Lesson 1

The verb

The basic element of a Sanskrit verb is the root. To the root endings, prefixes and other sounds (augment, thema) can be added. In this process, the root can be substantially changed. In the dictionaries, the verb can be usually found in it's root form.

The verbs are divided into ten classes. Classes I., IV., VI. and X. are also called thematic classes, because they add a thematic vowel (-a or -a) between the root and the ending. So, the root vad- (to speak) when conjugated in the VI. class has the following singular forms of the indicative present (root+thema+ending):

1st person singular: vad+a+mi (I speak),

2nd person singular: vad+a+si (you speak),

3rd person singular: vad+a+ti (he/she/it speaks).

The noun

There are masculine (m.), feminine (f.) and neuter (n.) nouns in Sanskrit. These can take one of the eight cases in three numbers: singular (Sg.), dual (Du.) and plural (Pl.).

There are many types of declination (usually according to the final sound of the stem). Most usual and easiest are so called "a-stems", or nouns ending with the vowel a-. The singular nominative (Nom.), accusative (Acc.) and vocative (Voc.) case of masculine and neuter a-stems are:

deva (m., "god")

Nom. devah

Acc. devam

Voc. deva

phala (n., "fruit")

Nom. phalam

Acc. phalam

Voc. phalam

Nominative case expresses the subject (I go, man speaks) and accusative case represents the object (I see you, man speaks the truth) or the goal of the motion (I go to the city). Vocative is the case of address (Where are you going, boy?).

Sandhi rules

In Sanskrit, there is an extensive set of rules for the changes of final sound and/or of initial sound of the following word. These rules exist also in other languages (for example: English indefinite particle "a" becomes "an" if the initial sound of the next word is a vowel; a cat, but an orange). But in no other language have these rules been classified and systemised as well as in Sanskrit. We will deal with them gradually.

-h as the word's final stays unchanged only at the end of the sentence or of the verse (atra vasati balah. Here dwells the boy.) and before consonants -k, -kh, -p, -ph, -w, -s, -s (atra balah krsati. Here plows the boy.). Before all other sounds it is changed. As these are probably the most difficult of sandhi rules, we will come back to them repeatedly.

In some words (like in this lesson the word punar, again) this -h is in place of original -r sound. So, before these same consonants (-k, -kh, -p, -ph, -w, -s, -s) the final -h is kept (punah patati, it falls again), but before all the other sounds the -r is restored (punar vadasi, you speak again).

-m at the end of the sentence or the verse is to be written (in Devanagari script) as a consonant with the virama. Before all the consonants it is replaced by the anusvara (-j). Before all the vowels the final -m is connected to the initial vowel (which is reflected only in the devanagari script). So we have balaj vadati (he says to the boy), but balam adya vadati (he says to the boy now).

Text (read and translate):

1. atra jivami |

2. tatra jivasi |

3. kutra jivati |

4. kva vasasi |

5. vihagah patati |

6. kva vihagah patati |

7. narah ksetraj krsati |

8. ksetraj krsasi |

9. grhaj punah patati |

10. bhojanaj balah pacati |

11. bhojanamadya pacasi |

12. evaj vadati buddhah |

13. ksatriyah kuntaj ksipati |

14. narah prcchati balam |

15. punarvadasi |

16. nrpah sada raksati |

17. lokaj sada raksasi nrpa |

18. kutra vasasi ksatriya |

19. brahmanah sada yajati |

20. adhuna bhojanaj pacami |

The exercise key

Translate to Sanskrit (pay attention to the sandhi rules):

1. (He) always speaks.

2. You cook.

3. I live here.

4. There flies a bird.

5. How do you live?

6. You cultivate the field.

7. Where does the arrow fly?

8. The brahmin sacrifices there.

9. You always speak, boy.

10. He again asks the Buddha.

The exercise key


Note, in every lesson's vocabulary, first come the verbs in their root-form (preceded by a prefix, if any) and 3rd person singular indicative present plus respective verb class, then follow the nouns (substantives and adjectives) with their gender and at the end come the adverbs and particles. They all follow in Sanskrit alphabetical order. The English translations of Sanskrit words in every lesson are by no means exhaustive and usually cover only one (or few) possible meanings.

krs-, krsati (I): to plow, to cultivate (field)

ksip-, ksipati (VI): to throw

jiv-, jivati (I): to live

pac-, pacati (I): to cook

pat-, patati (I): to fall, to fly

prch-, prcchati (VI): to ask

yaj-, yajati (I): to sacrifice

raks-, raksati (I): to protect

vad-, vadati (I): to speak, to say

vas-, vasati (I): to dwell

kunta-, m.: spear, lance

ksatriya-, m.: kshatriya, fighter

ksetra-, n.: field

grha-, n.: house

nara-, m.: man

wara-, m.: arrow

nrpa-, m.: ruler, king

bala-, m.: boy, child

brahmana-, m.: brahmin

buddha-, m.: Buddha

bhojana-, n.: food

loka-, m.: world (in Pl. means also "people")

vihaga-, m.: bird

atra, adv.: here

adya, adv.: today, now

adhuna, adv.: now

evam, adv.: thus

katham, adv.: how?

kutra, adv.: where?

kva, adv.: where?

tatra, adv.: there

punar, adv.: again

sada, adv.: always