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Ancient Sanskrit Online

Lesson 3

Karen Thomson and Jonathan Slocum

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, vp and utudr. 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 sndhu '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.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The metre is again tristubh, 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 vry`ni, are repeatedly praised. By doing so the poets guarantee that the rivers will always flow, and that fertility is constantly renewed.

en vaym pyas pnvamn
nu ynim devkrtam cranth
n vrtave prasavh srgataktah
kimyr vpro nadyo johavti

  • en -- adverb; <en> in this way -- in this way # In form the instrumental singular of the demonstrative pronoun aym; see section 12.2.
  • vaym -- personal pronoun; nominative of <vaym> we -- we
  • pyas -- noun; instrumental singular neuter of <pyas> fruitfulness, plenty -- with plenty
  • pnvamns -- participle; nominative plural feminine present middle participle of </p, pnvati> swell, yield abundantly -- swelling
  • ynim -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <yni> home -- to the home # The accusative of goal with a verb of motion.
  • devkrtam -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <devkrta> god-made -- made by the god
  • nu crants -- participle; nominative plural feminine present active participle of </car, crati> move + preverb <nu> after -- going towards # With the secondary feminine ending -, see section 17.3 in Lesson 4.
  • n -- particle; <n> not -- not
  • vrtave -- infinitive; dative infinitive from </vr, vrnti> contain, hinder -- to be hindered # The dative infinitive regularly has a passive sense.
  • prasavs -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <prasav> (lit.) forth-impelling -- the flood # From the verb /s, suvti 'generate, impel' with preverb pr 'forth'.
  • srgataktas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <srgatakta> (lit.) outpouring-rushed -- in spate
  • kimys -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <kimy> what-desiring? -- desiring what? # The interrogative km 'what?' with suffix -yu 'desiring'.
  • vpras -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <vpra> poet -- the poet
  • nadys -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <nad> stream -- streams
  • johavti -- verb; 3rd person singular active present intensive of </h, hvate> invoke, call upon -- he entreats

rmadhvam me vcase somiyya
rtvarr pa muhrtm vaih
pr sndhum ch brhat mans
avasyr ahve kuiksya snh

  • rmadhvam -- verb; 2nd person plural middle imperative of </ram, rmate> rest, stay -- rest
  • me -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive enclitic form of <ahm> I -- my
  • vcase -- noun; dative singular neuter of <vcas> word, speech -- for the speech
  • somyya -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <somy> inspired -- inspired
  • rtvars -- adjective; vocative plural feminine of <rtvan> possessed of Truth, holy -- O holy ones # Accented as the first word in the line.
  • pa -- preposition; <pa> up to -- for
  • muhrtm -- noun; accusative singular masculine/neuter of <muhrt> moment -- a moment
  • vais -- noun; instrumental plural masculine of <va> going, course -- in going
  • pr -- preverb; <pr> forth -- forth
  • sndhum -- noun; accusative singular masculine/feminine of <sndhu> river -- to the river
  • cha -- preverb; <cha> towards -- to # The last syllable of this word is regularly long in the Rigveda. A verb 'goes' or 'is sent' is understood with pr and cha.
  • brhat -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <brhnt> high, lofty -- lofty # With the secondary feminine ending -.
  • mans -- noun; nominative singular feminine of <mans> thought, expression of thought -- poem
  • avasys -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <avasy> desiring help -- desiring help # vas (n) 'help' with suffix -yu 'desiring'. The word answers the question kim-y? in the previous verse.
  • ahve -- verb; 1st person singular middle simple aorist of </h, hvate> invoke, call upon -- I have made the invocation
  • kuiksya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <kuik> Kushika -- of Kushika
  • sns -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <sn> son -- son

ndro asmm aradad vjrabhur
phan vrtrm paridhm nadnm
dev anayat savit supns
tsya vaym prasav yma urvh

  • ndras -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <ndra> Indra -- Indra
  • asmn -- personal pronoun; accusative of <vaym> we -- us
  • aradat -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of </rad, rdati> dig -- dug
  • vjrabhus -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <vjrabhu> weapon-armed -- weapon-armed # Compound of vjra (m) 'weapon' and bh (m) 'arm'.
  • pa ahan -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of </han, hnti> strike, destroy + preverb <pa> away -- he struck away
  • vrtrm -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <vrtr> hindrance, demon, Vritra -- the demon
  • paridhm -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <paridh> surrounder, imprisoner -- the imprisoner # From the root /dh, ddhti 'place', with preverb pri 'around'.
  • nadnm -- noun; genitive plural feminine of <nad> stream -- of the streams
  • devs -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <dev> divine, god -- divine
  • anayat -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of </n, nyati> lead, conduct -- conducted
  • savit -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitr> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • supns -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <supn> lovely-handed -- lovely-handed # pn (m) 'hand' with prefix su- 'good'.
  • tsya -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <ss, s, tt> that; he, she, it -- his
  • vaym -- personal pronoun; nominative of <vaym> we -- we
  • prasav -- noun; locative singular masculine of <prasav> (lit.) forth-impelling -- at the impelling # Compare the use of the same compound in the first verse of this text.
  • ymas -- verb; 1st person plural active present of </y, yti> go, travel -- we go
  • urvs -- adjective; nominative plural feminine of <ur> broad, spacious -- broad

pravciyam avadh vryam td
ndrasya krma yd him vivrct
v vjrena parisdo jaghna
yann po yanam ichmnh

  • pravcyam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <pravcya> to be celebrated -- to be celebrated # From the root /vac, vvakti 'speak' with preverb pr 'forth'. Another future passive participle (gerundive), like vrya 'to be chosen' in the last lesson text. See section 15.3.
  • avadh -- adverb; <avadh> evermore -- evermore
  • vrym -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <vry> heroic deed, manly strength -- heroic deed
  • tt -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <ss, s, tt> that; he, she, it -- that
  • ndrasya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <ndra> Indra -- of Indra
  • krma -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <krman> act, deed -- act
  • yt -- conjunction; <yt> that, when -- that # Originally the neuter of the relative pronoun; see section 11.1.
  • him -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <hi> snake, dragon -- snake
  • vivrct -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of </vrac, vrcti> cut up + preverb <v> apart -- he cut in pieces
  • vjrena -- noun; instrumental singular masculine of <vjra> weapon -- with a weapon
  • parisdas -- noun; accusative plural masculine of <parisd> surrounding thing, coil -- the coils # From the root sad, sdati 'sit', with preverb pri 'around'.
  • v jaghna -- verb; 3rd person singular active perfect of </han, hnti> strike, destroy + preverb <v> apart -- he struck apart
  • yan -- verb; 3rd person plural active imperfect of </i, ti> go -- they went
  • pas -- noun; nominative plural feminine of <p> water -- the waters
  • yanam -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <yana> going, course -- the going # A nominal derivative from the same root as the main verb yan.
  • ichmns -- participle; nominative plural feminine present middle participle of </is, ichti> long for, desire -- longing for

etd vco jaritar mpi mrsth
yt te ghsn ttar yugni
ukthsu kro prti no jusasva
m no n kah purusatr nmas te

  • ett -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <ess, es, ett> this -- this
  • vcas -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <vcas> word, speech -- speech
  • jaritar -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <jaritr> singer -- O singer
  • m -- particle; <m> not, that not -- do not # The prohibitive particle, like Greek m.
  • pi mrsths -- verb; 2nd person singular middle simple aorist injunctive of </mrs, mrsyate> ignore, forget + preverb <pi> on -- do not forget
  • yt -- relative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <ys, y, yt> who, which -- which
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvm> you -- for you
  • ghsn -- verb; 3rd person plural active subjunctive of </ghus, ghsate> sound + preverb <> (intensifies or reverses meaning) -- they will resound
  • ttar -- adjective; nominative plural neuter of <ttara> higher, future -- future
  • yugni -- noun; nominative plural neuter of <yug> generation -- generations
  • ukthsu -- noun; locative plural neuter of <ukth> holy song -- in holy songs
  • kro -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <kr> bard -- O bard
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vaym> we -- us
  • prti jusasva -- verb; 2nd person singular middle imperative of </jus, juste> enjoy + preverb <prti> against -- honour
  • m -- particle; <m> not, that not -- do not
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vaym> we -- us
  • n kar -- verb; 2nd person singular active simple aorist injunctive of </kr, krnti> do, make + preverb <n> down -- do not let down
  • purusatr -- adverb; <purusatr> as a man -- as a man
  • nmas -- noun; nominative singular neuter of <nmas> honour -- honour
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvm> you -- to you

Lesson Text

en vaym pyas pnvamn
nu ynim devkrtam cranth
n vrtave prasavh srgataktah
kimyr vpro nadyo johavti

rmadhvam me vcase somiyya
rtvarr pa muhrtm vaih
pr sndhum ch brhat mans
avasyr ahve kuiksya snh

ndro asmm aradad vjrabhur
phan vrtrm paridhm nadnm
dev anayat savit supns
tsya vaym prasav yma urvh

pravciyam avadh vryam td
ndrasya krma yd him vivrct
v vjrena parisdo jaghna
yann po yanam ichmnh

etd vco jaritar mpi mrsth
yt te ghsn ttar yugni
ukthsu kro prti no jusasva
m no n kah purusatr nmas te

Translation

[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.

Grammar

11. The relative pronoun y.

Forms not found in the Rigveda are in square brackets.

        Singular           Plural    
    Masculine       Feminine   Masculine       Feminine
Nom   ys       y   y       ys
Acc   ym       ym   yn       ys
Ins   yna       yy   ybhis       ybhis
Dat   ysmai       [ysyai]   ybhyas       ybhyas
Abl   ysmt       [ysys]   [ybhyas]       [ybhyas]
Gen   ysya       ysys   ysm       ysm
Loc   ysmin       ysym   ysu       ysu

The singular and plural neuter endings differ from the masculine only in the nominative/accusative, which are the same for both cases: singular yt, plural y or yni. The dual forms for the three genders are given below.

Dual   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
Nom, Acc   y, ya   y   y
Ins, Dat, Abl   ybhym   [ybhym]   [ybhym]
Gen, Loc   yyos   [yyos]   yyos

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.

  • vvasvantam huve yh pit te (X, 14, 5) 'I call on (/h, huv) Vivasvant (accusative), who (nominative) (is) your father' [48].
  • yyor [yyos] vvam idm jgat (VIII, 40, 4) '(praise Indra and Agni,) whose (is) all this moving world' [49]
  • chardr yna dse ychati tmn (Lesson 2 text) '(we accept the gift) with which by his nature he extends a shield for the worshipper' [50]
  • ysmin dev [devs] mnmani samcranti (X, 12, 8) 'in what thought (loc sing neuter of mnman 'thought') the gods unite (we do not know)'. Note that the preverb has combined with the verb and lost its accent, as described at the end of section 9; see also 57 and 58 below. [51]
  • ura v y antrikse mdanti, div v y rocan snti devh (III, 6, 8) 'either (v) the gods who rejoice (from /mad, mdati) in the spacious atmosphere, or those who are in the sphere of light of heaven (come with them)' [52]
  • ysya brhmni sukrat vthah (VII, 61, 2) '(to you the sage lifts his thoughts,) whose prayers (brhman, neuter), O very able pair (su-krat), you may favour (subjunctive, from /av, vati 'favour')' [53]
  • yd [yt] div cakrthuh pyah, tnemm [tna imm] pa sicatam (IV, 57, 5) 'that plenty you make in heaven, sprinkle (imperative, from /sic, sicti 'pour' with preverb pa) this (earth) with it' [54]
  • tm yujthm mnaso y [ys] jvyn (I, 183, 1) 'may you two harness (imperative) that which is swifter than understanding (ablative of mnas, neuter)' [55]

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.

11.1. Use of yt as conjunction.

The neuter singular yt 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, yt does not have to stand at the head of its clause. The verb in every case is accented.

  • ysya brhmni sukrat vtha, yt krtv n ardah prnathe (VII, 61, 2) 'whose prayers, O very able pair, you may favour, so that you will fill (subjunctive) (his) autumns with capability, as it were (n)'. The first line is repeated from 53. [56]
  • pravcyam avadh vrym td, ndrasya krma yd him vivrct (lesson text) 'That heroic deed is evermore to be celebrated, Indra's act that he cut the snake in pieces' [57]
  • dv cit tmah krnvanti, parjnyenodavhna [parjnyena uda-vhna], yt prthivm vyundnti (I, 38, 9) '(the storm gods) make darkness (tmas, neuter) even by day, when, together with Parjanya the water-bearer, they inundate (from /ud, untti 'wet' with preverb v) the earth' [58]
12. The demonstrative pronouns.
12.1. ss, s, tt 'that', ess, es, ett 'this'.

The demonstrative pronoun ss, s, tt '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 t-, with the important exceptions of the nominative singular masculine and feminine, ss (not *ts), and s (not *t). Compare Greek o, , to, Gothic sa, so, thata. There is in addition a derivative pronoun, meaning 'this', which declines exactly like ss, s, tt with prefixed e-, which causes retroflexion of the s: ess, es, ett.

  • tvm tsmd [tsmt] varuna phi asmn (II, 28, 10) '(if a thief or a wolf would harm us,) do you, O Varuna, protect (imperative) us from that' [59]
  • tsya vaym prasav yma urvh (lesson text) '(Savitar conducted us,) at his impelling we broad ones go' [60]
  • t te deva netar (V, 50, 2) 'those (are) thine, O god the leader' [61]
  • tsm s rnutam hvam (I, 47, 2) '(they pray to you,) listen well (dual imperative, from ru, rnti with particle s 'well') (O two horsemen) to their (plural) call' [62]
  • etd [ett] vco jaritar mpi mrsthh (lesson text) 'do not forget this speech, O singer' [63]
  • prat [pr et] vadantu (X, 94, 1) 'let these speak forth (imperative, from /vad, vdati with preverb pr)' [64]

The nominative masculine singular ss occurs twice as often as any other form. Its sandhi is exceptional: the final letter is dropped before all consonants. ss 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: s no dv s rish ptu nktam '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 ss '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 tt occasionally appears as correlative to yt 'when' meaning 'then', as in the third example below.

  • s g [gs] avindat s avindad vn, s sadhh s aph s vnni (I, 103, 5) 'he it was found the cattle, he found the horses, he found the plants, the waters and the woods' [65]
  • s no devh savit rma yachatu (Lesson 2 text) 'being such, may divine Savitar extend refuge to us' [66]
  • yj jyath [yt jyaths] aprvya [...] tt prthivm aprathayah (VIII, 89, 5) 'when you were born, O incomparable one, then you spread out the earth' [67]
12.2. aym, iym, idm 'this'.

More frequently used than ess, es, ett to mean 'this' is the irregular pronoun aym, feminine iym, neuter idm.

        Singular           Plural    
    Masculine       Feminine   Masculine       Feminine
Nom   aym       iym   im       ims
Acc   imm       imm   imn       ims
Ins   en       ay   ebhs       bhs
Dat   asma       asya   ebhys       bhys
Abl   asmt       asys   [ebhys]       [bhys]
Gen   asy       asys   esm       sm
Loc   asmn       asym   es       s

The singular and plural neuter endings differ from the masculine only in the nominative/accusative, which are the same for both cases: singular idm, plural im or imni. The dual forms for the three genders are given below.

Dual   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
Nom, Acc   im, ima   im   im
Ins, Dat, Abl   bhym   [bhym]   [bhym]
Gen, Loc   ays   [ays]   ays

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 idm agreed with jgat 'this moving world', but in the first lesson text idm occurred alone, vvam idm v caste 'he perceives all this (world)', and jgat is understood. In the first example below the feminine pronoun also carries this sense: a noun is understood, here perhaps prthivm 'earth'. Oblique cases of aym, 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 aym is also used simply as equivalent to the personal pronoun.

  • tnemm [tna imm] pa sicatam (IV, 57, 5) 'sprinkle this (earth) with it'. Repeated from the second line of 54. [68]
  • nsrv [nsrau] imm vcam jusethm (IV, 57, 5) 'O Shuna and Sira, enjoy (imperative, from /jus, juste) this speech (acc sing fem of vc 'speech'; compare the related neuter noun vcas in the lesson text)' [69]
  • tbhyem [tbhya im] vv bhvanni yemire (IX, 86, 30) 'to you all these beings (neuter) stretch out' [70] (=5)
  • tvstsmai [tvst asmai] vjram svarym tataksa (I, 32, 2) 'Tvashtar fashioned a weapon of sunlight for him' [71]
13. The verb.

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 vrtrm '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: yt te ghsn ttar yugni '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.

13.1. Present System: thematic and athematic conjugations.

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 nv-a-ti, and from /srj 'let go', srj--ti; from /jus 'enjoy' the third person singular middle is jus--te. Sometimes the root is 'strengthened', that is, it shows gradation of the vowel: /ruh 'spring up' rh-a-ti; and sometimes a y precedes the a, the accent then always falling on the root: /man 'think' mn-ya-te, /mrs 'forget' mrs-ya-te. Before endings beginning with m or v this vowel becomes long: srj--mi, sc--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: /p 'protect' p-ti, /as 'be' s-ti. Others add a nasal and a vowel: /kr 'make' kr-n-ti, /gr 'sing' gr-n-ti, /vr 'choose' vr-n-t. A few verbs insert the nasal into the root: /bhuj 'turn to account' bhujte.

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: /d 'give' d-d-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: /p, pnti 'they protect', but /dh, ddhati '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], -the, -te, -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 /vr, vrnti 'hinder', which occurs in this lesson text, and /vr, vrnt '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 /is 'send', for example, both syati [I] and isnti [II] are found.

13.2. General rules of reduplication.

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: /sth 'stand', ta-sth (a perfect form). Aspirated letters reduplicate as the corresponding unaspirated sound, /dh 'place' d-dh-ti; and g and h both reduplicate as j, /g 'go' j-g-ti, /h 'leave' j-h-ti.

14. The imperative mood.

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, rmadhvam and jussva. Below are examples of both voices in tabular form. Active forms are quoted for /inv, nvati 'set in motion', and middle forms for /jus, juste '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 -- 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', yujthm, 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: bhva! 'be!', but in the second conjugation the usual ending is -dhi or -hi: ph 'protect!', stuh 'praise!', daddh 'give!', dheh 'place!', rnudh or rnuh 'hear!'. As in the present tense, verbs that reduplicate the root exceptionally drop the -n- in the active third person plural: nvantu [I] 'let them set in motion', pntu [II] 'let them protect' but ddatu [II, reduplicating] 'let them give'. All these examples belong to the Present System.

        Active           Middle    
    Singular   Dual   Plural   Singular   Dual   Plural
2   nva   nvatam   nvata, nvatana   jussva   justhm   jusdhvam
3   nvatu   nvatm   nvantu   justm   justm   jusntm

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 /jus '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 /jus 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 /raks 'protect' with preverb abh occurs both in the active and in the middle voice: vratni devh savitbh raksate 'divine Savitar guards the holy laws' (verse 4); tribhr vratar abh no raksati tmn '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 (abh raksate), enabling him to guard us, for our benefit (abh raksati), 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: /r 'grant', rsi, /mad, 'delight' mtsi.

  • tvst sudtro v dadhtu ryah (VII, 34, 22) 'may Tvashtar, the good giver (su-dtra), lay out riches' [72]
  • tm yujthm mnaso y jvyn (I, 183, 1) 'may you two harness that which is swifter than understanding' [73] (=55)
  • v uch [ucha] duhitar divah (I, 48, 1; V, 79, 3; V, 79, 9) 'shine out, O daughter of heaven' [74] (=45)
  • asm raym vivvram sm inva, asm vvni drvinni dhehi (V, 4, 7) 'bestow the all-precious (viv-vra) treasure on us, lay on us all provisions' [75]
  • pr pinvadhvam isyanth surdh [surdhs], vaksnh prndhvam yt bham (III, 33, 12) 'swell forth refreshing, bringing good gifts, fill full the fertile places, travel swiftly' (the poet's concluding blessing to the streams of the lesson text) [76]
  • nsrv imm vcam jusethm, yd div cakrthuh pyah, tnemm pa sicatam (IV, 57, 5) 'O Shuna and Sira, enjoy (middle) this speech; that plenty you make in heaven, sprinkle (active) this (earth) with it'. The three lines, completing the verse, put together from 54 and 69. [77]
  • t srbhyo grnat rsi sumnm (VI, 4, 8) 'grant those things to the princes (sr, masculine), favour to the one singing (dative active participle)' [78]
  • ur jytih krnuhi mtsi devn (IX, 94, 5) 'make a broad light (jytis, neuter), delight the gods' [79]
15. Present middle participles, past participles, and future passive participles.

These non-finite verb forms ending in -a follow the declension of other adjectives in -a, as described in section 6 in Lesson 2.

15.1. Present middle participles.

The present middle participle in the Present System has the distinguishing suffix -mna for thematic verbs [I] and -na 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 pnvamna 'swelling' and ichmna 'desiring' in the lesson text.

  • agnm vrnn [vrnns] vrnate kavkratum (V, 11, 4) 'choosing Agni they choose (NB pl) the sage-wise (kav-kratum)' [80]
  • abh syma [syma] mahat [mahats] mnyamnn (I, 178, 5) 'may we surpass those thinking themselves (acc pl) great' [81]
  • dhbhr vvbhih cy grnnh [grnns] (X, 104, 3) '(Indra) sung to with all thoughts, with power (instrumental of c, feminine)' [82]
15.2. Past participles.

Adjectives that are in form past participles usually have the suffix -t, as in the examples from the first lesson, jt 'born', prst 'invoked'. We have also seen past participles as elements of compounds: in the second lesson text dhrt-vrata 'firm- (past participle of /dhr 'hold fast') -command(ed)', and in this lesson dev-krta 'god-made', where the second element is the past participle of /kr 'make, do', and the accent has moved to the first element. Some examples of past participles from verbs already encountered are: /jus 'enjoy' just; /dh 'place' (irregular) hit; /is 'long for' ist; /vas 'shine' ust, /vi 'enter' vist. A few roots add a connecting -i-, /rad 'dig' radit, and a small number form the past participle with the alternative ending -n: /tud 'urge' tunn. The formation of these participles is independent of the tense system.

15.3. Future passive participles.

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 vrya 'to be chosen' and dbhya 'not to be deceived'; and in the penultimate verse of this lesson pravcya '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 dbhyena ocs '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: abh payati krtni y ca krtv (I, 25, 11) 'he discerns which things are done and which are yet to do'.