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579. The imperative negative

The imperative negative, or prohibitive, is from the earliest period of the language regularly and usually expressed by the particle mā́ with an augmentless past form, prevailingly aorist.

a. Thus, prá pata mé ’há raṁsthāḥ (AV.) fly away, do not stay here; dviṣáṅç ca máhyaṁ radhyatu mā́ cā ’háṁ dviṣaté radham (AV.) both let my foe be subject to me, and let me not be subject to my foe; urv àçyām ábhayaṁ jyótir indra mā́ no dīrghā́ abhí naçan tamisrā́ḥ (RV.) I would win broad fearless light, O Indra; let not the long darknesses come upon us; mā́ na ā́yuḥ prá moṣīḥ (RV.) do not steal away our life; samāçvasihi mā çucaḥ (MBh.) be comforted; do not grieve; mā bhāiṣīḥ or bhāiḥ (MBh. R.) do not be afraid; mā bhūt kālasya paryayaḥ (R.) let not a change of time take place. Examples with the imperfect are:mā́ bibher ná mariṣyasi (RV.) do not fear; thou wilt not die; mā́ smāi ’tā́nt sákhīn kuruthāḥ (AV.) do not make friends of them; mā putram anutapyathāḥ(MBh.) do not sorrow for thy son. The relation of the imperfect to the aorist construction, in point of frequency, is in RV. about as one to five, in AV. still less, or about one to six; and though instances of the imperfect are quotable from all the older texts, they are exceptional and infrequent; while in the epics and later they become extremely rare.

b. A single optative, bhujema, is used prohibitively with mā́ in RV.; the older language presents no other example, and the construction is very rare also later. In an example or two, also, the precative (bhūyāt, R. Pañc.) follows .

c. The RV. has once apparently mā́ with an imperative; but the passage is probably corrupt. No other such case is met with in the older language (unless sṛpa. TA. i. 14; doubtless a bad reading for sṛpas); but in the epics and later the construction begins to appear, and becomes an ordinary form of prohibition: thus, mā prayacche ”çvare dhanam (H.) do not bestow wealth on a lord; sakhi māi ’vaṁ vada (Vet.) friend, do not speak thus.

d. The ÇB. (xi. 5. 1 1) appears to offer a single example of a true subjunctive with mā, ní padyāsāi; there is perhaps something wrong about the reading.

e. In the epics and later, an aorist form not deprived of augment is occasionally met with after : thus, mā tvāṁ kālo ‘tyagāt (MBh.) let not the time pass thee; mā vālipatham anv agāḥ (R.) do not follow Vāli's road. But the same anomaly occurs also two or three times in the older language: thus, vyàpaptat (ÇB.), agās (TA.),anaçat (KS.).