The Saptarshi explain their names – Part II

The Rishis explain the meaning of the esoteric verses that contain their names.

The Saptarshi explain their names – Part II


The first part of this article series included a brief introduction of the saptarṣi and an abridged narration of the Visastainyopākhyāna from the Mahābhārata. Yātudhānī, who has been sent by King Vṛṣādarbhi, intends to kill the ṛṣi‑s after knowing their powers by understanding their names. Atri and other ṛṣi‑s guess the ulterior motive of Yātudhānī. One by one, they explain their names in esoteric verses so that Yātudhānī cannot understand their meanings. This second part of the article series presents the literal meaning, explanation, and deeper essence of the verses uttered by the seven ṛṣi‑s while explaining their names.

(1) Atri/Attri

arāttrirattriḥ sā rātriryāṃ nādhīte triradya vai

arātriratrirityeva nāma me viddhi śobhane

Literal meaning

Arāttri Attri. That night when one does not study the three. Definitely today arātri, Atri. O lady, know this to be my name.”


The verse of Atri means that the word atri comes from the word arātriafter the elision of .[1] Therefore, Atri says that he who is arātri, i.e. “without night”, is atri. In the context of rātri (night), Atri means that night is the time when a brahmacārin (student of Veda‑s) does not study the three Veda‑s. He says that even today he is arātri, i.e. even today he is constantly engrossed in the study of the three Veda‑s, and therefore he is ‘Atri’. The words of Atri are simple but their meaning is difficult to understand, and so Yātudhānī cannot understand his name.

Deeper essence

As per Vyākaraṇa (Sanskrit grammar), an optional form of the word atri with a single t consonant is the word attri with two consonants.[2] On the basis of this, the commentary by Nīlakaṇṭha shows how Atri’s verse is in concordance with a śruti (Vedic statement) in the Aitareya Āraṇyaka. It is said in the Āraṇyaka, “All that is this humanity, he (prāṇa) protected (atrāyata) it in its entirety from sin (pāpa), therefore he is called Atri.”[3] The Āraṇyaka implies that the name ‘Atri’ is derived from the word atrāyata which means “he protected”.

Nīlakaṇṭha says that the word ari (“enemy”) refers to the six enemies—lust, anger, pride, greed, attachment, and jealousy. One in whom these ari‑s reside is ara, i.e. sin (pāpa).[4] One who protects (tri) from sin (arāt) is arāttri (arāt + tri). And the word at means the devouring Death (mṛtyu).[5] One who protects (tri) from Death (at) is attri (at + tri). He alone who is arāttri or the protector from sin is attrior the protector from Death, because the word mṛtyu (“Death”) is also used for sin (papa). As dharma drives sin (pāpa) away, another meaning of attri is dharma.

Taking coalescence of an a in the phrase sā rātriḥ as sā’rātriḥ, Nīlakaṇṭha explains the words sā’rātriḥ yāṃ nādhīte triḥ as follows. The liberated (mukta) state of the mind destroys all sins. In this state, there is no study or knowledge of the three times (past, present, and future) since everything is the present. In this state, there is no night, hence Atri is arātri (“without a night”).

The essence of Atri’s verse is that “night-less” (continuous or regular) study of Veda‑s protects one from enemies like lust (kāma) and Death in the form of sin (pāpa). The reason for this is that Veda‑s are the means of the knowledge of Brahman (brahmajñāna) and the knowledge of Self (ātmajñāna), and Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna in the Gītā, “Know the ātmān to be beyond intellect and kill the enemy that is lust (kāma).”[6] As per Nīlakaṇṭha, the state beyond the three times in which everything is the present cannot be comprehended by the mind also, and this is the essence of the answer given by Yātudhānī, who abounds in the quality of ignorance (tamas), to Atri. In other words, Yātudhānī is unable to overpower Atri as she can never reach his state of consciousness.


As mentioned in the first part of this article series, the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad state that the tongue (vāk) by which the food is eaten is Atri. Eating food by means of the tongue protects the body from death, this is the material (ādhibhautika) essence. As per Sāyaṇa’s commentary on Śākala Saṃhitā of the Ṛgveda, Atri is one who devours enemies and consumes food.[7] As per Nārāyaṇa’s Prakriyāsarvasva commentary on the Uṇādi Sūtra, he who consumes fruits, etc., is Atri.[8]

(2) Vasiṣṭha

vasiṣṭho’smi variṣṭho’smi vase vāsagṛheṣvapi

variṣṭhatvācca vāsācca vasiṣṭha iti viddhi mām

Literal meaning

“Vasiṣṭha, variṣṭha. Reside in vāsagṛha‑s. Being variṣṭha and residing, know me to be Vasiṣṭha.”


Vasiṣṭha means that the word vasiṣṭha has come from the word variṣṭha with the consonant sound r changing to s through what is called varṇavikṛti.[9] In other words, the word vasiṣṭha is in the pṛṣodarādi class of words and it is another form of the word variṣṭha. What is the meaning of variṣṭha? One who is supremely great is variṣṭhaatiśayena uruḥ variṣṭhaḥ.[10] Vasiṣṭha resides in vāsagṛha‑s, i.e. the dwellings suitable for residing (gṛhasthāśrama‑s). As he is the most exalted among the householders (gṛhastha‑s) residing in vāsagṛha‑s, he is ‘Vasiṣṭha’—atiśayena vaso vasiṣṭhaḥ.[11]Yātudhānī is unable to understand any of this.

Deeper essence

Nīlakaṇṭha explains in his commentary that as per a śruti from the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, the word vasu refers to fire, earth, wind, atmosphere, the sun, svarga, the moon, the stars, etc.[12] One who the vasu‑s are subservient to is vasumat, i.e. one having the eight siddhi‑s. And one who is the most exalted among vasumat‑s is vasiṣṭha.[13] Nīlakaṇṭha further says that Vasiṣṭha lives in the state of a householder (gṛhastha-āśrama) on which everybody depends, therefore he is the most exalted among the vastṛ‑s (“those who reside”)[14] and for this reason the deities protect him. As per Nīlakaṇṭha, another meaning of the name ‘Vasiṣṭha’ (the best among vasumat‑s) is “everything is in my control (vaśa) and I cannot be controlled by anybody.”

As per another opinion, it is the word vaśiṣṭha, with a palatal ś, that has become vasiṣṭha, with a dental s.[15] The meaning of vaśiṣṭha is “the best among vaśin‑s,” i.e. the best among those [jitendriya‑s] who have controlled [their senses]. In this episode and in many other episodes, Vasiṣṭha is present with his wife Arundhatī in the midst of the saptarṣi, since he is the best among householders (gṛhastha‑s). Despite being a gṛhastha, Vasiṣṭha is the controller of his senses and the most exalted because he is vaśin or jitendriya. The implication is that the best householder is one who is vaśin, i.e. one who has his senses under control.[16]


In the Aitareya Āraṇyakaprāṇa is called Vasiṣṭha.[17] As per the commentary by Sāyaṇa, prāṇa is the reason for residence (existence) of everybody as it pervades everybody by the process of breathing. Therefore, prāṇa is Vasiṣṭha. In this episode from the Mahābhāratatoo, Vasiṣṭha says that he resides in vāsagṛha‑s. Thus the words of Vasiṣṭha also expound on the śruti from Aitareya Āraṇyaka—physical bodies are vāsagṛha‑s since they are the dwelling places for ātman‑s and as prāṇa resides in every vāsagṛha, it is ‘Vasiṣṭha’.

(3) Kaśyapa

kulaṃ kulaṃ ca kuvamaḥ kuvamaḥ kaśyapo dvijaḥ

kāśyaḥ kāśanikāśatvādetanme nāma dhāraya

Literal meaning

Kula kulakuvama kuvama, the twice-born Kaśyapa. Kāśanikāśa, hence kāśya, understand my name like this.”

Deeper essence

The verse uttered by Kaśyapa is extremely abstruse and almost impossible to understand without an enlightening commentary for even Sanskrit paṇḍita‑s, what to say of Yātudhānī? Therefore, without providing an explanation, the deep essence of the verse is presented. Even the Lakṣālaṅkāra commentary of Vādirāja explains this verse only partially. The detailed explanation of this verse as per the commentary of Nīlakaṇṭha is as follows.

The phrase kulaṃ kulam means every clan, i.e. every physical body. So, kulaṃ kulaṃ kaśyapo dvijaḥ means “I am the sole dvija (twice-born) named Kaśyapa in all physical bodies.” The word kaśyameans a horse.[18] As per the Kaṭha Upaniṣad, the senses of the body are horses.[19] As the senses dwell in the body, the body is also called kaśya.[20] With this, there are three meanings of the name ‘Kaśyapa’—

(1) He who protects the bodies (kaśya‑s) is ‘Kaśyapa’,[21] i.e. he who pervades every physical body as antaryāmin (“the internal director [of senses]”) and protects it is ‘Kaśyapa’.

(2) He who drinks through the bodies (kaśya‑s) is ‘Kaśyapa’,[22] i.e. he who experiences pleasure and pain through physical bodies is ‘Kaśyapa’.

(3) He who parches the bodies (kaśya‑s) is ‘Kaśyapa’,[23] i.e. he who as Brahman dissolves the physical bodies in himself is ‘Kaśyapa’.

Thus, kulaṃ kulam means that all adhyātma (“spiritual universe”) is my nature. The word kuvamaḥ means the sun (āditya).[24] The phrase kuvamaḥ kuvamaḥ means “each and every āditya”.[25] The purport of Kaśyapa’s words is that since all the Āditya‑s are his sons, he alone is (=pervades) all Āditya‑s.[26] Thus, the essence of kuvamaḥ kuvamaḥ is that all adhidaiva (“divine universe”) is also my nature.[27] The word kāśyaḥ means brilliant, radiant, or lustrous.[28] The reason for this brilliance is kāśanikāśatvāt, meaning due to being (having all-round brilliance) like the kāśa flower as a result of performing penance (tapas) for a long time. The purport is, “I am brilliant due to my eternally long penance.”

Thus, the essence of the verse uttered by Kaśyapa is—

“I am the twice-born (dvija) Kaśyapa in all physical bodies (kula‑s). I am all kuvama‑s (Āditya‑s). [Due to my eternally long penance,] I am radiant (kāśya) like the kāśa flower. Understand this as [the meaning of] my name.”

(4) Bharadvāja

bhare’sutānbhare’śiṣyānbhare devānbhare dvijān

bhare bhāryāṃ bhare dvājaṃ bharadvājo’smi śobhane

Literal meaning

“I nourish (support) asuta‑s, aśiṣya‑s, deva‑s, dvija‑s, bhāryā, and dvāja. O lady, I am Bharadvāja.”


The meaning is that he who nourishes (bharati) even the dvāja‑s (born by admixture of varṇa‑s) is ‘Bharadvāja’, but Bharadvāja says a lot more. He says that he nourishes others’ sons (asuta‑s), those not worthy of teaching (aśiṣya‑s), deities (deva‑s), the twice born (dvija‑s), his wife, and dvāja‑s. The implication is that Bharadvāja nourishes not only dvāja‑s but all people, therefore the name ‘Bharadvāja’ is to be understood using the kaimutika nyāya(similar to argumentum a fortiori)—when Bharadvāja nourishes even others’ sons, those unworthy of teaching, and those born of admixture, he will certainly nourish the deva‑s, the twice-born, and his wife. By uttering the word bhare six times, Bharadvāja confuses Yātudhānī and she is unable to understand the purport of his words.

Deeper essence

In his commentary, Nīlakaṇṭha shows the consonance of this verse also with a śruti from the Aitareya Āraṇyaka which says, “This prāṇaalone is bibhradvāja, people alone are vāja, it nourishes them [by pervading them], since it nourishes, it is bharadvāja.”[29] The essence of the śruti is that the names are to be understood as vājaṃ bibhrat bibhradvājaḥ (“one who bears or nourishes people is Bibhradvāja”) and vājaṃ bharad bharadvājaḥ (“one who nourishes people is Bharadvāja).[30] Nīlakaṇṭha explains the deep meaning of this verse as follows.

Here asuta means those who are indifferent to me. Whether such people are afflicted or not, I nourish and protect them. The word aśiṣya refers to the rākṣasa‑s and enemies who are not worthy of being taught. I bring them under control, and nourish them out of compassion. The word bhāryā here also indicates descendants and servants. That is, I nourish my bhāryā (wife), my descendants, and my servants. I also bear vāja (speed,[31] or the aggression of enemies) and grain (food), i.e. I patiently endure everybody and nourish everybody with food like the earth does. The word dvāja means saṃkara, i.e. somebody else’s son who has been initiated by a man considering him as his own son is a dvāja. Or, a dvāja is one in whom there is an admixture of seeding saṃskāra‑s, like Viśvāmitra, Karṇa, etc.[32] I nourish them.

Bharadvāja’s purport is that he bears, nourishes, and protects everybody—even the likes of sorceresses like Yātudhānī. For this reason, she is unable to overpower him.


In the ninth canto of the Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa, an explanation of the name of Bharadvāja is found.[33] However, this Bharadvāja—the son of Bṛhaspati and Mamatā—is different from the ṛṣi Bharadvāja among the saptarṣi. As per the narrative, once Bṛhaspati engaged in coitus with the pregnant Mamatā, wife of his elder brother Utathya. Considering there was no space for a second foetus, the baby in Mamatā’s womb asked Bṛhaspati to stop. Bṛhaspati cursed the baby to become blind and spilled his seed. A child was instantly born from Bṛhaspati’s seed. Mamatā and Bṛhaspati both tried to leave the child with the other for nourishing and bringing up. Bṛhaspati said, mūḍhe bhara dvājam imam, meaning “O fool, [you] take care of this dvāja.” Mamatā said, bhara dvājaṃ bṛhaspate, meaning “O Bṛhaspati, [you] take care of this dvāja.” Due to this reason the child was called ‘Bharadvāja’.

Although this explanation of the name bharadvāja pertains to a Bharadvāja different from the ṛṣi Bharadvāja and the aim of this brief narrative is to criticize desire (kāma) which goes against dharma by showing that even great people like Bṛhaspati can be overcome by desire, even then a deep spiritual meaning of the narrative as per my view is this. ‘Utathya’ represents skepticism, doubt, or faithlessness—u is an interrogative interjection and tathya means truth. Always questioning the truth is faithlessness. ‘Mamatā’, literally “my-ness”, represents worldly attachment. The union of faithlessness and attachment gives rise to ignorance, therefore the son of Utathya and Mamatā is blind. ‘Bṛhaspati’, literally “the master of speech”, represents the Guru. It is to be noted that Bṛhaspati is the Guru of the gods. When attachment to faithlessness is replaced with attachment to the Guru, then the knowledge (jñāna) in the form of Bharadvāja is born. Knowledge (jñāna) is independent and indestructible, it can survive without mother and father. After true knowledge (jñāna) is born, it stays independently—without worldly attachment or Guru. On the other hand, ignorance (ajñāna) needs faithlessness and attachment for survival.

(5) Gotama/Gautama

godamodamato’dhūmo’damaste samadarśanāt

viddhi māṃ gotamaṃ kṛtye yātudhāni nibodha mām

Literal meaning

Godama due to damaadhūma and adama due to samadarśana. O sorceress! Know me to be Gotama. O Yātudhāni, know me well.”


Gotama means that the word gotama is another form of the word godama.[34] Due to self-restraint (dama), he is godama, which means one who subdues or conquers senses (go‑s). In addition to being godama, Gotama is also adhūma (“without smoke”), i.e. a smokeless burning fire. He tells Yātudhānī that he is adama for her, i.e. he cannot be subdued by her. Gotama says the reason for this is that he is samadarśana, i.e. he sees the good and the evil equally.[35]In a single verse, Gotama uses eight words with the consonant mgodamodamatoadhūmoadamaḥsama-, māṃgotamaṃ and mām—and confuses Yātudhānī, who is unable to understand the meaning of his verse.

Deeper essence

Nīlakaṇṭha’s commentary explains the deeper meaning of this verse as follows. In the word godama, the word go means heaven (svarga) and earth (bhūmi) in addition to the senses. By subduing my senses (damataḥ), I am godama, i.e. capable of subduing even the heaven and the earth. I am adhūma—comparable to a pure (smokeless) fire—hence I am adama, i.e. I cannot by subdued by anybody. This is due to seeing Brahman (samadarśanāt) in you (te).[36] When as per a śruti even the gods are not capable of disempowering one who knows Brahman (brahmavettṛ),[37] then what can you, powerless Yātudhānī, do to me? The word gotama is obtained via nipātana when the consonant d changes to t in the word godama.


Nīlakaṇṭha cites an alternate reading of the first half—gobhistamo mama dhvastaṃ jātamātrasya dehataḥ. Nīlakaṇṭha explains that no sooner was Gotama born from his mother than his light rays (go‑s), like those of the sun, destroyed darkness.[38] The essence is that Gotama destroyed darkness (ignorance) even without performing any penance. Therefore, the meaning of the word gotama is one whose light rays (go‑s) are opposite of darkness (atama).[39] The essence is that like fire, I am difficult for you to even touch.

As per another explanation, the meaning of the word gotama is “the most exalted go”.[40] In addition to meaning a cow, a bull, and an ox, the word go (gauḥ) has many other meanings.[41] Here its literal meaning “one who goes is go” (gacchati iti gauḥ) is to be taken. As per the convention ye gatyarthāste jñānārthāḥ (“the roots which mean ‘to go’ also mean ‘to know’”), we get the meaning “one who knows is go”. Thus, the meaning of gotama is “the most exalted among those who know”.

In some publications, the name mentioned is ‘Gautama’ in place of ‘Gotama’. There the prajñādi suffix aṇ from the word gotamawithout any change in meaning is to be understood,[42] i.e. the word gautama has the same meaning as the word gotama. In addition, the word gautama also means a descendent of Gotama.[43]

(6) Viśvāmitra

viśvedevāśca me mitraṃ mitramasmi gavāṃ tathā

viśvāmitra iti khyātaṃ yātudhāni nibodha mām

Literal meaning

Viśvedeva‑s my mitra‑s, am mitra of cows. I am famous as Viśvāmitra. Know me, O Yātudhānī.”


The word viśvedeva is used in Veda‑s as a collective noun for all gods. Viśvāmitra suggests that the word viśvedevamitra has become viśvāmitra by the elision of the middle word deva.[44] As Viśvāmitra is the friend of all gods, Yātudhānī cannot harm him in any way. Viśvāmitra then says that he is the friend of go‑s (“cows”). Of the many meanings of the word go, the meaning “direction” should be considered.[45] Viśvāmitra is the friend of all directions, and by lakṣaṇā (figurative indication) the friend of the entire universe spread in all directions. A question arises as to why viśva + mitra becomes viśvāmitra and not viśvamitra. As per the rule mitre carṣau (6.1.130) of the Aṣṭādhyāyī, the final short vowel of the word viśva is lengthened when it is followed by mitra and the compounded word is intended to refer to the [name of the] ṛṣi[46] This is how the word viśvāmitra comes into being. When the intended meaning is “a friend (mitra) of the world (viśva)” in general, the compounded word is viśvamitra with the short vowel before m. Far from understanding how a friend of Viśvedeva‑s and go‑s is called ‘Viśvāmitra’, Yātudhānī—who is unfamiliar with Vyākaraṇa—cannot even understand that the correct split of the word viśvāmitrais viśva + mitra and not viśva + amitra.

Deeper essence

Nīlakaṇṭha says in his commentary that the word viśva has the divine (ādhidaivika) meaning “all gods in the universe (brahmāṇḍa)” and the spiritual (ādhyātmika) meaning “all senses in the body (piṇḍa)”. Viśvāmitra is he who is a friend of both these. Nīlakaṇṭha cites a śruti from the Aitareya Brāhmāṇaviśvasya ha vai mitraṃ viśvāmitra āsa (6.20).[47] Nīlakaṇṭha then cites the mitre carṣau rule and adds that the word gavām (“of go‑s”) in the verse of Viśvāmitra means “of senses”.

Thus, Viśvāmitra has a material or ādhibhautika meaning (“he whose friend is the whole world”), a divine or ādhidaivika meaning (“he whose friends are all gods”), and a spiritual or ādhyātmikameaning (“he whose friends are all senses”).


The Nirukta of Yāska says that the meaning of the word viśvāmitra is sarvamitra (“the friend of all”), and the meaning of sarva here is saṃsṛta, i.e. the world.[48]

(7) Jamadagni

jājamadyajajāne’haṃ jijāhīha jijāyiṣi

jamadagniriti khyātaṃ tato māṃ viddhi śobhane

Literal meaning

“Know this, I had jijāyiṣā in the jāna of the jājamat yaja. Therefore, O lady, know me to be Jamadagni.”

Deeper essence

Like the verse uttered by Kaśyapa, the verse of Jamadagni is also extremely abstruse. Jamadagni uses such obscure verbal forms that it is impossible for Yātudhānī to understand. Even for the greatest paṇḍita‑s of Sanskrit, the verse is impossible to understand without advanced knowledge of Vyākaraṇa. Therefore the explanation is skipped and the deep essence is presented as per the commentary of Nīlakaṇṭha.

Nīlakaṇṭha says that the word jājamat (“eating a lot, eating repeatedly”) refers to the gods who consume repeatedly.[49] The gods are jājamat because they repeatedly consume the oblations (haviṣya) offered in many yajña‑s. The word yaja means “that in which the gods are worshipped”, i.e. fire (agni).[50] The word jānameans birth or manifestation.[51] Thus, the meaning of jājamadyajajāne (“in the jāna of jājamat yaja”) is “in the manifestation of fire meant for the gods”. The word jijāyiṣi means “I was born”. As per Nīlakaṇṭha, the original word is ajijāyiṣi,[52]whose literal meaning is “[I] desired to be born again and again”, and this word has become jijāyiṣi due to the lack of the initial aṭ augment. The word jijāhi means “know [again and again]”,[53] and iha means “in this world”. Thus, the first half of the verse means “Know this, [my] birth in this world happened during the manifestation of the fire for the gods”. Nīlakaṇṭha says that the word is jājamadagnimat, to be understood as “in whom are the jājamat‑s (gods) and agni”, which has become jamadagni. In jājamatagni + mat, the first syllable of jājamat and the mat suffix are elided to result in jamat + agni, which results in the word jamadagni by sandhi.[54] Nīlakaṇṭha says that because the gods and agni reside in Jamadagni, Yātudhānī is not able to subdue him.


Nīlakaṇṭha cites a variant reading jājamadyajajā nāma mṛjā mā’ha jijāyiṣi. He explains this as “Indeed, [the Veda‑s] told me that the riches born from the gods and agni are perishable, [therefore] I have conquered them.” The essence is that I have conquered all worlds, therefore Yātudhānī, you cannot conquer me.

As per the Nirukta of Yāska, the word jamadagni means eternally devouring (prajamita) or eternally burning (prajvalita) fire (agni).[55]In fact, even without taking the intensive (yaṅanta) form, the word jamadagni can be simply split as jamat + agni. The word jamat means “devouring”,[56] i.e. consuming the oblations or blazing. Therefore, the straightforward meaning of the word jamadagni is “raging fire”. Because Jamadagni is like the raging fire, he is called ‘Jamadagni’.[57]


These were the explanations of the esoteric verses in which the saptarṣi deciphered their names. In the next and concluding part of this article series, the deep meanings behind the verses uttered by Arundhatī, Gaṇḍā, Paśusakha, and Indra disguised as Śunaḥsakha to explain their names will be presented. In addition, some special features of this conversation between the saptarṣi and Yātudhānī will be elaborated.


[To be continued]

References / Footnotes

[1] This elision can be understood as an instance of varṇālopa by the rule pṛṣodarādīni yathopadiṣṭam (A. 6.3.109) in Pāṇinian grammar. A famous kārikā in Vyākaraṇa goes bhavedvarṇāgamāddhaṃsaḥ siṃho varṇaviparyayātgūḍhotmā varṇavikṛtervarṇalope pṛṣodaraḥ.

[2] By the rule anaci ca (A. 8.4.46), there is optional doubling of the consonant t in the word atri.

[3] sa idaṃ sarvaṃ pāpmano’trāyata yadidaṃ kiṃca sa yadidaṃ sarvaṃ pāpmano’trāyata yadidaṃ kiṃca tasmādatrayastasmādatraya ityācakṣata etameva santam (Ai.Ā.

[4] With arayo vidyante asmin as the meaning, the suffix ac occurs after the word ari by the rule arśa⋅ādibhyo’c (A. 5.2.127). In ari + a, the terminal i of ari gets elided by the rule yasyeti ca(6.4.148) due to bhatva, resulting in the word ara.

[5] This should be understood as atti iti at. From the root √ad bhakṣaṇe (“to eat”), the kvipsuffix occurs in the sense of an agent by the rule kvip ca (A. 3.2.76). After the sarvāpahārin lopa(complete elision) of the suffix, the word ad is formed. In the nominative singular, the vibhaktisuffix su̐ is also elided by the rule halṅyābbhyo dīrghātsutisyapṛktaṃ hal (A. 6.1.68), and there is optional cartva by the rule vā’vasāne (8.4.56) to result in two forms ad and at. In ad + tri, there is mandatory cartva by the rule khari ca (8.4.55) to result in attri as the sole form.

[6] evaṃ buddheḥ paraṃ buddhvā saṃstabhyātmānamātmanājahi śatruṃ mahābāho kāmarūpaṃ durāsadam (BhG 3.43).

[7] atriṃ śatrūṇāmannānāṃ vā bhakṣakam (Sāyaṇa’s commentary on RV 2.8.5).

[8] phalādyattīti atriḥ, Nārāyaṇa’s commentary on the rule adestrin (US 4.70).

[9] This varṇavikṛti is also to be understood by the rule pṛṣodarādīni yathopadiṣṭam (A. 6.3.109).

[10] In uru + iṣṭhavar replaces uru by priyasthirasphirorubahulaguruvṛddhatṛpradīrghavṛndārakāṇāṃ prasthasphavarbaṃhigarvarṣitrabdrāghivṛndāḥ (A. 6.4.157), resulting in the word variṣṭha.

[11] One who lives is vasa. Taking the pacādi ac suffix from the root √vas (“to live, to reside”), the word vasa is formed which means “one who resides”. Taking the suffix iṣṭhan from vasa by the rule atiśāyane tamabiṣṭhanau (A. 5.3.55), there is ṭilopa (elision of terminal syllable) of vasain vasa + iṣṭha by the rule ṭeḥ (A. 6.4.155), resulting in the word vasiṣṭha.

[12] katame vasava iti, agniśca pṛthivī ca vāyuścāntarikṣaṃ cādityaśca dyauśca nakṣatrāṇi caite vasava eteṣu hīdaṃ sarvaṃ vasu hitamete hīdaṃ sarvaṃ vāsayante tadyadidaṃ sarvaṃ vāsayante tasmādvasava iti (Ś.Br.

[13] The commentary explains that in vasumat + iṣṭha, the suffix mat is elided which is followed by ṭilopa to result in the word vasiṣṭha. The suffix mat is elided by the rule vinmatorluk (A. 5.3.65) while the ṭilopa happens by the rule ṭeḥ (A. 6.4.155).

[14] As per Nīlakaṇṭha, the suffix iṣṭhan occurs after the word vastṛ. In vastṛ + iṣṭhatṛ is elided by the rule ṭeḥ (A. 6.4.155) to result in the word vasiṣṭha.

[15] vasiṣṭhaḥpuṃ, (vaśiṣṭhaḥpṛṣodarāditvāt śasya saḥvaśiṣṭhamuniḥ (Śabdakalpadruma).

[16] As per bhāryāṃ gacchanbrahmacārī sadā bhavati caiva ha (MBh 13.140.11), a gṛhastha who has coitus only with his wife and only in the period known ṛtukāla is a brahmacārin. This is one of the marks of a vaśīn gṛhastha. The ṛtukāla is the period of sixteen nights from the start of menstrual cycle, of which the first four (and the eleventh and thirteenth) are criticized by Manu for coitus (Manusmṛti 3.46–47).

[17] taṃ devā abruvannayaṃ vai naḥ sarveṣāṃ vasiṣṭha iti taṃ yaddevā abruvannayaṃ vai naḥ sarveṣāṃ vasiṣṭha iti tasmādvasiṣṭhastasmādvasiṣṭha ityācakṣata etameva santam (Ai.Ā.

[18] The word kaśā means a whip for a horse. That which is worthy of kaśā is kaśya. In the sense of kaśāmarhati iti kaśyaḥ, the suffix yat occurs after the word kaśā by the rule daṇḍādibhyaḥ (A. 5.1.66). Due to bhatva, the terminal vowel of kaśā gets elided by the rule yasyeti ca (A 6.4.148) to result in the word kaśya. As per the Amarakośa, the word kaśya means the middle part of a horse (kaśyaṃ tu madhyamaśvānām, AK 2.8.47).

[19] indriyāṇi hayānāhuḥ (KU 1.3.4).

[20] In the sense of kaśyāni indriyāṇi vidyante asmin, the ac suffix occurs after the word kaśya by the rule arśa⋅ādibhyo’c (A. 5.2.127). Due to the bhatva, the rule yasyeti ca (A. 6.4.148) results in elision of the terminal vowel of kaśya, giving us the word kaśya itself which means “body”.

[21] Nīlakaṇṭha says kaśyāni pāti rakṣati iti kaśyapaḥ. Here the root √pā rakṣaṇe (“to protect”) is implied.

[22] Nīlakaṇṭha says kaśyāni [=kaśyaiḥpibati bhuṅkte iti kaśyapaḥ. Here the root √pā pāne(“to drink”) is implied.

[23] Nīlakaṇṭha says kaśyāni pāyayati śoṣayati iti kaśyapaḥ. Here the root √pai śoṣaṇe (“to dry”) is implied.

[24] Nīlakaṇṭha says kau vamati varṣati iti kuvamaḥ, meaning one who (=due to whom a cloud) vomits or emits (=rains) on earth (ku) is kuvama. The Manusmṛti says ādityājjāyate vṛṣṭiḥ (5.76), meaning “the rain is born from the sun.” Nīlakaṇṭha explains the word kuvama as āditya (the sun) in this manner.

[25] As per the Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa, the twelve Āditya‑s are Vivasvat, Aryaman, Pūṣan, Tvaṣṭṛ, Savitṛ, Bhaga, Dhātṛ, Vidhātṛ, Varuṇa, Mitra, Śatru, and Urukrama. The verse is vivasvānaryamā pūṣā tvaṣṭā’tha savitā bhagaḥdhātā vidhātā varuṇo mitraḥ śatrururukramaḥ(BhP 6.6.39).

[26] In addition to being the father of the twelve Āditya‑s, Kaśyapa is the father of all deva‑s (gods) also. The word āditya literally means “a son of Aditi”. By the rule dityadityādityapatyuttarapadāṇṇyaḥ (A. 4.1.85), the word aditi and the suffix ṇya result in the word āditya. The deva‑s are the sons of Kaśyapa and Aditi, and so the word āditya is also used to refer to deva‑s in general.

[27] Here, by the dehalīdīpakanyāya, the words kaśyapo dvijaḥ should be read with both kulaṃ kulam and kuvamaḥ kuvamaḥ.

[28] Taking the ṇyat suffix from the root √kāśṛ̐ dīptau by the rule ṛhalorṇyat (A. 3.1.124) optionally in the sense of an agent via kṛtyalyuṭo bahulam (A. 3.3.113), the word kāśya meaning “radiant, brilliant, shining brightly” is formed.

[29] eṣa u eva bibhradvājaḥ prajā vai vājastā eṣa bibharti yadbibharti tasmādbharadvājastasmādbharadvāja ityācakṣata etameva santam (Ai.Ā.

[30] The word bibhrat comes from the root √ḍubhṛñ dhāraṇapoṣaṇayoḥ and the suffix śatṛ. It means “one who bears or nourishes”. The word bharat comes from the root √bhṛñ bharaṇeand the suffix śatṛ. It means “one who supports”. In the words bibhradvāja and bharadvāja, the word vāja occurs later. This is to be understood by the rule rājadantādiṣu param (A. 2.2.30). As per the bālamanoramā, the rājadantādigaṇa is an ākṛtigaṇa.

[31] As vāja means “speed”, a horse is also called vājin (“possessing speed”) in Sanskrit.

[32] As per Nīlakaṇṭha’s commentary and Sanskrit koṣa‑s, the words dvija (dvirjāyate iti dvijaḥ) and dvāja (dvābhyāṃ jāyate iti dvājaḥ) are different. The meaning of dvija is “one who is born twice”—the first time from the mother’s womb and the second time during the upanayana saṃskāra (sacred thread ceremony)On the other hand dvāja means “one who is born from two”, i.e. a varṇasaṃkara who is born from two varṇa‑s or a kṣetraja son—a son born to one man’s wife from the seed of another man.

[33] Chapter 20 in the ninth canto (skandha) of Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa.

[34] Again, the varṇavikṛti here is to be understood by the rule pṛṣodarādīni yathopadiṣṭam (A. 6.3.109).

[35] vidyāvinayasampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastiniśuni caiva śvapāke ca paṇḍitāḥ samadarśinaḥ(Bh.G. 5.18).

[36] Nīlakaṇṭha translates te in the verse as tvayi. Here a chāndasa prayoga is to be understood by the rule supāṃ sulukpūrvasavarṇāccheyāḍāḍyāyājālaḥ (A. 7.1.39) with the locative case being substituted by the genitive case. To support his interpretation of sama as Brahman, Nīlakaṇṭha cites nirdoṣaṃ hi samaṃ brahma (Bh.G. 5.19) from the Gītā.

[37] The śruti cited by Nīlakaṇṭha is tasya ha na devāśca nābhūtyā īśate ātmā hyeṣāṃ sa bhavati(Bṛ.U. 1.4.10).

[38] The madhyamapadalopin bahuvrīhi samāsa is to be understood when the vigraha is gobhirdhvastaṃ tamo yasya.

[39] What Nīlakaṇṭha means is that there is coalescence of the vowel a in the word gotama, i.e. the word is go’tama. Nīlakaṇṭha gives the vigraha as atamāḥ gāvo yasya. The adjective atamashould have come first in the compound by the rule saptamīviśeṣaṇe bahuvrīhau (2.2.35) to result in the word atamagu. The word atama coming later is to be understood by the rule rājadantādiṣu param (A. 2.2.30). As per the Bālamanoramā, the rājadantādigaṇa is an ākṛtigaṇa. In the sandhi of go + atama, there is optional prakṛtibhāva of the word go by the rule sarvatra vibhāṣā goḥ (A. 6.1.122) to result in the form go’tama.

[40] atiśayena gauḥ (Vācaspatyam on the word gotama).

[41] As per the Amarakoṣa, the Medinīkoṣa, and the koṣa of Keśava, the meanings of the word goinclude heaven (svarga), an arrow, a cow, speech, thunderbolt (vajra), a direction, an eye, a ray, earth, water, body hair, and the sun.

[42] By the rule prajñādibhyaśca (A. 5.4.38). prajña eva prājñaḥ. Similarly, gotama eva gautamaḥ.

[43] In the sense of gotamasya apatyaṃ pumān, the aṇ suffix occurs in the apatyasāmānya sense from the word gotama by the rule ṛṣyandhakavṛṣṇikurubhyaśca (A. 4.1.114). Then due to ādivṛddhi by the rule taddhiteṣvacāmādeḥ (A. 7.2.117) and ṭilopa due to bhatva, the word gautama is produced. In the sense gotamasya gotrāpatyaṃ pumān also, the word gautamaresults from this rule. For further descendants, the  suffix occurs from the word gautama by the rule ata iñ (A. 4.1.92). The suffix is elided by the rule ṇyakṣatriyārṣañito yūni lugaṇiñoḥ (A. 2.4.58) leaving us with gautama only.

[44] By the auxiliary rule śākapārthivādīnāṃ siddhaya uttarapadalopasyopasaṅkhyānam‌ (V. 2.1.60), the elision of the word deva is to be understood, followed by the elision of the jas case ending in viśve by the rule supo dhātuprātipadikayoḥ (A. 2.4.71).

[45] As per the Amarakoṣa, the Medinīkoṣa, and the koṣa of Keśava, the meanings of the word goare heaven (svarga), an arrow, a cow, speech, thunderbolt (vajra), a direction, an eye, a ray, earth, water, body hair, the sun, etc.

[46] The word viśvāmitra is very old and Pāṇini must have formulated the rule mitre carṣau (A. 6.1.130) following older grammars.

[47] The Aitareya Āraṇyaka also says, tasyedaṃ viśvaṃ mitramāsīdyadidaṃ kiṃca tadyadasyedaṃ viśvaṃ mitramāsīdyadidaṃ kiṃca tasmādviśvāmitrastasmādviśvāmitra ityācakṣata etameva santam (Ai.Ā.

[48] viśvāmitraḥ sarvamitraḥ sarvaṃ saṃsṛtam (N. 2.24).

[49] Nīlakaṇṭha says that the word jājamat comes from the root √jamu̐ bhakṣaṇe in yaṅluk with the śatṛ suffix. It is the Sanskrit root ‘jamu̐ bhakṣaṇe from which the Gujarati root જમવું (jamavu̐) comes,which means “to eat”. જમે છે (jame che) = [s]he eats [food]. જમી લીધું (jamī līdhu̐) = [have you] eaten? Similarly meal is called જમવાનું (jamavānu̐). When the meal is ready, one says જમવાનું તૈયાર છે (jamavānu̐ taiyāra che). The right hand is called જમણો હાથ (jamaṇo hātha), which means the hand used for eating.

[50] Nīlakaṇṭha says ijyante devā asminniti yajo’gniḥ.

[51] The word jāna results from the root √janī̐ prādurbhāve with the suffix ghañ ordained in the sense of verbal activity by the rule bhāve (A. 3.3.18).

[52] Nīlakaṇṭha says that the root √janī̐ prādurbhāve with the intensive yaṅ suffix followed by the desiderative san suffix yields the form ajijāyiṣi for first person (uttama puruṣa) singular in the aorist luṅ lakāra. The initial a augment is missing in the form jijāyiṣi, this can be explained by considering this to be ārṣa usage.

[53] As per Nīlakaṇṭha, the form jijāhi has resulted from the root jñā avabodhane in the intensive yaṅluk, second person singular with a  substitution.

[54] Or, instead of understanding the elision of mat after jājamat + agni, it can be understood thus that the arśa⋅ādi suffix ac has occurred after the word jamadagni from []jamat + agni.

[55] jamadagnayaḥ prajamitāgnayo vā prajvalitāgnayo vā (N. 7.24).

[56] The root √jamu̐ bhakṣaṇe followed by the suffix śatṛ results in the word jamat.

[57] Refer the entry jamadagni in the Śabdakalpadruma and the Vācaspatya.

About Author: Nityanand Misra

Nityanand Misra is a finance professional. editor & author based in Mumbai. He is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and works in the investment banking industry. He writes on Indian literature, arts, music and has authored seven books.

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