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778. In connection with certain particles

In connection with certain particles, the present has rather more definitely the value of a past tense. Thus:

a. With purā́ formerly: thus, saptarṣī́n u ha sma vāí purá rkṣā íty ā́cakṣate (ÇB.) the seven sages, namely, are of old called the bearstanmātram api cen mahyaṁ na dadāti purā bhavān (MBh.) if you have never before given me even an atom.

b. With the asseverative particle sma: thus, çrámeṇa ha sma vāí tád devā́ jayanti yád eṣāṁ jáyyam ā́sá rṣayaç ca (ÇB.) in truth, both gods and sages were wont to win by penance what was to be won; āviṣṭaḥ kalinā dyūte jīyate sma nalas tadā (MBh.) then Nala, being possessed by Kali, was beaten in play.

c. No example of this last construction is found in either RV. or AV., or elsewhere in the metrical parts of the Veda. In the Brāhmaṇas, only habitual action is expressed by it. At all periods of the language, the use of sma with a verb as pure asseverative particle, with no effect on the tense-meaning, is very common; and the examples later are hardly to be distinguished from the present of lively narration — of which the whole construction is doubtless a form.