Sanskrit resources written in English often say that Sanskrit nominals use eight different cases. Roughly, the English concept of case is like a combination of two Sanskrit categories: kāraka and vibhakti.

vibhakti is simply a group of three endings, as we saw previously. The sup pratyāhāra has twenty-one endings, so it has seven vibhaktis in total.

A given vibhakti can express multiple kārakas, and it can also express relationships that aren't kārakas. By using the rules below, we can pick the right vibhakti for our prātipadika and get one step closer to our completed word.

adhikāra rules

There is only one adhikāra we should consider here, but it is a significant one:

  • अनभिहिते। २.३.१
    anabhihite (2.3.1)
    When not otherwise expressed, …

The idea is that the rules below can only be applied if their information has not been expressed already. To understand what this means, we can start by examining the use of the second vibhakti:

The second vibhakti

The first rule after rule 2.3.1 (anabhihite) is about the second vibhakti:

  • कर्मणि द्वितीया। २.३.२
    karmaṇi dvitīyā (2.3.2)
    karmaṇi dvitīyā
    [When not otherwise expressed,] the second [vibhakti is used] in the sense of karma.

Suppose the verb in our sentence is gacchati (“goes”). gacchati is in kartari prayoga, which means that expresses the kāraka of kartṛ. gacchati does not express any information about the karma, so we can apply rule 2.3.2 and create a valid sentence:

  • ग्रामं गच्छति
    grāmaṃ gacchati
    He goes to the village.

But suppose that the verb in our sentence is gamyate (“is gone to”). gamyate is in karmaṇi prayoga, which means that it expresses the kāraka of karma. Since karma is already expressed, we cannot apply rule 2.3.2. So we are prevented from saying *grāmaṃ gamyate, which would be an error. This is the purpose of rule 2.3.1 (anabhihite).

The fourth vibhakti

Continuing on, we see some rules about the fourth vibhakti:

  • चतुर्थी सम्प्रदाने। २.३.१३
    caturthī sampradāne (2.3.13)
    caturthī sampradāne
    [When not otherwise expressed,] the fourth [vibhakti is used] in the sense of sampradāna.

  • तुमर्थाच्च भाववचनात्। २.३.१५
    tumarthācca bhāvavacanāt (2.3.15)
    tum-arthāt ca bhāva-vacanāt
    And after words that express bhāva (state) in the sense of (the pratyaya) -tum.

Rule 2.3.13 is straightforward. Rule 2.3.15 refers to usages like the one below:

  • दर्शनाय गच्छति।
    darśanāya gacchati.
    He goes to see (“for seeing”).

The third vibhakti

Next we have the third vibhakti:

  • कर्तृकरणयोस्तृतीया। २.३.१८
    kartṛkaraṇayostṛtīyā (2.3.18)
    kartṛ-karaṇayoḥ tṛtīyā
    [When not otherwise expressed,] the third [vibhakti is used] in the sense of kartṛ or karaṇa.

  • सहयुक्ते ऽप्रधाने। २.३.१९
    sahayukte 'pradhāne (2.3.19)
    saha-yukte a-pradhāne
    [When not otherwise expressed, the third vibhakti is used] with the word saha in the sense of a secondary [idea].

Rule 2.3.18 has the same behavior as karmaṇi dvitīyā above. If the verb is in kartari prayoga (gacchati), it may express the karaṇa:

  • अश्वेन गच्छति।
    aśvena gacchati.
    He goes by horse.

And if the verb is in karmaṇi prayoga (gamyate), it may express the kartṛ:

  • नरेण ग्रामो गम्यते।
    nareṇa grāmo gamyate.
    The man goes to the village. (“The village is gone to by the man.”)

The fifth vibhakti

Next we have the fifth vibhakti:

  • अपादाने पञ्चमी। २.३.२८
    apādāne pañcamī (2.3.28)
    apādāne pañcamī
    [When not otherwise expressed,] the fifth [vibhakti is used] in the sense of apādāna.

This is straightforward.

The seventh vibhakti

Next is the seventh vibhakti. It inherits some context from a previous rule. This extra context is minor, but we include it for the sake of completeness:

  • सप्तम्यधिकरणे च। २.३.३५
    saptamyadhikaraṇe ca (2.3.35)
    saptamī adhikaraṇe ca
    [When not otherwise expressed,] the seventh [vibhakti] is used in the sense of adhikaraṇa, [and after words that mean dūra (far) or antika (near)].

The first vibhakti

The first vibhakti has a surprising definition. This rule, especially, makes clear the difference between case and vibhakti:

  • प्रातिपदिकार्थलिङ्गपरिमाणवचनमात्रे प्रथमा। २.३.४६
    prātipadikārthaliṅgaparimāṇavacanamātre prathamā (2.3.46)
    prātipadika-artha-liṅga-parimāṇa-vacana-mātre prathamā
    [When not otherwise expressed,] the first [vibhakti] is used only to express the prātipadika meaning, gender, measure, and number.

Let's leave aside “measure,” which is a minor point. What this rule says is that the first vibhakti does not express any kāraka at all!

Why is this so? Once again, consider the verb that would be used with this subanta. If the verb is gacchati, then kartṛ is already expressed. So the only new information that the first vibhakti can express is the basic information listed in the rule above. And the same applies if the verb is gamyate:

  • रामो गच्छति।
    rāmo gacchati.
    Rama goes.

  • रामो गम्यते।
    rāmo gamyate.
    Rama is gone to.

Finally, the first vibhakti can express the same semantics as the vocative case:

  • सम्बोधने च। २.३.४७
    sambodhane ca (2.3.47)
    sambodhane ca
    [When not otherwise expressed, the first vibhakti] is also used in the sense of sambodhana (“calling out”)

  • एकवचनं सम्बुद्धिः। २.३.४९
    ekavacanaṃ sambuddhiḥ (2.3.49)
    ekavacanam sambuddhiḥ
    [When not otherwise expressed, the first vibhakti] ekavacanam (singular) [is called] sambuddiḥ.

The sixth vibhakti

Finally, we have the sixth vibhakti:

  • षष्ठी शेषे। २.३.५०
    ṣaṣṭhī śeṣe (2.3.50)
    ṣaṣṭhī śeṣe
    [When not otherwise expressed], the sixth [vibhakti] is used in all remaining senses.

Thus the sixth vibhakti is a “catch-all” that expresses all sorts of complex relationships.


In the next lesson, we will use what we have learned so far to generate different forms of the feminine stem nau.