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In the previous two lessons, lesson 32 and lesson 33, we looked at the secondary conjugations, The Causative, the Intensive, the Desiderative and the Denominative.
We had already considered the passive in lesson 26.
In this lesson we will look at the aorist.
We will also look at the Precative (also called Benedictive).
In lesson 28, when we considered the perfect tense, we said that in Sanskrit there are three tenses to indicate past action. The imperfect, laṅ लङ्, (which we learned earlier in lesson 5 and lesson 6), the aorist, luṅ लुङ् (which we will learn in this lesson), and the perfect, liṭ लिट् (which learned lesson 28, lesson 29 and lesson 30). According to the Sanskrit grammarians, the imperfect is used to denote past action done previous to the current day, the perfect is used to denote past action done previous to the current day, but not witnessed by the speaker (parokṣe liṭ परोक्षे लिट्), while the aorist (luṅ लुङ्) is used to denote an indefinite past time.
In classical Sanskrit, in practice, these three tenses seem to be used interchangeably for any past action.
The aorist is comparatively rare in classical Sanskrit.
In the ancient (Vedic) Sanskrit, the aorists seemed to have had a “perfect” sense, loosely translatable as “have done” etc, and it was quite commonly used.
In classical Sanskrit, they are used only in the indicative and used as a past tense (with an augment “a अ” added – equivalent to the imperfect of the present system,). No modes or participles are used. (However, in ancient Sanskrit, the aorist system has a full complement of modes, the imperative, the optative, participles etc. We will deal with these in later lessons)
One other use in classical Sanskrit is in negative commands with mā मा. In this case the augment “a अ” is dropped. So, we can get forms like mā bhūt मा भूत् (“let that not become”); mā bhūḥ मा भूः (“do not become”); mā bhūvam मा भूवम् (“may I not become”) etc.
We will discuss aorists only briefly. For a full understanding of the aorists go to Whitney Chapter XI – The Aorist Systems (articles 824 to 930)
The aorist (luṅ लुङ्)
There are seven varieties of aorists.
- 1. Simple Aorists
- i. Root Aorist
- ii. a-Aorist
- 2. Reduplicating Aorist
- 3. Sigmatic or Sibilant Aorists
- i. s-Aorist
- ii. iṣ-Aorist
- iii. siṣ-Aorist
- iv. sa-Aorist
The Root Aorist
In classical Sanskrit, this is conjugated in the active only. The middle uses either the s-Aorist or the iṣ-Aorist.
This is like the imperfect of the class 2 roots (see lesson 17). It is formed by placing the augment “a अ” before the verb stem (normally the bare root) and adding the imperfect athematic endings.
The conjugation of the root √bhū √भू is:
Note that roots ending in “ā आ” take “us उस्” as the ending in the 3rd person plural (as usual, losing the “ā आ” before it). So, the 3rd person plural of the root √dā √दा would be aduḥ अदुः
It is like the imperfect of a class 6 root. It is formed by placing the augment “a अ” before the verb stem (formed by appending “a अ” to a weak form of the root) and then adding the thematic endings.
In this case also, middle forms are rare. The middle uses either the s-Aorist or the iṣ-Aorist.
Let us take the root √sic √सिच्
The Reduplicating Aorist
This type of aorist is normally attached to the type of verbs whose stems end in -aya -अय; that is class 10 roots, causatives and denominatives. The attachment is not formal, because the aorist is made directly from the root and not from the -aya -अय stem, but a matter of established association, based on kinship of meaning. If this type of aorist is not made from class 10 roots or is not a denominative, it has to be a causative.
The stem is made by reduplicating the root (in a peculiar way. See Whitney for details) appending an “a अ” to the end (like a thematic verb) and then adding the augment “a अ” to the beginning. The imperfect thematic endings are then attached to get the conjugation.
Let us take the root √jan √जन्. The reduplicating aorist is the following.
The sibilant aorists
These fall into two broad classes. Those that are conjugated like the thematic imperfect (the sa-Aorist) and those that are conjugated like the athematic imperfect (the other three).
Th most common sibilant aorists are the s- and the iṣ- aorists.
There are some peculiarities in the conjugation of the athematic sibilant aorists. They have the ending -īt -ईत् in their 3rd person singular active, īḥ ईः in their second person singular active, and uḥ उः in the third person plural active. Otherwise, they follow the athematic imperfect conjugation.
In this the stem is formed by adding “s” to the strengthened and augmented root. A final vowel of the root is made vr̥ddhi वृद्धि in the active and made guṇa गुण in the middle; while a medial vowel is made vr̥ddhi वृद्धि in the active and unchanged in the middle.
The conjugation of the root √nī √नी is given below.
In this the stem is formed by adding “iṣ” to the strengthened and augmented root. A final vowel of the root is made vr̥ddhi वृद्धि in the active and made guṇa गुण in the middle; a medial vowel is made guṇa गुण in both voices. [But a medial -a- is generally unchanged in both voices, but sometimes lengthened in the active.]
The conjugation of the root √budh √बुध् is given below.
This aorist is quite rare. This is normally made from roots in -ā, and the roots nam, yam and ram. It is conjugated like the iṣ-Aorist. It is used only in the active, the corresponding middle being the s-Aorist.
The active conjugation of the root √yā √या is given below.
The roots allowed to form this aorist end in ś, ṣ or h (श्, ष् or ह्). This in sandhi with the following “s” of the tense sign “sa-” form kṣ क्ष्. They all have vowel i, u or r̥ (इ, उ or ऋ) as their radical vowel.
The root is throughout unstrengthened.
The conjugation of the root √diś √दिश् is given below.
The passive aorist 3rd person singular
In theory, the middle form of the s- iṣ- and sa- aorists are used as the aorist passive, but these are very rare in classical Sanskrit. However, a middle third person singular of peculiar formation and prevailing passive meaning is quite common. This is not conjugated in any other person or number.
It is formed by adding “i” to an augmented strengthened root. In general final vowels take the vr̥ddhi वृद्धि and medial vowels take the guṇa गुण before the “i” is added.
Examples: From root √nī √नी “lead”, we get anāyi अनायि “it was led”; from √vac √वच् “say”, we get avāci अवाचि “it was said”; from √dā √दा “give”, we get adāyi अदायि “it was given”.
The Precative is called āśīrliṅ आशीर्लिङ् by the Sanskrit grammarians. It expresses a blessing or desire or a wish. It is almost similar in meaning to the the optative.
The precative has a peculiar set of endings that are different from the endings we have seen so far.
[The form of the precative conjugation points to the fact that it is an optative of the aorist with an interposed sibilant before the optative endings].
The precative endings are:
The precative active is normally made by adding the precative endings directly to the root. [There may be some small changes like lengthening of i and u etc.] The root in general assumes its weakest form.
The precative middle is formed by adding the precative endings to the tense stem of an s-aorist or an iṣ-aorist. The root is strengthened by the same rules that apply to the respective aorists above.
The conjugation of the root √bhū √भू is given below.
This is the end of lesson 34. In this lesson, we looked at the aorist and also at the precative.
5 thoughts on “Lesson 34 – The Aorist”
[…] the previous lesson, lesson 34, we looked at the […]
[…] are seven types of aorists (as we saw before in lesson 34) The aorist system consists, for each of these aorists, of an indicative, which is an […]
You need to give examples first to make us understand what we are talking about before going to the conjugation of roots. Examples are sorely lacking. Also, please give the Sanskrit equivalent of the word “Aorist”. At the end of this chapter I was none the wiser!
Thank you for your inputs. Yes. Examples are lacking. Will try to add some sometime later.
The Sanskrit equivalent of Aorist is given in the text.
How do you explain the word, ajani, with the root jan, and third person singular? Is that an aorist, lung-lakAra?