Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sanskrit Grammar: Adjective+Noun agreement, with Vallabhācārya’s Madhuraṣṭakam

The 15th century bhakti saint wrote this octet in praise of the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa.

In the first verse, all the nouns are neuter - they end in 'm', and therefore all the adjectives describing them also end in 'm'. We understand each phrase to mean 'His' xyz attribute is sweet. However all that is written is sweet + xyz. Even the 'is' is assumed. So there is no 'asti' required.

अधरम् मधुरम्

sweet (lower lip) 
वदनम्  मधुरम् 
sweet face
नयनम् मधुरम्
sweet eye
हसितम् मधुरम्
sweet laughter
हृदयम् मधुरम्
sweet heart
गमनम् मधुरम्
sweet manner of going (trans. by most as gait, the way He walks)
मधुराधिपते: अखिलम् मधुरम्
Everything of the Lord of sweetness (is) sweet.
(It could be Lord of sweetness, or sweet Lord, depends how you interpret the compound)

When you hear this refrain, it sounds like मधुराधिपतेरखिलम् मधुरम्. That is because there are two sandhis taking place here: madhura+adhipati becomes मधुरधिपति, and  मधुराधिपते: is the 3rd person, masculine, genitive form - i.e. 'His' all, everything of His is sweet  (i.e. belonging to the Lord of sweetness). 
So far you have met the masc, genitive singular as Rāmasya or Kabandhasya. That is because they are 'a' ending nouns whereas pati is an 'i' ending noun fo which the genitive singular is पतेः. So after that long explanation, we come to the second sandhi - which is मधुरधिपतेः + अखिलम्, where the visarga reverts to a 'r' and combines with the 'a' of adhipati.

Now back to adjective+noun agreement. In verse 2 the nouns are neuter, like verse 1, so the adjective and noun both end in 'm'
वचनम् मधुरम्
sweet speech
चरितम् मधुरम्
sweet character
वसनम् मधुरम्
sweet garment (normally translated as clothes)
वलितम् मधुरम्
sweet posture*
चलितम् मधुरम्
sweet going (often translated as movement)
भ्रमितम् मधुरम्
sweet wandering
मधुरधितेरखिलम् मधुरम्

(Everything of the sweet Lord/Lord of sweetness is sweet)

* Valitam: This is a tricky one - if anyone has a solution, do write in: 'valita' in the neuter is pepper, and valita meaning a gesture or posture during dance is actually a masculine noun. So it seems to me that Vallabhācārya has shoe-horned this to fit the rhyme scheme. But if anyone has a better explanation, I would love to know your view.

Verse 3 is a combination of masculine and neuter nouns, and the adjective follow in lock-step, including the masculine dual पादौ, (two) feet. Some sandhi too in this verse, so I'll split it for you, as we haven't gone through it together yet.

वेणुर्मधुरो रेणुर्मधुरः

पाणिर्मधुरः पादौ मधुरौ

Masculine nouns:
वेणुः +मधुरः
sweet flute
रेणुः +मधुरः
sweet dust (normally understood to be the dust of the riverbank on his face...)
पाणिः+ मधुरः
sweet hand
पादौ +मधुरौ

sweet (two) feet
(You can tell by now that all translation is actually an act of interpretation too!!!)
Now the neuter nouns:
नृत्यम् मधुरम्
sweet dance
सख्यम् मधुरम्
sweet friendship (intimacy with)
मधुरधितेरखिलम् मधुरम्

Verse 4 (neuter nouns)
गीतम् मधुरम्
sweet song
पीतम् मधुरम्
sweet drinking (the way He drinks?)
भुक्तम् मधुरम्
sweet (way of) eating
सुप्तम् मधुरम्
sweet sleep (way of sleeping?)
रूपम् मधुरम्
sweet form
तिलकम् मधुरम्
sweet tilaka
मधुरधितेरखिलम् मधुरम्
(Everything of the sweet Lord is sweet)

Verse 5
करणम्  मधुरम्
sweet deeds/doings
तरणम्  मधुरम्
sweet... तरणम् comes from tṛ meaning to cross over, from which we get the Hindi words तीर्थ and तैरना. so तरणम् could be crossing over, it could be swimming. I've even seen it translated as 'conquest' - again, I'd love to know how, if anyone has any ideas.
हरणम्  मधुरम्
sweet act of stealing (the heart??) or carrying away
रमणम्  मधुरम् 
sweet joy (रमणम् is often used in a sexual sense)
वमितम्  मधुरम् 
sweet ... well the dictionary meaning is to eject, so I'm going to take this as 'exude' - anything that comes out of his body
शमितम्  मधुरम्
sweet appeasement (from √शम्, from which we also get शान्त and शङ्कर)
मधुराधिपतेरखिलम्  मधुरम्

Verse 6 has feminine nouns as well as neuter. You can tell the feminine by the fact that the adjective will always end in 'aa' even if the noun doesn't as in वीचि मधुरा :
गुञ्जा मधुरा
गुञ्जा I have seen translated as a bunch of flowers, which I think is wrong, because that is a masculine noun (गुञ्ज) and also there is no association of Krishna with a bunch of flowers - a garland yes, bunch of flowers, not to the best of my knowledge. In the feminine sense, it could be berry, a kind of drum, or humming. I would take this as berry, because of the gunjaa beads and their association with Krishna)
माला मधुरा
sweet garland

यमुना मधुरा 

sweet Yamuna 
वीचि मधुरा 
sweet ripple (of the Yamuna?)

सलिलं मधुरं 

sweet water(s) (neuter)
कमलं मधुरं
Now, here it could be the obvious Lotus because of the association with Vishnu. Let me know if you have any other ideas...
मधुरधितेरखिलम् मधुरम्

Verse 7
गोपी मधुरा 
sweet cowherd-girl (if you have seen this translated in plural, it's wrong, because gopi declines the same way as nadi, and the plural 'gopi-s' would be  गोप्यः. Please see tables on
लीला मधुरा
sweet sport/play
युक्तम् मधुरम्
sweet union (a past participle as an adjective... united, joined)
मुक्तम् मधुरम्
sweet release (again, past participle... released)
दृष्टम् मधुरम्
sweet ... दृष्टम् is an neuter noun derived from the past participle दृष्ट meaning seen - and I'm not sure if it is the act of 'me' being seen by Krishna, or me seeing Krishna. Any thoughts?
शिष्टम् मधुरम्
sweet behaviour/conduct. The noun comes from शिष्ट  which is a past participle from √शास्, meaning to instruct/rule. So he who is instructed (in Vedic teaching/way of life) = शिष्ट which is a very important concept in Vedic thinking, and we often hear of it as शिष्टाचार. Also from the same root is shaastri, shaasan... but I digress...

And finally!! Verse 8
गोपा मधुरा (see below)
गावो मधुरा (see below)
यष्टिर्मधुरा सृष्टिर्मधुरा* 

दलितं मधुरं फलितं मधुरं
sweet destruction, sweet fruition
मधुराधिपतेरखिलम् मधुरम्

गोपा मधुरा
Now this is in plural although gopa could have been singular. But if it was, then the connected adjective would be मधुरः not madhuraa. So you must analyse everything carefully when you translate. What's happening here is that गोपाः the nominative masculine plural (like RaamaaH see table on is losing its visarga before the 'm' of madhuraa, by the rules of sandhi; Likewise, the visarga of मधुराः the corresponding adjective of गोपाः is losing its visarga before the 'g' of गावः

गावो मधुरा 

(His) cows are sweet. Here the visarga of  गावः which is the nominative, masculine plural of गो, the stem meaning cow/ox is being lost before the 'm' of मधुराः by the rules of sandhi, and as above, मधुराः is losing it's visarga before the 'y' of यष्टिः 

यष्टिर्मधुरा=यष्टिः + मधुरा  
his staff is sweet

यष्टिः is the 3rd person feminine nominative singular of यष्टि and declines like मति which is why it has a visarga, normally seen on masculine nouns. 

Similarly सृष्टिर्मधुरा=सृष्टिः+मधुरा
His creation is sweet. सृष्टिः is the 3rd person feminine nominative singular of सृष्टि and also declines like मति

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