Learning Sanskrit in distance learning mode – Lesson 2

Lesson 2
Towards the end of Lesson 1, we learnt a popular prayer. You must have committed it to memory by now.
त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव बन्धुश्च सखा त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणं त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव सर्वं मम देव देव ॥
In Lesson 1, its meaning also was given as “You are my father, you are also my mother; you are my brother, you are my friend; you are the knowledge, you are the wealth; you are everything for me, oh God, oh God”. Lets us see how this meaning gets derived.
First we must decipher the conjugations. By that we shall get to see all words distinctly. By deciphering the conjugations, the prayer would read like this –
त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव । = त्वम् एव माता च पिता त्वम् एव ।
त्वमेव बन्धुश्च सखा त्वमेव । = त्वम् एव बन्धुः च सखा त्वम् एव ।
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणं त्वमेव । = त्वम् एव विद्या द्रविणं त्वम् एव ।
त्वमेव सर्वं मम देव देव ॥ = त्वम् एव सर्वं मम देव देव ॥
There were only two conjugations to decipher.
त्वमेव = त्वम् + एव and बन्धुश्च = बन्धुः + च
Since all words are now seen distinctly, we can note down their meanings.
त्वम् = you
एव = only
माता = mother
च = and
पिता = father
बन्धुः = brother
सखा = friend
विद्या = knowledge
द्रविणं = wealth
सर्वं = all or everything
मम = my, mine, to me, for me
देव = Oh, God
By substituting these meanings into the verse, in English the verse would read as follows –
You only mother, father you only.
You only brother, friend you only.
You only knowledge, wealth you only.
You only everything for me, Oh God, Oh God.
Is not the meaning same as was given? Is there something missing?
Yes, what is missing is the verb “are”.  That is another beauty of Sanskrit. If verb is so obvious, it need not be explicit. That is very much acceptable.
Secondly, all the words त्वम्, माता, पिता, बन्धुः, सखा, विद्या, द्रविणम्, सर्वम्, देव are easy to understand, aren’t they? But if you look for these words in a dictionary, you may not be able to find them in these forms! This is because, every word has a root form. What can be found in the dictionary, would be only the root form. For using in a sentence, the word is to be used by its proper declension.
Before that, we know that every word is a part of speech of one type or the other. There are eight Parts of Speech.
Some words are “indeclinable” called as “avyaya” अव्यय. We have two of them in this verse, एव and च.
There are two pronouns त्वम् and सर्वम्.
Rest all words are nouns, rather common nouns. Nouns and pronouns have declensions. There are three aspects, which cause declensions of nouns and pronouns – gender, number and case, called as ling, vachan and vibhakti लिंग, विभक्ति, वचन.
There are three genders – masculine, feminine, neuter, “pullinga, streelinga, napunsakalinga” पुल्लिंग, स्त्रीलिंग, नपुंसकलिंग
There are eight cases – nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative and vocative, called respectively as “prathamaa, dwiteeyaa, tRuteeyaa, caturthee, pancamee, ShaShThee, saptamee, sambodhana” प्रथमा, द्वितीया, तृतीया, चतुर्थी, पंचमी, षष्ठी, सप्तमी, संबोधन
Actually, the cases serve the same function as is served by prepositions in English. By declension in a case, the word becomes a self-same word. By that, one gets the total flexibility of putting the word anywhere in the sentence.   This makes the syntax of a sentence very flexible. In comparison, in English, the preposition and the noun have to be always together as one phrase and have to be in the definite order. Flexibility of syntax has facilitated poetic compositions. As was mentioned in the first lesson, whole lot of Sanskrit literature is poetic.
There are three numbers – singular, dual, plural, “ekavachana, dwivachana, bahuvachana” एकवचन, द्विवचन, बहुवचन People have been arguing whether the duality of number has any great purpose and whether the Sanskrit grammar would become simpler by eliminating the duality of number. One thing is however certain. With the duality of number, the declensions of nouns are in sets of triplets. That makes reciting the declensions very rhythmic and makes it easy to commit them to memory.
For example let us see what declensions “roopaaNi” रूपाणि become for the noun vidyaa विद्या. Note, that this noun is of feminine gender. It has at its ending, the vowel “aa”. Almost all nouns with such vowel-ending are of feminine gender. Possibly the noun “sakhaa” is an exception!!


एकवचन द्विवचन बहुवचन
प्रथमा विद्या विद्ये विद्याः
द्वितीया विद्याम् विद्ये विद्याः
तृतीया विद्यया विद्याभ्याम् विद्याभिः
चतुर्थी विद्यायै विद्याभ्याम् विद्याभ्यः
पंचमी विद्यायाः विद्याभ्याम् विद्याभ्यः
षष्ठी विद्यायाः विद्ययोः विद्यानाम्
सप्तमी विद्यायाम् विद्ययोः विद्यासु
सम्बोधन विद्ये विद्ये विद्याः

We can see examples of the utility of these many declensions of a noun.
Knowledge is wealth. “vidyaa eva dhanam” विद्या एव धनम् ।
Knowledges make one versatile. “vidyaaH caturasram kurvanti” विद्याः चतुरस्रं कुर्वन्ति ।
Acquire knowledge. “vidyaam labha” विद्यां लभ ।
Fame comes from knowledge. “vidyayaa keertiH bhavati” विद्यया कीर्तिः भवति ।
To pray to the deity of knowledge, that it should bestow its grace, one would say, “vidye praseeda” विद्ये प्रसीद ।
For homework, try to compose sentences where other declensions of this noun “vidyaa” can also be used.
For understanding the grammar of the word “vidyaa” as it comes in the verse, we can now see that it is first case, singular of the feminine common noun “vidyaa”
विद्या इति स्त्रीलिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
Let us also note the root forms and grammar of other nouns.
tvam त्वम् has root word yuShmad युष्मद्
“tvam” is first case, singular of the pronoun “yuShmad”
युष्मद् इति सर्वनाम, तस्य प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
maataa माता has root word maatRu मातृ
maataa is first case, singular of the feminine common noun maatRu
मातृ इति स्त्रीलिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
pitaa पिता has root word pitRu पितृ
pitaa is first case, singular of the masculine common noun pitRu
पितृ इति पुल्लिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
bandhuH बन्धुः has root word bandhu बन्धु
bandhuH is first case, singular of the masculine common noun bandhu
बन्धु इति पुल्लिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
sakhaa सखा has root word sakhaa सखा
sakhaa is first case, singular of the masculine common noun sakhaa
सखा इति पुल्लिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
vidyaa विद्या has root word vidyaa विद्या
vidyaa is first case, singular of the feminine common noun vidyaa
विद्या इति स्त्रीलिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
draviNam द्रविणम् has root word draviNa द्रविण
draviNam is first case, singular of the neuter common noun draviNa
द्रविण इति नपुंसकलिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य प्रथमाविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
sarvam सर्वम् has root word sarva सर्व
sarvam is first case, singular of the pronoun sarva in its neuter form
सर्व इति सर्वनामस्य नपुंसकलिंगे प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
deva देव has root word deva देव
deva is vocative case, singular of the masculine common noun deva
देव इति पुल्लिंगी सामान्यनाम, तस्य सम्बोधनविभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
All pronouns have adjectival characteristics. So, they should be of the same gender, number and case as of the noun, which they qualify. But declensions of pronouns of first and second person (I, we, you) are not influenced by gender. Here, the prayer is to God “deva”, which is of masculine gender. The pronoun “yuShmad” and its declension “tvam” qualify the noun “deva”.  But gender of “deva” would not influence the declensions of the pronoun “yuShmad”.
The other pronoun “sarvam” stands for everything in general. So, here it does not qualify any particular noun in an adjectival manner. It is a stand-alone pronoun and hence in neuter gender.
To be able to use the nouns and pronouns in right gender, right case and right number, we must master the declensions. You will notice that the words vidyaa and sakhaa are similar, because they have identical vowel-ending “aa”. So, their declensions will also be similar.
For homework or self-study “swaadhyaaya” स्वाध्याय find out the declensions of all the nouns and pronouns we came across in this verse. More importantly master them.
About the importance of mastering whatever we learn, there is a good saying “subhaaShitam” सुभाषितम्
पुस्तकस्था तु या विद्या परहस्तगतं धनम् ।
कार्यकाले समुत्पन्ने न सा विद्या न तद्धनम् ॥
You should be able to read it by yourself now. I shall give its meaning. By that you will appreciate how good a saying it is.
“Knowledge which stays in a book and money which is in hands of another person, that knowledge and that money is neither knowledge nor money, when occasion would demand.”
There are thousands, really thousands of such “good sayings”. Would it not be charming and impressive, if you can quote them verbatim? And they are so crisp verses, so much easy to remember!!
Here is another one summarising essential qualities for success.
उद्यमः साहसं धैर्यं बुद्धिः शक्तिः पराक्रमः ।
षडेते यत्र वर्तन्ते तत्र देवः सहायकृत् ॥
The words in this verse also are fairly simple. It would hence be helpful for us to study this verse in the next lesson and by that take our study of Sanskrit further.
Note that you have following assignments for self-study स्वाध्याय .
1. Try to compose sentences where all declensions of the noun “vidyaa” can be used.
2. Find out the declensions of all the nouns and pronouns we came across in this verse. More importantly, master them.
3. Read and commit to memory the two “good sayings” given above. Find the meaning of the second one also.
-o-O-o-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s