Lesson 69: Sanskrit for Beginners Course: Optative, Perfect, Interrogative, Indefinite


Covers Perfect (used interchangeably with Imperfect), Interrogative Pronouns (EG: Which? With whom?) and Optative (used interchangeably with Imperative).

Source: Introduction to Sanskrit (4th Ed) – Thomas Egenes – Part Two

Session deals with: VOL2, L26, PG 156-171

Perfect:  (liṭ लिट्)

  • ABOUT:
    • It's Past tense.
    • Same as Imperfect, but not witnessed by the speaker.
    • In practice, used interchangeably with Imperfect.  Since Imperfect is easier, stick with it.
    • EG: Rāma went to the forest.  >  rāmaḥ vanam jagāma  रामः वनम् गा
  • Construction Formula:
Parasmaipada (Active) :  √tud तुद् 6U  (to push)
  Single: Dual: Plural:
3rd tutoda         तुतोद
He/she pushed
tutudatuḥ    तुतुदतुः tutuduḥ    तुतुदुः
2nd tutoditha    तुतोदिथ
You pushed
tutudathuḥ  तुतुदथुः tutuda      तुतुद
1st tutoda         तुतोद
I pushed
tutudiva        तुतुदिव tutudima  तुतुदिम
Parasmaipada (Active) :  √ni नी  1P  (to lead)
ninay निनय् or nināy निनाय्

ni  निनी
ni  निनी
3rd nināya         निनाय ninyatuḥ     निन्यतुः
Why ny?  nī  +  a__ = ny
ninyuḥ    निन्युः
2nd ninayitha    निनयिथ   or
Why nāy, and not nai?
  If you know, comment below.    

ninetha       निनेथ
nī  > guṇa = ne

ninyathuḥ   निन्यथुः ninya       निन्य
1st ninaya        निनय       or

nināya        निनाय
ninyiva        निन्यिव ninyima  निन्यिम
      • More examples? See Vol2, PG159-161.
  • Rules:
    • RULE 1: Parasmaipada Perfect & Ātmanepada Perfect are constructed differently:
      1. Parasmaipada Root Changes:
        1. Single:
          • Rule A:
            1. If root's vowel is SHORT and it's BETWEEN 2 consonants, then vowel takes guṇa in all three persons:
              • EG:
                • √viś √विश्  6P (to enter)     >   viveś विवेश्
                • √druh √द्रुह्  4P (to hurt)     >   dudroh दुद्रोह्
                • √kt √कृत्  6P (to cut)          >   cakart चकर्त्.
            2. Any other combination:
              • 3rd single:   Final vowel in root, takes: vṛddhi.
              • 2nd single:  Final vowel in root, takes: guṇa.
              • 1st single:    Final vowel in root, takes either: guṇa or vṛddhi.
              • EG: √kṛ √कृ 8U (to do)
                • 3rd single:   cakāra का
                • 2nd single:  cakara
                • 1st single:   cakara    or   cakāra का
          • Rule B:
            • a अ before a single final consonant in the root, also follows Rule 1 above.
            • EG:  √tap तप्   1P  (to heat)
              • 3rd single:    tatāp  ताप्
              • 2nd single:   tatap  तप्
              • 1st single:     tatap  तप्   or  tatāp ताप्
        2. Dual/Plural:
          • Leave root alone (meaning don't make any changes to root). But there is ONE exception. See Rule below…
          • Rule Where Root Changes in Dual/Plural:
            • If root: (a) begins with following unaspirated letters: ka क, ca च, ja ज, ṭa ट, ḍa ड, ta त, da द, pa प, ba ब — and  (b) whose a अ is right before a single final consonant in the root — then apply these 2 conditions:
              1. Root will NOT undergo reduplication.
              2. Simply change the root's a अ  with e ए  +  attach ending.
            • EG: 
              • √day √दय् 1Ā (to impart):
                • 3rd dual:    deyāte      देयाते
                • 2nd dual:   deyāthe   देयाथे
                • 1st  dual:   deyivahe  देयिवहे     
              • √paṭh पठ् 1P (to read):
                • 3rd pl:   peṭhuḥ      पेठुः
                • 2nd pl:  peṭha         पेठ
                • 1st pl:   peṭhima    पेठिम
            • Case where rule doesn't apply: √phaṇ फण् 1P (to go) — because pha फ  is aspirated.
      2. Ātmanepada Root Changes:
        • Single / Dual / Plural: Leave root alone (meaning don't make any changes to root). Just reduplication + √root + ending.
    • RULE 2:
      • Endings which begin with a consonant [as seen in Garden PG4 (61, 62)] — are often joined to STEM with i इ. Doesn't apply to all roots.
        • Exception: Four roots ending in ṛ ऋ that DO NOT take i इ in the first persons dual & plural:
          √kṛ कृ 8U (make), √bhṛ भृ 1U (bear), √sṛ सृ 1P (go), √vṛ वृ 5U (choose).


  Rule: Example:
1. Roots beginning with a consonant, the a, ā,   — will always reduplicate with a अ. Never with i इ, as sometimes seen in Verb 3 present construction.  √pṛ  पृ  3P (to protect)      piparti       पिपर्ति    (He protects)     
* Present
√pṛ  पृ  3P (to protect)      papartha   पर्थ      (You protected)   
* Perfect

√mā मा 3Ā (to measure)  mite       मिमीते    (He measures)
* Present
√mā मा 3Ā (to measure)  mamatuḥ   तुः    (Those two measured)
* Perfect

2. A root with initial a अ before a single final consonant, repeats. Thus changes to ā आ. √ad अद्  2P (to eat)              >    āda         आद   (He ate)      

√aj  अज्  1P (to go)               >    āja          आज   (He went)

√amb अम्ब्  1P (to sound)   >    anamba अनम्ब  (He sounded).
* Notice doubling doesn't apply here, since m म् is not final consonant in root.

  • For Singular: 
    • Root with initial i इ, changes to e ए. Reduplicated portion will be: iy इय्
    • Root with initial ū ऊ, changes to o ओ. Reduplicated portion will be: uvo उवो.
  • For Dual & Plural:
    • Root with initial i इ, changes to ī ई.
    • Root with initial u उ, changes to ū ऊ.
  • √iṣ इष्  6P (to desire)
    • Single:             iyeṣa    इयेष      (He desired)    
      • i + eṣ = iyeṣ    इ + एष् = इयेष्
      • Explanation how we got to iyeṣ इयेष्
        • Step 1 (root): Increase iṣ इष् to guna = eṣ एष्
        • Step 2 (redup): Initial i इ remains + joins corresponding semi-vowel y य्  [as seen in  Garden PG2 (30)].
    • Dual/Plural:   īṣatuh  ईषतुह्   (Those two desired)  
      • i + iṣ = īṣ     इ + इष् = ईष्
  • √uc उच्  4P (to fit)
    • Single:            uvoca  उवोच      (He fitted)
      • u + oc = uvoc    उ + ओच् = उवोच्
    • Dual/Plural:  ūcatuḥ  ऊचतुः    (Those two fitted)
      • u + uc = ūc        उ + उच् = ऊच् 
4. Roots that begin with long vowels: ā आ, ī ई, ū ऊ, o ओ, e ए  — do not undergo reduplication. Just add the ending. √ās  आस् 2Ā (to sit)      >   āse    आसे   (He sat)
√īj    ईज्   1P (to go)      >   īja      ईज     (He went)
√ūy  ऊय्  1Ā (to sew)   >   ūya   ऊय    (He sewed)

Interrogative vs. Indefinite vs. Negative Indefinite:

Before we go into theory below, look at this table for example:

Interrogative Pronouns:

  • How to form a question word?
    • Step 1: First have open [Garden PG4 (37-39)].
    • Step 2: Replace first letter with k क्.  
      • Exception: Neuter, Sing (Nom & Acc) = kim किम्
      • EG: tasmāt तस्मात्  (from him)  kasmāt स्मात्  (From who/whom/which?)
  • Examples:
    • (kayā naukayā) rāmaḥ vanam agacchat  (या नौकया) रामः वनम् अगच्छत्  :  (With which boat) Rāma went to the forest?
    • kaḥ jalam pibati  कः जलम् पिबति                                   :  Who drinks the water?
    • kiṃ te kṛṣṇaṃ vanaṃ jānanti  किं ते कृष्णं वनं जानन्ति   :  What do they know about the black forest?
    • kā sthitaprajñasya bhāṣā  का स्थितप्रज्ञस्य भाषा            :  What is the sign of (one whose intellect is steady)?

Indefinite Pronouns:

  • What is it?
    • Vague indicator about what/who it's referring to.
    • It's basically, interrogative + words like some/any/ever EG: Somehow, anywhere, whatever.
    • Method 1:
      • kaḥ/kā/kim कः / का / किम्   +   api/cana/cid अपि / चन / चिद्   =   Indefinite Pronoun
      • EG:
        • kaścana               श्चन                   : somebody/anyone.
        • kiṃcana/kiṃcit   किंचन / किंचित्    : anything.
        • kenacit                केनचित्                : with anything/someone. (Whatever/whoever).
        • kenāpi                 केनापि                  : with anyone.
        • kaścit jalam apibat  कश्चित् जलम् अपिबत्                               :  Someone drank the water.
        • udyāne (kecana vṛkṣāḥ) santi  उद्याने (केचन वृक्षाः) सन्ति       : There are (some trees) in the garden.
    • Method 2:
      • Repeat the pronoun. Words will always begin with y य्.
      • EG:
        • yat yat       त् त्         : whatever.
        • yada yada द         : whenever.
  • How to negate an indefinite pronoun?
    • Add na न before.  EG:
      • na kaścana / kaścit       कश्चन / कश्चित्            : nobody/noone.
      • na kiṃcana / kiṃcit       किंचन / किंचित्         : nothing.
      • na kaścit jalam apibat  कश्चित् जलम् अपिबत्  :  Noone drank the water.

Optative / Potential:  (liṅ लिङ्)

  • ABOUT:
    • It's Present tense.
    • Used to express a wish. What “SHOULD / MIGHT” be done.
    • Also used in context of: a gentle order (less forceful then Imperative), advice, expectation.
    • When in doubt: Use it interchangeably with Imperative.
  • Construction Formula:
  • Sentence examples:
Rāma should obtain Sītā. ramaḥ sītam labheta
रमः सीतम् लभेत
These boys might/should play in the pond. bālāḥ vāpyām dīvyeyuḥ
बालाः वाप्याम् दीव्येयुः
With whom should I walk to my house? kena mama gṛham vrajeyam
केन मम गृहम् व्रजेयम्
What should I say to my mom? kim mama mātām vadeyam
किम् मम माताम् वदेयम्


  • STEP 1:
  • STEP 2:
    • Grasp theory of Perfect. Then see in Vol2, PG159-161 more examples.
  • STEP 3:
  • STEP 4:
    • Grasp theory of Optative on this page. Then see in Vol2, PG166-170 more examples.
  • STEP 5:
    • PG171: Go over the new vocabulary.
  • STEP 6:
    • PG172-175: Do all exercises.
  • STEP 7:
    • PG150: Attempt to translate the verse.
      1. Break down sandhi.
      2. Write English definition top of each word.
      3. Translate.
      4. Compare your translation to author's.
  • STEP 8:
    • PG152-155: Go over theory at your own time. Not important, unless aiming for Sanskrit scholar.


You'll have more questions throughout the course. How to ask? Leave in comments below, so others can also benefit. We'll respond within 48 hours. Only ask specific to this Lesson.


Recorded 12 June, 2022



  1. What are the interrogative pronouns to use for stems mad, asmad, tvad, and yusmad? I read pages 162 – 164 in volume 2 (Thomas Egenes) which explains declining kah like the stem “tad”.

    Thank you

    1. Here, on pg 3 (#37, 38, 39): https://yesvedanta.s3.amazonaws.com/sanskrit/Sanskrit-Garden-IAST.pdf

      For example for #37 (He/That), just replace the first letter, with “k”.

      a) Saḥ = He. Kaḥ = Who/what/which?
      b) saḥ kaḥ = Who/what is he?
      c) tau kau = Who/what are they? (dual)

      mad, asmad

      [1] What? kaḥ-kā.
      EG: Man says, “What am I?” > aham kaḥ asmi? | Woman: aham kā asmi?

      [2] Where? kutra, kva (ind)
      EG: Mas/Fem: “Where am I?” > aham kutra asmi?

      Same as for [2] above…
      [3] How many/much? kiyat (ind)
      [4] When? kadā (ind)
      [5] How? katham (ind)

      tvad, and yusmad?

      Use #37 from above PDF when “you” refers to masculine, and #38 when “you” refers to feminine.

      a) Who are you (man)? = tvam kaḥ asi? | Woman: tvam kā asi?
      b) From what/which world are you (mas) from? = kasmāt (abl) lokāt (abl) tvam asi? (See #37 ABL)
      b) From what/which world are you (fem) from? = kasyāḥ (abl) lokāt (abl) tvam asi? (See #38 ABL)

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