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 mā.
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 mā: 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.).
580. But the use also of the optative with ná not in a prohibitive sense appears in the Veda, and becomes later a familiar construction: thus, ná riṣyema kadā́ caná (RV.) may we suffer no harm at any time; ná cā ’tisṛjén ná juhuyāt (AV.) and if he do not grant permission, let him not sacrifice; tád u táthā ná kuryāt (ÇB.) but he must not do that so; na divā çayīta (ÇGS.) let him not sleep by day; na tvāṁ vidyur janāḥ (MBh.) let not people know thee. This in the later language is the correlative of the prescriptive optative, and both are extremely common; so that in a text of prescriptive character the optative forms may come to outnumber the indicative and imperative together (as is the case, for example, in Manu).
581. In all dependent constructions, it is still harder even in the oldest language to establish a definite distinction between subjunctive and optative; a method of use of either is scarcely to be found to which the other does not furnish a practical equivalent —