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Upasarga is a term used in Sanskrit grammar for a special class of twenty prepositional particles prefixed to verbs or to action nouns. In Vedic, these prepositions are separable from verbs; in classical Sanskrit the prefixing is obligatory.

The twenty prefixes are recognized in Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī at 1.4.58-59, and are enumerated in the gaṇapāṭha (#154):

  • pra- "forth"
  • parā- "away"
  • apa- "away"
  • sam- "with"
  • ata- "before"
  • antara- between
  • anu- "after"
  • ava- "off, down"
  • niḥ- "away"
  • duḥ- "bad, difficult, hard"
  • vi- "apart, asunder"
  • ā- "near"
  • ni- "down"
  • adhi- "over"
  • api- "proximate"
  • ati- "beyond"
  • su- "good, excellent"
  • ut- "up(wards)"
  • abhi- "to, towards"
  • prati- "against"
  • pari- "round, around"
  • upa- "towards, near"

By the usual rules of euphonic combination the two prepositions ending in visarga, niḥ and duḥ, have the alternative forms nis-/nir- and dus-/dur- respectively. The gaṇapāṭha listing has these variants, not the forms in pausa, and thus has twenty-two items in all.

A versified form of this list may be found in modern primers or textbooks:

upāṅiti viṃsatir eṣa sakhe upasargavidhiḥ kathitaḥ kavinā

  • Monier-Williams, M., A Sanskrit English Dictionary, (reprint) New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass 2005
  • Katre, Sumitra M., Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pānini, New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass 1989
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