Vaidika Bhasha Lakshana (वैदिकभाषालक्षणम्)

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Vaidika Bhasha Lakshana (Samskrit: वैदिकभाषाविशेषलक्षणम्) involves outlining those qualities of vaidika samskrit bhasha (वैदिकसंस्कृतभाषा) which differentiates it from the laukika bhasha that has been in vogue since recent centuries. Some of these features are completely lost from the laukika bhasha.

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

Earlier vedic seers took great efforts to preserve the oral tradition and as a part of that they built the structure of the Vedic Language explaining the different nuances of phonetics (such as intonation, pitch, time of utterance of the sound), the akshara (अक्षरम् | letter) and related structural aspects of language including the pada (पदम् | word), vakya (वाक्यम् | sentence) and finally a huge array of grammatical rules involving the tenses, vibhaktis, pratyayas among other important things.

वैदिकभाषाविशेषलक्षणानि ॥ Characteristics of Vaidika Bhasha

The following sections give an idea about the differences between Vaidika and Laukika samskrit. It should be noted that all the aspects have not been covered here owing to the vastness of the subject but a few classic examples have been presented.

स्वराः ॥ Svaras

  • The invariable presence of Udatta (उदात्तः) Anudatta (अनुदात्तः) Svarita (स्वरित) svaras in vaidika bhasha is a foremost differentiating feature from traditional Samskrit.
  • Usage of Svaras gives a musical tinge to the veda mantras, while such an attempt in traditional samskrit is not seen (chandas is applicable but not svaras).[1]

मात्रा ॥ Matra

  • The time of utterance (उच्चारणम् | uccharana) of a syllable is called Matra (मात्रा). In vaidika samskrit - Hrasva (ह्रस्वः), Deergha (दीर्घः), Pluta (प्लुतः) kinds of utterances are available but Pluta is gradually lost in present day samskrit language.[1]

    अधः स्विदासी३त् उपरि स्विदासी३त् भीरिव विन्दन्ती३ । adhaḥ svidāsī3t upari svidāsī3t bhīriva vindantī3 ।

वर्णः ॥ Varna

The following features about pronunciation of varnas are seen only in vaidika bhasha.

  • Anunasikikarana (अनुनासिकीकरण ) - Svaras (स्वर-s) which are अच् (vowels) when present at the end of the word (अवसानम्) are transformed into anunasika (अनुनासिकः) forms except in Shakala shakha (शाकलशाखा) of Rigveda. Example : ईड्यो॒ नूत॑नैरु॒तँ। (Rig. Veda. 1.1.2) (Pratishakhya Sutra given on Page 554 of Reference [1])
  • Anusvara usage (अनुस्वारप्रयोगः) - Considered as a varna different from both Svara and Vyanjana (व्यञ्जनम् । consonant), the Anusvara is pronounced using the nasika (नासिका) (Rik. Prat. 1.5). Panini's grammatical rules do not define Anusvara and it has been treated as other letters from the Pratyahara sutras.[2] Thus, the pronunciation of anusvara is diluted and gradually declining. Example : सिंह with the requirement of pronunciation of anusvara is uttered as सिह without the anusvara.
  • Vyanjana (व्यञ्जनम् । consonant) - Dilution of vyanjana varnas such as Visarga (विसर्गः), Jihvamuliyas (जिह्वामूलीय-s) and Upadhmaniyas (उपध्मानीय-s)
    • Visarga : Usage of visarga is gradually declining. The sound of 'ह' at the end of the word is not being used in present day.
    • k (क्) and kh (ख्) form the Jihvamuliyas and p (प्) and ph (फ्) form the Upadhmaniyas are gradually lost in present day samskrit usage. Ex: कः करोति, कः पचति
  • The vyanjana ' ' as in इळामग्ने and साळ्हा is seen only in vaidika bhasha. Usage of ' ळ ' and ' ळ्ह ' and the rules for their conversion to ड and ढ are described in Rik Pratisakhya. These vyanjanas are commonly seen only in Rigveda and not in other vedas also. (Pratisakhya Sutra given on Page 555 of Reference [1])
  • ' ऌ and ॡ ' varnas are only seen mostly in vaidika bhasha as a vowel. In classical samskrit, it is misrepresented as 'ल' and 'ऋ'. Many dhatus contain this vowel in the end which is lost in the derivation of words (prakriya). Example: अचीक्ऌपत् | acīkḷpat
  • Doubling of consonants (द्वित्वम् | dvitva), called as Krama (क्रमः), is a process performed under many defined conditions and exceptions. Example : सोमानं स्स्वरणम् । somānaṃ ssvaraṇam (Rig. Veda. 1.18.1)
  • Svarabhakti (स्वरभक्तिः) and Abhinidhana (अभिनिधानम्) are grammatical processes where combined varnas (संयुक्तवर्ण-s । Samyuktavarnas) are broken down for clarity of pronunciation. Example: स्वर → सुवर, पृथ्वी →पृथिवी and दर्शत → दरशत
  • Vyuha (व्यूहः) and Vyavaya (व्यवायः) : Vyuha means separation. The process of separation of combined letters to accommodate the appropriate metrical construction (chandas) in a pada (पादः) of mantra is called Vyuha. Vyavaya (meaning interval) is a similar process applicable to combined letters containing y (य्), v (व्), r (र्), l (ल्) which are separated to allow proper metrical composition.

पदम् || Pada

  • Words such as japhari (जफरी), tuphari (तुफरी), Arjuni (अर्जुनी), Aktu (अक्तु), Svetya (श्वेत्या), Gatu (गातुः), Gma (ग्मा) existed in Vaidika samskrit which are missing from traditional samskrit language.

विभक्तिः ॥ Vibhakti

Vaidika and laukika word forms or Vibhaktis are similar with some additional rules applicable to vaidika word forms.[1] Examples

  • In shabdas (शब्द-s | words) ending with a (अकारान्त), their Prathama vibhakti plural forms (प्रथमाविभक्तिः बहुवचनम्) end in आः and आसः like in सोभ्यासः and ते अ॑ज्ये॒ष्ठा अक॑निष्ठासः | (Rig. Veda. 5.59.6).
  • In shabdas ending with a (अकारान्त), their Tritiya vibhakti plural forms (तृतीयाविभक्तिः बहुवचनम्) end in ऐः and एभिः like in आदि॒त्यैर्या॑तमश्विना (Rig. Veda. 8.35.13) and अङ्गि॑रोभि॒रा ग॑हि य॒ज्ञिये॑भिः |(Rig. Veda. 10.14.5)
  • In place of a word form having any vibhakti and vachana, the Prathama Ekavachana form can be substituted, which is a very unique rule seen for vaidika words. Example : अनृक्षरा ऋजवः सन्तु पन्थाः | In Rigveda, the plural for पथिन् is पन्थाः ।
  • Usage of stem forms (pratipadika । प्रातिपदिकम्) in place of any particular word in any vibhakti is another unique rule seen in vedic grammar. For example : आद्रे चर्मन् | Here, चर्मन् is the stem for चर्मणि and used in its place.
  • In place of a vibhakti in a word any one of आ, आत्, ए, या, and ई are added.
  • Dative case (चतुर्थीविभक्तिः) and Genitive case (षष्ठीविभक्तिः) are used interchangeably in vaidika bhasha. Example : In गोधाकालकादार्वाघटास्ते वनस्पतीनाम् | Here, instead of वनस्पतीभ्यः usage of वनस्पतीनाम् is seen.

लकाराः ॥ Lakaras (Tenses and Moods)

  • लेटलकारः - In vaidika bhasha usage of verb root in लेटलकारः (Subjunctive mood) is extensive. It is used in two senses: of a contractual agreement (उपसंवादः । upasamvada) and doubt or probability (आशङ्का | ashanka). A study of the Rigveda, according to Pt. Baldev Upadhayaya, clearly differentiates the लेटलकारः (Subjunctive mood) from विधिलिङ् (Potential Mood). The fulfillment of an action lies well within the capability limits of the speaker (in the first person) is given by the लेटलकारः| However, विधिलिङ् indicates that action whose fulfillment lies beyond the capability of the speaker and hence, is described optional with sambhavana (संभावना | probability).[1]
  • Many rules are applicable to this mood. Examples:
    • ज्योतिषत् - After the dhatu when इस् form is seen it is transformed to इष् |
    • तारिषत् - In the लेटलकारः, form of word ending in स् will cause the वृद्धिः of the first svara of the dhatu
    • मन्दिषत् - In Parasmaipadi forms of a few लेटलकारः words, the इकारः of the vibhakti will be lost (लोपः).
    • करवाव and करवावः - In लेटलकारः, first person (उत्तमपुरुषः) forms a word ending with visarga, is used with or without visarga optionally.
  • Lit lakar (लिट्) is used for past perfect tense (परोक्षभूतकालः) in laukika bhasha but it is used in present tense (वर्तमानकालः) also in vaidika bhasha.
  • Lat lakar plural form (लट् in वर्तमानकालबहुवचनम्) contains मः in laukika bhasha but is replaced by मसि in vaidika bhasha as in मिनीमसि and एमसि given by Ashtadhyayi sutra इदन्तो मसि | idanto masi (7.1.46).
  • In laukika bhasha, in the usage of Lung (लुङ् Aorist), Lang (लङ्), and Lrung (ऌङ्), normally the words (अकार्षीत् अकरोत् अकारिष्यत्) are devoid of अ or आ in the front (अादि-अकारः) when 'मा' and 'मा स्म' are present as in मा भनान् कार्षीत् and मा स्म करोत् | In vaidika bhasha, this rule is used in an opposite way. Example: जनिष्ठ उग्र सहसे तुराय | Here, जनिष्ठ is the normal Lung form but devoid of अ (instead of अजनिष्ठ). In 'मा वः क्षेत्रे परबीजान्यवाप्सुः' even when मा is present in the statement 'अ' is present as in अवाप्सुः |
  • Adding the upasarga (उपसर्गः | prefix) before the kriyapada (क्रियापदम् |verb) is a mandatory rule in laukika bhasha. In vaidika bhasha, more flexibility is allowed wherein they can be added after the kriyapada or as seen in some cases upasarga and kriyapada are separated by a vyavadhana (व्यवधानम् | interval) filled with other words. Example : In 'हन्ति नि मुष्टिना', 'निहन्ति' is the word containing prefix and in 'आ मन्द्रैरिन्द्र हरिभिर्याहि' in the prefixed word आयाहि the upasarga आ and याहि are interspersed by many other words.
  • Another important difference is that in Krdanta padas (कृदन्तपद-s) even for a word containing prefix by the rule ktvapi chandasi (क्त्वापि छन्दसि | Ashtadhyayi 7.1.38), ktva prayaya (क्त्वा प्रत्ययः) is added to the root which is not the case in laukika bhasha. Example : यजमानं परिधापयित्वा | yajamānaṃ paridhāpayitvā |
  • त्वा is transformed to त्वाय and sometimes as त्वी as in 'दिवं सुपर्णो गत्वाय' (used in sense of गत्वा) and स्नात्वी पीत्वी (in the sense of स्नात्वा and पीत्वा) (Page 571 of Reference [1])

सन्धिः ॥ Sandhi (Conjunction)

Vaidika and Laukika samskrit are similar in their sandhi constructs with few different sandhis in vaidika samskrit.[1] Many rules of sandhis allow greater flexibility.

  • Deergha sandhi (दीर्घसन्धिः), guna sandhi (गुणसन्धिः), and vrddhi sandhi (वृद्धिसन्धिः) are called Prashlishta sandhis (प्रश्लिष्ट सन्धिः-s)
  • Yan sandhi (यणसन्धिः) seen in laukika bhasha is called Kshaipra sandhi (क्षैप्रसन्धिः).
  • Abhinihita sandhi (अभिनिहितसन्धिः), Padavrtti sandhi (पदवृत्तिसन्धिः), Udgraha sandhi (उद्ग्राहसन्धिः) and Bhugna sandhi (भुग्नसन्धिः) are a few sandhis that are only seen in vaidika bhasha.
  • Some others like Prakrtibhava sandhi (प्रकृतिभावसन्धिः) and Visarga sandhi (विसर्गसन्धिः) have similar rules both in vaidika and laukika bhasha with additional rules in vaidika bhasha.

समासः ॥ Samasa (Compound)

  • Vaidika bhasha does not contain samasta padas (समस्तपद-s) having more than three or four words. Long samasas are the feature of laukika bhasha.
  • Tatpurusha (तत्पुरुषः), Karmadharaya (कर्मधारयः), Bahuvrihi (बहुव्रीहिः) and Dvanda (द्वन्द्वः) samasas are the only ones seen with different classifications in vaidika bhasha.
  • In laukika bhasha, Dvandva and Tatpurusha constructs take the gender of the paravarti pada (परवर्तीपदम् | second word) as opposed to purvapada (पूर्वपदम् | first word) in the Vaidika bhasha. Example: In the Dvandva samasa comprising of Hemanta and Shishira and of Ahan (अहन्) and Ratri (रात्रि) the following forms are seen
    • हेमन्तशिशिरौ - हेमन्तश्च शिशिरश्च (in laukika bhasha हेमन्तशिशिरे)
    • अहोरात्रे - अहश्च रात्रिश्च (in laukika bhasha अहोरात्रौ)
  • Dvandva samasa of पितृ and मातृ gives पितरामातरा (Ashtadhyayi. 6.3.33) and sometimes usage of मातरापितरा is also seen, whereas in laukika bhasha मातोपितरौ is seen.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Upadhyaya, Baldev. (1958) Vaidik Sahitya.
  2. Dr. Bhagyalata Pataskar (2006) Understanding the Vedas. Pune : Vaidika Samshodhana Mandala