By Ancient Sanskrit we mean the oldest known form of Sanskrit. The simple name 'Sanskrit' generally refers to Classical Sanskrit, which is a later, fixed form that follows rules laid down by a grammarian around 400 BC. Like Latin in the Middle Ages, Classical Sanskrit was a scholarly lingua franca which had to be studied and mastered. Ancient Sanskrit was very different. It was a natural, vernacular language, and has come down to us in a remarkable and extensive body of poetry. (We have intentionally avoided the use of the traditional word "Vedic" to describe the language of these poems for reasons which are described below; see Karen Thomson's other publications for the detailed arguments.)
The earliest surviving anthology of poems in any of the Indo-European languages is in Ancient Sanskrit. Composed long before Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, it consists of over a thousand songs of considerable merit celebrating the riches of nature, whose forces are frequently deified. The relationship that the poets describe with their environment is a sophisticated one. Their hymns serve as talismans, ensuring that the natural world will continue to provide welfare and shelter for man. The power of poetry and song is their primary theme.
|They indeed were comrades of the gods,|
|Possessed of Truth, the poets of old:|
|The fathers found the hidden light|
|And with true prayer brought forth the dawn. (VII, 76, 4)|
The circumstances of the original composition of these poems remain unknown. Believed to be of divine origin, this large body of material, in an archaic and unfamiliar language, was handed down orally, from generation to generation, by priests in ancient India. The highly metrical form of the poems, together with their incomprehensibility, made them ideally suited to ritual recitation by a religious elite. Faithfully preserved through the centuries as a sacred mystery, the text has come down to us in a state of considerable accuracy.
Over time a body of dependent and scholastic material grew up around the poems, known loosely as 'the Veda'. Perhaps around 1000 BC (all dating in prehistoric India is only approximate), editors gathered the ancient poems together and arranged them, together with some more modern material, into ten books according to rules that were largely artificial (see section 4 below). They gave the collection the name by which it continues to be known, 'Rig-veda', or 'praise-knowledge'. Other collections came into being, based on this sacred material, and they were given parallel names. The editors of the 'Sāma-veda' arranged the poems differently, for the purpose of chanting, and introduced numerous alternative readings to the text. The sacrificial formulae used by the priests during their recitations, together with descriptions of their ritual practices, were incorporated into collections to which the general name 'Yajur-veda' was given. Later still, a body of popular spells was combined with passages from the Rigveda, again with variant readings, and was given the name 'Atharva-veda'. A continuously-growing mass of prose commentary, called the Brāhmaṇas, also came into being, devoted to the attempt to explain the meaning of the ancient poems. To the later Brāhmaṇas belongs the profusion of texts known as the Upanishads, which are of particular interest to Indologists, as Sanskrit scholars today often describe themselves, because of their important role in the development of early Indian religious thought.
This vast body of derivative material remains the subject of extensive study by Indologists. However, from the point of view of understanding the earliest Sanskrit text -- the Rigveda itself -- it has always been, and continues to be, crucially misleading.
Because the poems were put to ritual use by the ancient priests, much of their vocabulary was assumed by the authors of the later texts to refer in some way to ritual activity. The word paśú 'beast, cattle' came to designate a sacrificial victim in texts of the Brāhmaṇas, for example, and juhū́ 'tongue' was thought to mean 'butter ladle'. Abstract words of sophisticated meaning particularly suffered. The compound puro-ḷā́ś 'fore-worship' (from purás 'in front' and √dāś 'worship') acquired the specific sense 'sacrificial rice cake', despite the fact that the word vrīhí 'rice', found in later texts, does not occur in the poems of the Rigveda. The complex noun krátu 'power, intellectual ability', discussed in the introduction to Lesson 7, was misunderstood to mean 'sacrifice' by the authors of the commentaries. Similarly, a number of important verbs of abstract meaning were thought by the editors of the Sāmaveda to be related solely to the production of milk, and to refer to cows (see section 50 of Lesson 10). Indology has always used the word 'Vedic', 'of the Veda', to describe pre-Classical Sanskrit, and the poems to which the name 'Rig-veda' had been given are studied in the context of 'the Veda'. Many ancient mistranslations continue to be maintained with unshakeable conviction by Vedic scholars.
With major pieces of the jigsaw firmly in the wrong place, the rest, inevitably, refuses to fit, and the comparison of passages in the attempt to establish word meanings appears to be a fruitless exercise. Indology has concluded that the Rigveda is not only uninteresting, "describing fussy and technical ritual procedures" (Stephanie Jamison On translating the Rig Veda: Three Questions, 1999, p. 3), but that it is also intentionally indecipherable. "One feels that the hymns themselves are mischievous translations into a 'foreign' language" (Wendy O'Flaherty The Rig Veda. An Anthology, Penguin, 1981, p. 16). Stephanie Jamison vividly portrays the frustrations inherent in the indological approach for a conscientious scholar. "The more I read the Rig Veda, the harder it becomes for me -- and much of the difficulty arises from taking seriously the aberrancies and deviations in the language" (op. cit. p. 9). Viewed through the eyes of Vedic scholars, this most ancient of Sanskrit texts is by turns tedious, and unintelligible: "One can be blissfully reading the most banal hymn, whose form and message offers no surprises -- and suddenly trip over a verse, to which one's only response can be 'What??!!'" (Jamison, op. cit. p. 10). The sophistication of the earliest Indo-European poetry lies buried beneath a mass of inherited misunderstandings that overlay the text like later strata at an archaeological site. Not surprisingly, few Sanskrit scholars today are interested in studying the Rigveda.
The poems of the Rigveda are nonetheless of considerable interest to scholars in other fields, in particular linguists, archaeologists, and historians. Linguists regularly refer to Karl Geldner's translation into German made in the 1920s, which is the current scholarly standard; it was reprinted by Harvard University Press in 2003. Geldner's attempt to translate all the poems was however in his own view far from definitive, and it remained unpublished during his lifetime. As he wrote in the introduction to a selection of passages published in 1923, his versions are 'only a renewed attempt to make sense of it, nothing conclusive... where the translation appears dark to the reader, at that point the meaning of the original has also remained more or less dark to me'.
Geldner's struggle to make inherited mistranslations fit necessitates a considerable body of commentary. He notes, for example, to the third line of I, 162, 3, in which the word puroḷā́ś, mentioned above, appears to refer to a goat, that the line is "elliptical. puroḷā́ś (the appetizer consisting of a flat cake of rice in the ritual, see Atharvaveda 9, 6, 12) is used here metaphorically to describe the first-offered goat." His unshakeable conviction that the word has the later specialisation of sense in the context may seem strange, but the translation 'sacrificial rice cake' is hallowed by centuries of later use. To a scholar at home in the later literature the word can have no other meaning.
Geldner's complete translation, and, more particularly, the passages where 'the translation appears dark', forms the basis for much of the selection into English for Penguin Classics by the religious historian Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, continuously reprinted since its first appearance in 1981. The Penguin selection has been the only version generally available in English for the past quarter of a century, and has introduced a generation of readers to the Rigveda. It perpetuates the belief that these ancient poems are full of arcane references to sacrificial practice, and that they are deliberately obscure.
The distance of O'Flaherty's interpretations from the text itself can be simply illustrated by her version of part of the opening verse of V, 85, "[the god spread the earth beneath the sun] as the priest who performs the slaughter spreads out the victim's skin" (op. cit. p. 211). These twelve words, "as the priest who performs the slaughter spreads out the victim's skin," translate śamitéva cárma 'like a worker a skin'. The word 'victim', together with others, is supplied to give the passage a 'sacrificial' interpretation (the text of V, 85, 1 is example 277 in Lesson 9 of this course). Despite the fact that there is no word for "victim" in the text, her index entry "victim, sacrificial (paśu)" cross-refers to this passage (she omits the accent throughout in conformity with the later language). The word paśú is not present; and what is more, the interpretation that she gives for paśú, "sacrificial victim," is the later, ritual sense used by the texts of the Veda. The word paśú is cognate with Latin pecus (Umbrian pequo, Gothic faihu 'money, moveable goods', Old High German fihu 'cattle', 'Vieh'). See the third verse of the Lesson 5 text, and examples 318 and 357, for passages where the word paśú 'beast, cattle' does appear in the poems.
Tradition colours translations in a number of ways that can be misleading for scholars in other fields. The archaeologist Colin Renfrew, in his stimulating and controversial book Archaeology and Language, chooses Rigveda I, 130, which he quotes in its entirety in Ralph Griffith's nineteenth-century translation, as typical of the whole "in its reference to Soma juice, and in its association of horses and chariots with the heroic practice of war." Leaving 'Soma juice' aside for the moment, is the second part of this conclusion valid? The only reference to human strife in the poem has svàr 'sunlight' as its prize (verse 8); 'chariots' only appear in similes describing streams running down to the sea (verse 5), and wise men fashioning a speech (verse 6); and the Sanskrit word áśva, related by linguists to other words for horse in the Indo-European language family, is absent from the poem. The three adjectives interpreted as 'horse' by the English translator could all have an entirely different meaning. The problem does not lie in the choice of a nineteenth-century translation; Geldner's version of I, 130 is similar, and Louis Renou, working in the 1960s, supplies a word for 'horse' to his French translation of this poem in two additional places.
What of Renfrew's other conclusion, about the typical reference to 'Soma juice'? Four pages on he quotes the first verse of Rigveda I, 102, again using Griffith's translation:
|"To thee the Mighty One I bring this mighty Hymn, for thy|
|desire hath been gratified by my praise.|
|In Indra, yea in him victorious through his strength,|
|the Gods have joyed at feast, and when the Soma flowed."|
The picture conjured up is pleasing, calling to mind Greek gods supping nectar on Mount Olympus, or Anglo-Saxon heroes feasting in the mead-hall. But "when the Soma flowed" translates a single word only, the abstract noun prasavé (for which see the Lesson 3 text). This same locative form, prasavé, is repeated eight verses later in the poem, where Griffith interprets it entirely differently, as 'in attack': may Indra make us prasavé puráḥ (purás 'in front' again) "foremost in attack." So is the Rigveda typically about the drinking of an intoxicating juice whose identity remains unidentified, or about warfare? Or is it about neither?
As this course is designed as an introduction to Ancient Sanskrit I have tried to avoid controversy in my translations, but the misinterpretations permeate the text, and it has not always been possible. In listing the nouns in -van I have included the word grā́van, as it is used by Arthur Macdonell in his Vedic Grammar for Students to illustrate the declension. But I do not believe, as Vedic scholars do, that it means 'ritual stone for pressing out the Soma juice', but that it describes a man who sings (see section 22 in Lesson 5). The traditional interpretation 'ritual pressing stone' produces translations throughout the Rigveda that are puzzling in the extreme. The translation in the first verse of the Lesson 8 text, V, 42, 13, of the feminine plural noun vakṣáṇā also differs significantly from that of Indology. My suggestion 'fertile places' is based on a survey of the contexts in which the word vakṣáṇā occurs. Antiquity understood the word differently, and as referring to part of the body, perhaps as a result of V, 42, 13 where it is traditionally translated 'womb'. But 'womb' fails to fit the other contexts in which vakṣáṇā occurs in the Rigveda, leading to a broad range of interpretations, and ingenious attempts by modern translators to explain them. The most recent dictionary by Manfred Mayrhofer suggests "belly, hollow, entrails; probably also 'bend of a river' and similar." Translators add 'udders' (Geldner and Renou, explaining that the rivers in one passage (my example 76) and the goddess of dawn in another (III, 30, 14) are pictured as cows), 'breasts' (Stephanie Jamison at X, 27, 16) and 'wagon-interiors' (Geldner at X, 28, 8, again citing the authority of a later text). Wendy O'Flaherty offers 'boxes' at X, 28, 8: "[the gods] laid the good wood in the boxes," but her note shows that she is following Geldner: "they take [it] home in boxes on wagons." For another occurrence of vakṣáṇā see example 151 in Lesson 6; and see also section 45.1 for the misreading by the Atharvaveda, in perplexity at a context that is clearly terrestrial, of the noun here as a participle.
My translation 'fertile places', however, is at variance with a strong tradition that explains the first verse of the Lesson 8 text as a description of primeval incest. This is an idea that Wendy O'Flaherty enthusiastically embraces elsewhere: she offers, for example, as an explanation of her perplexing translation of III, 31, 1 the note, "the priest pours butter into the spoon, and the father pours seed into his daughter" (p. 155). Not only is there no word for 'seed' in the passage glossed here, there is none for 'priest', 'spoon', or 'butter' either.
The Rigveda remains open to imaginative exegesis because Indologists continue to believe that its poems are deliberately obscure. "As the Brāhmaṇas tell us so often, 'the gods love the obscure'... and in investigating Vedic matters, we must learn to cultivate at least that divine taste" (Jamison The Ravenous Hyenas and the Wounded Sun. Myth and Ritual in Ancient India, 1991, p. 41). But the Brāhmaṇas came into existence because the meaning of the poems had become lost. The ancient commentators didn't understand the Rigveda, and they were trying to work out what the poems were about. The American linguist William Dwight Whitney, writing over a century ago, had little time for "their misapprehensions and deliberate perversions of their text, their ready invention of tasteless and absurd legends to explain the allusions, real or fancied, which it contains, their often atrocious etymologies" (Oriental and Linguistic Studies, 1873, p. 110), but to be fair to the authors of the Brāhmaṇas, they lacked modern resources: a written text and a concordance, for example. Without the ability to compare contexts decipherment is extremely difficult, and "ready invention" is a tempting alternative. Indology today, which has these resources, nonetheless adheres to the ancient methods of investigation. In her paper quoted at the beginning of this introduction, Stephanie Jamison propounds the thesis that "many of the most obscure images and turns of phrase in the Rig Veda make sense as poetic realisations of specific ritual activities, and whole hymns and hymn complexes can poetically encode the sequences and procedures of a particular ritual," citing as an example "Joel Brereton's recent brilliant explanation of the fiendishly opaque mythology of the divine figures, the R̥bhus, as reflecting in remarkable detail the Third Pressing of the Soma Sacrifice" (p. 7). This is the approach that first buried the Rigveda from view in ancient times, and in continuing to apply it modern Indology is simply throwing earth onto the mound.
As an editorial postscript to an article published in 1965 on the word vidátha, the Iranian scholar H.W. Bailey commented, "It should not pass unnoticed that the most recent translation of the Rigveda by L. Renou... knows nothing of vidátha- as 'congregation'... Each translator tends to read into the obscure texts his own theories." Only attention to the text itself, which has been out of print for much of the past century, will lift the mists that have always enveloped the Rigveda. Study of the earliest Indo-European poetry may have languished in recent times, but the parallel discipline of Old English studies has notably flourished as a result of the application of rigorous scholarship, deriving from the 'new philology' introduced into England from Germany in the 1830s. "The greatest strength of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Studies in general, I believe, is that by and large we have never lost our devotion to the text and to interpreting texts. We have not let theory estrange us from the life's blood of our enterprise, the texts and artifacts at the center of our study." (Fred C. Robinson, in the introduction to The Preservation and Transmission of Anglo-Saxon Culture, 1997). The Rigveda stands alone; unlike Old English it has not come down to us together with any artifacts that we know to be dateable to the same remote period in time. But it constitutes a considerable body of material, and remarkably, given its antiquity and importance, it remains largely undeciphered. This course has been written primarily to give access to the text to scholars from other disciplines, and to provide the means for a fresh approach to the decipherment of the earliest Indo-European poems.
Until very recently the original poetic form of the Rigveda was also hidden. Luckily for modern students, this is no longer the case (see below). The artificial ordering of the poems by their ancient editors however remains in use today.
Books II to VII (of ten books) are arranged on a uniform pattern. Hymns addressed to Agni 'Fire' (Latin ignis) always come first: a frequent epithet of Agni in the Rigveda is puró-hita 'placed in front'. The Agni hymns are followed by hymns to Indra. Within these two groups the poems are arranged in order of diminishing length. Poems addressed to other gods form the third group of each book. Book VIII follows a more natural arrangement, and contains many poems of early date. The songs of Book IX are a special case, having been put together because of the similarity of their vocabulary, notably the obscure verb √pū, pávate and its derivatives. They contain many refrains (see section 40 in Lesson 8) that help to identify the groups to which they originally belonged. Books I and X appear to have been added later to the core collection. A different numbering system which is popular in India preserves this order but divides the material equally into eighths; still another, followed by Grassmann in his concordance (see the reading list in section 9), simply numbers the poems consecutively. (In the introduction to each lesson text the straightforward numerical references are also given.)
For much of its history this body of poetry was passed down orally. Even following the general introduction of writing, some time before the 3rd century BC, there was a strong reluctance to write down this sacred and cabalistic text, which was the exclusive and secret property of an elite. The date of the earliest written text that has come down to us, from which all others derive, is characteristically unknown. It is a 'continuous' text -- in Sanskrit, saṃ-hitā 'placed-together' -- in which adjacent sounds combine with each other across word boundaries according to strictly applied phonetic rules. This combining of sounds is known as sandhi, from the Sanskrit saṃ-dhi 'placing-together' (see section 7). A second ancient text, the pada or 'word' text, which gives all the words separately in their original form, appears to have been compiled at around the same time. The surviving manuscripts of these two texts in the Devanāgarī script were edited and published in a definitive edition by Max Müller in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was clear to Max Müller that the 'continuous' text obscured the original form of these poems. In 1869 he wrote, "if we try to restore the original form of the Vedic hymns, we shall certainly arrive at some kind of Pada text rather than at a Sanhitā text; nay, even in their present form, the original metre and rhythm of the ancient hymns are far more perceptible when the words are divided, than when we join them together throughout according to the rules of Sandhi." But it was not until 1994 that the metrically restored text, in a modern transliterated form, was published by the American scholars Barend van Nooten and Gary Holland. For the first time in its history, the Rigveda was clearly revealed, on the printed page, as poetry.
Van Nooten and Holland's edition has unfortunately been out of print for some years. In order to make the metrically restored text universally available, we have produced an edited online version, The Rigveda: Metrically Restored Text.
The system of modern transliteration used by van Nooten and Holland is also used in the full Unicode 3 versions of these lessons.
My aim throughout the grammar sections has been to provide a description of the language that is as straightforward as possible. Many factors have traditionally combined to make the Rigveda inaccessible to scholars in other fields, one of which is grammatical complexity. I have opted for the clearest presentation that I could find. As Arthur Macdonell's Vedic Grammar for Students is an excellent summary and remains in general use, I have tended to follow him in the attribution of verbal forms, but I have, for example, categorised the types of the aorist following Whitney, as his description seems more straightforward. Others may disagree with the choices that I have made, and I welcome comments. In addition, as Macdonell wrote in the Preface to his 1917 Vedic Reader (the immediate predecessor of this course), "freedom from serious misprints is a matter of great importance in a work like this." The Vedic Reader never reached a corrected edition, but one of the advantages of online publishing is the relative ease with which mistakes can be put right. I particularly welcome corrections.
Indologists have so far found no common ground for debate with my approach. I am very grateful therefore to Ramesh Krishnamurthy for constructive discussion and advice, and to Alexander Lubotsky for proof-reading the first four lessons and making some necessary corrections. Where however Professor Lubotsky urged the traditional interpretations over my revisions I have stuck to my guns: for example, in my translation of the feminine noun usríyā in the second verse of the Lesson 4 text (surely not 'cow'), and of páyas in a number of the examples (not, in my view, 'milk'; see section 50.2). Where my translation of words occurring in the lesson texts differs from the current consensus, the translation appears in italics in the glossaries. (Occasionally translations are in italics because there is no existing consensus.) Some retranslations are minor refinements of sense; others, like usríyā, and vakṣáṇā discussed in section 3 above, are more radical. Wherever possible, however, I have chosen passages that are free of problem words, and italicised translations of this kind are relatively few in number.
My greatest due of thanks is to Professor Winfred Lehmann and the Salus Mundi Foundation, for making it possible to put the course online.
The 'dictionary' order of Sanskrit follows phonetic rules. The vowels come first.
|a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, r̥, r̥̄, l̥|
The short vowel a is pronounced approximately as the a of English about, and i and u as in bit and put (in Classical Sanskrit the short a sound became even shorter, and is transliterated as a u sound). These vowels each have a long equivalent, ā, ī, ū, pronounced as in English bar, beat and boot. In addition Sanskrit has a vocalic r sound, r̥, which occurs frequently and is pronounced like the r in British English interesting with accent on the first syllable, 'íntr̥sting'. The word Rigveda itself in Sanskrit begins with this vocalic r, which is why it is sometimes transliterated without the i, Rgveda. (In this course r̥ is transliterated both as ri and as ar.) There is also a longer r̥ sound, r̥̄, and a vocalic l sound, l̥, which is very rare and is pronounced something like the l (with silent e) in table.
Four long vocalic sounds classified as diphthongs follow:
|e, ai, o, au|
The equivalent English sounds are e (bait), ai (bite), o (boat), and au (bout).
The consonants are also arranged phonetically.
|k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, c, ch, j, jh, ñ, ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, t, th, d, dh, n, p, ph, b, bh, m|
These are ordered according to their physical production in speech. The sounds produced at the back of the mouth, k, kh, g, gh are listed first, and are described as 'velar' because they are made with the tongue touching the soft palate (velum in Latin). 'Palatal' consonants, c, ch, j, jh, are made slightly farther forward in the mouth, with the tongue touching the hard palate; 'dentals', t, th, d, dh, with the tongue touching the teeth; and 'labials', p, ph, b, bh, with the lips. This is given in tabular form below. Each sequence or class comprises a 'voiceless' sound, pronounced without the vibration of the vocal cords, like k; the same sound aspirated, kh, pronounced with a following h sound; a 'voiced' sound, g; the same sound aspirated, gh; and a nasal.
Between the palatal and dental classes appears another sequence. The dental t sound is in fact like a French t (tout), made with the tongue touching the teeth. The Indian retroflex sounds are made with the tip of the tongue curved backwards (hence the name) behind the upper teeth, and then flicked forward. To Indian ears the t of try is more like a retroflex than a dental sound.
The nasals belonging to each class simply represent the sounds produced in each part of the mouth. English also has a range of nasal sounds, but they are not generally reflected in writing. Compare, for example, the sound of the nasal in these five words, which changes because of the different adjacent consonants: hunger (velar), punch (palatal), unreal (retroflex), hunter (dental), and, with a written change, lumber (labial).
Note: ḍ becomes ḷ (and ḍh ḷh) between vowels, as in the word puroḷā́ś mentioned in the first section of the introduction.
At the end of the alphabet come semivowels and sibilants, and h:
|y, r, l, v, ś, ṣ, s, h|
The semivowels and sibilants are again in phonetic order:
The semivowels are closely related to vowels: y corresponds to i/ī, r to r̥/r̥̄, l to l̥, and v (pronounced like English w when preceded by a consonant) to u/ū. The same close vowel/semivowel relationship is reflected in the eighteenth-century spelling of persuade, 'perswade'. In the earliest 'continuous' text the written semivowel often represents an original vowel. Palatal ś and retroflex ṣ are both pronounced something like English sh, the second again with the tongue slightly curved backwards.
In addition there are two sounds that occur very frequently, ṃ and ḥ, which are not original but represent other sounds under the influence of sandhi (see below). In most dictionaries, that by Monier-Williams for example, ṃ is positioned alphabetically according to the original nasal that it represents, which can be confusing. In the course glossaries these two sounds have been arranged to follow the diphthongs and precede the consonants. ṃ (sometimes written m̐) is a pure nasal: táṃ is pronounced something like French teint. ḥ is an unvoiced breathing sound.
The word sandhi is used to describe the way in which sounds change as a result of adjacent sounds, both within words and across word boundaries, and it is a natural phenomenon in speech. Consider the English nasal sounds described in the previous section, for example. Because the extensiveness of its occurrence in Sanskrit is unparalleled in any other language, the Sanskrit name saṃ-dhi 'putting-together' has come to be used to describe this phenomenon in other languages.
The evidence of the Rigveda with respect to vowel sandhi (see section 45.1 of Lesson 9) suggests that many of the sandhi changes made by the later editors were in fact artificial, and the result of the imposition of fixed rules onto a language that was more naturally flexible. In English most sandhi changes are not written, but in Sanskrit they are extensively reproduced in writing. This, as Michael Coulson mildly expresses it in his guide to the Classical language, Teach Yourself Sanskrit, is "not necessarily a good thing." The complexity of the written sandhi system is potentially alienating for a beginner. This section therefore provides only a brief sketch of the principles involved to prepare the reader for the kinds of change that he will encounter in the lessons. Appendix 1 at the end of this course presents, in tabular form, the changes that occur.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the form in which these poems were first written applied later rules of vowel sandhi which the metre indicates were inappropriate. Final i/ī and u/ū, for example, when followed by another vowel were systematically turned into the related semivowels y and v in order to avoid hiatus, that is, to give a smooth, continuous sound. But the syllabic loss that this change entails destroys the rhythm of the poems and the vowels must nearly always be restored. A language of a different character emerges. "The text of the Rigveda, when metrically restored, shows us a dialect in which the vowels are relatively more frequent, and the syllables therefore lighter and more musical, than is the case in classical Sanskrit. The Homeric dialect differs just in the same way from classical Greek" (Arnold, Vedic Metre p. 106).
Certain vowels when juxtaposed nonetheless do change in the Rigveda. Two short vowels that are the same, for example, -i at the end of a word followed by i- at the beginning of a word, usually combine to give the long vowel, here -ī-. Long vowels, or a mixture of long and short vowels, combine in the same way. In example 226, aśvinā́ in fact represents two words, aśvinā ā́, and in example 234 ā́gāt represents ā́ ágāt. This does not always happen: in example 334, for instance, the two adjacent a sounds in evá agníḥ have not combined, nor in example 136, stotā́ amatīvā́. Sometimes at the end of a line ā́ is written ā́m̐ to make clear that it does not combine with the initial vowel at the beginning of the next line. There are examples of this in the Lesson 4, 5, and 10 texts.
Some combinations of dissimilar vowels also regularly occur, particularly with final a/ā, which may combine with initial i/ī to give e, and with initial u/ū to give o. In example 26, for example, aśvinoṣásam = aśvinā uṣásam, and in example 277 śamitéva = śamitā́ iva. Again these rules are not invariably applied: see aśvinā ūháthuḥ in example 224.
In the written system consonants are also regularly subject to change. s and m are frequently found at the end of words: nominative singular devás 'god', accusative singular devám. Final m, the labial nasal, under the rules of sandhi becomes the pure nasal ṃ if followed by anything other than a vowel, or another labial sound. Final s is regularly given as the unvoiced breathing sound ḥ by the editors -- this is the form it always takes at the end of a phrase or line. It is changed to r before a 'soft' sound like a vowel or a voiced consonant. With an immediately preceding a, however, it is treated differently: -as becomes -o before soft sounds. Examples of these changes in simple compound words have already been given: the word saṃ-dhi itself, saṃ-hitā 'placed-together', and Rigvedic puró-hita 'placed in front'.
Final t also occurs frequently, as in tát 'that, it'. When followed by a soft sound it becomes d, but before n or m it becomes n. This sounds complicated, but such changes soon become familiar. They occur naturally when a language is spoken at speed, and are a good source of the punning jokes beloved of children (as in "say iced ink very quickly").
The first line quoted in the introduction to the first lesson, agníṃ dūtám puró dadhe, shows sandhi effects at the end of the first and the third word. A word for word version would read agním dūtám purás dadhe (the m of dūtám was unchanged as it was followed by a labial consonant, p). The last two lines of the first lesson text,
|tán no mitró váruṇo māmahantām|
|áditiḥ síndhuḥ pr̥thivī́ utá dyaúḥ|
with sandhi removed and final s restored, read
|tát nas mitrás váruṇas māmahantām|
|áditis síndhus pr̥thivī́ utá dyaús|
All the lesson texts are glossed word for word with the sandhi changes removed, and sandhi changes are also regularly explained in square brackets when they occur in the examples.
Included within the scope of sandhi are changes known as retroflexion. The sounds r̥, r̥̄, r and ṣ under certain circumstances make n retroflex, ṇ, even across word boundaries: see example 325, prá ṇaḥ for prá nas. Similarly, vowels other than a or ā, and k, r and ṣ, can change s to ṣ. See example 81, abhí ṣyāma [abhí syāma], and example 296, nū́ ṣṭutáḥ [nū́ stutáḥ], where the ṣ in turn has made the following t retroflex. This occurs very frequently within words: arká 'song', arkéṇa 'with song', arkéṣu 'in songs'.
A characteristic feature of Indo-European languages is the variation of vowels in derivatives from a root. Found regularly in the verbal system, it also occurs in nouns, as in sing, sang, sung, and also song. This vowel variation is known as ablaut. Its occurrence in Sanskrit was recognised by the ancient grammarians, who described it as 'strengthening' of the vowel. The table shows how the simple vowel is strengthened.
|Simple vowel||a ā||i ī||u ū||r̥|
|First grade||a ā||e||o||ar|
Vowel strengthening is found in nominal derivatives, like the element vaiśvā- in the first word of the first lesson text, which is a derivative of víśva 'all', and pā́rthiva 'earthly' in the third verse of the Lesson 3 text, which is a derivative of pr̥thivī́ 'earth'. It is a feature of many parts of the verb, like the causative, viśáti 'he enters', veśáyati 'he causes to enter' (see section 33.1), and the aorist passive: ámoci 'it has been released' from √muc 'release' (see section 48.1).
With the exception of the text itself and the two works by Arnold, all the books listed here are either still in print or available in a modern reprint. The text can now be consulted in our online edition (see below).
The most important resource for studying the Rigveda is the text itself, and the metrically restored text is the first to show its original poetic form. Previous editions are misleading in masking both form and meaning, as explained in section 45 of Lesson 9.
Arnold's 1905 study goes well beyond its modest title, not only in disentangling the original metrical form but also in using the metre, together with vocabulary and grammatical forms, to attempt a chronological arrangement of the poems.
Grassmann's dictionary and analytical concordance remains invaluable; the recent concordance by Lubotsky is useful in listing all the word forms, without translation, in the context of the line in which they occur. Though deriving from van Nooten and Holland's metrical edition, the text in Lubotsky's concordance is quoted in unrestored form.
As a compendium of Rigvedic grammar, Macdonell's Vedic Grammar for Students remains extremely useful. The same author's earlier and fuller Vedic Grammar is an outstanding work of scholarship, and is currently available from India as a reprint (Munshiram Manoharal, 2000; the reprint however lacks the last gathering and therefore much of the index).
In addition to the works by Macdonell, Whitney's nineteenth-century Sanskrit Grammar, which includes the early language, is useful in regularly clarifying what may seem unduly complex. His supplementary volume, The Roots, Verb-forms and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language, arranges nominal forms under the verbal roots to which they belong, and is a guide to the regularly transparent word formation of Sanskrit (see section 49 in Lesson 10).
Arnold's Historical Vedic Grammar, while not for the beginner, is a rich statistical resource for the historical study of pre-Classical Sanskrit.
All dictionaries contain translations that are misleading for the Rigveda. With this caveat, the Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier Monier-Williams, based on the seven-volume Sanskrit-Wörterbuch by Otto Böhtlingk and Rudolph Roth, is a work of great erudition. The most recent dictionary of early Sanskrit, by the eminent linguist Manfred Mayrhofer, is useful for presenting the Rigveda in its Indo-European context, and is distinguished by the regular unwillingness of its author to accept traditional interpretations without question.
Those interested in the reconsideration of inherited interpretations may wish to look at my studies of some of the words mentioned in this introduction. Thomson, Karen, "The meaning and language of the Rigveda: Rigvedic grā́van as a test case," Journal of Indo-European Studies 29, 3 & 4, 2001, 295-349; "The decipherable Rigveda: a reconsideration of vakṣáṇā," Indogermanische Forschungen 109, 2004, 112-139; "Why the Rigveda remains undeciphered: the example of puroḷā́ś," General Linguistics 43, 2005 , 39-59; and, a sister paper to the last, "The decipherable Rigveda: tiróahnyam as an example," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 15, 1, 2005, 63-70 (the words puroḷā́ś and the temporal adverb tiróahnyam, misunderstood by the authors of later Vedic texts as an adjective, frequently occur together).
Most but not all language courses taught at The University of Texas concern modern languages; sometimes courses are offered in ancient languages, though more often at the graduate level. Indic language courses, including Sanskrit, are taught in the Department of Asian Studies (link opens in a new browser window). Other online language courses for college credit are offered through the University Extension (new window).
Agni, the god of fire whose name also means fire itself, is the messenger god, mediating between mankind and the other gods. He traditionally appears first in the Rigvedic pantheon: agníṃ dūtám puró dadhe 'I place Agni the ambassador at the head' (VIII, 44, 3), and agním īḷe puróhitam 'I praise Agni, who is placed first', the opening line of the Rigveda (I, 1, 1). The word agní is cognate with Latin ignis, from which English ignite and igneous derive. Agni represents fire in all its forms, and in this poem is invoked as the universal fire of heaven, which at dawn signals the approach of day and the renewal of life, which Agni also represents: "fire has entered all the plants" (verse 2).
This short poem, I, 98 (98), is from the first book of the Rigveda. The metre is triṣṭubh, verses of four lines of eleven syllables each, which is the most common metre in the Rigveda. The poem concludes with a refrain: nineteen of the poems in Book I end with the same two lines. Also characteristic of the style of the Rigveda is the repetition of sás 'he' in the last line of the second verse, literally 'He us by day, he from harm may protect by night'. In a highly inflected language the nominative form of the pronoun is rarely required by the grammar, but it is repeated here to both to stress Agni's importance and to give the line symmetry. In this first lesson the frequent parallels with more familiar Indo-European languages (English, Latin and Greek) are noted.
vaiśvānarásya sumataú siyāma
rā́jā hí kam bhúvanānām abhiśrī́ḥ
itó jātó víśvam idáṃ ví caṣṭe
vaiśvānaró yatate sū́riyeṇa
pr̥ṣṭó diví pr̥ṣṭó agníḥ pr̥thivyā́m
pr̥ṣṭó víśvā óṣadhīr ā́ viveśa
vaiśvānaráḥ sáhasā pr̥ṣṭó agníḥ
sá no dívā sá riṣáḥ pātu náktam
vaíśvānara táva tát satyám astu
asmā́n rā́yo maghávānaḥ sacantām
tán no mitró váruṇo māmahantām
áditiḥ síndhuḥ pr̥thivī́ utá dyaúḥ
May we be in the favour of the Universal One
For indeed he is king, sustainer of beings.
Born from here he views all this world,
The Universal One takes his place with the sun.
Agni, invoked in heaven, invoked on earth,
Invoked, he has entered all the plants.
The Universal One, Agni is mightily invoked,
Let him protect us day and night from harm.
O Universal One, of you may it be true,
May gracious treasures attend us.
May Mitra, Varuna, Aditi, Sindhu
Earth and Heaven, effect that for us.
The fundamental words of a language, like the verb 'be', are the least liable to change, and offer the most valuable evidence in establishing relationships between languages. Compare the singular of the present tense of the Sanskrit verb 'be', ásmi, ási, ásti, with Homeric Greek εἰμί, ἐσσί (later εἶ), ἐστί or ἔστι, and with Latin est, Gothic ist, and English am and is.
In addition to the usual forms of the present tense, a sample of frequently occurring optative and imperative forms is given above. These 'moods' of the verb express wishes, entreaties, or even commands. In the poems of the Rigveda appeals to the gods are common. The most frequently occurring form of the optative, the mood of wishing, is found in the first line of the lesson text, syā́ma 'may we be'. The third person singular imperative in the first line of verse 3, ástu, is also a common form: táva tát satyám astu 'of you may it be true'.
These forms of the verb 'be' are worth committing to memory, as the endings are largely standard for the active voice (compare, for example, the third person singular imperative pā́tu in the last line of verse 2). There are exceptions, but this is a guide to the endings:
|1||-īyam or -yām||-īma or -yāma|
The plural is only used where the subject numbers three or more. The use of the dual is obligatory, as observed in the penultimate line of the poem, where the plural verb māmahantām leads the reader to look for further subjects in the last line. The gods are addressed singly and as a group, as in this poem, but also in pairs: yuváṃ kavī́ ṣṭhaḥ [sthaḥ] 'you two are sages' (X, 40, 6). (The retroflexion of the initial s and then of the following dental of the verb is caused by the preceding vowel, as described in section 7.3 of the Series Introduction.)
In the table the accented forms of the verb √as 'be', are given. In the lesson text, however, as in the example just quoted, the verbs are unaccented. The verb tends to lose its accent when it is the principal verb in the sentence; in other words, when it is not in a subordinate clause. Being able to identify the main verb is helpful when first looking at a passage.
Although the verb is highly inflected, nominative forms of the personal pronoun occur frequently, unlike in Latin. In the example just given 'you two are sages', the personal pronoun yuvám 'you two' is not strictly necessary: kavī́ ṣṭhaḥ would have conveyed the same meaning. The personal pronoun and the verb 'be' are often interchangeable, and the verb is frequently omitted. yuváṃ kavī́ would have meant the same: 'you two (are) sages'.
The table shows a number of enclitic forms in addition to the accented forms. These often do duty for more than one case, as, for example, me, used for both the dative and genitive of ahám 'I'. There are clear parallels in English, Latin, and Greek. vayám and English we are related, as are asmā́n and us, and yūyám and you. Compare also nas and vas with Latin nos and vos, and the dative singular forms máhya and túbhya with mihi and tibi. me and te are cognate with Greek μοι and τοι, and English me and thee have the same origin.
|Nom||ahám 'I'||vayám 'we'|
|Acc||mā́m, mā||asmā́n, nas|
|Dat||máhya, máhyam, me||asmábhyam, asmé, nas|
|Gen||máma, me||asmā́kam, nas|
|Nom||tvám 'you (sing)'||yūyám 'you (pl)'|
|Acc||tvā́m, tvā||yuṣmā́n, vas|
|Dat||túbhya, túbhyam, te||yuṣmábhyam, vas|
|Gen||táva, te||yuṣmā́kam, vas|
Duals of the first person are uncommon, but duals of the second person occur frequently, as the gods are often invoked in pairs: nominative yuvám, as in the example yuváṃ kavī́ ṣṭhaḥ 'you two are sages', accusative yuvā́m, instrumental yuvábhyām and yuvā́bhyām, ablative yuvát, genitive/locative yuvós, and accusative/dative/genitive vām. Some forms that will soon become familiar are given in the sample passages below, which can also serve to illustrate the use of the oblique cases (instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative). The use of the cases is parallel to their use in other ancient languages, with the addition of the instrumental, which is also found in Old Norse, Old English and Russian. This 'with' case indicates accompaniment, association, or means: see example 10 below, and 27 in section 4. Many of the words in these sentences can be found in the lesson text. Where the effect of sandhi might be confusing the word form is given in square brackets. The verbs are all unaccented.
The simple unaccented forms occur the most frequently. vas 'you', the form that serves as the accusative, genitive and dative plural, as in the last example, appears over 500 times in the Rigveda.
Note that in all the above examples the object of the sentence, when there is one, precedes the verb, unlike in English. The verb is most often found at the end of the line, as in the last example: 'Indra (subject) to you (indirect object) shelter (object) may he extend (verb)'.
The masculine declension of the adjective śúci 'pure, bright', a frequent epithet of Agni, is given to illustrate the forms usually found.
Many nouns follow the -i declension, the majority of which are masculine, like agní 'fire' and kaví 'sage', or feminine, like sumatí 'good opinion' and áditi 'Aditi' in the lesson text. Most of the feminine endings are the same as the masculine, although the instrumental singular shows irregularity, with alternative forms śúcī and śúci, and the feminine accusative plural ending is -īs, not -īn. The neuter forms differ from the masculine only in the nominative/accusative/vocative singular and plural: singular śúci, plural śúcī, śúci or śúcīni.
The declension of nominal stems in -u, like síndhu 'river' (m/f) in the third verse of the lesson text, is parallel to the -i declension in the masculine and feminine. Compare the singular forms occurring of mánu (m) 'man, mankind': nominative mánus, accusative mánum, instrumental mánunā, dative mánave, ablative/genitive mános, locative mánau, and the plural forms mánavas (nominative) and genitive mánūnām. The parallel vowel gradation shown in the declension, -i (-e, -ay) -u (-o, -av), has been described in section 8 of the Series Introduction.
There is some variation in the neuter endings of the -u declension. In addition to the parallel forms for the dative, ablative/genitive and locative singular, -ave, -os, -au, the following are also found: from mádhu 'sweet, sweetness' dative mádhune and ablative/genitive mádhunas, and from sā́nu 'top, summit' the locative sā́nuni. These alternative endings, -ne, -nas, -ni, come to prevail in the later language.
Half of the finite verbs in the lesson text, caṣṭe, yatate, sacantām and māmahantām, are in the middle, not the active voice. Middle forms of the verb occur as frequently as active forms, and some verbs are only found in the middle voice. The usual endings of the present active tense have already been given above, and here they are repeated with the usual endings of the middle voice in parallel.
|2||-si||-thas||-tha||-se||-ethe or -āthe||-dhve|
|3||-ti||-tas||-anti||-te||-ete or -āte||-ante or -ate|
Some examples follow of verbs in the present tense together with nouns and adjectives from the -i and -u declensions. Parts of the verb 'be' and some personal pronouns will also by now be familiar.
Most words in the Rigveda carry an accent, which had disappeared by the time of Classical Sanskrit. The accent is an integral part of the word, and has nothing to do with the verse form. It frequently falls on the same syllable as in Greek, as for example, pátnī, πότνια 'lady', tatás, τατός, 'stretched', suggesting that the language from which these two derive may have been similarly accented. The accent is described as 'musical' by grammarians; that is, it represents vocal pitch, not stress.
Some accented words lose their accent under certain circumstances. The verb usually loses its accent when it is the main verb in the sentence, as we have seen. In all but the last three examples above the verb is in a main clause, and is unaccented. In the last two the verb is in a subordinate clause following hí 'for, because'. In VIII, 5, 2, however, sácethe aśvinoṣásam [aśvinā uṣásam] 'O Ashvins, you two accompany the dawn' (26), although the verb is the main verb in the sentence it keeps its accent because it is the first word in the verse line. A main verb also retains the accent if it is the first word in the grammatical sentence - often, but not necessarily, the same thing.
Vocatives are usually unaccented, like the dual aśvinā in the line just quoted, and indra in I, 63, 3, tváṃ satyá indra 'you (are) true, O Indra' (example number 3). But, as with main verbs, if the vocative is the first word in the verse line or grammatical sentence, it carries an accent. When a vocative is accented the accent invariably falls on the first syllable: the vocative of agní is ágne. So in the lesson text the word vaiśvānará 'the universal one' is usually accented on the fourth syllable (verse 1 lines 1 & 4, and verse 2 line 3). But at the beginning of the last verse the word is in the vocative case: vaíśvānara táva tát satyám astu 'O Universal One, of you may it be true' and the accent has moved to the first syllable.
As described in section 2, some monosyllabic forms of the personal pronoun are unaccented. They are enclitic, and cannot stand first in the sentence. There are a few other short words that never carry an accent and are enclitic. Two examples that occur very frequently are ca 'and' (compare Greek τε, Latin -que), and iva 'like'. iva always follows the word with which the comparison is made, and is treated in the Pada text of the Rigveda as if it were suffixal: mánus tókmeva [tókma iva, Pada tókma-iva] rohatu (X, 62, 8) 'let mankind spring up (√ruh, róhati) like young corn'.
Many of the gods in the Rigveda are solar deities. In the first lesson Agni was invoked as the universal fire of heaven accompanying the rising of the sun, and this second lesson text is addressed to the primum mobile, the divinity who is the driving force behind the solar cycle. Savitar's holy laws are absolute, and he has power both to bring the world to life and to set it at rest: ā́paś cid asya vratá ā́ nímr̥grā, ayáṃ cid vā́to ramate párijman 'at his command even the waters are still, even this wind comes to rest in its circling' (II, 38, 2).
The text is the first six verses of a seven-verse poem, IV, 53 (349). The metre is jagatī, verses of four lines of twelve syllables each. The name Savitar is an agent noun (see grammar section 8.1) from the verb √sū, suváti 'generate, impel', and the poet plays on the name with other derivatives of the root: Savitar is the prasavītŕ̥, the bringer to life, in verse 5, rousing (prasuván) the world in verse 3 with his sávīman, his generative power.
The poem is characterized by antithesis. Savitar is both prasavītŕ̥ 'the bringer to life' and nivéśana, 'the source of rest', and such counterpointing runs through the verses, between divyá and pā́rthiva, heavenly and earthly, jágat and sthātŕ̥, the moving and the still, and between the dark regions of air and the spheres of light, rájāṃsi and rocanā́, in the version of one translator the espaces-sombres and the espaces-lumineux of the Rigvedic cosmos.
tád devásya savitúr vā́riyam mahád
vr̥ṇīmáhe ásurasya prácetasaḥ
chardír yéna dāśúṣe yáchati tmánā
tán no mahā́m̐ úd ayān devó aktúbhiḥ
divó dhartā́ bhúvanasya prajā́patiḥ
piśáṅgaṃ drāpím práti muñcate kavíḥ
vicakṣaṇáḥ pratháyann āpr̥ṇánn urú
ájījanat savitā́ sumnám ukthíyam
ā́prā rájāṃsi diviyā́ni pā́rthivā
ślókaṃ deváḥ kr̥ṇute svā́ya dhármaṇe
prá bāhū́ asrāk savitā́ sávīmani
niveśáyan prasuvánn aktúbhir jágat
ádābhiyo bhúvanāni pracā́kaśad
vratā́ni deváḥ savitā́bhí rakṣate
prā́srāg bāhū́ bhúvanasya prajā́bhiyo
dhr̥távrato mahó ájmasya rājati
trír antárikṣaṃ savitā́ mahitvanā́
trī́ rájāṃsi paribhū́s trī́ṇi rocanā́
tisró dívaḥ pr̥thivī́s tisrá invati
tribhír vrataír abhí no rakṣati tmánā
br̥hátsumnaḥ prasavītā́ nivéśano
jágata sthātúr ubháyasya yó vaśī́
sá no deváḥ savitā́ śárma yachatu
asmé kṣáyāya trivárūtham áṃhasaḥ
We accept that great, precious gift of divine Savitar,
Of the mindful, spiritual Lord,
With which by his nature he extends a shield for the worshipper.
The mighty god has proffered it to us with twilight rays.
Upholder of the sky, Lord of the creatures of existence,
The seer spreads out a variegated mantle.
Far-sighted, extending, filling space
Savitar has created a boon worthy of holy song.
He has filled the dark regions, heavenly and earthly,
The god brings forth a song of praise for his own fixed order.
Savitar has stretched out his arms in giving life -
Bringing to rest, rousing with twilight rays the moving world.
Undeceivable, overseeing beings,
Divine Savitar guards the holy laws.
He has stretched out his arms to the creatures of existence,
He whose command is firm rules shining over the great course.
Savitar, thrice in majesty encompassing the atmosphere,
The three dark regions, the three spheres of light,
Gives motion to threefold heaven and earth,
By his nature he guards us with the three holy laws.
The bringer to life, the source of rest, of high benevolence,
Who holds sway over both the moving and the standing world,
May he, divine Savitar, extend refuge to us,
With three-fold security for us, for home, from trouble.
Nouns and adjectives with stems in -a (masculine and neuter), and -ā (feminine), occur more frequently than any others. In the first lesson text the nouns bhúvana (n) 'being, existence', sū́rya (m) 'sun' and the names Mitra and Varuna all belong to this group, as do the adjectives vaiśvānará 'for all men' and satyá 'true'. In the second lesson text devá (m) 'divine, god', vā́rya 'precious', 'precious thing' (n), ásura (m) 'divine lord', ukthyà 'worthy of praise', prajā́ (f) 'creature' and vratá (n) 'holy law', among others, belong to this declension. Past participles, like jātá 'born', pr̥ṣṭá 'invoked', hitá 'placed', also follow this inflection. Participles are verbal adjectives, and agree with their subject. The table gives the forms that would occur if made from devá 'divine, god' and prajā́ 'creature', to illustrate the usual masculine and feminine endings.
|Nom||devás||prajā́||devā́s, devā́sas||prajā́s, prajā́sas|
|Ins||devéna, devā́||prajáyā, prajā́||devébhis, devaís||prajā́bhis|
|Nom, Acc||devā́, devaú||prajé|
|Ins, Dat, Abl||devā́bhyām||prajā́bhyām|
The declension of neuter nouns in -a follows the masculine declension, with the exception of the nominative singular which has the same form as the accusative, vratám, and the endings of the nominative/accusative/vocative dual and plural, which are the same in all three cases: dual vraté (vocative vráte, with the accent shifted to the first syllable), plural vratā́ and vratā́ni (vrátā, vrátāni).
The inflection of past participles in -a, like jātá 'born', was mentioned above. Present participles, like finite verbs, are formed in both the active and middle voice. Those formed in the middle voice also follow the inflection of nouns in -a, and will be discussed in the next lesson. Present active participles have stems in -ant, as in Latin ferens, ferent- 'bearing'. The second lesson text is notable for the present active participles that it contains describing the influence of Savitar on the world, all of which are nominative and masculine, agreeing with their subject: ā-pr̥ṇán 'filling', pra-suván 'rousing', and the causative forms pratháyan 'causing to spread' and ni-veśáyan 'bringing to rest'. The table gives the masculine endings that would occur if formed from the verbal root √arc, árcati 'praise'. Note that the ablative/genitive singular and accusative plural have the same form.
The neuter endings differ only in the nominative/accusative/vocative, again the same in all three cases: singular árcat, plural árcanti (the noun jágat in the third verse of the lesson text is in form a neuter participle, as explained in the gloss). All dual neuter forms are rare in the Rigveda; as mentioned in Lesson 1 deities are often in pairs, but they are either masculine or feminine, and although eyes are neuter, other paired parts of the body -- ears, arms, hands and feet -- are all masculine. The only examples of neuter duals from present active participles are yatī́ 'going', and adjectival br̥hatī́, from br̥hánt -- see below. The feminine endings of present active participles are secondary, adding the suffix ī to the stem, and will be treated in Lesson 4.
Some verbs, primarily those that reduplicate their root in the present tense like √dā, dá-dā-ti 'give', do not show the distinguishing n of the masculine singular, and the nominative is the same as the neuter, dádat, with the accusative dádatam, nominative plural dádatas. Intensives, like pracā́kaśat 'overseeing' in verse 4 of the lesson text, are also formed by reduplication, and are characterised by the same masculine endings.
Some adjectives that have lost the participial sense remain participial in form, like mahánt 'mighty' in the first and last lines of the first verse, and br̥hánt 'lofty', the first element of the compound br̥hát-sumna in the last verse. br̥hánt follows the declension given above, but mahánt lengthens the vowel of the suffix in some nominative and accusative forms: the masculine nominative singular, which occurs in the last line of the first verse, is mahā́n, accusative mahā́ntam, but neuter nominative and accusative mahát. Where the accent of the present active participle falls on the suffix rather than the stem, as with mahánt and br̥hánt, it moves to the ending in some cases: dative singular br̥haté, genitive plural br̥hatā́m.
The following lines illustrate the use of some present active participial forms. Commas in the text indicate poetic line ends.
There are two main classes of stems in -tr̥. The 'agent' nouns (the English word derives from another Latin present participle, agens, agent- 'acting, doing something') relate closely to their verbal root: from √dā 'give' dātŕ̥ 'giver', like Greek δωτήρ; with vowel gradation netŕ̥ 'leader, guide' from √nī 'lead', stotŕ̥ 'praiser' from √stu 'praise'; and, with connecting -i-, janitŕ̥ 'male parent' from √jan 'produce, bear', avitŕ̥ 'helper' from √av 'help, favour' and jaritŕ̥ 'singer' from √jar 'sing, sing praise'. The name Savitar is an agent noun, 'enlivener', from √sū 'generate', and the lesson text plays on the name with related words, as described in the Textual Analysis. The majority of the agent nouns in -tr̥ are masculine, like dhartŕ̥ 'upholder', from √dhr̥ 'hold fast', one of the epithets of Savitar, and accented on the suffix. The table gives the forms that would occur if made from dhartŕ̥. The feminine endings are again secondary, and formed in the same way as the feminines of participles; see Lesson 4.
The declension of an important group of nouns of relationship is similar. pitŕ̥ 'father', mātŕ̥ 'mother', bhrā́tr̥ 'brother', and duhitŕ̥ 'daughter' are ancient words with clear parallels in other Indo-European languages. The masculine declension differs from that of the agent nouns only in having a short vowel in the second syllable of some forms of the nominative and accusative, as shown below:
|Nom||pitā́, bhrā́tā||pitárā*, bhrā́tarā*||pitáras*, bhrā́taras*|
|Acc||pitáram*, bhrā́taram*||pitárā*, bhrā́tarā*||pitr̥̄́n, bhrā́tr̥̄n|
In addition, the dual genitive and locative form pitarós is also regularly found in the Rigveda.
Feminine nouns of relationship in -tr̥ decline like the masculines, with the single difference of the accusative plural, which ends in -s not -n, so mātr̥̄́s (compare the feminine accusative plural of the -i and -u stems, -īs and -ūs, not -īn and ūn, described in section 3 in the first lesson). svásr̥ 'sister', the stem of which is without the t as in Latin, pater, mater, frater, but soror, shows the long a of the agent nouns in the nominative and accusative: svásāram, svásārā, svásāras (accusative plural svásr̥̄s). The word sūnú, which declines like mánu 'man', like English 'son' does not belong to this family group.
Prepositions, used regularly in English to express direction or place ('we go to Italy', 'he is in the garden'), occur infrequently in Sanskrit, because many of the relations that they express are conveyed by the oblique cases. For example, in the sentence "The cat sat on the mat", "mat" in Sanskrit would simply appear in the locative case; there is no need for a preposition. So far we have encountered only one example, ápi in passage number 7 in the first lesson: tvé ápi kratú máma 'in you (locative) my power (kratú, masculine, a word that describes mental rather than physical ability)'. Such 'prepositions' in Sanskrit usually follow the word that they govern, as in this example, and are therefore more correctly called postpositions. Even here ápi is not required by the grammar and could have been omitted; it is supplied for poetic reasons.
However, the use of preverbs, prepositional prefixes with verbs, is very common in the Rigveda, and continues into the later language, when preverbs and verbs are compounded. In the group of sample passages given to illustrate the last grammar section most of the verbs are accompanied by preverbs, which may, like prepositions, follow the verb: áprathatam pr̥thivī́m mātáraṃ ví 'you two spread out mother earth' (42). The extensive use of preverbs enables the meaning of the verb to be modified in a rich variety of ways. They are listed here together with an indication of their underlying sense. However, as the examples that we have so far encountered show, this is only a loose guide to the way in which preverbs can shape and extend the meaning of the verb. Some preverb/verb combinations remain similar in meaning to the basic verb, but others have a very different sense, and ā́, for example, can reverse the meaning of verbs of motion: √gam 'go', ā́ √gam 'come'. Two preverbs may be used together with the verb, as in the last example above, saptá svásāro abhí sáṃ navante 'seven sisters implore together' (47).
|antár||'between' (Latin inter)|
|ápa||'away' (Greek ἀπό)|
|ápi||'on' (Greek ἐπί)|
|ā́||(intensifies or reverses meaning)|
|úpa||'up to' (Greek ὑπό)|
|ní||'down, into' (related to English 'nether')|
|pári||'around' (Greek περί)|
|prá||'forth' (Greek πρό, Latin pro)|
|práti||'against, in return' (Homeric προτί)|
Preverbs with verbs in subordinate clauses (which are therefore accented) combine if the preverb immediately precedes the verb, and similarly combine with active and middle present participles. The preverbs then lose their accent, as in the examples in the lesson text: ni-veśáyan, pra-suván, pra-cā́kaśat, and the forms ā-pr̥ṇántas and ut-cárantam from examples in section 7: āpr̥ṇánto antárikṣā 'filling the atmospheres' (36), páśyema nú sū́ryam uccárantam 'now we would see the sun rising' (33).
Early Sanskrit combines pairs of nouns, a noun and an adjective, or a nominal form with a prefix, to form simple compounded words, usually singly accented, very much as English does: tea-pot, black-bird, in-appropriate. Many of these, as in English, become established as words in their own right, like the adjective dhr̥tá-vrata 'firm-command(ed)' in verse 4 of the lesson text, or the noun su-matí 'good-opinion' from the first lesson. A large number of the compounds in the Rigveda however occur once only in the text, like br̥hát-sumna 'lofty-favour(ed)' in verse 6 of the lesson text, which is a familiar feature of sophisticated poetry.
Some compounds of two nouns, like prájā́-pati 'creature-lord' in the lesson text, have an internal grammatical relationship, here 'lord of creatures', that can be determined by common sense, or by observing the usage. The same applies in English. A tree-top, for example, is the top of a tree, but a tree-house is used to mean a house in a tree, and a tree-surgeon is a surgeon for a tree. The Rigveda constructs compounds in a similar manner. The adjectival compound áśva-pr̥ṣṭha 'horse-back(ed)', which occurs in a simile at VIII, 26, 24, means 'on the back of a horse'; the god of wind is invited to come to men as if on horseback. But a parallel animal + body part formation, mayū́ra-roman 'peacock-hair(ed)' at III, 45, 1, means 'with the hair of a peacock'; in this passage the compound itself constitutes the metaphor. The meaning is usually clear from the elements making up the word, and the context.
Compounding was to become, over time, enormously complex and artificial in the later language, and is one of the notable features of Classical Sanskrit. Compounds of more than two elements are rare in the Rigveda, as in English, but in Classical Sanskrit compounds of as many as 30 elements are prized, and the rules laid down for their analysis are complicated. Dr. Seuss can serve to illustrate how such compounds are built up (quoted by Tom McArthur in his article on compounds in The Oxford Companion to the English Language 1992; I have supplied the hyphens for clarity): "When tweetle-beetles fight, it's called a tweetle-beetle-battle. And when they battle in a puddle, it's a tweetle-beetle-puddle-battle. AND when tweetle-beetles battle with paddles in a puddle, they call it a tweetle-beetle-puddle-paddle-battle..." (from Fox in Socks 1960). This multi-element compounding is a commonplace of the later language. It is however unknown to the Rigveda, where the compounds are similar in style and frequency to those found in Homer.
The lesson text is from III, 33 (267), a poem of thirteen verses, which takes the form of a dialogue between the poet and the streams of two ancient rivers, which are named, in verse 1 of the poem, vípāś and śutudrī́. These are believed to be the modern rivers Beas (Arrian's Hyphasis, Ptolemy's Bibasis) and Sutlej, two of the five mighty rivers of the Punjab which meet in the great river system of the Indus (the name 'Indus' comes from the Sanskrit síndhu 'river'). The poem opens with a description of the rivers rushing down from the mountains like horses delighting in their freedom. The poet has reached the bank of the first river, and calls out to the streams to rest for a moment to allow him to cross safely.
The metre is again triṣṭubh, as in the first lesson text. The five verses of the lesson, 4-8, lie at the heart of the poem, and celebrate the myth that tells how, in the beginning, the mighty god Indra liberated the waters from the monstrous snake holding them prisoner, and brought fertility to the world. The relationship between gods and men is reciprocal in the Rigveda, and Indra's heroic deeds, his vīryā̀ni, are repeatedly praised. By doing so the poets guarantee that the rivers will always flow, and that fertility is constantly renewed.
enā́ vayám páyasā pínvamānā
ánu yóniṃ devákr̥taṃ cárantīḥ
ná vártave prasaváḥ sárgataktaḥ
kiṃyúr vípro nadíyo johavīti
rámadhvam me vácase somiyā́ya
ŕ̥tāvarīr úpa muhūrtám évaiḥ
prá síndhum áchā br̥hatī́ manīṣā́
avasyúr ahve kuśikásya sūnúḥ
índro asmā́m̐ aradad vájrabāhur
ápāhan vr̥trám paridhíṃ nadī́nām
devó anayat savitā́ supāṇís
tásya vayám prasavé yāma urvī́ḥ
pravā́ciyaṃ śaśvadhā́ vīríyaṃ tád
índrasya kárma yád áhiṃ vivr̥ścát
ví vájreṇa pariṣádo jaghāna
ā́yann ā́po áyanam ichámānāḥ
etád váco jaritar mā́pi mr̥ṣṭhā
ā́ yát te ghóṣān úttarā yugā́ni
ukthéṣu kāro práti no juṣasva
mā́ no ní kaḥ puruṣatrā́ námas te
[The streams:] In this way we, swelling with plenty,
Are going to the home made by the god.
The flood in spate is not to be hindered.
The poet entreats the streams; what does he want?
[The poet:] Rest for my inspired speech, O holy ones,
For a moment in your courses;
A lofty poem goes out to the river.
Desiring help I, son of Kushika, have made the invocation.
[The streams:] Weapon-armed Indra dug us,
He struck away the demon imprisoner of the streams.
Lovely-handed Savitar conducted us,
At his impelling we broad ones go.
[The poet:] That heroic deed is evermore to be celebrated,
Indra's act that he cut the snake in pieces.
He struck apart the surrounding coils;
Off went the waters, longing to be gone.
[The streams:] Do not forget this speech, O singer,
Which future generations will resound for you.
Honour us in holy songs, O bard;
Do not let us down, as a man. Honour to you.
Forms not found in the Rigveda are in square brackets.
The singular and plural neuter endings differ from the masculine only in the nominative/accusative, which are the same for both cases: singular yát, plural yā́ or yā́ni. The dual forms for the three genders are given below.
|Nom, Acc||yā́, yaú||yé||yé|
|Ins, Dat, Abl||yā́bhyām||[yā́bhyām]||[yā́bhyām]|
The relative pronoun introduces a subordinate clause, and if there is a verb in the clause it retains its accent. The clause is however regularly without a verb, the verb 'be' being understood, as in the first two examples below. As in other Indo-European languages the relative pronoun appears in the case appropriate for its own clause, of which the first example is a straightforward illustration. The relative clause can precede or follow the main clause, as meaning or the craft of the poet dictates.
As examples 50, 52 and 55 show, the relative pronoun does not have to stand at the head of its clause, although there are seldom more than a couple of words preceding it.
The neuter singular yát has acquired special use as a conjunction, with three main functions. It can introduce a clause that describes the purpose or result of the main clause, 'so that', as in the first example below, in which case it always follows the main clause. It can expand and explain what has gone before, 'that', as in the second example (taken from the lesson text), when again it always follows the main clause. And it also regularly introduces a temporal clause, 'when', as in the third example, when it may also precede the main clause. Once again, yát does not have to stand at the head of its clause. The verb in every case is accented.
The demonstrative pronoun sás, sā́, tát 'that' also supplies the 3rd person of the personal pronoun, 'he, she, it'. It follows the declension of the relative pronoun throughout, as if from a stem tá-, with the important exceptions of the nominative singular masculine and feminine, sás (not *tás), and sā́ (not *tā́). Compare Greek ὁ, ἡ, το, Gothic sa, so, thata. There is in addition a derivative pronoun, meaning 'this', which declines exactly like sás, sā́, tát with prefixed e-, which causes retroflexion of the s: eṣás, eṣā́, etát.
The nominative masculine singular sás occurs twice as often as any other form. Its sandhi is exceptional: the final letter is dropped before all consonants. sás is regularly repeated in the Rigveda as a rhetorical device, generally to reiterate the power of a deity. There was an example of this in the first lesson text: sá no dívā sá riṣáḥ pātu náktam 'may he protect us day and night from harm': literally, 'he us by day, he from harm may protect by night'. Even when only used once sás 'he' is emphatic, as the inflected verb does away with the need for a first person pronoun; one might translate 'he it is', or, when it concludes an enumeration of qualities, 'being such'.
The neuter singular tát occasionally appears as correlative to yát 'when' meaning 'then', as in the third example below.
More frequently used than eṣás, eṣā́, etát to mean 'this' is the irregular pronoun ayám, feminine iyám, neuter idám.
The singular and plural neuter endings differ from the masculine only in the nominative/accusative, which are the same for both cases: singular idám, plural imā́ or imā́ni. The dual forms for the three genders are given below.
|Nom, Acc||imā́, imaú||imé||imé|
|Ins, Dat, Abl||ābhyā́m||[ābhyā́m]||[ābhyā́m]|
The pronoun is regularly used to mean 'this here', referring to the home of mankind as opposed to that of the gods. In example 49 the neuter idám agreed with jágat 'this moving world', but in the first lesson text idám occurred alone, víśvam idáṃ ví caṣṭe 'he perceives all this (world)', and jágat is understood. In the first example below the feminine pronoun also carries this sense: a noun is understood, here perhaps pr̥thivī́m 'earth'. Oblique cases of ayám, that is, those other than the nominative and accusative, regularly lose their accent when they refer to a subject that is apparent from the context, as in the final example in this section, where ayám is also used simply as equivalent to the personal pronoun.
There is remarkable variety in the ways in which verb forms in early Sanskrit are composed. Grammarians describe four distinct 'systems' to explain how endings can be attached to the verbal root in different ways forming moods, like the imperative and optative, and participles, like those in -ant described in Lesson 2. These four 'systems' are named after four tenses of the verb: the present, the perfect, the aorist and the future. The most important of these systems, even in the earliest text, is the Present System, based on the present tense, whose forms occur more frequently than those of the other three put together.
The familiar names given to the tenses and moods of the verb by western grammarians can be misleading. They are based on parallel formations in other Indo-European languages, but the meaning that these parts of the verb convey in Sanskrit is often different. The 'present' tense, as in other languages, is used to convey present time, but the so-called 'imperfect' tense, for example, is the past tense of story-telling (ahan vr̥trám 'he struck the demon'), never having the continuous or unfinished sense ('I was running') that it has in English or in Latin. The 'subjunctive' mood, in early Sanskrit, is used much more frequently than the future tense simply to express future time: ā́ yát te ghóṣān úttarā yugā́ni 'which future generations will resound for you' (lesson text). The name 'present system' is also potentially confusing: while based on the present tense, and forming moods and participles accordingly, it also includes the imperfect tense, and the subjunctive form just quoted. The Present System is given here with capital letters, to distinguish it from the tense of the same name.
Verbs were classified by the ancient grammarians according to how the present tense is formed, a classification that relates only to the Present System. This classification may be simplified into two basic conjugations, thematic and athematic.
The 'thematic' conjugation [I] is characterised by the addition of a connecting a, known as the 'thematic' vowel, to the verbal root, to which the endings of the present tense, as given in section 4 of the first lesson, are attached. From the root √inv 'set in motion' the third person singular active is ínv-a-ti, and from √sr̥j 'let go', sr̥j-á-ti; from √juṣ 'enjoy' the third person singular middle is juṣ-á-te. Sometimes the root is 'strengthened', that is, it shows gradation of the vowel: √ruh 'spring up' róh-a-ti; and sometimes a y precedes the a, the accent then always falling on the root: √man 'think' mán-ya-te, √mr̥ṣ 'forget' mŕ̥ṣ-ya-te. Before endings beginning with m or v this vowel becomes long: sr̥j-ā́-mi, sác-ā-vahe.
The 'athematic' conjugation [II] connects the endings with the root differently, and in a variety of ways. Some verbs simply attach them directly to the root: √pā 'protect' pā́-ti, √as 'be' ás-ti. Others add a nasal and a vowel: √kr̥ 'make' kr̥-ṇó-ti, √gr̥ 'sing' gr̥-ṇā́-ti, √vr̥ 'choose' vr̥-ṇī-té. A few verbs insert the nasal into the root: √bhuj 'turn to account' bhuñjáte.
An important subgroup of athematic verbs was mentioned in the last lesson, in section 7. These verbs 'reduplicate' the root, as in the example given in that lesson: √dā 'give' dá-dā-ti. See section 13.2 below for the general rules of reduplication. This subgroup exceptionally drops the n of the ending of the third person plural of the present active voice, giving -ti instead of -nti: √pā, pā́nti 'they protect', but √dhā, dádhati 'they place'.
There are some general differences between the endings of the thematic [I] and athematic [II] conjugations. In the table of present indicative active and middle endings given in section 4 of the first lesson, for example, alternatives were shown for the middle forms of the second and third persons dual, and the third person plural. These represent the different endings of the two conjugations: -ethe, -ete, -nte [I], -āthe, -āte, -ate [II].
In these lessons a third person singular present form of the verb is given, if possible, at its first occurrence. This serves to distinguish verbs that have the same root, like √vr̥, vr̥ṇóti 'hinder', which occurs in this lesson text, and √vr̥, vr̥ṇīté 'choose' from the two previous lessons. Many verbs however form their present tense in more than one way, and sometimes in more than one conjugation: from √iṣ 'send', for example, both íṣyati [I] and iṣṇā́ti [II] are found.
Reduplication is an ancient phenomenon, occurring in many languages, and it is found in Sanskrit not only in a group of verbs of the Present System, but elsewhere, most importantly in the formation of the perfect. There are certain general rules about how reduplication occurs. The verb repeats the first consonant and vowel, which is usually shortened (sometimes a becomes i). But if the root begins with a sibilant followed by a hard consonant, the latter is reduplicated: √sthā 'stand', ta-sthé (a perfect form). Aspirated letters reduplicate as the corresponding unaspirated sound, √dhā 'place' dá-dhā-ti; and g and h both reduplicate as j, √gā 'go' jí-gā-ti, √hā 'leave' já-hā-ti.
Many of the examples given to illustrate the relative and demonstrative pronouns in section 11 have imperative verbs, in both the active (54, 59, 62, 64 and 66) and the middle (55, 69) voice. Both the imperatives in the lesson text were in the middle voice, rámadhvam and juṣásva. Below are examples of both voices in tabular form. Active forms are quoted for √inv, ínvati 'set in motion', and middle forms for √juṣ, juṣáte 'enjoy', both verbs of the thematic [I] conjugation.
As in the present tense, athematic [II] verbs, in the 2nd and 3rd persons dual of the middle voice, connect the endings to the root with -ā- not -e-. In addition, again as in the present tense, they drop the -n- from the 3rd person plural of the middle voice. With the exception of the second person dual imperative of √yuj 'yoke, harness', yuñjā́thām, an imperative addressed to the Ashvins 'the two horsemen', these forms are uncommon.
There is a further difference between the two conjugations in the imperative that is more frequently encountered. In the thematic conjugation the usual ending of the second person singular active imperative is simply the thematic vowel: bháva! 'be!', but in the second conjugation the usual ending is -dhi or -hi: pāhí 'protect!', stuhí 'praise!', daddhí 'give!', dhehí 'place!', śr̥ṇudhí or śr̥ṇuhí 'hear!'. As in the present tense, verbs that reduplicate the root exceptionally drop the -n- in the active third person plural: ínvantu [I] 'let them set in motion', pā́ntu [II] 'let them protect' but dádatu [II, reduplicating] 'let them give'. All these examples belong to the Present System.
The final -a of the 2nd person singular and plural active is regularly long in the Rigveda (there are examples of this in the Lesson 5 text).
The verbs √inv 'set in motion' and √juṣ 'enjoy' exemplify the difference in meaning that regularly underlies the active and the middle voice. The term used by Sanskrit grammarians for the active voice, literally translated, means 'a word for another' (like 'set in motion'), and, for the middle voice, 'a word for oneself' (like 'enjoy'). Forms of √inv are always in the active voice, and of √juṣ usually in the middle.
Many verbs are however found in both voices, and often the difference in meaning appears to be slight. In the Lesson 2 text the verb √rakṣ 'protect' with preverb abhí occurs both in the active and in the middle voice: vratā́ni deváḥ savitā́bhí rakṣate 'divine Savitar guards the holy laws' (verse 4); tribhír vrataír abhí no rakṣati tmánā 'by his nature he guards us with the three holy laws' (verse 5). This may simply be poetic variation. But the use of the different voices may also convey a subtle difference in sense: Savitar guards the holy laws for his own sake in verse 4 (abhí rakṣate), enabling him to guard us, for our benefit (abhí rakṣati), with those same laws in the verse that follows.
There are in addition a few ancient second person singular imperative forms with the ending -si added directly to the root: √rā 'grant', rā́si, √mad, 'delight' mátsi.
These non-finite verb forms ending in -a follow the declension of other adjectives in -a, as described in section 6 in Lesson 2.
The present middle participle in the Present System has the distinguishing suffix -māna for thematic verbs [I] and -āna for athematic verbs [II] in the Present System. Some middle participles are reflexive or passive in sense, as in the last two examples given below, but most often they can be translated simply as if active, as with pínvamāna 'swelling' and ichámāna 'desiring' in the lesson text.
Adjectives that are in form past participles usually have the suffix -tá, as in the examples from the first lesson, jātá 'born', pr̥ṣṭá 'invoked'. We have also seen past participles as elements of compounds: in the second lesson text dhr̥tá-vrata 'firm- (past participle of √dhr̥ 'hold fast') -command(ed)', and in this lesson devá-kr̥ta 'god-made', where the second element is the past participle of √kr̥ 'make, do', and the accent has moved to the first element. Some examples of past participles from verbs already encountered are: √juṣ 'enjoy' juṣṭá; √dhā 'place' (irregular) hitá; √iṣ 'long for' iṣṭá; √vas 'shine' uṣṭá, √viś 'enter' viṣṭá. A few roots add a connecting -i-, √rad 'dig' raditá, and a small number form the past participle with the alternative ending -ná: √tud 'urge' tunná. The formation of these participles is independent of the tense system.
The formation of this participle is also independent of the tense system. The usual ending of the future passive participle in the Rigveda is unaccented -iya, given in grammars as -ya, as in the later language. It corresponds in meaning to the Latin gerundive in -ndus, from which English referendum 'to be referred' derives. We have so far encountered three examples: in the second lesson text vā́rya 'to be chosen' and ádābhya 'not to be deceived'; and in the penultimate verse of this lesson pravā́cya 'to be celebrated'. As with present middle participles and past participles, these follow the adjectival declension in -a in all cases: in X, 118, 7 Agni burns ádābhyena śocíṣā 'with flame that is not to be deceived'.
An alternative form of the future passive participle made with the ending -tva is regularly juxtaposed with the past participle: abhí paśyati kr̥tā́ni yā́ ca kártvā (I, 25, 11) 'he discerns which things are done and which are yet to do'.
Twenty poems in the Rigveda are addressed to Ushas, the goddess of the dawn, who is sometimes invoked jointly with her sister, the goddess of night. The lesson text is the last of a group of seven poems, VII, 75-81, all of which are addressed to dawn.
VII, 75-80 are in triṣṭubh, but the metre of this poem, VII, 81 (597), is more complex, consisting of verses in the br̥hatī metre, lines of 8, 8, 12, and 8 syllables, alternating with satobr̥hatī, lines of 12, 8, 12, and 8 syllables. As in the Lesson 2 text the poet makes linguistic play on dawn's name, uṣás. The verb from which it derives is √vas, ucháti 'shine', and a feminine present participle of the verb, uchántī 'shining', describes her in verses 1 & 4. The sun's usríyās 'shining beams' that accompany dawn's vi-úṣ 'brightening' are described in the second verse, and the poet concludes with a radiant metaphor, the wish that dawn should 'shine misfortunes away'. This last line, together with the last line of the first verse, is repeated from a poem to dawn in Book I: víśvam asyā nānāma cákṣase jágaj, jyótiṣ kr̥ṇoti sūnárī, ápa dvéṣo maghónī duhitā́ divá, uṣā́ uchad ápa srídhaḥ 'all the moving world pays reverence to the sight of her; the fair lady makes the light. Let dawn, the gracious daughter of heaven, shine away hatred, shine misfortunes away' (I, 48, 8).
práty u adarśi āyatī́
uchántī duhitā́ diváḥ
ápo máhi vyayati cákṣase támo
jyótiṣ kr̥ṇoti sūnárī
úd usríyāḥ sr̥jate sū́riyaḥ sácām̐
udyán nákṣatram arcivát
távéd uṣo viúṣi sū́riyasya ca
sám bhakténa gamemahi
práti tvā duhitar diva
úṣo jīrā́ abhutsmahi
yā́ váhasi purú spārháṃ vananvati
rátnaṃ ná dāśúṣe máyaḥ
uchántī yā́ kr̥ṇóṣi maṃhánā mahi
prakhyaí devi súvar dr̥śé
tásyās te ratnabhā́ja īmahe vayáṃ
syā́ma mātúr ná sūnávaḥ
tác citráṃ rā́dha ā́ bhara
úṣo yád dīrghaśrúttamam
yát te divo duhitar martabhójanaṃ
tád rāsva bhunájāmahai
śrávaḥ sūríbhyo amŕ̥taṃ vasutvanáṃ
vā́jām̐ asmábhyaṃ gómataḥ
codayitrī́ maghónaḥ sūnŕ̥tāvatī
uṣā́ uchad ápa srídhaḥ
Now she has come into view, approaching,
Shining, the daughter of heaven.
She draws away, for sight, the great darkness,
The fair lady makes the light.
The sun, at the same time, sends up beams,
Rising, a flaming star.
At your own brightening, O dawn, and the sun's,
May we partake of our share.
You, O daughter of heaven,
We have wakened eager to meet, O dawn.
Who brings much that is desirable, O lovely one,
Happiness, like treasure, to the worshipper.
You who, shining, assuredly, O great goddess,
Makes the sunlight to be gazed on, seen;
We approach you with longing, may we be
Like her sons, of the mother dispensing treasure.
Bring hither that radiant favour,
O dawn, which is most famed.
That mortal sustenance of yours, O daughter of heaven,
Grant; may we turn it to account.
Fame to princes, undying prosperity,
Strength in cattle to us,
Rouser of the gracious, may the joyous one,
Dawn, shine misfortunes away.
There are a number of stems in -as, accented on the first syllable and of neuter gender, most of which are abstract nouns. Many of these have been encountered in previous lessons: sáhas 'might', áṃhas 'trouble', ávas 'help', páyas 'plenty', vácas 'speech', námas 'honour', mánas 'understanding, spirit', dvéṣas 'enmity'; and in this lesson text cákṣas 'sight', śrávas 'fame', máyas 'happiness' and and rā́dhas 'favour'. In addition, támas 'darkness' and rájas 'airy space', words with a semi-concrete sense, also belong to this group. The forms that would occur if made from mánas 'understanding, spirit' are given to show the declension.
|Nom, Acc, Voc||mánas||mánāṃsi|
Plural forms other than the nominative, accusative and instrumental are of infrequent occurrence, as are dual forms; the dual nominative/accusative/vocative would be mánasī.
Some of these abstract nouns shade into a more concrete sense in some passages: ā́ na índro yātu ácha [...] ávase rā́dhase ca (IV, 20, 2) 'may Indra come towards us, for help and for favour' , tváṃ dātā́ prathamó rā́dhasām asi (VIII, 90, 2) 'you are the first giver of gifts' ; dádhānāś [dádhānās] cákṣasi priyám (IX, 17, 6) '(the poets) placing the beloved in sight' , távedáṃ [táva idám] víśvaṃ [...] yát páśyasi cákṣasā sū́ryasya (VII, 98, 6) 'all this (is) yours, which you see with the eye of the sun' ; enā́ vayám páyasā pínvamānāḥ (Lesson 3 text) 'in this way we, swelling with plenty' , páyo góṣu ádadhā [ádadhās] óṣadhī́ṣu (X, 73, 9) 'you placed fruitfulness in cattle, in plants (milk, sap)' .
The adjectives belonging to this declension are chiefly compounds, like mádhu-vacas 'sweetly speaking', devá-śravas 'having divine renown', and prá-cetas 'mindful' from the first verse of the Lesson 2 text, which when neuter inflect as above. The compounded su-mánas 'well-disposed' is given below to show the nominative, accusative and vocative masculine and feminine endings. The endings of the oblique cases are the same for all three genders.
A few of the neuter nouns have parallel adjectives, distinguished by a shift in accent: ápas 'work' apás 'active', yáśas 'glory' yaśás 'glorious'.
The feminine uṣás 'dawn', if it belongs in this group, is very irregular, not only in gender and accent, but also in optionally lengthening the second syllable in some forms of the nominative, vocative and accusative.
These stems, fewer in number, are also chiefly neuter, and their inflection is similar to that of the stems in -as, although the final s becomes ṣ before vowel endings, and changes to r, not o, before the bh of the instrumental, dative and ablative plural endings: mánas, mánobhis, vápus 'marvel, marvellous', vápurbhis. Three nouns with stems in -is have been encountered so far: chardís 'protection, shield' in the Lesson 2 text, jyótis 'light' in this lesson, and śocís 'flame' in the example quoted at the end of the last lesson, ádābhyena śocíṣā (X, 118, 7) 'with flame that is not to be deceived'. Another noun in this group, neuter arcís 'ray (of light)', appears slightly more frequently than masculine arcí, with the same meaning. There is a similar parallel with mánu 'man' and mánus, like mánu in this instance necessarily of masculine gender.
Sanskrit has a remarkable facility for elaborating new words out of existing ones, like building blocks. Secondary formations, or derivatives, are made by adding suffixes to existing words to form new ones. Two common suffixes used in this way are -a and -ya (usually to be read -iya), often used to make adjectives from nouns; from the neuter vápus mentioned in the previous section both the adjectives vápuṣa and vapuṣyà (vapuṣíya) are formed. The first vowel may be strengthened in such derivative formations. The initial word of the first lesson text was an example: vaiśvānará 'for all men' is a secondary formation from the compound viśvā́nara, as the strengthening of the i of the first element to ai indicates. The adjective pā́rthiva 'earthly' in the third verse of the Lesson 2 text occurred alongside divyá 'heavenly', and these two words are secondary formations from pr̥thivī́ 'earth' and dív 'heaven, sky', the first with strengthened vowel. The secondary formation daívya 'divine' from example 36 in Lesson 2, daívyāni vratā́ni 'divine laws', is probably made from devá 'god, divine'; but devá itself has the form of a secondary formation of dív.
Another productive suffix is -tvá, added to nouns or adjectives to express the sense conveyed by English '-ness'. The neuter nouns mahi-tvá 'greatness, majesty', deva-tvá 'divinity', and amr̥ta-tvá 'immortality' appear frequently, but the regular way in which the suffix is applied permits nonce formations: bhrātr̥-tvá occurs three times, but the feminine equivalent only once: nā́háṃ [ná ahám] veda bhrātr̥tváṃ nó [ná u] svasr̥tvám (X, 108, 10) 'I know neither brotherhood nor sisterhood' .
The suffixes -vant and -mant both have the sense 'possessing, consisting of'. Of the two -vant is found more frequently, as in this lesson text: arcivánt in verse 2 (possessing arcí 'ray', rather than arcís), the feminine of vánanvant in verse 3, vánanvatī (of debated meaning as *vanan does not occur), and sūnŕ̥tāvatī, feminine of sūnŕ̥tāvant 'joyous' (possessing sūnŕ̥tā 'joy') in the last verse. The suffix -mant is also found in the last verse, in the word gómant 'consisting of cattle (gó)'. These forms decline like the present active participles in -ant described in section 7 of Lesson 2, with the exception of the vowel of the suffix in the nominative singular masculine, which is lengthened to ā (the vocative ending is -vas). Like present active participles they form their feminine in -ī; see below.
The suffix -ī is used to form the feminine of a large number of masculine stems, including the present participles in -ant and agent nouns in -tr̥, as mentioned in Lesson 2, and the possessive stems in -vant and -mant described above. The n of the possessive suffix, as the examples from the lesson text and number 98 above show, is dropped before the additional feminine suffix. Feminine participles of second conjugation verbs also drop the n: āyatī́ [ā-yatī́] 'approaching' (masculine ā-yánt) in the first verse of the lesson text is from the second conjugation verb √i, but √vas, which forms the participle uchántī 'shining' (masculine uchánt) in verses 1 & 4, belongs to the first conjugation.
A feminine agent noun, codayitrī́ 'rouser' (the masculine would be *codayitŕ̥), occurs in the last verse of the lesson text; others are jánitrī 'female parent' (masculine janitŕ̥ or jánitr̥), avitrī́ 'female helper' (avitŕ̥), and netrī́ 'female leader, guide' (netŕ̥).
The suffix -ī also forms the feminines of a number of stems in -a, like sūnárī in the first verse of the lesson text, masculine sūnára, devī́ 'divine, goddess', masculine devá, and vápuṣī, the feminine of the derivative adjective vápuṣa mentioned at the beginning of this section. It can similarly be used to form the feminine of stems in -u, like urú 'broad, wide', feminine urvī́, as in the Lesson 3 text: tásya vayám prasavé yāma urvī́ḥ [urvī́s] 'at his impelling we broad ones go', and purú 'much, many', feminine pūrvī́. The feminine of pr̥thú, also 'broad', pr̥thvī́, was used to describe the earth, and developed into the feminine noun pr̥thvī́ or, more usually, pr̥thivī́ 'earth' (urvī́ is also occasionally used with this meaning). Stems in -i however do not form their feminine in this way. As described in section 3, the feminine endings of the -i stems are generally the same as the masculine endings.
Also belonging to this secondary declension are a few independent feminine nouns, like śácī 'might' (see example 82 above, śácyā) and rā́trī 'night'. These are the forms that would occur if made from devī́ 'goddess'.
Dual forms, particularly the nominative, accusative and vocative, occur frequently, referring to pairs of female deified bodies, like ródasī 'the two worlds'.
The imperfect is the past tense of story-telling, and belongs to the Present System. It is characterised by a prefixed augment a-, like the Greek augment ε-, which always carries the accent if the verb is accented. The following table gives the endings of the imperfect tense.
The alternative second and third person plural active endings -tana and -ur are found in some verbs of the athematic conjugation. The ending -i of the first person singular middle combines with the -a- of the thematic conjugation to give -e.
|2||-s||-tam||-ta, -tana||-thās||-ethām (I), -āthām (II)||-dhvam|
|3||-t||-tām||-an, -ur||-ta||-etām (I), -ātām (II)||-anta (I), -ata (II)|
The imperfect tense is described as belonging to the Present System because the stem of the verb, the part that follows the augment and precedes the endings as given in the table, corresponds to the stem of the present tense. So, from the thematic conjugation, √juṣ, juṣá-te 'he enjoys', á-juṣa-ta 'he enjoyed'; √ruh, róha-ti 'it springs up' á-roha-t 'it sprang up'; √man, mánya-te 'he thinks', á-manya-nta 'they thought'; from the athematic conjugation √as, ás-ti 'he is', ā́[á+a]s-am 'I was'; √kr̥, kr̥ṇó-ti 'he makes', á-kr̥ṇo-ta 'you made'; √dā, dádā-ti 'he gives', á-dadā-s 'you (singular) gave'.
The phonology of Sanskrit does not permit more than one consonant at the end of a word, and when this might result the second consonant is dropped. As the endings of the 2nd and 3rd person singular imperfect are simply the consonants s and t, without a union vowel, the ending may therefore disappear. In the Lesson 3 text, for example, ápāhan [ápa ahan] 'he struck away' occurs for the phonologically impossible ápa *ahant.
In the third lesson text the streams told the story of their release from the demon using a series of 3rd person singular imperfects: áradat 'he dug' (present rádati), áhan 'he struck' (present hánti), ánayat 'he led' (present náyati). In the next verse, where the imperfect occurs with the preverb ví, the augment is omitted, as the narrative tense has become clear: vi-vr̥ścát 'he cut in pieces' (present vr̥ścáti).
The meaning of the subjunctive lies somewhere between that of the optative, the mood of wishing, and the imperative, the mood of command. It shows greater confidence in the future outcome than the optative, and is frequently used simply to express future time in the Rigveda. The endings of the subjunctive are attached to the stem with an added a or ā. Where this union vowel may be either long or short a is given in square brackets in the table.
|1||-āni, ā||-āva||-āma||-ai||-āvahai||-āmahai, -āmahe|
|2||-[a]si, -[a]s||-[a]thas||-[a]tha||-[a]se||-aithe||-[a]dhve, -[a]dhvai|
|3||-[a]ti, -[a]t||-[a]tas||-[a]n||-[a]te||-aite||-anta, -ante|
The subjunctive is formed in more than one system, but the examples below belong to the Present System.
As we saw in section 2 of the first lesson, in Sanskrit the object usually precedes the verb in the sentence, unlike in English. All the examples given in that grammar section followed this order. Sanskrit is described therefore as an Object Verb (OV) language; modern English is a Verb Object (VO) language. An example of a textbook sentence in an OV language appeared in section 8 of the second lesson: tváṣṭā duhitré vahatúṃ kr̥ṇoti (X, 17, 1), literally, 'Tvashtar for the daughter a bridal arranges' (44). The subject begins the sentence, the verb is at the end, the object, 'a bridal', immediately precedes the verb and the indirect object 'for the daughter' precedes the object.
The order of words in a Rigvedic sentence is however far from invariable. It is quite usual for a verb in the imperative mood to begin the sentence, giving it emphasis, as in the Lesson 3 text: rámadhvam me vácase somyā́ya 'rest for my inspired speech'. In two examples given to illustrate the use of participles, the first person plural form of the optative, the mood of wishing, began the sentence: páśyema nú sū́ryam uccárantam (VI, 52, 5 & X, 59, 4) 'now we would see the sun rising' (33); abhí ṣyāma maható mányamānān (I, 178, 5) 'may we surpass those thinking themselves great' (81). And we have seen a number of other sentences where a straightforward tense form precedes the object: sácethe aśvinoṣásam [aśvinā uṣásam] (VII, 5, 2) 'you accompany, O Ashvins, the dawn' (26); áprathatam pr̥thivī́m mātáraṃ ví (VI, 72, 2) 'you two spread out mother earth' (42 & 111).
The Rigveda is poetry, and there are frequently poetic reasons for the variety in word order. The following three lines from the grammar sections of the third lesson demonstrate a form of chiasmus, both OV and VO word order being used by the poet; in each case OV comes first. tā́ sūríbhyo gr̥ṇaté rāsi sumnám (VI, 4, 8) 'those things to princes, to the singer grant favour' (78); urú jyótiḥ kr̥ṇuhi mátsi devā́n (IX, 94, 5) 'a broad light make, delight the gods' (79); agníṃ vr̥ṇānā́ vr̥ṇate kavíkratum (V, 11, 4) 'Agni choosing, they choose the sage-wise' (80).
A distinguishing characteristic of an OV language is that the genitive regularly precedes the subject to which is belongs, as in the description of Savitar in the second lesson text: divó dhartā́ bhúvanasya prajā́patiḥ 'of heaven supporter, of existence creature-lord'. The grammar sections have shown a number of examples of this: devā́nāṃ sumataú syāma (VII, 41, 4) 'of gods in the favour may we be' (8); apā́m ūrmíṃ sacate (IX, 86, 8) 'of waters the wave he accompanies' (19); bhúvanasya rā́jā (IX, 97, 40) 'of existence the king' (32); devā́nām ávasā (I, 185, 6) 'of the gods with help' (106). But this word order can also be varied when the sense requires it, as in the first verse of II, 32 when the poet appeals to the gods to inspire him: bhūtám avitrī́ vácasaḥ 'be helpers of the speech' (105).
The adjective, in OV languages, like the dependent genitive, stands naturally before the noun it describes. In VO languages the adjective usually follows, as in French 'carte blanche', 'Le Bateau Ivre'. English, despite now being a VO language, still maintains an earlier word order: 'white feather', 'The Cruel Sea'. In French too examples of this survive: 'mauvaise honte', 'Grande-Bretagne'. In the Rigveda the adjective usually precedes the noun: citráṃ rā́dhaḥ 'radiant gift' (this lesson text, verse 5), úttarā yugā́ni 'future generations' (the last verse of the Lesson 3 text), and from section 16.2 in this lesson, ádābhyena śocíṣā 'with not to be deceived flame'. But we have also seen instances where the adjective follows: vájraṃ svaryàm 'a weapon of sunlight (svàr 'sunlight' with secondary suffix -ya)' (71); rayíṃ viśvávāraṃ sam inva 'treasure all-precious bestow' (75). In these passages this inverted word order is perhaps more poetic, as it is in English.
The fears of the poets of the Rigveda revolve around darkness, confinement (for which see the second verse of this lesson text) and human ills, all of which they strive to overcome by means of their holy songs. The lesson 4 text concluded with the wish that dawn's light may "shine misfortunes away", and this lesson text is addressed to another goddess of light, jyótiṣmatīm áditim (I, 136, 3). The meaning of Aditi's name, á-diti, is debated. Elsewhere in the text it appears together with its opposite: cakṣāthe áditiṃ dítiṃ ca (V, 62, 8), perhaps 'you two see both freedom and limit', and at VII, 52, 1 as a plural adjective, áditayaḥ syāma. Aditi, or the abstraction that she regularly personifies, can also represent everything that is good, even all existence: áditir dyaúr áditir antárikṣam, áditir mātā́ sá pitā́ sá putráḥ, víśve devā́ áditiḥ páñca jánā, áditir jātám áditir jánitvam 'Aditi is the heaven, Aditi is the atmosphere, Aditi is mother, father, son; Aditi is all the gods, the five peoples, the born and the yet to be born' (I, 89, 10).
The lesson text is from VIII, 18 (638), a poem of 22 verses addressed to Aditi and her sons, the divine Adityas. The text is verses 4-12, and the metre is uṣṇih, three-line verses of 8, 8, and 12 syllables. The name Aditya is a derivative of Aditi, a patronymic formed according to the pattern described in the last lesson (17.1; the initial A is long). These heavenly princes are ásvapnajo animiṣā́ ádabdhāḥ (II, 27, 9) 'unsleeping, unblinking, undeceived', qualities that well equip them to watch over and protect mortals: pakṣā́ váyo yáthopári, ví asmé śárma yachata (VIII, 47, 2) 'as birds their wings overhead, stretch out shelter for us'.
devébhir devi adite
áriṣṭabharman ā́ gahi
smát sūríbhiḥ purupriye suśármabhiḥ
té hí putrā́so áditer
vidúr dvéṣāṃsi yótave
aṃhóś cid urucákrayo anehásaḥ
áditir no dívā paśúm
áditir náktam ádvayāḥ
áditiḥ pātu áṃhasaḥ sadā́vr̥dhā
utá syā́ no dívā matír
áditir ūtiyā́ gamat
sā́ śáṃtāti máyas karad ápa srídhaḥ
utá tyā́ daívyā bhiṣájā
śáṃ naḥ karato aśvínā
yuyuyā́tām itó rápo ápa srídhaḥ
śám agnír agníbhiḥ karac
cháṃ nas tapatu sū́riyaḥ
śáṃ vā́to vātu arapā́ ápa srídhaḥ
ápā́mīvām ápa srídham
ápa sedhata durmatím
ā́dityāso yuyótanā no áṃhasaḥ
yuyótā śárum asmád ā́m̐
ŕ̥dhag dvéṣaḥ kr̥ṇuta viśvavedasaḥ
tát sú naḥ śárma yachata
ā́dityā yán múmocati
énasvantaṃ cid énasaḥ sudānavaḥ
With gods, O divine Aditi,
Unfailing in support, come hither;
Together with the tutelary princes, O beloved.
For they, the sons of Aditi,
Know to keep enmities away;
Freeing from all anxiety, the peerless ones.
Let Aditi by day, Aditi by night
Trustworthy, guard our cattle --
Aditi, ever beneficent, protect from trouble.
And that our thought by day:
Aditi will come with help.
She will make blessed happiness, banish misfortunes.
And those divine healers,
The two horsemen, will bless us,
Let them keep sickness from here, keep away misfortunes.
Agni will bless with fires,
Let the sun warm a blessing for us;
Let the wholesome wind blow a blessing, blow away misfortunes.
Away affliction, away misfortune,
Drive envy far away.
O sons of Aditi, keep us from trouble.
Keep the arrow far from us,
Adityas, and lack of thought.
Set hatred on one side, all-knowing ones.
Extend it surely to us,
O liberal sons of Aditi,
The refuge freeing even the sinful man from sin.
The name Aditi is characterised by the privative prefix a-, Greek α-, which, like English un- or in-, reverses the meaning of the noun or adjective, often a participle, that follows it: in-equality, un-forgiving. It can also be used to turn a noun into an adjective, like English -less: harm-less. Before vowels a- becomes an-. This lesson text contains a number of examples of this formation: an-ehás 'incomparable', á-dvayas 'unduplicitous', a-rapás 'without sickness, wholesome', á-mati 'lack of thought'.
Similar simple nominal compounds are formed with the prefixes su- 'good, well-' and dus- 'bad, ill-', which becomes dur- or duṣ- according to phonetic rules described in the Series Introduction. Compare Greek εὐ- in εὔ-φημος, English euphemism, δυς- in δυσ-μενής 'ill-disposed', and Latin dif- in dif-ficilis, English difficult. The prefix su- has appeared a number of times in the lessons: su-mánas 'well-disposed' (the opposite of Greek δυσ-μενής), su-pāṇí 'lovely-handed', and su-matí 'good thought, favour', and is found in this lesson text in su-śárman 'of good shelter, tutelary', and su-dā́nu 'generous'. Occasionally the u is lengthened, as in sū-nárī, an epithet of dawn in the Lesson 4 text, and sú/sū́ also occurs as an independent particle, as in the last verse of this lesson. The opposite of sumatí, durmatí 'bad thought, envy' also occurs in this passage: ápa sedhata durmatím 'drive envy far away'. Such oppositions are frequently juxtaposed in the text, as in example 125 below.
Another important class of abstract nouns, like those in -as discussed in the last lesson, are the neuter nouns in -man, which are similarly accented on the first syllable. A number of these have already been encountered: śárman 'refuge, shelter' in examples 11, 16, and in the last verse of the Lesson 2 text; dhárman 'support', also in the Lesson 2 text; kárman 'act, deed' in Lesson 3; and mánman 'thought' and bráhman 'prayer' in examples 51 and 53. sávīman 'bringing to life', found only in the locative sávīmani, also occurred in the Lesson 2 text. śárman 'refuge, shelter' appears once more, in a now familiar appeal to the gods, in the last verse of this lesson text: tát sú naḥ śárma yachata.
|Nom||bráhma||bráhmāṇi, bráhmā, bráhma|
|Acc||bráhma||bráhmāṇi, bráhmā, bráhma|
The alternative locative singular form without ending, bráhman 'in prayer', is peculiar to this declension. As usual with neuter nouns dual forms are uncommon: the nominative/accusative would be bráhmaṇī.
The majority of masculine and feminine words ending in -man are compound adjectives formed from these abstract neuter nouns, as in the two examples in the first verse of this lesson text, feminine áriṣṭa-bharman 'of unbroken support' (neuter bhárman 'support'), and masculine su-śárman 'of good shelter, tutelary'. Many are formed using the three prefixes discussed in the previous grammar section: su-kárman 'of good action', a-karmán, su-bráhman, á-brahman, su-śárman, su-mánman, dur-mánman. Compare the formation of su-mánas 'well-disposed' from neuter mánas 'understanding', described in the last lesson (16.1). As with sumánas, the declension of the masculine and feminine forms differs from the neuter singular and plural only in the nominative, accusative, and vocative (the vocative neuter does not occur):
There are also a few uncompounded masculine stems in -man, with accent on the suffix: brahmán 'devout man', jarimán 'old age', and the two related nouns ātmán 'breath' and tmán 'nature, self'.
There are many fewer stems in -an, but one important one, rā́jan 'king'. The endings are the same as the masculine -man endings, except that there is syncopation of the vowel of the suffix in some cases: the written forms of the instrumental, dative, ablative and genitive singular are rā́jñā, rā́jñe, and rā́jñas, and the accusative and genitive plural rā́jñas and rā́jñām. This sycopation is also sometimes found in masculine stems in -man; the dative singular of jarimán for example is jarimné.
The suffix -van is most frequently used to form masculine compound adjectives, like á-rāvan 'not granting', deva-yā́van 'going to the gods', puro-yā́van 'going in front', r̥tā́-van 'holy', maghá-van 'gracious' (the noun maghá 'gift' has a sense of reciprocity, 'gift in return'). There are also a few nominal forms, like ádhvan 'way', átharvan 'priest', sátvan 'warrior' and grā́van 'chief singer, cantor' (see the Series Introduction for the indological translation of this word). When preceded by a vowel, syncopation of the vowel of the suffix may again take place: the accusative plural of ádh-van is ádhvanas, but of grā́-van grā́vṇas. The word maghávan is irregular, contracting -á-van- to -ón-: nominative singular maghávā, genitive maghónas. The feminine ending corresponding to masculine -van is is -varī, as in the vocative plural ŕ̥tāvarīs addressed to the streams in the Lesson 3 text. The feminine of maghávan is maghónī.
At the end of Lesson 1 a table was given to show the usual personal endings of the present tense. The same set of endings is used elsewhere. They are attached to derivative conjugations, like causatives (see Lesson 7), and are also the personal endings of the future tense, which is of rare occurrence in the Rigveda. These endings are traditionally known as 'primary'.
There is another important set of personal endings, known as the 'secondary' endings. They are in fact older than the so-called primary endings, and occur in many parts of the Rigvedic verb. These endings are given in tabular form below.
|3||-t||-tām||-an, -ur||-ta||-ātām||-anta, -ata|
We have already encountered a tense that uses these endings. Compare the table given for the forms of the imperfect in the last lesson (section 18). The secondary endings are also used by the aorist, the other past tense characterised by the prefixed augment a-. In addition they form the usual personal endings of the injunctive and optative moods.
The optative, the mood of wishing, often appears alongside verbs in the imperative and subjunctive moods, as in this lesson text. It adds yā́ or ī to the verbal stem, and then the secondary endings, as given above. In thematic [I] verbs, where the stem already has a connecting -a-, this -a- combines with -ī- to form -e-, as in the 1st person plural páśy-e-ma, from √paś, páśyati 'see', in example 139 below.
The optative occurs less frequently than the imperative and the subjunctive, although forms of the verb 'be' are regularly found, in particular syā́ma 'may we be', as in the first line of the first lesson text. Middle forms, with the exception again of the first person plural, an example of which occurred in the last lesson text, gamemahi 'may we go', are uncommon.
The optative can be formed in more than one system, but all the examples below are from the Present System.
Ways of counting are ancient, and provide clear evidence of the relationships between languages. In Sanskrit éka 'one' was originally a demonstrative pronoun (see below) but numbers 2 to 10 and 100, dvá, trí, catúr, páñca, ṣáṣ, saptá, aṣṭā́, náva, dáśa, and śatám (Latin centum), have a very familiar appearance. The word usually translated 1000, sahásra, in origin simply means 'a great number'.
éka 'one' follows the pronominal declension described in section 11, declining like yá except in the nominative/accusative singular neuter ékam, as in the first example below. Confirming its pronominal nature, it also occurs in the plural, with the meaning 'some', as in the second example.
dvá 'two' (δύο, Latin duo, German zwei), like Greek δύο inflects regularly as a dual adjective. The adjective ádvayas 'unduplicitous' in the lesson text is a derivative of dvá, with the privative prefix a-. dvá becomes dvi- in compounds like dvi-pád 'two-footed' in example 126 in section 22, and dvi-jánman 'of double birth', an epithet of Agni.
trí 'three' declines in the plural. In its masculine and neuter forms it follows the declension of śúci given in section 3, but it has a different feminine form, already encountered in Lesson 2, tisŕ̥, which declines like svásr̥ (see section 8.2) with the exception of the nominative and accusative tisrás.
The declension of catúr 'four' is irregular. The nominative masculine is catvā́ras (compare Latin quattuor, French quatre), and like trí it has a different feminine stem, catasŕ̥. Numbers beyond four do not distinguish gender, and usually have no ending in the nominative and accusative.
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'.
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'.
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.
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 r̥ 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.
Roots ending in -ā, 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'.
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.
The endings are the same as the endings of the Present System, but the root is reduplicated.
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'.
The feminine is made from the weak stem with the secondary ending -ī, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 -ī 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.
Superlatives in -iṣṭha follow the declension in -a given in section 6.
The majority of adjectives in -tara and -tama also decline regularly as adjectives in -a as described in section 6.
A few adjectives formed with -tara or the reduced forms -ra and -ma, having affinity with pronouns, exhibit some forms that are like yá, 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.
Interrogatives are distinguished by an initial k-, like Latin qu- (quis, quid, quando, quomodo). The pronoun ká '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'.
ká 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 ká, 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 ká gives an indefinite or general sense: 'whoever, whatever, anyone, anything'.
The opening verse of this passage to the sun turns on two important words of complex meaning in the Rigvedic vocabulary, vratá and krátu. The word vratá (related to Greek ῥῆμα, and English word) previously occurred in the Lesson 2 text, where Savitar, the driving force behind the solar cycle, both guarded the vratā́ni and protected us with them, a passage that gives an indication of the double sense of the word. On the one hand it describes the unfathomable system that regulates the universe: amī́ yá ŕ̥kṣā níhitāsa uccā́, náktaṃ dádr̥śre kúha cid díveyuḥ, ádabdhāni váruṇasya vratā́ni, vicā́kaśac candrámā náktam eti (I, 24, 10) 'that far off constellation set on high that shows itself at night, wherever does it go by day? Inviolate are the holy laws of Varuna; the shining moon goes keeping watch by night'. But the vratā́ni are also divine commandments, obeyed not only by the waters and the wind in II, 38, 2 (see the introduction to Lesson 2) but also by man if he is wise, as indicated in X, 2, 4, quoted in example 199 in the last lesson.
The second verse of VII, 61, the two halves of which have appeared as examples 56 and 184, describes how a poet can acquire krátu with the help of the gods: prá vāṃ sá mitrāvaruṇāv r̥tā́vā, vípro mánmāni dīrghaśrúd iyarti, yásya bráhmāṇi sukratū ávātha, ā́ yát krátvā ná śarádaḥ pr̥ṇaíthe 'to you, Mitra and Varuna, he, the far-famed holy poet, lifts up his thoughts; whose prayers, O very able pair, you may favour, so that you will fill his autumns with krátu, as it were'. The word is cognate with Greek κράτος 'strength', but significantly in the Rigveda has the sense of reasoning power or intellectual ability, not bodily strength. In another passage, X, 64, 2, the noun krátu is turned into a verb (see section 33.4 in this lesson), kratūyánti krátavo hr̥tsú dhītáyaḥ 'conceptual powers, thoughts, have power in our hearts'.
The lesson text forms the central section, verses 5-10, of X, 37 (863), a poem of 12 verses addressed to the sun. The name sū́rya, from svàr 'sunlight', is related to Old English svegle and also to Homeric Greek ἠέλιος. The poem is in the jagatī metre with the exception of verse 10, the last verse here, which is in triṣṭubh. The sun, which is víśvasya sthātúr jágataś ca gopā́ 'guardian of all that stands and moves' in VII, 60, 2, in protecting víśvasya vratám in this passage merits the praise of men, praise which will, thanks to their krátu, be commendable to all the gods.
víśvasya hí préṣito rákṣasi vratám
áheḷayann uccárasi svadhā́ ánu
yád adyá tvā sūrya upabrávāmahai
táṃ no devā́ ánu maṃsīrata krátum
táṃ no dyā́vāpr̥thivī́ tán no ā́pa
índraḥ śr̥ṇvantu marúto hávaṃ vácaḥ
mā́ śū́ne bhūma sū́riyasya saṃdŕ̥śi
bhadráṃ jī́vanto jaraṇā́m aśīmahi
viśvā́hā tvā sumánasaḥ sucákṣasaḥ
prajā́vanto anamīvā́ ánāgasaḥ
udyántaṃ tvā mitramaho divé-dive
jiyóg jīvā́ḥ práti paśyema sūriya
máhi jyótir bíbhrataṃ tvā vicakṣaṇa
bhā́svantaṃ cákṣuṣe-cakṣuṣe máyaḥ
āróhantam br̥hatáḥ pā́jasas pári
vayáṃ jīvā́ḥ práti paśyema sūriya
yásya te víśvā bhúvanāni ketúnā
prá cérate ní ca viśánte aktúbhiḥ
anāgāstvéna harikeśa sūriya
áhnāhnā no vásyasā-vasyasód ihi
śáṃ no bhava cákṣasā śáṃ no áhnā
śám bhānúnā śáṃ himā́ śáṃ ghr̥ṇéna
yáthā śám ádhvañ chám ásad duroṇé
tát sūriya dráviṇaṃ dhehi citrám
Since you, sent forth, protect the holy law of all,
And, not invidious, rise according to your own powers;
When we address you today, O sun,
May the gods commend that wisdom of ours.
That call of ours may Heaven and Earth and the waters, hear,
Indra and the storm gods hear that speech;
Let us not be in want in the sight of the sun,
May we, living, reach a happy old age.
Always with good minds, with good sight
Rich in progeny, free from sickness and from guilt,
May we behold you rising day after day,
Living a long time, O many-friended sun.
Bringing great light, O far-seeing one
With brightness, a joy to every eye,
Rising all around from out the lofty radiance,
May we, living, look upon you, O sun.
With whose appearance all living things set out,
And come to rest with your twilight rays;
With innocence, O gold-tressed sun,
Rise up for us every day with better and better light.
Bless us with sight, bless with daylight,
Bless us with brightness, with frost and with warmth;
That there may be blessing on the way, or at home,
Grant that radiant provision, O sun.
Iterative compounds, where the same word -- regularly in inflected form -- is repeated, express succession in time or space or repetition, and are a common feature of the Rigveda. Of the four in this lesson text divé-dive 'day after day' is ancient and occurs many times. Such compounds are however freely formed, and often appear only once. The dative cákṣuse-cakṣuse 'to every eye' from cákṣus 'eye, sight' (compare cákṣas 'seeing, sight', and its derivative sucákṣas in the third verse), and the instrumental áhnā-ahnā 'with repeated daylight', together with adjectival vásyasā-vasyasā, 'better and better', are only found in this passage. Any part of speech is capable of being compounded in this way: ihéha [ihá-iha] '(here-here) here and there, everywhere'; yád-yat [yát-yat] 'whatever'.
The same word may also be repeated in the sentence in a different case to convey a superlative sense, as in English 'king of kings'. In the last verse of X, 112 sákhe sákhīnām 'O friend of friends / best of friends' is addressed to Indra, and at VI, 61, 10 Sarasvati is described as priyā́ priyā́su 'dear among the dear (f)/ dearest of all streams'. Filial piety is praised as vápuṣo vápuṣṭaram 'more marvellous than a marvel' in X, 32, 3, and the example svādóḥ svā́dīyaḥ 'sweeter than the sweet', describing speech, was given in the last lesson (number 187).
Some adjectives displaying elements of the pronominal declension that ressemble comparatives and superlatives in form, like ávara 'more recent' and avamá 'most recent', were described in section 29.2 of the last lesson. Another, similarly temporal in meaning and exhibiting both pronominal and adjectival forms, is pū́rva 'former, previous'. The adjectives víśva 'every, all' and sárva 'whole, all' (Latin salvus), like éka 'one', follow the pronominal declension with the exception of the nominative/accusative singular neuter forms, víśvam and sárvam. The usual Rigvedic word meaning 'all', víśva, which is superseded in the later language by sárva, has appeared four times in the lesson texts, twice here and twice in Lesson 1, in forms that could be either pronominal or adjectival. In a passage quoted in the Introduction to the Lesson 5 text however it shows its pronominal nature: áditir mātā́ sá pitā́ sá putráḥ, víśve devā́ áditiḥ (I, 89, 10) 'Aditi is mother, father, son; Aditi is all the gods'.
The adjective anyá 'other' in the feminine iterative compound anyā́-anyā in example 208 above, like katará and katamá described in the last section of Lesson 6, follows the pronominal declension throughout. Further pronominal forms are illustrated below. The last example is from the second verse of the lesson text poem.
There are three derivative conjugations which give the verbal root an extended sense, forming tenses, moods and participles. By far the most common of these is the causative, which, by means of a suffix added to the root, turns 'he goes' into 'he causes to go'. Intensives and desideratives similarly extend the meaning of the root to something like 'he insists on going', and 'he wishes to go'. Allied to these is a class of verbs called denominatives which make verbs out of nouns, like English to holiday (to vacation), or to fish.
Causatives are formed by adding -áya to the root, which is often in strengthened form. They are inflected like verbs of the thematic conjugation of the Present System. Several examples have already appeared in the lessons. Two masculine causative active participles described Savitar in the Lesson 2 text: from the root √prath 'spread' pratháyan 'extending', and from √viś with preverb ní, niveśáyan 'bringing to rest'. The feminine causative participle prabodháyantī 'causing to wake', from √budh 'wake' with preverb prá, described dawn in example number 99. Causative forms of the imperfect tense occurred in example 113, aprathayas 'you caused to spread' from √prath again, and example 143, arocayan 'they caused to shine' from √ruc; both verbs have lost the accent as the main verb in the sentence. Another masculine causative active participle describes the sun in the first verse of this lesson text, áheḷayan 'not causing hostility', where the causative element -áya has lost the accent to the privative prefix.
Some verbs which are causative in form however lack a causative sense, like mādayante 'they delight in' from √mad 'delight in' in example 213 in the last section. Two participles which are causative in appearance but have no causative sense have also occurred in the examples: the first element of the compound dhārayát-kṣiti 'sustaining the races of man' in example 205 at the beginning of this lesson is from the root √dhr̥ 'hold fast, sustain', and in example 192, máno jáviṣṭham patáyatsu antáḥ (VI, 9, 5) 'among flying things the understanding is swiftest', patáyatsu is locative plural of patáyant, from √pat 'fly, fall' (compare Greek πέτομαι). The verse that follows this, VI, 9, 6, quoted below in section 34, gives another example of patáya- without a causative sense, and √jan 'produce, create, bear', similarly uses the causative form without distinction of meaning, as in example 216.
The intensive, like the subgroup of athematic verbs described in section 13.1 and most verbs of the Perfect System, is marked by reduplication of the root. The distinguishing feature of the reduplication of the intensive is that the reduplicating vowel is usually strong: i and u reduplicate as e and o, a generally reduplicates as ā, and r̥ as ar. An example of an intensive participle occurred in the last lesson text, where Indra is described as véviṣat 'indefatigable', from √viṣ 'be active'. The inflection of intensives follows that of the reduplicating athematic verbs. Some verbs add a connecting i or ī before the endings, as in the first example below.
Desiderative forms are uncommon, and only one example, íyakṣantas 'desiring to worship' in the Lesson 6 text, has occurred so far. Like intensives they are marked by reduplication. The reduplicating syllable is in this case usually i, and carries the accent. Desiderative forms add the suffix -sa, often -ṣa, before the endings, which, as with causatives, are those of the thematic conjugation of the Present System.
Most nouns in Sanskrit are derived from verbal roots with the addition of suffixes: mánas, mánman, manīṣā́ and mántra, from which the compound satya-mantrá in example 216 above is formed, are all derivatives of the verbal root √man 'think'. Denominatives are formed the other way round; they are verbal formations made from nouns with the suffix -ya. Like causatives and desideratives, denominatives follow the inflection of thematic verbs of the Present System.
The first two examples below illustrate the chief functions of the twin horsemen, the Ashvins.
The future tense is rare in the Rigveda, as its function is usually supplied by the subjunctive. It is formed by adding the suffix -syá or -iṣyá to the root, the inflection then again following the thematic conjugation of the Present System. Future participles, like kariṣyánt 'going to do', and the feminine vakṣyántī 'being about to speak' at VI, 75, 3, are only slightly less rare. Only one modal form (the subjunctive kariṣyā́s) is found in the Rigveda.
Verbs are accented if they begin the line or sentence, or if they are in subordinate clauses. In the first verse of the lesson text we know that the verb in the second line, 'you rise', is, like 'you protect' in the first line, dependent on hí 'since' because it too is accented. In addition, as a sentence is regarded as only able to have one main verb, subsequent main verbs tend to be accented, as in the first two examples.
In the third example the verb is accented because it is preceded only by a vocative, which is not considered to be part of the sentence. The verb becomes the first true word in the sentence.
When a verb in a subordinate clause is immediately preceded by a preverb the two words are compounded and the preverb loses its accent, as in uccárasi and upabrávāmahai in the first verse of the lesson text. In the same way, when present participles and preverbs combine the preverb loses the accent, as illustrated by āróhant and udyánt in the lesson text, and the middle participle āśuṣānás 'breathing deeply' in example 132. The same is true of perfect participles: compare ātasthivā́ṃs in example 224 above.
The opposite however is generally the case when past participles combine with preverbs or prefixes. The verbal form then loses the accent, as with préṣita [prá-iṣita] in the first line of this lesson text, and níhitāsas in the introduction to this lesson and ā́hita in example 228, both of which are formed with the irregular past participle of √dhā 'place', hitá.
Most words are singly accented, even when they are compounds formed by combining two accented words: so from examples in this lesson dharayát-kṣiti (205), kaví-kratu (206), devá-śiṣṭa (208), satyá-mantra (216), and candrá-mās 'shining moon' in the lesson introduction. In such compounds the first word has the form of the uninflected stem. Iterative compounds, as described in section 31, always drop the accent from the second element: divé-dive, anyá-anya.
The names of deities that are regularly addressed together are often combined into ancient dual compounds, like the vocative mitrāvaruṇā in the lesson introduction, and when these compounds show the dual ending on both elements, as dyā́vā-pr̥thivī́ in the lesson text also does, some retain both accents (but not all: see example 238). Similarly vánas-páti 'forest-lord, tree', where the first element has preserved the genitive ending, is doubly accented, as is bŕ̥has-páti, perhaps an earlier form of bráhmaṇas páti 'lord of prayer', leading to the triply-accented dual compound índrā-bŕ̥haspátī at IV, 49, 5.
In many of the poems of the Rigveda divine powers are addressed devó-devaḥ 'god after god'. In this lesson text the poet's song praises gods of creation, weather and earthly provision in turn, concluding with an appeal to the twin horsemen, who of all gods are gámiṣṭha 'most willing to come', to convey all resulting gifts to man safely.
The text is verses 13-18 of V, 42 (396), an eighteen-verse poem addressed to víśve devā́ḥ 'all the gods'. The metre is triṣṭubh, with the exception of the penultimate verse, which is a rare ekapadā ('one-line') virāj. The god of the first verse is unnamed, as often in such litanies, but the riddle is easily solved. The 'good shelterer' is the divine artificer Tvashtar (see example 267 in section 39), who moulds the 'forms' of existence, from Heaven and Earth to the beasts of the field: yá imé dyā́vapr̥thivī́ jánitrī, rūpaír ápiṃṣad bhúvanāni víśvā (X, 110, 9) 'who fashioned this Heaven and Earth, the two parents, with the forms, all living things'; tváṣṭā rūpā́ṇi hí prabhúḥ, paśū́n víśvān samānajé (I, 188, 9) 'for Tvashtar presides over the forms, he has made manifest all the beasts'.
The rain god of the next verse is often attended by the Maruts, the lightning-speared warriors of the storm (I, 168, 5 and V, 52, 13), named in the verse that follows. The Maruts inspire fear - prá vepayanti párvatān, ví viñcanti vánaspátīn (I, 39, 5) 'they make the mountains tremble, tear the trees apart', but when accompanied by the god of rain bring welfare: prá vā́tā vā́nti patáyanti vidyúta, úd óṣadhīr jíhate pínvate svàḥ, írā víśvasmai bhúvanāya jāyate, yát parjányaḥ pr̥thivī́ṃ rétasā́vati (V, 83, 4) 'the winds blow forth, the lightnings fall; the plants shoot up, heaven yields abundance; nourishment is born for all living things when Parjanya quickens the earth with seed'.
Although severally named in poems of this kind, the power of the gods is ultimately one, and the divine parents moulded by Tvashtar, dyaúṣ pitā́ (Greek Ζεὺς πατήρ, Latin Iupiter) and mātā́ pr̥thivī́, are united as the source of all saúbhagāni 'gifts of fortune': ū́rjaṃ no dyaúś ca pr̥thivī́ ca pinvatām, pitā́ mātā́ viśvavídā sudáṃsasā (VI, 70, 6) 'power for us, may Heaven and Earth yield abundance, the Father, Mother, all-providing, wonderful'.
prá sū́ mahé suśaraṇā́ya medhā́ṃ
gíram bhare návyasīṃ jā́yamānām
yá āhanā́ duhitúr vakṣáṇāsu
rūpā́ minānó ákr̥ṇod idáṃ naḥ
prá suṣṭutí stanáyantaṃ ruvántam
iḷás pátiṃ jaritar nūnám aśyāḥ
yó abdimā́m̐ udanimā́m̐ íyarti
prá vidyútā ródasī ukṣámāṇaḥ
eṣá stómo mā́rutaṃ śárdho áchā
rudrásya sūnū́m̐r yuvanyū́m̐r úd aśyāḥ
kā́mo rāyé havate mā suastí
úpa stuhi pŕ̥ṣadaśvām̐ ayā́saḥ
praíṣá stómaḥ pr̥thivī́m antárikṣaṃ
vánaspátīm̐r óṣadhī rāyé aśyāḥ
devó-devaḥ suhávo bhūtu máhyam
mā́ no mātā́ pr̥thivī́ durmataú dhāt
uraú devā anibādhé siyāma
sám aśvínor ávasā nū́tanena
mayobhúvā supráṇītī gamema
ā́ no rayíṃ vahatam ótá vīrā́n
ā́ víśvāni amr̥tā saúbhagāni
Verily I offer up a wise thought, a newer song being born,
To the great one, the good shelterer,
Who, abundantly productive, in the fertile places of the daughter
Varying the forms made this world for us.
May a fine hymn of praise now reach the roaring thunder-maker,
Lord of refreshment, O singer,
Who goes, storm-clouded, rich in water,
With a lightning flash deluging the two worlds.
This eulogy goes out to the Maruts' troop,
May it reach up to the ever-young sons of Rudra;
Longing for treasure with wellbeing calls to me,
Send praise up to the nimble ones with white-flecked horses.
May this eulogy reach the earth, the atmosphere,
The lords of the forest, the plants, for treasure;
May god after god be easily invoked for me,
Let not Mother Earth place us in disfavour.
We would be in spacious liberty, O gods.
May we partake of the present help of the two horsemen,
Bringing happiness with safe guidance;
Convey to us treasure, bring us strong sons,
Bring us all gifts of fortune, O immortal pair.
Like the stems in -vant and -mant, this suffix, which carries the accent, usually has the sense 'possessing' (occasionally a v is interposed before the suffix). The majority of these adjectives are masculine; a feminine form is made, as with the -vant and -mant stems, using the secondary suffix -ī described in section 17.3. Examples of this formation are vajrín 'armed', from vájra 'weapon', manīṣín 'thoughtful' from manīṣā́ 'thought', pakṣín 'winged' from pakṣá 'wing', aśvín 'horseman' from áśva 'horse', and śatín 'a hundredfold', sahasrín 'a thousandfold'; with v interposed ádvayāvin 'not duplicitous', with the accent lost to the privative prefix. The table uses vājín 'strong', possessing vā́ja, to show the masculine forms that occur.
The aorist tense is used to describe an event in the immediate past. Like the imperfect, which is used to describe events in the distant past ("Indra destroyed the dragon"), it has a prefixed augment á- and the secondary verbal endings described in section 23. There are three distinct kinds of aorist: the simple, reduplicating, and the sigmatic aorist.
Many modal forms, that is, forms of moods like the subjunctive and optative, are assigned to the Aorist System, but of the aorist tense itself only six examples have so far been encountered in the lesson texts. Four of these are found in Lesson 2, where the poet is describing an event that he has just observed. Savitar "has proffered his gift to us" (úd ayān, a sigmatic aorist), "has filled the airy spaces" (aprās, a sigmatic aorist), "has stretched out his arms" (asrāk, another sigmatic aorist) and "has created (ájijanat, a reduplicating aorist) a boon worthy of holy song", which is the immediate cause of his poem, the 'holy song' itself. In the Lesson 3 text, similarly, the exchange between the poet and the streams is brought about by the appeal that the poet has just made: "Desiring help, I, son of Kushika, have made the invocation (ahve, a simple aorist)"; and the poem to dawn, the Lesson 4 text, is composed on the waking of the poets -- "You, O daughter of heaven, we have wakened (abhutsmahi, a sigmatic aorist) eager to meet, O dawn".
The simple aorist either adds the endings with a connecting -a- or directly to the root. Forms of the aorist can be distinguished from forms of the imperfect in that there is no corresponding present tense form. The following elementary table distinguishes sample forms of the third person active singular from those of the imperfect.
These are the forms that would occur if made from √vid, vindáti 'find', which adds the endings with a connecting -a-.
Third person plural endings can vary. In roots which add the ending without connecting -a- the active ending is frequently -ur, águr, ádhur, ásthur (but ábhūvan), and the middle ending is often -ran, as ádr̥śran (from √dr̥ś) in example 250 below.
Forms of the simple aorist that have already occurred in examples are assembled below.
The reduplicating vowel of this aorist is long, and is most often -ī-; compare the short -i- of the reduplicating syllable of desideratives. The endings are attached to the root with a connecting -a-. The table shows the active forms that would occur if made from √jan 'produce, create, bear'. No dual form occurs, and middle forms are rare. This aorist often has a causative sense.
The sigmatic aorist adds a sibilant to the root, sometimes with a connecting -i-. As with the imperfect, the endings of the 2nd and 3rd person singular active often disappear because of the phonological law described in section 18 of Lesson 3. In the Lesson 2 text aprās 'he has filled' occurs for the phonologically impossible *aprāst, and asrāk and ayān, two more sigmatic aorists, have lost both the -s- and the -t. Where the sigmatic form is -iṣ- the second and third persons singular active ending becomes -īs (for iṣ-s) and -īt (for iṣ-t). The 3rd person plural active regularly ends in -ur. Middle forms, like ábhutsmahi in the Lesson 4 text, are of frequent occurrence. Dual forms are rare.
These are the middle forms of √stu 'praise' that would occur.
The penultimate example below illustrates both simple and sigmatic aorists, and the last the three different types. Both verses conclude the poem in which they occur.
Omission of the verb 'be' is a regular feature of the language of the Rigveda, as it is of Homeric Greek. A simple example was given in lesson 2: yó no dātā́ sá naḥ pitā́ (VIII, 52, 5) 'He who (is) a giver to us (is) a father to us' (example 39). Another regular characteristic is the omission, or elision, of the preceding verb. In the first example in the last section, ní grā́māso avikṣata, ní padvánto ni pakṣíṇaḥ, ní śyenā́saś cid arthínaḥ (X, 127, 5), the sense of the verb avikṣata is carried through all three lines of the verse simply by the repetition the preverb ní. Compare the use of út in the verse quoted in the introduction to Lesson 6, úd [út] īratām ávara út párāsa, ún [út] madhyamā́ḥ pitáraḥ somyā́saḥ (X, 15, 1), literally 'may they rise up, the more recent, up the distant, up those from the middle past, the inspired fathers', and of ā́ in the last line of the lesson text: ā́ no rayíṃ vahatam ótá [ā́ utá] vīrā́n, ā́ víśvāni amr̥tā saúbhagāni.
In the Rigveda elision of the verb is frequent, even when the elided verb has not just appeared, if it can be understood from the context. A preverb is often present to suggest the missing verb, as in the Lesson 3 text: prá síndhum áchā br̥hatī́ manīṣā́ 'a lofty poem (goes) forth to the river', and as in this lesson text, again with ácha: eṣá stómo mā́rutaṃ śárdho áchā.
The vitality of preverbs is used to sophisticated poetic effect in the Lesson 5 text, where in two verses they indicate a change of verbal direction:
The word naú (f), Greek ναῦς, 'boat' declines as if from two stems, naú- and nā́v-, showing elements of both the vowel and consonantal declensions. These are the forms that occur in the Rigveda.
The word rayí 'treasure, precious thing', is usually masculine, but can also be of feminine gender. It declines as if from two stems, rayí- and rāy-. In the Rigveda the word is usually used in a non-material sense, and desire for treasure and offspring frequently go together, as in the lesson text. The table gives the usual forms.
Of the ancient complex of meaning given as dyú, dív (m) 'sky, heaven, day' in the glossary the forms dyaús, dívam, divás (genitive singular), diví and dívas (an anomalous feminine accusative plural form) have occurred in the lesson texts, all with the meaning 'heaven, sky'. In the second verse of the Lesson 7 text Heaven and Earth appear together in the dual compound dyā́vāpr̥thivī́, and in the third the iterative compound divé-dive 'day after day' demonstrates the other, related sense of the word. The meaning 'day' has also been encountered in the fixed form dívā 'by day', often juxtaposed, as in the Lesson 1 text, with the accusative náktam 'by night'.
The alternative accusative plural dyū́n most frequently occurs in the formula ánu dyū́n, like divé-dive with the meaning 'day after day'. The dual dyā́vā is also occasionally found as an abbreviated form of the compound dyā́vāpr̥thivī́, as in example 270.
|Acc||dyā́m, dívam||dyū́n, dívas|
The conclusion of this lesson text is formulaic in nature, and its lines are repeated elsewhere. The poem that immediately follows this one, V, 43, is also addressed to a range of divinities, and has the same coda, repeating the text from mā́ no mātā́ pr̥thivī́ durmataú dhāt to the end. The last verse of the lesson text, verse 18, is also used to conclude two poems to the Ashvins later in the same book, V, 76 and V, 77. This use of formulae has already been encountered, in the introduction to Lesson 4, where two lines describing dawn in VII, 81 also occurred in I, 48. The last two lines of the first lesson text, I, 98, are a familiar refrain: tán no mitró váruṇo māmahantām, áditiḥ síndhuḥ pr̥thivī́ utá dyaúḥ concludes 19 poems between I, 94 and I, 115, and supplies the end of the last verse of IX, 97, indicating that it originally also belonged with the poems in the first book.
Repetition frequently takes place within the same poem, as in example 212 in the last lesson. Each of the first six verses of a seven-verse supplication, I, 106, has as its last line víśvasmān no áṃhaso níṣ pipartana 'from all trouble deliver us', the seventh ending with the usual refrain of this group described in the last paragraph.
Study of the language of the Rigveda, the earliest surviving Sanskrit text, shows that it is an anthology of poems that were composed over a period of many centuries. Some of its hymns are believed to date from the beginning of the second millennium BC, or even earlier according to some scholars.
The most detailed study of the internal chronology of these poems, based on an analysis of vocabulary, grammatical forms, and metre, was carried out by E. Vernon Arnold a century ago, building on the work of his nineteenth-century predecessors (see the reading list in section 9 of the Series Introduction). Arnold assigns the poems to five basic periods: Archaic (the earliest poems), Strophic, Cretic, Normal, and Popular, the last consisting of poems significantly later than the rest, most of which are found towards the end of Books I to IX, or in Book X. The periods of composition of the lesson texts are as follows:
This lesson text consists of two poems, II, 42 (233), the penultimate poem in Book II, and X, 58 (884). Both belong to what Arnold termed the Popular Rigveda, which he describes as later additions to the original collection.
II, 42 is in the triṣṭubh metre, like the last lesson text, while X, 58 is in anuṣṭubh, verses of four lines of 8 syllables each. Both clearly exhibit characteristics of the later language. The word pradíś 'direction' in both poems is late, for example, as are the verbal adjectives bhávya 'future', and bhūtá 'past' in the last verse of X, 58. Some words shifted in meaning over time: pitáras 'fathers' acquired the sense 'ancestors' (II, 42), and mánas 'understanding' the meaning 'spirit' (X, 58). The similiar change in meaning of sárva 'whole' to mean 'all' was mentioned in section 32 of Lesson 7. In the first verse of X, 58 yamá appears as a proper name, which is also characteristic of a late poem. In earlier poems yamá means 'twin': samānó vāṃ janitā́ bhrā́tarā yuváṃ, yamā́v [yamaú] ihéhamātarā (VI, 59, 2) '(Indra and Agni,) your parents are the same, you are brothers, twins whose mother is everywhere'.
The first poem, II, 42, is addressed to a bird of good omen, and has only three verses. The second, X, 58, to the wandering spirit, is twelve verses long, but only the first line changes - lines 2-4 are a repeated refrain. After the first verse of X, 58 therefore only the new first line of each verse is glossed.
[II, 42] - kánikradaj janúṣam prabruvāṇá
íyarti vā́cam aritéva nā́vam
sumaṅgálaś ca śakune bhávāsi
mā́ tvā kā́ cid abhibhā́ víśvyā vidat
mā́ tvā śyená úd vadhīn mā́ suparṇó
mā́ tvā vidad íṣumān vīró ástā
pítryām ánu pradíśaṃ kánikradat
sumaṅgálo bhadravādī́ vadehá
áva kranda dakṣiṇató gr̥hā́ṇāṃ
sumaṅgálo bhadravādī́ śakunte
mā́ na stená īśata mā́gháśaṃso
br̥hád vadema vidáthe suvī́rāḥ
[X, 58] - yát te yamáṃ vaivasvatám
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te dívaṃ yát pr̥thivī́ṃ
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te bhū́miṃ cáturbhr̥ṣṭim
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te cátasraḥ pradíśo
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te samudrám arṇavám
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te márīcīḥ praváto
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te apó yád óṣadhīr
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te sū́ryaṃ yád uṣásam
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te párvatān br̥ható
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te víśvam idáṃ jágan
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te párāḥ parāváto
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
yát te bhūtáṃ ca bhávyaṃ ca
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse
Calling out repeatedly, proclaiming his kind,
He urges his voice like an oarsman a boat.
O shakuni-bird, if you will bring us luck
Let not any prying light anywhere find you.
Let the eagle not slay you, not the fine-feathered one,
Nor the man bearing arrows, the hunter, find you.
Calling out repeatedly in the direction of the fathers
Bringing luck, speaking good fortune, speak down to us.
Call down from the right side of the houses
Bringing luck, speaking good fortune, dear shakuni-bird;
Let the thief not triumph over us, nor the impious man,
May we, good men, in wisdom speak out loud.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to Yama son of Vivasvant;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far way, to the sky, to the earth;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the four-cornered land;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, in the four directions;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the foaming sea;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the gleaming lights of the distant slope;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the waters, the plants;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the sun, to the dawn;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the lofty mountains;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to all this world;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to still farther distances;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to what has been and what is to be;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
The poetry of the Rigveda is regularly metaphorical, and similes are not uncommon. The example in the first verse of the lesson text is typical of the use of iva -- the bird íyarti vā́cam aritéva [aritā́ iva] nā́vam (II, 42, 1) 'urges his voice like an oarsman a boat'. A similar example was given at the end of Lesson 7, svastí pánthām ánu carema, sūryācandramásāv iva (V, 51, 15) 'with wellbeing may we follow the path, like the sun and shining moon'. Usually iva follows a noun in the simile, but it can also follow other parts of speech, as in the first and penultimate examples below. These are not long similes of the Homeric kind, but short pithy comparisons, as is stressed by the treatment of iva in the ancient 'word by word', or Pada text, which attaches it to the preceding word as if it were a suffix.
In a number of places the metre indicates that although the earliest texts give the reading as iva, it should in fact be va. Example 279 is an instance of this. The metre of these poems shows numerous ways in which the ancient texts need to be corrected, some examples of which will be discussed in the section on metre at the end of this lesson.
The particle ná has two distinct meanings in Ancient Sanskrit, ná, 'not' and ná 'like', the second of which is found in the last example above. The use of ná 'like' is common in the Rigveda, with well over a thousand occurrences, but this meaning is already rare by the time of the Atharvaveda where it is found only 18 times, and it has disappeared entirely from Classical Sanskrit. The two meanings are often differentiated in pronunciation: ná 'not' combines with a following vowel, but ná 'like', being closely connected with the preceding word, does not, as the metre makes clear. In addition, ná 'like' cannot stand first in the line, although ná 'not' regularly does. Compare the use of the two together in examples 281 and 284.
Like iva, ná 'like' usually follows a noun in the simile, as in the Lesson 4 text: syā́ma mātúr ná sūnávaḥ 'we would be like of-the-mother sons'. The sense may however extend over the whole clause, as in example 56 in Lesson 3, yásya bráhmāṇi sukratū ávātha, ā́ yát krátvā ná śarádaḥ pr̥ṇaíthe (VII, 61, 2) 'whose prayers, O very able pair, you will favour, so that you will fill his autumns with capability, as it were'. The ancient Pada text does not treat ná as suffixal, unlike iva, possibly because of uncertainty about the distinction from ná 'not' in some passages. The two words, ná 'like' and ná 'not', are listed together in Alexander Lubotsky's concordance to the Rigveda for the same reason.
The last example in this section, the first verse of a poem addressed to víśve devā́ḥ, illustrates how a sustained metaphor can grow out of a simile. The poet uses figurative language throughout the verse to describe his willingness to engage in his task of praising the gods in turn.
The word yáthā, like ná, has two distinct senses. It is used as a conjunction meaning 'so that', as at the end of the Lesson 7 text: yáthā śám ádhvañ chám ásad duroṇé 'that there may be blessing on the way, or at home'. It can also, like ná and iva, mark a comparison. An example was given in the introduction to Lesson 5 -- pakṣā́ váyo yáthopári [yáthā upári], ví asmé śárma yachata (VIII, 47, 2) 'as birds their wings overhead, stretch out shelter for us' . The compound yathāvaśám 'according to will (váśa (m) 'will')' derives from this second meaning, as in example 259 in the last lesson: ātmā́ devā́nām bhúvanasya gárbha, yathāvaśáṃ carati devá eṣáḥ (X, 168, 4) 'the breath of the gods, the germ of being, this god goes as he wills'.
In both senses yáthā introduces a subordinate clause, accenting the verb if there is one, and can stand first in the sentence or line unlike iva and ná 'like'. It is also sometimes used as a simple comparative at the end of a line, when it loses its accent, as in the last verse of II, 43 (which forms a pair with the lesson text poem II, 42), the last example in this section.
The three words of comparison, yáthā, ná and iva, can be used together for poetic effect, as in the first example.
The verbal forms known as injunctives are ancient. They are identical with forms of the imperfect and the aorist, the augmented past tenses, but without the augment, being residues of the period before the augment was added to indicate past tense. These unaugmented verbal forms developed in two distinct directions, with different meanings. They remain in use in the Rigveda as alternatives to the augmented past forms. In addition, many are used modally, with an exhortatory, or injunctive, sense, from which the name derives. They survive in Classical Sanskrit only with the particle mā́ 'not', Greek μή, as negative injunctions or prohibitions. The context usually makes clear the function of the verb.
These three examples are taken from earlier lessons.
In the first three passages below the context shows that vocam, sāvīs and pīpes have an injunctive, not a past sense. The fourth is less clear; but the imperative in the first line of the verse that follows, úṣa ā́ bhāhi bhānúnā 'O dawn, shine out with brightness', suggests an injunctive sense for uchat.
All forms of what is called the infinitive in the Rigveda are in origin case forms of old abstract nouns, datives being by far the most common. They frequently appear in parallel with datives of more familiar nouns, as jīváse does with the dative of kṣáya in the refrain in the lesson text: ihá ksáyāya jīváse, literally 'here for home, for living'. The majority are formed from ancient abstract nouns in -tu, like vártave 'to be hindered' in the Lesson 3 text, from vártu, yótave 'to keep away' in Lesson 5 from yótu, and párietave 'to be surpassed' in example 281, from pári-etu.
One line of the Lesson 4 text contains two dative infinitive forms from different stems: prakhyaí devi svàr dr̥śé 'O goddess, (you make) the sunlight to be gazed on (from pra-khyā́), seen (from dŕ̥ś; compare the locative of saṃdŕ̥ś in example 298 in the last section)'. Because infinitives in fact derive from abstract nouns, when translated as infinitives they often have to be rendered as passive, as in these examples: vártave 'to be hindered' is literally 'for hindrance', prakhyaí 'for gazing on', and dŕ̥śe 'for sight'.
Two peculiarities of the infinitive are worthy of note. Some, ending in -tavaí, are doubly accented, as in example 254 in the last lesson, ákar dhánvāni átietavā́ [átietavaí] u (V, 83, 10) 'you have now made the deserts passable (from áti-etu)', and hántavaí in example 304 below. The second is that the regular accusative infinitive form of Classical Sanskrit, ending in -tum or -itum, despite its coincidence of form with the Latin infinitive, appears not to owe its origin to the ancient Rigvedic dialect: only four forms in -tum are found, of which only dā́tum, from dā́tu 'giving', occurs more than once (twice; the dative dā́tave, as in example 303, five times).
The metre of the Rigveda has an underlying iambic rhythm, that is, a rhythm characterised by a repeated pattern of a short followed by a long syllable, v- v- v- v-. This is also the natural rhythm of English, and Milton's line describing the progress of Satan,
And swims/ or sinks/ or wades/ or creeps/ or flies
is an example of an entirely regular iambic line. Milton wrote chiefly in iambic pentameters, lines of 5 iambs (v-) or ten syllables, as in this example. Lines of 10 syllables are however rare in the Rigveda where lines of 8, 11 or 12 syllables predominate.
The second of the two poems of the lesson 9 text, X, 58, is in a metre traditionally called anuṣṭubh, which consists of four-line iambic verses of 8 syllables. (If ṃ, or any two consonants, which do not have to be in the same word, follow, they render a syllable long, and aḥ is always long.) As in all good poetry, there are many variations to the underlying rhythm. The cadence, or closing phrase, however tends to be regular, as in the line concluding every verse of this poem:
|yát te yamáṃ vaivasvatám||-- v- -- vv|
|máno jagā́ma dūrakám||v- v- v- vv|
|tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi||-v -- v- vv|
|ihá kṣáyāya jīváse||v- v- v- v-|
This is the prevailing metre of later Sanskrit verse. A more usual Rigvedic metre is one line shorter, with verses of three lines of 8 syllables, as in example 251 in the last lesson, repeated below. This is called gāyatrī:
|ní grā́māso avikṣata||-- -- v- vv|
|ní padvánto ni pakṣíṇaḥ||v- -- v- v-|
|ní śyenā́saś cid arthínaḥ||-- -- v- v-|
The first text poem in this lesson, II, 42, is in triṣṭubh, which is the most common metre of the Rigveda. It is also the metre of the texts of lessons 1, 3, 6 and 8. It consists of four-line verses of 11 syllables, with a varied rhythmic pattern as a result. The cadence is regularly trochaic, that is, characterised by an inversion of the iambic rhythm, (-v), but the opening is usually iambic, as in the first two lines.
|kánikradaj janúṣam prabruvāṇá||v- v- vv- -v -v|
|íyarti vā́cam aritéva nā́vam||v- v- vvv -v -v|
Another metre in frequent use by the ancient poets adds a syllable to the 11 triṣṭubh syllables, restoring the iambic cadence. This is called jagatī, and is the metre of the Lesson 2 text, and most of the Lesson 7 text.
The metres of the Lesson 4, 5, and 10 texts combine lines of different lengths, and are known as lyric metres. The Lesson 5 text consists of verses of 8, 8 and 12 syllables, a metre called uṣṇih. Both the Lesson 4 and 10 texts alternate verses of 8, 8, 12, 8 syllables (br̥hatī) and 12, 8, 12, 8 syllables (satobr̥hatī). These song-like verse patterns are characteristic of early poems. In addition, many poems interpose verses in different metres for poetic effect, as in the texts of Lessons 7 and 8.
The above is a highly condensed outline of the metre used by the poets of the Rigveda. A comprehensive study in the context of the chronology of the poems was published by E. Vernon Arnold in 1905 (see the reading list at the end of the Series Introduction).
The Rigveda has come down to us in two textual forms. The primary text is the saṃhitā 'placed together', or continuous text. Its date is unknown. The accompanying Pada 'word' text derives from the continuous text, analysing all its sandhi combinations (Sanskrit saṃdhi, related to saṃhitā) to provide a word by word gloss. The later Vedic texts, also handed down from remote antiquity, largely derive from the Rigveda. The earliest of these quote extensively from the Rigveda, sometimes introducing variations to the saṃhitā text, replacing words that have become archaic, and occasionally giving readings that are incorrect. Example 151 in Lesson 6, lines 3 and 4 of the first verse of a triṣṭubh poem in praise of Indra -- the opening two lines are example 294 above -- provides a simple illustration:
|áhann áhim ánu apás tatarda|
|prá vakṣáṇā abhinat párvatānām|
|He destroyed the dragon, released the waters,|
|Split open the fertile places of the mountains.|
The Atharvaveda (AVP 13.6.1) repeats the verse, but replaces the plural noun vakṣáṇās with a participle, vakṣámānās. This not only destoys the metre of the line but makes no grammatical sense, and is clearly simply an error. The saṃhitā text is the most authoritative text that we have.
However, study of the metre of the poems of the Rigveda demonstrates that the ancient editors of this continuous text systematically applied rules of pronunciation that were regularly wrong. They were dealing with material composed in a period when the language was less rigidly regulated than it was in theirs, and it is apparent that this freer form was unfamiliar to them.
Some of these misapplied rules have already been mentioned in the lessons. For example, the first person plural optative of the verb 'to be' is regularly trisyllabic in the Rigvedic poems, siyā́ma, as in the first line of the first lesson text. The ancient editors always render it syā́ma, with loss of a syllable. Syllabic value has to be restored to the semivowels y and v in this way in a large number of words. (Many of the illustrations that follow are drawn from the examples given in the first grammar section of this lesson.) The word hŕ̥dya, which occurs in example 283, must always be read hŕ̥diya, and tvám must regularly be read tuvám, particularly in poems from the Archaic period, as in example 282. In ten of its twelve occurrences in the lesson texts sū́rya has to be read sū́riya. The syllabic loss is most apparent where the dropped vowel carried the accent, and the ancient text supplies a grave accent to the following syllable to indicate that it is missing. The accented vowel must be restored in nearly every case: svàr should always read súvar, ukthyà, ukthíya, vīryà, vīríya (see examples 278 and 281). (However, as words from which these syllables were systematically dropped by the saṃhitā text have entered dictionaries and grammars only in this later form, this is the form given both in the examples and in the glosses, to enable cross-referencing.) Other rules are similarly imposed on the Rigvedic vocabulary by its earliest editors. Later rules of syncopation are consistently applied to oblique cases of neuter nouns in -man: dhā́man and sā́man appear fifteen times in the text with the second vowel syncopated, but in every instance the vowel is restored by the metre. In the same way, the genitive/locative pitarós is always written pitrós.
Some examples of rules misapplied between words follow, to illustrate the many ways in which the ancient editors obscured the poetry of the Rigveda.
Rules of combination, designed to avoid hiatus, were systematically applied to adjoining vowels in different words, often destroying the rhythm of the line. These combinations occur even over line ends, obscuring the metrical form. Every lesson text contains at least one example of this combining of words over line ends; the Lesson 10 text has five. The refrain in each of the twelve verses of X, 58 in this lesson provides a typical example:
|tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi|
|ihá kṣáyāya jīváse|
The saṃhitā text combines the i at the end of one line with the i at the beginning of the next, and reads
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasīhá kṣáyāya jīváse,
and the anuṣṭubh verse pattern of 8-syllable lines, with a reiterated regular iambic cadence in the last line, is lost.
Example 277 reads
|ví yó jaghā́na śamitéva cárma|
|upastíre pr̥thivī́ṃ sū́ryāya|
The poem is in triṣṭubh throughout, and sū́riyāya must be read for sū́ryāya, as often. The saṃhitā text, in addition to regularising the last word to sū́ryāya, combines the a at the end of one line with the u at the beginning of the next. The couplet then reads
ví yó jaghā́na śamitéva cármopastíre pr̥thivī́ṃ sū́ryāya,
and again the metrical form, together with in this instance two syllables, disappears. In the third verse of the Lesson 8 text,
|kā́mo rāyé havate mā suastí|
|úpa stuhi pŕ̥ṣadaśvām̐ ayā́saḥ|
su-astí 'well-being' -- which the continuous text gives as svastí -- at the end of one line is combined with úpa at the beginning of the next to read svastyúpa. The replacement by the saṃhitā text of final i or u with the semivowels y or v before a vowel, which happens twice in this line, has to be corrected more than 5,000 times in the text.
The last illustration is example 280, from an Archaic poem in the jagatī metre.
sahasríyāso apā́ṃ ná ūrmáyaḥ
The line is a syllable short. The syllable can be restored here, and in over 500 similar places, by reading the genitive plural ending as bisyllabic, -aam. It seems probable that this was the earlier pronunciation. However, in the saṃhitā text another syllable is lost. It applies sandhi between the two words ná and ūrmáyas, reading nórmayás,
sahasríyāso apā́ṃ nórmáyaḥ
But ná here means 'like', 'like the countless waves of the waters', and unlike ná 'not', ná 'like' does not combine with a following word in pronunciation. In this example, and in three other places in the same poem, the systematic rule applied by the ancient editors obscures not only the metre, but also the meaning of the line.
The editors of the saṃhitā 'continuous' text regularly turned the poetry of the Rigveda into prose, masking both its form and its meaning. The Pada 'word' text is often, quite by chance, closer to the original. Only careful study of the metre has enabled scholars to reconstruct the form in which these poems were composed, and it was not until 1994 that an attempt at a complete reconstruction was published (see the reading list at the end of the Series Introduction). Gary Holland and Barend van Nooten's metrically reconstructed text provides a long-needed resource for renewed study of the Ancient Sanskrit of the Rigveda. Throughout these lessons misleading sandhi combinations between words in the saṃhitā text have been removed according to the 1994 metrical text.
The world of the poets of the Rigveda was governed by laws of Newtonian orderliness, represented by a group of abstract nouns of complex meaning. One of these, vratá 'holy law, divine commandment', was described in the introduction to Lesson 7. Of similar complexity are dhā́man 'foundation, just law, precept', related to Greek θέμις and English doom, and dhárman 'support, fixed order', both of which are found in the Lesson 10 text, together with r̥tá (see below), a word which is repeated in the last two verses, joining them together into one grammatical sentence.
The lesson text is verses 10-20 of an Archaic poem, VIII, 27 (647) which, like the Lesson 4 text, is in the alternating lyric br̥hatī/satobr̥hatī metre. The poem apostrophizes all the gods, beginning in traditional style with Agni: agnír ukthé puróhitaḥ 'Agni is placed first in holy song' (verse 1). Verses 10-20 are specifically addressed to the gods of Truth and Order, in particular Aryaman, Mitra and Varuna, who are named in the passage. The most important of the network of words describing the abstract concepts that these deities embody is r̥tá, perhaps best translated 'Truth', but also having the sense 'Cosmic Order'. Poetry itself is born from r̥tá: prá bráhma etu sádanād [sádanāt] r̥tásya, ví raśmíbhiḥ sasr̥je sū́ryo gā́ḥ (VII, 36, 1) 'let prayer go forth from the seat of Truth; the sun despatches singers with his rays (raśmí (m))'. And through their attention to Truth, and the wisdom that results, mortals become allied with the gods -- an alliance that is the theme of the Lesson 10 text.
ásti hí vaḥ sajātíyaṃ riśādaso
dévāso ásti ā́piyam
prá naḥ pū́rvasmai suvitā́ya vocata
makṣū́ sumnā́ya návyase
idā́ hí va úpastutim
idā́ vāmásya bhaktáye
úpa vo viśvavedaso namasyúr ā́m̐
ásr̥kṣi ániyām iva
úd u ṣyá vaḥ savitā́ supraṇītayo
ásthād ūrdhvó váreṇiyaḥ
ní dvipā́daś cátuṣpādo arthíno
deváṃ-devaṃ vo ávase
deváṃ-devaṃ huvema vā́jasātaye
gr̥ṇánto deviyā́ dhiyā́
devā́so hí ṣmā mánave sámanyavo
víśve sākáṃ sárātayaḥ
té no adyá té aparáṃ tucé tú no
prá vaḥ śaṃsāmi adruhaḥ
ná táṃ dhūrtír varuṇa mitra mártiyaṃ
yó vo dhā́mabhyo ávidhat
prá sá kṣáyaṃ tirate ví mahī́r íṣo
yó vo várāya dā́śati
prá prajā́bhir jāyate dhármaṇas pári
áriṣṭaḥ sárva edhate
r̥té sá vindate yudháḥ
sugébhir yāti ádhvanaḥ
aryamā́ mitró váruṇaḥ sárātayo
yáṃ trā́yante sajóṣasaḥ
ájre cid asmai kr̥ṇuthā niáñcanaṃ
durgé cid ā́ susaraṇáṃ
eṣā́ cid asmād aśániḥ paró nú sā́
ásredhantī ví naśyatu
yád adyá sū́rya udyatí
príyakṣatrā r̥táṃ dadhá
yán nimrúci prabúdhi viśvavedaso
yád vā madhyáṃdine diváḥ
yád vābhipitvé asurā r̥táṃ yaté
chardír yemá ví dāśúṣe
vayáṃ tád vo vasavo viśvavedasa
úpa stheyāma mádhya ā́
Because there is kinship with you,
O benign gods -- there is alliance --
Admit us to our well-being of old,
And soon to newer favour.
For at this moment I have sent up to you --
This moment, for a share of weal,
Honouring you, all-knowing ones,
A paean of praise, seemingly inexhaustible.
Now he has risen straight up, you sure guides,
The one beloved of you, that Savitar;
Two-footed, and four-footed creatures,
Purposeful winged ones have come to rest.
May we call upon you, god after god, for aid,
God after god, for ready help,
God after god that we may gain strength,
Singing with divine thought.
For indeed the gods are of one mind with man,
All united, giving together.
As such may they be today for us, then in future for our offspring
Providers of spacious freedom.
I sing out praises to you, guileless ones,
In amongst paeans of praise;
No injury will befall, O Varuna, O Mitra,
The mortal who has honoured your precepts.
The one who worships according to your wish
Prolongs his domestic life, is afforded fine refreshments.
He is born anew in his progeny, according to established order
Unharmed and whole he thrives.
Without fighting he achieves his ends;
He travels on his ways by good paths
Whom Aryaman, Mitra, and Varuna, giving together,
Joining together, protect.
Even on flat land you make a gentle slope for him,
On the hard way an easy passage,
From him even this thunderbolt, now in the distance
Unfailing -- let it disappear.
When today at the sun's rising
O benevolent rulers, you grant Truth,
When at sunset, at wakening, all-knowing ones
Or at the midpoint of the day --
-- Or when at homecoming, Lords, you proffer a shield
For the worshipper who follows the path of Truth;
Then may we stand, gentle, all-knowing ones,
Closely within the midst of you.
The declension of secondary feminine stems in -ī was given in Lesson 4 (17.3). There are three important monosyllabic feminine abstract nouns that follow the primary -ī declension: dhī́ 'thought', bhī́ 'respect, fear' and śrī́ 'splendour, glory'. The usual endings are given below, as they would be if made from from dhī́ 'thought'. When the case endings begin with a vowel -ī- changes to -iy-. Dual forms (nominative/accusative dhiyā́, instrumental dhībhyā́m, gen/loc dhiyós) are rare.
A number of compounds follow this declension, like the masculine adjectives su-dhī́ 'of good thought' and brahma-prī́ 'delighting in prayer'.
There are in addition some uncompounded polysyllabic nouns which belong to this declension, and are always accented on the -ī- or -iy- of the suffix, although in the ancient texts -iy- is consistently changed to y with displacement of the accent. Of this group nadī́ (feminine) 'stream' is of frequent occurrence: it appeared in the Lesson 3 text in the accusative plural nadyàs (correctly nadíyas) and genitive plural nadī́nām, again in examples 296 and 258 in these two forms, and in example 157 in the nominative plural nadyàs, (nadíyas).
The endings of the primary -ū stems are parallel to those of the primary -ī stems. When the case ending begins with a vowel -ū- changes to -uv-. Many of the words that follow this declension are adjectival compounds, like nominative singular masculine pari-bhū́s 'being around, encompassing' in the Lesson 2 text, and mayo-bhū́ 'bringing happiness', which occurs in the instrumental singular neuter mayobhúvā in the Lesson 8 text.
Compounds formed with these primary endings show a tendency to be transferred to more common declensions. The -ī or -ū regularly appears in shortened form, the compound then following the declension given in section 3 of Lesson 1. An example of this, the alternative adjective mayobhú, occurs in example 325, in the accusative singular neuter mayobhú, in section 47.3 of this lesson.
Secondary stems in -ā, which form the feminine of masculine/neuter nouns and adjectives in -a as described in section 6 of Lesson 2, are very common. There are in addition a few primary -ā stems, many of which occur as compounds, like the masculine adjectives dhana-sā́ 'winning wealth' in the last example above, vrata-pā́ 'protecting holy law' in example 243, and purā-jā́ 'born aforetime' in the Lesson 6 text. The forms that are found, if made from the monosyllable jā́ 'child' (m/f), are given below. All oblique cases are rare, and only the nominative/accusative/vocative dual forms, jā́ or jaú, occur.
As with the stems in -ī and -ū, there is a tendency for compounds to be transferred to the secondary declension. The compound prajā́ 'creature', for example, has been assimilated to the secondary -ā declension throughout, and indeed was used to illustrate that declension in Lesson 2. As a result the primary -ā stems are uncommon, and have on occasion been differently assigned: the feminine rā́ 'gift', for example, which appears only in the accusative rā́m in X, 111, 7, the first example below, has been taken to be an irregular form of rayí, and in the concluding verse of X, 127, the only poem in the Rigveda addressed to dawn's sister, the goddess of night, I follow Professor Lanman (Noun-inflection, JAOS vol. x, 1880, p. 443) in taking gā́s to be from a monosyllabic gā́ 'singer', rather than the accusative plural 'cows' (example 316 below). I have also interpreted the word form in this way at its occurrence in VII, 36,1 quoted in the introduction to this lesson.
The examples below are given to illustrate the forms. Participles and moods made from the reduplicating or sigmatic aorists are clearly aorist forms; when made from the simple aorist the Present System forms are given in parentheses for comparison.
The first two examples are simple aorist imperative forms without connecting -a-, from verbs whose forms in the Present System belong to the thematic (-a-) conjugation. As the endings are added directly to the root in the Aorist System, they are those of the athematic conjugation (compare the aorist middle participle juṣāṇá in example 317 above).
The sigmatic aorist is regularly used to make subjunctive forms.
A rare form of the aorist optative, the precative, adds an -s- before the endings, which when simply consonantal are then lost, as explained in section 18. An example occurred in the Lesson 8 text, repeated below (example 330).
The passive is formed with the suffix -yá-, and the endings of the middle voice. The middle voice, without the suffix, can also be used with passive sense, as in the seventh verse of the lesson text, ví tirate, and the last two examples below.
This passive is found only in the 3rd person singular. It is formed with the augment, and the suffix -i is added to the verbal root, which is usually strengthened. An example occurred at the beginning of the Lesson 4 text: práty u adarśi āyatī́, uchántī duhitā́ diváḥ 'now she has been seen (a-darś-i, from √dr̥ś 'see, appear'), approaching, shining, the daughter of heaven'. The aorist passive is characteristic of poems of early date.
The formation of nominal (noun and adjective) stems from verbs in Sanskrit is more regular and clear than in any other Indo-European language. The ancient grammarians therefore set up a body of verbal roots, describing the regular processes by which these roots become nouns and adjectives by means of the addition of suffixes.
The table below gives a sample of three verbal roots, √kr̥ 'do', √jan 'produce', and √man 'think', and the nouns and adjectives that they form by means of four common suffixes: -ana, -as, -tu and -man. The position of the accent often differentiates meaning: for example, kar-aṇá 'active' exists alongside root-accented kár-aṇa 'deed'. The form that the root takes can vary depending on the suffix, as √kr̥ demonstrates: *kr̥-aṇá and *kŕ̥-as are not possible word forms.
|√kr̥ 'do'||√jan 'produce'||√man 'think'|
|-ana||kar-aṇá 'active'||ján-ana 'producer'||man-ána 'thoughtful'|
|-as||kár-as 'deed'||ján-as 'race'||mán-as 'understanding'|