Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 13

सरलं संस्कृतम् – त्रयोदशः (13) पाठः |

Study of a धातु cannot be complete without discussing composing the sentence in passive voice or transforming a sentence given in active voice to its form in passive voice or vice versa.

In English grammar change of voice can be done only if the verb is transitive, i.e. only if there is an object in the sentence. For example a sentence in active voice कर्तरिप्रयोग such as “I read a book” अहं पुस्तकं पठामि would be transformed into passive voice कर्मणिप्रयोग as “A book is read by me”. मया पुस्तकं पठ्यते.

If the verb can have two objects, it can be transformed into passive voice in two different ways. For example, I give him a book. अहं तस्मै पुस्तकं ददामि Note ! धातु दा requires the personal object to be in fourth case, hence तस्मै.

In passive voice it can be (i) “A book is given by me to him.” पुस्तकं मया तस्मै दीयते or (ii) “He is given a book by me”. सः मया पुस्तकं दीयते.

In both the variants, the subject in active voice is ‘I’ अहं. In passive voice it takes the form ‘by me’ मया.

The one object which becomes the subject in passive voice has to be in first case.

  • In transformation (i), the subject is ‘book’ पुस्तकम्.
  • In transformation (ii) the subject is ‘He’ सः.

Change of voice also involves change in the form of the verb. In active voice the verb is ‘give’. In passive voice it has become ‘is given’. The verb in active voice is in present tense, first person singular, because the subject is ‘I’. In passive voice one uses an auxiliary verb ‘to be’. The present tense then applies to the auxiliary verb. The root verb becomes a past passive participle ‘given’.

In Sanskrit, there is no passive participle used. The root verb itself changes its form.

  • In the first example, in active voice the verb is पठामि. In passive voice it is पठ्यते.
  • In the second example, in active voice the verb is ददामि. In passive voice it is दीयते.

As can be seen, both the forms पठ्यते and दीयते are of the style of an आत्मनेपदी धातु.

Also पठ्यते has a य added to the root verb पठ्. This is similar to the विकरण, as it happens to धातु-s of चतुर्थ गण.

Not to be missed also the fact that in active voice the verb is पठामि (वर्तमानकाल, उत्तमपुरुष, एकवचन), because the subject is ‘I’ अहं. In passive voice it is पठ्यते (वर्तमानकाल, प्रथमपुरुष, एकवचन), because the subject is ‘book’ पुस्तकम्.

In the second example also, in active voice the verb is ददामि (वर्तमानकाल, उत्तमपुरुष, एकवचन), because the subject is ‘I’ अहं. In passive voice it is दीयते (वर्तमानकाल, प्रथमपुरुष, एकवचन), because the subject is (i) ‘book’ पुस्तकम् (ii) ‘He’ सः.

If the tense in active voice is past tense, transformation into passive voice can also be done by using क्त-कृदन्त.

For example if the sentence in active voice is in past tense, ‘I read the book’. अहं पुस्तकं अपठम् then in passive voice it can be मया पुस्तकं पठितम्. using क्त-कृदन्त ‘पठित’ of the root verb धातु पठ्

Similarly, for the second example if the sentence in active voice in past tense is ‘I gave him a book’, then in passive voice it can be (i) मया पुस्तकं तस्मै दत्तम्, using क्त-कृदन्त ‘दत्त’ of the धातु दा. (ii) सः मया पुस्तकं दत्तः

Note ! दत्त is an adjective. Hence it is दत्तम् when related to पुस्तकं and दत्तः when related with सः. In English grammar ‘given’ is a participle. So English linguists, writing Sanskrit grammar, gave the name ‘past passive participle’ to क्त-कृदन्त. That is wrong terminology.

In English when transforming active voice sentence ‘I give a book’ into passive voice ‘A book is given by me’, the sentence in passive voice gets a tinge of past tense, suggesting that the action of ‘giving’ is already done. This seems to be so, because the participle ‘given’, required and essential in passive voice, is eminently a ‘past passive participle’.

But in Sanskrit, when अहं पुस्तकं ददामि is in present tense in active voice, in passive voice मया पुस्तकं दीयते is also in present tense.

This is an important point bringing forth how correct Sanskrit grammar is !

Another charming feature of Sanskrit grammar is that ‘change of voice’ can be done even verbs are intransitive अकर्मक. If we have a sentence in active voice ‘I stand’ अहं तिष्ठामि, it is perfectly legitimate to change the voice and say मया स्थीयते. English translation of मया स्थीयते may be something like ‘action of standing is by me.’

This word स्थीयते brings to mind the interesting quote राजहंस तव सैव शुभ्रता चीयते न च न चापचीयते । “Oh swan ! your whiteness remains same, neither is increased nor is diminished”. The context is of a swan whether in clean pure water of the Ganges or in brackish water of Jamuna, as discussed in previous lesson.

Importantly the changed voice of an active voice sentence with intransitive verb is called as भावेप्रयोग and not as कर्मणिप्रयोग. The logic could be that, in change of voice, as in मया स्थीयते, it is the sense of standing which is given significance rather than the action of standing.

Change of voice also applies to causative and other shades and transforms of a धातु. For example,

  • Active voice ‘I do’ अहं करोमि –> passive voice ‘is done by me’ मया क्रियते
  • Causative active voice ‘I get done’ अहं कारयामि –> passive voice ‘is obtained done by me’ मया कार्यते

Note ! Since passive voice verb form is आत्मनेपदी, the present-tense adjectival derivative, the शतृ-कृदन्त in active voice becomes शानच्-कृदन्त in passive voice. For example, in active voice कर्माणि कुर्वन् पुरुषः ‘person doing actions’ —> in passive voice पुरुषेण क्रियमाणानि कर्माणि ‘actions being done by person’

See कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेत् शतं समाः (ईशावास्योपनिषत्) is in active voice, whereas प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः (गीता 3-27) is in passive voice.

Sanskrit provides change of voice not only for sentences, but also for phrases having verbal derivatives. If one would like grammar of a language to be comprehensive and perfect, Sanskrit excels !

Having discussed an example of a verb having two objects द्विकर्मक-धातु, it would be interesting to note the verse which enlists 16 द्विकर्मक-धातु-s. Such verses which contain lists are known as कारिका-s. The कारिका of द्विकर्मक-धातु-s is –

दुह्याच्पच्दण्ड्रुधिप्रच्छि चिब्रूशासुजिमन्थ्-मुषाम् |

कर्मयुक् स्यादकथितं तथा स्यान्नीहृकृष्वहाम् ||

शुभमस्तु !



Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 11

Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 11

सरलं संस्कृतम् – एकादशः (11) पाठः

Comprehensive study of any धातु would cover studying not only its inflections in all लकार-s, but also studying all its verbal derivatives धातुसाधित-s (also called as कृदन्त-s). These are mainly adjectives or indeclinables. We have seen in Lesson 9, two adjectival धातुसाधित-s, the ppp and app. All adjectives will have 72 inflections by 3 genders (लिङ्ग), 8 cases (विभक्ति) and 3 numbers (वचन).

Indeclinables अव्यय-s are simpler, because there are no inflections. There are three types of indeclinable अव्यय verbal derivatives धातुसाधित-s / कृदन्त-s.

  • त्वान्त अव्यय-s have the meaning “on doing” or “by doing” for example कृत्वा. It is an adverb of time, rather, with a shade of past tense. It is obtained by affixing a suffix त्वा to the धातु such as कृ. So कृत्वा means “on doing” or “by doing”.
    • But there are variations, for example
      • गम् + त्वा = गत्वा meaning “on going” or “by going”
      • लभ् + त्वा = लब्ध्वा meaning “on gaining” or “by gaining”
      • दा + त्वा = दत्वा meaning “on giving” or “by giving”
    • If there is a prefix affixed with the धातु then the suffix to be affixed is य Grammarians call it as ल्यप्. The indeclinable then is called as (ल्यप् + अन्त =) ल्यबन्त For example
      • निर् + गम् + य = निर्गम्य meaning “on going away” or “by going away”
      • उप + लभ् + य = उपलभ्य meaning “on acquiring” or “by acquiring”
      • आ + दा + य = आदाय meaning “on taking” or “by taking” or “on bringing in” or “by bringing in”
      • May it be noted that the adverbial suffix ल्यप् actually adds only a य to the धातु. ल्यप् is only the grammatical name of the suffix.
  • तुमन्त अव्यय-s have the meaning “for doing”. They are adverbs of purpose or reason. For example
    • कर्तुम् (कृ + तुम्) means “for doing”
    • दा + तुम् = दातुम् means “for giving”
    • गम् + तुम् = गन्तुम् means “for going”
    • आ + गम् + तुम् = आगन्तुम् means “for coming”. Note that here the prefix आ does not cause the mode of formation to be different.
    • लभ् + तुम् = लब्धुम् means “for gaining”
  • The third type of धातुसाधित अव्यय is adverb of manner, answering the question “how कथम्?”. The प्रत्यय (suffix) to obtain these verbal derivatives is given the name णमुल्-प्रत्यय The verbal derivative is called as णमुल् कृदन्त or णमुल् धातुसाधित. Its meaning is similar to that of the gerund. For example –
    • गम् → गामम् meaning “going”
    • कृ → कारम् meaning “doing”
    • दा → दायम् meaning “giving”
    • लभ् → लाभम् meaning “gaining”

Adjectival विशेषणात्मक कृदन्त-s are of 10 types, as shown in Table 10-3 below.

Table 11-1

Adjectival कृदन्त-s of आत्मनेपदी धातु “लभ्”

Given below are प्रातिपदिक-s for 3 genders.

They have further inflections by cases (विभक्ति) and 3 numbers (वचन)



meaning or when to be used







ppp “gained”





app “one, who is gaining”





present participle “one in the act of gaining”

valid only for परस्मैपदी धातु-s

valid only for परस्मैपदी धातु-s



can be gained





must be gained or what the aim should be for gaining





should be gained or advisable to gain





one, who facilitates gaining










one, that may be gained





present participle; one, who is in the process of gaining


valid only for आत्मनेपदी धातु-s


May it be noted that the adverbial suffix ल्यप् as explained above, actually adds only a य to the धातु, e.g. आदाय.

The suffix यत् also adds only the suffix य to the धातु.

It is smart of grammarians to give two different names to the two suffixes. One has the name ल्यप् and the other has been given the name यत्.

It can also be seen that the verbal auxiliaries of mood in English grammar, such as may, can, should, must, are made into adjectival derivatives in Sanskrit. Those at 1, 4, 6 and 9 have some sense of passive voice. Those at 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 have the sense of active voice.

Present participles शतृ-प्रत्यय words of a good number of धातु-s are found in following lines in श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता

नैव किञ्चित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित्

पश्यन् शृण्वन् स्पृशन् जिघ्रन् अश्नन् गच्छन् स्वपन् श्वसन् ||५-८||

प्रलपन् विसृजन् गृह्णन् उन्मिषन् निमिषन् अपि

इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ||५-९||

The meaning is –
One who knows the fundamentals and is hence righteous should consider that he does nothing, even when one is

  • पश्यन् seeing, शृण्वन् hearing, स्पृशन् touching, जिघ्रन् smelling, अश्नन् eating, गच्छन् going about, स्वपन् dreaming, श्वसन् breathing, प्रलपन् talking, विसृजन् forsaking, गृह्णन् taking, उन्मिषन् निमिषन् opening and closing the eyes,
  • इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् (One is) always regarding that organs are for organic functions,

This is further elaborated in the next verse –

ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति यः |

लिप्यते न स पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा ||५-१०||

Such person

  • by dedicating all actions to Brahman and
  • by renouncing all attachment
  • is not afflicted by sin
  • just as leaves of lotus are not afflicted by the water.

In the first line of (५-१०) we also have two धातुसाधित अव्यय-s, आधाय meaning “by dedicating” (ल्यबन्त of धातु “आ + धा”) and त्यक्त्वा meaning “by renouncing” (त्वान्त of धातु “त्यज्”).

Let us understand the धातुसाधित-s by examples.

  1. Example of  क्त-type
    1. Profit was earned by the merchant – वणिजेन लाभः लब्धः
  2. Example of क्तवतु-type
    1. Merchant earned profit – वणिजः लाभं लब्धवान्
  3. Example of यत्-type
    1. Merchant can earn profit – वणिजेन लाभः लभ्यः
  4. Example of तव्यत्-type
    1. Merchant should earn profit – वणिजेन लाभः लब्धव्यः
  5. Example of अनीयर्-type
    1. (Advisably) merchant should earn profit – वणिजेन लाभः लम्भनीयः
    2. A shloka using अनीयर्-type धातुसाधित-s of four different धातु-s makes a really good reading – कस्यचित् किमपि नो हरणीयम् | मर्मवाक्यमपि नोच्चरणीयम् | श्रीपतेः पदयुगं स्मरणीयम् | लीलया भवजलं तरणीयम् ||
    3. Its meaning is – Nothing should be snatched of anybody. Sacred (meditational) phrase should not be uttered (i.e. should not be divulged). The pair of feet of the Glorious should be (always) memorized (That is, mind should always be focused at the feet of the Glorious). (Thus) gamely should the waters (i.e. the ocean) of worldly life be swum across.
  6. Example of ण्वुल्-type
    1. Trade is profit-maker – व्यापारः लाभ-लम्भकः
  7. Example of तृच्-type
    1. Merchant is (by nature) profit-earner – वणिजः (स्वभावतः) लाभ-लब्धा
  8. Example of यक्-type
    1. Trade is profit-worthy – लाभः लभ्यमानः व्यापारे
    2. This type is effectively mentioned in श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता –
      1. प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः | अहंकार-विमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ||३-२७||
      2. Its meaning is “All actions and activities happen (are caused) by (inherent) character of (all-pervading) Nature. One misguided by ego considers himself to be the doer.”
  9. Example of शानच्-type
    1. Merchant is earning profit – लाभं लभमानः वणिजः
  10. Example of क्त्वा-type
    1. Merchant becomes wealthy by earning profit – लाभं लब्ध्वा वणिजः धनिकः भवति
  11. Example of तुमुन्-type
    1. Merchant does trading to earn wealth – धनं लब्धुं वणिजस्य व्यापारः
  12. Example of णमुल्-type
    1. How is the trade ? It is gainful. – कथं चलति व्यापारः ? लाभम्

In this lesson, we have covered a good ground of धातुसाधित-s, both adverbial and adjectival.

शुभमस्तु |