[Advaita-l] shankara bhagavadpAda

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 28 10:13:01 CDT 2007

>Could one of the members proficient in samskR^itam clarify for me which
>spelling is correct:  bhagavadpAda or bhagavatpAda. I have seen both and I
>guess one must be grammatically false.
>Apologise for being so fussy, as usual.

Dear Sri Werlings,

It is a very legitimate question and I, for one, wish that more people 
attempt to understand language more clearly.

The root word is bhagavat, the termination of which undergoes changes based 
on what follows in a combination, according to standard sandhi rules. When 
it stands alone in the masculine nominative form, bhagavat gets converted to 
bhagavAn and in the feminine nominative, it becomes bhagavatI.

The hard consonant, when followed by a vowel, gets softened. e.g.

bhagavat + anugraha = bhagavad-anugraha
bhagavat + icchA = bhagavad-icchA

When followed by a nasal, the consonant gets converted to the nasal of the 
same class. e.g.

bhagavat + nAma = bhagavan-nAma

When followed by a soft consonant of the ka- and pa- classes (aspirated or 
unaspirated), the hard consonant gets softened to the unaspirated form, but 
when followed by a hard consonant (aspirated or unaspirated), it undergoes 
no change. e.g.

bhagavat + gamana = bhagavad-gamana
bhagavat + ghanaprajna = bhagavad-ghanaprajna

bhagavat + bAla = bhagavad-bAla

bhagavat + kaTAksha = bhagavat-kaTAksha
bhagavat + karuNA = bhagavat-karuNA

Accordingly, the correct form is bhagavatpAda, with no change to the 
terminal consonant in -vat. There are further rules that apply when the 
following sound is a consonant from another class or a sibilant, which I 
won't enumerate here. Similar transformations take place in other words 
ending in -vat or -mat too, e.g. bhavat and SrImat (bhavad-bAla, SrImannAma 

We must remember that sandhi is often described as the rules of euphonious 
combination. The thumb rule is to get the spoken form of the combined sound 
pleasant and easy to pronounce, and one will mostly get it right. We all do 
this without consciously thinking about it, when speaking our own languages 
after all. The only thing to remember in saMskRta is that in addition to the 
spoken sound, the written form also alters its spelling consistently.

Warm regards,

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