Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 5

Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 5

सरलं संस्कृतम् – पञ्चमः पाठः |

In Lesson 3, when explaining flexibility of syntax available in Sanskrit, the point was illustrated by the sentence पुस्तके चित्राणि सन्ति. When doing this and also in Tables 3-5, 3-6 and 3-7, a good number of new words had been introduced. In Table 5-1, they are now tabulated by case and gender.

Table 5-1

Tabulation of words by Case and Gender

‘case’ विभक्ति Masculine Nouns Neuter Nouns Feminine Nouns
First (or Nominative case) प्रथमा लेखकः, पिता, वाचकाः, राक्षसाः, विजयः, अश्वत्थः, श्रेष्ठः (8) पुस्तकम् , ज्ञानम् ,गीतम ्, वेष्टणम्, भयम् , शौर्यम्, जलम्,  चित्राणि, पादत्राणे (9) सिद्धिः, माता, प्रशस्तिः (3)
Second (or Accusative case) द्वितीया शिक्षकम्, हस्तौ, खगान् (3) अन्नम् (1) ,
Third (or instrumental case) तृतीया अभ्यासेन, कर्णाभ्याम्, वानरैः (3) पुस्तकेन
Fourth (or Dative case) चतुर्थी श्रीगणेशाय, बालकाभ्याम्, चतुरेभ्यः (3) पुस्तकाय, नमनाय (1)
Fifth (or Ablative case) पञ्चमी चोरात्, हस्ताभ्याम्, आचार्येभ्यः (3) पुस्तकात्
Sixth (or genitive case) षष्ठी सैनिकस्य, पुत्रयोः, वीराणाम्  (3) पुस्तकस्य
Seventh (or Locative case) सप्तमी घटे, पादयोः वृक्षेषु  (3) खे, पुस्तके

Wow ! As many as 41 new words were introduced ! But we do not have their declensions in all seven cases and all three numbers. You will wonder whether I intend to make 41 tabulations for the 41 words. Well, the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Some patterns are already obvious. So, we shall explore the patterns. Since Sanskrit is a structured language, we have to identify patterns and learn primarily the patterns. For example 26 noun-forms in the ‘masculine’ column can be sorted by their number in the following manner. For ready reference and comparison, masculine declensions of pronoun किम् are also added from Table 3-4 in bold.

Table 5-2

Masculine Nouns by their Number and Cases

‘case’ विभक्ति Singular एकवचनम् Dual द्विवचनम् Plural बहुवचनम्
First (or Nominative case) प्रथमा लेखकः, (पिता), विजयः, अश्वत्थः, श्रेष्ठः कः कौ वाचकाः, राक्षसाः के
Second (or Accusative case) द्वितीया शिक्षकम् कम् हस्तौ कौ खगान् कान्
Third (or instrumental case) तृतीया अभ्यासेन, केन कर्णाभ्याम् काभ्याम् वानरैः कैः
Fourth (or Dative case) चतुर्थी श्रीगणेशाय कस्मै बालकाभ्याम्  काभ्याम् चतुरेभ्यः केभ्य:
Fifth (or Ablative case) पञ्चमी चोरात् कस्मात् हस्ताभ्याम्  काभ्याम् आचार्येभ्यः केभ्य:
Sixth (or genitive case) षष्ठी सैनिकस्य, कस्य पुत्रयो: कयोः वीराणाम् केषाम्
Seventh (or Locative case) सप्तमी घटे, कस्मिन् पादयोः  कयोः वृक्षेषु केषु

Noticeable differences with declensions of किम् are at

  • वाचकाः, राक्षसाः के First Case, plural
  • श्रीगणेशाय कस्मै Fourth case, singular
  • चोरात् कस्मात् Fifth case, singular and
  • घटे, कस्मिन् Seventh case, singular
  • In First case singular (पिता) is different from the rest. That is why I have put into brackets.

Leaving aside these differences, pattern of as many as 17 declensions is identical. The differences are because किम् is a pronoun and others are nouns. Actually श्रेष्ठः is an adjective. That is okay. Looking somewhat deeper into the following 24 words, (Word हस्त is used both at second and fifth case, dual) their root words are –

  • लेखक, विजय, अश्वत्थ, श्रेष्ठ,
  • वाचक, राक्षस, शिक्षक, हस्त, खग,
  • अभ्यास, कर्ण, वानर, श्रीगणेश, बालक,
  • चतुर, चोर, आचार्य, सैनिक, पुत्र,
  • वीर, घट, पाद, and वृक्ष

All these root words have ending sound of the vowel अ. So, these root words are अ-स्वरान्त or अकारान्त (Note स्वरान्त = स्वर + अन्त = having स्वर vowel at the end; अकारान्त = अकार + अन्त = having अ at the end)
By the way, root words of nouns are called as प्रातिपदिक. It was mentioned in the first lesson that root words of verbs are called as धातु.
All Masculine nouns having अ at the end will follow declensions in a particular pattern as is evident in Table 5-2. The 21 declensions are like 21 dress-codes to be worn by the प्रातिपदिक if it is अकारान्त पुंल्लिङ्गि.
Just to mention, the प्रातिपदिक ‘ख’ is both पुंल्लिङ्गि and नपुंसकलिङ््गि. When पुंल्लिङ्गि it means ‘sun’ and when नपुंसकलिङ््गि it means ‘sky’. In Table 3-7 in the row for second case, I had used it with the meaning of ‘sky’. So in Table 5-1, I have put it in the column of neuter nouns. This information that “…प्रातिपदिक ‘ख’ is both पुंल्लिङ्गि and नपुंसकलिङ््गि. When पुंल्लिङ्गि it means ‘sun’ and when नपुंसकलिङ््गि it means ‘sky’….” is from dictionary. We can expect to find प्रातिपदिक-s in dictionary.
When we would know what to expect to be available in dictionary, ‘referring the dictionary’ should be considered as an important part of study of Sanskrit or for study of any language for that matter.
Coming back to the concept that patterns of declensions are like dress-codes, we can tabulate the declensions for any of the 24 words. For ready reference let me tabulate the declensions of खग.

Table 5-3

Declensions of अकारान्त पुंल्लिङ्गि प्रातिपदिक खग

‘case’ विभक्ति Singular एकवचनम् Dual द्विवचनम् Plural बहुवचनम्
First (or Nominative case) प्रथमा खग: खगौ खगाः
Second (or Accusative case) द्वितीया खगम् खगौ खगान्
Third (or instrumental case) तृतीया खगेन खगाभ्याम् खगैः
Fourth (or Dative case) चतुर्थी खगाय खगाभ्याम् खगेभ्यः
Fifth (or Ablative case) पञ्चमी खगात् खगाभ्याम् खगेभ्यः
Sixth (or genitive case) षष्ठी खगस्य खगयोः खगानाम्
Seventh (or Locative case) सप्तमी खगे खगयोः खगेषु

By using this pattern one should be able to make declensions of all the 24 words.
However one needs to be conscious of the forms/declensions at

  • singular of third case and
  • plural of sixth case.

If the प्रातिपदिक contains vowel ऋ or ऋ-दीर्घ or consonant र् or consonant ष्, then the ending न changes to ण. So for the प्रातिपदिक-s श्रेष्ठ, राक्षस, वानर, चतुर, चोर, आचार्य, पुत्र, वीर, and वृक्ष the declensions will be

  • श्रेष्ठेण, राक्षसेण, वानरेण, चतुरेण, चोरेण, आचार्येण, पुत्रेण, वीरेण, and वृक्षेण in the third case and
  • श्रेष्ठाणाम्, राक्षसाणाम्, वानराणाम्, चतुराणाम्, चोराणाम्, आचार्याणाम्, पुत्राणाम्, वीराणाम् and वृक्षाणाम् in the sixth case.

In Table 3-3, we already have the Singular एकवचनम् declensions of the root word प्रातिपदिक, पुस्तक. This word is also अकारान्त, but its gender is neuter नपुंसकलिङ््गि. We can complete the table by adding its declensions in Dual द्विवचनम् and Plural बहुवचनम्.

Table 5-4

Declensions of अकारान्त नपुंसकलिङ््गि प्रातिपदिक पुस्तक

‘case’ विभक्ति Singular एकवचनम् Dual द्विवचनम् Plural बहुवचनम्
First (or Nominative case) प्रथमा पुस्तकम् पुस्तके पुस्तकानि
Second (or Accusative case) द्वितीया पुस्तकम् पुस्तके पुस्तकानि
Third (or instrumental case) तृतीया पुस्तकेन पुस्तकाभ्याम् पुस्तकैः
Fourth (or Dative case) चतुर्थी पुस्तकाय पुस्तकाभ्याम् पुस्तकेभ्यः
Fifth (or Ablative case) पञ्चमी पुस्तकात् पुस्तकाभ्याम् पुस्तकेभ्यः
Sixth (or genitive case) षष्ठी पुस्तकस्य पुस्तकयोः पुस्तकानाम्
Seventh (or Locative case) सप्तमी पुस्तके पुस्तकयोः पुस्तकेषु

Following the above pattern we can make declensions of 11 more neuter nouns noted in Table 5-1 ज्ञान, गीत, वेष्टण, भय, शौर्य, जल,  चित्र, पादत्राण, अन्न, नमन and ख.
By the way the rule of change from न to ण would not apply for वेष्टण and पादत्राण, because they have the change already therein. But the rule will apply to शौर्य and चित्र.
With lot of declensions of verbs, nouns and pronouns on hand with us, let us try an exercise of translating the story of the thirsty crow into Sanskrit.
1. A crow was very thirsty.
2. He looked for water here and there.
3. He did not see water anywhere
4. He went to another place.
4. He saw a jar.
5. There was little water in the jar.
6. He thought of an idea.
7. He picked up stones and put them in the jar.
8. Water came up.
9. He drank the water and became happy.
First we need to compile glossary of words which will help us to make the sentences.

Table 5-5


No. Word प्रातिपदिक or धातु or अव्यय
1 crow काक
2 to be अस्
3 very thirsty तृषार्त
4 to look दृश्
5 water जल
6 here अत्र
7 and
8 there तत्र
9 anywhere कुत्रापि
10 to go to गम्
11 to another place अन्यत्र
12 to see दृश्
13 jar घट
14 little किञ्चित्
15 to think चिन्त्
16 idea उपाय
17 to pick up गृह्
18 stone पाषाणखण्ड
19 to put, to drop क्षिप्
20 to come आ + गम्
21 up उपरि
22 to drink पा
23 to be भू
24 happy संतुष्ट

It is better to do translations analytically. By that we would be able to select proper declensions of nouns and verbs.
We can make do using just the present tense instead of past tense.

Table 5-6

Analytical view of sentences

No. Subject Verb Object Complement Adverbial phrases and conjunctions
1 A crow
very thirsty
2 He
for water
here and there
अत्र तत्र च
3 He
did not see
न पश्यति
4 He
went to
another place
5 He
a jar
6 little water
किञ्चित् जलम्
(There) was
in the jar
7 He
thought of
an idea
8-a He
picked up
stones पाषाणखण्डान् (and)
8-b put
in the jar
9 Water
10-a He
the water
10-b became

It would be interesting to see how the story would read as one continuous narration !
काक: अस्ति तृषार्त: | सः पश्यति जलाय अत्र तत्र च | न पश्यति जलम् कुत्रापि | सः गच्छति अन्यत्र | सः पश्यति घटम् |
किञ्चित् जलम् अस्ति घटे | सः चिन्तयति उपायम् | सः गृह्णाति पाषाणखण्डान् च क्षिपति तान् घटे | जलम् आगच्छति उपरि | सः पिबति जलम् च भवति संतुष्टः |
One can turn the words around to get syntax and the reading to one’s liking. But sounds good for a first attempt ! Rather the placement of च in compound sentences has not happened properly. Its place should rather be after the second verb, i.e.

  • सः गृह्णाति पाषाणखण्डान् च क्षिपति तान् घटे | should rather be सः गृह्णाति पाषाणखण्डान् क्षिपति च तान् घटे | Also
  • सः पिबति जलम् च भवति संतुष्टः | should rather be सः पिबति जलम् भवति च संतुष्टः |

Important to note that –

  1. In Sanskrit subject, object and complement and also adverbial phrases are declensions of nouns, pronouns, adjectives. They all have a प्रातिपदिक. So nouns, pronouns and adjectives make one class of words. Their declensions are dictated by gender, लिङ्ग case विभक्ति and वचन number.
  2. Verbs are from धातु-s. Their declensions are dictated by tense काल or अर्थ mood, पुरुष person and वचन number
  3. Conjunctions such as च and adverbs such as अत्र तत्र and verbal auxiliaries such as न are primarily indeclinables अव्यय.
  4. We can say that as against eight parts of speech in English, in Sanskrit we have primarily three classes of words –
    1. derived (or declined) from प्रातिपदिक
    2. derived (or declined) from धातु and
    3. अव्यय-s, which are indeclinable.
  5. If subject is a pronoun, its person and number must match with the person and number of the verb and vice versa.
    1. When subject is a noun its person is third person. Its number could be Singular एकवचनम् or Dual द्विवचनम् or Plural बहुवचनम्. The verb will be in third person and corresponding number. Again the rule, “..person and number of the verb must match with the person and number of the subject.” applies.
    2. When the verb intransitive, the sentence would often contain complements. They are adjectival in nature, qualifying the subject. The rule is that gender, लिङ्ग case विभक्ति and वचन number of an adjective must match the gender, लिङ्ग case विभक्ति and वचन number of the noun or pronoun, which it qualifies. There is a good verse on this having for its meaning exactly this rule –

यल्लिङ्गं  यद्वचनं  या  च  विभक्तिर्विशेषस्य ।
तल्लिङ्गं  तद्वचनं  सा  च  विभक्तिर्विशेषणस्यापि ।।

      1. A study of this verse is detailed in Lesson No. 22 at
      2. The complements – very thirsty तृषार्त: in First sentence and happy संतुष्टः in sentence 10 b qualify the subject A crow काक: He सः in respective sentences. The subjects are masculine, first case, singular. So are the complements.
      3. Also in sentence  6, the phrase ‘little water’ किञ्चित् जलम् contains an adjective and a noun. The noun जलम् is neuter, first case, singular. So is किञ्चित्.

किञ्चित् is actually किम् + चित्. Here चित् is a suffix added to किम्. The suffix चित् can be added to every other declension of the pronoun किम् and would give a meaning of ‘some’. For example

  1. किञ्चित् = somewhat, because किम् = what and चित् = some.
  2. Likewise कश्चित् = कः + चित् = some-who i.e. someone, काचित् = someone (feminine)
  3. केनचित् = केन + चित् = by someone
  4. Likewise कस्यचित् = of someone; कस्माच्चित् = from someone, etc.


  • when चित् is added to किम् the resultant sound becomes किञ्चित् .
  • When चित् is added to कः the resultant sound becomes कश्चित्
  • When चित् is added to कस्मात् the resultant sound becomes कस्माच्चित्.

This concept of ‘resultant sound’ is called as संधि or संहिता. Whereas ‘resultant sound’ is substantially a matter of natural experience, these natural experiences have been formulated into rules ! That is what makes Sanskrit a ‘structured’ language !
देवनागरी script of Sanskrit is a phonetic script. The alphabets of the script write really the sounds. What you write is what you say. There is no problem of remembering the spellings. There is no problem of the spelling of a word in US being different from its spelling in UK. देवनागरी scripting and pronunciation of every Sanskrit word ought to be the same all around the world, eternally.

In previous lessons, I was giving a count of number of sentences one can make from given details. Now the data-base has become so wide, that number of sentences one can make is limitless. This will go on becoming more and more infinite, primarily by –

  • Getting to know Newer patterns and structures of declensions of words declining from प्रातिपदिक-s and words declining from धातु-s
  • Expanding our repertoire of glossary

Learning Sanskrit is basically learning just these things ! Isn’t that simple, especially when everything is so well-structured and rhythmic ?

शुभमस्तु !