Lesson 8A


8.A.1 Special Symbols

The following symbols are not strictly part of the alphabet, but constitute special symbols such as punctuation:

This punctuation mark is used at the end of a half-verse or sentence.
This marks the end of a verse or paragraph.
The elision of an at the beginning of a word due to the rules of sandhi, is indicated with this symbol called avagraha: it is not sounded. For example, तेऽपि for ते अपि is pronounced तेपि; in transliteration it is represented by an apostrophe or prime mark, i.e., te’pi.
 ँ This symbol, called candrabindu (lit. “moon-dot”), placed above a vowel indicates that the vowel itself is nasalized; for example, अँ is sounded through both nose and mouth together. Contrast this with अं, where the anusvāra, which is just the bindu (“dot”) above the vowel, is a nasal sound following after the vowel. The antaḥstha y, l, and v may also be nasalized.
This symbol indicates a compulsory anusvāra (i.e., before an ūṣman or repha) in the Vedas, and is traditionally pronounced as a soft gna (ग्न). You may also find it written as ग्ं
The mystical symbol oṃ pronounced ओ३म् and called the praṇava śabda.
An abbreviation is indicated by this sign, the rest of the word being provided from the context.
This symbol is rare; it is pronounced like a half visarga, and is called jihvāmūlīya when before k or kh, and upadhmānīya when before p or ph. (See section 3.A.2)

8.A.2 Savarṇa

Those sounds which are pronounced in the same mouth position and with the same effort within the mouth itself (i.e., the measure of contact or openness — see section 3.A.4) are called savarṇa (“same group”). This means that the ka-varga sounds (k, kh, g, gh, and — see section 2.A.2) are savarṇa, likewise ca-varga through to pa-varga each form a savarṇa group of five sounds.

For grammatical purposes, and are also declared to be savarṇa, even though their mouth positions differ.


8.A.3 Nasal Substitution for Anusvāra

The anusvāra (see section 1.A.7) arises through the rules of sandhi: primarily it is the replacement for a final m before a consonant. There are two traditions for pronouncing the anusvāra: one tradition always pronounces it as an anusvāra (a ङ्-like sound in Northern India, and म्-like further South); the other tradition substitutes the nasal that is savarṇa with the following consonant, i.e., if the following consonant is a sparśa (one of the twenty-five from to ) then the anusvāra is sounded as the nasal of the same mouth position as the following letter — thus संकल्प is pronounced सङ्कल्प, and संज्ञा as सञ्ज्ञा, and so on.

The second tradition is much like the pronunciation of “n” in English: sound the words “wink”, “winch”, and “wind” — prolonging the nasal if necessary — and note that the mouth position is determined by the following letter.

Before ya, la, or va the anusvāra may optionally be sounded as a nasalized version of that letter, for example संयोग may be pronounced as सँय्योग.

Monier-Williams, in his dictionary, follows the tradition of substituting the savarṇa nasal before a sparśa (the twenty-five from ka to ma), but not before an antaḥstha. It would be useful (for these lessons at least) to practice that method.


8.A.4 Devanāgarī Numerals

The numbers one to ten respectively are expressed in Sanskrit as eka dva tri catur pañcan ṣaṣ spatan aṣṭan navan daśan; zero is called śūnya, literally “void” or “empty”. The numerals use the familiar order of significance, so that 1234 is written as १२३४.

Here are the ten numerals in devanāgarī script, ordered 0 to 9:



Lesson 8B


8.B.1 More Noun Declensions

The prātipadika form of nouns may end in letters other than those considered thus far: the table below includes the three declensions previously covered and adds agni (fire, puṃ-liṅga ending in -i), guru (teacher, puṃ-liṅga ending in -u), and nadī (strī-liṅga ending in ). These declensions need not be practiced, but it would be useful to spend some time observing the differences between the declensions.

The sandhi rule changing n to following r or follows through all declensions in tṛtīyā eka-vacana and ṣaṣṭhī bahu-vacana.

Declension Paradigm
Masculine in -a
naraḥ narau narāḥ
he nara he narau he narāḥ
naram narau narān
nareṇa narābhyām naraiḥ
narāya narābhyām narebhyaḥ
narāt narābhyām narebhyaḥ
narasya narayoḥ narāṇām
nare narayoḥ nareṣu
Neuter in -a
phalam phale phalāni
he phala he phale he phalāni
phalam phale phalāni
phalena phalābhyām phalaiḥ
phalāya phalābhyām phalebhyaḥ
phalāt phalābhyām phalebhyaḥ
phalasya phalayoḥ phalānām
phale phalayoḥ phaleṣu
Masculine in -i
agniḥ agnī agnayaḥ
he angne he agnī he agnayaḥ
agnim agnī agnīn
agninā agnibhyām agnibhiḥ
agnaye agnibhyām agnibhyaḥ
agneḥ agnibhyām agnibhyaḥ
agneḥ agnyoḥ agnīnām
agnau agnyoḥ agniṣu
Feminine in
bālā bāle bālāḥ
he bāle he bāle he bālāḥ
bālām bāle bālāḥ
bālayā bālābhyām bālābhiḥ
bālāyai bālābhyām bālābhyaḥ
bālāyāḥ bālābhyām bālābhyaḥ
bālāyāḥ bālayoḥ bālānām
bālāyām bālayoḥ bālāsu
Masculine in -u
guruḥ gurū guravaḥ
he guro he gurū he guravaḥ
gurum gurū gurūn
guruṇā gurubhyām gurubhiḥ
gurave gurubhyām gurubhyaḥ
guroḥ gurubhyām gurubhyaḥ
guroḥ gurvoḥ gurūṇām
gurau gurvoḥ guruṣu
Feminine in
nadī nadyau nadyaḥ
he nadi he nadyau he nadyaḥ
nadīm nadyau nadīḥ
nadyā nadībhyām nadībhiḥ
nadyai nadībhyām nadībhyaḥ
nadyāḥ nadībhyām nadībhyaḥ
nadyāḥ nadyoḥ nadīnām
nadyām nadyoḥ nadīṣu

8.B.3 Adjectives

An adjective (viśeṣaṇa) qualifies a noun: it is dependent upon the noun as an attribute. This dependence manifests in the grammar, requiring the viśeṣaṇa to agree with the noun in gender, case and number. Thus using alpa (small), we could have:

alpāḥ narāḥ naram alpāt narāt vahanti
The small men (plural) carry the small man from the small man.

In Monier-Williams’s dictionary a viśeṣaṇa is listed in the form:

alpa mf(ā)n. small
sundara mf(ī)n. handsome, beautiful, attractive

where “mfn.” stands for “masculine-feminine-neuter”, i.e., it may be declined in all three genders (as required by a viśeṣaṇa), and the “(ā)” and “(ī)” inserted after the “f” of “mfn.” indicates the strī-liṅga form in declension; thus alpā declines like bālā, and sundarī like nadī, in the feminine. For example:

alpā sundarī bālā tiṣṭhati
The small beautiful girl stands.

As may be seen from the above examples, the viśeṣaṇa precedes the noun which it qualifies.


8.B.3 Adverbs

An adverb(kriyā-viśeṣaṇa) qualifies a verb: it is indeclinable (avyaya). It is usually found immediately before the verb; for example, using the adverb śīghram (quickly):

naraḥ śīghram gacchati
The man goes quickly.

Vocabulary Summary

The following is a complete list of all the vocabulary used in this course:

गम् गच्छति he goes
नी नयते he leads
लभ् लभते he takes
वद् वदति he speaks
वह् वहति he carries
स्था तिष्ठति he stands
अग्नि m. fire
अश्व m. horse
गुरु m. teacher
नदी f. river
नर m. man
फल n. fruit
बाला f. girl
वृक्ष m. tree
अल्प mf(ā)n. small
सुन्दर mf(ī)n. beautiful, handsome
इति ind. thus (lesson 9.B.2)
ind. and
शीघ्नम् ind. quickly

8.B.5 Exercises

  1. Practice sounding the alphabetical order as summarized in 3.A.5.
  2. Practice reading and writing the ten numerals in devanāgarī.
  3. Write the following sentences in Roman transliteration:
    1. बाला अग्निम् सुन्दरात् नरात् गच्छति । १ ॥
    2. नरः अल्पम् वृक्षम् बालाम् अग्नये शीघ्रम् लभते । २ ॥
    3. सुन्दरी बाला अल्पम् अश्वम् नदीम् नयते । ३ ॥
    4. नरौ सुन्दराणि फलानि अल्पात् वृक्षात् लभेते । ४ ॥
    5. गुरवः अल्पम् सुन्दरम् अश्वम् नद्यौ नयन्ते । ५ ॥
    6. अल्पः वृक्षः सुन्दरे अग्नौ तिष्ठति । ६ ॥
  4. Now translate the sentences in #3 into English.
  5. Translate the following sentences into Sanskrit using Roman transliteration:
    1. The man’s teacher goes to the river by horse.
    2. The girl carries the small fruit to the man’s teacher.
    3. The teacher of the girl stands in the small river.
    4. The girl of the teacher stands on the handsome horse.
    5. The beautiful girl leads the man to the small teacher.
    6. The teacher stands among the beautiful fruit of the small tree.
  6. Now write your answers to #5 in devanāgarī.

The answers to #3, #4, #5, and #6 can be found in Appendix 2.