Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 24

Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 24

Having discussed स्वरसंधि-s in lessons 21, 22 and 23, logically the next step should be to discuss व्यञ्जनसंधि-s and then विसर्गसंधि-s. But it comes to mind that I should devote this lesson to शिवसूत्राणि, also known as माहेश्वरसूत्राणि or प्रत्याहारसूत्राणि.

In Lesson 21, I had made a statement “.. I would think that explaining the rules and patterns, by explaining the पाणिनिसूत्र-s would eminently be beyond the scope of “Simple Sanskrit”. ..” One may ask, “Does it become good to discuss शिवसूत्राणि as a part of Simple Sanskrit ?

I would think it is not only good, rather helpful to discuss शिवसूत्राणि. For one thing शिवसूत्राणि are not as complex as पाणिनिसूत्र-s. They are just 14 lists of Sanskrit alphabets or वर्ण-s. But the arrangement of वर्ण-s is different from the way one learns them when learning the देवनागरी script.

The arrangement is different because in शिवसूत्राणि the वर्ण-s are arranged by their phonetic characteristics.

In the script also the वर्ण-s have some logic of phonetic characteristics, such as place from where the वर्ण emanates, viz. from throat कण्ठ्य (क-वर्ग), from teeth दन्त्य (च-वर्ग), from gums तालव्य (त-वर्ग), from the roof मूर्धन्य (ट-वर्ग), from lips ओष्ठ्य (प-वर्ग). Every वर्ग has a set of 5 वर्ण-s again in an order, first two वर्ण-s are कठोर, next two are मृदु and fifth one is nasal अनुनासिक.

In शिवसूत्राणि वर्ण-s are in an order, such that it becomes easy to explain or understand how two वर्ण-s mix with each other, which is what happens in संधि-s. That is the reason, why it becomes not only good, rather helpful to discuss शिवसूत्राणि in the context of संधि-s.

Let me enumerate the शिवसूत्राणि.




अ इ उ ण्

ऋ लृ क्

ए ओ ङ्

ऐ औ च्

ह य व र ट्

ल ण्

ञ म ङ ण न म्

झ भ ञ्

घ ढ ध ष्


ज ब ग ड द श्


ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व्


क प य्


श ष स र्


ह ल्



Some important observations –

(1) The consonant at the end of each सूत्र is only an end-marker. So it is not counted in number of वर्ण-s in a सूत्र.

(2) First 4 सूत्र-s cover all vowels though –

  • दीर्घस्वर-s आ ई ऊ ॠ ॡ are not in the list. They are to be taken as contained in their short representatives अ इ उ ऋ लृ

  • When one learns the script the vowels ए ऐ ओ औ are in such order. Here the order is ए ओ ऐ औ.

    • By the order in the script अ आ इ ई उ ऊ … अ is short, आ is long. One may get an impression that ए is short and ऐ is long. Also ओ is short and औ is long. This is wrong.

      • ए is conjoint of अ/आ with इ/ई

      • ऐ however is a conjoint of अ/आ with ए, conjoint with a conjoint or second level conjoint.

      • Similarly ओ is conjoint of अ/आ with उ/ऊ

      • औ however is conjoint of अ/आ with ओ, conjoint with a conjoint or second level conjoint.

      • As can be appreciated ऐ is not long of ए, because ए can itself be pronounced long, say when calling somebody aloud or calling from a long distance ए ऽ ऽ !

  • By finer analysis, grammar considers that most vowels can be pronounced in 18 ways, all of which cannot be represented in scripting. That could be a reason, why Vedas are said to have been transmitted only orally for hundreds or thousands of years, Guru getting the shishya to pronounce every pronunciation only in the manner, which will bring the benevolent effect of every mantra. The benevolent effect will come, only when pronunciation is perfect. By the way the 18 ways of pronouncing a vowel are from the pronunciation being

    • nasal or not nasal अनुनासिक / अननुनासिक

    • short, long or extended ह्रस्व दीर्घ प्लुत

    • stressed, unstressed (level) or low उदात्त स्वरित अनुदात्त

    • 2x3x3 = 18

(3) Among 43 वर्ण-s in शिवसूत्राणि, there are

  • 9 vowels स्वराः in सूत्र-s 1 to 4 and

  • 34 consonants व्यञ्जनानि in सूत्र-s 5 to 14 –

    • actually 33, because ह is repeated in सूत्र-s 5 and 14.

    • In शिवसूत्राणि all consonants have अ vowel mixed in them. This is only to facilitate pronunciation of the शिवसूत्र-s,

(4) In the script वर्ण-s are learnt in the order य र ल व …. ह. In सूत्र-s the order is ह य व र in सूत्र 5 and ल in सूत्र 6. Why the order in सूत्र-s is more appropriate for learning संधि-s can be appreciated by recalling Matrix 3 in Lesson 22.

All संधि-s there were explained by a single सूत्रम् – इको यणचि (६/१/७७). This सूत्रम् has 3 प्रत्याहार-s इक् यण् and अच्.

  • प्रत्याहार is the name of a set of वर्ण-s. The elements of the set are all those वर्ण-s, starting with the beginning वर्ण of the प्रत्याहार up to the end-marker.

  • Hence इक् = इ उ ऋ लृ

  • यण् = य व र ल and

  • अच् = अ इ उ ऋ लृ ए ओ ऐ औ

  • From Matrix 3 we can see that there is a nice and intelligent one-to-one correspondence between इ उ ऋ लृ of इक् and य व र ल of यण्.

    • In यण्-संधि-s इ becomes य्, उ becomes व्, ऋ becomes र् and लृ becomes ल्

      • when an element of इक् is followed by and mixes with an element of अच् except when

      • the superseding सूत्रम् अकः सवर्णे दीर्घः applies

(5) Learning विसर्गसंधि-s also becomes easy with शिवसूत्रम् १२ – क प य्. When विसर्ग is followed by क् or प् then the विसर्ग stays.

  • For example in गीता (1) मामकाः पाण्डवाः in श्लोकः 1-1 (2) चेकितानः काशिराजः in श्लोकः 1-5 (3) माधवः पाण्डवः in श्लोकः 1-14 (4) दध्मुः पृथक् in श्लोकः 1-18 (5) कामः कामात् in श्लोकः 2-62 (6) स्थितधीः किं in श्लोकः 2-54

गीता by itself is a good study-material to learn संधि-s of almost all types !

शुभं भवतु !