Sanskrit nouns and their declensions – a very short and general grammar lesson

posted in: English

Hare Krishna.

Yesterday, answering a question, I mentioned something called “vocative” and said that the final vowel change if the noun is “in vocative”.
A devotee asked me for some clarification and here I’ll briefly explain.

Those who have studied the grammar of classical languages will understand this easily. To others, this explanation will result somewhat complicated.
I don’t mean here to give a full lesson on the use of nouns and their declension because it would be too long and complicated and I don’t expect everybody to understand.

Just a few concepts to explain why a word like Murari becomes Murare.

 

Each group of nouns (those ending with a, i, u, etc.) has different declensions. And the case ending varies according to gender and numbers.
Let’s make an example.

 

 

The nouns purusa (man) which is a noun ending with “a” will be declined in this way:

Declension of the      A     stems                     

pumlinga (masculine)

puruSha:      (man)

ekavacana

dvivacana

bahuvacana

nominative (prathama)

puruSha:

puruShau

puruShA:

accusative (dvitiya)

puruSham

puruShau

puruShAn

instrumental (tritiya)

puruSheNa

puruShAbhyAm

puruShai:

dative (caturthi)

puruShaya

puruShAbhyAm

puruShabhya:

ablative (pancami)

puruShAt

puruShAbhyAm

puruShabhya:

genitive (sasthi)

puruShasya

puruShayo:

puruShANAm

locative (saptami)

puruShe

puruShayo:

puruSheShu

vocative (sambodhana)

puruSha

puruShau

puruShA:

 

A nominative indicates the subject (The father leads) and others –
janaka: nayati

 

The accusative indicates the direct object of a transitive verb and others.
The father leads the sons: janaka: putraan nayati.

 

The instrumental to indicate the agent of a passive verb etc.

 

So if the noun purusa is the nominative (the subject of a phrase) will be purusah, if dual will be purusau, if plural will be purusaah.

If the noun purusa is accusative will be purusam, if dual purusau, if plural purusaan.

In Vocative (Oh Krishna) remains “Krishna”.
So on and so forth.

 

If we take a masculine noun ending with “i” (like in the case of Murari, the enemy of Mura) the nominative singular will be munih, dual munii, plural munayaah.
In accusative, instrumental, genitive, etc. the word will take a different case-ending.

 

Therefore if the word “murari” is in vocative (sambodhana) meaning to say “Oh Murari” it becomes Murare.

 

 

– Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)

 

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