Tag Archives: Arjuna

Nouns As Objects

We looked at how nouns are inflected when used as the subject of a sentence. Now we’ll learn how they are inflected when used as the object of a sentence.

Let’s remind ourselves of the inflections for “case 1” nouns (subjects) and also show the new inflections for “case 2” nouns (objects). Both are limited to masculine words ending in a – for example गज (gaja) {“elephant”}

 
गज Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) गजः

gaja
गजौ

gajau
गजाः

gajāḥ
Case 2 (object) गजम्

gajam
गजौ

gajau
गजान्

gajān
  • You’ll notice that gaja is inflected the same way for use as a subject or object, if there are two elephants (dual).
  • The telltale sign of plurality is the stronger vowel at the end, “ā”. If it’s “-ā” then its a plural subject. If it’s “-ān” it’s a plural object.
  • The telltale sign of the subject case is “ḥ”. If it’s “-āḥ” it’s plural subject. If it’s “aḥ” it’s singular subject.
  • The telltale sign of the object case is the nasal sound “m/n.” You can keep the same rule as above: If there’s a long vowel (“-ām”) before the nasal, it’s a plural object. If there’s a short vowel (“-an”) it’s singular object.

Here are two examples (w/out sandhi)

बालः नरान् तुदति

bālaḥ narān tudati

We know that bāla means child, and it’s masculine, so it means boy. And we know that nara means adult, human, and since it’s masculine, man. And we also know that tuda means “hit/attack.”

So, what does the sentence mean? Boy man attack? Boy attacks man? Man attacks boy? Boys attack men? Etc.

Well, we see tuda is expressed as tudanti, and we know that the -ti ending is 3rd person, singular. Tuda (“hit/attack”) is the action in the sentence, the verb. So whoever is doing the attacking is one person, singular.

Bālaḥ has the “ḥ” at the end, a telltale sign of being a subject. Narān has the nasal sound (“n” in this case) at the end, the telltale sign of being the object. Now we’ve sorted it out! Bālaḥ is the subject, doing tudati to the object: narān. Tudati is singular, so if it applies to bālaḥ, bālaḥ has to be singular too. Sure enough it is. The tell tale sign is the at the “a” before the “ḥ” is not “ā” – that’s how we know it’s singular. Similarly we know narān is plural because the “a” at the end is “ā”.

So: “The boy attacks the men.”

कृष्णः वीरम् पृच्छति

kṛṣṇaḥ vīram pṛcchati

Kṛṣṇa is the person named “Krishna.” We know that he’s the subject of the sentence because of the “ḥ” at the end of kṛṣṇaḥ. And we know there’s just one kṛṣṇa involved (singular) because the vowel before the “ḥ” is short (“a”), not long (“ā”). Vīram means “hero.” It ends in a nasal sound so we know it’s the object of the sentence. The vowel before the final nasal is short, so it’s singular. The verb is pṛcchati (inquire), which (being “-ti”) is third person singular.

So: “Krishna asks the hero.”

What’s an “object” anyway? It’s an entity to which / on which action is performed. “Krishna asks the hero.” The hero is the “object” because he’s the entity to which the action of asking is directed. “The boy attacks the men.” The men are the “object” because they are the entity to which the action of attacking is directed. So consider this example:

अर्जुनः अश्वम् गच्छति

arjunaḥ aśvam gacchati

The “-ḥ” gives away the subject, Arjuna. The nasal (‘-m’) gives away the object, a horse (aśvam, singular because the final vowel is short). The verb is also singular and third person, gacchati – “he goes.” So the object, being the entity to which action is directed, indicates the destination of movement, in this sentence:

“Arjuna goes to the horse.”

 

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