Friday, 25 January 2013

Building words from verbal roots: Primary Suffixes (कृत् प्रत्यय)

One of the reasons for the extraordinary richness of the Sanskrit lexicon is the derivation of nouns and adjectives from verbal roots. By using prefixes (उपसर्ग-s) , and  derivational suffixes (प्रत्यय-s) it is possible to generate upto 2,500 words from a single root.* For those of you who have shown a keen interest in learning Sanskrit, I'm happy to share pure grammar lessons, which will help you recognise and analyse words  you encounter in the texts you are reading. All the material for these lessons come from textbooks cited at the bottom of this article.

Derivational suffixes (प्रत्यय-s) fall into two broad categories - primary (कृत्  प्रत्यय), when they are added directly to the root, and secondary (तद्धित प्रत्ययif they are added to a form already derived by कृत् . Before we move further though, you must know or revise grades of vowel strength (गुण and वृद्धि) of which I am posting a table here for your convenience:

if this is blurred or not clear, please leave a comment. I'll re-post.

Let us now look at major primary (कृत्  प्रत्यय) suffixes.** What we are discussing here is the creation of "nouns", words which lose their verbal character, despite being 'raised' from a verbal root.

क्विप् or the zero suffix: A few mainly feminine nouns are created by this method, where the root itself is used as a noun. There may or may not be a prefix. What matters is the treatment of the verbal root.

दृश् (4P)*** => दृश्  sight; fem noun 
युध् (4A) => युध् fight, battle; fem noun 
उप+नि +सद् (1P) => उपनिषद् to sit down near; fem noun  
म्+सद् => संसद् to sit down together, assembly
परि+सद् => परिषद् to sit around; assembly 
आ+पद् (1P)=> आपद् calamity, misfortune; fem noun  

The 'अ' कृत्  प्रत्यय:      

This is the most important suffix in Sanskrit. It is added to roots to form 'action' nouns, mostly masculine. Before this suffix, the root vowel (e.g. the उ in युज्) will take गुण  and become an ओ (see table above). A medial अ (e.g. in  त्यज्) could take वृद्धि (त्याग), as can some final vowels. Let's look at some examples to see what this means:

जि (1P) to conquer=> जयः conquest, victory; masc noun
So the इ of जि becomes an ए। When the ए is followed by the अ suffix, we get जय [if you remember, ए  is अ+ इ and by rules of vowel sandhi, the इ becomes a य् before the अ] Since it is a masculine noun, there is a visarga. Likewise:  
कुप् (4P) to be angry=> कोपः anger; masc noun
क्रुध् (4P) to be angry=> क्रोधः anger; masc noun
उद्+ (2P) to go up => उदयः ascension, the rising; masc noun
भिद् =>(7P) to split भेदः separation, a split, to make a distinction; masc noun
शुच् (1P) to grieve => शोकः grief; masc noun
युज् (7P) to join, to yoke => योगः union; masc noun 
लुभ् (4P) to be greedy => लोभः greed; masc noun
विद् (2P) to know => वेदः sacred knowledge; masc noun
भुज् (7P) to enjoy => भोगः enjoyment; masc noun
वृ (9A) to choose=> वरः boon; masc noun  

Sometimes we get a neuter noun like भयम् from √भी (3P). And from the root कृ we can get agent nouns by the same process. E.g. भास्करः maker of light, the sun.

Next post: the suffixes आ and अन. Please send requests if you have doubts or problems. Will help the best I can.     

Material for these grammar lessons is taken from the following books. Providing links in case you wish to buy them:

*This refers to commonly used words. I don't even want to hazard a guess of what the real number is!
** [Participial, infinitive, gerundives and gerund suffixes like -त, -न, -तुम्, -तव्य, -य, -अनीय, -त्वा & -त्य will be discussed separately]. 
*** All roots will be marked by a number, which indicates which group it belongs to - there are 10 groups assigned by grammarians. And the P, A or U indicates whether a verb is parasmaipada, aatmanepada or ubhayapada.


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Vinodh said...

Nice post.

शुच् (1P) to grieve => शोकः grief; masc noun

How is that after Cha becomes Ka. Can you please explain. I can understand is the 1P conjugation.

Thanks Vinodh Ramji