Learning Sanskrit by Fresh Approach – Lesson No. 113

Learning Sanskrit by Fresh Approach – Lesson No. 113

संस्कृतभाषायाः नूतनाध्ययनस्य त्रयोदशाधिकशततमः (११३) पाठः ।

आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः

Considering its length and number of words, this is the shortest quote I am putting forth. But some interesting background about the prompt to take this up.

I reached my daughter’s new place yesterday night. She told me, “internet will be installed tomorrow.”

I slept over digesting that ! And got this prompt to present this study of आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः

Readers may wonder what the connection is between “internet to be installed” and this quote आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः (ऋग्वेदः १-८९-१)

I hope this study will bring forth that.

Before going into the study, let me also appraise that I came to first read the quotation some 55+ years back, when in the public library at our hometown, I used to read Bhavan’s Journal. I read the quote on the cover page itself, since Bhavan’s Journal is published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and this quote is adopted by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan as its guiding quote. Bhavan’s English translation of the quote is also given alongside आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.

Frankly, one reason, why this quote has stayed put in my mind for all these years, is also that I am intrigued by this translation. That is also another reason for this study.

पदच्छेदैः

आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः = आ नः भद्राः क्रतवः यन्तु विश्वतः |

I am intrigued because of a few questions –

First question –

the verb is यन्तु  – How come then translation mentions “may come” ?

Inquiring on this, I am told that the verb to be considered is आयन्तु. I am told that in Vedic texts one would often find the उपसर्ग (here आ) separated from the verb and put at the beginning of the sentence.

But I do not think that doing so is to be taken as a rule. It may be an option. Then we have two options to analyze for the verb – यन्तु and आयन्तु

Second question –

Does not interpretation of विश्वतः become different, depending upon the verb being यन्तु or आयन्तु and are not both interpretations valid ?

Third question –

Is grammar of नः to be taken as second case plural or sixth case plural and again are not both interpretations valid ?

As can be appreciated, all the three questions are not just questions of grammar but also of the syntax and then the interpretations. Two syntaxes seem possible.

  1. भद्राः क्रतवः नः विश्वतः आयन्तु = Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.

  2. आ ! नः भद्राः क्रतवः विश्वतः यन्तु = Let our noble thoughts spread across the universe.

May I tabulate a comparative study of these two optional interpretations –

Sr. No.

Interpretation of

In Option 1

In Option 2

1

prefix of verb यन्तु hence verb is to be taken as आयन्तु

An invocation at the beginning

An indeclinable

2

नः

= to us,

second or fourth case plural of pronoun अस्मद्

= our,

sixth case plural of pronoun अस्मद्

3

यन्तु

The verb is आयन्तु, but the prefix आ is separated and taken to the beginning of the sentence

आयन्तु = may come

The verb is यन्तु = may go to, may  spread

4

विश्वतः

= from all sides

suffix तः = from (fifth case)

= across the universe

suffix तः = unto, at (seventh case)

Study of Grammar and meaning of आ and of suffix तः merit detailing.

From details obtaining in Apte’s dictionary as below, आ is both

  1. an independent word,

    1. an indeclinable स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् (पाणिनि १।१।३६) and

    2. From the different meanings given, meaning of ‘आ = verily’ appeals to me very much. This meaning fits beautifully as invocation at the beginning of a ऋच् of ऋग्वेद

  2. a prefix – In उपसर्गवृत्तिः posted at संस्कृतव्याकरणस्य अध्ययनम् as many as 27 different meanings are given for prefix आ

* *

In काशिनाथ शास्त्री अभ्यंकर’s Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar आ is detailed as follows –

* *

Suffix तः also has different meanings, primarily from different cases inherent in its usages –

  1. fifth case, ‘from’ e.g. ग्रामतः आगतः (= came from town)

  2. third case, ‘with’ or ‘by’ e.g. वृत्ततः न व्यथते = वृत्तेन न व्यथते = is not disturbed by the news.

  3. sixth, ‘of’ e,g. देवाः अर्जुनतः अभवन् = देवाः अर्जुनस्य पक्षे अभवन् = Gods came to the side of Arjuna or

  4. seventh case ‘at, in” e.g. अग्रतः तिष्ठ = stand in front

Meaning of तः is detailed in काशिनाथ शास्त्री अभ्यंकर’s Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar as follows –

* *

Notes टिप्पण्यः

  1. By above analysis, both the interpretations seem to be valid.

  2. For the interpretation आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः (= Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides), one can appreciate that

    1. Rigvedic thoughts of course advocate open-mindedness to all noble thoughts from anywhere

    2. Internet can obtain to us thoughts from all over the world, from all times, whatever will keep on getting recorded on the internet.

  3. For the interpretation आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः (= May our noble thoughts spread across the universe), one can appreciate that

    1. Rigvedic thoughts promote universal good, benevolence for all.

    2. By grammar whether यन्तु or आयन्तु are forms in Imperative mood, an order. So, it must not be wishful thinking that “our noble thoughts “may” spread across. Imperative mood is आज्ञार्थ an order

      1. If you have good thoughts, you must not keep them to yourself. You must spread the good word.

      2. Every good word is a gospel. The person who got the good thought in his mind has no ownership or authority to it and has no business to keep it to oneself. He must lend expression to it.

    3. Internet affords to us the facility to upload and share good thoughts and knowledge, not only during the lifetime, but for the benefit of future generations as well.

I guess this study does bring forth a positive connection between “internet to be installed” and this quote आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः (ऋग्वेदः १-८९-१)

शुभं भवतु |

-o-O-o-

4 thoughts on “Learning Sanskrit by Fresh Approach – Lesson No. 113

  1. A brilliant analysis of the expressive and interpretive power (hermeneutics) of an ancient language (Sanskrit) linking it with an equally powerful medium based on the latest technology (internet). Thanks for providing an insight into the possible additional meaning of an ancient Vedic command. Yes, we all have learned the traditional meaning: Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides (आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः). Your argument that the command may also mean: Let our noble thoughts spread across the universe (आ ! नः भद्राः क्रतवः विश्वतः यन्तु) arrived at after an extensive discussion on Sanskrit grammar, is very persuasive. Let us see what experts like Dr Bhat have to say. Hopefully, in another post you will also analyze that another Vedic command which, too, is open to a novel interpretation: कृण्वन्तो विश्वं आर्यम्

    Shrinivas Tilak

  2. (1) Because of its polysemic power, the prefix ‘aa’ has also been used in a double sense in the word ‘tathagata’ which was one of the appellations of the Buddha. Tathagata may mean ‘one who has thus come’ or ‘one who has thus gone.’

    (2) कृण्वन्तो विश्वं आर्यम occurs in Rigveda at (i) 3:30.6 in a sukta composed by Vishvamitra. It is one of the six of his Sampat suktas. Here an appeal is made to Indra to render the entire cosmos ‘arya.’ (ii) it also occurs at 9:63.5 in the Somasukta where an appeal is made to Soma to render the entire cosmos ‘Arya.’ I would like your analysis of these two references to ‘arya.’ It would seem that here the term is used in an ethical sense not racial.

    (3) In the Yajurveda (32:8) there occurs यत्र विश्वं भवति एक नीडम (where the world becomes one nest) which Rabindranath Tagore used as a motto for Shantiniketan. Would like your analysis about this phrase too.

    S.Tilak

    • Hi, first of all, though I am not a regular follower of your posts, I would really like to tender my heartiest thanks for them. However, I have some reservation in your alternative explanation: “Let our noble thoughts spread across the universe”.

      A) The biggest problem is that the form “नः” cannot be used at the beginning of a sentence – even when following an interjection. This holds for both Vedic and Classical Sanskrit.

      B) The second thing, I’d like to point out, concerns your observation about Vedic grammar: ” I am told that in Vedic texts one would often find the उपसर्ग (here आ) separated from the verb and put at the beginning of the sentence. But I do not think that doing so is to be taken as a rule.” Actually, the relevant rule is pretty clear:
      1. In principal clauses, the उपसर्ग is almost always separated from the verb, and it is accented (i.e. gets an उदात्त) while the verb is unaccented (i.e. with no उदात्त).
      2. In subordinate/dependent clauses, the उपसर्ग and the verb almost always come together, and the उपसर्ग is unaccented and the verb is accented.
      – There are some sub-rules/exceptions to this, but they are not relevant here.

      I am no scholar myself, but I find Vedic (and Sanskrit) grammar fascinating, and wanted to share a little bit of what I have learnt. Please, correct or complement it if you find it is required.

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