Verbal Forms in the Rgveda


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About the Book

The present book highlights the study on verbal forms in the Rgveda (mandala-IV) which clearly shows verbal formations and their identifications verb's in all their conjugations, tenses and moods of the application of Paninian rules of accent and Sayanas interpretation makes the study more interesting and at last the statistical analysis gives a clear picture of the verbal forms in its use with peculiarity.

About the Author

Dr. (Mrs.) Shantipriya Devi born (4-4-1965) at village Latara, Raj Ramapur of the then Puri district and now is Nayagarh district of Orissa. She has outstanding career to her credit and stood first class first in Graduation level B.A. Sanskrit (Hons.) in Utkal University in the year 1984. She completed her post-Graduation in Sanskrit from Utkal University in 1986.

M. Phil. in 1988 and Ph.D in 1992 from Poona University respectively. She has contributed many research papers to various national and international conferences and many are published in standard Indological journals.

At present she is engaging P.G. classes in the Department of Sanskrit, Utkal University and a guest faculty in the Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.


The research in Veda is a challenging job for any Sanskritist. In spite of different attempts to know the Vedas, they have always evaded all attempts of Vedic scholars for their correct interpretation and understanding. Like mercury, the conclusions; drawn by applying one method to interpret them, slip away from hand if another method is applied. In this conflict of methods and conclusions, the research scholars stand non-plussed. Different methods like mythological, linguistic, historical, statistical, mathematical, astronomical, philosophical etc. have been applied by scholars, yet no single method had uptill now yielded any satisfactory, consistent and all-comprehensive meaning of the Vedas. In spite of this failure, the Vedic scholars tirelessly continue to understand the Veda.

Of all the methods of Vedic interpretation, the mythological and linguistic approaches have given some satisfactory results and a fairly good picture of the Vedic mythology can be built up. The linguistic and philological approaches have given a fairly satisfactory theory of the assumption of the Indo-European languages as the parent-language of many European and Indian languages. One is, therefore, assured of some concrete results, and hence is inclined to apply the linguistic and philological method for Vedic interpretation.

The Vedas are basically and primarily a literature, expressed in terms of a speech or language. This language has stood the test of time for over five thousand years and has come down to us in tact through oral tradition,—thanks to the labour of Vedic reciters. As such, the Vedic language is sufficiently faithful to its times, speakers and environment. It is no surprise therefore, that the linguistic approach to Vedic interpretation gives out a fairly good picture of the Vedic times.

If we study the Vedic Sanskrit, called as Old Indo-Aryan, we find that it abounds in various types of formations both nominal and verbal. It thus betrays the nouns, their declension and derivatives; the verbs, their conjugation and derivatives, both on transformational and non-transformational level. It contains the compounds and the denominatives as well as the feminine formations. It thus possesses a vast treasure of vocabulary and a great amount of grammar and linguistic peculiarities. In view of this jungle or crowd of word-structures, one is at a loss as to where one should start the linguistic study of the Vedas from.

As is clear, the linguistic study comprises the study of the following six main linguistic categories of the language. The language is divided into these six main categories for the purpose of convenient study. They are: Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Accent and Meaning. Since we want to find out the meaning of the Veda, we have to exclude meaning and concentrate on the five remaining categories. Out of the remaining five, the categories of Phonetics and Phonology do not content the element of meaning at all. We, therefore, leave them and study only the remaining three categories of Morphology, Syntax and Accent.

Out of these three again. syntax of a language is nothing but the arrangement or declension /conjugation of morphemes in the sentence. Our study of the language form semantic point of view, therefore, becomes restricted to only the two categories of morphology and accent. So far as the morphology of the Sanskrit language (and for that matter of any language) is concerned, we get two main types of morphemes; they are: the nouns and the verbs which give full meaning to the sentence and in general the language. Out of these two types of morphemes again, the number of nominal morphemes in Sanskrit is very vast; it will not be an exaggeration to say that the number is innumerable. We, therefore, again restrict our study to the verbal morphemes and their forms and conjugation only.

The scope of the present thesis is, therefore, the study of the formations of Vedic verbs in all their conjugation and tenses and moods.

The Sanskrit nouns are called by Panini by the technical term `prratiadika'; and the Sanskrit verbs, listed very carefully in the Paninian dhatupatha go by the name 'dhatu.

We have thus restricted our scope only to the dhatus; but even the study of the dhatus assumes a vast proportion from their forms to their meaning as based on the usage in the language. The scope of the study of the dhatus again seems to be restricted only to only the grammatical recognition of the forms of the dhatus by the author of the present book. And she does not seem to be wrong there.

But even this grammatical recognition of the verbal form is also not an easy thing. Because, a Sanskrit verb exhibits variations in their conjugation on the basis of their ganas or groups, lakaras or tenses and moods, padas as well as on the basis of number (i.e. vacana) and person (purusa). Moreover, it can be conjugated on the trans formational level also with all these variations (except galas). Thus even the simple, formal study of the grammar of the dhatus also presents a number of difficulties.


The present work is a revised version of my Ph.D. Thesis submitted to the University of Poona in 1992. The book is based on the Verbal study of Rgveda Mandala IV. I was very much interested in the Subjects like Veda and Grammar and wanted to go into details. But slowly I was dragged to the field of Vedic language as I concentrated to know the Vedic culture. Unless the Vedic language is properly analysed, no one will be able to know the culture and for that purpose, I have undertaken the study of the verbal forms of Rgveda. As it is very difficult to study the entire verbal forms of Rgveda by a single person, I took up the Mandala IV for my study. By that time the work of Prof. G.B. Palsule was readily available on this subject covering Mandala VI which gave me much inspiration to undertake such a subject.

For that purpose, I undertook first fifteen hymns of the fourth Mandala for M. Phil degree and then took up the entire Mandala for Ph.D. work. The work basically covers the identification of verbal forms, application of Paninian rules, accent, tenses, moods and Sayanas interpretation. The comparison is also made by analysing interpretations of Prof. Macdonell, Prof. Palsule and others. I have restricted the scope of my study only to dhatus which contribute the vast collection of forms and its meaning in the Vedic Passages. This form the basis of an usage and the analysis of the dhatus means the analysis of Vedic language in nutshell. Hence, the grammatical study of verbal forms became the primary task to concentrate more on the study of Vedic language. In this present work I have made a statistical study of verbal forms which gives a direction to draw certain conclusion. This will help scholars to have a comparative study of other Mandellas in a similar manner.

I express my deep sense of gratitude to my teacher Dr. M.D. Pandit for his guidance and writing a foreword to this book. I am obliged to Dr. (Mrs) Saroja Bhate, Head of the Department of Sanskrit and Prakrit languages, University of Pune, for her love and affection. I am also grateful to Prof. V.N. Jha, Director, Centre of Advanced study in Sanskrit, University of Pune for giving me an opportunity to work in the Centre. I am obliged to Dr. S.M. Shaha for the help rendered by him from time to time. I am thankful to the teaching staff of CASS and Department of Sanskrit, University of Pune for their advice and co-operation.

I am indebte..; to my teacher Prof. A.C. Sarangi, Vice-chancellor, Sri Jagannath Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, Puri for giving me his blessings. I am very much grateful to my teachers Prof. A.C. Swain, Late Prof. K.C. Acharya, Ex-vice chancellor, Sri Jagannatha Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, Puri, Dr. U.N. Dhal, Dr. P.K. Mishra, Dr. G.K. Dash, Dr. R.M. Dash of Department of Sanskrit, Utkal University, Bhubneswar, for their valuable advice, inspiration and help from time to time.

It is very difficult to express in language the indebtedness to my father Prof. Sadasiva Praharaj, Retired Prof. and Head, P.G. Department of Sanskrit, Gangadhar Meher college , Sambalpur and family members whose love and affection enabled me to study Sanskrit and come up to this stage. I cannot forget to keep on record my gratefulness to my husband Dr. Subas Chandra Dash, Lecturer, Utkal University Bhubaneswar for his help and suggestions towards the completion of this work.

I am extremely thankful to Dr. R.P. Goswami and the staff of CASS Library, Jaykar Library, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute Library, Deccan college Library, Pune for their cordial help.

Finally I must thank Dr. Radhey Shyam Shukla, Propritor, Pratihha Prakasan, Delhi for taking up the publication of this work.


The Vedic literature is the oldest literary document in the world. Particularly the Rgveda is considered to be the oldest one among all from all points of view. It is extremely rich in lore of everykind viz. social, religious, philological, historical, anthropological and mythical. It is a relic of the pre-history of human mind which is preserved for us. The gigantic edification of Indian social structure is erected on the vedic lore. Their influence is not confined within India, rather it has spread to different corners of the world. It has attracted the attention of the Ideologists and became the study of the philologists and historians through out the world. They have tried their best to trace the history of Sanskrit language. They also have tried to study the mythology of Rgveda from the linguistic point of view.

When the Vedic language is analysed, a great number of nominal, verbal and derivational words are found. Sometimes they seem to be too peculiar. It is also found that some forms are lost in the later classical Sanskrit literature.

The development of the Aryan languages in India can be traced in its various stages of Indo-European, Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian. The Indo-Aryan languages has its special line like Old-IndoAryan, Middle-Indo-Aryan and New-Indo-Aryan. The primitive Indo-European language is the source of Vedic, Old-Persian and Avestan and various other languages like Greek, Gothic, Latin, Old Irish. Keltic, Armenian, Albanian, Baltic, Slavic, Hittite and Tokharian. The Philologists have studied all the languages linguistically and concluded that they owe their origin to the Indo-European family. Further study and the linguistic analysis of the Vedic language in the early part of the 19th century revealed its 2 Verbal forms in the Rgveda part to the Indo-European family. The comparison of the languages of this family helps the linguists much to make a historical as well as comparative study of it.

Panini composed the Astadhyayi which is regarded as the masterpiece in the field of Sanskrit grammar. The systamatisation is ever unsurpassed. Some scholars also claim that there is no such language as Sanskrit which is so perfectly and so systematically recorded by Panini in his Astadhyayi. He also tried his best to study the Vedic language for which he formulated some Vedic rules for the correct understanding of the Vedas. The other sutras of Panini also help for proper derivation of the Vedic verbal forms. These forms have no value at all, if they are not analysed from the grammatical point of view.

Sayana has also given proper meanings of the Vedic hymns as well as the accentual and grammatical notes. Moreover, for comparison the works of different noted scholars like A.A. Macadonell, S.S. Bhave, T. Burrow, G.B. Palsule, Karl Brugmann have been consulted. The data are arranged and presented by comparing the views of all scholars.

I.1 Accent

Accent Plays a very important role in language, particularly in Vedic language. In speech we do neither lay stress on the whole of the sentence, nor on all the letters of a word. What we emphasize is a particular syllable of a word. That emphasis is called as accent. The importance of a word lies in its accented syllable whether it may fall on the stem or on the suffix. Madhava Bhatta a well known author of Rgvedanukramanikai has remarkably put forth the truth—

prakrtau pratyaye vapi
svaro yatra vyavasthitah / tatparyantatra Sabdasya
sthArpayediti NISCAYAH||1. 4. 10
The accent of the Vedic language has always offered a clue for the identification of the form. The importance of the accent in the Veda has been recognised by all the Vedic scholars and cannot be exaggerated. Fortunately we have the Paninian grammar which also treats the Vedic accent.

Without Paninian grammar, it would have been almost impossible to account for the Vedic accent. It has been indisputedly held by Vedic scholars that svara is employed by sages was one of the safeguards in the Vedic literature. It is the primary factor for which the authenticity of RgvedasalhhitA remains intact.

Accent was originally employed for meaning. Two words with a common form and having different meanings are very much difficult to account for the understanding. Here accent only helps us to determine the meaning. It is also significant to note that the accent is an aid to memory in such cases.

Accent is very much important in language, particularly in Vedic language. K. Brugmann defined accent as—"By accentuation in the widest sense is understood the gradation of the sentence according to the stress and pitch of its members"2. According to Sankaran -Accent has been described as the soul of the speech. It produces unity of words and sentences in speech. The idea of bringing certain facts into prominence means special emphasis on the particular words. It acts as a living and life-imparting soul within and with words, exerting an influence of the whole language.' The same sound combination differs according to the shifting of the accent from one syllable to another.

The inter-relation between the accent and the meaning has been drawing the attention of the scholars. According to Benfey the accent did not rest on the stem syllable, but on the element which modified the meaning of the word. All words in the Veda are recognized by the accents. But this is gradually lost in the later literature. All the Samhita literature is marked with accents.

Among the Brahmanas, Satapatha, Kdnva and Taittiriya get regular accentuation marking. Except the Taittiriya Aranyaka no other Aranyaka is marked with any accent.

Astadhydyi has been considered as a staggering work of Panini. It vividly discusses the accentual system in a threadbare style. It renders a great service without which it would have been perhaps impossible to account for the Vedic accent. In short, the accentual system is as essential as alamkara in classical poetry.


  Blessings vii-viii
  Foreword ix-xv
  Preface xvii-xviii
Chapter 1 Introduction 1-18
Chapter 2 Verbal Forms: Their Identification 19-147
Chapter 3 Statical Analysis of the Verbs 148-163
Chapter 4 General Observation and Conclusion 164-167
  Bibliography 169-170
  sutra 171-172