Learning Sanskrit in Distance Learning Mode – Appendix 1 प्रथमः अनुबन्धः

Appendix 1
प्रथमः अनुबन्धः

शब्दाभ्यास: – Parts of speech and Study of Nouns, Pronouns and Adjectives
This is an introduction to study of words. In the grammar of English language, words are categorised into eight parts of speech.
(1) Nouns नामानि
(2) Pronouns सर्वनामानि
(3) Adjectives विशेषणानि
(4) Prepositions – In Sanskrit, function of prepositions is served by declensions of nouns, pronouns and adjectives.
(5) Verbs – धातवः
(6) Adverbs – क्रियाविशेषणानि Most adverbs are indeclinable. They are hence in the broader group of indeclinable words, called as अव्ययानि
(7) Conjunctions – These are also indeclinables, establishing togetherness between two words or phrases संयोजकानि
(8) Interjections – These are also indeclinables, often expressing exclamations उद्गारवाचकानि
In Sanskrit
(1) Nouns, pronouns and adjectives have declensions due to gender लिङ्ग, case विभक्ति and number वचन.
1(a) Nouns have genders. That is a speciality of Sanskrit and all Indian languages. This is so even in German and French. Only in English nouns do not have genders. Genders are three masculine पुल्लिङ्गम्, feminine स्त्रीलिङ्गम् and neuter नपुंसकलिङ्गम्
1(b) Cases are eight. Declensions of the noun देव (God) are given as examples.
Significance of the case Related
1 प्रथमा देव: देवौ देवाः Nominative or subjective case
2 द्वितीया देवम् देवौ देवान् Accusative or objective case
3 तृतीया देवेन देवाभ्याम् देवैः Instrumental case by, with कर्तृ-करणयोः तृतीया
4 चतुर्थी देवाय देवाभ्याम् देवेभ्यः Dative case for, to (a person) सम्प्रदाने चतुर्थी
5 पञ्चमी देवात् देवाभ्याम् देवेभ्यः Ablative case from अपादाने पञ्चमी
6 षष्ठी देवस्य देवयोः देवानाम् Genitive case of अधिकारे षष्ठी
7 सप्तमी देवे देवयोः देवेषु Locative case at, on, upon, above,
below, under
अधिकरणे सप्तमी
8 सम्बोधनम् हे देव हे देवौ हे देवाः Address case

Note, phrases such as “from … to …” are composed by using a construction “….तः …. पर्यन्तम् “

1 (c) The rule for gender, case and number of adjectives and nouns is
यल्लिंगं यद्वचनं या च विभक्तिर्विशेषस्य ।
तल्लिंगं तद्वचनं सैव विभक्तिर्विशेषणस्यापि ॥

Meaning is “What gender, what number and what case is of the noun, that gender, that number and that case (is to be) of the adjective also.”

1 (d) Since pronouns also succeed some noun, which is referred to earlier in a text, they qualify that noun. Thus pronouns are also adjectives of sort. Hence same rule as applies for adjectives applies also to pronouns.
For example, in the above shloka stating the rule, the conjunctive pronouns “what” in the phrase “What gender, what number and what case..” are यल्लिंगं यद्वचनं या च विभक्तिर्. Note, the pronoun is यत् for लिङ्गम् and वचनम् because both these nouns are neuter. For विभक्तिर् or विभक्तिः the pronoun is या, because विभक्तिः is feminine.
Note also that a noun, which is qualified by an adjective is called as विशेषम् And the adjective is called as विशेषणम् |
Since adjectives have to have same gender as of the noun, adjectives have declensions in all three genders.
Declensions in all three genders applies also to pronouns, except the first person and second third pronouns, I, we, अस्मत् (द्) you (singular) and you (plural) युष्मत् (द्).
Pronouns do not have declensions in address case, the Eighth case सम्बोधन-विभक्तिः
1 (e) Numbers are three – singular एकवचनम् , dual द्विवचनम् and plural बहुवचनम्. This is already clear from the table in 1(b).

Concept of Duality in Number is a speciality of Sanskrit. In most languages we have only singular and plural. People often seem to argue the utility of having this kind of declension. But this concept of Duality of number is there. One cannot argue much about it.

So, we two = आवाम् two of you = युवाम् those two (masculine) = तौ those two (feminine or neuter) = ते

2. Structural patterns are structured based on the ending sound of nouns, pronouns and adjectives.

2.1 Popular specimen Vowel-ending words for studying and memorising their declensions

Ending with vowel Masculine Feminine Neuter Pronouns & Adjectives
(in all three genders)
देव, राम वन ज्ञान सर्व (pronoun of indefinite number)
एक (numerical adjective)
रमा, माला
कवि, हरि, पति रुचि, मति वारि द्वि (numerical adjective, always dual द्विवचनम्)
त्रि (numerical adjective, always plural बहुवचनम्)
ऋषी नदी, पत्नी, धी
गुरु (as teacher), भानु धेनु मधु लघु, गुरु (as large or heavy) (adjectives)
पितृ, भ्रातृ, नृ मातृ, स्वसृ कर्तृ (adjective)

2.2 Popular specimen Consonant-ending words for studying and memorising their declensions

Ending with masculine feminine neuter adjectives or pronouns (in all three genders)
क् वाक्, दिक्, ऋक्
च् पयोमुच् वाच् उदच्
ज् भिषज् स्रज्
ट् राट्
त् मरुत् जगत् यत्, तत् (pronouns)
महत्, भगवत्, बुद्धिमत् (adjectives)
जगत् (as gerund, meaning living)
द् अस्मद् युष्मद् (though pronouns, declensions are
common in all genders)
न् श्वन्, युवन्, मघवन्, आत्मन् नामन्, ब्रम्हन् यशस्विन्
प् आप्
म् किम्, इदम्
र् गीर्, द्वार् चतुर् (numerical adjective, only plural)
श् विश् दिश् तादृश्
ष् दोष् त्विष् द्विष्
स् वेधस् आशिस् वचस्, मनस् अदस् (pronoun)
श्रेयस्, विद्वस्, सुमनस् (adjectives)
ह् महीरुह् उपानह् धनुह्
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 only.

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).

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. Unlike prefixes being about 25, suffixes are too many to give a count. Words formed after applying suffixes are called as पदम् (singular) पदानि (plural).

Suffixes प्रत्यय

Suffixes affixed to nouns, pronouns and adjectives are called as सुबन्त.

Suffixes are also used to form nouns or adjectives from verbs and nouns.

Suffixes which do the function of prepositions make new independent words पदानि.

From verbal roots one gets abstract nouns by applying different कृदन्त suffixes. For example, from  ‘कृ’ (to do) we have कृति, कार्य, कर्तव्य करणीय Here we have कृदन्त suffixes ति and य, तव्य अनीय.

There are also तद्धित suffixes, which obtain abstract nouns also from adjectives, e.g.  from ‘सुन्दर’ (beautiful) सौन्दर्य, सुन्दरता (beauty).

There are also स्त्रीप्रत्यय feminish suffixes, which make feminine nouns from masculine nouns, e.g. आत्मजा from ‘आत्मज’ by using the suffix आ and तपस्विनी from तपस्विन् (तपस्वी) by the suffix ई.

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 whole lot of active participles of present tense कर्तरी वर्तमानकालवाचक धातुसाधित विशेषणानि are quoted in two verses #8 and #9 in Chapter 5 in Bhagavadgeetaa.

नैव किञ्चित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित् |

पश्यञ्शृण्वन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन् अश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपञ्श्वसन् ||५-८||

प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्णन् उन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि |

इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ||५-९||

Past passive participles are also adjectival and in Sanskrit are called कर्मणि भूतकालवाचक धातुसाधित विशेषणानि
When speaking of nouns, pronouns and adjectives, we should also take note of numbers, numerals and number-adjectives – cardinal and ordinal
Declensions of nouns, pronouns and adjectives follow well-structured rhythmic patterns, which make it easy to commit them to memory. Once committed to memory, they have to be kept alive. Best guarantee of whatever is in memory being alive is to recite periodically.
An impression has grown that learning Sanskrit means a whole lot of memorising. The impression is not without reason. With so many specimen words and with declensions in all three genders especially for pronouns and adjectives, mastering it all will need lot of memorising.
But it is to be also appreciated that all scriptures passed on from one generation to another, primarily by the Guru getting his Shishya to memorise the scriptures. They have of course passed on quite well and survived the passage of time, so beautifully only because there is such poetic, musical (if you may say so) rhythm provided by the structural beauty.


3 thoughts on “Learning Sanskrit in Distance Learning Mode – Appendix 1 प्रथमः अनुबन्धः

  1. thanks. i am sure your site will be useful for many people like me to learn this great language

  2. भवतः अभ्यासाः शिक्षकाणां विद्यार्थिनः कृते च अतीव उपयोगकारिणः सन्ति ! कृपया अभिनन्दनानि स्वीकुर्वन्तु । लेखने त्रुटयः सन्ति चेत् अवश्यम् सूचयन्तु ।

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