The Feminine Forces in Sanskrit

Some Illustrations and vibhaktis..

Sujatha Ratnala
3 min readJun 9, 2023

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It is said that Language shapes the way we think.. And most certainly with Sanskrit.. There is depth and grandness in regard to viewing every aspect of this vast Universe. To the extent that matter, life forms and unseen forces both inside and outside of us are tagged with the label of Gender. This kinship and affinity in some ways is new to me, as English flattens and simplifies the viewing.. And in some ways familiar, with feminine names all around, such as shraddha, gita, lakshmi, shakti, and so on..

In the Gender divide, there seems to be an element of opposites meeting in harmony. Prakruti with Purusha.. Shakti with Shiva.. Saudhamini lightening with the Megha .. Nadi merging into Samudra.. Kalidasa’s celebrated verse Vaak resonates with Artha.. “Speech” with “Meaning” just like Parvati Parameshwara. Such was the celebration of diversity in the Universe.

The other spectrum of feminine words is the dynamic subtle facets of our inner self.. The mind.. intellect.. grit.. faith mati, buddhi, dhruti, buddhi, shraddha, bhakti. As it seems, most of them are आकारान्तं and इकारान्तं

Is there a deeper science to it? May be for another time. Till then, some exploration with common verses.

The Bhagawad Gita

In fact, the chanting of every chapter starts with this verse in the locative sense. Shrimad-Bhagavad-GitA and BrahmavidyA are feminine as we might have guessed it.

Shrimad-Bhagavad-Gitasu
Upanishadsu
Brahmavidyayaam
Yogashastre
Shri Krishna-Arjuna-samvade

In the Gitas, In the Upanishads, In the BrahmaVidhya & Yoga Shastras, In the conversation between Krishna & Arjuna..

Krishna and Arjuna are the obvious words. What does Gita have to tell about the hidden feminine words and forms?

कीर्तिः श्रीः वाक् च नारीणाम् ..स्मृतिः मेधा धृतिः क्षमा ॥

Among feminine qualities, I am glory, beauty and speech.. memory and intelligence, steadfastness and patience.. -10.34

Got it.. वाक्, बुद्धिः, धृतिः, कीर्तिः are all feminine words. Let us explore verses for the not-so-obvious feminine footage of nouns and their supporting pronoun forms stemming from यद् and तद्.

If you had wondered why यया or सा occurred in these verses.. because the subject बुद्धिः and धृतिः is feminine.

बुद्धिः {1.1}
यया {that by which 3.1} .. सा {she 1.1}

यया धर्मम् अधर्मम् च.. कार्यम् च अकार्यम् एव च ।
अयथावत् प्रजानाति..
बुद्धिः सा पार्थ राजसी ॥18.31॥

Oh Partha! That बुद्धिः is राजसी.. That by which one knows dharma from adharma, and right from wrong..

धृतिः {1.1}
यया {that by which 3.1} .. सा {she 1.1}

धृत्या यया धारयते मनः-प्राण-इन्द्रिय-क्रियाः ।
योगेन
अव्यभिचारिण्या धृतिः सा पार्थ सात्त्विकी

Oh Partha! That धृतिः is सात्त्विकी.. That unwavering अव्यभिचारिण् धृतिः and yoga by which, One controls the mind, breath, the senses and the acts -18.33

Devi Mahatmayam

The feminine qualities are beautifully listed in this song. I guess the word endings, and the dynamism kind of support the gender.

यादेवी सर्वभूतेषू विष्णुमायेति शब्धिता।
नमस्तस्यै, नमस्तस्यै,नमस्तस्यै नमोनमः ॥

That Devi who is known among all the beings as VishnuMaya..
Namah
to her.. Namah to her.. Namah to her..

Buddhi [Intelligence], Shakti [Power], Vrtti [Activity]
Smrti [Memory], Kaanti [Beauty]

Shaanti [Peace], Lakshmii [Fortune]
Jaati [Genus], Kshaanti [Forbearance]

Tushti [Contentment], Bhraanti [Delusion]

Maya [illusion], Chetanaa [consciousness]
Nidraa [Sleep], Kshudhaa [Hunger], Trushnaa [Thirst]

Dayaa [Kindness], Shraddhaa [Faith]
Lajjaa [Modesty], Chaayaa [Shadow]

Lakshmi Astotarram

Sampradaaan vibhakti usage and some feminine vocabulary can be seen here.

ॐ प्रकृत्यै नमः
ॐ विकृ
त्यै नमः
ॐ विद्यायै नमः
ॐ सर्वभूत हितप्रदा
यै नमः
ॐ श्रद्धा
यै नमः
ॐ विभू
त्यै नमः
ॐ सुर
भ्यै नमः
ॐ परमात्मिका
यै नमः
ॐ वा
चे नमः
ॐ पद्मालया
यै नमः (10)

This world is a wonderful balance of opposites. Shubham bhuyaat and punar milaamah.

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Sujatha Ratnala

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Patterns, Science, Linguistics, Sanskrit et al..