Sanskrit Cases and Tenses
विभक्तयः लकाराः च। (vibhaktayaḥ lakārāḥ ca।)

Chapter

2

Skill Level

Intermediate

Language

Sanskrit explained in English

Overview

Hope you have understood and learnt Grammatical Numbers, Persons and Genders in chapter 1.

‘Cases and Tenses’ is the second chapter in this series. This chapter explains the different types of Cases and Tenses that are in the Sanskrit language.

In Sanskrit, there are word cases and verb forms. Word cases are the forms of a particular word in which every form is used in a particular context and has a specific meaning. Verb forms are forms of verbs. These are always the same as the doer/receiver of the action (depending on the voice used).

Learning this chapter will help you:

Who is the chapter for?

Word Cases and Tenses
विभक्तयः लकाराः च। (vibhaktayaḥ lakārāḥ ca।)

In Sanskrit, there are various types of word cases and tenses. Let’s look at these in detail.

Word Cases:

In Sanskrit, there are eight word cases. They are 1. Nominative, 2. Accusative, 3. Instrumental, 4. Dative, 5. Ablative, 6. Genitive, 7. Locative and 8. Vocative (In the given order).

There are two terms that are given, विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) and कारकम् (kārakam). विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) is basically the name of the case, whereas कारकम् (kārakam) tells the meaning of the case.

The word’s form for each case and the grammatical number will change. Sometimes, a certain word requires a particular विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) and at that time, it is known as an उपपदविभक्तिः (upapadavibhaktiḥ)

These are the cases along with their meanings:

Nominative Case:

The विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is प्रथमा (prathamā) and this is the first case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is कर्ता (kartā). The nominative case is used for the subject in the sentence. The subject in the sentence is the one who does the action or the doer of the action. Some examples for the nominative case are:

बालः भोजनं खादति। (bālaḥ bhojanaṃ khādati।), This means, “A boy is eating food.” Here, the word, “बालः” is the subject of the sentence and is in singular as there is only one boy. Therefore, the word is in the nominative case, singular. Here, the boy is the one who is doing the action of eating, so he is the subject.

बाला क्रीडाङ्गणे क्रीडति। (bālā krīḍāṅgaṇe krīḍati।), this means, “A girl is playing in the playground.” Here, the word, ” बाला” is the subject of the sentence and is in singular as there is only one girl. Therefore, the word is in the nominative case, singular. Here, the girl is the one doing the action of playing, so she is the subject.

Accusative Case:

The विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is द्वितीया (dvitīyā) and this is the second case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is कर्म (karma). The accusative case is used for the object in the sentence. The object in the sentence is the one whom the action is done to or the receiver of the action. Some examples for the accusative case are:

लेखकः पुस्तकं लिखति। (lekhakaḥ pustakaṃ likhati।), this means, “An author is writing a book.” Here, the word, “पुस्तकम्” (pustakam) is the object of the sentence and is in singular as there is only one book. Therefore, the word is in the accusative case, singular. Here, the book is being written, so it is the object.

शिक्षिका बालकान् पाठयति। (śikṣikā bālakān pāṭhayati।), this means, “A teacher is teaching children.” Here, the word, ” बालकान्” is the object of the sentence and is in plural as there are many books. Therefore, the word is in the accusative case, plural. Here, the children are being taught, so they are the objects.

Instrumental Case:

The विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is तृतीया (tṛtīyā) and this is the third case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is करणम् (karaṇam). The instrumental case is used for the thing by whose help the action in the sentence is done. This is often used in sense, “by/with”. Some examples for instrumental case are:

छात्रः लेखन्या लिखति। (chātraḥ lekhanyā likhati।), this means, “A student is writing with a pen.” Here, the word, “लेखन्या” is the instrument of the sentence. The word is in singular as there is only one pen. Therefore, the word is in the instrumental case, singular. Here, the pen is being used to make the action of writing possible, so it is the instrument.  

सा हस्तेन खादति। (sā hastena khādati।), this means, “She is eating using her hand.” Here, the word, “हस्तेन” is the instrument of the sentence. The word is in singular as there is only one hand. Therefore, the word is in the instrumental case, singular. Here, the hand is being used to make the action of eating possible, so it is the instrument.

Dative Case:

The विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is चतुर्थी (caturthī) and this is the fourth case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is सम्प्रदानम् (sampradānam). The dative case is used for the thing for which the action is done in the sentence. Some examples for the dative case are:

छात्राः पठनाय विद्यालयं गच्छन्ति। (chātrāḥ paṭhanāya vidyālayaṃ gacchanti।), this means, “Students go to the school for learning.” Here, for the word, “पठनाय” the action in the sentence is performed. Therefore, the word is in the dative case. The students do the action of going to the school for learning.

भक्ताः देवस्य प्रार्थनायै मन्दिरं गच्छन्ति। (bhaktāḥ devasya prārthanāyai mandiraṃ gacchanti।), this means, “Devotees go to the temple to pray to god.” Here, for the word, “प्रार्थनायै” the action in the sentence is performed. Therefore, the word is in the dative case. The devotees do the action of going to the temple for praying to god.

Ablative Case:

In Sanskrit, the विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is पञ्चमी (pañcamī) and this is the fifth case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is अपादानम् (apādānam). The ablative case is used in the sense, “from”. Some examples for the ablative case are:

वृक्षात् फलं पतति। (vṛkṣāt phalaṃ patati।), this means, “A fruit falls from the tree.” Here, the word, “वृक्षात्” tells from where the action of falling is happening in the sentence. Therefore, the word is in the ablative case. Here, the action of the fruit falling is happening from the tree.

अहं गृहात् पुस्तकालयं गच्छामि। (ahaṃ gṛhāt pustakālayaṃ gacchāmi।), this means, “I go to the library from my house.” Here, the word, “गृहात्” tells from where the action of going to the library is happening in the sentence. Therefore, the word is in the ablative case. Here, the action of me going to the library is from my house.

Genitive Case:

The विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is षष्ठी (ṣaṣṭhī) and this is the sixth case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is सम्बन्धम् (sambandham). The genitive case is used in the sense, “of” and is used to show possession. Some examples for the genitive case are:

सुनीलस्य पुस्तकं हरितवर्णम् अस्ति। (sunīlasya pustakaṃ haritavarṇam asti।), this means, “Suneel’s book is green-coloured.” Here, the word, “सुनीलस्य” tells that the object in the sentence belongs to Suneel. Therefore, the word is in the genitive case. Here, the green-coloured book belongs to Suneel.

धनिकस्य गृहं विशालम् अस्ति। (dhanikasya gṛhaṃ viśālam asti।). this means, “The rich man’s house is very big.” Here, the word, “धनिकस्य” tells that the object in the sentence belongs to the rich man. Therefore, the word is in the genitive case. Here, the big house belongs to the rich man.

Locative Case:

In Sanskrit, the विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is सप्तमी (saptamī) and this is the seventh case. Its कारकम् (kārakam) is अधिकरणम् (adhikaraṇam). The locative case is used in the sense, “in” and is used to show the location of a particular object. Some examples for the locative case are:

उद्याने बहूनि सुन्दराणि पुष्पाणि सन्ति। (udyāne bahūni sundarāṇi puṣpāṇi santi।), this means, “There are many beautiful flowers in the garden.” Here, the word, “उद्याने” tells that the object in the sentence is in the garden. Therefore, the word is in the locative case. Here, the flowers are located in the garden.

वने बहवः वृक्षाः सन्ति। (vane bahavaḥ vṛkṣāḥ santi।), this means, “There are many trees in the forest.” Here, the word, “वने” tells that the object in the sentence is in the forest. Therefore, the word is in the locative case. Here, the trees are located in the forest.

Vocative Case:

In Sanskrit, the विभक्तिः (vibhaktiḥ) for this is not considered to be independent and is a considered a part of प्रथमा (prathamā). Its कारकम् (kārakam) is सम्बोधनम् (sambodhanam). The vocative case is used to call someone. Some examples for the locative case are:

हे मित्र! अत्र आगच्छ। (he mitra! atra āgaccha।), this means, “Hey Friend! Come here.” Here, the word, “मित्र” is used to call the friend. Therefore, the word is in the vocative case.

हे भ्रातः! भवान् कुत्र गच्छति? (he bhrātaḥ! bhavān kutra gacchati?), this means, “Brother! Where are you going?” Here, the word, “भ्रातः” is used to call the brother. Therefore, the word is in the vocative case.

Tenses:

Tenses are known as लकाराः (lakārāḥ). In Sanskrit, there are no simple or continuous tenses. There are a total of ten tenses in Sanskrit and they are as follows: 

1. लट्-लकारः (laṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Present Tense)
2. लिट्-लकारः (liṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Past Perfect)
3. लुट्-लकारः (luṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (First Future)
4. लृट्-लकारः (lṛṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Simple Future)
5. लोट्-लकारः (loṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Imperative Mood)
6. लङ्-लकारः (laṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Past Imperfect)
7. विधिलिङ्-लकारः (vidhiliṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Potential Mood)
8. आशुलिङ्-लकारः (āśuliṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Benedictive)
9. लुङ्-लकारः (luṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Aorist)
10. लृङ्-लकारः (lṛṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Conditional)

Out of the ten tenses mentioned above, only five are commonly used. They are: 

1. लट्-लकारः (laṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Present Tense)
2. लृट्-लकारः (lṛṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Simple Future)
3. लोट्-लकारः (loṭ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Imperative Mood)
4. लङ्-लकारः (laṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Past Imperfect)
5. विधिलिङ्-लकारः (vidhiliṅ-lakāraḥ) i.e. (Potential Mood)

We will now look at these five commonly used tenses in more detail.

लट्-लकारः (laṭ-lakāraḥ):

This is the present tense. It is used to show that something has started in the past and is continuing into the present, or can also be used to show a routine activity, universal truth or a habit. Some examples are:

शिक्षिका पाठयति। (śikṣikā pāṭhayati।), this means, “A teacher is teaching.” Here, an activity that has started in the past is continuing into the present.

प्रतिदिनं सः पुस्तकं पठति। (pratidinaṃ saḥ pustakaṃ paṭhati।), this means, “Every day, he reads a book.” Here, his reading a book every day is a habit.

लृट्-लकारः (lṛṭ-lakāraḥ):

This is the simple future tense. This is used to denote that something is going to happen in the future. Some examples are:

छात्रः श्वः विद्यालयं गमिष्यति। (chātraḥ śvaḥ vidyālayaṃ gamiṣyati।), this means, “Tomorrow, the student is going to go to school.” Here, the action of going to school is to be done in the future

लेखकः पुस्तकं लेखिष्यति। (lekhakaḥ pustakaṃ lekhiṣyati।), this means, “The author is going to write a book.” Here, the action of writing is going to be done in the future.

लोट्-लकारः (loṭ-lakāraḥ):

This is the imperative mood. This is used in the sense to order someone to do something. Some examples are:

माता कथयति, “पुत्र, भोजनं खाद”। (mātā kathayati, “putra, bhojanaṃ khāda”।), this means, “The Mother is saying, “Son, eat your food.” Here, the mother is ordering her son to eat, therefore, it is in imperative mood.

शिक्षिका कथयति, “बालक, पुस्तकं पठ”। (śikṣikā kathayati, “bālaka, pustakaṃ paṭha”।), this means, “The teacher is saying, “Boy, read the book.” Here, the teacher is ordering the boy to read the book, therefore it is in imperative mood.

लङ्-लकारः (laṅ-lakāraḥ):

This is the past imperfect tense. This is used to refer to some action that happened in the past. Some examples are:

अहम् आम्रम् अखादम्। (aham āmram akhādam।), this means, “I ate a mango.” Here, the action of eating a mango was done in the past, therefore it is in past tense.

सूदः भोजनम् अपचत्। (sūdaḥ bhojanam apacat।), this means. “The cook cooked the meal”. Here, the action of cooking was done in the past, therefore it is in past tense.

विधिलिङ्-लकारः (vidhiliṅ-lakāraḥ):

This is the potential mood. This is used to show that something is done, where it may be done or may not be done. Some examples are:

परीक्षासमये छात्रः पठेत्। (parīkṣāsamaye chātraḥ paṭhet।), this means, “During the examination time, the student should study.” Here, the student studying is potential; here it is only given that the student should study, there is no obligation for him to study; it is entirely up to the student, whether to study or not.

बालिका सुन्दरं आकाशं पश्येत्। (bālikā sundaraṃ ākāśaṃ paśyet।), this means, “The girl should see the beautiful sky.” Here, the girl seeing the beautiful sky is potential; here it is only given that the girl should see it, there is no obligation for her to see it; it is entirely up to her, whether to see it or not.

You might also be interested in these sections

guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments