9th in a series of
Sanskrit lessons

Sravastyam, “at Sravasti”

--By Sramanera Heng Hsien

      In the Smaller Sutra of the Land of Ultimate Bliss, we now come to the fifth of the six Sutra Establishments, that of place. The city Sravasti is the place where Sakyamuni Buddha spoke this Sutra. From previous lessons you know that the ending on Sravastyam means “in” or “at”. The i of Sravasti changes to y before the vowel of –am, giving the form Sravastyam. So far there have been three different endings which mean "in" or "at":

-smin, as in ekasmin, "at one";
-e, as in samaye, "at time";
-am, as in Sravastyam, "at Sravasti".

The endings differ with the type of word: eka is a pronoun, samaya is a noun ending in -a, and Sravasti is a noun ending in -i.

      The word preceding Sravastyam in the text is the Buddha’s title, Bhagavan, “Honored One”. Because Sravastyam follows it immediately, the final , n of Bhagavan is ‘colored’ by the s of Sravastyam, which follows it, and thus is pronounced slightly differently. Written Sanskrit reflects this subtle sound change, marking the Sanskrit reflects this subtle sound change, marking the final , n as n: is nsr, the combination of the shortened forms of , n, , s, and   r. The , that means that no vowel follows is not used in the 'cluster' because it is understood that the consonants combine because it is understood that the consonants combine with no vowels in between. In the same way , is sty, , s, plus , t, plus ,y.1

      India was once divided into dependent countries, and Sravasti was the capital of the country Kosala. Situated on the bank of the River Aciravati, the city was the meeting place of three major trade routes, and an important commercial and religious center. People said it had everything. The Buddha spent a lot of time in Sravasti, including 25 summer retreats, and spoke hundreds of Sutras there, among them the Sukhavativyuha we now read.


1 The entire Sanskrit alphabet appeared in issue #23 of Vajra Bodhi Sea.

2 The Pali expression, sabbam atthi is the equivalent of Pali expression
  is used to explain the name of the city in Pali, Savatthi. Some say that
  the sage Savattha lived there, and that the city which grew up around
  his religious center took its name from him.

3 Answers to last issue's quiz: Tathagata, Arhat, Samyaksambuddha.
  (correct to )  Issue #27 quiz answer should read maya Buddhah