Caching the Verbs in Shanti Mantras

Exploring the “Tone of Instruction & Benediction”

Sujatha R
5 min readMay 8, 2022

In the garden of Sanskrit words, are the roots quite hidden. Like flowers and leaves, the root sounds expand, bloom, and express as VERBS. And these verbs have a variety of landings. The tail sounds at their end define their context.

Let us recognise some verb patterns in familiar shanti mantras and cache them into our head. And why not? We keep hearing them again and again.

Do share your cache of patterns after reading this blog.

How are Sanskrit verbs different? How expansive is the framework of verbs? What function do they have?

The expanse of “time”and “mood” of the action, land the Sanskrit verb into multiple forms and these are called as “lakaaras”. In other languages, we are familiar with the “time” part.

The “mood” part is unique to Sanskrit and can be seen in these verses.

Of Moods: An advise, an instruction, a blessing, a benediction..

In this schema of verbs, the “mood” aspect is more relevant than the “time” aspect of the verb. It falls in the present and future scale of time. Interesting right?

We will see some very familiar verses and grasp the patterns.. As the verb tables are lofty, and it takes a while to memorize the grammar tables, I find these familiar patterns useful. I am no expert.. I share as I learn.

LoT Laakara

लोट् lakaar encapsulates the mood of advise, instruction, blessing or benediction depending on the context.

In the following verses from the vedas, the verb has a tone of “you should xx” in madyama purusha eka vachana.

Let’s see this verse from Taitriya Upanishad. It is part of the convocation speech after graduation. Notice the brevity of sentences in Sanskrit.

In these verses, the actor karta is often missing. Based on the purusha of the verb, one can deduce the karta — I, We, you, One etc.

सत्यं वद। घर्मं चर
भव। पितृदेवो भव। आचार्यदेवो भव। अतिथिदेवो भव

(You should) speak the truth.. (You should) tread in dharma
(You should) be like-one-who-treats-mother-like-God.. be like-one-who-treats-father-like-God.. be like-one-who-treats-guests-like-God. (bahuvreehi samaasa)

A few other blessings following the style “may you be”

सुखीभव -May (you) be happy
भव May (you) be longliving
भव May (you) be longliving
भव May (you) be successful

Thinking about it, the English “be” quite resonates with भव
Be Happy.. Be Cheerful.. Be the Captain of your Ship.. Be like a Busy Bird


In this popular verse, notice गमय (गम् + णिच्) used in the madyama purusha 2.1.. णिच् has the effect of “make it do”.. In this context, “You make me walk” or “You lead me”

ॐ असतो माद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योति
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं

From falsehood, (YOU) should lead me in the path of truth. From darkness, (YOU) should lead me in the path of light. From death, (YOU) should lead me in the path of immortality.

Some illustrations of Pratama purusha, bahuvachana.. “may all” type of addressing

In this Shanti Mantra

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि
May all be
happy, may all be healthy, may all see auspicious

In this beautiful dialog between the teacher and student, seeking for divine blessings in this journey of the two. Notice the karta being “HE” in the first 2 phrases.. And “WE both” later. The dual sense of “we both” is indicated through verb ending “hai”.

ॐ सह नाववतु
नौ भुनक्तु
सह वीर्यं
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्
तु ..
मा विद्विषा

May (HE) bless both of us
May (HE) nourish both of us.
May (we both) peform together
May (HE) give us
May (we both) not get hostile.

Vidhi Ling

विधिलिङ् like the name suggests, is imperative.

Let us see the common examples in prathama ekavachana. It has an element of “One should do xx”. And the ‘One’ translates to the implicit कश्चन or जनः etc. Thanks to Amit ji in SLG group for pointing this out.

कार्यात् पूर्वं भोजनं कुर्यात्
One should eat before working

And the famous verse on ghee

Rinam kritva ghritam pibet, yavan jeevan sukham jivet
One ought to drink ghee even if means to take loan.. And one ought to lead a happy life thereafter

अति सर्वत्र वर्जयेत्
One should avoid anything in excess

From Vishnu Sahasranamam, we have

प्रसन्नवदनं ध्यायेत् सर्वविघ्नोपशान्तये ॥ 1 ॥ [ ध्यै, meditate ]
One ought to meditate on the ever-smiling face -ध्यायेत् / ध्यायेद्

सहस्रं वासुदेवस्य नाम्नामेतत् प्रकीर्तयेत् ॥ 5 ॥ [ प्र + कॄत् ]
By chanting the 1000 names, he ought to get fame -प्रकीर्तयेत्

क्षत्रियो विजयी भवेत् । ॥ PS 3॥[ भू ]
Kshatriya Warrior ought to get victory -भवेत्

Aashirling Laakar

This is used specifically for aashirwaad and mostly with the verb भू धातु

चिरञ्जीवी भूयात्.. May you live for ever.
वीरप्रसविनी भूयात् .. May you deliver a courageous child..
ramah vijeeyaat.. May Rama be victorious.

The limbs of “time” stretch across the past, present and future. The present is always moving and hence called vartamaana. After an instant, the present becomes the past. In a sense, the past is “dead” and hence called bhuta.

What are the careabouts of timeline?

Is the verb referring to the time window of present time, the near future, or the near past?

Is the verb referring to far away in the future, or far away in the past?

  • अभूत् >> He was (luṅ)
  • अभवत् >> He was [just yesterday](laṅ)
  • बभूव >> He was [Long ago] (liṭ)
  • भवति >> He is (laṭ)
  • भविष्यति >> He will be (lṛṭ)
  • भविता >> He will [eventually] be (luṭ)

Is the verb describing wishful thinking which failed to occur in the past..‘If I had worked hard, I would have scored better. अनद्यतने लङ्

Is the verb describing something that has not been directly experienced, but heard from someone? A reported past? परोक्षे लिट्

Just for trivia, notice how the classes are named .
1. लट् = ल् + + ट्
2. लिट् =ल् + + ट्
3. लुट् = ल् + + ट्
4. लृट् = ल् + + ट्
5. लेट् = ल् + + ट्
6. लोट् = ल् + + ट्
7. लङ् — — ल् + + ङ्
8.लिङ् — — ल् + + ङ्
9.लुङ् — — ल् + + ङ्
10.लृङ् — — ल् + + ङ्

How does Panini Sutras pack the verbs roots and the ‘declaration of dhatu meanings’ in a very precise manner? For example bhū & kṛ are defined by
भू सत्तायाम्। १.१
डुकृञ् करणे। ८.१०
Check out a brief introduction..

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns