View Full Version : Sanskrit grammar question and use of a mantra

22 November 2016, 02:49 PM
Namaste, vanakkam good people.

There is a mantra that I presume is for Sri Shiva puja (http://www.mysticworld.info/aum-sarvebhyo-devebhyo-namaha-lyrics-with-meaning/):

Aum Sarvebhyo Devebhyo Namaha
(We bow down to all the celestial and divine beings)
Aum Pancha Bhutaya Namaha
(We bow down to the five elements)
Aum Shri Sathguruve Namaha
(We bow down to the Eternal Guru)
Aum Shri Pritviyai Namaha
(We bow down to Mother Earth)
Aum Adi Yogishwaraya Namaha
(We bow down to the One who is the Origin of Yoga)
Aum, Aum, Aum.

I see it on the internet elsewhere also, as aum sarvebhyo devebhyo namah. Dative, plural. Yet Sanskrit grammar sites show -ebhyah as the dative plural for masc. a-stem nouns. I tend to side with the declension tables rather than texts that look like they are copy/pasted all over the 'net. But what do I know? :p

Which do you think is correct, and is it only a mantra for Sri Shiva, or can it be used in any puja or at any time for reverence and worship?

Dhanyavad, nandri (equal respect to north and south :)).

22 November 2016, 05:59 PM
hariḥ om̐

namasté & hello


What you are seeing is the grammatical rules of saṃskṛtam being applied in the invocation (āvāhanaṁ) you have mentioned. This ( the rule) is called out in pāṇini-ji’s aṣṭadhyāyī ( meaning a collection of 8 chapters); the work gives a complete description of the rules of saṃskṛt. This work contains his formulation of the 3,959 rules that are applied to the saṃskṛt language, both spoken and written.
The term ebhyah is really ebhyaḥ. When this term is combined with the other terms in the verse to make it a contiguous line, we apply the rules of saṃdhi ( some just write sandhi ; which again applies another rule that changes the ṃ to an n).

This rule says when ḥ is preceded by an a this ḥ converts ( transforms) to a 'u'. But we're still not done. This gives us the 'au' sound and it is to be replaced by its guṇa. We will define guṇa later if there is interest¹. The rule says it does not matter if this 'a' is long ā (dīrgha) or short a (hrasva). So, the guṇa of 'au' is 'o' . That is how you get to this 'o' ending.

Just as you show in your final signature śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ ; why is this viṣṇur and not just viṣṇu or viṣṇuḥ ? Hence more rules.
The rules of saṃdhi apply and can be seen in the footnote 1 post referenced below.

Now there is much much more we can talk about just on this idea, but will leave it there for now.

iti śivaṁ

1. Look here for more rules that are applied and that fit this post: http://hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?14522-Some-of-p%C4%81%E1%B9%87ini-s-rules-applied

22 November 2016, 08:42 PM
Namaste and thank you! I didn't take sandhi into consideration. I need to look into the link to delve into the rules. This is very helpful.

24 November 2016, 12:09 PM
hariḥ om̐
namasté & hello

om̐ sarvebhyo gurubhyo namaḥ¹ |
om̐ sarvebhyo devebhyo namaḥ |
om̐ sarvebhyo brāhmanebhyo namaḥ ||

Note the term sarvebhyo which comes from sarva + ebhyaḥ ; sarva = whole, all, ‘all together’ . The ‘a’ is dropped as the case ending ebhyaḥ is added.

The case ending here is either:

dative indicating to or ~for the sake of~
ablative indicating from, on account of, due to

sarva + ebhyaḥ = sarvebhyaḥ , the plural ( or many) form.

We know that a term can be singular , dual ( only 2) , or plural ( many). A simple example would be the following for the dative case in the singular, dual, and plural formats:

śivāya – indicating to or for śivaḥ ( this is the proper way to write śivaḥ for the nominative singular form) as we are saying ‘ for śivaḥ’ in our explanation.
śivābhyām - indicating to or for śivau (the 2 śivaḥ-s ; this is how it is written śivau in the nominative dual form i.e. two śivaḥ-s); I could have said ‘to or for śivau’ as my explanation.
śivebhyaḥ - indicating for all śivāḥ ( or all of the śivaḥ-s ; properly written as śivāḥ in the nominative plural format); I could have said ‘to or for śivāḥ’ and this would = to or for all of the śivaḥ-s.

So, now my question:
How do we know if we are talking of the dative case ( to or for) , or the ablative case ( from , on account of ) sarva and guruḥ ?

iti śivaṁ


namaḥ comes from namas which = bow , obeisance , a reverential salutation , or adoration by gesture or word. By the rules of grammar, a final ‘s’ is changed to ‘ḥ’ or visarga as it is called ( some call vi-sarjanīya)
Regarding this wonderful visarga (ḥ) .This visarga is written as : in saṃskṛtam. Officially it is not part of the saṃskṛta alphabet but is part of the ~rules~ of saṃdhi. It would be like saying, is a period (.) that is used in English part of the alphabet? No, it is part of grammar and sentence structure and informs the reader when to stop. We see this in saṃskṛta as a bar (|) at the end of a hymn, a śloka that is shown above: om̐ sarvebhyo gurubhyo namaḥ |
More on visarga (ḥ) here : http://hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?13539-visarga-and-other-ideas

25 November 2016, 10:10 AM
Hello yajvan...

I'm glad you went into it a little more. I'm fascinated by how and why human languages work. I noticed the ablative and dative plurals use the same forms, the singulars are different forms. It looks like the same pattern follows across all stem endings for neuter and feminine. I don't know the reason (yet ;)), but I surmise it has to do with some type of case collapsing, much as English has done extensively. The meaning might be obvious in the context of the statement or conversation. In French the conditional mood and future tense use the same form. Je voudrais is both "I would/should like/want" and I will want". I asked my French professor (eons ago, but it stuck in my head) "but how do you avoid the slight confusion of 'I will want" and "I would want'? He said that native French speakers would qualify with "au future" for the future tense.

This is my "cheat sheet", as it were. You could not possibly have thought I'm smart enough to know all this by myself. :p