Ancient Sanskrit Online

Lesson 6

Jonathan Slocum

Please pardon our dust: This lesson series is currently under construction as we seek to remove errors and update the series. Karen Thomson contributed significantly to an earlier version of this lesson series. To see the original version of this lesson, please click here.

Indra, the mighty god whose heroic deeds first brought fertility to the world, is praised throughout the Rigveda. In killing the monstrous snake Vritra -- the name means 'hindrance', from the root √vr̥, vr̥nóti -- as described in the Lesson 3 text, he freed the waters and made terrestrial life possible: índra óṣadhīr asanod áhāni, vánaspátīm̐r asanod antárikṣam (III, 34, 10) 'Indra won the plants, the days, he won the trees ('forest-lords'), the atmosphere'. The relationship of the poets with the gods is reciprocal and complex. At the beginning of this lesson text Indra is described as yajñávr̥ddha 'strengthened by worship', and elsewhere in the Rigveda this too is explained as a divine gift: aháṃ dāṃ gr̥ṇaté pū́rvyaṃ vásu, ahám bráhma kr̥ṇavam máhyaṃ várdhanam (X, 49, 1) 'I shall give to the singer the ancient boon, I shall make prayer the means of growth for me'.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The text is verses 2-6 of VI, 21 (462), from a powerful sequence of 30 songs addressed to Indra, many of which, like VI, 21, are among the oldest in the Rigveda. The metre is again triṣṭubh. The poets' perception of themselves as belonging to a continuum of worship and praise, as described in verses 5 and 6, is a constant theme of the Rigveda: úd īratām ávara út párāsa, ún madhyamā́ḥ pitáraḥ somyā́saḥ, ásuṃ yá īyúr avr̥kā́ r̥tajñā́s, té no avantu pitáro háveṣu (X, 15, 1) 'may they rise up, the more recent, the distant, and those from the middle past, the inspired fathers; may those who have left life, not harming, knowing Truth, the fathers, may they bring help at our invocations'.

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  • tám -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- him
  • u -- particle; <u> and, now -- now
  • stuṣa -- verb; 1st person singular middle present of <√stu, stuṣé> praise -- I praise
  • índaraṃ -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <índra> Indra -- Indra # Often to be read as trisyllabic, índara.
  • -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- who
  • vídāno -- participle; nominative singular masculine perfect middle participle of <√vid, véda> know -- knowing, wise
  • gírvāhasaṃ -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <gírvāhas> brought by song -- brought by song
  • gīrbhír -- noun; instrumental plural feminine of <gír> song -- by means of songs
  • yajñávr̥ddham -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <yajñávr̥ddha> strengthened by worship -- strengthened by worship
  • yásya -- relative pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- of whom
  • dívam -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <dyú, dív> sky, heaven, day -- heaven
  • mahnā́ -- noun; instrumental singular neuter of <mahán> greatness -- in greatness
  • pr̥thivyā́ḥ -- noun; ablative singular feminine of <pr̥thivī́> earth -- than the earth
  • purumāyásya -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <purumāyá> wonderful -- wonderful
  • áti riricé -- verb; 3rd person singular middle perfect of <√ric, riṇákti> leave + preverb; <áti> beyond -- exceeds # As in the last lesson text, the preverb here does double duty.
    (áti riricé)
  • mahitvám -- noun; nominative singular neuter of <mahitvá> greatness, majesty -- majesty

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  • -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- he
  • ít -- emphatic particle; <ít> indeed, just -- it is
  • támo -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <támas> darkness -- the darkness
  • avayunáṃ -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <avayuná> without distinction, without certainty -- without distinction
  • tatanvát -- participle; accusative singular neuter perfect active participle of <√tan, tanute> stretch, stretch out -- extending
  • sū́riyeṇa -- noun; instrumental singular masculine of <sū́rya> sun -- with the sun
  • vayúnavac -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <vayúnavant> possessing distinction, certainty -- distinct # The important word vayúna, with its derivatives a-vayuná and vayúna-vant, is as yet undeciphered. This translation is simply a suggestion.
  • cakāra -- verb; 3rd person singular active perfect of <√kr̥, kr̥ṇóti> do, make -- he makes
  • kadā́ -- interrogative adverb; <kadā́> when? -- when?
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • mártā -- noun; nominative plural masculine of <márta> mortal -- mortals
  • amŕ̥tasya -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <amŕ̥ta> immortal, undying -- of the immortal
  • dhā́ma -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <dhā́man> foundation, just law, precept -- precept
  • íyakṣanto -- participle; nominative plural masculine desiderative present active participle of <√yaj, yájati> worship -- longing to worship # (The verb from which this participle derives is debated by scholars.)
  • -- particle; <ná> not -- not
  • minanti -- verb; 3rd person plural active present of <√mī, minā́ti> vary, transgress -- do they transgress
  • svadhāvaḥ -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <svadhā́vant> possessing inherent power, self-powerful -- O self-powerful one

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  • yás -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- who
  • tā́ -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- those things
  • cakā́ra -- verb; 3rd person singular active perfect of <√kr̥, kr̥ṇóti> do, make -- he does
  • -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- that
  • kúha -- interrogative adverb; <kúha> where? -- where?
  • svid -- enclitic particle; <svit> pray? -- pray?
  • índraḥ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <índra> Indra -- Indra
  • kám -- interrogative pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <kás, kā́, kát, kím> who, which, what? -- what
  • jánaṃ -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <jána> person, people -- people
  • ā́ carati -- verb; 3rd person singular active present of <√car, cárati> move + adjective; genitive singular masculine of <avamá> lowest, most recent -- he frequents
    (ā́ carati)
  • kā́su -- interrogative pronoun; locative plural feminine of <kás, kā́, kát, kím> who, which, what? -- among which
  • vikṣú -- noun; locative plural feminine of <víś> settlement, folk -- settlements
  • kás -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <kás, kā́, kát, kím> who, which, what? -- which?
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • yajñó -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <yajñá> worship -- worship
  • mánase -- noun; dative singular neuter of <mánas> understanding, spirit -- to the understanding # The meaning 'spirit' is later; see Lesson 9.
  • śáṃ -- indeclinable; <śám> blessing, blessed -- blessed
  • várāya -- noun; dative singular masculine of <vára> wish -- to the wish
  • -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <kás, kā́, kát, kím> who, which, what? -- which
  • arká -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <arká> song of praise, eulogy -- eulogy
  • indra -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <índra> Indra -- O Indra
  • katamáḥ -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <katamás, katamā́, katamát> who, which (of many) -- which
  • -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- the
  • hótā -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <hótr̥> celebrant -- celebrant

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  • idā́ -- adverb; <idā́> at this moment -- at this moment
  • -- particle; <hí> for, because -- for
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- belonging to you
  • véviṣataḥ -- participle; genitive singular masculine present active intensive participle of <√viṣ, viveṣṭi> be active -- indefatigable
  • purājā́ḥ -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <purājā́> born aforetime -- born aforetime
  • pratnā́sa -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <pratná> ancient -- ancient
  • āsúḥ -- verb; 3rd person plural active perfect of <√as, ásti> be -- they are
  • purukr̥t -- adjective; vocative singular masculine of <purukŕ̥t> doing much -- you who does much
  • sákhāyaḥ -- noun; nominative plural masculine of <sákhi> friend -- friends # The declension is irregular.
  • -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- who
  • madhyamā́sa -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <madhyamá> middle, middle one -- those from the middle past
  • utá -- conjunction; <utá> and -- and
  • nū́tanāsa -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <nū́tana> now existing -- those now existing
  • utā́vamásya -- conjunction; <utá> and + adjective; genitive singular masculine of <avamá> lowest, most recent -- and the most recent one
    (utá avamásya)
  • puruhūta -- adjective; vocative singular nominative of <puruhūtá> much invoked -- O much invoked
  • bodhi -- verb; 2nd person singular active aorist imperative of <√budh, bódhati> wake, observe -- observe

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  • tám -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- him
  • pr̥chánto -- participle; nominative plural masculine present active participle of <√prach, pr̥cháti> ask, ask for -- invoking
  • ávarāsaḥ -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <ávara> lower, more recent -- the more recent
  • párāṇi -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <pára> former, farther -- former
  • pratnā́ -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <pratná> ancient -- ancient
  • ta -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • indra -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <índra> Indra -- Indra
  • śrútiyā́nu -- noun; accusative plural neuter of <śrútya> deed worthy of fame + preverb; <ánu> after -- deeds of fame... out to
    (śrútyā ánu)
  • ánu yemuḥ -- verb; 3rd person plural active perfect of <√yam, yáchati> extend, stretch out + preverb; <ánu> after -- they have reached out to
    (ánu yemur)
  • árcāmasi -- verb; 1st person plural active present of <√arc, árcati> praise -- we praise
  • vīra -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <vīrá> hero, man, strong son -- O hero
  • brahmavāho -- adjective; vocative singular masculine of <bráhmavāhas> brought by prayer -- brought by prayer
  • yā́d -- adverb; <yā́t> so far as, in as much as -- in as much as
  • evá -- adverb; <evá> so, just -- just
  • vidmá -- verb; 1st person plural active perfect of <√vid, véda> know -- we understand
  • tā́t -- adverb; <tā́t> so -- so
  • tvā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- you
  • mahā́ntam -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <mahánt> great, mighty -- mighty one

Lesson Text

tám u stuṣa índaraṃ yó vídāno
gírvāhasaṃ gīrbhír yajñávr̥ddham
yásya dívam áti mahnā́ pr̥thivyā́ḥ
purumāyásya riricé mahitvám

sá ít támo avayunáṃ tatanvát
sū́riyeṇa vayúnavac cakāra
kadā́ te mártā amŕ̥tasya dhā́ma
íyakṣanto ná minanti svadhāvaḥ

yás tā́ cakā́ra sá kúha svid índraḥ
kám ā́ jánaṃ carati kā́su vikṣú
kás te yajñó mánase śáṃ várāya
kó arká indra katamáḥ sá hótā

idā́ hí te véviṣataḥ purājā́ḥ
pratnā́sa āsúḥ purukr̥t sákhāyaḥ
yé madhyamā́sa utá nū́tanāsa
utā́vamásya puruhūta bodhi

tám pr̥chánto ávarāsaḥ párāṇi
pratnā́ ta indra śrútiyā́nu yemuḥ
árcāmasi vīra brahmavāho
yā́d evá vidmá tā́t tvā mahā́ntam


Him now I praise, Indra, who is wise,
Brought by song, by means of songs, strengthened by worship;
Of whom -- beyond heaven in greatness, wonderful --
The majesty exceeds the earth.
He it is makes the darkness, extending without distinction
With the sun to be distinct.
When do mortals, longing to worship the just law of you, the immortal one,
Not transgress it, O self-powerful?
Who does those things, where pray is that Indra?
What people does he frequent, among which settlements?
Which worship is blessed, O Indra, to your understanding,
To your wish; which eulogy, which the celebrant of many?
For at this moment there are belonging to you, O indefatigable one, those born aforetime,
Ancient friends, you who does much;
Those who are from the middle past, and those now existing,
And, O much invoked, observe the most recent one.
Invoking him, the more recent ones
Have reached out to your former ancient deeds of fame, Indra.
Just in as much as we understand,
So do we praise you, hero brought by prayer, mighty one.


26 The Perfect System: the perfect tense.

The sense of a continuum described in the introduction to the lesson, of both human and divine activity, is brought out by the usual function of the perfect tense. It can appear alongside the imperfect as a simple narrative tense, as in the Lesson 3 text: ví vájreṇa pariṣádo jaghāna 'he struck away the surrounding coils with a weapon'. It can also describe the present outcome of a previous action, as in the Lesson 1 text: pr̥ṣṭó víśvā óṣadhīr ā́ viveśa 'invoked, he has entered all the plants'. But most often it describes a past action that continues into the present, and can be translated by the present tense, with the implication 'and always has', as in the first verse of this lesson text, 'whose majesty exceeds (áti riricé) the earth'.

Forms of the perfect are marked by reduplication, like ri-ric-é, from the root √ric 'leave'. The general rules of reduplication were given in section 13.2. In addition, in the formation of the perfect, when the vowel of the root is it reduplicates as a or ā: √vr̥dh, vā-vr̥dh-. Reduplication is generally easy to recognise, but examples 156 and 157 below illustrate how a root with an initial sibilant followed by a hard consonant reduplicates.

The forms of the perfect tense that would occur from the root √kr̥ 'do, make', which reduplicates with a prefixed ca-, are given in the table in order to show the endings. The table also shows how the root between reduplicating prefix and ending can vary, in this case kr̥, kár, kā́r and kr. No first person dual forms occur, and the second person plural middle is formed from √dhā only, dadhidhvé. Note that the first and third persons singular middle are identical, and that the endings may be attached with a connecting -i-, as in the 3rd person middle plural.

        Active           Middle    
    Singular   Dual   Plural   Singular   Dual   Plural
1   ca-kár-a       ca-kr̥-má   ca-kr-é       ca-kr̥-máhe
2   ca-kár-tha   ca-kr-áthur   ca-kr-á   ca-kr̥-ṣé   ca-kr-ā́the   ca-kr̥-dhvé
3   ca-kā́r-a   ca-kr-átur   ca-kr-úr   ca-kr-é   ca-kr-ā́te   ca-kr-i-ré

Roots ending in , like √dhā, take the anomalous ending -au in the first and third persons singular active, as in example number 155 below. A few roots, including √yam 'extend, stretch out', in some forms contract the reduplication and the root to e, as in the last verse of the lesson text, ánu yemur 'they have reached out'.

  • áhann áhim ánu apás tatarda, prá vakṣáṇā abhinat párvatānām (I, 32, 1) 'he destroyed the dragon, released the waters, split open the fertile places of the mountains' [151]
  • yáḥ pūrvyā́bhir utá nū́tanābhir, gīrbhír vāvr̥dhé gr̥ṇatā́m ŕ̥ṣīṇām (VI, 44, 13) 'who grows with the ancient and the present songs of singing seers' [152]
  • agníṃ sumnā́ya dadhire puró jánāḥ (III, 2, 5) 'the people place (have always placed, and still do) Agni in front for favour' [153]
  • sá sū́ryaḥ [...] kr̥ṣṇā́ támāṃsi tvíṣyā jaghāna (X, 89, 2) 'he is the sun, he destroys the black darknesses with energy' (tvíṣi, f) [154]
  • yá imā́m máhya rātíṃ, devó dadaú mártyāya svadhā́vān (IV, 5, 2) 'the self-powerful god who has given (√dā 'give') this gift to me, a mortal' [155]
  • suvijñānáṃ cikitúṣe jánāya, sác cā́sac [sát ca ásat] ca vácasī paspr̥dhāte (VII, 104, 12) 'it is a clear distinction to an observant person, the true and the untrue (lit. 'being and non-being'), the two speeches are in conflict (√spr̥dh 'be in conflict')' [156]
  • idáṃ vápur nivácanaṃ janāsaś, cáranti yán nadyàs tasthúr ā́paḥ (V, 47, 5) 'this, people, is a marvellous saying, that the streams move but the waters stand still (√sthā 'stand')' (the perfect tense occurring with the present; the waters stand, have always stood, and always will) [157]

As in Greek, the root vid 'know' forms a perfect without reduplication and with present meaning. The form of the root is either vid- or ved-: véda 'I know, he knows', Greek οἶδα; vidmá 'we know', Greek ἴδμεν. In the same way √vid forms perfect participles without reduplication and with present meaning; see examples 165 and 169 in section 27.1 below, and vídānas in the first line of the lesson text.

  • nā́háṃ veda bhrātr̥tváṃ nó svasr̥tvám (X, 108, 10) 'I know neither brotherhood nor sisterhood' [158] (=93)
  • vidúr dvéṣāṃsi yótave (Lesson 5 text) 'they know to keep enmities away' [159]
  • védā [véda] yó vīnā́m padám, antárikṣeṇa pátatām, véda nāváḥ samudríyaḥ (I, 25, 7) '(Varuna) who knows the course of the birds flying through airy space, the course of the sea-faring boat' [160]
26.1 Moods of the Perfect System.

The endings are the same as the endings of the Present System, but the root is reduplicated.

  • stómo babhūtu agnáye (I, 127, 10) 'praise be to Agni' (perfect imperative) [161]
  • tát sú naḥ śárma yachata, ā́dityā yán múmocati (Lesson 5 text) 'extend for sure that refuge to us, O Adityas, that will make free' (perfect subjunctive) [162]
  • práti me stómam áditir jagr̥bhyāt (V, 42, 2) 'may Aditi welcome my praise' (perfect optative, from √grabh 'take') [163]
27 Perfect participles.
27.1 Perfect active participles in -vāṃs.

The table below shows the masculine forms that are found. Note that in the instrumental, dative, ablative and genitive singular, and the accusative and genitive plural, -vāṃs- becomes -uṣ-. These cases are often susceptible to change, and are called 'weak' -- compare the syncopation of the vowel in the same set of cases in the declension of rā́jan described in section 22 of the last lesson. Forms are given for cikitvā́ṃs, from √cit, cétati 'perceive, observe'.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
Nom   cikitvā́n   cikitvā́ṃsā   cikitvā́ṃsas
Acc   cikitvā́ṃsam   cikitvā́ṃsā   cikitúṣas
Ins   cikitúṣā       cikitvádbhis
Dat   cikitúṣe        
Abl   cikitúṣas        
Gen   cikitúṣas       cikitúṣām
Voc   cíkitvas        

The feminine is made from the weak stem with the secondary ending , cikitúṣī, and declines like devī́, as described in section 17.3. Only two neuter forms, both accusative singular, occur in the Rigveda, one of them, tatanvát, in the second verse of this lesson text.

  • cikitvā́m̐ [cikitvā́n] abhí paśyati, kr̥tā́ni yā́ ca kártvā (I, 25, 11) '(Varuna) discerns, observant, which things are done and which are yet to do' [164] (quoted in section 15.3 above)
  • védad ávidvāñ chr̥ṇávac [ávidvān śr̥ṇávat] ca vidvā́n (V, 30, 3) 'the one not knowing will know, and the one knowing will hear' [165]
  • suvijñānáṃ cikitúṣe jánāya (VII, 104, 12) 'it is a clear distinction to an observant person' [166] (see 156)
  • chardír yéna dāśúṣe yáchati tmánā (Lesson 2 text) 'with which by his nature he extends a shield for the worshipper (from √dāś, which like √vid forms a perfect participle without reduplication. It is regularly used in a nominal sense)' [167]
  • sū́rya ātmā́ jágatas tasthúṣaś [tasthúṣas] ca (I, 115, 1) 'the sun, the breath of all that moves and stands (from √sthā)' [168] (=127)
  • tā́ vidvā́ṃsā havāmahe vāṃ, tā́ no vidvā́ṃsā mánma vocetam adyá (I, 120, 3) 'as such we call upon you two knowing ones, so, knowing, may you today speak (optative) the thought for us' [169]
27.2 Perfect middle participles.

Perfect middle participles are formed by adding the suffix -āna to the reduplicated stem, and follow the declension of adjectives in -a described in section 6.

  • abhí dvijánmā trī́ rocanā́ni, víśvā rájāṃsi śuśucānó [śuśucānás] asthāt (I, 149, 4) 'of double birth, (Agni) has risen above the three spheres of light, all the airy regions, shining bright (from √śuc 'be bright')' [170]
  • áhann áhim párvate śiśriyāṇám (I, 32, 2) 'he destroyed the dragon lying (from √śri 'lie') on the mountain' [171] (elsewhere, in IV, 19, 3, the dragon is described as suṣupāṇá, another perfect middle participle, from √svap 'sleep'; see example 123 in the last lesson)
  • samārāṇé ūrmíbhiḥ pínvamāne, anyā́ vām anyā́m ápi eti śubhre (III, 33, 2) 'going together (sam-ārāṇá, from √r̥ 'go'), swelling with waves, each of you approaches the other, you beautiful ones' [172]
28 Nouns of one syllable ending in consonants.

Monosyllabic nouns ending in consonants are ancient, and of frequent occurrence in Rigveda. Among the examples already encountered, all of which are feminine nouns, are vā́c 'voice, speech', gír 'song', áp 'water', ríṣ 'harm', vyúṣ 'brightening', srídh 'failure, misfortune' and víś 'settlement, folk'. Two more feminine abstract nouns, śúbh 'splendour' and ū́rj 'power' occurred in the vocatives śubhas patī and ūrjām pate in examples 141 and 148. There are some masculines, like pád 'foot' (strong stem pā́d-) and mā́s 'moon, month', and a few neuter singulars, which have no ending in the nominative/accusative/vocative, like svàr 'sunlight' in the Lesson 4 text, and bhā́s 'light' -- bhā́svatī described dawn in example 100.

Masculine/Feminine   Singular   Plural
Nom   [-s]   -as
Acc   -am   -as
Ins     -bhis
Dat   -e   -bhyas
Abl   -as   -bhyas
Gen   -as   -ām
Loc   -i   -su
Voc   -   -as

Because of the phonological rule that prohibits two consonants at the end of a word, as described in section 18 of Lesson 4, the -s of the nominative singular is always lost, giving a range of endings according to the rule of permitted finals: of the nouns listed above the forms vā́k, gī́r (the vowel is also long before endings beginning with consonants, see example 176 below), and víṭ (from víś) are found in the text. áp 'water' lengthens the initial vowel in the nominative plural, as in example 177. In the weak cases the accent often moves to the ending.

The dual masculine/feminine endings are similar to those for the masculine nouns in -a described in section 6: pā́dā or pā́dau 'two feet', ablative padbhyā́m, locative padós.

  • eṣá grā́veva jaritā́ ta indra, íyarti vā́cam br̥hád āśuṣāṇáḥ (V, 36, 4) 'this singer of yours, Indra, like the cantor, sends his voice forth on high, sparing no effort' [173] (=132)
  • kím etā́ vācā́ kr̥ṇavā távāhám [táva ahám] (X, 95, 2) 'what shall I do with this speech of yours?' [174]
  • tvā́ṃ nakṣanta no gíraḥ [gíras] (VIII, 92, 27) 'let our songs reach you' [175] (=4)
  • gírvāhasaṃ gīrbhír [gīrbhís] yajñávr̥ddham (lesson text) 'brought by song, accompanied by songs, strengthened by worship' [176]
  • ā́yann ā́po [ā́pas] áyanam ichámānāḥ (lesson 3 text) 'off went the waters, longing to be gone' [177]
  • ahám etā́ [etā́s] mánave viśváścandrāḥ, sugā́ [sugā́s] apáś [apás] cakara vájrabāhuḥ (I, 165, 8) 'I, weapon-armed, have made for man these all-bright waters flowing freely (su-gá)' [178]
  • sá no dívā sá riṣáḥ [riṣás] pātu náktam (Lesson 1 text) 'may he protect us day and night from harm' [179]
  • sū́rye jyótir ádadhur māsí aktū́n (X, 12, 7) '(when the gods) placed light in the sun, twilight rays in the moon' [180]
  • śáṃ vā́to vātu arapā́ ápa srídhaḥ [srídhas] (Lesson 5 text) 'let the wholesome wind blow a blessing, blow away misfortunes' [181]
  • r̥ā́jā viśā́m ási (VIII, 95, 3) '(for) you are the king of settlements' [182]
  • kám ā́ jánaṃ carati kā́su vikṣú (lesson text) 'what people does he frequent, among which settlements?' [183]

Monosyllables are also regularly found at the end of simple compounds, as in the vocative puru-kr̥t 'doing much' in this lesson text, and ratna-bhā́j 'dispensing treasure' which occurs in the Lesson 4 text in the genitive, ratnabhā́jas.

  • prá vāṃ sá mitrāvaruṇāv r̥tā́vā, vípro mánmāni dīrghaśrúd [dīrgha-śrút] iyarti (VII, 61, 2) 'to you, Mitra and Varuna, he, the far-famed holy poet, sends forth his thoughts' [184] (the conclusion of the verse is example number 56 in Lesson 3)
  • śárma yachata dvipáde cátuṣpade (X, 37, 11) 'extend protection to the two-footed (dvi-pád), to the four-footed' [185] (=126)
29 Comparative and Superlative.

As in Greek, there are two ways of forming both the comparative (English better, wiser) and the superlative (best, most wise). The secondary formation, which adds the endings -tara (Greek -τερο) for the comparative, and -tama (compare Latin -timo, ultimo, English ultimate), for the superlative, occurs most frequently. The more ancient forms of the primary formation, -īyāṃs, like Greek -ιων, Latin -ior (comparative) and -iṣṭha, -ιστο, (superlative) occur only slightly less frequently in the Rigveda, but become progressively less common in the later language.

29.1 Primary formation.

The masculine endings of the comparative in -ī-yāṃs are parallel to those of the perfect active participle in -vāṃs, with the weak form -yas-: nominative singular návīyān 'newer', dative singular návīyase (vocative návīyas). In addition, neuter singular forms occur frequently: the nominative/accusative ending is -yas. The endings of the oblique cases are the same as for the masculine. The feminine again is formed by adding the secondary suffix to the weak stem, návīyasī. The shorter form of the suffix without -ī- is also found, návyāṃs, and some comparatives, like vásyāṃs 'better', are always formed in this way. No dual forms occur.

  • táṃ yuñjāthām mánaso yó jávīyān (I, 183, 1) 'may you two harness that which is swifter (masculine) than understanding' [186] (=55, 73)
  • idám pitré marútām ucyate vácaḥ, svādóḥ svā́dīyo [svā́dīyas] rudrā́ya várdhanam (I, 114, 6) 'this speech is addressed to the father of the Maruts, sweeter (neuter) than the sweet (svādú), the means of growth for Rudra' [187]
  • ákr̥ṇutam antárikṣaṃ várīyo [várīyas], áprathataṃ jīváse no rájāṃsi (VI, 69, 5) 'You two made the atmosphere broader (neuter, from várīyāṃs, comparative of urú), you spread out the airy regions for us to live' [188]
  • mánma śrudhi návīyasaḥ (I, 131, 6) 'listen to the thought of a newer one' [189]

Superlatives in -iṣṭha follow the declension in -a given in section 6.

  • asmé vo astu sumatíś cániṣṭhā (VII, 57, 4) 'may your most gracious favour be upon us' [190] (=12)
  • śócā [śóca] śociṣṭha dīdihí viśé máyaḥ (VIII, 60, 6) 'be bright (√śuc, śócati), O brightest one, shine happiness for the folk' [191]
  • máno jáviṣṭham patáyatsu antáḥ (VI, 9, 5) 'among flying things the understanding is swiftest (compare jávīyāṃs, example number 186)' [192]
  • svā́diṣṭhā dhītír ucáthāya śasyate (I, 110, 1) 'the sweetest (compare svā́dīyāṃs, example number 187) thought is sung for praise' [193]
  • tád ékaṃ, devā́nāṃ śréṣṭhaṃ vápuṣām apaśyam (V, 62, 1) 'I saw that one, the finest (comparative śréyāṃs) of the marvels of the gods' [194] (=91, 142)
29.2 Secondary formation.

The majority of adjectives in -tara and -tama also decline regularly as adjectives in -a as described in section 6.

  • tác citráṃ rā́dha ā́ bhara, úṣo yád dīrghaśrúttamam (Lesson 4 text) 'bring hither that radiant favour, O dawn, which is most famed (superlative of dīrgha-śrút 'far-famed' in example 184 above)' [195]
  • īyúṣ ṭé [īyúr té] yé pū́rvatarām ápaśyan, vyuchántīm uṣásam mártyāsaḥ (I, 113, 11) 'those are gone, the mortal men who saw the earlier (comparative of pū́rva 'previous') dawn shining out' [196]
  • agnír íd dhí prácetā [ít hí prácetās], agnír vedhástama [vedhástamas] ŕ̥ṣiḥ (VI, 14, 2) 'for Agni is indeed mindful, Agni is the most honourable (superlative of vedhás) seer' [197]
  • ávidvāṃso [ávidvāṃsas] vidúṣṭaraṃ sapema (VI, 15, 10) 'may we, ignorant, honour the one who knows better (vidúṣṭara, from the weak form of the perfect participle vidvā́ṃs)' [198]
  • yád vo vayám praminā́ma vratā́ni, vidúṣāṃ devā [devās] áviduṣṭarāsaḥ (X, 2, 4) 'when we, more ignorant, O gods, neglect the holy laws of you, the wise ones' [199]

A few adjectives formed with -tara or the reduced forms -ra and -ma, having affinity with pronouns, exhibit some forms that are like , as described in section 11. The numeral éka 'one' in section 25 of the last lesson similarly showed elements of both declensions. The Lesson 3 text contains an example of such a word: úttara 'higher', used with a temporal sense, 'future', occurs with both adjectival and pronominal endings. In this lesson text the adjectives madhyamá, literally 'most in the middle', ávara 'lower, more recent' and avamá 'lowest, most recent', all similarly used in a temporal sense, behave in the same way. In the last verse of the lesson text ávarāsas 'the more recent ones' is the nominative plural masculine adjectival form. But in the first line of X, 15, quoted in the Textual Analysis at the beginning of this lesson, úd īratām ávara [ávare] út párāsaḥ 'may they rise up, the more recent, the distant (fathers)', ávare shows the nominative plural masculine pronominal ending.

30 Interrogatives.

Interrogatives are distinguished by an initial k-, like Latin qu- (quis, quid, quando, quomodo). The pronoun 'who, which, what?', repeated four times in the third verse of the lesson text, follows the usual pronominal declension described in section 11, with the addition of an alternative neuter nominative and accusative form, kím. This has already been encountered in a compound adjective in the first verse of the Lesson 3 text: kiṃ-yú 'what-desiring?' An old nominative singular masculine is preserved in the indeclinable forms nákis and mā́kis, Greek μήτις, 'not any one'.

forms a number of derivative interrogatives, like ka-tamá 'which of many?', also in the third verse of in the lesson text. The form is that of a secondary superlative in -tama, as described above, and there is a parallel comparative form, ka-tará 'which of two?' Both these follow the pronominal declension. Of other derivatives of , the indeclinables kadā́ 'when?', kúha 'where?', and kathā́ 'how?', the first two of which also occur in the lesson text, are regularly found.

The particle cit 'even, all' following gives an indefinite or general sense: 'whoever, whatever, anyone, anything'.

  • kó arká indra katamáḥ sá hótā (lesson text) 'which eulogy, Indra, which the celebrant of many?' [200]
  • katarā́ pū́rvā katarā́parāyóḥ [katarā́ áparā ayós], kathā́ jāté kavayaḥ kó ví veda (I, 185, 1) 'which of these two (heaven and earth) is earlier, which later, how were they born, O sages, who knows for certain?' [201]
  • kíṃ sá ŕ̥dhak kr̥ṇavad yáṃ sahásram, māsó jabhā́ra śarádaś ca pūrvī́ḥ (IV, 18, 4) 'what will he (Indra) separately do, whom she bears for a thousand months and many autumns?' [202]
  • índra nákiṣ ṭvā [nákis tvā] práti asti eṣām, víśvā jātā́ni abhí asi tā́ni (VI, 25, 5) 'Indra, none of these equals you (práti + √as), you are above all those creatures' [203]
  • yád dha yā́nti marútaḥ, sáṃ ha bruvate ádhvan ā́, śr̥ṇóti káś cid [kás cit] eṣām (I, 37, 13) 'when indeed the storm gods travel, indeed they speak among themselves on the way; anyone hears them' (√śru 'hear' takes the genitive of the person heard) [204] (first two lines = 134)

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