifest is just a middle stage or state. Death is only their passing again into the unmanifest state. So, धातु is the “formless” state, from which “forms” emerge. Similar is the case with प्रातिपदिक-s.

How many forms can emerge from these two basic formless states ? Asking this question is like asking how big a tree can grow from a seed ? How many branches can it have ? How many leaves can it have ? How many flowers and fruits can it have ? How many petals would each flower have ? How many ovules would emerge from the ovary of each flower ?

In a Sanskrit sentence, every word, the पदम् is “formed” by a forming process or morphology प्रक्रिया, which are broadly of the two types – सुप् and तिङ्.

सुप् and तिङ् are actually suffixes, word-endings प्रत्यय-s, which dress up the seeds प्रातिपदिक-s and धातु-s respectively.

What सुप्-प्रत्यय-s do is to form पद-s inclusive of prepositions. That eliminates “prepositions” as a type of part of speech. For example, देवेन is a पदम् with a सुप्-प्रत्यय-dressing up of प्रातिपदिक-देव. When so dressed up, its meaning “(with or) by God” includes the meaning implicit in the preposition “(with or) by”.

The morphology i.e. प्रक्रिया-s of सुप्-प्रत्यय-s embraces nouns, pronouns and adjectives. That eliminates any need for distinctive study of these parts of speech. Thus Sanskrit grammar has an inclusive philosophy.

पद-s formed by प्रक्रिया-s of सुप्-प्रत्यय-s often serve the function of adverbs also. For example, in a sentence अश्वः वेगेन धावति the word वेगेन is similar to देवेन. In the sentence अश्वः वेगेन धावति meaning of वेगेन is “with speed”. This meaning is adverbial, adverb of manner. The philosophy behind the morphology i.e. प्रक्रिया-s of सुप्-प्रत्यय-s then is further more inclusive, inclusive of adverbial meanings also.

तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s help us obtain verbs “क्रिया”-पद-s. In any language, one needs verbs in different tenses and moods, for singular or plural subjects, in first, second or third person, in active, passive voices, to connote causative, desiderative senses, etc. तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s do all that and do it much more crisply. An English sentence “May it be benevolent” would just be शुभमस्तु in Sanskrit.

Coming to an auxiliary word like “not” discussed earlier, in Sanskrit there are many words, which do not need dressing up. So there is no morphology of suffixes प्रत्यय-प्रक्रिया to be processed for these words. Some commonly words of this type are न, च, वा, अथवा, अथ, इति, एव, अपि, यदा, तदा, कदा, यथा, तथा, कथम्, एवम्, अद्य, ह्यः, श्वः, इदानीम्, अधुना, तदानीम्, अत्र, यत्र, तत्र, कुत्र, सर्वत्र, अन्यत्र, etc.

There are two viewpoints to understand such words.

  • One viewpoint is to think that these words are devoid of suffixes. They can be used without any dressing up. But this viewpoint goes against the philosophy, that every word should be dressed up and only then it can be used in a sentence.
  • So in the other viewpoint, one considers that the word is already having a dress of its own. It is not visible as a distinct suffix, but it is there. पाणिनि embraces all such words by saying अदर्शनं लोपः १।१।५९ “Not visible” means that “some suffix was there, but during metamorphosis it got dropped off”. This may be considered as just some smart way, to avoid saying that these words have no suffixes.
  • Basically these words are of a class, which can be used in “as is” condition. Such words are called by English grammarians as indeclinables अव्यय-s. To my mind this pair of parallel terminologies “indeclinables = अव्यय-s” is again not correct. I shall come to that later.

One need not conclude that in Sanskrit there are no suffixes beyond the सुप्-प्रत्यय-s and तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s.

पाणिनि makes mention of अतिङ्-प्रत्यय-s. One type of अतिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are कृत्-प्रत्यय-s (See कृदतिङ्॥ ३।१।९३)

  • कृदन्त-s are words having suffixes or endings of कृत्-प्रत्यय-s
  • Among कृदन्त-s, words with suffixes क्त्वा/ल्यप्, तुमुन् and ण्वुल् are adverbial and/or conjunctive. For example कृत्वा, संस्कृत्य, कर्तुम्, कारम्
  • कृदन्त-s with other कृत्-प्रत्यय-s would be mostly adjectives and would need dressing up with सुप्-प्रत्यय-s. Some कृत्-प्रत्यय-s of this type, found in common use are क्त, क्तवतु, तृच्, शतृ, शानच्, ण्यत्, तव्यत्, अनीयर्, as in कृत, कृतवत्, कर्तृ, कुर्वन्, क्रियमाण, कार्य, कर्तव्य, करणीय
  • In his book कृत्-प्रत्ययविश्लेषणम् Dr. Gopabandhu Mishra has presented a study of as many as 139 कृत्-प्रत्यय-s.

It becomes helpful to take the basic concept of प्रत्यय-s to be one of so dressing up the seed, that it gets an identity of its own and by that it can stand by itself anywhere. A word being enabled to stand by itself anywhere, is freeing it from the bondage of syntax. That again is a great, great concept, very special of Sanskrit !

Some concept of morphology of words by use of suffixes and also prefixes is there in many languages. For example, in English we have “to act” → acts, acted, acting, action, inaction, actionless, actor, actors, actress, actresses, active, inactive, proactive, activity, activities, actual, actuality, actualities, react, reaction, etc. All these morphologies however do not free the words from bondage of syntax.

Great benefit obtained from freedom from bondage of syntax is in facilitating poetic compositions, It is easy to utter poetic compositions in a rhythm, maybe even sing them. Most importantly, by becoming rhythmic, they become easy to memorize. Wish to sing grammar as a song ? Yes, you can do that with Sanskrit grammar ! For example, see this श्लोक in श्रीरामरक्षास्तोत्रम् –

रामो राजमणिः सदा विजयते रामं रमेशं भजे |

रामेणाभिहिता निशाचरचमू रामाय तस्मै नमः |

रामान्नास्ति परायणं परतरं रामस्य दासोऽस्म्यहम् |

रामे चित्तलयस् सदा भवतु मे भो राम मामुद्धर ||

One can notice that in this verse one gets sequentially all singular-formattings (एकवचन-रूपाणि) of the प्रातिपदिक “राम” with सुप्-प्रत्यय-s in all seven cases from प्रथमा to सप्तमी.

Total number of सुप्-प्रत्यय-s are 21. PaNini summarized them in a single aphorism सूत्रम् स्वौजसमौट्छस्टाभ्याम्भिस्-ङेभ्याम्भ्यस्ङसिभ्याम्भ्यस्ङसोसाम्ङ्योस्सुप्॥ ४।१।२

This is to be deciphered as (1) सु (2) औ (3) जस् (4) अम् (5) औट् (6) शस् (7) टा (8) भ्यां (9) भिस् (10) ङे (11) भ्यां (12) भ्यस् (13) ङसि (14) भ्यां (15) भ्यस् (16) ङस् (17) ओस् (18) आं (19) ङि (20) ओस् (21) सुप्

One may notice that सुप्-प्रत्यय-s got their name from the ending of the above सूत्रम्.

Likewise तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s are summarized in

सूत्रम्॥ तिप्तस्झिसिप्थस्थमिब्वस्मस्तातांझथासाथांध्वमिड्वहिमहिङ्॥ ३।४।७८

It may be noted that the सूत्रम् starts with ति and ends with ङ्. Hence the name तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s

The सूत्रम् has been deciphered as धातोः, तिप्-तस्-झि, सिप्-थस्-थ, मिप्-वस्-मस् (परस्मैपदम्), त-आताम्-झ, थास्-आथाम्-ध्वम्, इट्-वहि-महिङ् (आत्मनेपदम्) इत्येते अष्टादश आदेशाः meaning, there are 18 तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s, two groups of 9 each, as contained in the सूत्रम्. Why 9 in each group is detailed in two सूत्र-s

तिङस्त्रीणि त्रीणि प्रथममध्यमोत्तमाः॥ १।४।१०० and

तान्येकवचनद्विवचनबहुवचनान्येकशः॥ १।४।१०१

Words in a Sanskrit sentence will be of one of four types. Or Sanskrit has only four Parts of Speech चत्वारि वाक्पदानि –

  1. Words with सुप्-प्रत्यय-s
  2. Words with तिङ्-प्रत्यय-s
  3. Words with अदृष्ट-प्रत्यय-s or लोपमान-प्रत्यय-s i.e. words, प्रत्यय-s of which tend to vanish.
  4. Words with अतिङ्-प्रत्यय-s, prominent among them being words with कृत्-प्रत्यय-s

This phrase चत्वारि वाक्पदानि is in श्रीगणपत्यथर्वशीर्षस्तोत्रम् which is an ode to श्रीगणेश. This is not to suggest that the phrase चत्वारि वाक्पदानि in श्रीगणपत्यथर्वशीर्षस्तोत्रम् has this grammatical meaning of four parts of speech. There, it actually connotes that श्रीगणेश is the Lord of all four stages or aspects of emanation of speech, namely, परा, पश्यन्ती, मध्यमा and वैखरी. The last one वैखरी is expressed speech. The three previous stages are unexpressed speech. पाणिनि uses this concept to explain meanings of धातु-s, e,g, गद् -व्यक्तायां वाचि, meaning, धातु गद् to be used when the speech is expressed. For धातु णद् the meaning is given as णद अव्यक्ते शब्दे. What the phrase चत्वारि वाक्पदानि in श्रीगणपत्यथर्वशीर्षस्तोत्रम् connotes is some digression. But since the phrase चत्वारि वाक्पदानि, that came to my mind in this discussion of Sanskrit grammar is absolutely identical, to the one in श्रीगणपत्यथर्वशीर्षस्तोत्रम्, I could not resist the temptation of the mention.

It should be acceptable, basically, that major portion of learning of Sanskrit will be covered by learning चत्वारि वाक्पदानि.

Actually it comes to mind that we can as well consider that what is not तिङ् is अतिङ्. By this logic सुप्-प्रत्यय-s and अदृष्ट-प्रत्यय-s are also अतिङ्. So, one can think that प्रत्यय-s are all of only two broad categories – तिङ्. and अतिङ्. Under अतिङ्. there are 3 major sub-categories – सुप्-प्रत्यय-s, अदृष्ट-प्रत्यय-s and कृत्-प्रत्यय-s.

Although this is theoretically correct, this becomes like tooth-picking on the word अतिङ्. चत्वारि वाक्पदानि is simple enough and one can take that as the approach to learn Sanskrit.

Before closing, I should discuss, what I had mentioned “.. this pair of parallel terminologies “indeclinables = अव्यय-s” is again not correct. I shall come to that later. ..”.

One popular definition of अव्यय reads – सदृशं त्रिषु लिङ्गेषु सर्वासु च विभक्तिषु । वचनेषु च सर्वेषु यन्न व्येति तदव्ययम् | meaning अव्यय is that, which remains same in all three genders, in all cases and in all numbers and does not undergo any change. This definition is again not correct. पाणिनि defines अव्यय as स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् (१-१-३७) Dwelling on this definition may complicate the matter.

I would prefer to stay on with the topic of Parts of Speech. And to explain the concept of अव्यय, the eightfold Parts of Speech in English grammar are more useful. Out of the eight, the adverbs, conjunctions and interjections do not change by any changes in the verbs, prepositions, nouns, pronouns and adjectives. These five parts of speech – verbs, prepositions, nouns, pronouns and adjectives have some interdependency among them. Change in one will cause other(s) to suffer change. But adverbs, conjunctions and interjections are independent and do not suffer change. They are अव्यय-s. In the sentence अश्वः वेगेन धावति, even if अश्वः and धावति were to become plural, (अश्वाः धावन्ति) there is no change required in वेगेन. The words  अश्वः and धावति have an interdependency. If one becomes plural the other also has to become plural. But the word वेगेन remains independent.

The word वेगेन has been obtained by declining the प्रातिपदिक वेग. That is why “indeclinables = अव्यय-s” does not appeal to me to be correct. To explain this better, let me take the sentence अश्वः वेगेन धावति as अश्वः सवेगं धावति. Here the word सवेगं is adverbial. This word सवेगं is obtained by declining a प्रातिपदिक सवेग. One can decline this प्रातिपदिक to be an adjective for अश्वः and one can have a sentence सवेगः अश्वः धावति. Now if one were to transform this sentence to plural it would have to be सवेगाः अश्वाः धावन्ति Yet if the given sentence is अश्वः सवेगं धावति, plural of that will be अश्वाः सवेगं धावन्ति. So it is not correct to say “indeclinables” अव्यय-s as a type or class of words. The प्रातिपदिक itself is declinable. Consideration should be the role intended for the word in the sentence. If in the intended role, it is independent, it is अव्यय.

Actually words with अदृष्ट-प्रत्यय-s or लोपमान-प्रत्यय-s are inherently and permanently indeclinable. So, the term “indeclinable” is aptly applicable to them. But the Sanskrit term अव्यय takes the broader perspective of the role of words in a sentence. So, all those words in a sentence are अव्यय-s, which are independent. By that, the term अव्यय covers adverbs, conjunctions and interjections. So, it is inclusive philosophy again.