Thursday, November 25, 2010

Basic Sanskrit Syntax

I mainly read śāstric Sanskrit, that is, ``scientific" Sanskrit. I have not been reading epics and purely religious texts since years, I am not able to enjoy poems and I highly enjoy philosophical and theological (in a large sense) debates.
In all these cases, Sanskrit seems to be much less difficult than usually thought, and relatively easy to master, if one does not take into account its semantic richness.
In fact, I mainly read sentences structured as follows:
A [is] B. Because of C.
This can be expressed as:

  1. 1. B A [asti/bhavati…]. C-tvāt.
  2. 2. B A [asti/bhavati…]. A hi C.
  3. 3. B A [asti/bhavati…]. tathāhi A1 [asti/bhavati] C.

(with A1 included in A).
There are also negative versions of the above, showing that the opposite cannot be admitted. Apart from pure negations (na hi…), one might read:

4. B A [asti/bhavati…]. A nonB-anupapatteḥ.

If the sentence is more complex and the author wants to elaborate further on C, s/he can add a further reason:

5. B A [asti/bhavati…]. C-tvāt, D-tvena.

And B A [asti/bhavati…] can again be expressed in several ways:

  1. 6. B A [asti/bhavati…].
  2. 7. A-[VI ending] B-tvam.
  3. 8. A-[IInd ending] prati B-tvam.
  4. 9. A B-tvena [dṛśyate…].

If one wants to stress that B is the predicate:

  1. 10. B eva A [asti/bhavati…].

Or, mostly in comments:

  1. 11. A B ity [arthaḥ/bhāvaḥ/yāvat]

Moreover, an objector might have something against it:

nanu.…iti cet?

Which forces the siddhāntin to reply:


Either he partially corrects the objector:

satyam. kintu

Or he altogether refutes him:

tad ayuktam. yataḥ…
tan na sambhavati. E-tvāt


David Dubois said...

You mention -tvât and -tvena as reasons. Often they are used in combination, with -tvena first. Could you tell more on their function when they are thus used together ?

elisa freschi said...

As a rule, -tvāt expresses the reason for the main statement (e.g., A is B). -tvena expresses the reason for -tvāt.
E.g.: sound is non-perpetual, because it is artificial. [And it is artificial] because it has an author, like the pot.

śabdo 'nityaḥ, ghaṭavat, sakartṛtvena kṛtakatvāt.

David Dubois said...

Many thanks !

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