1 Preface


It was in the Pre-partition days (previous to 1947) when I was yet in the service of the D.A.-V. College, Lahore that I conceived a plan of writing a comparatively small book on the use and function of the Sanskrit Preposition. Little did I ima- gine then that it would assume the dimensions that it has. I set myself the task of studying the vast Sanskrit literature, both Vedic and Classical, in my quest of the appropriate uses of the Sanskrit Prepositions. I endeavoured to discover their true meanings with the help of the commentaries, wherever available, which I have quoted in this work in extenso. But I have not allowed my regard for the old commentators to prevail over my sense of judgment. I have on occasions discarded the meanings offered by them in favour of my suggestions, for which I have invariably given reasons. I have also gone into textual criticism, wherever it was called for.

Though an arduous task, I have never felt it as such. The study of the Sanskrit prepositions has been a fascinating one for me. Indeed the more I studied them, the more fascinated I was. I have roamed all these years in the realm of the Vedic literature, the Samhitas, the Brahmaņas, the Sutras (Srauta, Grhya and Dharma). The language of these ancient works is rich with prepositions. The seers have a predilection for the use of the prepositions. They would use a single root and prefix to it a preposition to express an action or a modification of it. For each additional modification, they would have an additional preposition; thus a root carries sometimes as many as five prepositions.


There is little like it in the later literature, termed classical. Prepositions there are, but they are few and far between. The wealth of meanings is missing here. Strikingness too is gone. The Epics, the Rāmāyana and the Mahabharata match with the Vedic Texts in the use of the Sanskrit Prepositions. Here we find a copious use of the prepositions with an abounding variety of sense, almost as striking and charming as that met with in the Vedic literature. I have pored over the pages of the Epics for years and studied all available commentaries and embodied in this work the varying comments offered therein.

In the introduction to this work, I have discussed thread-bare the time-honoured several theories about the function of the Sanskrit preposition. I have brought to bear on the subject quite new material, fresh lively evidence, for a correct appraisal. There is a fresh approach. All that goes to elucidate these theories is summed up here within a short compass of 40 pages.

To my predecessors in the field, I owe a deep debt of gratitude, especially, to the great Savants, Roth and Bōhtlingk, the renowned authors of the Wörterbuch, the unsurpassed Sanskrit-German Lexicon. I have freely drawn upon the pertinent material contained therein.

Needless to say that I have gone far beyond the material utilized by the authors of the Wörterbuch. A host of works, both Vedic and Classical, such as the Jaiminiya Brahmana, the Arthaśastra of Kauṭalya, Bhasa Näṭakacakra, the Tattvasaṁgraha of Santarakṣita, the Kasyapa Samhita (Ayurveda)-to mention a few-were not known when the Wörterbuch was compiled. Many of the Sutragranthas also, such as the Laugakṣi, the Agniveśa appeared later. I have tried to make the present work as comprehensive as possible. The entire work when completed is expected to cover nearly 1000 pages in print. It is proposed to issue it in 5 fasciculi of nearly 200 pages each. The first fasciculus is being issued.

I have retained the traditional order of prepositions, pra, para, apa, etc. The roots are, however, listed in the alphabetical order.

I have based my observations on tha text preserved in the Bombay Recensions of the Epics. The amplified Epics, with all their accretions go back to a very early age of the Sanskrit Literature. Since I wanted to take notice of the usage that prevailed up to their final redaction, the distinction between the earlier and later layers being immaterial for me, I have not used the critical editions with a mass of genuine Sanskrit Speech scored out. Some of the quotations in the Rāmāyaṇa are drawn from the editions by Schlegel and Gorresio. The references to chapter and verse would not therefore accord with the Bombay recension. Some of the quotations from the Mahabharata too as recorded in the Wörterbuch are not traceable to the Vulgate.

My thanks are due to Dr. Jiya Lal Kamboja, my old pupil, now Lecturer in Sanskrit in the Hindu College, Delhi University for his labour of love he did for me in checking the references and going through the proof-sheets.

I am currently running the 81st year of my life. My only prayer is that God may grant me the requisite physical strength and mental alertness to carry on my literary activities without a pause to the end of my earthly sojourn.

मा तन्तुश्छेदि वयतो धियं मे
मा मात्रा शार्यपसः पुर ऋतोः (ऋ० २।२८१५) ।

Surabhi, 3/54,
Roop Nagar, Delhi.
27th September, 1976.
Charudeva Shastri