Lesson 46 – Vedic Sanskrit – Accents – 4

A short YouTube version is available here. [Expand to the full article to be able to click on the link].

In the last lesson, Lesson 45, we continued looking at Vedic accents in various situations. We looked at the accent in declinable stems, the accent in compounds and verbal accents.

Let us take our investigation of accents further and see how the accents behave in other situations. We will look at how the accent behaves in nominal verb forms and with verbal prepositions. We will also analyse a verse from the Rig Veda.

Nominal verb forms

We saw how tense participles (present, perfect etc) are accented along with the verbal accent.

Now, if these tense participles are compounded with one or more prepositions, they retain their accents while the prepositions lose their’s.

apa-gácchant अ॒प॒गच्छ॑न्त्; vi-pra-yántaḥ वि॒प्र॒यन्तः॑; apa-gácchamāna अ॒प॒गच्छ॑मान; apa-jaganvā́ṃs अ॒प॒ज॒ग॒न्वांस्

[Note that in Vedic Sanskrit, the verbal prepositions are are normally separated, like the verb, from the participle also, by the transposition of one or more words or being placed after the participle. The preposition then, of course, keeps its accent.

ā́ ca párā pathíbiś cárantam आ च॒ परा॑ प॒थिबि॒श् चर॑न्तम्; mádhu bíbhrata úpa मधु॒ बिभ्र॑त॒ उप॑ ]

The past passive participles are always accented on the final tá त or ná न.

dattá द॒त्त; patitá प॒ति॒त; bhagná भ॒ग्न

But when compounded with a preposition, it loses its accent, and the preposition retains its accent. If there are two prepositions, the first one also loses its accent.

ní-hita निहि॑त; sam-ā́-kr̥tam स॒माकृ॑तम्

[Of course, if the preposition is separated, they are all independently accented]


In lesson 15, we looked at gerundives (potential passive participle). We said that the gerundive is formed by the addition of one of the three suffixes “-ya, -tavya, -anīya,  -य, -तव्य, -अनीय”. In Vedic Sanskrit, the gerundive is also formed by the addition of “tva”, “tya”, “āyya”, “enya”

Gerundives in “ya” (and tya) and “tva” accent the root: cákṣya चक्ष्य॑; śrútya श्रुत्य॑; váktva वक्त्व॑

Gerundives in “āyya”, “enya” and “anīya” accent the penultimate of the suffix: panā́yya प॒नाय्य॑; īḍénya ई॒डेन्य॑; upajīvanī́ya उ॒प॒जी॒व॒नीय॑

And those in “tavya” accent the final syllable: janitavyà ज॒नि॒त॒व्य॑

[Note that the preposition normally is not separated from a gerundive, and when the preposition is compounded, the preposition loses its accent and the accent of the gerundive stays: ā-mantraṇī́ya आ॒म॒न्त्र॒णीय॑]

We will look at infinitives in a later lesson.


In lesson 14, we learned that the continuative is formed by adding “tvā  त्वा” (or sometimes “itvā  इत्वा”)  to a simple or unprefixed (sometimes strengthened)  root  and “ya  य” ( or sometimes “tya  त्य”) to a prefixed root. Vedic Sanskrit has two more forms for the unprefixed root: “tvī” and “tvāya”

Continuatives formed with “tvā”, “tvī” and “tvāya” accent the suffix, while those formed with “ya” and “tya” accent the root.

bhūtvā́ भू॒त्वा; gatvī́ ग॒त्वी; gatvā́ya ग॒त्वाय॑; saṃgŕ̥bhya सं॒गृभ्य॑; upaśrútya उ॒प॒श्रुत्य॑

Verbal prepositions

In principal sentences, the preposition is normally detached and precedes the verb (sometimes follows the  verb). The detached preposition is accented. And when there are two prepositions, both are independent and accented.

ā́ gamat आ ग॑मत्; gávām ápa vrajáṃ vr̥dhi गवा॒म् अप॑ व्र॒जं वृ॑धि; úpa prá yāhi उप॒ प्र या॑हि; ágne ví paśya br̥hatā́ abhí rāyā́ अग्ने॒ वि प॑श्य बृह॒ता अ॒भि रा॒या

Analysis of a verb from the Rig Veda

Let us take an example verse from the Rig Veda. This verse  is RV 1.1.2 with Griffith’s translation.

agníḥ pū́rvebhir ŕ̥ṣibhir

ī́ḍyo nū́tanair utá ।

अ॒ग्निः पूर्वे॑भि॒र् ऋषि॑भि॒र्

ईड्यो॒ नूत॑नैर् उ॒त ।

Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as by ancient seers.
sá devā́m̐ éhá vakṣati ॥ स दे॒वाँ एह व॑क्षति ॥ He shall bring hitherward the Gods.

When metrically restored it becomes:

agníḥ pū́rvebhir ŕ̥ṣibhir अ॒ग्निः पूर्वे॑भि॒र् ऋषि॑भिर्       – – – – ~ ~ ~ ~
ī́ḷio nū́tanair utá ईळि॑ओ नूत॑नैर् उ॒त       – ~ – – ~ – ~ ~
sá devā́m̐ éhá vakṣati स दे॒वाँ एह व॑क्षति       ~ – – – ~ – ~ ~

The metre of the hymn is Gāyatrī. This consists of three octosyllabic verses identical in construction. When normal, each of these verses ends (the last four syllables) in ~ – ~ ~/-. [The first line in this verse is of irregular metre]. The first two verses are treated together as a hemistich.

Note that the word ī́ḍyo when metrically restored becomes ī́ḍio ईडि॑ओ. This then has to be pronounced ī́ḷio ईळि॑ओ. [In Vedic Sanskrit ḍ ड् between two vowels becomes ḷ ळ्]

Note that the visarga in agníḥ, since it is before a “p”, is to be pronounced as an upadhmānīya spirant. That is an “f” sound. So agníf pū́rvebhir etc.


agníḥ अ॒ग्निः Nominative singular masculine of agní “fire”; the deity Agni
pū́rvebhiḥ पूर्वे॑भिः Instrumental plural of masculine adjective “pū́rva” “by ancient”. In Vedic Sanskrit, the ending “ebhis” is also used commonly as “ais” for “a” ending stems. In Classical Sanskrit only “ais” is used.
ŕ̥ṣibhiḥ ऋषि॑भिः Instrumental plural of masculine ŕ̥ṣi “by seers”
ī́ḍyaḥ ईड्यः॑ Gerundive (potential passive participle) of √īḍ “praise”
nū́tanaiḥ नूत॑नैः Instrumental plural of masculine adjective “nū́tana” “of now, young”. Here the “ais” ending is used. This combining of the “ais” ending and “ebhis” ending in the same stanza is common.
utá उ॒त This particle meaning “and” is very commonly used in the Vedas
sáḥ सः
devā́n दे॒वान् Accusative plural of masculine “devá” “heavenly, god”Note the Sandhi here. In ancient Sanskrit, a final “n” before vowels is changed after a long vowel, to the Anusvāra. (If the preceding long vowel is an “ā”, then to “m̐” and if it is “ī”, “ū” or “ṝ” to “m̐r”
ā́ Note how the the preposition is separated from the verb. [In classical Sanskrit it would have been āvakṣati.] Note also that this preposition is accented as we mentioned before in this lesson.
ihá इ॒ह Adverb “here”
vakṣati व॒क्ष॒ति॒ Note that the verb is accentless. This form is an “s” aorist subjunctive, third person singular of √vah “carry” (vah-s-a-ti) [In Vedic Sanskrit, like the present system, the aorist system also has a subjunctive mode]

This is the end of lesson 46. This concludes the discussion on accents.


3 thoughts on “Lesson 46 – Vedic Sanskrit – Accents – 4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.