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 Learning Sanskrit - Declension - Indeclinables

Main page: Simple Indeclinables


An Indeclinable (Avyaya) is simply a word which remains "immutable" in all genders, numbers and cases. There are two kinds of Avyaya-s:

  1. Simple Indeclinables.
  2. Compound Indeclinables: Adverbial compounds (Avyayībhāva) and determinative ones (Tatpuruṣa) of the type Prādi and Gati. Also, there are a few attributive compounds (Bahuvrīhi) here (See "Compounds" in the Sanskrit section for more information).

The present series of documents will deal "only" with Simple Indeclinables. These Avyaya-s may be divided into five categories:

  1. Prepositions
  2. Interjections
  3. Particles
  4. Conjunctions
  5. Adverbs

This five categories of Avyaya-s are "generically" known as "Nipāta-s". Each of such Nipāta-s is studied in detail in the respective section (See the links on top of this document) To the links on top of this page . Thus, I will not say anymore about them here.

Additionally, some authors add the category of "Expletives". Formally speaking, an Expletive is a term that does not contribute any "solid" meaning but is added to fill out a sentence or a metrical line. Anyway, in Sanskrit language the "Expletives" add a sense to the sentence, generally that of "emphasis". Furthermore, sometimes the Expletives may be translated "optionally" (e.g. certainly, indeed, etc.). Of course, if there are several Expletives on a paragraph, all of them meaning, for example, "certainly", it is not convenient to translate them all for the sake of not being exceedingly redundant.

Let me make clear the following point: The Expletives are not considered in this study as a "separate" category, that is, I am not following the abovementioned authors in this. No, the Expletives are mainly included under the categories of Particles and Interjections.

Aside from the "Nipāta-s", there are "a few" special nouns (with "only" one declension or inflection, e.g. Nominative or Locative) which work as Indeclinables within a sentence. I will write some of them now plus three cool examples, hehe, just kidding:

स्वर् - Svar

Meaning: Bright space or sky, heaven, etc.

Example: ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः - Om̐ bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ - Om̐ (om̐̐), earth (bhūr), atmosphere --the air-- (bhuvas), heaven (svar).

Additional information: The word "svar" is written as "suvar" ONLY in Yajurveda. In Veda-s, seven loka-s (worlds) are mentioned: Bhūrloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka. The term "vyāhṛti" literally means "utterance, statement, etc." as well as "the mystical utterance of the names of those seven worlds". The respective mystical utterances of the names of the first three worlds are known as "mahāvyāhṛti-s" (the great vyāhṛti-s), and come after Om̐ generally (see the above example).

स्वाहा - Svāhā

Meaning: Hail! Hail to! May a blessing rest on!, etc.

Example: Brahma kṣatram svāhā - Brahma kṣatram̐̐ svāhā - Hail to (svāhā) brāhmaṇa-s (brahma) (and) kṣatriya-s (kṣatram)! (extracted from Kṛṣṇayajurveda -Yajurveda is divided into two main sections: Śukla or White, and Kṛṣṇa or Black... a long subject which is not possible to study in depth here, obviously-).

Additional information: The exclamation "svāhā" is frequently pronounced during the Vedic sacrifices, generally every time an oblation to gods is performed. If this word is used as a "declinable" feminine noun, it means "an oblation offered to gods". In the above example, the word "svāhā" is used to hail the members of the two principal castes, viz. the priestly and military/reigning castes, respectively. Also note that in the example I removed all the Vedic accents (apostrophes, etc.) from the transliteration because one of them is not currently supported by the Unicode standard. Besides, the character Candrabindu-virāma (the sign formed from half-moon/dot plus a downward stroke which is placed after "kṣatra") is replaced with Anunāsika (m̐̐) for the same reason.

स्वधा - Svadhā

Meaning: An exclamation or benediction, e.g. "May a blessing rest on!".

Example: स्व॒धा पि॒तृभ्य॒ इत्या॑ह - Svadhā pitṛbhya ityāha - He said (āha) "May a blessing rest on (svadhā) the Ancestors (pitṛbhyaḥ iti)!" (extracted from Kṛṣṇayajurveda

Additional information: The exclamation "svadhā" is frequently pronounced every time an oblation to the Ancestors is performed. There are two sorts of Ancestors: (1) the forefathers of any person (e.g. one's deceased grandfather), (2) the progenitors of mankind. OK, another long subject I cannot explain in depth here. In turn, "svadhā" is used as a "declinable" feminine noun meaning "an oblation offered to the Ancestors". In the above example, I had to remove "again" the original Vedic accents from the transliteration.

Of course, there are more Indeclinables of this kind:

astam (setting, decline of the sun or of fortune -in Ṛigveda, it also means "at home, home"-), asti (existence), ādau (at first, in the beginning), Om̐ (the sacred Vedic Praṇava), kam (it mainly means "well, yes" in the sense of an emphatic Expletive, but additionally "water, head, happiness"), kṣamā (on the floor, on the earth), nāsti (nonexistence), vadi (the fortnight of the moon's wane, i.e. the dark fortnight), bhūr (earth), mithus or mithuyā (conflictingly, invertedly, falsely, incorrectly), śam (happiness), saṁvat ("year", but also "in the year" or even "in the year of the reign of"), śudi (the fortnight of the moon's increase, i.e. the bright fortnight), svasti ("well, happily, successfully", but also it is used as a term of auspicious salutation, e.g. "health!"), etc.

OK, it is enough. Now, study Nipāta-s (prepositions, interjections, particles, conjunctions and adverbs) by following the respective links on top of this document To the links on top of this page . Good luck!


 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.

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