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Ancient Sanskrit Online

Lesson 2

Karen Thomson and Jonathan Slocum

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).

Reading and Textual Analysis

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 ́rthiva, 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

  • tát -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- that
  • devásya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <devá> divine, god -- of divine
  • savitúr -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- of Savitar
  • ́ryam -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <́rya> choice (thing), precious gift -- precious gift # From the same root, √vr̥ 'choose, accept', as the verb in the next line, and in form a future passive participle, 'to be chosen'. The metre tells us that this was originally three syllables, ́riya.
  • mahát -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <mahánt> great, mighty -- great
  • vr̥ṇīmáhe -- verb; 1st person plural middle present of <√vr̥, vr̥ṇīté> choose, accept -- we accept # This is the main verb in the sentence, accented as the first word in the verse line; see section 5 in the previous lesson.
  • ásurasya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <ásura> spiritual lord -- of the spiritual lord
  • prácetasas -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <prácetas> mindful -- of the mindful
  • chardís -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <chardís> protection, shield -- shield
  • yéna -- relative pronoun; instrumental singular neuter of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- with which
  • dāśúṣe -- noun; dative singular masculine of <dāśvā́ṃs> the one worshipping -- for the worshipper # In form a perfect participle (see section 27.1 in Lesson 6), regularly used as a noun.
  • yáchati -- verb; 3rd person singular active present of <√yam, yáchati> extend, stretch out -- he extends
  • tmánā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine of <tmán> nature, self -- by his nature
  • tát -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- it
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vayám> we -- to us
  • mahā́n -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <mahánt> great, mighty -- mighty
  • út ayān -- verb; 3rd person singular active sigmatic aorist of <√yam, yáchati> extend, stretch out + preverb <út> up -- he has proffered
  • devás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <devá> divine, god -- the god
  • aktúbhis -- noun; instrumental plural masculine of <aktú> twilight ray -- with twilight rays # The light that gleams at dawn and at sunset; compare Greek ἀκτίς.

divó dhartā́ bhúvanasya prajā́patiḥ
piśáṅgaṃ drāpím práti muñcate kavíḥ
vicakṣaṇáḥ pratháyann āpr̥ṇánn urú
ájījanat savitā́ sumnám ukthíyam

  • divás -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <dyú, dív> sky, heaven, day -- of the sky
  • dhartā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <dhartŕ̥> supporter, upholder -- upholder
  • bhúvanasya -- noun; genitive singular neuter of <bhúvana> being, existence -- of existence
  • prajā́patis -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <prajā́pati> creature-lord, lord of creatures -- Lord of creatures # A compound of prajā́ creature (see verse 4) and páti lord.
  • piśáṅgam -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <piśáṅga> variegated -- variegated
  • drāpím -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <drāpí> mantle -- mantle
  • práti muñcate -- verb; 3rd person singular middle present of <√muc, muñcáte> make free + preverb <práti> against -- spreads out
  • kavís -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <kaví> sage -- the sage
  • vicakṣaṇás -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <vicakṣaṇá> far-sighted, discerning -- far-sighted
  • pratháyan -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active causative participle of <√prath, práthate> spread -- extending # Causative verbal forms, marked by the suffix -áya, occur frequently. There is another causative participle in the last line of the next verse.
  • āpr̥ṇán -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active participle of <pr̥̄, pr̥ṇā́ti> fill + preverb <ā́> (intensifies or reverses meaning) -- filling
  • urú -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <urú> broad, spacious -- space # The adjective urú here used nominally; compare Greek εὐρύς.
  • ájījanat -- verb; 3rd person singular active reduplicating aorist of <√jan, jánati> produce, create, bear -- he has created
  • savitā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • sumnám -- noun; accusative singular neuter <sumná> favour, boon -- a boon # The prefix su- 'good' again, as in sumatí in the first line of the lesson one text.
  • ukthyàm -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <ukthyà> worthy of holy song -- worthy of holy song # As with ́rya in the first verse, and the verb syāma in the first line of the lesson one text, the metre tells us that this was pronounced as three syllables by the poets of the Rigveda, ukthíyam. The later writing convention follows Classical Sanskrit in representing the syllabic iy as a semivowel, y. As in this instance however the accent fell on the lost syllable, its place is traditionally marked by means of a following grave accent, to indicate the fall in pitch following the accent (this will be discussed more fully in section 45.1 in Lesson 9).

ā́prā rájāṃsi diviyā́ni pā́rthivā
ślókaṃ deváḥ kr̥ṇute svā́ya dhármaṇe
prá bāhū́ asrāk savitā́ sávīmani
niveśáyan prasuvánn aktúbhir jágat

  • ā́ aprās -- verb; 3rd person singular active sigmatic aorist of <√prā> fill + preverb <ā́> (intensifies or reverses meaning) -- he has filled # This verb is a secondary form of the root √pr̥̄ which occurred in the previous verse.
  • rájāṃsi -- noun; accusative plural neuter of <rájas> airy space, dark region -- the airy regions
  • divyā́ni -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <divyá> heavenly -- heavenly
  • ́rthivā -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <́rthiva> earthly -- earthly # A derivative of pr̥thivī́ 'earth'.
  • ślókam -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <ślóka> song of praise -- a song of praise
  • devás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <devá> divine, god -- the god
  • kr̥ṇute -- verb; 3rd person singular middle present of <√kr̥, kr̥ṇóti> do, make -- he brings forth
  • svā́ya -- possessive pronoun; dative singular neuter of <svá> own -- for his own # Compare Latin suus.
  • dhármaṇe -- noun; dative singular neuter of <dhárman> support, fixed order -- fixed order # Related to the word dhartŕ̥ in the previous verse.
  • bāhū́ -- noun; accusative dual masculine of <bāhú> arm -- arms
  • prá asrāk -- verb; 3rd person singular active sigmatic aorist of <√sr̥j, sr̥játi> let go + preverb <prá> forth -- he has stretched out
  • savitā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • sávīmani -- noun; locative singular neuter of <sávīman> bringing to life -- in giving life # Word play; the name Savitar comes from the root √sū, suváti 'generate, impel' as in the second participle in the next line.
  • niveśáyan -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active causative participle of <√viś, viśáte> enter, come to rest + preverb <> down -- bringing to rest
  • prasuván -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active participle of <sū, suváti> generate, impel + preverb <prá> forth -- rousing
  • aktúbhis -- noun; instrumental plural masculine of <aktú> twilight ray -- with twilight rays
  • jágat -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <jágat> moving world -- the moving world # Originally a present active participle, 'moving', from √gā, jígāti 'go, move'.

ádābhiyo bhúvanāni pracā́kaśad
vratā́ni deváḥ savitā́bhí rakṣate
prā́srāg bāhū́ bhúvanasya prajā́bhiyo
dhr̥távrato mahó ájmasya rājati

  • ádābhyas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ádābhya> not to be deceived -- undeceivable # Another future passive participle in form. The semivowel y is again vocalised in the Rigveda and has syllabic value. The prefix a- is privative, like English un-, reversing the meaning of the adjective.
  • bhúvanāni -- noun; accusative plural neuter of <bhúvana> being, existence -- beings
  • pracā́kaśat -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active intensive participle of <√kāś, cā́kaśīti> observe, pay attention to + preverb <prá> forth -- overseeing # The verb only occurs in the intensive.
  • vratā́ni -- noun; accusative plural neuter of <vratá> holy law, divine commandment -- the holy laws
  • devás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <devá> divine, god -- divine
  • savitā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • abhí rakṣate -- verb; 3rd person singular middle present of <√rakṣ, rákṣati> protect + preverb <abhí> towards -- guards
  • prá asrāk -- verb; 3rd person singular active sigmatic aorist of <√sr̥j, sr̥játi> let go + preverb <prá> forth -- he has stretched out
  • bāhū́ -- noun; accusative dual masculine of <bāhú> arm -- arms
  • bhúvanasya -- noun; genitive singular neuter of <bhúvana> being, existence -- of existence
  • prajā́bhyas -- noun; dative plural feminine of <prajā́> creature, progeny -- to the creatures # See verse 2, line 1 for the compound prajā́pati, 'Lord of creatures'.
  • dhr̥távratas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <dhr̥távrata> whose command is firm -- whose command is firm # More word play; the first part of this compound, in form the past participle of √dhr̥ 'hold firm', is related to the words dhartŕ̥ and dhárman that have already appeared in this poem.
  • mahás -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <máh> great -- of the great
  • ájmasya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <ájma> course, path -- course
  • rājati -- verb; 3rd person singular active present of <√rāj, rā́jati> rule, shine -- he rules shining

trír antárikṣaṃ savitā́ mahitvanā́
trī́ rájāṃsi paribhū́s trī́ṇi rocanā́
tisró dívaḥ pr̥thivī́s tisrá invati
tribhír vrataír abhí no rakṣati tmánā

  • trís -- adverb; <trís> thrice -- thrice
  • antárikṣam -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <antárikṣa> airy space, atmosphere -- the atmosphere # The first part of the word is cognate with Latin inter.
  • savitā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • mahitvanā́ -- noun; instrumental singular neuter of <mahitvaná> majesty -- in majesty
  • trī́ -- numeral; accusative neuter of <trí> three -- three
  • rájāṃsi -- noun; accusative plural neuter of <rájas> airy space, dark region -- dark regions
  • paribhū́s -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <paribhū́> encompassing -- encompassing # From the root √bhū, bhávati 'be' with preverb pári 'around'.
  • trī́ṇi -- numeral; accusative neuter of <trí> three -- three # A variant of trī́ earlier in this line.
  • rocanā́ -- noun; accusative plural neuter of <rocaná> sphere of light -- spheres of light
  • tisrás -- numeral; accusative plural feminine of <tisŕ̥> three -- three # The feminine stem is different from that of the masculine and neuter.
  • dívas -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <dyú, dív> sky, heaven, day -- skies # The feminine gender here is anomalous; the word is usually masculine, but it is always feminine when it occurs with the numeral 'three'. It may be feminine by attraction, with parallel pr̥thivī́, or here have a slightly different sense.
  • pr̥thivī́s -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <pr̥thivī́> earth -- earths
  • tisrás -- numeral; accusative plural feminine of <tisŕ̥> three -- three
  • invati -- verb; 3rd person singular active present of <√inv, ínvati> set in motion -- he gives motion to
  • tribhís -- numeral; instrumental plural neuter of <trí> three -- with the three
  • vrataís -- noun; instrumental plural neuter of <vratá> holy law, divine commandment -- holy laws
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vayám> we -- us
  • abhí rakṣati -- verb; 3rd person singular active present of <√rakṣ, rákṣati> protect + preverb <abhí> towards -- he guards
  • tmánā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine of <tmán> nature, self -- by his nature

br̥hátsumnaḥ prasavītā́ nivéśano
jágata sthātúr ubháyasya yó vaśī́
sá no deváḥ savitā́ śárma yachatu
asmé kṣáyāya trivárūtham áṃhasaḥ

  • br̥hátsumnas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <br̥hátsumna> lofty-favoured -- of high benevolence # Compound of br̥hánt 'lofty' and sumná 'favour' in the last line of verse 2.
  • prasavītā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <prasavītŕ̥> enlivener -- the bringer to life # Compare the participle prasuván in the last line of verse 3.
  • nivéśanas -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <nivéśana> the source of rest -- the source of rest
  • jágatas -- noun; genitive singular neuter of <jágat> moving world -- of the moving world
  • sthātúr -- noun; genitive singular neuter of <sthātŕ̥> stander, standing world -- of the standing world # From the verb √sthā, tíṣṭhati 'stand'.
  • ubháyasya -- adjective; genitive singular neuter of <ubháya> both -- of both
  • yás -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- who
  • vaśī́ -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <vaśín> having sway -- holds sway
  • sás -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- he
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vayám> we -- to us
  • devás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <devá> divine, god -- divine
  • savitā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • śárma -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <śárman> refuge, shelter -- refuge
  • yachatu -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperative of <√yam, yáchati> extend, stretch out -- may he extend
  • asmé -- personal pronoun; dative of <vayám> we -- for us
  • kṣáyāya -- noun; dative singular masculine of <kṣáya> home -- for home
  • trivárūtham -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <trivárūtha> with threefold protection -- with threefold security # The numeral trí with várūtha (n) 'protection, security'.
  • áṃhasas -- noun; ablative singular neuter of <áṃhas> trouble -- from trouble

Lesson Text

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

Translation

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.

Grammar

6. Nominal stems in -a.

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', ́rya (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', ́rya '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.

        Singular           Plural    
    Masculine       Feminine   Masculine       Feminine
Nom   devás       prajā́   devā́s, devā́sas       prajā́s, prajā́sas
Acc   devám       prajā́m   devā́n       prajā́s
Ins   devéna, devā́       prajáyā, prajā́   devébhis, devaís       prajā́bhis
Dat   devā́ya       prajā́yai   devébhyas       prajā́bhyas
Abl   devā́t       prajā́yās   devébhyas       prajā́bhyas
Gen   devásya       prajā́yās   devā́nām       prajā́nām
Loc   devé       prajā́yām   devéṣu       prajā́su
Voc   déva       práje   dévās, dévāsas       prájās
Dual   Masculine       Feminine
Nom, Acc   devā́, devaú       prajé
Ins, Dat, Abl   devā́bhyām       prajā́bhyām
Gen, Loc   deváyos       prajáyos
Voc   dévā, dévau       práje

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).

7. Present active participles in -ant.

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.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
Nom   árcan   árcantā, árcantau   árcantas
Acc   árcantam   árcantā, árcantau   árcatas
Ins   árcatā       árcadbhis
Dat   árcate   árcadbhyām   árcadbhyas
Abl   árcatas       árcadbhyas
Gen   árcatas   árcatos   árcatām
Loc   árcati       árcatsu

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.

7.1. Adjectives participial in form: mahánt and br̥hánt.

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.

  • niveśáyan prasuvánn aktúbhir jágat (lesson text, verse 3) 'bringing-to-rest, rousing the moving world (accusative) with twilight rays' [29]
  • pátiḥ síndhūnām bhávan (IX, 15, 5) 'he being (nom sing masc, from √bhū, bhávati) the lord of rivers' [30]
  • mahā́m̐ [mahā́n] asi sūrya (VIII, 101, 11) 'You are mighty, O sun' [31]
  • janáyan prajā́ [prajā́s] bhúvanasya rā́ (IX, 97, 40) 'he, begetting (nom sing masc causative, from √jan, jánati) creatures, the king of existence' [32]
  • páśyema nú sū́ryam uccárantam [ut-cárantam] (VI, 52, 5; X, 59, 4) 'now we would see (1 pl optative of √paś, páśyati, accented as first word in the line) the sun rising (acc sing masc, from car, cárati 'move' with preverb út 'up')' [33]
  • bhávā [bháva] várūthaṃ gr̥ṇaté (I, 58, 9) 'be (2 sing imperative of bhū, again accented as first word in the line) protection for-the-one-singing (dative singular, from √gr̥, gr̥ṇā́ti)' [34]
  • árcantas tvā havāmahe (V, 13, 1) 'we, praising (nom pl masc), call upon (from √hū, hávate) you' [35]
  • janáyanto [janáyantas] daívyāni vratā́ni, āpr̥ṇánto [ā-pr̥ṇántas] antárikṣā (VII, 75, 3) '(the lights of dawn) begetting (nom pl masc causative) divine laws, filling the atmospheres' [36]
  • śr̥ṇvántā vām ávase johavīmi (I, 34, 12) 'we entreat (an intensive form of √hū) you two listening (acc dual masc from √śru, śr̥ṇóti) for help (dat sing neut of ávas 'help')' [37]
  • mahád [mahát] adyá mahatā́m ā́ vr̥ṇīmahe, ávo [ávas] devā́nām br̥hatā́m (X, 36, 11) 'we accept today the mighty help of the mighty, lofty gods' [38]
8. Nominal stems in -tr̥.
8.1. Agent nouns.

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.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
Nom   dhartā́   dhartā́rā, dhartā́rau   dhartā́ras
Acc   dhartā́ram   dhartā́rā, dhartā́rau   dhartr̥̄́n
Ins   dhartrā́       dhartŕ̥bhis
Dat   dhartré   dhartŕ̥bhyām   dhartŕ̥bhyas
Abl   dhartúr       dhar̥tŕ̥bhyas
Gen   dhartúr       dhartr̥̄ṇā́m
Loc   dhartári       dhartŕ̥ṣu
Voc   dhártar   dhártārā, dhártārau   dhártāras
8.2. Nouns of relationship.

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:

    Singular   Dual   Plural
Nom   pitā́, bhrā́   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.

  • yó no [yás nas] dātā́ sá naḥ pitā́ (VIII, 52, 5) 'He who (is) a giver to us (is) a father to us' [39]
  • avitā́ jaritr̥̄ṇā́m (IV, 31, 3) 'the helper of the singers' [40]
  • ́ dhartā́rā rájaso [rájasas] rocanásya (V, 69, 4) 'who (are) the two upholders of airy space, of the sphere of light' [41]
  • áprathatam pr̥thivī́m mātáraṃ ví (VI, 72, 2) 'you two spread out (imperfect, from √prath with preverb 'out') mother earth' [42]
  • ápa svásur uṣáso [uṣásas] nág jihīte (VII, 71, 1) 'Night withdraws (√hā, jíhīte 'move' with preverb ápa 'away') from sister dawn' [43]
  • tváṣṭā duhitré vahatúṃ kr̥ṇoti (X, 17, 1) 'Tvashtar ('the artificer') arranges (√kr̥, kr̥ṇóti 'make, do') a bridal (vahatú, masculine) for the daughter' [44]
  • ví uchā [ucha] duhitar divaḥ (I, 48, 1; V, 79, 3; V, 79, 9) 'shine out (imperative, from √vas, ucháti, with preverb 'out' and the second syllable metrically lengthened), O daughter of heaven' [45]
  • víśvasya sthātúr jágataś [jágatas] ca mántavaḥ (X, 63, 8) 'arbiters (nom pl masc of mántu) of all the standing and moving world' [46]
  • saptá svásāro [svásāras] abhí sáṃ navante (I, 164, 3) 'seven sisters implore together (√nū, návate 'call out' with preverbs abhí 'towards' and sám 'together')' [47]
9. Prepositions and preverbs.

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).

    ácha   'towards'
    áti   'beyond, over'
    ádhi   'above, upon'
    ánu   'after, along'
    antár   'between' (Latin inter)
    ápa   'away' (Greek ἀπό)
    ápi   'on' (Greek ἐπί)
    abhí   'towards, against'
    áva   'down'
    ā́   (intensifies or reverses meaning)
    út   'up'
    úpa   'up to' (Greek ὑπό)
      'down, into' (related to English 'nether')
    nís   'out'
    párā   'away'
    pári   'around' (Greek περί)
    prá   'forth' (Greek πρό, Latin pro)
    práti   'against, in return' (Homeric προτί)
      'apart, out'
    sám   'with, together'

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).

10. Simple nominal compounds.

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.