Category Archives: Sandhi

Complete Sandhi Mnemonic, Explanation, and Examples for स् (-s)

~~~~ Rhymes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When at the end, S becomes the visarga.
If met without voice, it converts to that varga.

When met with a voice, S becomes R.
(But don’t let it double, that would take it too far.)

When S comes with A, there’s a few things to test
With consonant voice, make A O and drop S

With vowels, if A is the voice than it too
disappears. If not, only the S has to shoo.

S also might come with a friend called “Long A”
When that happens, again, only S goes away.

~~~~ Explanation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“When at the end, S becomes the visarga.”

When स् (s) comes at the end of a word that stands alone or is at the very end of a statement, change it to the visarga, : (ḥ).

“If met without voice, it converts to that varga.”

If स् (s) comes before an unvoiced consonant: Alter the स् (s) to match the वर्ग (varga) of the following consonant.

“When met with a voice, S becomes R.”

If स् (s) comes before a voiced sound (which includes both consonants and vowels, except /a): Change the स् (s) to र् (r).

“(But don’t let it double, that would take it too far.)”

If र्र (rr) results from the above process, drop the first र् (r) and make the previous vowel long.

“When S comes with A, there’s a few things to test”

There are special considerations for अस् (-as)…

“With consonant voice, make A O and drop S”

If अस् (-as) comes before a Voiced Consonant: Change the (a) to (o) and drop the स् (s).

“With vowels, if A is the voice than it too [disappears.]”

If अस् (-as) comes before the (a) vowel, do the same as above, and also drop the following (a).

“If not, only the S has to shoo.”

If अस् (-as) comes before a vowel other than (a), only drop the स् (s), not the vowel.

S also might come with a friend called “Long A”
When that happens, again, only S goes away.

This is a special rule for अास् (-ās). When it comes before any vowel or voiced consonant: just drop the स् (s)

~~~~ Examples ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“When at the end, S becomes the visarga.”

When स् (s) comes at the end of a word that stands alone or is at the very end of a statement, change it to the visarga, : (ḥ).

अग्निस् = अग्निः

agnis. = agniḥ.

“If met without voice, it converts to that varga.”

If स् (s) comes before an unvoiced consonant: Alter the स् (s) to match the वर्ग (varga) of the following consonant.

रामस् + चलति = रामश्चलति

rāmas + calati = rāmaś-calati

(Rāma wanders)

हरिस् + चलति = हरिश्चलति

haris + calati = hariś-calati

(Hari wanders)

विष्णोस् + छया = विष्णोश्छया

viṣṇos + chayā = viṣṇoś-chayā

(Viṣṇu’s shadow)

/ (ca/cha) is from the palate-group, so the स् (s) becomes the palate-sibilant, श् (ś).

हरिस् + टीकां करोति = हरिष्टीकां करोति

haris + ṭīkāṁ karoti = hariṣ-ṭīkāṁ karoti

(Hari writes a commentary)

(ṭa) is from the roof-group, so the स् (s) becomes the roof-sibilant, ष् (ṣ).

अग्निस् + तीक्ष्णः = अग्निस्तीक्ष्णः

agnis + tīkṣṇaḥ = agnis-tīkṣṇaḥ

(Fire is fierce)

(ta) is from the tooth-group, so the स् (s) remains as the tooth-sibilant, स् (s).

हरिस् + पश्यति = हरिः पश्यति

haris + paśyati = hariḥ paśyati

(Hari sees)

रामस् + पश्यति = रामः पश्यति

rāmas + paśyati = rāmaḥ paśyati

(Rāma sees)

(pa) is from the lip-group, so the स् (s) would become a lip-sibilant, an “f” sound, which is approximated in Sanskrit by : (ḥ).

हरिस् + खनति = हरिः खनति

haris + khanati = hariḥ khanati

(Hari digs)

(kha) is from the throat-group, so the स् (s) changes to the throat-sibilant, approximated in Sanskrit by : (ḥ).

रामस् + सीतां पश्यति = रामः सीतां पश्यति

rāmas + sītaṁ paśyati = rāmaḥ sītaṁ paśyati

(Rāma sees Sītā)

Before another sibilant, स् (s) also transforms to : (ḥ).

“When met with a voice, S becomes R.”

If स् (s) comes before a voiced sound (which includes both consonants and vowels, except /a): Change the स् (s) to र् (r).

गतिस् + नास्ति = गतिर्नास्ति

gatis + nāsti = gatir-nāsti

(Impossible)

हरेस् + गौस् = हरेर्गौः

hares + gaus = harer-gau

(Hari’s cow)

अग्निस् + इव = अग्निरिव

agnis + iva = agnir-iva

(Fire-like)

विष्णोस् + आयुधम् = विष्णोरायुधम्

viṣṇos + āyudham = viṣṇoyudham

(Viṣṇu’s weapon)

“(But don’t let it double, that would take it too far.)”

If र्र (rr) results from the above process, drop the first र् (r) and make the previous vowel long.

अग्निस् + रोचते = अग्नीरोचते

agnis + rocate = agnī-rocate

(Fire shines)

अग्निस् (agnis) first becomes अग्निर् (agnir), but because the next sound is the र् (r) of रोचते (rocate), the र् (r) at the end of अग्निर् (agnir) is dropped and the previous vowel is made long, resulting in अग्नी (agnī).

“When S comes with A, there’s a few things to test”

There are special considerations for अस् (-as)…

“With consonant voice, make A O and drop S”

If अस् (-as) comes before a Voiced Consonant: Change the (a) to (o) and drop the स् (s).

रामस् + गच्छति = रामो गच्छति

rāmas + gacchati = rāmo gacchati

(Rāma goes)

A short “a” preceded the “s”, which was followed by “g,” a voiced consonant. The “a” changed to “o.” The “s” was destroyed.

पश्यतस् + राज्ञः = पश्यतो राज्ञः

paśyatas + rājñaḥ = paśyato rājñaḥ

(While the king watches)

A short “a” preceded the “s”, which was followed by “r,” a voiced consonant. The “a” changed to “o.” The “s” was destroyed.

“With vowels, if A is the voice than it too [disappears.]”

If अस् (-as) comes before the (a) vowel, do the same as above, and also drop the following (a).

रामस् + अयम् = रामोयम्

rāmas + ayam = ramo’yam

(He is Rāma)

पश्यतस् + अर्जुनस्य = पश्यतोर्जुनस्य

paśyatas + arjunasya = paśyato’rjunasya

(While Arjuna watches)

A short “a” preceded the “s”, which was followed by “a.” The first “a” changed to “o.” The “s” was destroyed. The second “a” was also destroyed.

“If not, only the S has to shoo.”

If अस् (-as) comes before a vowel other than (a), only drop the स् (s), not the vowel.

रामस् + उवाच = राम उवाच

rāmas + uvāca = rāma uvāca

(Rāma said)

बुद्धस् + इव विद्यया = बुद्ध इव विद्यया

buddhas + iva vidyayā = buddha iva vidyayā

(Wise like Buddha)

S also might come with a friend called “Long A”
When that happens, again, only S goes away.

This is a special rule for अास् (-ās). When it comes before any vowel or voiced consonant: just drop the स् (s)

हतास् वीरास् गच्छन्ति स्वर्गलोकम् = हता वीरा गच्छन्ति स्वर्गलोकम्

hatās vīrās gacchanti svargalokam = hatā vīrā gacchanti svargalokam

(Slain heroes go to paradise)

Pronoun exception:

If the root word is सः (saḥ/“he”) or ऐषः (eṣaḥ/“that”), just drop the स् (s), don’t change the (a) to an (o).

ऐषस् + शुकस् + अस्ति = ऐष शुकोस्ति

eṣas + śukas + asti = eṣa śuko ‘sti.

(That is a parrot)

सस् + कृष्णस् = स कृष्णः

sas + kṛṣṇas. = sa kṛṣṇaḥ.

(He is Krishna)

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The lionlike hero is dispassionate

Thats a pretty cool sentence, don’t you think? To me, it means that a truly brave hero is one that is not too ferocious. In other words, barking and growling isn’t the real mark of a valiant hero. Another thing this sentence means to me is that real valor is to conquer ones own passions.

How to say it in Sanskrit?

OK, hero is obviously the subject of the sentence. The word for hero is vīra. There’s only one of them, singular. The ending for singular subjects is -ḥ – so the right word to use in this sentence is vīraḥ.

Now, lionlike… to say that in Sanskrit start with the word for “lion” – siṁha. Now, apply a suffix that will gave the sense of “from, of,” – its a little messy to explain this from English to Sanskrit, but the suffix we’re looking for is -a. When we add -a to siṁha (you may have to review this) it becomes saiṁha (the first vowel in the root “strengthened”). So this means “of a lion” aka “leonine” aka “lionlike.”

Now, to use this word as an adjective we just make sure it has the same ending type as the word its supposed to describe. “lionlike” is an adjective describing the hero, so we configure the ending of saiṁha to match the ending of the word “hero” in this sentence (vīraḥ) – so we should use saiṁhaḥ.

Now we need a word for dispassionate. The word will start from the root, passion: raja. We can make this mean dispassionate by adding a prefix, like the English prefix “dis-“. That prefix in Sanskrit is vi- (meaning “separate/ distinct from”). So the word for dispassionate is viraja. Now, we are using this word like a verb –  is dispassionate. So we just need to configure it like a verb, to match the subject – in other words to be in 3rd person singular, that’s -ti. So the word is virajati.

With these three words we can form our sentence, “The lionlike hero is dispassionate.” saiṁhaḥ vīraḥ virajati. 

One last thing left to do is make it flow easy when spoken (sandhi rules), so it becomes saiṁho vīro virajati – सैंहो वीरो विरजति

Pronouncing / Spelling “n” in the Middle of Sanskrit Words

N will frequently show up as “Ṇ” when you don’t expect it, and it’ll seem like a misspelling.

Sanskrit sounds (probably all languages too, with a few exceptions) are made in five places in the vocal structure of your mouth and throat: (1) in the throat, (2) back of the mouth, (3) top of the mouth, (4) on the teeth, (5) on the lips.

“k” is the sound made with the tongue muscles that are in the throat. “c” is the sound made with the tongue muscles at the back of the mouth. “ṭ” is made with the tongue on the roof/top of the mouth. “t” is made with the tongue on the teeth, and “p” is made with the lips.

Those are the sounds without voice or air. If you add voice and air you get a whole bunch of other letters, as described in Pronunciation of Consonants, and Sanskrit Letters.

The sounds made with the tongue on the roof of the mouth are the characteristic sounds people make to imitate the Indian accent. The technical term for it is “retroflex” (which just means “curling back”, referring to the tongue). It takes a bit more effort to curl the tongue back and stick it on the top of the mouth, compared to the effort it takes to get the tongue into other positions for pronouncing the other types of letters, sooooo there’s a special rule about these letters:

Once you get your tongue into a retroflex position, it can stay there until some other consonant forces it into a different position. This means that once you have a retroflex letter, the rest of the letters in the word will become retroflex too, unless a non-retroflex consonant comes along before the word ends.

Vowels are produced by the shape of the mouth, not the tongue, so they don’t interfere with this. So, once your tongue goes into retroflex, it can stay there through the rest of the vowels in the word, and any other consonnant that’s not in some other position.

Well, just about every other consonnant is in some other position, so basically we’re just talking about the nasal letters (produced mainly in the nose). In other words, we are talking about “n”.

Let’s look at some examples:

Aruna अरुन = Aruṇa अरुण

The word starts with a vowel, a, followed by the semivowel, “r.” Say the “r” sound out loud. Notice that your tongue gets retroflex? R is a retroflex sound. So now, at the second letter of the word, our tongue got into a retroflex position.

The third letter is a vowel, “u” so our tongue doesn’t have to change position. The fourth letter is “n”. N is a nasal, and nasal sounds can be made with the tongue in any of the five positions. Since our tongue is in retroflex, we keep it there, so the “n” becomes “ṇ” (big hint: just about any letter with a dot under it is retroflex). The word finishes with a vowel, “a” which is important. To complicated to explain why.

Arjuna अर्जुन (no change)

The r is retroflex, but it’s followed by a “j”, which is a consonant that forces the tongue to the back of the mouth, out of the retroflex position – so  by the time we get to the “n” in “Arjuna” our tongue is free to pronounce it as its originally supposed to be “n” (tongue on teeth).

Rāmāyana रामायन = Rāmāyaṇa रामायण

The first letter, “r” puts the tongue in retroflex. Then there’s a vowel – so no change to the tongue position. Then a nasal, “m” – again no change to the tongue. Then there’s another vowel. Then there’s “y” which is a semi-vowel and doesn’t change the tongue position. Then another vowel, again no change. So by the time we get to the “n” our tongue is still in retroflex, so the “n” becomes a retroflex n, “ṇ” to make pronunciation easier and more natural.

Kurvanti कुर्वन्ति (no change)

The third letter, “r” puts us in retroflex. “v” is a semi-vowel, followed by a vowel, so when we get to “n” we think we should make it “ṇ” but it’s not a real, full “n” because it has no vowel. It’s joined to “ti” to make a single letter “nti” न्ति. So it’s really a “t” which changes the tongue position to the teeth, therefore the “n” stays a dental nasal, and doesn’t become reflexive.

Brahman ब्रह्मन् (no change)

Again, the “r” sets up the retroflex, and “ahma” don’t change it (h is just air, and m is all lips), so again we expect to change the “n” to retroflex – but again, like in kurvanti, it’s not a full/real “n” because it has no vowel, it’s just the end of the previous syllable, not a syllable on its own. So it doesn’t get changed.

Brahmana ब्रह्मन = Brahmaṇa ब्रह्मण

This is the same as above, but in this word, the n is a real n, a syllable unto itself, because it has a vowel following it. So in this case the n does retroflex to ṇ.

When to worry about it

Usually word stems are already defined with this rule in mind, so generally you only have to worry about it when you’re adding the inflection (ending) to the word.

For example, take the word nara (man). If you want to use this word in Case 6, plural (“men’s”) you are supposed to add the inflection –anām. So go ahead, and you get narānām. But now notice that the “r” gets you into retroflex and there’s no vowel to get you out of retroflex before the “n” comes, so the real spelling/pronunciation is narāṇām.

Similarly if you want to use a neuter noun with a plural inflection, the ending should be –ani. For example (“leaves” – pattra), pattrāni. But the “r” in the root word retroflexes the “n” in the inflection, so the correct version is pattrāṇi.

So, really, you only have to worry about it in the inflections. And even then only in the inflections that have “n” in them, followed immediately by a vowel. So that means only the two cases shown above (as far as the cases we’ve already learned)

Sandhi Tables (Word Blending)

Vowel + Vowel

Across the top of the table find the last letter of word 1, and down the left of the table find the first letter of word 2. The cell where that column and row intersect is the combined vowel sound. When there are two letters in a cell, the second represents the changed first letter of word two.

A I E AI U O AU
A ā ya e ā a va o āva ra
Ā ā a ā ā ā a ā āvā
I e ī a ī ā ī a ī āvī
E ai ye a e ā e ve a e āve re
AI ai yai a ai ā ai vai a ai āvai rai
U o a ū ā ū ū a ū āvū
O au yo a o ā o vo a o āvo ro
AU au yau a au ā au vau a au āvau rau
ar yṛ a ṛ ā ṛ vṛ a ṛ āvṛ

You might quickly notice that after you get past the “a” column, things start to follow a definitie pattern. The vowel at the end of word 1 tends to change, and the vowel at the beginning of word 2 tends to remain whatever it originally was.

Consonant + Consonant

The top row shows the possible final letters of Sanskrit words. The left column shows the possible initial letters. The intersecting cell shows how the final letter will change when it blends with the initial letter. If letters are in (parens) the letters in (parens) indicate the changed initial letter.

 

 

k

t

p

ḥ/r

āḥ

aḥ

n

m

un
voiced

k(h)

c(h)

c

ś

ṁś

ṭ(h)

ṁṣ

t(h)

s

ṁs

p(h)

voiced

g(h)

g

d

b

r

ā

o

j(h)

j

ñ

ḍ(h)

d(h)

d

b(h)

nasals

n

n

m

m

semi
vowels

y/v

g

d

b

r

zero

l

l

r

l

silibants

ś

c (ch)

ñ(ś/ch)

ṣ/s

aspirant

h

g (gh)

ḍ (ḍh)

d (dh)

b (bh)

r

ā

o

vowels

 

g

d

b

a

n/nn

ṅ/ṅṅ

  • (un)Voiced: If the second word has a voiced consonant, the end of the first word has to change to the voiced version.
  • Nasals: If word two starts with a nasal, the ending of word one becomes a nasal, too.
  • Semivowels: If word two starts with a semivowel the letter at the end of word one has to become “voiced.”
  • SilibantsIf word two stars with some type of s the last letter of word one tends not to change.
  • Vowels: If word two starts with a vowel and word one ends with a consonant, that consonant becomes voiced.
  • ḥ ṛ: If word one ends with a dotted h or r, and word two starts with a voiceless consonant – the end of word one changes to one of the hissing sounds corresponding to the throat position of the consonant starting word two. 

Pronouns as Objects (And Compound-Vowel Sandhi)

Yesterday we got our first look at Nouns as Objects.  Now lets look at how Sanskrit uses Pronouns as Objects. Here’s a table, along with a reminder about the same Pronouns as Subjects:

First Person (“I”)
मद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) अहम्

aham
आवाम्

āvām
वयम्

vayam
Case 2 (object) माम्

mām
आवाम्

āvām
अस्मान्

asmān
Second Person (“You”)
त्वद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) त्वम्

tvam
युवाम्

yuvām
यूयम्

yūyam
Case 2 (object) त्वाम्

tvām
युवाम्

yuvām
युष्मान्

yuṣmān
Third Person masculine (“he”)
तद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) सः

saḥ
तौ

tau
ते

te
Case 2 (object) तम्

tam
तौ

tau
तान्

tān

So, what do you notice about all of it? Well, one thing is:

  • Just like with nouns, there’s no difference between Subject and Object inflection when the case is dual.
  • One more thing: except for third person singular and dual, all the Object pronouns have the final vowel as “ā”

Another little observation is that third person masculine object pronouns have the same exact endings as masculine object nouns.

  • gajam (“to the elephant”) | tam (“to him”)
  • gajau (“to two elephants”) | tau (“to those two guys”)
  • gajān (“to the elephants”) | tān (“to those guys”)

Compound-Vowel Sandhi

“Compound vowels” are “ai” and “au.” The rule is:

The second vowel becomes a semi-vowel (“v”, “y”, or “r”)

For example:

अश्वौ इच्छति → अश्चविच्छति

aśvau icchati → aśvav icchati {“He wants the two horses”}

That’s simple, but “e” and “o” are also compound vowels (this comes from an older form of Sanskrit, pre-classical). So let’s first get straight what vowels are what.

Vowel Treated as Example
e ai -e + i- → -ay i-
ai āi -ai + i- → -āy i-
o au -o + i- → -av i-
au āu -au + i- → -āv i-

Remember that “ai” is a stronger form of “e”, and “au” is a stronger form of “o”, and this wont seem arbitrary.

The case of “e” above has some special rule to it (because e is phonetically a very strong sound):

Like all compound vowels “e” changes to a stronger form (“ai”) before applying sandhi. But unlike other compound vowels, the second vowel just disappears rather than change into a semi-vowel.

Here is an example:

ते इच्छन्ति → त इच्छन्ति

te icchanti → ta icchanti

Why?

  1. The “e” in “te” becomes “ai” – so the sound is now “tai”
  2. The e is stronger than most vowels so it obliterates the second vowel rather than merely change it. So the “i” disappears from “tai” and you’re left with “ta”
  3. No further sandhi applies.

One more special note about this “e” business:

If the next words starts with a, that a will also disappear.

A is the most basic, subliminal sound, that’s why it’s so easy to make it disappear when next to the strongest sound, “e.”  So, for example:

ते अश्वाः = ते ऽश्वाः

te aṣvāh = te ‘śvāḥ

 

Putting Words Together! – “Sandhi” (pt 2/5)

Let’s continue the topic of how words blend together (“Sandhi”), which we started in the previous post. To make easy sense of this you should read the examples and specifics out loud, and so you should refer back to “How to Pronounce Vowels” if you need to.

When Vowels Collide

When a word ends in a vowel and the next word starts in a vowel, you blend the two vowels together in a way that could be basically described as combining the two into a single stronger vowel.

A + A = Ā

The simplest example is where the first word ends with a short “a” and the next word starts with a short “a”. When you put them together you get a long a, “ā.”

na (not) + avagacchati (he understands) =  nāvagacchati (he doesn’t understand).

In fact, if you blend any “a”s together, long or short, the result is a long “ā”. Here’s an example from an important textbook on Bhakti-yoga:

niyama (rules) + āgraha(clinging to) = niyamāgraha (clinging to rules)

Since an “a” at the beginning of a word acts like a negator (similar to “anti-” or “un-” in English) this allows you to easily create double meanings. In the example above, when you hear the word niyamāgraha you can’t be sure if it is made from niyama agraha or niyama + āgraha. So you can’t be sure if it means “clinging to rules” or “avoiding rules.”  Unless the author is inept, these ambiguities are always intentional. In this specific case it communicates that in Bhakti-yoga one should not be too obsessed with external rules, nor too negligent of them.

A + I = E

If the first word ends with any sort of “a” (long or short), and the next begins with any sort of “i” (long or short) the combination produces “e”.

Tatra (there)+ iva (as if) = tatreva (“as if there” – as in the sentence, He told the story as if he was there.)

A + U = O

Any “a” meeting any “u” produces an “o”.

na (not) + upaviśati (he sits) = nopaviśati (he doesn’t sit).

So we get the feeling that “e” is a stronger form of “i,” and “o” is a stronger form of “u”. Now what if we blend an “a” with an “e” or “o”? They get even stronger…

A + E = AI

īśvara (the master) + eva (certainly) īśvaraiva (certainly the master).

A + O = AU

na (not) + oja (odd number) = nauja (even)

Even Stronger?

So, “ai” is a stronger form of “e” which is itself a stronger form of “i.” And “au” is a stronger form of “o” which is itself a stronger form of “u”. Now, what if we blend an “a” with “ai” or “au”? It can’t get any stronger, so it just stays the same.

Its possible for words to start with “ṛ.” When they do, there is usually little change. The “ṛ” at the beginning of the second word tends to stay intact and the vowel at the end of the word right before it sometimes changes a little bit.

In the case of A + Ṛ the “ṛ” actually loses its dot (which is unusual) and the a stays the same. So “a + ṛ = ar”

na (not) + ṛddha (abundance) = narddha (poverty)

Tables

So, now that you have the basic idea I can lay all the rest of the rules out on a table. Across the top of the table find the last letter of word 1, and down the left of the table find the first letter of word 2. The cell where that column and row intersect is the combined vowel sound.

a i e ai u o au
a ā ya e ā a va o āva ra
ā ā a ā ā ā a ā āvā
i e ī a ī ā ī a ī āvī
e ai ye a e ā e ve a e āve re
ai ai yai a ai ā ai vai a ai āvai rai
u o a ū ā ū ū a ū āvū
o au yo a o ā o vo a o āvo ro
au au yau a au ā au vau a au āvau rau
ar yṛ a ṛ ā ṛ vṛ a ṛ āvṛ

You might quickly notice that after you get past the “a” column, things start to follow a definitie pattern. The vowel at the end of word 1 tends to change, and the vowel at the beginning of word 2 tends to remain whatever it originally was. To be more verbose about it:

  • “I” changes itself into “y” and leaves the second vowel as it was
  • “E” changes into “a” and then leaves the vowel at the beginning of the next word intact
  • “Ai” changes into “ā” and leaves the next vowel intact
  • “U” changes into “v” and leaves the next vowel as it originally was
  • “O” behaves just like “e” – it changes itself to “a” and leaves the following vowel intact.
  • “Au” behaves just like “u” but with a strong “ā” in the front. In other words it changes itself into “āv” and then leaves the following vowel in its original state
  • “Ṛ” changes to “r” and leaves the second vowel as it was

Putting Words Together! – “Sandhi” (pt 1/5)

How do you pronounce “what’s the matter”?

“Whudtz da madder?”

Lots of times we pronounce it that way, or something like that, because its a hell of a lot easier to say than “what’s the matter.” But we are always supposed to spell it “what’s the matter,” no matter how we pronounce it.

It’s not like that in Sanskrit.

How do you say “the”? Sometimes thee. Sometimes tha. Sometimes da. But the spelling is always the same t-h-e.

Again, it’s not like that in Sanskrit. Sanskrit takes ease-of-pronunciation into its fundamental rules of grammar, unlike English where the idea is that you only talk like that if you are lazy. Well everyone is lazy, and Sanskrit considers it something important to standardize.

This part of Sanskrit Grammar, about effects on the borders between words, is named sandhi. Since I want to start making two-word sentences with you, it’s time to explain it.

There are four different types of word-joining, so I’ll show them to you in four different posts, with a fifth one to recap and put it all together. This is the first of five posts on the topic of sandhi.

The Easiest Joining of Words: Vowel + Consonant

The absolute easiest is the case where the first word ends with a vowel and the next word starts with a consonant. It’s so simple because absolutely nothing changes. The words will already blend together easily, so there is no need to make any adjustments.

Here’s an example using a word you already know, śocati (he cries) and a new, very simple word, na (“no”).

na śocati – he doesn’t cry.

You don’t have to change anything at all from the original words because the first word, na, ends with a vowel and the second word, śocati, starts with a consonant.

This Principle in Bhagavad-Gita

By the way, na śocati is a famous phrase in Sanskrit, you’ll find it in a famous Bhagavad-Gita verse (18.54) brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāńkṣati – “The very satisfied spiritual soul doesn’t lament or hunger.”

Notice that na kāńkṣati is a junction of words that is also of this ultra simple type (word 1 ends with a vowel, word 2 ends with a consonant). And also between  śocati and the na that comes after it. This is another case of vowel + consonnant, so nothing needs to change. So the whole like na śocati na kāńkṣati is a beautiful example of this simplest type of sandhi, where nothing needs to change at all.

You can also notice, referring back to the topic of how to end words, that the two action-words, śocati (“cry”) and kāńkṣati (“desire / hunger”) have the –ati ending… meaning they are singluar and third person words – in simpler terms, it means that they point to a single person (he or she). In this case the person they point to is brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā – “the very satisfied spiritual soul… he  doesn’t cry, he doesn’t want.”

And if you go back to the post on how to end nouns, you’ll notice that the  words brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā (“The very satisfied spiritual soul/person”) have endings indicating that they are the subject of the sentence. So “the spiritually satisfied person” is the subject of this sentence, and the verbs “doesn’t cry, doesn’t want” pertain to him or her.