An introduction to Panini’s Grammar

An introduction to Panini’s Grammar

Session taken by Sri B. Neelesh on Oct 24th, 2015 during the two days shibhiram

The study of Panini’s grammar पाणिनीय व्याकरणम् comprises of 5 books. The first 4 are written by Panini. They are:

  1. अष्टाध्यायी
  2. धातुपाठ:
  3. गणपाठ:
  4. लिङ्गानुशासनम्
  5. उणादिपाठ:

अष्टाध्यायी is also referred to as सूत्रपाठ:. It comprises of sutras. सूत्राणि सन्ति | पाणिनि: wrote this Ashtaadyaayi. शाकटायन:, गार्ग्य:, शाकल्य:, आपिशलि: are among the 10 grammarians who have been referred in Ashtaadyaayi itself indicating there were many grammarians even before Panini. Still Ashtaadyaayi is considered as the primary text of grammar. There were earlier works like निरुक्त: which focused on वैदिक or Vedic words. But Panini defined the basic rules for both Vedic and लौकिक day to day transactional words. It has 8 adhyaayaas or chapters. There are चत्वार पादा: four sections in each chapter. Thus the sutras are referred by the number of the chapter, number of the pada and the sutra number, for example 2.2.28 refers to the 28th sutra in the second section of the second chapter. There are around 4000 sutras (The exact count varies considerably). The first sutra 1.1.1 is वृद्धिरादैच् | The last sutra 8.4.68 अ अ | There are 8*4 = 32 sections. The sections have varying number of sutras. The longest one has 220 sutras.

The sutras are like short formulae. What is not present in Ashtaadyaayi? किं नास्ति ? The dhaatus are not present. There is just a definition भूवादयो धातव: | But the list of roots are not present. सूत्राणां अर्थ:, प्रयोजनम्, उदाहरणानि च नास्ति |

वररुचि: wrote addendums to the sutras. Those are referred as वार्तिका: | Vararuchi provides more details where he feels that the sutra is wrong or incomplete or unclear. The vartikaas are again very crisp like the sutras. पतञ्जलि wrote the महाभाष्यम् |

Let’s take an example. The rule for Natvam or the transformation of न to ण requires the presence of the consonant ष् or र्. Thus we have the other Na in पुष्पेण and हरिणा. But Natvam also happens in the presence of the vowel ऋ as seen in the case of कृपेण. The Panini’s sutra covers only ष् or र्. So here वररुचि: provides the additional clarification about ऋ as ऋवर्णात् नस्य णत्वं वाच्यम् |

Patanjali provides a very detailed explanation for each sutra in his Mahabhasya. It is in the form of question and answers. There are 85 chapters called आन्हिकम् | The entire work is so huge that it would take many years to study it. Where Vararuchi might have found some mistake in the sutra, Patanjali provides a valid reasoning to substantiate Panini’s stand in most of the cases. In the other cases, he agrees with Vararuchi.

These three grammarians are referred to as Munitrayam. When there are contradictory statements among these writers, the work of the latter writer gains validity over the earlier writer. यथोत्तरं मुनीनां प्रामाण्यम् |

धातुपाठ: comprises of all the roots which are around 2000 in number. There are 10 गण or classification for the roots.

गणपाठ: comprises of various lists of words. For example, the sutra 1.1.27 सर्वादीनि सर्वनामानि (सर्व + आदीनि) means sarva and others in that list are pronouns. Another example 1.4.58 प्रादय: (प्र + आदय:) means pra and others in that list are prefixes. But the actual list is not provided there. Such lists are available in the Ganapaata.

There is a gana called नन्द्यादिगण: | This gana is referred in the sutra – नन्दी-ग्रहि-पचादिभ्यो ल्युणिन्यच: (ल्यु+णिनि+अच) | By this sutra, we have Nandanah which gets the suffix of अन by the ल्यु suffix since the root नन्द् is in the list. Similarly लु becomes लवन: | Also the शोषणम् in उच्छोषणम् (उत् + शोषणम्) in B.G. chapter 2 is based on this sutra.

There are two types of lists. One which is a fixed list where all the entities are included and no additional inclusions are allowed like the list of 22 prefixes or upasargas. The other is आकृतिगण: – Aakruti means skeleton. In such categories, more entries can be included by scholars. It is open-ended with scope for inclusions by grammarians like Bhattoji Deekshita.

लिङ्गानुशासनम् provides the gender. Note that this is different from the Dictionary – अमरकोष: which is also called नामलिङ्गानुशासनम् |

उणादिपाठ: is not complied by Panini. It existed during his times. There is a sutra. 3.3.1 उणादयो बहुलम् | बहुलम् means numerous or various. Regarding the derivation of all the words in Sanskrit, there are two lines of thought. One says that all the words including nouns can be derived from the roots. सर्वे शब्दा: धातुजा: | The other school of thought does not agree that all words can be derived from the roots. For those words which cannot be derived from the roots based on the Panini sutras, there are some sutras present in this Unaadhipaata for their derivation from the root. For example, during the derivation of the word वायु:, it is got from udaanipaata that वा will be followed by उ by the sutra कृवापाजिमिस्वदिसाध्यशूभ्य उण् | By the Panini sutra आतो युक् चिण्कृतोः 7.3.33 the उ following वा is changed to यु thus making it वायु: |

Take the sutra – भूवादयो धातव: | It says that भू, वा, etc. are roots. If वा was not mentioned, भू might have been taken to indicate only the first gana that starts with भू. There is a special reason to take वा instead of any other dhatu to indicate that all ganas are included. वा is a avyayam. And it is also a verbal root वा गन्धने having the form वाति in latlakaar. Here the point is that वा is taken to be a root only when it is used to indicate the verb. Also note that there are other words that indicate action like हिरुक् which are not considered as roots. Thus the roots include only the action words and the nouns are not considered as roots. In the case of भू also, there is भू सत्तायाम् and भू indicating the earth. Only when it is used in the sense of the verb like भवति it is considered as a root.

So what is a word in Sanskrit? Sentence वाक्यम् comprises of words or पदम् | Padam can be Subantam or Tinaantam सुबन्त: / तिङन्त:

When the vibhakti pratyayas indicated by सुप्, i.e., starting from prathama vibhakti eka vachanam सु, till the saptami vibhakti bahu vachanam सुप्, are added to the मूलशब्द: or प्रातिपदिकम्, it becomes a सुबन्त: |

सुप् प्रत्यय

विभक्ति                कारक                एकवचनः   द्विवचनः           बहुवचनः

प्रथमा                    कर्ता                   सु                  औ                         जस्

द्वितीया               कर्म                    अम्              औट्                      शस्

तृतिया                   करण                  टा                  भ्याम्                   भिस्

चतुर्थी                    सम्प्रदान्           ङे                   भ्याम्                   भ्यस्

पञ्चमी                  अपादान्            ङसि              भ्याम्                   भ्यस्

षष्ठी                      सम्बन्ध            ङस्               ओस्                     आम्

सप्तमी                  अधिकरण        ङि                 ओस्                     सुप्

राम + सु प्रत्यय: = राम:

राम + औ = रामौ ; राम + औट् = रामौ ;

Why is it mentioned as औट् ? There is a sutra सुडनपुँसकस्य which refers to the Pratyaahaarah सुट् spanning across the first 5 pratyayas starting from सु to औट्.

The definition of प्रातिपदिकम् is अर्थवद् अधातु: अप्रत्यय: प्रातिपदिकम् | Pratipadikam or stems of nouns should have a meaning, it should not be a root, it should not be a suffix. In the following sutra itself, more options are getting included for Pratipadikam. कृत्-तद्धित-समासाश्च. This means अर्थवद् अधातु: कृत्-तद्धित-समासाश्च प्रत्यय: are प्रातिपदिकम् | To the root, certain pratyayaas like Krut are added to get another root. रम् + घञ् प्रत्यय indicating the sense of feeling भाव: = Ramah = the feeling of joy.

There are 124 Krut pratyayas. Over 300 taddhita pratyayas and 4 main samaasas namely द्वन्द्व:, तत्पुरुष:, अव्ययीभाव:, बहुव्रीहि: |

Praatipadikam + sup pratyaya = subandam padam.

Praatipadikam + taddhita pratyaya = another praatipadikam only.

Thus Krudanta and Taddhita are all Praatipadikam. Sup pratyaya is added to them to get a padam.


विनता + ढक् (अपत्यार्थे) = वैनतेय कुरु + अण् = कौरव:

मद्र (madra desha) + अ (to indicate the king) =  मद्र (king of madra)

Daughter of the king of madra = मद्र + इ = माद्री

Son of the daughter of the king of madra = माद्री + अण् = माद्रेय

His = shashti vibhakti = माद्रेय + ङस् = माद्रेय:

Thus to get a proper noun form, ultimately the sup pratyayas are added.

(continued…. )



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