Synopsis of Session 2 of online Sanskrit learning class

Synopsis of Session 2 of online Sanskrit learning class
Date: 13th July 2014

Three Genders in Sanskrit – पुल्लिङ्ग (masculine), स्त्रीलिङ्ग (feminine) and नपुंसकलिङ्ग (neuter). The genders are decided not by the gender of the object/word but by the form/construction of the word. Construction of the word involves the micro-components in it, i.e. the letters. According to the micro-components, the gender changes. And of course, there are exceptions.

Three Numbers in Sanskrit – In other languages, there are two numbers – singular and plural. In Sanskrit, there are three – एक वचनम् (singular), द्वि वचनम् (dual) and बहु वचनम् (plural).

Three Persons in Sanskrit – In Sanskrit first person is called उत्तम पुरुष, second person is मध्यम पुरुष and third person is प्रथम पुरुष.

Table 1

Table 2

Tenses and Moods – In Sanskrit there is a root for every word from which the word gets a different form according to the context. E.g. ‘is going’ is गच्छामि, ‘will be going’ is गमिष्यामि and the root for both the words is गम्. गम् is called धातु (root). धातु is always a verb. Since there are three पुरुष (persons) and three वचनम् (numbers) in Sanskrit, there would be nine forms for a धातु in a particular tense. There are in total ten tenses and moods which make the धातु take 90 forms (i.e. 10 tenses and moods x 9 forms in each of them).

In the below table and in the table of tenses and moods which will be discussed later, Panini gave some sounds for each cell position. He also gave many rules stating that when a धातु of a particular form ‘a’ combines with a particular form ‘b’ in a given cell in the table, the change that should happen is ‘c’.

Today, in many places what is taught is the tables where the forms of the finished product, i.e. ‘c’, is listed and the student tries to by-heart those forms without understanding how the form was derived. Like in Mathematics, how learning a formula by-heart without understanding the rationale and derivation behind it is meaningless, in Sanskrit too, learning the finished form without understanding the derivation does not make much sense. Thus, our approach for learning Sanskrit has to be to understand the underlying principle behind every grammatical rule and structure of a word without merely learning something by-heart like a parrot.

~ Learnings from ‘Learning Sanskrit Language and Structure: Theory and Application’ a two-week residential camp at Chinmaya International Foundation from 16th – 30th June 2014.


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