Lesson 36 – Derivation of Declinable Stems

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In the previous lesson, lesson 35, we looked at indeclinables (called avyaya अव्यय by the Sanskrit grammarians).

In this lesson we will look at how declinable stems are derived from roots.

In lesson 1, we mentioned that, in Sanskrit, all words are derived from basic elements called roots. For example, the word ayana अयन  (going)  is derived from the root √i √इ  ( “go”) by gunating the root and adding the suffix “ana”.

Words are derived from roots by the addition of suffixes. There are two types of suffixes: Primary suffixes (कृत् kr̥t affixes)  and secondary suffixes (तद्धित taddhita affixes). Primary suffixes are added directly to modified roots, while secondary suffixes are added to derivative stems (and also to pronomial stems and occasionally to particles).

Primary suffixes

Primary suffixes are added directly to modified roots.

We have already seen some of these. For example, in lesson 12, we looked at present participles. We said that the present active participle is formed by adding अन्त् ant (or अत् at) to strengthened (or sometimes unstrengthened) roots. For example,

  • √bhū √भू –> gunated –> bho  भो + ant  अन्त् –> bhavant  भवन्त्
  • √विश् √viś (unstrengthened) + ant  अन्त् –> viśant विशन्त्

Similarly, the middle participle is formed by adding māna मान or āna आन to to strengthened (or sometimes unstrengthened) roots.

We saw in lesson 30, that the perfect active participle is formed by adding the suffix vāṃs वांस् to the weak stem of the perfect conjugation. For example, bubudhvāṃs बुबुध्वांस्, ninīvāṃs निनीवांस्, cakr̥vāṃs चकृवांस् etc.

The perfect middle participle is formed by adding, as in the present middle participle,  āna आन to the weak stem.

In lesson 13, we saw that the past passive participle is formed by adding one of -ta -त, -ita -इत or -na -न to the unstrengthened root.

We will look at a few of the primary suffixes here. For a detailed analysis go to Whitney, Chapter XVII.

No suffix.

Root words used directly as the stem of the word. Eg. r̥c ऋच् (verse), pad पद् (foot), diś दिश् (direction) etc.

These types are used especially as finals of compounds. For example: adjectives like catuṣpad चतुष्पद् (four-footed) , sudr̥ś सुदृश् (well-looking), vedavid वेदविद् (Veda-knowing) etc.

Suffix a अ

With this suffix are formed a large number of words, with root unchanged, with guṇa गुण strengthening, with vr̥ddhi वृद्धि strengthening and with reduplication. Some examples are:

with guṇa गुण strengthening: veda वेद (knowledge) from √vid √विद्; krodha क्रोध (wrath) from √krudh √क्रुध्; sarpa सर्प (serpent) from √sr̥p √सृप्; plava प्लव (boat) from √plu √प्लु etc.

 with vr̥ddhi वृद्धि strengthening: kāma काम (love) from √kam √कम्; jāra जार (lover) from √jr̥ √जृ etc.

with root unchanged: yuga युग (yoke) from √yuj √युज्; priya प्रिय (dear) from √prī √प्री

with reduplication: cañcala चञ्चल (unsteady) from √cal √चल्; carācara चराचर (all living things) from √car √चर् etc.

compounded with verbal prefixes: saṃgama संगम (assembly) from √gam √गम्; udāra उदार (elevated)  from √r̥ √ऋ etc.

Suffix ana अन

Examples are: dāna दान (giving) from √dā √दा; sadana सदन (seat) from √sad √सद्; ākramaṇa आक्रमण (striding on) from √kram √क्रम्; saṃgamana संगमन (assembly) from √gam √गम् etc.

Suffix ti ति

This forms a large number of feminine nouns of action. Eg. stuti स्तुति (praise) from √stu √स्तु; mati मति (thought) from √man √मन्; dr̥ṣṭi दृष्टि (sight) from √dr̥ś √दृश्

I suppose by now you understand how this works.

Some of the other common primary suffixes are:

ā as tas nas sas is us ī i ni ani an tu nu tha thu yu ma mi van man vana vani vanu vara na ina una u ū uka aka tr̥ tar in īyas iṣṭha tra ka ya ra ya la ri ru vi snu sna tnu sa asi abha

आ अस् तस् नस् सस् इस् उस् ई इ नि अनि अन् तु नु थ थु यु म मि वन् मन् वन वनि वनु वर न इन उन उ ऊ उक अक तृ तर् इन् ईयस् इष्ठ त्र क य र य ल रि रु वि स्नु स्न त्नु स असि अभ

Secondary suffixes

Secondary suffixes are added to derivative stems (that is, stems already ending in suffixes) (and also to pronomial stems and occasionally to particles).

The stem to which the secondary suffix is added is liable to certain changes of form. Some of these changes are: before suffixes beginning with y, a or i, final a and i vowels of stems are lost. u becomes av; and other vowels follow the normal euphonic rules. There are some other changes also.

The most frequent change is the vr̥ddhi वृद्धि strengthening of the initial syllable of the stem to which teh suffix is added.

Let us look at some examples of secondary suffixes.

A vast number of secondary suffixes are adjective-making. They form from nouns adjectives indicating appurtenance or relation of various types. That is, they may form procedure of designation or descent (patronymic or metronymic or gentile etc.), designation of possession. They may also create neuter nouns indicating the quality expressed attributively.

Suffix a अ

From this are made a large class of derivatives from nouns (or adjectives having a noun-value). The derivatives are primarily adjectives having a relation or connection with the primitive word. Of course, these adjectives can also be used substantively (appellatives, abstracts, patronymics, gentiles etc.). They are formed with vr̥ddhi वृद्धि strengthening or without.

Examples are मानस mānasa (relating to the mind) from मनस् manas (mind); आयस āyasa (of metal) from अयस् ayas (metal); āṅgirasa आङ्गिरस (of the Angiras family) from aṅgiras अङ्गिरस्; daiva दैव (divine) from deva देव (god).

Suffix य ya

This is similar to a अ. Examples are: daivya दैव्य (divine) from deva देव (god); vāyavya वायव्य (belonging to the wind) from vāyu वायु (wind); divya दिव्य from div दिव् (heaven) etc.

Similar in use as above is iya इय and īya ईय.

Suffix eya एय.

Mainly forms patronymics, metronymics and gentiles ( and some others also) Eg. आर्षेय ārṣeya (decsendant of Rshi) from ऋषि r̥ṣi.

Suffix एन्य enya

Mostly same as the suffix anīya अनीय forming gerundival adjectives (see lesson 15)

Similar adjective-making suffixes are:

āyana आयन (patronymics); āyī आयी (feminine derivatives); i इ (patronymics),;ka क, aki अकि, ika इक, uka उक, aka अक (all diminutives etc.); ānī आनी (wife names); nī नी, knī क्नी (feminines); īna ईन; ena एन; ina इन; ma म (superlatives and ordinals); ima इम, maya मय (adjectives signifying made of or composed of or abounding in); ra र (sometimes superlatives) ; la ल; va व; śa श;

in इन्, min मिन्, vin विन्, vant वन्त्, mant मन्त् (all possessives)

tā ता (feminine abstract nouns denoting quality of being so and so), tva त्व (neuter with same meaning as before)

tara तर (comparatives), tama तम (superlatives); also ordinal suffixes

tha थ (ordinals)

taya तय, tya त्य, taya तय, na न, tana तन, tna त्न, vat वत्, kaṭa कट etc.

Let us take examples of derivation of declinable stems:

  1. Root √tap √तप् (“heat”) + primary suffix as अस् –> tapas तपस् (n) (“heat, asceticism”)
  2. tapas तपस् (n) (“heat, asceticism”) + secondary suffix vin विन् –> tapasvin तपस्विन् (“ascetic, pious”)
  3. In lesson 4, we saw the words √raj (“colour”)+ aka –> rajaka (washerman); √gard (“shout”) + abha –> gardabha (shouter, brayer – donkey); gardabha + ī –> gardabhī;  √bhr̥  + a –> bhāra;
  4. In lesson 8, we saw the words pakṣa (wing) + in –> pakṣin; √pat (“fall”) + ita –> patita (“fallen”)
  5. In lesson 18, we saw the words √yaj (“offer’) + na –> yajña (“sacrifice”);  vr̥t (“turn”) + man –> vartman (“wheel-track”); √bhū (“be”) + mi –> bhūmi (earth);
  6. In lesson 22, we saw the word vyāghra (tiger)+ tā –> vyāghratā (“condition of being a tiger”)

This is the end of lesson 36. In this lesson we looked at how declinable stems are derived from roots.


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