ṣatva and ṇatva

In the previous lesson, we learned about various small changes involving the anusvāra and the visarga. These changes also gave a clearer demonstration of how rules in the asiddha section work.

Here, we will take a quick look at two common changes that we will use repeatedly throughout our series. These are:

  • the change of s to . This is commonly called ṣatva (ṣa-ness).

  • the change of n to . This is commonly called ṇatva (ṇa-ness).

Both ṣatva and ṇatva have many exceptions and minor rules. So as usual, we will focus on just the common patterns.

Change of s to

The consonant s can become in several different circumstances. Here we'll look at just one. To understand this rule, we must first consider four rules that are either adhikāra rules or rules that establish anuvṛtti:

  • अपदान्तस्य मूर्धन्यः। ८.३.५५
    apadāntasya mūrdhanyaḥ (8.3.55)
    a-pada-antasya mūrdhanyaḥ
    Of a non-word-final, … a retroflex.

  • सहेः साडः सः। ८.३.५६
    saheḥ sāḍaḥ saḥ (8.3.56)
    saheḥ sāḍaḥ saḥ
    [The non-word-final] s [of sah in the form sāḍ] becomes a retroflex [ṣa in saṃhitā]. (This rule is minor, but the term saḥ will continue through anuvṛtti.)

  • इण्कोः। ८.३.५७
    iṇkoḥ (8.3.57)
    After the letters iṇ (i, u) or ku̐ (k, kh, g, gh, ), …

  • नुम्विसर्जनीयशर्व्यवायेऽपि। ८.३.५८
    numvisarjanīyaśarvyavāye'pi (8.3.58)
    nu̐m-visarjanīya-śar-vyavāye api
    Even if separated by nu̐m, the visarjanīya, or śar, …

Rule 8.3.59 is our focus:

  • आदेशप्रत्यययोः। ८.३.५९
    ādeśapratyayayoḥ (8.3.59)
    [The non-word-final s that follows iṇ or ku̐ becomes a retroflex ṣa in samhitā] when it is of an ādeśa (substitution) or pratyaya (suffix) [even if separated by nu̐m, the visarjanīya, or a śar sound].

Rule 8.3.59 inherits different pieces from each of the four rules before it. So in addition to teaching us a useful rule, rule 8.3.59 shows how much the Aṣṭādhyāyī relies on the context of prior rules.

Now, what does rule 8.3.59 actually mean? For now, let's set aside certain pieces of this rule. We will return to ādeśa in a future lesson, and likewise for nu̐m. So, let's work with this simplified version of the rule:

  • आदेशप्रत्यययोः। ८.३.५९
    ādeśapratyayayoḥ (8.3.59)
    In saṃhitā, the non-final s of a pratyaya (suffix) becomes when it follows iṇ or ku̐, even if separated by the viśarga or a śar sound.

The interpretation of this rule is quite clear. We get changes like the following:

  • अग्नि + सु → अग्निषु
    agni + su → agniṣu

  • गुरु + सु → गुरुषु
    guru + su → guruṣu

  • वाक् + सु → वाक्षु
    vāk + su → vākṣu

Even if certain other sounds intervene:

  • हविः + सु → हविःषु
    haviḥ + su → haviḥṣu

Change of n to

Similarly, we have this change of n to :

  • रषाभ्यां नो णः समानपदे। ८.४.१
    raṣābhyāṃ no ṇaḥ samānapade (8.4.1)
    ra-ṣābhyām naḥ ṇaḥ samāna-pade
    When following r or in the same pada (word), n becomes [in saṃhitā],

  • अट्कुप्वाङ्नुम्व्यवायेऽपि। ८.४.२
    aṭkupvāṅnumvyavāye'pi (8.4.2)
    aṭ-ku̐-pu̐-āṅ-nu̐m-vyavāye api
    even if they are separated by aṭ sounds, ku̐ and pu̐ sounds, āṅ, or nu̐m.

Rule 8.4.1 is straightforward. And rule 8.4.2 includes all kinds of sounds:

  • the pratyāhāra aṭ (a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, ṛ, ṝ, ḷ, e, ai, o, au, h, y, v, r)

  • ku̐ or pu̐ (k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, p, ph, b, bh, m);

  • the word ā, which is called āṅ in the Aṣṭādhyāyī. ā is the prefix used in words like āgacchati, but it has other uses as well.

  • nu̐m will be discussed in a later lesson.

If rule 8.3.59 (ādeśapratyayayoḥ) shows the power of anuvṛtti, rule 8.4.2 shows the power of Pāṇini's notation. Pāṇini describes a complex set of conditions in just 8 syllables. And by applying these rules, we get changes like the following:

  • रामेन → रामेण
    rāmena → rāmeṇa
    By Rama

  • पत्त्रानि → पत्त्राणि
    pattrāni → pattrāṇi
    The leaves


The other sandhi rules follow the same principles we've seen already. Studying more sandhi rules might be interesting for its own sake, but it won't teach us anything fundamental about the Pāṇinian system.

Therefore, now is a good time for us to review what we've learned and consolidate our knowledge. Once we've done so, we'll be ready to explore the rest of the Pāṇinian system.