The Sanskrit Language
作者:Walter Harding Maurer

Lesson 3

Lesson 3

Indeclinables and Case

Exercise Page 70



A prefix, called उपसर्ग in Sanskrit, can be added before a verb to change its meaning. For example, गच्छति means 'he goes' whereas आगच्छति means 'he comes'. Much of the time, a prefix has a fairly consistent meaning and changes the meaning of a verb in a predictable way. However, there are many cases when a prefix completely changes the meaning of a verb, and in an unpredictable way. For example अवगच्छति means 'he understands'. A fairly complete list of prefixes can be found on Page 435.

In the imperfect tense forms of a verb, which already have the letter '
' added to the beginning, a prefix will go before the ''. For example, the imperfect third-person singular form of the verb stem गच्छ with the prefix सम् is 'समगच्छत्'. Further, three possible sandhis can take place between the prefix and the '' of the imperfect tense verb form, if the prefix ends in a vowel:

  • When / is      followed by /, both are replaced      by 
         e.g. अा + अगच्छत् = अागच्छत्

  • When / is followed by any      vowel, इ/ई is      replaced by य्
         e.g. प्रति + अगच्छत् = प्रत्यगच्छत्

  • When / is followed by any      vowel, उ/ऊ is      replaced by व्
         e.g. अनु + अगच्छत् = अन्वगच्छत्

NOTE: Keep in mind that sandhis occur between letters, regardless of where those letters are found. These sandhis are not restricted to prefixes and imperfect tense verb forms, however they will not be seen in other contexts until they are formally introduced in Lesson 15.


A gerund is an indeclinable verb form (i.e. it has no person or number)  that is translated as 'having VERBed' or 'after VERBing'. It always leads up to a main verb and it indicates an action that occurs before the main verb. For example, in the sentence "Having conquered the city, the king went to the palace" the gerund 'having conquered' occurs before and leads up to the main verb 'went'.

A gerund is formed by adding the suffix त्वा/इत्वा or  directly onto the verbalroot. The root is a more fundamental form of a verb than the stem, which will be discussed further in Lesson 4. त्वा/इत्वा are added to a root on its own, whereas is added when the root is prefixed by an उपसर्ग. As a very general rule, त्वा is usually added to a root ending in a vowel, while इत्वा isusually added to a root ending in a consonant. For example:

  • The gerund of the      root जि ('conquer') is जित्वा ('having      conquered')

  • The gerund of the      root खाद् ('eat') is खादित्वा ('having      eaten')

  • The gerund of the      root गम् prefixed by अा ('come')      is अागम्य ('having come')

Many other changes can occur due to sandhi that can make both the root and suffix difficult to recognize (e.g. लभ् + त्वा = लब्ध्वा), therefore it is better to simply become familiar with common gerund forms.


Another indeclinable verb form is the infinitive. It is translated as 'to VERB'. It is usually connected to another verb indicating:

  • Desire, e.g.      "He wants to      know"

  • Capability, e.g.      "He is able to      know"

  • Purpose, e.g.      "He asks to      know"

Like the gerund, the infinitive is formed by adding the suffix तुम्/इतुम्directly onto the root. Again as a general rule, तुम् is usually added to a root ending in a vowel, while इतुम् is usually added to a root ending in a consonant. For example:

  • The infinitive of      the root ज्ञा ('know') is ज्ञातुम् ('to      know')

  • The infinitive of खाद् ('eat')      is खादितुम् ('to eat')

Most of the changes that occur due to sandhi in the formation of a gerund also occur in the formation of an infinitive (e.g. लभ् + त्वा = लब्ध्वा, and लभ् + तुम् = लब्धुम्). Therefore gaining familiarity with common gerunds should allow you to recognize infinitives as well.

TIP: Since gerunds and infinitives are forms of verbs, they can be connected to nouns as their object, instrument, location, etc. In a simple Sanskrit sentence, the nouns relating to any verb form occur before that verb form. Therefore, when translating a sentence with gerunds or infinitives, it is easier to break the sentence up into sections. Each section should end with a verb form that is connected with the nouns that occur between it and the previous verb form. For example, the following sentence on Page 70 can be broken where the commas have been added: 

नृपस्य वचनं श्रुत्वा, सूतः यथा आज्ञापयति देवः इति उक्त्वा, शुभान् श्वेतान् अश्वान् रथे अयोजयत्

Indeclinables and Case

Most of the uses of cases we have seen so far have connected a noun to either a verb or another noun. Sixth case connects one noun to another, e.g. 'नृपस्य रथः' connects the king to the chariot as its owner. The remaining cases connect a noun to a verb, as its subject, object, destination, instrument, and so on.

Sometimes a case connects a noun to an indeclinable word. Some indeclinable words are said to 'govern' a case, meaning that the noun they are connected to must be in a certain case. For example, the indeclinable word '
अधस्तात्' ('beneath') governs the Sixth case. Thus 'वृक्षस्य अधस्तात्' means 'beneath the tree'. In this book, such indeclinable words are labelled as 'postp.' in the vocabulary lists (meaning 'postposition', because the indeclinable word usually comes after the noun connected to it). Hence the vocabulary list entry 'अधस्तात्postp. under, beneath (+ gen.)' means that अधस्तात् is an indeclinable word meaning 'under, beneath' and it governs the Sixth or genitive case.