Introduction to Dhatumanjari

Before presenting the Conjugation Tables, introductory remarks on Sanskrit Verbs and their classification are in order:

Conjugation of verbs:

A Verb in a sentence gets inflected depending upon the person and number of the subject to which the verb refers.

  एकवचनः द्विवचनः बहुवचनः
प्रथमपुरुषः खादति खादतः खादन्ति
Third person eats (two) eat (many) eat
मध्यमपुरुषः खादसि खादथः खादथ
second person (you) eat (you two) eat (you many) eat
उत्तमपुरुषः खादामि खादावः खादामः
First person (I) eat (We two) eat (We many) eat

It is important to note that the order in which the three persons are written in Sanskrit  is the reverse of how it is written in English. In fact प्रथमपुरुषः literally means first person, but actually is equivalent to the third person of English ! In some Sanskrit grammar books written in English,  the order is reversed so that it falls in line with the way it is written in English grammar. In my view it is not a good practice and it is best learnt and written down the Sanskrit way. Also it is important to note that the inflected verb is not sensitive to the gender of the subject, which is not the case in many Indian languages.

आत्मनेपद and परस्मैपद terminations: 

 Root of a verb without any inflexions or terminations is called  धातु. There are two sets of terminations or inflexions that a verb can take in different persons and numbers. One set is आत्मनेपद  and the other is परस्मैपद. Some धातुs take आत्मनेपद terminations, some take परस्मैपद terminations and some take both. Examples will clarify.

खादति= (He,she or it) eats. धातु, is खाद् and the termination it has taken is परस्मैपद.

मोदते= (He, she or it) rejoices. धातु is मुद् and the termination it has taken is आत्मनेपद.

याचति or याचते = (He, she or it) requests or begs. धातु is याच् and it can take either termination. धातुs which take either terminations is called उभयपदी.

Therefore while learning verbs it is necessary to know धातु as well as whether it is आत्मनेपदी, परस्मैपदी or उभयपदी.

In addition, verbs are categorized into ten different groups called गण. A verb belonging to a गण gets inflected following a certain template specific to that गण. For example खाद्, याच् and मोद् quoted above belong to the first group called भ्वादिगण.  The गण  is called भ्वादि (भू+आदि=भ्वादि).as the group is headed by धातु: भू.

Therefore while learning a verb, we also need to learn to which गण it belongs.

The ten लकारs:

There are six tenses and four moods  Three tenses for the past, one for the present and two for the future.

PaaNini, the great grammarian identifies these ten tenses and moods with specific symbols ( These are symbols only for easy identification and do not have any etymological significance.) as follows: For each one of these tenses we show the third person singular of धातु: भू as an example. (Traditionally a student is first taught  conjugation of भू )

1. लट् (laT): This corresponds to Present tense in English. Ex: भवति

2. लोट् (loT): Imperative mood. Ex: भवतु. When used in second person, it conveys a command, entreaty or advice. Ex: अप्रमत्तो भव . (Be vigilant). It can also be used for expressing a wish or a prayer. Ex: देशः सुभिक्षो भवतु. When used to express a benediction, there is a special variant prescribed, although in usage the normal form is also observed. Ex: दीर्घायुर्भवतात् or दीर्घायुर्भव. (May you live long)

3. लङ् (la~G): This corresponds to Past Imperfect in English. Ex: अभवत्. As per grammarians लङ् is to be used to express an action that has taken place on the previous day or earlier. अनद्यतनभूते लङ्.

4. लिङ् (li~G): Potential mood. Ex: भवेत्. There is much overlap between लोट् and लिङ् in usage. Although लिङ् can be used for a command, advice or request, it  is more often used to lay down guide lines and code of conduct. (विधि). It is also used to express a probability or possibility. It is sometimes called विधिलिङ्.

5. लिट् (liT): Past Perfect. Ex: बभूव. It is to be used for narrating past events which the narrator has not personally witnessed. Consequently in epics, puranas and itihasas, लिट् is preponderantly encountered. As a general rule when the subject is in First Person, लिट् is not appropriate.

6. लुट् (luT): Future Tense( sometimes called First Future or Periphrastic Future). Ex: भविता. It is specified for denoting a future action which is not to take place on the current day. This tense is not frequently encountered.

7. लृट् (lRuT): Simple Future (also called Second Future): Ex: भविष्यति. This can be used for denoting any future action without any restrictions. In literature, लृट् is much more encountered than लुट्.

8. आशीर्लिङ् (aaSIrlin~G): This mood is exclusively for giving benedictions! Ex: भूयात्. When used in First Person, it expresses a wish for oneself.

9. लुङ् (lu~G): Grammarians call this Aorist. ( According to Concise Oxford Dictionary, past tense merely denoting occurrence without limitation as to duration etc.) Ex: अभूत्. It is generally used in dialogues and conversations which refer to recent past actions. Conjugation in लुङ् is quite complex and not easy to master. To the extent that a student has to recognize its conjugated forms in classics, he has to get familiar with it. However for compositions, he best avoids it.

10. लृङ् (lRu~G): Conditional. Ex: अभविष्यत्. Its use is restricted to a certain set of situations which is best explained through an example: सुवृष्टिश्चेत् अभविष्यत् तदा सुभिक्षमभविष्यत्. (Had there been good rains there would have been abundance of food). It is to be used only in such situations where it is to be implied that had a certain event happened, (which did not happen) a certain other event would have happened. Please note that लृङ् is used both in the main clause and the conditional clause..

The above ten together are called लट् लकारs. There is a कारिका ( a stray verse) which laconically explains them :

लट् वर्तमाने लेट् वेदे भूते लुङ् लङ् लिटस्तथा ।

विध्याशिषोस्तु लिङ्लोटौ लुट् लृट् लृङ् च भविष्यतः ॥

In the Vedas, another लकार is encountered which is called लेट्. The above refers to that too.

Active and Passive voices:

Like in English, transitive verbs will have two forms one in Active Voice (कर्तरि प्रयोगः) and the other in Passive Voice (कर्मणि प्रयोगः). Ex: खादति -> खाद्यते

Sanskrit allows for a type of Passive Voice, often called "Impersonal Passive" (भावे प्रयोगः) even for intransitive verbs. Ex: भवति -> भूयते

A verb can be conjugated in Active and Passive Voice in all the ten लकारs. In passive voice irrespective of whether a verb is परस्मैपदी or आत्मनेपदी, it takes only आत्मनेपद terminations.

The ten गणs:

Sanskrit grammarians have classified धातुs into ten lists depending on the pattern they follow in conjugation. Each list is denoted after the root heading the list. The ten lists are as follows:

1. भ्वादि headed by धातु "भू".

2. अदादि headed by धातु "अद्".

3. जुहोत्यादि headed by धातु "हु".

4. दिवादि  headed by धातु "दिवु".

5. स्वादि headed by धातु "षुञ्".

6.तुदादि headed by धातु "तुद्".

7.रुधादि headed by धातु "रुधिर्".

8.तनादि headed by धातु "तनु".

9. क्र्यादि headed by धातु "क्रीञ्".

10. चुरादि headed by धातु  "चुर".

गणs 1, 4, 6 and 10 are quite alike in conjugation and are generally clubbed together and taught before other गणs.

It is to be noted that except for लट्, लोट्, लङ् and लिङ् in Active Voice, the pattern of conjugation is virtually the same for all the ten गणs.

The ten गणs together list about 2200 धातुs, out of which nearly half of them belongs to the first namely भ्वादि. However there are a number of frequently used verbs which belong to other groups, necessitating a study of all of them.

In what follows we first give for each लकार  a pair of Tables, which shows how verbs belonging to the ten गणs are conjugated in both परस्मैपद and आत्मनेपद. [We have chosen the  traditional paradigms except in cases where we felt it more convenient to provide a common paradigm for both परस्मैपद and आत्मनेपद or where we felt that a more useful धातु could replace the traditional paradigm with advantage.] The Tables do not cover Passive Voice( कर्मणि प्रयोगः) and Impersonal Passive( भावे प्रयोगः).

Each row of 9 cells gives the conjugation for a गण in that लकार. What is normally written out in a 3X3 matrix is written out as a 9-cell row.

For those who do not find themselves comfortable with paninian nomenclature of लकारs,  equivalent Sanskrit names as well as Engliah names have been given below. Move the mouse over the name of the लकार and click to go to the relevant page.

1. लट् (laT): वर्तमानः Present Tense

  2. लोट् (loT): आज्ञार्थः Imperative 

 3. लङ् (la~G): अनद्यतनभूतः Imperfect (past tense)

 4. लिङ् (li~G): विध्यर्थः Potential Mood

     5. लिट् (liT): परोक्षभूतः Perfect (past tense)

 6. लुट् (luT): अनद्यतनभविष्यन् 1st Future  

 7. लृट् (lRuT): भविष्यन् 2nd Future

  8. आशीर्लिङ् (aaSIrlin~G): आशीरर्थः Benedictive Mood

  9. लुङ् (lu~G): भूतः Aorist (past tense)

 10. लृङ् (lRu~G): संकेतार्थः Conditional Mood

It is important to note that in each गण (especially in अदादि गण- 2nd group) there are a large number of  धातुs which significantly differ from the template of that गण  and consequently the student has to get familiar with the more useful of them as he proceeds in his studies. Conjugation of such verbs will be progressively added on to धातुमन्जरी over a period of time.

Conjugation of some verbs belonging to अदादि गण ( Second Group) has been recently added here.

You are welcome to contact me at murthygss@gmail.com   to point out any errors that might have crept in, in this presentation. You are also welcome to suggest improvements to the presentation.

paradigm verbs

special verbs