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I'm studying the Sanskrit mantra that starts with asato ma:

असतो मा सद् गमय 
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय

The meaning of the first two lines is "lead from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light".

Because of the 'to' particle in English, it would seem to be that the dative case should be used.

But the words सद् and ज्योतिर् are being used.

I think that after having broken down the sandhi, we are talking about सत् and ज्योतिः

Both of these are nominative. Why not dative?

Am I missing something?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

They are not nominative. Both of them are neuter nouns, which means that nominative and accusative look the same. In fact, they are in accusative case and you might want to call it "accusative of direction" or "goal of movement". Same holds true for amṛtam.

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Ha, this makes complete sense. Now I can't believe I did not consider this before. Thank you very much zwiebel. From your username I gather you are German. I currently live in Berlin. –  allesklar Aug 7 at 17:42
1  
Neuter nouns in classical IE languages do not distinguish accusative from nominative; this makes sense if you figure that neuters are almost never agents and rarely subjects, so it doesn't get in the way much. –  jlawler Aug 7 at 18:02
2  
That neuter nouns are "rarely subjects" is a great delusion. That they are "almost never agents" is also wrong. All Indo-European languages are happy with sentences like "the stone crushed the man". –  fdb Aug 7 at 18:52

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