Vedic Sanskrit: त्वाभि॑रू॒ती / tvā́bhirūtī́ (By your hep)


Senior Member
Bengali (India)
I don't know if there is any taker for a discussion of Vedic Sanskrit here, but I just came across a verse that throws up interesting grammatical challenges, that I'd love to see resolved.

Rgveda (RV) 2.20.2:

त्वं न॑ इन्द्र॒ त्वाभि॑रू॒ती त्वा॑य॒तो अ॑भिष्टि॒पासि॒ जना॑न्‌।
tvá na indra tvā́bhirūtī́ tvāyató abhiṣṭipā́si jánān

Removing all sandhis:
tvám naindra tvā́bhi ūtī́ tvāyatá abhiṣṭipā́ asi jánān

Griffith translates this part:
Indra, thou art our own with thy protection, a guardian near to men who love thee truly...”

Geldner translates this:
Du bist, Indra, mit deinen Hilfen ein überlegener Schützer für uns Leute, die dir ergeben sind. ”
= “Thou art, Indra, with thy helps, a superior protector for us people, that are devoted to thee

The problem for me is the part in red:
1. tvā́bhi= Fem. Instr. Plu. (स्त्री ३या ब‌हु) of the rare possessive pronoun tvá- = thy. As far as I can tell, this the only occurrence of this word in the RV.
2. ūtī́ = Instr. Sing. (३या एक) of the feminine (स्त्री) word, ūtí- = help, protection, etc.

The question is:
Why is there a plural adjective (tvā́bhi) qualifying a singular noun (ūtī́)?


Monier-Williams and Boehtlingk's dictionary entries for abhiṣṭipā́, a compound that occurs only once in the RV and seems to have an irregular masc. nom. sing. (पुं १मा एक) without the visarga (-), inform us that Grassmann suggested an emendation by shifting the udātta accent two syllables to the left:

त्वं न॑ इन्द्र॒ त्वाभि॑रू॒ती त्वा॑य॒तो अ॒भिष्टि॑ पासि॒ जना॑न्‌।
tvá na indra tvā́bhirūtī́ tvāyató abhíṣṭi pāsi jánān

This replaces the rare compound with irregular inflexion by perfectly common words. This produces one more fem. instr. sing. abhíṣṭī̆ = with superiority/assistance – semantically connectable to the “tvā́bhi”, but still it cannot explain the plural of the “tvā́bhi”. It explains, at most, a dual. So, my question in the opening post still stands.
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  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    I did a quick search in the RV, and it seems that, at least, in the instrumental case ūtī́ is indeed typically used with a plural adjective. Pretty mysterious. ;)