देववानी प्रवेसिका

By Sunil Kumar

आ नो भद्राः करतवो कष्यन्तु विश्वतो. – Let noble thoughts come to us from every side(Rig Veda)

An attempt to get acquainted with the divine language has led me to understanding the many variations of its grammar. The world’s earliest grammarian Panini should be commended for formulating such a concise, logical syntax that is still looked on as a barometer by noted linguists the world over.

With numerous inflections, conjugations and declensions. Sanskrit poses a formidable task for a beginner. Since school was an English convent; it stands to reason that this ancient language of India was neglected as a result of circumstance and a societal construct that reflects the contemporary Indian setup. English is obviously an international link language; but does not match the divinity inherent in an ancient tongue; a repository of wisdom, science, philosophy and insight.

The infinite number of rules are something of a turn-off; but the devavani is enticing due to its creative flexibility, capacity to enthrall and poetic richness.

A note for myself;

Each noun can have 3 numbers (वचन / vachana) and 7 cases (विभक्ति / vibhakti). So, a noun can have 21 different forms (शब्दरुप / shabdarupa) each associating a specific meaning to the noun. Besides the cases a vocative case is also added to the 7 different cases. This makes a noun to have 24 different forms.

The 3 numbers in a noun are singular (एकवचन / ekavachana), dual (द्विवचन / dvivachana), and plural (बहुवचन / bahuvachana). The dual form is specific to Sanskrit language and is not seen in any other language.

The Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious te...

The Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious texts. This Rig Veda manuscript is in Devanagari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The followings are the 7 different cases of a noun.
Case 1 – Nominative -> प्रथमा / prathamaa
Case 2 – Accusative -> द्वितीया / dvitiiyaa
Case 3 – Instrumental -> तृतीया / tRRitiiya
Case 4 – Dative -> चतुर्थी / chaturthii
Case 5 – Ablative -> पञचमी / paJNamii
Case 6 – Genitive -> षष्ठी / ShaShThii
Case 7 – Locative -> सप्तमी / saptami

  • Vocative -> सम्बोधन / sambodhana

Samas or compound words is another integral feature(usually 2, can go up to more than 30). Also classified according to the position of the pada(word) into bahuvrihi, tatpurusha, dvandva, avyayibhava, karmadharya, navyanprabhatya etc.

Delightful description: dhatus are like Lego blocks and the language is like a vast experiment; with its prakritis, pratyayas, sarvanamas, kriyas etc. To chart the ocean of Sanskrit; I’m on this boat of discovery. So; until later to me.

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