Imatges de pàgina

complication of technical phrases, conventional abbreviations, and symbolical letters, which are as puzzling at the first stage of his studies, as they may be useful in assisting his memory at a later period. And thus it is that a very false impression is formed of the difficulty of a language, the broad and useful principles of which lie wholly within the reach of the most moderate capacity. It will be the aim of the following pages to disentangle the subject, as much as possible, from this superabundant weight of mystical symbols and unusual tenses and forms, many of which exist more in the theory of grammarians than in the practice of approved writers; and although no part of the verb will be left unnoticed, the larger print will serve to attract the eye of the student to those points which are of general utility and real importance, whilst the smaller will indicate those portions of the subject which are to be reserved for after-consideration.

Although the Sanscrit verb offers the most striking and interesting analogies to the Greek, nevertheless, so peculiar and artificial is the process by which it is formed, that it would be impossible, in treating of it, to adopt an arrangement which would be likely to fall in with the preconceived notions of the classical student.

There are ten tenses. Seven of them are of common occurrence; viz. 1. the present, 2. the first preterite, 3. the potential, 4. the imperative, 5. the second preterite, 6. the first future, 7. the second future. Three are of rare occurrence; viz. 8. the third preterite, 9. the benedictive, 10. the conditional. There is also an infinitive mood, and several participles. Of these tenses the present, the three preterites, and the two futures, belong properly to the indicative mood; and the imperative, potential, benedictive, and conditional, are more properly moods than tenses. Since, however, these moods do not comprehend other tenses under them, but are susceptible of all times, present, past, and future, it can lead to no embarassment to consider them as tenses, and to arrange them indiscriminately with the others in the manner proposed above.

† Although the three preterites are used without much distinction, yet it should be observed that they properly express different degrees of past time. The first pre

terite corresponds to the imperfect of Greek and Latin verbs, and properly has reference to an event doing at some time past, and not ended. The second preterite has reference to an event done and past at some definite period. The third preterite, to an event done and past at some indefinite period, thus corresponding to the Greek aorist. So, also, the two futures properly express, the first definite, the second indefinite futurity. The potential may generally be rendered in English by some one of the auxiliaries “may,” “ can,” “would,” “should,” “ought.” The conditional is used after the conjunction yadi, “if”: it occurs, however, but very rarely, and the potential usually supplies its place in conditional sentences. The benedictive is a tense sometimes used in praying and blessing.

The infinitive mood generally has an active, but is capable of a passive signification.

Every tense has three numbers, singular, dual, and plural.

There are two voices or systems of inflection, the one called Parasmaipada, the other Ātmanepada.* The former is supposed to convey a transitive sense, the action passing parasmai, "to another"; the latter, a reflexive sense, corresponding to that conveyed by the Greek middle voice, the action reverting ātmane, “to one's self." This distinction, however, is very rarely preserved ; and we find verbs, transitive or intransitive, conjugated indifferently in the parasmaipada or ātmanepada, or both. When, however, the verb is conjugated in both, the ātmane may then sometimes yield its appropriate meaning, and give a kind of reflexive sense, or a sense directing the action in some way to the advantage of the agent.

Passive verbs are invariably conjugated in the ātmanepada.

From every root five kinds of verbs may, in theory, be eliciteda primitive, a causal, a passive, a desiderative, and intensive.

* If the term voice has reference to the system of inflection, it is obvious that there can only be two voices in Sanscrit; and although the ātmanepada, in one or two instances, has a middle sense, yet it cannot be said to correspond with the Greek middle voice, the chief characteristic of which is, that it takes a middle inflection, partly active, partly passive.

† The words parasmaipada and ātmanepada will often be contracted into

par., ātm.


Of these, the two last forms are very rarely met with, except in the nouns and participles derived from them ; and will therefore be but slightly noticed in these pages.

So, also, from every noun, certain nominal verbs may, in theory, be elicited. Very few of these, however, are in frequent use. There are ten conjugations. Primitive verbs may belong to any one of the first nine conjugations, but by far the greatest number belong either to the 1st, 4th, or 6th, the other six conjugations comprising so few verbs that they may be regarded rather as exceptions. These nine conjugations apply to the first four tenses only. The other tenses of the primitive are formed according to one rule. Causal verbs form the 10th conjugation. Every root has a passive form, entirely independent of the conjugational form assumed by the root; and the student will observe, that the passive cannot, in Sanscrit, be considered a voice, according to the usual acceptation of the term. For, in that case, he would expect a verb in the passive voice to correspond in form with a verb in the active, in the way that audior corresponds with audio, and ακούομαι with ακούω, the terminations or system of infection only being changed. But, in Sanscrit, the passive often varies entirely in form from the active verb, whilst the terminations may in both cases be the same, viz. those of the ātmanepada. It is rather a distinct derivative from the root, formed on one invariable principle, without the least community with the conjugational structure of the active verb. Thus, the root bhid, to divide," is of the 7th conjugation, and makes bhinatti or bhinte, “he divides "; dwish,

to hate,” is of the 2d conjugation, and makes dweshti or dwishte, " he hates"; but the passive of both is formed according to one invariable rule, by the simple insertion of y, without the least reference to the conjugational form of the active: thus, bhidyate, “ he is divided "; drishyate, “he is hated.”

From these observations it is evident that the difficulty of the Sanscrit verb is as nothing when compared with the Greek. The Greek verb has three voices, and about ninety tenses and moods : the Sanscrit has only two voices, and not more than twenty-one tenses and moods. Besides which, a far greater number of verbs are susceptible of the three voices in Greek, than of the two in Sanscrit.


Moreover, in Sanscrit, there are no contracted verbs, and no difficulties resulting from difference of dialect; and although there are ten conjugations, yet these have reference to four tenses only, and, under some of these conjugations, only two or three common verbs are contained.

Verbs primitive, causal, and passive, may, like nouns, be divided into simple and compound. Simple verbs may be regarded as falling under two heads, either as derived from uncompounded roots, or as derived from nouns. Compound verbs are those formed by combining roots with prepositions or other adverbial prefixes.


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It has been already shown that there are a large number of monosyllabic sounds in Sanscrit, called roots, which, having a mere ideal existence, are the source of verbs as well as nouns. These roots are in number about two thousand, and the theory of grammarians is, that each of them may serve as the basis on which to construct five kinds of verbs; l. a primitive, transitive or intransitive; 2. a causal, having often a causal and often merely a transitive signification; 3. a passive; 4. a desiderative, giving a sense of wishing to the root; and 5. an intensive (or frequentative), heightening the idea contained in the root. It will be found, however, in practice, that the greater number of these two thousand roots never occur at all in the form of verbs, nor, indeed, in any other form but that of the nouns to which they give origin; and that the roots in real use as the source of verbs are comparatively very few.

Of these few, moreover, certain particular roots (such, for example, as kri, “ to do "), as if to compensate for the inactivity of the others, are kept in constant employment, and, by compounding them with prepositions and other prefixes, applied to the expression of the most various and opposite ideas.

Nevertheless, theoretically, from every root in the language may be elicited five kinds of verbs. The first, or primitive verb,

* Compound verbs will be treated of in the chapter on compound words.

is formed from the root, according to the nine different rules for the changes of the root, required by the first nine conjugations ; the second, or causal, is formed according to the rule for the change of the root, required by the 10th conjugation ; viz. the addition of ay to the root, the vowel of which has taken the Guna change. The third, or passive, is formed according to the rule for the change of the root, required by the 4th conjugation, viz. the addition of y in the first four tenses. The fourth, or desiderative, is formed by the addition of ish ors, the root also undergoing reduplication. The fifth, or intensive, is formed like the passive, according to the rule required by the 4th conjugation, and is, in fact, a reduplicated passive verb. It may also be formed analogously to the rule for the 3d conjugation. Thus, take the root shubh, conveying the idea of “shining "-from this are elicited, 1. the primitive, shobh, "to shine"; 2. the causal, shobhay, “to cause to shine" or

to shine" or "illuminate"; 3. the passive, shubhy, to be bright "; 4. the desiderative, shushobhish, “to desire to shine "; 5. the intensive, shoshuby, “ to shine very brightly.” See also p. 19.

Of these five forms of verbs, the primitive, causal, and passive, are the only three used by the best writers, and to these alone the attention of the reader will now be directed. The subject, therefore, will divide itself into two heads. In the first place, the formation of the base : 1st, of primitive; 2dly, of causal ; 3dly, of passive verbs. In the second place, the inflection of the base of these same forms respectively. But here it may be asked, what is the base ?


The base of the verb is that changed form of the root to which the terminations are immediately affixed, and holds exactly that intermediate position between the root and the inflected verb itself, which the crude form holds between the root and the inflected noun.

This great peculiarity, therefore, cannot be too often or too forcibly impressed upon the attention of the learner, that, in the treatment of Sanscrit verbs, two perfectly distinct subjects offer themselves for consideration : Ist, the formation of

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