(Vedic) Sanskrit: अपत्सत

Au101

Senior Member
England, English (UK)
Hi :)

I have quick question about the Vedic form अपत्सत apatsata, which I intend to use in an essay, so I want to be sure.

For some context, the form appears in the Aitareya-Brāhmaṇa in the relatively famous story of Śunaḥśepa (AitBr. 7,13 ff.). In this story there is an exchange between Varuṇa and King Hariścandra:

तस्य ह दन्ताः पेदिरे । तं होवाचापत्सत वा अस्य दन्ता यजस्व मानेनेति ।
Tasya ha dantāḥ pedire. Taṃ hovācāpatsata vā asya dantā yajasva māneneti.
"And then his teeth fell out. He (Varuṇa) then said: 'Lo his teeth have fallen out - sacrifice him to me (lit: honour/worship me through him).'"

Now, to me अपत्सत apatsata looks like an s-aorist of the root pat-. I wanted to check though because, firstly, this formation of the aorist does not appear in Whitney's treatment of the root in his roots book and also because it would have to be middle, which Monier-Williams suggests is unusual.
 
  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Now, to me अपत्सत apatsata looks like an s-aorist of the root pat-. I wanted to check though because, firstly, this formation of the aorist does not appear in Whitney's treatment of the root in his roots book and also because it would have to be middle, which Monier-Williams suggests is unusual.

    I think, the answer is staring right at you! ;) I mean, the root pad-, used in the middle perfect in the first sentence. I think, "apatsata" is really an s-aorist middle, but from the same root, pad- rather than pat-.

    ~

    As an aside, what sort of opposition do you think the juxtaposition of perfect and aorist brings out here?
    - My idea is that the perfect simply states an observation from the narrator that the person/animal (sorry, I am not familiar with this story*) lacks teeth - a state that must have resulted from their falling away in the past. Varuna, however, talks about the event of the teeth's having fallen away in the past. Maybe he is implying he was an witness to it? The English translation "lo! his teeth have fallen out" however does not go that well with the second part. What do you think? I may be totally wrong as well. I am still trying to learn the nuances of the Vedic past tenses**.

    *Okay, I have now read the outline of the story. So, it was a person after all.
    ** Okay, now I have read the original text, and get the context. I feel, the aorist is not necessarily emphasizing a personal knowledge here, but rather the event's "past-ness" - it has already happened, what we were waiting for. So, let's get down to the business now - "yajasva, etc." That also explains the "lo, etc." in the English translation.
     
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    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Right you are Dib, I'm sorry, I didn't really pay enough attention to the difference between pad- and pat- because I simply assumed them to be saṃdhi variants of the same root - which I think historically they probably are.

    ---

    Well that's exactly what I wanted to use this passage to illustrate. I surmise that the perfect is used as a narrative past tense by, as you say, the narrator, whereas the aorist is used - as it once was - primarily for an action which has just been completed (or an event which has just taken place). i.e. His teeth [just] fell out. I think the easiest, neatest way of rendering this in English is 'his teeth have [now] fallen out.' I use lo simply to translate the वै vai which I think gives a fairly nice, sort-of old fashioned, liturgical feel, which seems to suit the Brāhmaṇas.

    तस्य = gen sg masc of the 3rd person pronoun tad- "his" (Rohita's)
    ह = ind. "then"
    दन्ताः = nom pl of the masc noun dat- "tooth"
    पेदिरे = 3 pl, perf, mid of the root pad- "fall out"

    "And then his teeth fell out."

    तं < तम् = acc sg masc of the 3rd person pronoun tad- "him" (Hariścandra)
    हो < ह = ind. "then"
    वाचा < उवाच = 3 sg, perf, act of the root vac- "say"
    पत्सत < अपत्सत = 3 sg, aor, mid of the root pad- "fall out"
    वा < वै = ind. "lo"
    अस्य = gen sg masc of the 3rd person pronoun tad- "his" (Rohita's)
    दन्ता < दन्ताः = nom pl of the masc noun dat- "tooth"
    यजस्व = 2 sg, imp, mid of the root yaj- "sacrifice, worship"
    मा = acc sg of the 1st person pronoun asmad- "me" (Varuṇa)
    नेने < अनेन = ins sg masc of the 3rd person pronoun idam- "with/through/by means of him" (Rohita)
    ति < इति = ind. ends quotation

    "He (Varuṇa) then said to [Hariścandra]: 'Lo his teeth have fallen out - sacrifice him to me (lit: honour/worship me through him).'"

    And thank you :) For the useful answer and the chance to exchange ideas about the tenses :)
     
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    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Right you are Dib, I'm sorry ...

    Don't worry. There's nothing to be sorry about. The Sanskrit activity on the forum is certainly refreshing.

    ... pad- and pat- because I simply assumed them to be saṃdhi variants of the same root - which I think historically they probably are.

    I personally feel that's unlikely. They might have influenced each other leading to a convergent semantics (to fall), but it is unlikely that they have a common origin. It seems pat- is reconstructible to PIE *peth₂- (and its derivative *péth₂r̥, feather) with cognates in many IE families, and it had the basic meaning "to fly". However, I don't think there is any form derived from this root in Sanskrit where the t changes to d, that might generate the pad- root. In seems, pad- had the basic meaning "to go", and I am tempted to connect it with Sanskrit noun pād-/pad- (foot), with lots of cognates in other IE famiies too. However, I could not locate a direct cognate outside IA for the verbal root itself. I think, it's safe to say that no historical link between the two verbal roots (pad- and pat-) can be demonstrated within the known and reconstructible history.

    Additionally, their grammars differ: pat- normally active, pad- often (or, is it even "mostly"?) middle without any apparent phonetic motivation.
     
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    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    I've gotta be honest, I didn't really give it the kind of thought I should have done when I was just looking for a nice aorist to illustrate my discussion, but no I think you're probably right :) Thanks, I enjoyed reading that :)
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    I personally feel that's unlikely. They might have influenced each other leading to a convergent semantics (to fall), but it is unlikely that they have a common origin. It seems pat- is reconstructible to PIE *peth₂- (and its derivative *péth₂r̥, feather) with cognates in many IE families, and it had the basic meaning "to fly". However, I don't think there is any form derived from this root in Sanskrit where the t changes to d, that might generate the pad- root. In seems, pad- had the basic meaning "to go", and I am tempted to connect it with Sanskrit noun pād-/pad- (foot), with lots of cognates in other IE famiies too. However, I could not locate a direct cognate outside IA for the verbal root itself. I think, it's safe to say that no historical link between the two verbal roots (pad- and pat-) can be demonstrated within the known and reconstructible history.

    Additionally, their grammars differ: pat- normally active, pad- often (or, is it even "mostly"?) middle without any apparent phonetic motivation.
    Just on this point, there is quite an unchanged root in Russian "pada-" which means "to fall". Now I don't have the knowledge or capacity to relate it to Sanskrit or PIE. In this paper (p. 11) it has been related to "pat-" with annotation about sound change from [t] to [d].
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Just on this point, there is quite an unchanged root in Russian "pada-" which means "to fall". Now I don't have the knowledge or capacity to relate it to Sanskrit or PIE. In this paper (p. 11) it has been related to "pat-" with annotation about sound change from [t] to [d].

    Thanks for the reference. I am also not qualified in Slavic/Russian sound changes to take a decision on my own, but I am assuming that the paper has good reason to connect it to "pat-". Anyways, it isn't a big issue.

    I surmise that the perfect is used as a narrative past tense by, as you say, the narrator, whereas the aorist is used - as it once was - primarily for an action which has just been completed (or an event which has just taken place). i.e. His teeth [just] fell out. I think the easiest, neatest way of rendering this in English is 'his teeth have [now] fallen out.' I use lo simply to translate the वै vai which I think gives a fairly nice, sort-of old fashioned, liturgical feel, which seems to suit the Brāhmaṇas.

    To be frank, my acquaintance with Vedic texts is pretty sketchy, mostly limited to Rigveda Samhita and some Upanishads, even there pretty superficial. It may be the first time I saw perfect used in a narrative sense. I was actually surprised to read your suggestion that it could be in fact "narrative", which I'd normally connect with imperfect. But obviously, you are right. The text is pretty clear. But in my mind I was still trying to reconcile it with more familiar "stative" uses of perfect. Then I checked MacDonell, and lo and behold! He specifically mentions this narrative use in Aitareya Brahmana vi-viii. Cool that you posted it. Thanks.
     
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