Sanskrit quote nr. 35 (Maha-subhashita-samgraha)

Sanskrit text:

अकल्पः स्वाङ्गचेष्टायां शकुन्त इव पञ्जरे ।
अनुच्छ्वसन्स्मरन् पूर्वं गर्भे किं नाम विन्दते ॥

akalpaḥ svāṅgaceṣṭāyāṃ śakunta iva pañjare |
anucchvasansmaran pūrvaṃ garbhe kiṃ nāma vindate ||


Meter name: Śloka; Type: pathyā (‘normal’); 8 syllables per quarter (pāda).

Primary English translation:

“What does one get when in the womb (of one’s mother), unable to breathe, remembering previous experiences, and unable to move about—like a bird in cage?.”

(translation by A. A. Ramanathan)


  1. Introduction
  2. Glossary of terms
  3. Analysis of Sanskrit grammar
  4. Sources
  5. Authorship
  6. About the Mahāsubhāṣitasaṃgraha

Presented above is a Sanskrit aphorism, also known as a subhāṣita, which is at the very least, a literary piece of art. This page provides critical research material such as an anlaysis on the poetic meter used, an English translation, a glossary explaining technical terms, and a list of resources including print editions and digital links.

Glossary of Sanskrit terms

Note: Consider this as an approximate extraction of glossary words based on an experimental segmentation of the Sanskrit verse. Some could be superfluous while some might not be mentioned.

Akalpa (अकल्प): defined in 2 categories.
Svanga (svāṅga, स्वाङ्ग): defined in 2 categories.
Ceshta (cesta, ceṣṭā, चेष्टा): defined in 4 categories.
Shakunta (sakunta, śakunta, शकुन्त): defined in 4 categories.
Panjara (pañjara, पञ्जर): defined in 5 categories.
Nud (नुद्): defined in 1 categories.
Purva (pūrva, पूर्व): defined in 5 categories.
Garbha (गर्भ): defined in 9 categories.
Kim (किम्): defined in 3 categories.
Naman (nāman, नामन्): defined in 3 categories.

Defined according to the following glossaries/dictionaries: Sanskrit, Marathi, Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar), Purana, Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy), Hinduism, Pali, Itihasa (narrative history), Vastushastra (architecture), Shilpashastra (iconography), Jainism, Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism), Buddhism, Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy), Nirukta (Sanskrit etymology)

Analysis of Sanskrit grammar

Note: this is an experimental feature and only shows the first possible analysis of the Sanskrit verse. If the system was successful in segmenting the sentence, you will see of which words it is made up of, generally consisting of Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Participles and Indeclinables. Click on the link to show all possible derivations of the word.

  • Line 1: “akalpaḥ svāṅgaceṣṭāyāṃ śakunta iva pañjare”
  • akalpaḥ -
  • akalpa (noun, masculine); (1 der.)
    akalpaḥ (nominative single)
  • svāṅga -
  • svāṅga (noun, masculine); (2 der.)
    svāṅga (vocative single)
    svāṅga (noun, neuter); (2 der.)
    svāṅga (vocative single)
  • ceṣṭāyām -
  • ceṣṭā (noun, feminine); (1 der.)
    ceṣṭāyām (locative single)
  • śakunta* -
  • śakunta (noun, masculine); (1 der.)
    śakuntaḥ (nominative single)
  • iva -
  • iva (indeclinable adverb); (1 der.)
    (indeclinable adverb)
    iva (indeclinable); (1 der.)
  • pañjare -
  • pañjara (noun, masculine); (1 der.)
    pañjare (locative single)
    pañjara (noun, neuter); (4 der.)
    pañjare (nominative dual)
    pañjare (vocative dual)
    pañjare (accusative dual)
    pañjare (locative single)
  • Line 2: “anucchvasansmaran pūrvaṃ garbhe kiṃ nāma vindate”
  • a -
  • a (noun, masculine); (2 der.)
    a (vocative single)
  • nucch -
  • nud (noun, masculine); (4 der.)
    nut (compound)
    nut (adverb)
    nut (nominative single)
    nut (vocative single)
    nud (noun, neuter); (5 der.)
    nut (compound)
    nut (adverb)
    nut (nominative single)
    nut (vocative single)
    nut (accusative single)
  • śvasan -
  • śvas -> śvasat (participle, masculine); (2 der.)
    śvasan (nominative single), from √śvas (class 2 verb)
    śvasan (vocative single), from √śvas (class 2 verb)
  • smaran -
  • smṛ -> smarat (participle, masculine); (2 der.)
    smaran (nominative single), from √smṛ (class 1 verb)
    smaran (vocative single), from √smṛ (class 1 verb)
  • pūrvam -
  • pūrvam (indeclinable); (1 der.)
    pūrva (noun, masculine); (2 der.)
    pūrvam (adverb)
    pūrvam (accusative single)
    pūrva (noun, neuter); (2 der.)
    pūrvam (nominative single)
    pūrvam (accusative single)
  • garbhe -
  • garbha (noun, masculine); (1 der.)
    garbhe (locative single)
  • kim -
  • kim (indeclinable interrogative); (1 der.)
    (indeclinable interrogative)
    kim (indeclinable); (1 der.)
    kim (pronoun, neuter); (2 der.)
    kim (nominative single)
    kim (accusative single)
  • nāma -
  • nāman (noun, neuter); (5 der.)
    nāma (compound)
    nāma (adverb)
    nāma (nominative single)
    nāma (vocative single)
    nāma (accusative single)
  • vindate -
  • vid -> vindat (participle, masculine); (1 der.)
    vindate (dative single), from √vid (class 6 verb)
    vid -> vindat (participle, neuter); (1 der.)
    vindate (dative single), from √vid (class 6 verb)
    vid -> vindat (participle, masculine); (1 der.)
    vindate (dative single), from √vid (class 7 verb)
    vid -> vindat (participle, neuter); (1 der.)
    vindate (dative single), from √vid (class 7 verb)
    vid (verb class 6); (1 der.)
    vindate (present middle third single)
    vid (verb class 7); (1 der.)
    vindate (present middle third plural)


This quote is contained within the following Sanskrit literary sources:

Subhāṣitaratnākara 113.4: Literally “Ocean of polite phrases”. A collection of Sanskrit subhāṣitas (epigrammatic sayings). The book was compiled by Kṛṣṇaśāstrin Bhātavadekara.
More info

Subhāṣitaratnabhāṇḍāgāra 372.141: Literally, “Gems of Sanskrit poetry”. This work is a recent compilation of more than 10,000 Subhāṣitas, or ‘sanskrit aphorisms’. The book was compiled by Nārāyaṇa Rāma Ācārya in 1952.
More info

Indische Sprüchen 7614: Collection of Sanskrit subhāṣitas (proverbial verses) with German translation. The book was written by Otto Böhtlingk in 1870.
More info

Subhāṣitasudhāratnabhāṇḍāgāra 269.27: Literally, “Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry”. A compendium of amusing, sarcastic and instructive verses. The book was compiled by Śivadatta Kaviratna in 1985.
More info


Kṛṣṇaśāstrin Bhātavadekara is the compiler of the Subhāṣitaratnākara, into which he included this quote.

Nārāyaṇa Rāma Ācārya (1900 A.D.) is the compiler of the Subhāṣitaratnabhāṇḍāgāra, into which he included this quote.

Otto Böhtlingk (1815) is the author of the Indische Sprüchen.

Śivadatta Kaviratna is the compiler of the Subhāṣitasudhāratnabhāṇḍāgāra, into which he included this quote.

About the Mahāsubhāṣitasaṃgraha

This quote is included within the Mahāsubhāṣitasaṃgraha (महासुभाषितसंग्रह, maha-subhashita-samgraha / subhasita-sangraha), which is a compendium of Sanskrit aphorisms (subhāṣita), collected from various sources. Subhāṣita is a genre of Sanskrit literature, exposing the vast and rich cultural heritage of ancient India.

It has serial number 35 and can be found on page 7. (read on

Sanskrit is the oldest living language and bears testimony to the intellectual past of ancient India. Three major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) share this language, which is used for many of their holy books. Besides religious manuscripts, much of India’s ancient culture has been preserved in Sanskrit, covering topics such as Architecture, Music, Botany, Surgery, Ethics, Philosophy, Dance and much more.

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