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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, 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.

Reading and Textual Analysis

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

  • enā́ -- adverb; <enā́> in this way -- in this way # In form the instrumental singular of the demonstrative pronoun ayám; see section 12.2.
  • vayám -- personal pronoun; nominative of <vayám> we -- we
  • páyasā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter of <páyas> fruitfulness, plenty -- with plenty
  • pínvamānās -- participle; nominative plural feminine present middle participle of <√pī, pínvati> swell, yield abundantly -- swelling
  • yónim -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <yóni> home -- to the home # The accusative of goal with a verb of motion.
  • devákr̥tam -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <devákr̥ta> god-made -- made by the god
  • ánu cárantīs -- participle; nominative plural feminine present active participle of <√car, cárati> move + preverb <ánu> after -- going towards # With the secondary feminine ending , see section 17.3 in Lesson 4.
  • -- particle; <> not -- not
  • vártave -- infinitive; dative infinitive from <√vr̥, vr̥ṇóti> contain, hinder -- to be hindered # The dative infinitive regularly has a passive sense.
  • prasavás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <prasavá> (lit.) forth-impelling -- the flood # From the verb √sū, suváti 'generate, impel' with preverb prá 'forth'.
  • sárgataktas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sárgatakta> (lit.) outpouring-rushed -- in spate
  • kiṃyús -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <kiṃyú> what-desiring? -- desiring what? # The interrogative kím 'what?' with suffix -yu 'desiring'.
  • vípras -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <vípra> poet -- the poet
  • nadyàs -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <nadī́> stream -- streams
  • johavīti -- verb; 3rd person singular active present intensive of <√hū, hávate> invoke, call upon -- he entreats

rámadhvam me vácase somiyā́ya
ŕ̥tāvarīr úpa muhūrtám évaiḥ
prá síndhum áchā br̥hatī́ manīṣā́
avasyúr ahve kuśikásya sūnúḥ

  • rámadhvam -- verb; 2nd person plural middle imperative of <√ram, rámate> rest, stay -- rest
  • me -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive enclitic form of <ahám> I -- my
  • vácase -- noun; dative singular neuter of <vácas> word, speech -- for the speech
  • somyā́ya -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <somyá> inspired -- inspired
  • ŕ̥tāvarīs -- adjective; vocative plural feminine of <r̥tā́van> possessed of Truth, holy -- O holy ones # Accented as the first word in the line.
  • úpa -- preposition; <úpa> up to -- for
  • muhūrtám -- noun; accusative singular masculine/neuter of <muhūrtá> moment -- a moment
  • évais -- noun; instrumental plural masculine of <éva> going, course -- in going
  • prá -- preverb; <prá> forth -- forth
  • síndhum -- noun; accusative singular masculine/feminine of <síndhu> river -- to the river
  • ácha -- preverb; <ácha> towards -- to # The last syllable of this word is regularly long in the Rigveda. A verb 'goes' or 'is sent' is understood with prá and ácha.
  • br̥hatī́ -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <br̥hánt> high, lofty -- lofty # With the secondary feminine ending .
  • manīṣā́ -- noun; nominative singular feminine of <manīṣā́> thought, expression of thought -- poem
  • avasyús -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <avasyú> desiring help -- desiring help # ávas (n) 'help' with suffix -yu 'desiring'. The word answers the question kiṃ-yú? in the previous verse.
  • ahve -- verb; 1st person singular middle simple aorist of <√hū, hávate> invoke, call upon -- I have made the invocation
  • kuśikásya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <kuśiká> Kushika -- of Kushika
  • sūnús -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <sūnú> son -- son

índro asmā́m̐ aradad vájrabāhur
ápāhan vr̥trám paridhíṃ nadī́nām
devó anayat savitā́ supāṇís
tásya vayám prasavé yāma urvī́

  • índras -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <índra> Indra -- Indra
  • asmā́n -- personal pronoun; accusative of <vayám> we -- us
  • aradat -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of <√rad, rádati> dig -- dug
  • vájrabāhus -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <vájrabāhu> weapon-armed -- weapon-armed # Compound of vájra (m) 'weapon' and bāhú (m) 'arm'.
  • ápa ahan -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of <√han, hánti> strike, destroy + preverb <ápa> away -- he struck away
  • vr̥trám -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <vr̥trá> hindrance, demon, Vritra -- the demon
  • paridhím -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <paridhí> surrounder, imprisoner -- the imprisoner # From the root √dhā, dádhāti 'place', with preverb pári 'around'.
  • nadī́nām -- noun; genitive plural feminine of <nadī́> stream -- of the streams
  • devás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <devá> divine, god -- divine
  • anayat -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of <√nī, náyati> lead, conduct -- conducted
  • savitā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <savitŕ̥> enlivener, Savitar -- Savitar
  • supāṇís -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <supāṇí> lovely-handed -- lovely-handed # pāṇí (m) 'hand' with prefix su- 'good'.
  • tásya -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- his
  • vayám -- personal pronoun; nominative of <vayám> we -- we
  • prasavé -- noun; locative singular masculine of <prasavá> (lit.) forth-impelling -- at the impelling # Compare the use of the same compound in the first verse of this text.
  • yāmas -- verb; 1st person plural active present of <√yā, yā́ti> go, travel -- we go
  • urvī́s -- adjective; nominative plural feminine of <urú> broad, spacious -- broad

pravā́ciyaṃ śaśvadhā́ vīríyaṃ tád
índrasya kárma yád áhiṃ vivr̥ścát
ví vájreṇa pariṣádo jaghāna
ā́yann ā́po áyanam ichámānāḥ

  • pravā́cyam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <pravā́cya> to be celebrated -- to be celebrated # From the root √vac, vívakti 'speak' with preverb prá 'forth'. Another future passive participle (gerundive), like ́rya 'to be chosen' in the last lesson text. See section 15.3.
  • śaśvadhā́ -- adverb; <śaśvadhā́> evermore -- evermore
  • vīryàm -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <vīryà> heroic deed, manly strength -- heroic deed
  • tát -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sás, sā́, tát> that; he, she, it -- that
  • índrasya -- noun; genitive singular masculine of <índra> Indra -- of Indra
  • kárma -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <kárman> act, deed -- act
  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- that # Originally the neuter of the relative pronoun; see section 11.1.
  • áhim -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <áhi> snake, dragon -- snake
  • vivr̥ścát -- verb; 3rd person singular active imperfect of <√vraśc, vr̥ścáti> cut up + preverb <> apart -- he cut in pieces
  • vájreṇa -- noun; instrumental singular masculine of <vájra> weapon -- with a weapon
  • pariṣádas -- noun; accusative plural masculine of <pariṣád> surrounding thing, coil -- the coils # From the root sad, sī́dati 'sit', with preverb pári 'around'.
  • ví jaghāna -- verb; 3rd person singular active perfect of <√han, hánti> strike, destroy + preverb <> apart -- he struck apart
  • ā́yan -- verb; 3rd person plural active imperfect of <√i, éti> go -- they went
  • ā́pas -- noun; nominative plural feminine of <áp> water -- the waters
  • áyanam -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <áyana> going, course -- the going # A nominal derivative from the same root as the main verb ā́yan.
  • ichámānās -- participle; nominative plural feminine present middle participle of <√iṣ, icháti> long for, desire -- longing for

etád váco jaritar mā́pi mr̥ṣṭhā
ā́ yát te ghóṣān úttarā yugā́ni
ukthéṣu kāro práti no juṣasva
́ no ní kaḥ puruṣatrā́ námas te

  • etát -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <eṣás, eṣā́, etát> this -- this
  • vácas -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <vácas> word, speech -- speech
  • jaritar -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <jaritŕ̥> singer -- O singer
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- do not # The prohibitive particle, like Greek μή.
  • ápi mr̥ṣṭhās -- verb; 2nd person singular middle simple aorist injunctive of <√mr̥ṣ, mŕ̥ṣyate> ignore, forget + preverb <ápi> on -- do not forget
  • yát -- relative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <yás, yā́, yát> who, which -- which
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- for you
  • ā́ ghóṣān -- verb; 3rd person plural active subjunctive of <√ghuṣ, ghóṣate> sound + preverb <ā́> (intensifies or reverses meaning) -- they will resound
  • úttarā -- adjective; nominative plural neuter of <úttara> higher, future -- future
  • yugā́ni -- noun; nominative plural neuter of <yugá> generation -- generations
  • ukthéṣu -- noun; locative plural neuter of <ukthá> holy song -- in holy songs
  • kāro -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <kārú> bard -- O bard
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vayám> we -- us
  • práti juṣasva -- verb; 2nd person singular middle imperative of <√juṣ, juṣáte> enjoy + preverb <práti> against -- honour
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- do not
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vayám> we -- us
  • ní kar -- verb; 2nd person singular active simple aorist injunctive of <√kr̥, kr̥ṇóti> do, make + preverb <> down -- do not let down
  • puruṣatrā́ -- adverb; <puruṣatrā́> as a man -- as a man
  • námas -- noun; nominative singular neuter of <námas> honour -- honour
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- to you

Lesson Text

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 urvī́

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
́ no ní kaḥ puruṣatrā́ námas 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 .

Forms not found in the Rigveda are in square brackets.

        Singular           Plural    
    Masculine       Feminine   Masculine       Feminine
Nom   yás       ́         ́s
Acc   yám       ́m   ́n       ́s
Ins   yéna       yáyā   yébhis       ́bhis
Dat   yásmai       [yásyai]   yébhyas       ́bhyas
Abl   yásmāt       [yásyās]   [yébhyas]       [yā́bhyas]
Gen   yásya       yásyās   yéṣām       ́sām
Loc   yásmin       yásyām   yéṣu       ́su

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 ́ or ́ni. The dual forms for the three genders are given below.

Dual   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
Nom, Acc   ́, yaú    
Ins, Dat, Abl   ́bhyām   [yā́bhyām]   [yā́bhyām]
Gen, Loc   yáyos   [yáyos]   yáyos

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.

  • vívasvantaṃ huve yáḥ pitā́ te (X, 14, 5) 'I call on (√hū, huvé) Vivasvant (accusative), who (nominative) (is) your father' [48].
  • yáyor [yáyos] víśvam idáṃ jágat (VIII, 40, 4) '(praise Indra and Agni,) whose (is) all this moving world' [49]
  • chardír yéna dāśúṣe yáchati tmánā (Lesson 2 text) '(we accept the gift) with which by his nature he extends a shield for the worshipper' [50]
  • yásmin devā́ [devā́s] mánmani saṃcáranti (X, 12, 8) 'in what thought (loc sing neuter of mánman '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]
  • uraú vā yé antárikṣe mádanti, divó vā yé rocané sánti devā́ (III, 6, 8) 'either () the gods who rejoice (from √mad, mádati) in the spacious atmosphere, or those who are in the sphere of light of heaven (come with them)' [52]
  • yásya bráhmāṇi sukratū ávāthaḥ (VII, 61, 2) '(to you the sage lifts his thoughts,) whose prayers (bráhman, neuter), O very able pair (su-kratū), you may favour (subjunctive, from √av, ávati 'favour')' [53]
  • yád [yát] diví cakráthuḥ páyaḥ, ténemā́m [téna imā́m] úpa siñcatam (IV, 57, 5) 'that plenty you make in heaven, sprinkle (imperative, from √sic, siñcáti 'pour' with preverb úpa) this (earth) with it' [54]
  • táṃ yuñjāthām mánaso yó [yás] jávīyān (I, 183, 1) 'may you two harness (imperative) that which is swifter than understanding (ablative of mánas, 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 yát as conjunction.

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.

  • yásya bráhmāṇi sukratū ávātha, ā́ yát krátvā ná śarádaḥ pr̥ṇaíthe (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 ()'. The first line is repeated from 53. [56]
  • pravā́cyaṃ śaśvadhā́ vīryàṃ tád, índrasya kárma yád áhiṃ vivr̥ścát (lesson text) 'That heroic deed is evermore to be celebrated, Indra's act that he cut the snake in pieces' [57]
  • dívā cit támaḥ kr̥ṇvanti, parjányenodavāhéna [parjányena uda-vāhéna], yát pr̥thivī́ṃ vyundánti (I, 38, 9) '(the storm gods) make darkness (támas, neuter) even by day, when, together with Parjanya the water-bearer, they inundate (from √ud, unátti 'wet' with preverb ) the earth' [58]
12. The demonstrative pronouns.
12.1. sás, sā́, tát 'that', eṣás, eṣā́, etát 'this'.

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 ́ (not *́). 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.

  • tváṃ tásmād [tásmāt] varuṇa pāhi asmā́n (II, 28, 10) '(if a thief or a wolf would harm us,) do you, O Varuna, protect (imperative) us from that' [59]
  • tásya vayám prasavé yāma urvī́ (lesson text) '(Savitar conducted us,) at his impelling we broad ones go' [60]
  • té te deva netar (V, 50, 2) 'those (are) thine, O god the leader' [61]
  • téṣāṃ sú śr̥ṇutaṃ hávam (I, 47, 2) '(they pray to you,) listen well (dual imperative, from śru, śr̥ṇóti with particle 'well') (O two horsemen) to their (plural) call' [62]
  • etád [etát] váco jaritar mā́pi mr̥ṣṭhāḥ (lesson text) 'do not forget this speech, O singer' [63]
  • praíté [prá eté] vadantu (X, 94, 1) 'let these speak forth (imperative, from √vad, vádati with preverb prá)' [64]

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.

  • sá gā́ [gā́s] avindat só avindad áśvān, sá óṣadhīḥ só apáḥ sá vánāni (I, 103, 5) 'he it was found the cattle, he found the horses, he found the plants, the waters and the woods' [65]
  • sá no deváḥ savitā́ śárma yachatu (Lesson 2 text) 'being such, may divine Savitar extend refuge to us' [66]
  • yáj jā́yathā [yát jā́yathās] apūrvya [...] tát pr̥thivī́m aprathayaḥ (VIII, 89, 5) 'when you were born, O incomparable one, then you spread out the earth' [67]
12.2. ayám, iyám, idám 'this'.

More frequently used than eṣás, eṣā́, etát to mean 'this' is the irregular pronoun ayám, feminine iyám, neuter idám.

        Singular           Plural    
    Masculine       Feminine   Masculine       Feminine
Nom   ayám       iyám   imé       imā́s
Acc   imám       imā́m   imā́n       imā́s
Ins   enā́       ayā́   ebhís       ābhís
Dat   asmaí       asyaí   ebhyás       ābhyás
Abl   asmā́t       asyā́s   [ebhyás]       [ābhyás]
Gen   asyá       asyā́s   eṣā́m       āsā́m
Loc   asmín       asyā́m   eṣú       āsú

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.

Dual   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
Nom, Acc   imā́, imaú   imé   imé
Ins, Dat, Abl   ābhyā́m   [ābhyā́m]   [ābhyā́m]
Gen, Loc   ayós   [ayós]   ayós

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.

  • ténemā́m [téna imā́m] úpa siñcatam (IV, 57, 5) 'sprinkle this (earth) with it'. Repeated from the second line of 54. [68]
  • śúnāsīrāv [śúnāsīrau] imā́ṃ vā́caṃ juṣethām (IV, 57, 5) 'O Shuna and Sira, enjoy (imperative, from √juṣ, juṣáte) this speech (acc sing fem of ́c 'speech'; compare the related neuter noun vácas in the lesson text)' [69]
  • túbhyemā́ [túbhya imā́] víśvā bhúvanāni yemire (IX, 86, 30) 'to you all these beings (neuter) stretch out' [70] (=5)
  • tváṣṭāsmai [tváṣṭā asmai] vájraṃ svaryàṃ tatakṣa (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 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.

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 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' ́-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.

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: √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.

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, 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', ́ntu [II] 'let them protect' but dádatu [II, reduplicating] 'let them give'. All these examples belong to the Present System.

        Active           Middle    
    Singular   Dual   Plural   Singular   Dual   Plural
2   ínva   ínvatam   ínvata, ínvatana   juṣásva   juṣéthām   juṣádhvam
3   ínvatu   ínvatām   ínvantu   juṣátām   juṣétām   juṣántām

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', ́si, √mad, 'delight' mátsi.

  • tváṣṭā sudátro ví dadhātu rā́yaḥ (VII, 34, 22) 'may Tvashtar, the good giver (su-dátra), lay out riches' [72]
  • táṃ yuñjāthām mánaso yó jávīyān (I, 183, 1) 'may you two harness that which is swifter than understanding' [73] (=55)
  • ví uchā [ucha] duhitar divaḥ (I, 48, 1; V, 79, 3; V, 79, 9) 'shine out, O daughter of heaven' [74] (=45)
  • asmé rayíṃ viśvávāraṃ sám inva, asmé víśvāni dráviṇāni dhehi (V, 4, 7) 'bestow the all-precious (viśvá-vāra) treasure on us, lay on us all provisions' [75]
  • prá pinvadhvam iṣáyantīḥ surā́dhā [surā́dhās], ā́ vakṣáṇāḥ pr̥ṇádhvaṃ yātá śī́bham (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]
  • śúnāsīrāv imā́ṃ vā́caṃ juṣethāṃ, yád diví cakráthuḥ páyaḥ, ténemā́m úpa siñcatam (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]
  • ́ sūríbhyo gr̥ṇaté rāsi sumnám (VI, 4, 8) 'grant those things to the princes (sūrí, masculine), favour to the one singing (dative active participle)' [78]
  • urú jyótiḥ kr̥ṇuhi mátsi devā́n (IX, 94, 5) 'make a broad light (jyótis, 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 -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.

  • agníṃ vr̥ṇānā́ [vr̥ṇānā́s] vr̥ṇate kavíkratum (V, 11, 4) 'choosing Agni they choose (NB pl) the sage-wise (kaví-kratum)' [80]
  • abhí ṣyāma [syāma] maható [mahatás] mányamānān (I, 178, 5) 'may we surpass those thinking themselves (acc pl) great' [81]
  • dhībhír víśvābhiḥ śácyā gr̥ṇānáḥ [gr̥ṇānás] (X, 104, 3) '(Indra) sung to with all thoughts, with power (instrumental of śácī, feminine)' [82]
15.2. Past participles.

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.

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 ́rya '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'.