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The Old Indo-Aryan tense system.

1. THE EARLY INDO-ARYAN TENSE SYSTEM as described by Panini includes three major past tense forms. According to Panini (see Cardona 1997: 149-50), the L-affixes lun, lan, and lit--respectively replaced by endings in what western grammarians call aorist, imperfect, and perfect forms--are introduced when time references are involved as follows: lun: past (bhute: A (stadhyayi) 3.2.110: lun [bhute 84]); lan: past excluding the day on which the speaker uses the utterance in question (anadyatane [bhute] "...excluding today": A 3.2.111: anadyatane lan); lit: past excluding the day on which the speaker uses the utterance in question, provided also that the speaker has not witnessed the action spoken of (parokse "beyond direct perception": A 3.2.115: parokse lit). That is, the aorist is a general past tense, possibly including the day on which a speaker utters the utterance in question, the imperfect refers to a past act carried out at a time excluding this day, and the perfect is a re-portative tense which has the same time reference but excludes a speaker's directly witnessing the act he or she is reporting. A first person perfect form then has the sense of "I allegedly ..., it is reported that I ..." Thus, Patanjali suggests (1) that A 3.2.115 should allow for first person endings for lit on condition that a person who speaks of having done something was asleep or out of his senses at the time he is supposed to have done this.

2. This tense system is reflected in some literary Vedic texts.

2.1. In the telling of the tale of Hariscandra, Rohita, and Sunahsepa in the Rajasuya ceremony section of the Sankhayanasrautasutra, the tense forms are used in absolute conformity with the system Panini describes, and the same tale told in the Aitareyabrahmana shows near perfect conformity. The usages in the prose sections of these texts are shown in table A.

The perfect is consistently used--regularly with the particle ha--to relate what occurred. Moreover, perfect and aorist forms alternate in certain places. Thus, in SSS 15.18, Ai.Br. 7.14 the perfect jajne is used to relate that Rohita was born to Hariscandra and the aorist ajani--with the affirming particle vai--is used by Varuna when he tells Hasiscandra that a son has now been born to him. In the immediately following part of the story, where Hariscandra keeps finding reasons for delaying the sacrifice of Sunahsepa to Varuna, perfect and aorist forms alternate in the same manner. For example, Hariscandra invokes the ten days of pollution following a child's birth, asking that the sacrifice be put off until Rohita has gotten past these days. The text uses the perfect asa (sa ha nirdasa asa) to relate Rohita's getting past this time, but Varuna uses the aorist abhut in telling Hariscandra that Rohita has now gotten to this stage. Finally, Hariscandra can delay no more. The perfect amantrayan cakre (Ai.Br. amantrayam asa, n. 21) is used to relate Hariscandra's summoning of Rohita, but Hariscandra uses an imperfect form (adadat) when he tells Rohita that Varuna had given Rohita to him: he is relating something that occurred in a distant past but which he himself experienced.

The same alternation of perfect and aorist forms is seen once more in the subsequent telling (SSS 15.19, Ai.Br. 7.15) of how Indra in disguise came up to Rohita repeatedly to convince him to go back to the forest and not return home: the perfect uvaca is regularly used to introduce what Indra said, but Rohita uses the aorist avocat when he notes that the Brahmana has just told him to go on wandering. Similarly, later in the story (SSS 15.24, Ai.Br. 7.17), Sunahsepa tells Ajigarta that in agreeing to slaughter his own son he committed an act that is beyond repair (asandheyam tvaya krtam). The perfect uvaca is used to introduce the gatha in which Sunahsepa says this, but then Visvamitra uses the aorist avocat when he cites what Sunahsepa has just said. Subsequently, the text reverts to the perfect (upa papada) in relating how Visvamitra understood the justification for what Sunahsepa declared. Earlier in the same passage, Visvamitra uses the aorist arasata when he asserts that he will not give Sunahsepa to Ajig arta because the gods have now given Sunahsepa to him, and the perfect asa is subsequently used to relate that Sunahsepa was known as Devarata ('god-given') son of Visvamitra.

2.2. Traces of a contrast between the perfect as a reportative tense and the aorist as a general past tense appear also in other texts. Thus, in the story involving king Videgha son of Mathu and his Purohita, Gotama son of Rahugana, the Satapathabrdhmana has the following (SBr. atha hovaca gotamo rahuganah kathan nu na amantryamano na praty asrausir iti \ sa hovacagnir me vaisvanaro mukhe 'bhut sa nen me mu khan nis padyatai tasmat te na praty asrausam iti "Then Gotama son of Rahugana said, 'Now how is it that you didn't answer me when called?' He said, 'Agni Vaigvanara was in my mouth. I didn't answer you lest he should fall out of my mouth.'" (2) Elsewhere in the same text, moreover, the perfect is again used as a reportative tense, together with the imperfect (see section 4.3). For example, in the Vrtra legend, SBr has: vrtre ha va idam agre sarvam asa yad rco yad yajumsi yat samani \ tasma indro vajram prajihirsat \\ sa ha visnum uvaca vrtraya vajram pra harisyamy anu ma tisthasveti \ ta theti ha visnur uvacanu tva sthdsye pra hareti tasma indro vajram ud yayama \ sa udyatad vajrad vrtro bibhayan cakara \\ sa hovaca asti va idavm viryan tan nu te pra yacchani \ ma nu me pra harsir iti \ tasmai yajumsi prayacchat \ tasmai dvitiyam ud yayama "In the beginning, all this was (3rd sg. pf. asa) in Vrtra: rcs, yajuses, samans. Indra wished to strike (3rd sg. impf. desid. prajihirsat) him with the vajra. He said (uvaca) to Visnu, 'I am going to strike Vrtra with the vajra, assist me.' Visnu said, 'Agreed, I will assist you, strike.' Indra raised up (3rd sg. pf. ud yayama) the vajra against him. Vrtra feared (3rd sg. pf. bibhayan cakara) the upraised vajra. He said (uvaca), 'There is this might (in me); I will give it to you, only do not strike me.' (Vrtra) gave (3rd sg. impf. prayacchat) him the yajus. (Indra) raised (ud yayama) (the vajra) against him a second time." The text continues in similar fashion, with uvaca, prayacchat, and ud yayama used.

3. There can be no reasonable doubt, then, that the tense system which Panini describes for the speech of his time and area is actually attested in Vedic literature. This is contrary to what some scholars have maintained. For example, Whitney (1889: 295-96) says, "According to the Hindu grammarians, the perfect is used in the narration of facts not witnessed by the narrator, but there is no evidence of its being either exclusively or distinctively so employed at any period." More recently, Sihler (1995: 568 n. 1) has repeated this claim: "According to native grammarians, the perfect was used to narrate events not witnessed by the speaker, the imperfect was for events in which the speaker had participated personally. Such a distinction is known in natural language; but no Indic text of any period exhibits the contrast claimed by the grammarians."

Such assertions must now be put to rest.

4. The Old Indo-Aryan tense system thus attested to not only by Panini for the language of his time and area but also in Vedic texts has of course to be considered in historical perspective.

4.1. It is well known that in certain Brahmana texts from the midlands dialect areas the imperfect is regularly used where the perfect would otherwise occur according to the usage Panini describes. For example, consider passages from the Taittiriyasamhita, kathakasamhita, and Maitrayanisamhita that concern parts of the Sunahsepa and Vrtra legends:

TS sunahsepam ajigartivm varuno grhnat sa etavm varunim apasyat taya vai sa atmanavm varunapa sad amuncat... "Varuna seized Sunahsepa son of Ajigarta. He saw the verse concerning Varuna. (3) With it did he verily release himself from the noose of Varuna."

KS 19.11: sunahsepo va etam ajigartir varunagrhito pasyat tayaiva sa varunapasad amucyata "Sunahsepa son of Ajigarta, seized by Varuna, saw this verse; with this did he get loose from the noose of Varuna."

TS anya devatasit so 'bravid visnav ehidam a harisyavyo yenayam idam iti \ sa visnus tredhatmanavm vi ny adhatta prthivyan trtiyam antarikse trtiyan divi trtiyam \ abhiparyavartad dhy abibhet \ yat prthivyan trtiyam asit tenendro vajram ud ayacchad visnva nusthitah \ so'bravin ma me pra har asti va idam mayi viryam tat te pra dasyamiti \ tad asmai prayacchat tat praty agrhnad \ adha meti tad visnave' ti prayacchat tad visnuh praty agrhnad asmasv indra indriyan dadhatv iti... "There was another god, (Visnu). He (4) said, 'Come, Visnu, we two will take that by which this (Vrtra) is this.' Visnu set himself down separately threefold: a third on earth, a third in the space between heaven and earth, a third in heaven. For he feared being surrounded. Indra assisted by visnu lifted up the vajra with the third that was on earth. He (5) said, 'Don't strike me. There is a power in me; I will give it to you.' He gave it to him; he accepted it. Saying, 'You established me', he passed that on to Visnu. Visnu accepted it with the mantra asmasv indra indriyan dadhatu(6)..."

Imperfect forms are used here to narrate the legendary matter: agrhnat 'seized', apasyat 'saw', amuncat 'released', amucyata 'got loose', asit 'was', abravit 'said', vi ny adhatta 'set down separately', abibhet 'feared', ud ayacchat 'lifted up', prayacchat 'gave', praty agrhnat 'accepted', and, in a following passage concerning Vrtra's entering Indra's belly, pravisat 'entered'. On the other hand, the aorist adhah 'you established (that is, helped)' is used when Indra speaks of what Visnu did for him immediately before. The same usage appears in the Maitrayanisamhita passage (2.4.3) which closely parallels that of the Taittiriyasamhita.

Essentially, then, we have here a bipartite preterital system in which the imperfect and aorist contrast.

4.2. From what is known about how language change takes place, the facts discussed fit into a typical scenario: the Indo-Aryan border areas--northwest and east--show evidence of what is plausibly an archaic system in which three preterite forms contrast, and the midlands have a system in which the perfect and imperfect do not contrast, a system that is reasonably explained as resulting from the elimination of an earlier contrast.

4.3. As can be seen both from the materials given for the Aitareyabrahmana (section 2.1 with appendix A and notes 19, 20, 33) and the Satapathabrahmana (section 2.2), there is also evidence of mixed systems that, although they involve aorist, imperfect, and perfect forms, do not have a contrast between imperfect and perfect, as opposed in the language of panini's area and elsewhere.

A mixed system is attested also quite early, in the Rgveda. Renou saw clearly and appropriately that both the imperfect and the perfect are used in hymns of the earliest Vedic to recount events not directly witnessed by the speaker. (7) To illustrate, it will suffice to refer to two famous Indra hymns, RV 1.32 and 2.12. In the first six verses of the former, the imperfects ahan 'slew', abhinat 'split', avrnita 'chose', apibat 'drank', a... adatta 'took' (all 3rd sg.), aminah 'you destroyed', and the perfects cakara 'performed', tatarda 'bored', tataksa 'fashioned' (3rd sg.), jagmuh 'went' (3rd pl.), vivitse 'you found', a... juhve 'called to in challenge', pipise 'was crushed' (3rd sg.) are used. (8) The first four verses of the latter have imperfects pary abhusat 'encompassed' (3rd sg.), abhyasetam 'were afraid' (3rd du.), adrmhat 'made firm', aramnat 'calmed', astabhnat 'propped', arinat 'made flow', ud ajat 'led out' (3rd sg.), and perfects vi mame 'measured out', jajana 'gave rise to' (3rd sg.). (9) Renou also correctly perceived that the poets of the Rgveda used imperfect or perfect forms in accordance with rhythmic requirements, (10) something that is observable also in the epics; for example, idam vacanam abravit "...said this"--with the imperfect abravit--is a common fourth pada of anustubh verses in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, where tam uvaca "...said to him"--with the perfect uvaca--is also a frequent beginning of anustubhs.

4.4. The question arises whether the mixed systems in question should or should not be considered on a par. For it is possible to view the system reflected in the Rgveda as a precursor of the Paninian system, one in which the perfect is used as a narrative tense and already shows a tendency towards reportative use, in that first person perfects are avoided in favor of the imperfect and aorist in the course of narration (see Renou 1925: 82). On the other hand, it is also possible to consider the usage attested in the Rgveda as an early stage of the developments whereby the reportative use of the perfect was eliminated. Under the latter view, the mixed systems attested all reflect a similar stage of development, though they are not contemporaneous. Under the former view, however, the early Vedic mixed system represents a stage in the development towards the system found in Panini's language and elsewhere, while the later Vedic mixed systems represent a stage in the gradual elimination of this usage. Although at the moment I cannot see evidence that would decide definitively in favor of one or the other position, the view that the Rgveda represents an early stage in the development of the reportative perfect has the advantage of accounting at least in part for how this developed from the Proto-Indo-European perfect.

4.5. The picture that emerges can be summarized as follows:

(a) A system represented by Panini for the northwest with a three-way contrast for preterites; this is represented also later in certain stories embedded in ritual texts and partially represented in legends in the Brahmanas.

(b) An early transitional system, represented by the Rgveda poets' dialects, in which perfect and imperfect can alternate in opposition to aorist. (11)

(c) Systems represented in the Yajurveda texts noted--for the midlands--such that imperfects and aorists contrast.

In view of the prevalent use of the imperfect in texts representing the midlands area of Old Indo-Aryan to narrate mythic events, together with the fact that, in the language of the northwest which Panini describes, the perfect and imperfect contrast as noted earlier (section 1), it is difficult to justify the view that the use of the perfect in texts such as the Sankhayanasrautasutra narration of the Sunahsepa legend represents an innovation that began in the east. (12) Instead, it is better to consider this a retention in a ritual context of a tale told using an archaic system: the legend is embedded in the description of the Rajasuya ceremony, appropriately insofar as in the legend Varuna instructs Hariscandra to perform this rite. As for the deviations in the Aitareyabrahmana, these can be considered actually to support the archaic nature of the usage elsewhere in the telling of the legend: we have reversions occasionally to the later regular system, but the legend as a whole retains archaic usage. Accordingly, it is most plausible to consider that the Old Indo-Aryan Panini describes indeed represents the old tense system and that (c) is the result of innovation.

4.6. This is also in accordance with evidence from Middle Indo-Aryan. Still another development results in the prevalence of the aorist in Pali: the contrasts among preterite tenses have been eliminated in favor of the form which, according to Panini, is used for a general past reference. (13)

5. The best interpretation of the available evidence, then, is that early Indo-Aryan had a system of three contrasting preterites (see section 1) and that this developed first to a system of two oppositions, eliminating the contrast between perfect and imperfect, then to one with a single finite preterite. (14)
Table A

Tense Forms in the Sunahsepa Legend

 Tense forms used
Text Perfect Aorist Imperfect

SSS 15.17 (Ai.Br. 7.13)
hariscandro ha vaidhasa aiksvako asa
 rajaputra asa
King Hariscandra, son of Vedhas, of
 the Iksvaku lineage, was sonless.
tasya ha satam jaya babhuvuh babhuvuh
He had a hundred wives.
tasu ha putram na lebhe lebhe
He did not get a son with them.
tasya ha parvatanaradau grha
 usatuh usatuh
Parvata and Narada stayed in his
sa ha naradam papraccha papraccha
He asked Narada.
sa ekaya prsto dasabhih praty uvaca praty uvaca
Asked with one verse, he answered
 with ten.
15.18 (Ai.Br. 7.14)
sa hovaca He said. (15) uvaca
tam hovaca He said to him. (16) uvaca
sa varunam rajanam upasasara upa sasara
He approached king Varuna.
tasya ha putro jajne rohito nama jajne
A son was born to him, Rohita by
tam varuna uvaca (17) Varuna said uvaca
 to him.
ajani vai te putrah "A son has been ajani
 born to you,"
sa ha nirdasa asa He got past the asa
 first ten days.
tam hovaca uvaca
nirdaso va abhut (18) "He has got abhut
 past the first ten days."
sa hovaca uvaca
tasya ha danta jajnire His teeth jajnire
 came in.
tam hovaca uvaca
ajnata va asya dantah "His teeth ajnata
 have come in."
sa hovaca uvaca
tasya ha danta pedire His teeth pedire
 fell out.
tam hovaca uvaca
apatsata va asya dantah "His teeth apatsata
 have fallen out.'
sa hovaca uvaca
tasya ha dantah punar jajnire jajnire
His new teeth came in.
tam hovaca uvaca
ajnata va asya punar dantah ajnata
"His new teeth have come in."
sa hovaca uvaca
sa ha sannaham prapa (19) prapa
He reached the stage of being
tam hovaca uvaca
prapad vai sannahyam (20) prapat
"He has reached the stage of being
sa tathety uktva putram amantrayan amantrayan
 cakre (21)
He agreed and summoned his son. cakre
tatayam vai mahyam tvam adadat
"Son, this (Varuna) gave you to adadat
sa nety uktva dhanur adayaranyam upatasthau
He refused, then took his bow and
 went into the forest.
sa samvatsaram aranye cacara cacara
He wandered in the forest for a
(Ai.Br. 7.15)
atha haiksvakam rajanam varuno jagraha
 jagraha (22)
Then Varuna seized the Iksvaku
tasya hodaram jajne He got dropsy. jajne
tad u ha rohitah susrava susrava
And Rohita heard about that.
so 'ranyad gramam eyaya eyaya
He set out from the forest to the
tam indrah purusarupena uvaca
Indra came up to him in the form of
 a man and said.
caraiveti vai ma brahmano 'vocat avocat
"The Brahmana has told me to just
sa dvitiyam samvatsaram aranye cacara
He wandered in the forest a second
 year. (23)
so 'jigartam sauyavasim rsim ... upeyaya
He came upon a rsi, Ajigarta son of
 Suyavasa. (24)
tasya ha trayah putra asuh asuh
He had three sons.
tam hovaca uvaca
sa jyestham nigrhana uvaca (25) uvaca
Holding back the oldest one, he
tau madhyame sampadayan cakratuh sampadayan
They agreed on the middle one, cakratuh
tasya ha satam dattva tam adaya so upeyaya
 'ranyad gramam upeyaya
He gave him (26) a hundred (cows),
 took him, (27) and went to the
 village from the forest.
pitraram etyovaca uvaca
He came up to his father and said.
sa tathety uktva varunam rajanam amantrayan
 amantrayan cakre (28)
He (29) agreed and summoned king cakre
tasma etam rajasuyam yajnakratum provaca
(Varuna) told him (30) that
 Rajasuya rite.
sa etam (31) rajasuye purusam alebhe
 pasum alebhe
He made that human the animal
 sacrifice at the Rajasuya. (32)
15.21 (Ai.Br. 7.16):
tasya ha visvamitro hotasa (33) asa
Visvamitra was the Hotr of it.
tasma upakrtaya niyoktaram na vividuh
They did not find one to serve to
 bind him to the sacrificial pole
 after he had been ritually
 accepted as offering.
sa hovacajigartah sauyavasih mahyam uvaca
 aparam satam dattaham enam
Ajigarta son of Suyavasa said,
 "Give me another hundred, I'll tie
 him to the post."
tasma aparam satam daduh daduh
They gave him another hundred.
tam sa niyuyoja (34) He tied him to niyuyoja
 the post. (35)
so' sim nisyana (36) eyaya eyaya
He came up sharpening a knife.
atha ha sunahsepa iksam asa (37) iksam asa
 amanusam iva vai ma visasisyanti
 hanta devata upadhavaniti
Then Sunahsepa considered, "They
 will slaughter me as though I were
 not a human; let me have recourse
 to gods."
sa prajapatim eva prathamam upa sasara
 devatanam upa sasara
He had recourse first among the
 gods to Prajapati alone.
tam prajapatir uvaca Prajapati said uvaca (38)
 to him.
so' gnim tustava He praised Agni. tustava (39)
tasma indra stuyamano manasa dadau
 hiranyaratham dadau
As he was being praised, Indra gave
 him a golden chariot with his
tasya ha sma rcy rcy uktayam paso mumuce
 nitaram mumuce kaniya
 aiksvakasyodaram babhuva (40) babhuva
As each rc of that (41) was
 uttered, the fetter got looser and
 the belly of (Hariscandra)
 Aiksvaka grew
 smaller. (42)
uttamayam ha sma rcy uktayam vi vi mumuce
 paso mumuce' gada aiksvako
 babhuva (43) babhuva
With the last rc uttered, the
 fetter fell loose and ... became
atha hainam rtvija ucus tvam ucuh
 evaitasyahnah samstham
 adhigaccheh (44)
Then the officiants said to him,
 "You alone should carry out this
 rite of a day."
15.23 (Ai.Br. 7.17):
athainam anjahsavam sunahsepo dadarsa
Then Sunahsepa perceived the
 Anjahsava performance of the rite.
yac cid dhi tvam grha grha iti tam sam ava
 etabhis catasrbhir (45)
 camvor bhareti (46) dronakalase ninaya
He pressed it with the four verses
 ..., then poured it into the
 Dronakalasa vessel with the verse
 ... (47)
atha ha sunahsepo a sasara
 visvamitrasyopastham a sasara (48)
Then Sunahsepa got on Visvamitra's
tam hovacajigartah sauyavasih punar uvaca
 me putram dehiti \ neti hovaca
 visvamitrah deva va imam mahyam arasata
Ajigarta son of Suyavasa said to
 him, "Give me back my son."
 Visvamitra said, "No, the gods
 have granted him to me."
sa ha devarato nama vaisvamitra asa asa
Indeed, he was Devarata by name,
 son of Visvamitra.
tam hovacajigartah sauyavasih uvaca (49)
 asandheyam iti va avocad iti ha upa papada avocat
 visvamitra upa papada
Visvamitra (considered), "He just
 said, 'irremediable'" and
 accounted for this. (50)
atha ha visvamitrah putran amantrayan
 amantrayan cakre cakre (51)
Then Visvamitra summoned his sons.
15.26 (Ai.Br. 7.18):
tasya haikasatam putra asuh (52) asuh
 He had 101 sons.
tad ye jyayamso na te kusalam menire
The older ones among them did not
 consider (it) appropriate. (53)
tan anu vy a jahara anu vy a
(Visvamitra) said to them. jahara
atha ye madhucchandahprabhrtayah menire
 kaniyamsas te kusalam menire (54)
Now the younger ones starting with
 Madhucchandas considered (it)
sa ha jagau madhucchandah (55) jagau
 Madhucchandas said.
atha ha visvamitrah pratitah tustava
 putrams tustava
Then Visvamitra, encouraged,
 praised his sons.

The major conclusions concerning the early Old Indo-Aryan tense system, together with the evidence from the Sankhayanasrautasutra and the Aitareyabrahmana, were presented at the 16th East Coast Indo-European Conference at the University of Pennsylvania on June 13, 1997. An expanded version--including evidence against a commonly held view concerning a wider presence of aspectual contrasts in Vedic than is supported by the evidence, as well as considerations of more Vedic materials and a sketch of developments in Middle Indo-Aryan--was presented in a lecture entitled "The development of the Indo-Aryan tense systems" at the South Asia Language Analysis conference at the University of Illinois on July 9, 1999. I am grateful to scholars present at these meetings, particularly to Hans Henrich Hock, for their comments.

(1.) Mahabhasya II.120.17-20 (on 3.2.115): sarvathottamo na sidhyati \ suptamattayor uttama iti vaktavyam \ supto'ham kila vilalapa matto'ham vilalapa \ supto nv aham kila vilalapa matto nv aham vilalapa. Due to space limitations, another suggestion cannot be considered here. Nor is it possible to discuss whether part of the text in question is a varttika.

(2.) In his commentary, Sayana notes the contrast and alludes to the appropriate Paninian rules: paroksatvat purvam srutivakye litprayogah \ gotamamathavayoh prasnaprativacanarupe vakye tu bhutadyatanatval lun prayogo visesah.

(3.) TS ud uttamavm varuna pasam asmad avadha mavm vi madhyamam srathaya "Varuna, loosen upwards from us the upper noose, down the lower one, across the middle one."

(4.) That is, Indra.

(5.) Namely, Vrtra.

(6.) "May Indra put power in us" (TS

(7.) Renou 1925: 40-41: "L'emploi du parfait actif en vedique est celui d'un preterit pur et simple, qui sert en meme temps que l'imparfait a designer les evenement du recit. La juxtaposition des deux formes (auxquelles il faut joindre l'aoriste dans la mesure ou il leur equivaut) est constante dans le Rgveda; c'est a peine s'il se trouve un developpement de quelque etendue ou l'une des deux soit employee a l'exclusion de l'autre."

(8.) As is the 3rd sg. aorist atarit 'crossed, avoided'.

(9.) The aorists akah 'made', adat 'took' are also used.

(10.) Renou 1925: 45: "...le principe de repartition entre l'imparfait et le parfait est dans une certaine mesure une affaire de rhythme. Le rhythme trochaique de la cadence est celui qui distingue normalement la tristubh (Arnold, Ved. Metre, p. 185); il n'est pas inconnu aux autres metres (ibid., p. 152 etc.). Or le parfait actif a d'une facon predominante, au singulier tout au moins, le rhythme [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; lorsque le poete dispose pour le verbe d'une place en fins de vers, c'est le parfait qu'il emploiera de preference; l'imparfait au contraire, qui comporte d'ordinaire deux breves consecutives, se placers volontiers dans la partie centrale du trimetre, ou cette succession est recherchee." He goes on to note that of twenty-six examples of the perfect jajana, twenty occur in pada-final position.

(11.) It is difficult to say with absolute certainty how much of this is the same as the language spoken by these poets in normal discourse and to what degree the poetry represents a stylized usage, comparable to the usage seen in the epics. The perfect also maintains in part its old stative sense (e.g., bibhaya 'is afraid').

(12.) This has been asserted by Witzel, who says (1989: 139) "While the origin and the spread of the gen. in -ai is a good example of the influence of a centrally located innovative area, the following case, that of the spread of the narrative perfect, is a late phenomenon that began in the east and subsequently moved westwards very haltingly, so that it did not reach Panini at all, but still affected, in late Vedic, the western Katha and Maitr. texts." Witzel also remarks (1989: 139) "... we know that the older texts, i.e., the Yajurveda Samhitas and some of the Brahmanas, use the imperfect to tell stories, legends, etc., a feature corresponding to Panini's rules (3.2.110 sqq.). However, the younger Brahmanas, especially the SB, tell such stories in the perfect tense." What Panini actually provides for, however, is not in accordance with Witzel's claim.

(13.) There is an obvious parallel with developments in modern Romance and Germanic, where forms of the type French il a fait, il est arrive and German er hat gemacht, er ist angetroffen are generalized.

(14.) Ultimately, the finite preterite was eliminated in favor of a participial construction with the past participle.

(15.) Not in Aitareyabrahmana.

(16.) Ai.Br. athainam uvaca "He then said to him."

(17.) Ai.Br. tam hovaca.

(18.) Ai.Br. nirdaso nv abhut.

(19.) Ai.Br. sa ha sannaham parapat.

(20.) Ai.Br. sannaham nu prapnot.

(21.) Ai.Br....amantrayam asa.

(22.) Ai.Br. atha haiksvakam varuno jagraha.

(23.) The same formula is repeated subsequently. In the Sankhayanasrautasutra version of the tale, Rohita wanders about in the forest seven years (15.19: caraiveti vai ma brahmano'vocad iti sa saptamam samvatsaram aranye cacara \ so'jigartam sauyavasim rsim asanayaparitam putram bhaksamanam aranyam upeyaya); in the Aitareyabrahmana version, he does this only six years (Ai.Br. 7.15: caraiveti vai ma brahmano 'vocad iti ha sastham samvatsaram aranye cacara \ so'jigartam sauyavasim rsim asanaya paritam aranya upeyaya).

(24.) The Aitareyabrahmana and the Sankhayanasrautasutra texts differ here to a considerable extent. The former specifies that Rohita came upon Ajigarta in the forest (aranye) and that this sage was overcome with hunger (asanaya paritam) at that time. The SSS text as given in Hillebrandt's edition has a compound asanayaparitam 'overcome with hunger' instead of two separate words and the instrumental asanaya. The commentator paraphrases asanayaparitam with bubhuksaya paritam sarvato vyaptam. He also has a reading different from that of the text adopted by Hillebrandt: putram bhaksyamanam, which he explains as putram bhaksartham upasthitam "who had approached his son with the purpose of eating him." A future participle bhaksyamanam--of the type yaksyamana- 'going to have a rite performed'--would in fact be perfectly in order. Additional particular issues concerning the textual transmission do not affect the main thesis under discussion here, so that these need not concern us.

(25.) Ai.Br. 7.15: sa jyestham putram nigrhana uvaca.

(26.) That is, Ajigarta.

(27.) Namely, Sunahsepa.

(28.) Ai.Br. 7.15: sa varunam rajanam upasasara "He approached king Varuna."

(29.) That is, Hariscandra, whom Rohita has just told that he would ransom himself with Sunahsepa.

(30.) That is, Hariscandra.

(31.) Ai.Br. 7.15: tam etam.

(32.) That is, Hariscandra made Sunahsepa the animal immolated as an offering. In his commentary on Ai.Br. 7.15, Sayana explains that the particular rite in question is the One-day Soma rite called abhisecaniya, which is part of the Rajasuya.

(33.) Ai.Br. 7.16: tasya ha visvamitro hotasit. Although they differ in the order of listing, both texts agree in saying that Ayasya, Jamadagni, and Vasistha respectively served as udgatr, Adhvaryu, and Brahman in the rite.

(34.) Ai.Br. 7.16: tam sa niniyoja. This text is the one known to Sayana, who explains that the doubling of the preverb instead of the verb is a Vedic peculiarity (dhator dvirbhavam parityajyopasargasya dvirbhavas chandasah).

(35.) The texts go on to say that the priests did not find (na vividuh) one to cut up Sunahsepa and that his father offered to do this also if they gave him an additional hundred cows, which they gave (daduh) to him.

(36.) Ai.Br, 7.16: nihsana.

(37.) Ai.Br. 7.16: atha ha sunahsepa iksan cakre. The use of the middle cakre is more correct grammatically.

(38.) Prajapati tells Sunahsepa to approach Agni, who tells him to approach Savitr, who in turn tells him to approach Varuna, who tells him to praise Agni. The perfects uvaca 'said' and upa sasara 'approached' are used, as are the imperatives upa dhava 'approach' and stuhi 'praise.'

(39.) Subsequently, Agni tells Sunahsepa to praise the Visve Devah, upon which they will release him: the Visve Devah tell him to praise Indra. The singular and plural perfects uvaca, ucuh 'said' and tustava 'praised' are used.

(40.) Ai.Br. 7.16: ... vi paso mumuce kaniya aiksvakasyodaram bhavati, with the present bhavati in kaniya(h) ... bhavati 'becomes smaller' instead of the perfect babhuva.

(41.) Namely the triplet RV 1.30.20-22.

(42.) This follows Indra's telling Sunahsepa to praise the two Asvins, who tell him to praise the Dawn. The singular and dual perfects uvaca, ucatuh 'said' and tustava are used.

(43.) Ai.Br. 7.16: uttamasyam eva rcy uktayam vi paso mumuce 'gada aiksvaka asa.

(44.) Ai.Br. 7.17: tam rtvija ucus tvam eva no 'syahnah samstham adhigaccheti.

(45.) RV 1.28.5-8.

(46.) RW 1.28.9.

(47.) Ai.Br. 7.17 has two finite verb clauses--with the perfects abhi susava 'pressed' and abhy ava ninaya 'poured into'--instead of a single complex sentence with an absolutive. Both texts go on to describe the remaining acts in the Anjahsava Soma performance using perfects: juhavan cakara 'offered the oblation', abhy ava ninaya 'took to', upasthapayam asa 'sent'.

(48.) Ai.Br. 7.17 ... visvamitrasyankam a sasada.

(49.) There follows (SSS 15.24-25, Ai.Br. 7.17) a short exchange between Sunahsepa and Ajigarta, with uvaca used to introduce verses, ending with the former telling the latter that he had committed a sinful act which is beyond remedy (asandheyam).

(50.) In the verse that immediately follows, Visvamitra says that Ajigarta intended to butcher Sunahsepa and says to the latter that he should give up being Ajigarta's son and become his son. There ensues a dialog between Visvamitra and Sunahsepa, each speaking verses introduced with uvaca. In effect, the style here is like that of the Mahabharata.

(51.) Ai.Br. 7.17: ... amantrayam asa. See n. 21 above.

(52.) Ai.Br. 7.18: tasya ha visvamitrasyaikasatam putra asuh. There were fifty older and fifty younger than the middle son, Madhucchandas.

(53.) Namely that, as Visvamitra says earlier, Sunahsepa should be accepted as the senior son.

(54.) Not in Aitareyabrahmana.

(55.) Ai.Br. 7.18: sa hovaca madhucchandah pancasata sardham "Madhucchandas said along with the fifty."


Abhyankar, Kashinath Vasudev. 1962-72. The Vyakarana-mahabhasya of Patanjali, Edited by F. Kielhorn. 3rd ed. Revised and furnished with additional readings, references and select critical notes by K. V. Abhyankar. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

Cardona, George. 1997. Panini: His Work and its Traditions, part I: General Introduction and Background. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Mahabhasya. See Abhyankar.

Renou, Louis. 1925. La valeur du parfait dans les hymnes vediques. Paris: Champion.

Sihler, Andrew I. 1995. New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Whitney, William D. 1889. Sanskrit Grammar Including both the Classical Language, and the Older Dialects, of Veda and Brahmana. 2nd ed. (8th issue, 1955). London: Oxford Univ. Press.

Witzel, Michael. 1989. Tracing the Vedic dialects. In Dialectes dans les litteratures indo-aryennes, ed. Colette Caillat. Pp. 97-265. Paris: Institut de Civilisation Indienne.
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Author:Cardona, George
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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