Sailing the Pronouns of Sanskrit

Decoding Pronouns, their Types and Styles..

Sujatha Ratnala
7 min readMay 19, 2023

It is said that the ocean of this language cannot be crossed with a leaky little boat. Some patching of my little boat with the planks of सर्वनाम..

Pronouns bring Convenience and Versatility. Infact, every kind of object can be wrapped with सर्वनाम. They are quite the chatty filler words of a Sentence. Although they are not the keywords, It would be impossible to grasp the essence and drama in the Sentences without befriending with these pronouns.

And the garden of Sanskrit Pronouns is replete with vocabulary and vibhakti forms. Infact, this wonderful repository from sanskritabhyas has an index of all the pronoun base forms, and their vibhakti forms. Do keep it handy and have a peek when you are ready!

In this post, let’s make a map and enjoy a distant view of each Island and its treasures!

Personal Pronouns

These are akin to the English I, You, He, She, It, They.

While अहम् and त्वम् meaning “I”, “You” are gender independent, the सः, सा, तत् are the “he-she-it” equivalents.

भवान् and भवती are respectful usages of “you” in masculine and feminine genders.

मम नाम राधा । My name is Radha
तव नाम किम्? What is your name?
भारतवर्ष :
अस्माकं देशः । India is our Country {Line from Indian Pledge}

स: राम: । He is Rama
सा सीता । She is Sita
तत् फलं ।That is flower

एष ब्रह्मा च विष्णुश्च ।He is Brahma and Vishnu Aditya Hridayam

Demonstrative Pronouns

These are like Adjectives and Pointers. There is an element of pointing out the noun. Sanskrit seems to celebrate this usage. An English equivalenet would be..

This House.. That House..
This Girl.. That Girl..
This Great Rama.. That Great Rama..

The एतद् and तत् pair of pronoun stems cater to “this X” “that X” and they land with their vibhakti families in the 3 genders.

Similarly, we have another set of इदम् and अदस्. Interestingly, Telugu too has similar sounding ‘idi’ ‘adi’ for ‘this’ and ‘that’.

We can see the brilliant usage in the Shanti mantra

Poornam idam.. Poornam adam..
This is complete.. That is complete.

Here are some illustrations of इदम् forms from Gita. These words are so hidden, that I did not even notice them before. The English translations can sound a bit off due to differences in the languages and how it sees genders and vibhaktis..

अयम्.. This he {1.1m, karta}
This X, This Y, This Z.. A mini Vishnusahasra namam like description of the Absolute..

अच्छेद्यः अयम्..
अदाह्यः अयम्.. अक्लेद्यः अशोष्यः एव च ।
नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुः अचलः अयम्सनातनः ॥
This (he) uncleavable..
This (he)incombustible..neither be drenched nor dried,
This (he)eternally stable, immobile, all-pervading

अयम् हन्ति न हन्यते
This (he) does not kill

अयम् पुराणः
This (he) is ancient

एनम् .. this him{2.1m, karma}

एनम् छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि
एनम् दहति पावकः ।
न च
एनम् क्लेदयन्ति आपः
न शोषयति मारुतः

This him cannot be ripped by weapons..
This him cannot be burnt by fire..
This him cannot be wet by fire.

“these” {1.3 m}

इमे जनाधिपा
these kings

इमे देहाः
these bodies

अस्मिन्.. “in this” {1.7 m/n}

अस्मिन् क्षणे महाबाहो .. रावणं त्वं वधिष्यसि — Aditya Hridayam
O Mahabaho!
In this moment, you should destroy Ravana..

इदम् “this” {1n.1}

इदम् वाक्यम् उवाच मधुसूदनः
Madhusudhana told
this sentence

Interrogative Pronouns

Like the He-She-It, there are 3 forms of interrogative pronouns.. कः, का and किम्

**Translation in English is approximate. In English, we just bucket object reference with What.

कः and किम् illustrated in this subhashitam in {1.1} forms. {कः becomes को in some cases due to Sandhi}

को प्रतिभारः समर्थानां
किं दूरं व्यवसायिनाम् ।
को विदेशः सविद्यानां
कः परः प्रियवादिनाम् ॥
What is verily heavy for the capable?
What is verily distant for the industrious?
What is foreign for the educated?
What is “other” for the sweet natured person?

Yudhistira’s epic questions that starts that marks Vishnu Sahasranamam in { 1.1} forms of कः and किम्

किमेकं दैवतं लोके किं वाऽप्येकं परायणं
कं कमर्चन्तः प्राप्नुयुर्मानवाः शुभम् ॥ 8 ॥

को धर्मः सर्वधर्माणां भवतः परमो मतः ।
किं जपन्मुच्यते जन्तुर्जन्मसंसार बन्धनात् ॥ 9 ॥

What is that one God to be prayed?
What is that parayana to be done?
What is that absolute Dharma?
What is that japam that liberates?

This popular verse from BhajaGovindam illustrates the vibhakti usage in कः and का .

का ते कान्ता? {f 1.1}
स्ते पुत्रः ? {m 1.1}
संसारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः ।
कस्य त्वं? {m 6.1}
कः कुत आयात {m 1.1, m 5.1}

Oh Brother! Reflect on these Questions.. Life is Ephemeral indeed!
Who is your wife?
Who is your son?
This world is extremely strange..
Whose are you?
Who are you? where did you come from?

Indefinite Pronouns

Like the name suggests, it is indefinite in nature..
Somebody.. Someone.. Some X.. Some Y.. Some Guy.. Some Lady.. Something..

कः, का and किम् combine with चित् or चन or अपि.. and we get these derived pronouns

कश्चित्, कोपि => some man
काचित् => some lady
किञ्चित्, किंचन, किमपि => some amount, a little amount

Bhagawad Gita has these wonderful lines..

Some see HIM as amazing.
āśhcharya-vat paśhyati kaśhchid enan 2.29

No body can remain.. even for a moment.. without doing any action
na hi kaśhchit.. kṣhaṇam api.. jātu tiṣhṭhatyakarma-kṛit 3.5

A beautiful line from Bhaja Govindam

भगवद् गीता किञ्चिदधीता
He who reads
some amount of Gita.. He who reads little bit of spared from the troubles

Totakastakam has this rhyming verse

न च किंचन काञ्चनमस्ति गुरो
Not even some wealth.. Not even little wealth do I possess, O Teacher..

Miscellaneous Pronouns

Some other interesting pronouns are
myself -निजः
others -
परः, इतरः, अन्यः
all - सर्वः, विश्वः
both -उभौ (Only Dual Forms exist as can be expected)

This index contains a listing of all the pronouns.

Here goes the popular verse on वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्

अयं निजः परो वेति गणना लघु-चेतसाम् ।
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥
The foolish-minds looks at every thing as “that is mine” “that is not mine”
The great-minds look at this whole universe as one family

A Popular phrase from Shanti Mantra

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः (1.3)
May All be Happy

सर्वेषां स्वस्तिर्भवतु । सर्वेषां शान्तिर्भवतु ।
सर्वेषां पूर्णंभवतु । सर्वेषां मङ्गलंभवतु {6.3 usage}
May happiness be of All.. May peace, completeness and prosperity be of All. English translation of the above line might sound a bit off. Hindi has Sab ka balAi Ho in 6.3

Gita has this in a few places.

senayor ubhayor madhye {1.2}
Amidst both the sides of the army, Krishna spoke these words to the dejected Arjuna— Gita Ch 2

Connecting Pronouns

These pronoun pairs in their respective vibhaktis give a connection to the phrases. Here are some popular verses. See the connections

yat ..tat.. that which..that {n 1.1}

yat karoṣhi yad aśhnāsi yaj juhoṣhi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣhva mad-arpaṇam
Bhagawat Gita 9.27

O Son of Kunti!
That which you do, that which you eat, that which you offer and that which you give away, and that which your austerities.. that should be done as an offering unto Me.

yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama 15.6
that which place one does not return back.. that absolute abode is mine.

This pradakshina shlokam illustrates 1.3 forms of Napunsaka bahuvachana..
यानि कानि .. तानि सर्वाणि All those which.. those all

यानि कानि च पापानि जन्मान्तरकृतानि च ।
तानि सर्वाणि नश्यन्ति प्रदक्षिणपदे पदे ॥
All those Sins which have been committed in various Births,
those gets destroyed with every Step of the Pradakshina

And some pun on medical quacks. Brilliant use of multiple vibhakti pairings

यस्य कस्य तरोर्मूलं {m 6.1}
येन केन प्रपेषयेत् {m 3.1}
यस्मै कस्मै प्रदातव्यं {m 4.1}
यद्वा तद्वा भविष्यति ॥ {m 1.1}
Of some or the other root.. by some or the other means.. to some or the other person. Ans the result could be this way or that way.

From Vishnu Sahasranamam, yah sah.. he who.. he{m 1.1}

परमं यो महत्तेजः परमं यो महत्तपः ।
यो महद्ब्रह्म परमं यः परायणम् । 15 ॥
He who is absolute radiance.. He who is the supreme tapas
He who is the supreme Brahma.. He who is the destination

In my middle school at Kendriya Vidyalaya, we had the Indian Pledge in all the three languages. It feels goosebumps to understand and write down after more than three decades of time !

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.
भारत हमारा देश है।
भारतम् अस्माकं मातृभूमिः।

हम सब भारतवासी भाई-बहन हैं।
वयं सर्वे भारतीयाः पस्परम् भ्रातरः भगिन्यश्च।

I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
हमें अपना देश प्राणों से भी प्यारा है।
अस्माकं मातृभूमिः प्राणेभ्योऽपि प्रियतरा।

इसकी समृद्धि और विविध संस्कृति पर हमें गर्व है।
अस्या: समृद्धौ विविध संस्कृतौ च वयं गौरवम् अनुभवामः।

I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
हम इसके सुयोग्य अधिकारी बनने का प्रयत्न सदा करते रहेंगे ।
वयम् अस्याः सुयोग्याः अधिकारिणः भवितुं प्रयतमानाः भविष्यामः ।

I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and all elders and treat everyone with courtesy.
हम अपने माता-पिता शिक्षकों एवं गुरुजनों का सदा आदर करेंगे और सबके साथ शिष्टता का व्यवहार करेंगे ।
वयं स्वपित्रोः शिक्षकाणाम् गुरुजनानां च सदैव आदरं करिष्याम : ।

To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well-being and prosperity alone lies my happiness.

हम अपने देश और देशवासियों के प्रति सदा वफादार रहने की प्रतिज्ञा करते हैं
वयं स्वदेशं देशवासिनश्च प्रति विश्वासभाजः भविष्यामः

उनके कल्याण और समृद्धि में ही हमारा सुख निहित है।
तेषाम् कल्याणे समृद्धौ च अस्माकम् सुखं निहितम् ।

Jai Hind!
जय हिन्द !
जयतु भारतम् !

As the saying goes.. There are 4 legs to any learning. While the Teacher imparts the 1st leg, and Self Enquiry imparts the 2nd leg, it is a discussion with fellow students that imparts the 3rd leg, and the 4th leg of TIME slowly reveals and ripens the knowledge..

Happy Learning! शुभं भूयात् & All the Best!


Prof Narasinga’s Lectures hosted on Advaita Academy: Lecture 198 to 207. Wonderful story telling and one lesson on Subhashitam

Pronoun stems and vibhakti tables



Sujatha Ratnala

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