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Lesson 28

Simple Sanskrit – Lesson 28


There seems to be a commonplace understanding that अनुस्वार is an option for writing the अनुनासिक-s. It is difficult to say, whether this commonplace understanding is correct or not from the standpoint of grammar.


Here are some simple, commonplace examples

  • अङ्ग / अंग

  • सञ्जय / संजय

  • पण्डित / पंडित

  • अनन्त / अनंत

  • चम्पा / चंपा

These examples endorse the commonplace understanding. But in the above examples, the अनुस्वार does not connote any one specific अनुनासिक. Rather it connotes all the अनुनासिक-s ! And there is a grammatical pattern or relationship between the अनुस्वार and the अनुनासिक being connoted. The अनुनासिक is of the same वर्ग as of the वर्ण after the अनुस्वार. As can be seen


  • in अङ्ग / अंग, ङ् and ग are of क-वर्ग

  • in सञ्जय / संजय, ञ् ज are of च-वर्ग

  • in पण्डित / पंडित, ण् ड are of ट-वर्ग

  • in अनन्त / अनंत, न् त are of त-वर्ग

  • in चम्पा / चंपा, म् प are of प-वर्ग

पाणिनि explains this by the rules


अनुस्वारस्य ययि परसवर्णः । (८/४/५८) and वा पदान्तस्य । (८/४/५९)

  • अनुस्वारस्य = of अनुस्वार

  • ययि = in the presence of (i.e. when followed by) वर्ण-s of प्रत्याहार यय् (= वर्ण-s in 8 शिवसूत्र-s from 5 to 12).

  • Note, this excludes वर्ण-s in शिवसूत्र-s 13 and 14.


  • परसवर्णः = should be अनुनासिक of the same वर्ग as of the वर्ण, which is पर to the अनुस्वार, i.e. which is after the अनुस्वार

  • वा = applies also to

  • पदान्तस्य। = अनुस्वार at the end of a पद.


This means that a stand-alone word or a sentence or line of a verse should not end with अनुस्वार. These should end only with the अनुनासिक.


In the previous lesson one example given for अनुनासिक becoming अनुस्वार was -


  • इमाँल्लोकान् (18-17 इमान् लोकान्)

It was also mentioned that, here न् of इमान् becomes अनुस्वार, which has a slightly different accent than of न् of इमान्


It was also mentioned there that when to write अनुस्वार  and how to pronounce it are points, which merit specific discussion.


In all the examples अङ्ग / अंग, सञ्जय / संजय, पण्डित / पंडित, अनन्त / अनंत, चम्पा / चंपा whether to write अनुनासिक or अनुस्वार seems to be more the WRITING option, not necessarily a rule for pronunciation. We can assume that these words will be pronounced only appropriately, even if written either way. Nevertheless, the pronunciation of अनुस्वार in इमाँल्लोकान् would have a slightly different accent than of न् of इमान्. So, there is a contention that अनुस्वार is not just a writing option for writing the अनुनासिक-s, but connotes a different accent also.


The following सूत्रम् is the rule for अनुनासिक म् to be अनुस्वार. Of course, “conditions apply”.


मोऽनुस्वारः (८/३/२३)


Meaning -

मोऽनुस्वारः = मः अनुस्वारः

मः अनुस्वारः = (Make) मः (=of म) the अनुस्वार


The applicable condition is हलि परतः when म्-कार is followed by a consonant.


Examples -


रामं वन्दे, गुहायां तपति, मालायां सूत्रम्, गृहं गच्छति, पुस्तकं पश्य, ताभ्यां देहि, नद्यां जलम्


The logic or application of the rule can be extended to derive a corollary, that म्-कार at the end of a sentence or at the end of a line of poetry should not be written as अनुस्वार. At the end of a sentence or at the end of a line of poetry, there is nothing after the म्-कार, so, no परवर्ण् at all. So, म्-कार should remain म्-कार !


In the context of this discussion about अनुस्वार, comes to mind the word संस्कृत itself. In the word संस्कृत

  • we have (स्-अ म् स् क् ऋ त् अ).

  • May it be written as सम्स्कृत or as संस्कृत ? Would these have different pronunciation ? Does it then appeal that the अनुनासिक म् be better written as अनुस्वार ?

  • That suggests that one should understand the rule about when an अनुनासिक is better written as अनुस्वार.

  • In some texts one may find the अनुस्वार written as ँ्.

  • So संस्कृत could as well be written as स ँ्स्कृत.


Here is another interesting example from गीता -


(11-28) यथा नदीनां बहवोऽम्बुवेगाः or यथा नदीनाम्बहवोऽम्बुवेगाः


One can deliberate on some interesting nuances.


  • It may again be noted that, whether it is written as यथा नदीनां बहवोऽम्बुवेगाः or यथा नदीनाम्बहवोऽम्बुवेगाः the difference would be primarily in writing. It makes no difference in pronunciation.

  • For a finer observation, the म् of बहवोऽम्बुवेगाः cannot be written as बहवोंबुवेगाः even if it would get pronounced as such only.

  • It cannot be written as बहवोंबुवेगाः, because, it will then miss the अवग्रह-symbol ऽ, which is essential here !


Note, this option of अनुस्वार applies for अनुनासिक

  • at the end of a word, when followed by व्यञ्जनम् of the next word

    • not when the word is stand-alone

  • also not of अनुनासिक at the end of a sentence or

  • of अनुनासिक at the end of a line in a poem.


For example in यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् ।

  • यं यं and स्मरन्भावं are with अनुस्वार

  • म् of कलेवरम् needs to be म् only.

  • न् of त्यजत्यन्ते could as well be written as त्यजत्यंते !


Change to अनुस्वार happens not only for म्-कार, but also for न्-कार by the सूत्रम्


नश्चापदान्तस्य झलि । ८।३।२४


नश्चापदान्तस्य झलि = नः च अपदान्तस्य झलि

  • नः च = also of न्

  • अपदान्तस्य = when not at the end of a word

  • झलि = when followed by व्यन्जनम् of प्रत्याहार झल्


For example, वासांसि (गीता 2-22), छंदांसि (15-1)


Rules about अनुस्वार are part of rules of treatment of अनुनासिक-s or of संधि-s with अनुनासिक-s in पूर्ववर्ण-position.


One special rules in this respect is -


नश्छव्यप्रशान् (नः छवि अप्रशान्) (८/३/७)


नः = of

छवि = when followed by वर्ण-s of प्रत्याहार छव् (= छ्, ठ्, थ्, च्, ट्, त्)

अप्रशान् = Not when followed by अ or not for the word प्रशान् (This detail is beyond the scope of Simple Sanskrit)


When a word ending with नकार is followed by (प्रत्याहार छव् =) छ्, ठ्, थ्, च्, ट्, त्, नकार is written by अनुस्वार. Also,  सकार gets added before परवर्ण्. A वर्ण् coming in or getting added is called as आगम.


तान् + तान् = (त् + आ + न् + त् + आन् = त् + आँ + स् + त् + आन् / त् + आ + ं + स् + त् + आन्) = ताँस्तान् / तांस्तान्


Examples from गीता – सखींस्तथा (1-26 सखीन् + तथा = सखीं + स् + तथा = सखींस्तथा), प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा (1-33), कामांस्तु (2-5), also संस्कृत (सम् + कृत = सं + स् + कृत)


The अनुस्वार here may be found in some texts written as  ँ्. So, सखी ँ्स्तथा, प्राणाँ्स्त्यक्त्वा, कामा ँ्स्तु.


Having mentioned संस्कृत (सम् + कृत = सं + स् + कृत), I should also bring to notice two words संकर and संस्कार. Both have their derivation from सम् + कृ. But in संकर there is no आगम of स्. In संस्कार there is आगम of स्, same as in संस्कृत. Also संकर could as well be written as सङ्कर. Rather, it should better be written so.

The आगम of स् from नश्छव्यप्रशान् suffers modification by स्तोः श्चुना श्चुः। (८/४/४०)


That is, when the following letter परवर्ण is either च् or छ्, the आगम of स् is converted to श्


Example from गीता – प्रज्ञावादांश्च (2-11)

Other examples – श्लोकान् + टीकाभिः = (श्लोक् + आ + न् + ट् + ईकाभिः = श्लोक् + आँ + स् + ट् + ईकाभिः / श्लोक् + आ + ं + स् + ट् + ईकाभिः) = श्लोकाँ ष् टीकाभिः/श्लोकां ष् टीकाभिः = श्लोकाँष्टीकाभिः/श्लोकांष्टीकाभिः ।


Note: When the following letter is either ट् or ठ्, the आगम of स् is converted to ष् according to ष्टुना ष्टुः


All the above discussion is about अनुनासिक being पूर्ववर्ण. However, it is interesting to see when अनुनासिक is परवर्ण्, The सूत्रम् is -

यरोऽनुनासिकेऽनुनासिको वा । (८/४/४५)

यरोऽनुनासिकेऽनुनासिको वा = यरः अनुनासिके अनुनासिकः वा

यरः = प्रत्याहार यर् (वर्ण-s in शिवसूत्र-s 5 to 13) That includes all व्यञ्जन, except ह्

अनुनासिके = when followed by अनुनासिक

अनुनासिकः = becomes अनुनासिक.

वा = optionally


So, when a व्यञ्जन, except ह्, (प्रत्याहार यर् does not include ह्) is followed by an अनुनासिक, then the व्यञ्जन becomes अनुनासिक of its own वर्ग. The letter वा makes it clear, that application of this rule is optional.


वाङ्मयम् / वाग्मयम्, षण्मुखः / षड्मुखः


In both these examples व्यन्जनम् in पूर्ववर्ण्-position is कठोर. अनुनासिक in परवर्ण-position has मृदु characteristics. So by कठोर + मृदु, the कठोर पूर्ववर्ण् becomes मृदु by झलां जशोऽन्ते.

  • वाक् + मयम् = वाग् – मयम् Hence वाग्मयम्. OR

    • वाक् + मयम् = वाङ् – मयम् = वाङ्मयम्

  • Similarly षट् + मुखः = षड् – मुखः Hence षड्मुखः OR

    • षट् + मुखः = षण् – मुखः = षण्मुखः


If a प्रत्यय has an अनुनासिक at its beginning and since beginning of प्रत्यय  is in परवर्ण्-position, it follows the व्यन्जनम् in पूर्ववर्ण्-position, then the rule is NOT optional. It is mandatory to change the व्यन्जनम् to अनुनासिक.


Examples – चिन्मयम् (चित् + मयम्, त् → न्), तन्मात्रम् (तत् + मात्रम्, त् → न्). Here मयम्, मात्रम् are प्रत्यय-s with अनुनासिक म at the beginning.


This should be a good enough detailing of, shall we say, अनुनासिक-संधि-s among व्यञ्जनसन्धि-s, including the significance of अनुस्वार.


शुभं भवतु |