Sanskrit: relative constructions

Kobzar

Senior Member
Spanish - Spain
Hello, everybody!
I am translating a passage of the विष्णुपुराणम् (6, 1), and the 14th couplet contains a construction that I cannot understand (moreover, when I check the translations by Wilson and Taylor, against the original, I cannot ser how the translators obtained the sense that they give). The Sanskrit text, as I can read it in the GRETIL website, says:

सर्वमेव कलौ शास्त्रं यस्य यद्वचनं द्विज |
देवताश्च कलौ सर्वाः सर्वः सर्वस्य चाश्रमः ||

My problem arises in the first verse, with the construction शास्त्रं यस्य यद्वचनम्. I assume that शास्त्रं is the antecedent of either यस्य or यद्, but I cannot discern which ir those options is the correct one, I cannot understand why the relative pronoun appears in two cases, and I have thought that यद् could be a conjunction, instead of a pronoun, but I cannot get almost any sense from that hypothesis.
Taylor, McComas, 2021: "The Visnu Purana", Acton, Australia University Press, p. 454, translates: "Anything said to be a scripture will be thus regarded in the Kali age, brahmin".
Wilson, Horace Hayman, 1870: "The Vishnu Purana", London, Trubner, vol. 5, p. 171-2, translates: "Every text will be scripture, that people choose to think so".
I guess that we need to supply something elliptic here, but I cannot see what it is.
Any help will be welcome.
Thank you very much in advance, and best regards.
 
  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    This is a construction that exists in our modern languages as well (like Bengali, etc.) where two relative pronouns are juxtaposed referring to two distinct but related objects to express a distributive meaning (i.e. each member of the set referred to by one relative pronoun is associated with a member referred to by the other relative pronoun) at the most basic level, but may also express a reluctant or even a disapproving attitude towards the situation described. I don't have a proper linguistic description of it available to me, so I am trying to explain it on an ad-hoc basis. It is a bit hard for me to describe this construction, because I haven't really thought about it before, as it is a part of my native repertoire. I hope, it will still make some sense - and I am not making any big mistakes in the descriptions.

    First off, your intuition is correct that it involves an ellipsis. Supplying the omitted words, it would look something like "यस्य यद्वचनं (तस्मै/तस्य) (तत्) सर्वम् एव शास्त्रम्"। In other words: "Whatever whoever says is the scripture for them" - if that even makes any sense in English. In a more Englishy way: "Whatever one person says, is the scripture for that person." And the inherent implication is that everybody would be saying something different in the Kali, and most likely the speaker does not approve of that situation.

    If you could follow me till now, then read on. If not, please, ask for clarification before continuing. Okay, having said all this, my brain does not actually parse the syntax of this sentence as "यस्य यद्वचनं (तस्मै/तस्य) (तत्) सर्वम् एव शास्त्रम्" - though that is the sense. Rather, it takes "सर्वमेव कलौ शास्त्रं" (Everything is scripture in the Kali) as a standalone sentence, and then "यस्य यद्वचनम्" as an after-thought explaining सर्वम् further. So, the way, I really read this sentence is best expressed in English as: "Everything, i.e. whatever people say, is scripture (to those people) in the Kali."

    Some made up sentences using this construction:
    1) यस्मै यद् दातुम् इच्छसि, देहि। Give to each of them whatever you want for that person.
    2) प्रवासो मे अरोचत - यदा यत्र अतिष्ठम्। I liked the trip abroad - wherever we stayed at any time.

    Famous example from the Gita without ellipsis:
    3) "ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्"

    This raises the question - when is and isn't ellipsis possible. Firstly, if the "double-relative" is added as an after-thought as in the original sentence, and my example 2, there is no way but to go for the ellipsis, simply because the correlatives were not planned from the beginning. But I feel that ellipsis is also possible if the relatives are placed first, provided that both the correlatives (i.e. तद्, etc.) would have the same case as the corresponding relative (i.e. यद्, etc.) as in my example 1.

    Just for fun, if we put the Gita example in the after-thought format, it would look something along the way of "अहं सर्वान् एव भजामि - ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते" or "अहं नरान् सर्वथा एव भजामि - ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते।"
     

    Kobzar

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    This is a construction that exists in our modern languages as well (like Bengali, etc.) where two relative pronouns are juxtaposed referring to two distinct but related objects to express a distributive meaning (i.e. each member of the set referred to by one relative pronoun is associated with a member referred to by the other relative pronoun) at the most basic level, but may also express a reluctant or even a disapproving attitude towards the situation described. I don't have a proper linguistic description of it available to me, so I am trying to explain it on an ad-hoc basis. It is a bit hard for me to describe this construction, because I haven't really thought about it before, as it is a part of my native repertoire. I hope, it will still make some sense - and I am not making any big mistakes in the descriptions.

    First off, your intuition is correct that it involves an ellipsis. Supplying the omitted words, it would look something like "यस्य यद्वचनं (तस्मै/तस्य) (तत्) सर्वम् एव शास्त्रम्"। In other words: "Whatever whoever says is the scripture for them" - if that even makes any sense in English. In a more Englishy way: "Whatever one person says, is the scripture for that person." And the inherent implication is that everybody would be saying something different in the Kali, and most likely the speaker does not approve of that situation.

    If you could follow me till now, then read on. If not, please, ask for clarification before continuing. Okay, having said all this, my brain does not actually parse the syntax of this sentence as "यस्य यद्वचनं (तस्मै/तस्य) (तत्) सर्वम् एव शास्त्रम्" - though that is the sense. Rather, it takes "सर्वमेव कलौ शास्त्रं" (Everything is scripture in the Kali) as a standalone sentence, and then "यस्य यद्वचनम्" as an after-thought explaining सर्वम् further. So, the way, I really read this sentence is best expressed in English as: "Everything, i.e. whatever people say, is scripture (to those people) in the Kali."

    Some made up sentences using this construction:
    1) यस्मै यद् दातुम् इच्छसि, देहि। Give to each of them whatever you want for that person.
    2) प्रवासो मे अरोचत - यदा यत्र अतिष्ठम्। I liked the trip abroad - wherever we stayed at any time.

    Famous example from the Gita without ellipsis:
    3) "ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्"

    This raises the question - when is and isn't ellipsis possible. Firstly, if the "double-relative" is added as an after-thought as in the original sentence, and my example 2, there is no way but to go for the ellipsis, simply because the correlatives were not planned from the beginning. But I feel that ellipsis is also possible if the relatives are placed first, provided that both the correlatives (i.e. तद्, etc.) would have the same case as the corresponding relative (i.e. यद्, etc.) as in my example 1.

    Just for fun, if we put the Gita example in the after-thought format, it would look something along the way of "अहं सर्वान् एव भजामि - ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते" or "अहं नरान् सर्वथा एव भजामि - ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते।"
    Thank you very much for your explanation, reflections, and the examples provided. I need to think a bit more about them, but I think that I have got the main idea.
    Best regards.
     
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