The  Student`s Guide to Sanskrit Composition

00. Preface and Introductory

by Vaman Shivaram Apte

Mit den Auflösungen nach dem "Key" neu herausgegeben von Alois Payer 

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Apte, Vaman Shivaram <1858 - 1892>: The student's guide to Sanskrit Composition (Being a treatise on Sanskrit Syntax).  -- 3. ed. -- 1890. -- 00. Preface and Introductory. -- Fassung vom 2009-03-03. --  URL:                                                             

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Apte, Vaman Shivaram <1858 - 1892>: The student's guide to Sanskrit composition : being a treatise on Sanskrit syntax ; for the use of schools and colleges. -- 3rd ed. -- Poona : R. A. Sagoon, 1890. -- 450 S.

A Key to Apte's Guide to Sanskrit composition : giving a close rendering into English and Sanskrit of all the Sanskrit and English sentences / compiled by an experienced graduate teacher. -- 2d ed. -- Bombay : Standard Pub., 1923. -- 136 p. ; 18 cm

Erstmals hier publiziert: 2009-03-03


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<> = Apte`s own Notes (loc. cit. pp. 277ff.)

[] = A Key to Apte's Guide to Sanskrit composition : giving a close rendering into English and Sanskrit of all the Sanskrit and English sentences / compiled by an experienced graduate teacher. -- 2d ed. -- Bombay : Standard Pub., 1923. -- 136 p. ; 18 cm

{} = Notes by Alois Payer

Preface to the Second Edition

A glance at the Table of Contents will show that this edition differs from the first in many respects. The additions and alterations that have been made both in matter and arrangement require a few words of explanation.

The main body of the work is divided into four parts. The first part gives the general scope of Syntax and lays down the principal laws of Concord. The second part deals with Government and gives principal rules in the Kāraka Prakaraṇa. In the third part are considered the more important Grammatical Forms, the meaning and use of which require explanation; such as, several kinds of Participles, the Infinitive Mood, the ten Tenses and Moods. Particles, such as are most frequently used in Sanskrit Literature, are also treated and illustrated being alphabetically arranged and distributed over eight Lessons, some peculiarities of the Parasmaipada and Atmanepada—certain roots taking the one or the other pada according as they are used in a particular sense or are preceded by certain prepositions—-which were given in an Appendix in the first edition, have here been incorporated into the body of the work, and treated in two additional Lessons. The fourth Part gives matter not given in the first edition—the Analysis and Synthesis of Sanskrit sentences. I have tried to apply the system of English analysis to Sanskrit sentences, and in doing so I have illustrated the rules of English Grammar by examples from Sanskrit authors, making such additions and alterations as were necessitated by the peculiarity of the Sanskrit idiom. To some this portion may perhaps appear superfluous. But my experience is that a correct nowledge of the relations subsisting between the different parts of a Sanskrit sentence is highly useful to the student, not only in translating from Sanskrit into English, but also in translating from English into Sanskrit, inasmuch as it clearly brings to his notice the difference in construction between the two languages, and in composing sentences. The general rules of Analysis are much the same in all languages, but their application is not easily understood. In Section II. of this part some rules on the order of words have been given, mostly drawn from an examination of the construction of Sanskrit Sentences and comparison with Latin idiom. The third Section takes up the Composition of sentences, where the student has to frame some sentences so as to apply the rules of analysis given in the first Section. Several exercises have, with this view, been given in this Section. I am inclined to believe that these exercises, if carefully worked, will give the student, considerable facility in writing a few sentences of original Sanskrit on a given subject. The student has also been shown how to paraphrase Sanskrit passages, and it is expected that, with the help of Analysis, he will be able to paraphrase in Sanskrit as he does in English. The fourth Section treats of Letter-writing, in which are given, with examples and exercises, some of the common forms of letters. On this subject I have derived considerable help from a number of manuscripts, dealing with प्रशस्तयः—forms of writing—that were brought to my notice by Dr. Bhandarkar, and kindly placed at my disposal for some months.

This edition differs also in the arrangement of matter. Each Lesson here consists of three parts: the first gives the rules with illustrations; the second and third give sentences for exercise. Choice Expressions and Idioms, which were, in the former editions, given after the rules, and the Sentences for Correction, which were given last, have here been given after the Notes. The Idioms have been arranged in the alphabetical order of the important words in their English equivalents, and a good many taken from standard authors have been added so as to increase the former number by over one-half. The Sentences for Correction have been promiscuously arranged, and they may be attempted after the rules have been fully mastered. There is one more material change in arrangement that will not fail to strike the reader. The Sanskrit sentences have been divided into two parts: those in large type for reading in class, and 'Additional Sentences for Exercise,' which may be read at home as additional reading. I have been obliged to make this division, not because I considered the number of sentences very large, as some of my critics did, but because the sentences, as they stood, were too many to be read by students in the ordinary course of class lessons. I myself felt the difficulty, while teaching the book; and I thought it proper to do that which I myself did, and which other teachers also, who did me the honour of teaching it to their pupils, must have done, namely to effect a division of the Sanskrit sentences. This has, moreover, enabled me to add under the ' Additional Sentences' several passages from authors not previously drawn upon.

The lesson on the Nominative case in the first edition has been omitted, as it was found to be superfluous, and that on Pronouns, being out of place in Concord, has been transferred to Part III. The Appendix on the formation of the feminine of nouns and adjectives has been dropped.

Other improvements made in this edition are two Glossaries—Sanskrit-English and English-Sanskrit—which give the difficult words occurring in the exercises for translation, and an alphabetical Index of all the nouns, adjectives, roots, &c. which have given rise to syntactical or other rules. The want of the two Glossaries, more especially of the first, was much felt by students. The most ordinary words, which the student must have come across in his elementary course of study, have not been included. The importance of the Index need not be much dilated upon, since it facilitates reference to a very remarkable degree and is now regarded as almost a sine qua non of such works. For this I must thank Professor Max Müller, who was kind enough to suggest, among other things, this idea of giving an Index. The Notes, given after Part IV., retain much of their former character. They are mostly intended to be explanatory. Individual words, being included in the Glossaries, have not here been repeated.

These are the main additions and alterations made in this edition. Besides, the work has been most carefully revised throughout; indeed, it will be difficult to find a page which has not undergone careful revision. Several rules have been recast; and many more, drawn from a closer study of Sanskrit Grammar and the works of classical authors, have been added to each Lesson. Throughout the book several Sanskrit passages have been added, either to the illustrative sentences, or to the sentences for exercise. The effect of this and the like additions has been to increase the matter by nearly one-half. Yet by a suitable arrangement of types, the volume of the work has not much increased, and that it may be within the reach of all classes of students, the price has been reduced to Rs. 1, As. 8. The rapid sale of a large edition in less than three years shows that the book, in some measure, supplied a felt want; and it is hoped that the student of Sanskrit will find this edition more useful and a better guide to Sanskrit composition than the first, on account of the improvements effected in it.

Before concluding, I must not omit to tender my most sincere thanks to Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar, who was kind enough to spare time to go over the greater portion of the book with me, and to make several important suggestions which have been mostly acted upon; and secondly, to Mr. Lee Warner, Acting Director of Public Instruction who, at the recommendation of Dr. Bhandarkar, was pleased to sanction the work for use in High Schools. My acknowledgements are also due to Dr. Morell, Professor Bain, and Mr. McMordie, whose works have been useful to me in writing Part IV.; and lastly to Mr. M. Sheshagiri Prabhu of the Madras Presidency, who was the first to suggest the addition of Analysis and Synthesis of sentences.

Poona, 24th December 1885.

Preface to the Third Edition.

For this edition the book has been carefully revised throughout, and some sentences have been added, particularly in the illustration of rules. As the work is now used as a text-book in several High Schools, even in the other Presidencies, no material changes in its plan and scope have been effected. It gives me great pleasure to find that the several important changes made in the second edition have met with general approval, and that the book affords help, however light, to the student, in writing Sanskrit correctly and mastering some of the intricacies of its idiom.

Poona, 11th December 1890.

Part I


§ 1. 'Syntax' in English deals with the mode of arranging words in sentences and lays down rules for the proper and correct arrangement of words. In Sanskrit and other languages that are rich in inflexions, Syntax has not this definite scope. The grammatical inflexion itself shows the relation of one word to another, and no harm or inaccuracy occurs, if the student does not observe the usual order of words in a sentence. Take, for example, the English sentence, "Rāma saw Govinda." If the order of the words 'Rāma' and 'Govinda' be changed, there will be a very great difference in the meaning; it will, in fact, be a different sentence altogether. Take, however, the Sanskrit sentence for the same: रामो गोविन्दमपश्यत्. Here, even if the order of the words be changed, no difference occurs in the meaning; the sentences रामो गोविन्दमपश्यत्, गोविन्दं रामो पश्यत्, अपश्यद्रामो गोविन्दं &c., all mean the same thing. The order or arrangement of words in Sanskrit sentences is not, therefore, a point of great importance except in some cases ; but this does not mean that perfect arbitrariness is allowed, and there are certain cases in which it is necessary to arrange words in a particular manner. In Sanskrit Grammars, rules on Concord and Order are rarely given. The "Kāraka-Prakaraṇa" in the Siddhānta-Kaumudī is popularly, though not correctly, taken to represent Syntax in Sanskrit, but it represents only one of the parts of Syntax properly so called, i. e. Government. The use and meaning of particles and grammatical forms has also to be taken into account in the joining together of words into sentences. This portion of Grammar is usually considered in English Grammars under Etymology, and in Sanskrit Grammars, in explaining the formation of words in Accidence, the use of the words themselves is given; as in the Sūtra लटः शतृशानन्चावप्रथमासमानाधिकरणे (Pāṇini III. 2. 324) [1] , which states how to form present participles as well as when to use them. In treating of 'Syntax' in Sanskrit, one has thus to look mainly to Concord and Government and the Use and Meaning of Grammatical Forms and Words, and the Lessons in this work are accordingly arranged.

[1] [i.e. अप्रथमान्तेन सामण्याधिकरण्ये सति लटः शतृशानचौ स्तः . The terminations शतृ i.e. अत् and शानच् i.e. आन are adder to Par. and Ātm. roots respectively to form (active) present participles, provided the participles so formed do not agree with a Noun in the Nom. case. (Sometimes they do agree with a noun in the Nom. case; see Sid. Kau. on Pāṇ. VII.2.82]

As already remarked, the order of words is not so important a point in Sanskrit as in English; but there are a few cases in which it has to be carefully attended to. Some hints on this subject will be found in Part IV.


§ 2. There are in Sanskrit, as in English and other languages, three persons and three genders.

The use of persons is not practically different from what it is in English.

As regards genders of nouns in Sanskrit, no definite rules can be laid down to distinguish one from another. The assignment of genders is purely arbitrary, except in those cases where the male and female sexes are indicated, and where the distinction is natural; as, चटक 'a male sparrow,' चटका 'a female sparrow;' हंसः, हंसी; अजः, अजा, &c. The arbitrariness of genders may well be seen from the fact that there are, in Sanskrit, three words of three different genders for one and the same thing; 'wife' is represented by दार ( mase. ), भार्या (fem. ), and कलत्र् (neut. );' body ' by कायः, तनुः, and शरीरं; &c. Genders must, for the most part, be studied from the dictionary.

There are three numbers, instead of two, as in English or Latin, some peculiarities in the use of which are noted below.


§ 3. The three numbers in Sanskrit are the singular, dual and plural.

The singular number denotes 'one' or a single individual, but often represents, as in English, the whole class; as नरः 'a man', सिंहः सर्वश्वापदेषु बलिष्ठः 'the lion is the strongest of all beasts.'

Note. To represent a class the singular or plural may be used: 'Brāhmaṇas must be respected' may be expresses by ब्राह्मणः पूज्यः or ब्राह्मणाः पूज्याः.


§ 4. The dual denotes 'two'; अश्विनौ 'the two Aśvins,' दम्पती 'a pair' (husband and wife). But words meaning a 'couple' or 'pair', such as द्वय, द्वितय, युगल, द्वंद्व &c. are always singular, except when several pairs are indicated; as बाहुद्वयं 'a pair of arms;' सुकुमारचरणयुगलं 'a pair of delicate feet.'

(a) The dual form sometimes denotes a 'male' and a 'female' belonging to the same class, the form being an instance of एकशेषद्वन्द्व compound; as जगतः पितरौ वन्दे पार्वतीपरमेश्वरौ (Raghuvaṃśa I.1) 'I salute the parents of the universe, Pārvatī and Parameśvara (Śiva)'.


§ 5. Some words having a dual sense, that occur in the plural form in English ought, in Sanskrit, to be translated by the dual alone; as, 'he washed his hands and feet' हस्तौ पदौ चाक्षलयत्; 'she shut her eyes' सा लोचने न्यमीलयत्.


§ 6. The plural denotes 'more than two', and may, like the singular, represent the whole class; शकुण्ताः 'birds' or a 'class of birds'. But there are some words in Sanskrit, which, though used in the plural are singular in sense; as दाराः 'wife'; similarly अप् {fem. pl. आपः water}, वर्षा [fem. the rainy season] , सिकता [fem. sand], अक्षता [अक्षत masc. whole unhusked and clean grains of rice], असु {masc. life}, प्राण {masc. breath} &c.

(a) Sometimes the plural is used to show respect, or to speak of a person with reverence, as, इति श्रीशंकराचार्याः 'so says the revered Śaṃkara.'

(b) In the first person the plural sometimes stands for the singular, if the speaker is a high personage, as, वयमपि भवत्यौ सखीगतं किमपि पृच्छामः (Śakuntalā 1) 'we too, (i. e. I) ask your ladyship something regarding your friend'; वयमपि स्वकर्मण्यभियुज्यामहे (Mudrārākṣasa 3) 'we, too, shall apply ourselves to our work'. But this condition is not absolutely necessary; e. g. किंत्वरण्यसदो वयमनभ्यस्तरथचर्याः (Uttararāmacarita 5) [But we who live in forests are not accustomed to drive or move in chariots.]


§ 7. Names of countries are always in Sanskrit used in the plural, because they are  taken from the people themselves; as, अहं गतः कदाचित् कलिंगान् (Daśakumāracarita II.7) 'I once went to Kaliṅga' (the country of the Kaliṅgas).

N.B. When the words देश, विषय &c. are used with the names of countries, the singular must be used; as, मगधदेशे पाटलिपुत्रं नाम नगरं 'there is a town called Pāṭaliputra in the country of the Magadhas'.


§ 8. The plural of proper nouns not infrequently denotes the family or race, as in English; as, रघूणामन्वयं वक्ष्ये (Raghuvaṃśa I.9) ' I shall describe the family (genealogy) of the race of Raghu;' जनकानां रघूणां च संबन्धः कस्य न प्रियः (Uttararāmacarita 1) 'to whom is the connexion between the families of Raghu and Janaka not dear ?'

To Lesson I