Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 30

Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 30


An important aspect of procedure of detailing विग्रह of a समास is to first get to the bare minimum form of the compound word. The bare minimum form is often the form in प्रथमा विभक्ति.

 For example first word in first verse in गीता is धर्मक्षेत्रे. This is of course a compound word. But the form धर्मक्षेत्रे is सप्तमी विभक्ति एकवचनम् of the noun धर्मक्षेत्रम्. So we should do विग्रह of the word धर्मक्षेत्रम् and not of the formatted word धर्मक्षेत्रे.

 This may not be always necessary, especially if the word is already in प्रथमा विभक्ति. That was the case for बाह्योद्यानस्थितहरशिरश्चन्द्रिकाधौतहर्म्या.

 Words like प्रतिदिनम्, साश्चर्यम् also are already in प्रथमा विभक्ति.

 But doing विग्रह of a समास would need being conscious of the meaning intended to be conveyed.

 Note प्रतिदिनम् = every day साश्चर्यम् = with wonder. “Every day” would be an answer to a question “When ?” Similarly “with wonder” would be an answer to a question “how ?” So प्रतिदिनम् and साश्चर्यम् have an adverbial intent, which in Sanskrit is called as अव्ययीभावः

 विग्रह of a समास is primarily an exercise in detailing the meaning of the word. And विग्रह should do that.

 विग्रह of प्रतिदिनम् is detailed as दिने दिने.

विग्रह of साश्चर्यम् is detailed as आश्चर्येण सह.

 अव्ययीभाव-समास-s are another type of समास-s.

 Both these words प्रतिदिनम् and साश्चर्यम् have a prefix उपसर्ग. In detailing विग्रह of प्रतिदिनम् as दिने दिने what is detailed is really the meaning lent by the prefix प्रति. Likewise in detailing विग्रह of साश्चर्यम् as आश्चर्येण सह, what is detailed is really the meaning lent by the prefix स. So in these words, the prefixes are almost like component words पद-s of the compound words.

 Need to be conscious of the meaning intended can be explained also by considering a word विमलम् in two different sentences – (1) विमलं वस्त्रं धारय Wear a clean cloth (2) वस्त्रं विमलं क्षालय Wash the cloth clean.

 As can be seen, in विमलं वस्त्रं धारय, the word is adjective of the noun वस्त्रम्. In the other sentence, it is adverb of the verb क्षालय. Should we do different विग्रह for the same word ? My answer would be ‘Yes’. Basically some people may question whether every word, which has a prefix उपसर्ग and a noun नाम, should be treated as a compound word. Again, my answer would be ‘Yes’. I say so with the basic premise in mind, that विग्रह of a समास is primarily an exercise in detailing the meaning of the word.

 In विमलं वस्त्रं धारय I would decipher the विग्रह as विगतः मलः यस्मात् तत् (बहुव्रीहिः)

 In वस्त्रं विमलं क्षालय I would decipher the विग्रह as विगतः मलः अस्मात् तथा (बहुव्रीहिः)

 Even if one should be conscious of the meaning intended to be conveyed, it is important to be open-minded and receptive to different meanings likely to be derived by different विग्रह of a given समास. Another person may think of a different meaning. Why not grant it ?

 For example, in the word धर्मक्षेत्रम्, धर्म = ?? क्षेत्रम् = field. Note, I am mentioning “धर्म = ??” Do we not know the meaning of the word धर्म ? We do, but the word has many, many shades of meaning. One common meaning of धर्म is religion. But what is ‘religion’ ? It is a challenging question to answer.

 I would rather go by the meaning धर्म = righteousness. So धर्मक्षेत्रम् = field of righteousness.

Now, what can make a battlefield a field of righteousness ? Possibly there was history associated with that particular battlefield, that in any battle fought there, only that side prevailed, which had righteousness with it. The battle between पाण्डव-s and कौरव-s was also to be fought to decide, which side had righteousness. Because of its past history the battlefield had come to be known as धर्मक्षेत्रम् = field of righteousness.

 Rather, since the battle was to be fought to decide which side had righteousness, it was the field (for) decision about righteousness. The word धर्म has this other shade of meaning as धर्म = justice. Then we can say धर्मक्षेत्रम् = field (of) righteousness OR field (for) justice about righteousness.

 Since the two prepositions ‘of’ and ‘for’ connote षष्ठी and चतुर्थी विभक्ति-s respectively, विग्रह of धर्मक्षेत्रम् can be धर्मस्य क्षेत्रम् OR धर्माय क्षेत्रम्.

 On that battlefield there was also the person whose name was धर्म. Being a battlefield, there were two parties and there was the allotted field for each party. So by another meaning of क्षेत्रम् = domain, meaning of धर्मक्षेत्रम् becomes “the domain of the person whose name was धर्म”. So even by the विग्रह as धर्मस्य क्षेत्रम्, there can be two meanings of धर्मक्षेत्रम् – (1) धर्मक्षेत्रम् = field of righteousness (2) धर्मक्षेत्रम् = domain of the person whose name was धर्म.

 विग्रह-s of समास-s make Sanskrit literature very engaging and enjoyable, revealing, refreshing and vibrant, especially when one gets to derive a range of meanings from the same given words.

 The drama स्वप्नवासवदत्तम् by भास opens with सूत्रधार briefing the audience of the main characters of the drama. For that briefing, the सूत्रधार sings a श्लोक, which has a compound word आसवदत्ताबलौ. This word can have three different meanings ! In the panel below can be seen an excerpt, giving all the three interpretations, as detailed by Shri. A. B. Gajendragadkar, the then Professor of Sanskrit in Elphinstone College, Mumbai, in his book published in 1938, downloaded by me from the internet.


First of all, the word आसवदत्ताबलौ is adjective of the strong arms of King उदयन, who is the hero of the drama.

 (1) आसवदत्ताबलौ = आसवेन दत्तं आबलं याभ्यां तौ (In आबलम्, आ = समन्तात्, सर्वतोमुखम् इति अर्थः). So, आसवदत्ताबलौ = (arms) which have gained all-round strength by आसव (= an intoxicating drink, wine). It is a known fact that an intoxicating drink gives to warriors reckless courage and under its influence that perform deeds of valor.

 (2) आसवदत्ताबलौ = आसवेन दत्तं अबलं याभ्यां तौ. Here अबलम् = न बलम् इति अबलम् (नञ्-तत्पुरुष) Then the meaning becomes “(arms) to which languor or lassitude or weakness has been imparted by wine.”

 (3) आसवदत्ताबलौ =

  1. दत्तः आसवः यस्यै सा = आसवदत्ता (बहुव्रीहिः) (she अबला), to whom drink has been given

  2. आसवदत्ता अबला याभ्यां तौ = आसवदत्ताबलौ (बहुव्रीहिः) (arms) by which drink has been given to a lady.

 Important point to be also noted is that in दत्ताबलौ, there is a संधि (संहिता). And in compound words, it is compulsory to coalescence, wherever coalescence is applicable. संहिता .. नित्या समासे But here the challenge is of separating the components of a coalesced word. दत्ताबलौ can be split either as दत्त + अबलौ or दत्त + आबलौ.  And that renders different meanings !

 There is another charming and different meaning possible for the phrase in the श्लोक – उदयनवेन्दुसवर्णावासवदत्ताबलौ together, a single word ! The component words to be considered are उदय, नव, इन्दु, सवर्णा, वासवदत्ता, बलौ = (arms), which got strength from वासवदत्ता (heroine of the drama) whose complexion was similar to that of (just) rising new moon. This meaning brings to mind a famous proverb, “Behind every successful person, there is strong support of a woman.”

 In the prior discussion the word आसवदत्ताबलौ was obtained by split of उदयनवेन्दुसवर्णावासवदत्ताबलौ as उदयनवेन्दुसवर्णौ आसवदत्ताबलौ. But the other charming meaning is derived by not doing this splitting.

 Yet another charming meaning ….

 Keeping in mind that King उदयन is the hero of the drama, उदयनवेन्दुसवर्णावासवदत्ता can be interpreted to mean वासवदत्ता whose complexion was similar सवर्णा, to that of उदयन (or) वा इन्दु moon, (वेन्दु = वा इन्दु).

 Since the drama starts off with सूत्रधार saying this श्लोक, one can consider that सूत्रधार is not only introducing the hero and the heroine by their names but also describing them, how they are, … ! That is a specimen of smartness of Sanskrit poets, here, भास. It takes great intelligence and literary skill to weave so many different meanings in a single word, right ?

 Important point, which is to be noted is that विग्रह of a समास need not be only one specific विग्रह. समास-s are often very inviting, inviting you to indulge in different interpretations !

 Such is the case also with उपसर्ग-s. In श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता one comes across a word अकर्म. This उपसर्ग अ is interesting. It lends a negative meaning to the noun, to which it is prefixed. So, न कर्म इति अकर्म (नञ्-तत्पुरुष). But in Apte’s dictionary, the first word अ is detailed giving also an interesting detail that negativity of meaning has itself six shades ! The detail given says, “.. तत्सादृश्यमभावश्च तदन्यत्वं तदल्पता । अप्राशस्त्यं विरोधश्च ऩञर्थाः षट् प्रकीर्तिताः ॥ ..” So meanings of the word अकर्म have to be understood with all the six shades of negativity –

  1. कर्मणा सादृश्यम् तदकर्म = Seeming like कर्म, (but not really कर्म) is अकर्म !

  2. कर्मणः अभावः तदकर्म = Absence of कर्म is अकर्म.

  3. कर्मणः अन्यत्वं तदकर्म = Different from (apart from or other than) कर्म is अकर्म

  4. कर्मणः अल्पता तदकर्म = Shortcoming in कर्म (doing कर्म not wholeheartedly or only half-heartedly or doing कर्म half way, incomplete) is अकर्म

  5. कर्मणः अप्राशस्त्यम् तदकर्म = Impropriety or haphazardness of कर्म is अकर्म

  6. कर्मणः विरोधः तदकर्म = Causing hindrance to कर्म or doing opposite of कर्म is अकर्म !!!

 And one can derive a definition of कर्म (What is कर्म ?) in the reverse mode to say, What is not अकर्म is कर्म !!!

 Is not philosophy of कर्म a great but very subtle philosophy ?

शुभं भवतु !