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"Nouns" has been in need of major reconstruction for some time now. As of March 14, this reconstruction has actually started. Check back often to see how much it's grown!

Current progress: all lessons proofread and ordered. Working on exercises for "Other Compounds." (March 18)

When I knew just a little, I became like an elephant blinded by rut,
and thinking "I know everything," my mind became stained.
When I understood a little more from the company of the wise,
I thought "I am a fool," and my arrogance departed like a fever.
nītiśataka, by bhartṛhari


At this point, you have a great understanding of Sanskrit pronunciation and the basics of Sanskrit grammar. It might seem to you that you haven't learned very much. In one way, that is true; we still have a lot of material left to learn. But in another way, that is false; you have a real and profound understanding of the foundation of Sanskrit grammar.

With such a foundation, we can start to read more and more authentic Sanskrit. You've already done the hard part; now things will start to get easier, and they will continue to get easier.

What to expect

This unit of the guide, called Nouns, can be summed up with one word: bhagavadgītā. By the end of this unit, you will understand exactly how the word bhagavadgītā is formed and used. This one word involves so many different parts of Sanskrit grammar that it will take some time to understand it thoroughly. Along the way, we will study other material as well.

By the end of Nouns, you will be able to do the following:

Incidentally, we will read twenty full verses from the Bhagavad Gita, nearly 3 percent of the entire text.

Changes in the lesson structure

Note these changes in the lesson structure:


From now on, the term verb root will always refer to roots in the traditional system. By dealing with traditional roots, you will be better able to deal with traditional texts and other textbooks. But, we will occasionally make reference to the old system that we used before.


For the most part, the exercises in this chapter will be of a different sort. The previous chapter was focused on production; exercises would give you English sentences and ask you to translate them into Sanskrit. But from now on, we'll deal with more complex words and more complex rules; producing Sanskrit will be much harder to do. For that reason, the rest of the chapters in this guide are focused more on recognition. Especially in the later lessons, exercises will give you Sanskrit sentences and ask you to translate them into English.


From now on, the "Vocabulary" and "Exercise" sections will use only Devanagari. The actual lesson will still use both Devanagari and IAST, and you can still use the site's transliteration tool to turn Devanagari into IAST.

In real Sanskrit texts, Devanagari words are written to avoid the vowel symbols (like ) and the virāma as much as possible. The vowel symbols can only be used at the beginning of a line or after a letter that was lost to sandhi; the virāma, meanwhile, can only be used at the end of a line. This approach can make separate words seem like unified clumps.

In Nouns, we'll partially follow this pattern. Words that start with vowels will be combined with the words before them. Other words, however, will remain separate.


By the end of this chapter, your Sanskrit skill will be much greater than it is now. But enough of anticipation; let's get started with some new parts of Sanskrit.