Sanskrit & Sánscrito (English-Home)

JavaScript is disabled! Check this link!


 Learning Sanskrit - Combination (3)

Vowel Sandhi -Part 3- (Secondary Rules)


 Introduction

Hi, this is Gabriel Pradīpaka again. We will continue to learn Vowel Sandhi, but Secondary Rules now. Remember the three kinds of Sandhi:

1) Vowel Combinations (Vowel Sandhi)

2) Visarga Combinations (Visarga Sandhi)

3) Consonant Combinations (Consonant Sandhi)

We are studying Vowel Combinations (Vowel Sandhi). There are many, many secondary rules, but I have chosen only seven very usual ones. The rest is not used often.

Some rules are exceptions of primary ones, but others are an optional way. Very easy, indeed.

However, before beginning with our study, remember the following table:

Gradations of Vowel Alternation
Type Vowels
WEAKENED GRADATION (simple vowels) a i-ī u-ū ṛ-ṝ
STRENGTHENED GRADATION (Guṇa) a e o ar al
PROTRACTED GRADATION (Vṛddhi) ā ai au ār āl

Besides, it is available now a page with plenty of examples for every rule which has been taught. Click here.

Let's begin our study right now.

top


 1st Secondary Rule

A usual rule to be always kept in mind. Study it attentively!:

1st Secondary Rule
When a dual form (verb, pronoun or noun) ends in "ī", "ū" or "e" is not to be combined, that is, no Sandhi is possible here.

Look at the following table:

Table 8
ī (of a dual form) + any vowel = ī (of a dual form) + any vowel -- (no combination)
ū (of a dual form) + any vowel = ū (of a dual form) + any vowel --(no combination)
e (of a dual form) + any vowel = e (of a dual form) + any vowel --(no combination)

Two examples for every case:

ī (of a dual form) + any vowel = ī (of a dual form) + any vowel -- (no combination)
I have not marked anything with green color, because there are no combinations at all
नाम्नी (nāmnī) + एते (ete) = नाम्नी एते (nāmnī ete) बलिनी (balinī) + अण्डे (aṇḍe) = बलिनी अण्डे (balinī aṇḍe)
These two (ete) names (nāmnī) Two strong (balinī) eggs (aṇḍe)
ū (of a dual form) + any vowel = ū (of a dual form) + any vowel -- (no combination)
I have not marked anything with green color, because there are no combinations at all
गुरू (gurū) + अमू (amū) = गुरू अमू (gurū amū) पशू (paśū) + अत्तः (attaḥ) = पशू अत्तः (paśū attaḥ)
Those two (amū) preceptors (gurū) The two beasts (paśū) eat (attaḥ)
e (of a dual form) + any vowel = e (of a dual form) + any vowel -- (no combination)
I have not marked anything with green color, because there are no combinations at all
युध्यावहे (yudhyāvahe) + अत्र (atra) = युध्यावहे अत्र (yudhyāvahe atra) सेने (sene) + अयुध्येताम् (ayudhyetām) = सेने अयुध्येताम् (sene ayudhyetām)
Both of us fought (yudhyāvahe) here (atra) The two armies (sene) fought --recently-- (ayudhyetām)

top


 2nd Secondary Rule

A usual rule to be always kept in mind. Study it attentively!:

2nd Secondary Rule
When "ṛ" or "ḷ" be followed by "ṛ" or "ḷ"; "ṛ" or "ḷ" may optionally be substituted for both.

This is an additional rule to the 3rd Primary Rule:

If a simple vowel (not a diphthong), short or long, be followed by a similar vowel, short or long, both of them will merge into the similar long vowel.

According to the latter: (a, ā) + (a, ā) = ā; (i, ī) + (i, ī) = ī; (u, ū) + (u, ū)= ū; (ṛ, ṝ) + (ṛ, ṝ) = ṝ; (ṛ, ṝ) + (ḷ) = ṝ. The last case is rather a special one. Since there is no long ḷ (that is, ḹ), ṝ is to be used as resulting combination. In short, as for the letters ṛ and ḷ, short or long, the 3rd Primary Rule states that:

ṛ + ṛ = ṝ; ṛ + ṝ = ṝ; ṝ + ṛ = ṝ; ṝ + ṝ = ṝ; ṛ + ḷ = ṝ and ṝ + ḷ = ṝ. However, this additional rule (2nd Secondary Rule) gives an optional way:

ṛ + ṛ = ṛ or ṛ + ṛ = ṛ + ṛ (no change); and ṛ + ḷ = ḷ or ṛ + ḷ = ṛ + ḷ (no change). The combination ḷ + ṛ is almost nonexistent, and ḷ + ḷ = ṝ, according to the 3rd Primary Rule because there is no ḹ in Sanskrit, except in a theoretical way.

Look at the following table:

Table 9
+ = ṛ or optionally (ṛ + ṛ)
+ = ḷ or optionally (ṛ+ ḷ)

One example for every case. I will use the combinations hotṛ + ṛkāra and ḷkāra. According to the 3rd Primary Rule, the resulting combination is "hotṝkāra" for both of cases, but according to this 2nd Secondary Rule the resulting combinations are as follows:

ṛ + ṛ = ṛ or (ṛ + ṛ) and ṛ + ḷ = ḷ or (ṛ + ḷ)
I have marked with green color the resulting combination
होतृ (hotṛ) + ऋकार (ṛkāra) = होतृकार (hotkāra) or होतृऋकार (hotṛṛkāra)
The letter ṛ (ṛkāra) -pronounced by- the sacrificer (hotṛ)
होतृ (hotṛ) + ऌकार (ḷkāra) = होतॢकार (hotkāra) or होतृऌकार (hotṛḷkāra)
The letter ḷ (ḷkāra) -pronounced by- the sacrificer (hotṛ)

Note that the optional forms "hotṛṛkāra" and "hotṛḷkāra" are exceptions for the 1st Primary Rule, which reads: "Two Sanskrit vowels cannot be placed together (one following the other)."

top


 3rd Secondary Rule

This is a good rule to be reminded:

3rd Secondary Rule
When "a" is followed by the sacred word "Om" or the word "ā", is dropped.

This rule describes how to combine the sacred word Om with a final "a". Om is the Absolute, Om is God, Om is the Supreme Self. There is nothing beyond Om. What is the point of saying much about it?

The word "ā" is used usually as a prefix to verbs in order to add the sense of "near, near to, toward", but it also may mean: "up to, from, from among, out of, fully, really, indeed, etc.":

Table 10
a + Om = Om
a + ā = ā

And now two simple examples of every case:

a + Om = Om and a + ā = ā
I have marked with green color the resulting combination
शिवाय (śivāya) + ओम् (Om) = शिवायोम् (śivāyom)
To Śiva (śivāya), Om (Om) (Note that this "Om" is different from that well-known ; why?... well, I will explain this later on)
राम (rāma) + एहि (ehi) [ (ā) + इहि (ihi)] = रामेहि (rāmehi)
O Rāma (rāma), come near (ehi)! (Note that "ehi" is really "ā + ihi". In short, "ihi" --go!-- plus "ā" --which gives the sense of "near, toward"-- bring about "ehi" --"come near!" as well as "go near!"--)

Simple!

top


 4th Secondary Rule

An optional rule:

4th Secondary Rule
According to the 4th Primary Rule: "When "i-ī, u-ū, ṛ-ṝ and ḷ" are followed by a dissimilar vowel, then "y, v, r and l" are respectively substituted for them". In turn, these "y, v, r and l" may be optionally doubled if they come after "h" or "r". In fact, this very rule may be applied to any consonant except "h".

This rule is a kind of complement of the 4th Primary Rule, although it may be applied to any consonant (except "h") other than "y, v, r and l" provided that it is coming after "h" or "r". Let us see how it works in its general form, even though it is very often used only with Semivowels substitution:

Table 11
any consonant (except "h") coming after "h" or "r" + a vowel = the same consonant but now being doubled + a vowel

Good, and now two examples:

any consonant (except "h") coming after "h" or "r" + a vowel = the same consonant
but now being doubled + a vowel

I have marked with green color the resulting combination
हरि (hari) + ओजस् (ojas) = हर्योजस् (haryojas) [(according to the 4th Primary Rule), but now as "y" comes after "r" and stands before a vowel, we may use optionally the 4th Secondary Rule by merely doubling "y"]: हर्य्योजस् (haryyojas)
The vigour (ojas) of Hari (hari)
(na) + हि (hi) + अस्ति (ásti) = न ह्यस्ति (na hyasti) [(according to the 4th Primary Rule), but now as "y" comes after "h" and stands before a vowel, we may use optionally the 4th Secondary Rule by merely doubling "y"]: न ह्य्यस्ति (na hyyasti)
There is not (na... ásti), no doubt (hi)!

Despite this rule describes how to combine a consonant and a vowel "under certain conditions", the consonant is very often a Semivowel, and Semivowels (y, v, r and l) appear generally as a result of the direct use of the 4th Primary Rule of Vowel Sandhi. That's why I have included it here and not in Consonant Sandhi. Of course, the same rule may be used with any consonant (except "h") other than Semivowels.

top


 5th Secondary Rule

A very important rule indeed:

5th Secondary Rule
When "i-ī", "u-ū", "ṛ-ṝ" or "ḷ" at the end of a word are followed by a dissimilar vowel (except in a compound), are optionally not combined, and when so they are shortened if long.

The 4th Primary Rule stated that "When "i-ī, u-ū, ṛ-ṝ and ḷ" are followed by a dissimilar vowel, then "y, v, r and l" are respectively substituted for them.", and now you have an optional way provided that those vowels are not in a compound. Besides, it states that if one uses this rule and consequently does not combine the vowels, "ī, ū, ṝ" must be shortened. Good! And now let us see a simple summary of the rule:

Table 12
i-ī, u-ū, ṛ-ṝ or ḷ at the end of a word + a dissimilar vowel = i, u, ṛ or ḷ(the long vowels have been shortened) + a dissimilar vowel
Provided that there is no compound being formed from the aforesaid vowels

Two simple examples now:

"i-ī", "u-ū", "ṛ-ṝ" or "ḷ" + a dissimilar vowel = "i", "u", "ṛ" or "ḷ" respectively + a dissimilar vowel
[In short, no combination plus a shortening of the final long vowels]

I have marked with green color the resulting combination when available of course
सरस्वति (sarasvati) + एहि (ehi) = सरस्वत्येहि (sarasvatyehi) [(according to the 4th Primary Rule), but now, the combination may optionally not be done because this is not a compound]: सरस्वति एहि (sarasvati ehi) --no combination now--
Sarasvatī (sarasvati), come near (ehi)!
योगी (yogī) + अत्र (atra) = योग्यत्र (yogyatra) [(according to the 4th Primary Rule), but now the combination may optionally not be done because this is not a compound. However you must shorten the final "ī"]: योगि अत्र (yogi atra)
A yogī (yogi) here (atra)

Oh, mother Sanskrit! You are so complicated and beautiful at the same time. Quite a woman! Ha ha! Joking apart, these rules will prove very useful later, you will see.

Note that in either examples you cannot use the 4th Secondary Rule previously studied because the resulting "y" does not come after "h" or "r" but "t" and "g" respectively. Very good!

top


 6th Secondary Rule

Another crucial rule to be borne in mind:

6th Secondary Rule
When "a-ā", "i-ī", "u-ū" and "ḷ-ḹ" at the end of a word are followed by "ṛ" (short form only), are optionally not combined, and when so they are shortened if long.

A very important rule which is an exception to the 2nd and 4th Primary Rules respectively. It is optionally applied to the aforesaid combinations of "a-ā", "i-ī", "u-ū" and "ḷ-ḹ" (although "ḹ" is practically nonexistent) with "ṛ". If the first vowel is a long one, it must be shortened.

Table 13
a-ā, i-ī, u-ū and ḷ-ḹ at the end of a word + = a, i, u and ḷ(the long vowels have been shortened) +

Two simple examples now:

"a-ā", "i-ī", "u-ū" and "ḷ-ḹ" + ṛ = "a", "i", "u" and "ḷ" respectively + ṛ
[In short, no combination plus a shortening of the final long vowels]

I have marked with green color the resulting combination when available of course
महा (mahā) + ऋषि (ṛṣi) = महर्षि (maharṣi) [(according to the 2nd Primary Rule), but now the combination may optionally not be done]: महऋषि (mahaṛṣi) --no combination now and additionally the final "ā" in "mahā" was shortened--
Great (mahā) sage (ṛṣi)
योगि (yogi) + ऋषी (ṛṣī) = योग्यृषी (yogyṛṣī) [(according to the 4th Primary Rule), but now, the combination may optionally not be done]:योगिऋषी (yogiṛṣī)
A yogī (yogi) and a sage (ṛṣī)

It has been a simple rule.

top


 7th Secondary Rule

A minor rule, but it should be borne in mind though:

7th Secondary Rule
Words consisting of just a single vowel are not combined at all. The word "ā" is obviously also included, except when it means "a little" or "a limit", or when used as a preposition and it is followed by a vowel.

It is a very simple rule too.

Table 14
Words formed from a single vowel ("ā" included, except when it means "a little" or "a limit" o when used as a preposition and it is followed by a vowel) + any vowel = Words formed from a single vowel ("ā" included, except when it means "a little" or "a limit" o when used as a preposition and it is followed by a vowel) + any vowel

That is, no combination and no changes at all. A couple examples of the rule and one example of the exception now:

Words consisting of a single vowel are not to be combined (except "ā" under certain circumstances)
I have marked with green color the resulting combination when available of course
(i) + ईश्वर (īśvara) = इ ईश्वर --no combination at all--
Oh (i) Lord (īśvara)!
(ā) + एवमेते सन्ति (evametesanti) = आ एवमेते सन्ति (ā evamete santi) --no combination at all--
Ah (ā), they are so (evam ete santi)
(ā) + उत्सूर्यम् (utsūryam) = ओत्सूर्यम् (otsūryam) --Now "ā" does combine, because it is acting as a preposition followed by a vowel--
Until (ā) the sun rises (utsūryam)

Pretty rule, doesn't it?

top


 Concluding remarks

You have learnt now the most important secondary rules of Vowel Sandhi. There are a few more, but they are neither essential nor are frequently needed. This document along with the first two documents of Sandhi (dealing with the primary rules of Vowel Sandhi) are a kind of compendium. Study them over and over again, so that you may understand fully their purport. If you want to be a translator in the future, it is absolutely indispensable to know these rules of Sandhi or combination. You will also have to learn the rules of Visarga and Consonant Sandhi, of course. These rules are explained in subsequent documents after the current one. Check them out.

And I have created a document with plenty of examples in order to make things any easier for you. The Sandhi subject is somewhat difficult, but not impossible at all. It is vital to study it thoroughly or no translation will be possible for you. Go to the document with examples right now. There is an additional link at the beginning of this document. See you!

top


 Further information

Gabriel Pradīpaka

This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.

For further information about Sanskrit, Yoga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.