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180
[SCIENTIFIC AND
SANSKRIT


of which was deemed necessary for a correct interpretation of the sacred Mantras, and the proper performance of Vedic rites. Grammar. Linguistic inquiry, phonetic as well as grammatical, was indeed early resorted to both for the purpose of elucidating the meaning of the Veda and with the view of settling its textual form. The particular work which came ultimately to be looked upon as the “vedānga” representative of grammatical science, and has Pāṇini. ever since remained the standard authority on Sanskrit grammar in India, is Pāṇini's Ashṭādhyāyī,[1] so called from its “consisting of eight lectures (adhyāya),” of four pādas each. For a comprehensive grasp of linguistic facts, and a penetrating insight into the structure of the vernacular language, this work stands probably unrivalled in the literature of any nation—though few other languages, it is true, afford such facilities as the Sanskrit for a scientific analysis. Pāṇini's system of arrangement differs entirely from that usually adopted in our grammars, viz. according to the so-called parts of speech. As the work is composed in aphorisms intended to be learnt by heart, economy of memory-matter was the author's paramount consideration. His object was chiefly attained by the grouping together of all cases exhibiting the same phonetic or formative feature, no matter whether or not they belonged to the same part of speech. For this purpose he also makes use of a highly artificial and ingenious system of algebraic symbols, consisting of technical letters (anubandha), used chiefly with suffixes, and indicative of the changes which the roots or stems have to undergo in word-formation.

It is self-evident that so complicated and complete a system of linguistic analysis and nomenclature could not have sprung up all at once and in the infancy of grammatical science, but that many generations of scholars must have helped to bring it to that degree of perfection which it exhibits in Pāṇini's work. Accordingly we find Pāṇini himself making reference in various places to ten different grammarians, besides two schools, which he calls the “eastern (prāñchas)” and “northern (udañchas)” grammarians. Perhaps the most important of his predecessors was Śākaṭāyana,[2] also mentioned by Yāska—the author of the Nirukta, who is likewise supposed to have preceded Pāṇini—as the only grammarian (vaiyākaraṇa) who held with the etymologists (nairukta) that all nouns are derived from verbal roots. Unfortunately there is little hope of the recovery of his grammar, which would probably have enabled us to determine somewhat more exactly to what extent Pāṇini was indebted to the labours of his predecessors. There exists indeed a grammar in South Indian MSS., entitled Śabdānuśāsana, which is ascribed to one Śākaṭāyana;[3] but this has been proved[4] to be the production of a modern Jaina writer, which, however, seems to be partly based on the original work, and partly on Pāṇini and others. Pāṇini is also called Dākshīputra, after his mother Dākshī. As his birthplace the village Śālātura is mentioned, which was situated some few miles north-west of the Indus, in the country of the Gandliaras, whence later writers also call him Śālāturīya, the formation of which name he himself explains in his grammar. Another name sometimes applied to him is Śālanki. In the Kathā-saritsāgara, a modern collection of popular tales mentioned above, Pāṇini is said to have been the pupil of Varsha, a teacher at Pāṭaliputra, under the reign of Nanda, the father (?) of Chandragupta (315-291 B.C.). The real date of the great grammarian is, however, still a matter of uncertainty. While Goldstücker[5] attempted to put his date back to ante-Buddhist times (about the 7th century B.C.), Professor Weber held that Pāṇini's grammar cannot have been composed till some time after the invasion of Alexander the Great. This opinion is chiefly based on the occurrence in one of the Sūtras of the word yavanānī, in the sense of “the writing of the Yavanas (Ionians),” thus implying, it would seem, such an acquaintance with the Greek alphabet as it would be impossible to assume for any period prior to Alexander's Indian campaign (326 B.C.). But, as it is by no means certain[6] that this term really applies to the Greek alphabet, it is scarcely expedient to make the word the corner-stone of the argument regarding Pāṇini's age. If Patañjali's “great commentary” was written, as seems most likely, about the middle of the 2nd century B.C., it is hardly possible to assign to Pāṇini a later date than about 400 B.C. Though this grammarian registers numerous words and formations as peculiar to the Vedic hymns, his chief concern is with the ordinary speech (bhāshā) of his period and its literature; and it is noteworthy, in this respect, that the rules he lays down on some important points of syntax (as pointed out by Professors Bhandarkar and Kielhorn) are in accord with the practice of the Brāhmaṇas rather than with that of the later classical literature.

Pāṇini's Sūtras continued for ages after to form the centre of grammatical activity. But, as his own work had superseded those of his predecessors, so many of the scholars who devoted themselves to the task of perfecting his system have sunk into oblivion. The earliest of his successors whose work has come down to us Kātyāyana. (though perhaps not in a separate form) is Kātyāyana, the author of a large collection of concise critical notes, called Vārttika, intended to supplement and correct the Sūtras, or give them greater precision. The exact date of this writer is likewise unknown; but there can be little doubt that he lived at least a century after Pāṇini. During the interval a new body of literature seems to have sprung up[7]—accompanied with considerable changes of language—and the geographical knowledge of India extended over large tracts towards the south. Whether this is the same Kātyāyana to whom the Vājasaneyi-prātiśākhya (as well as the Sarvānukrama) is attributed, is still doubted by some scholars.[8] Kātyāyana being properly a family or tribal name, meaning “the descendant of Kātya,” later works usually assign a second name Vararuchi to the writers (for there are at least two) who bear it. The Kathāsaritsāgara makes the author of the Vārttikas a fellow student of Pāṇini, and afterwards the minister of King Nanda; but, though this date might have fitted Kātyāyana well enough, it is impossible to place any reliance on the statements derived from such a source. Kātyāyana was succeeded again, doubtless Patañjali. after a considerable interval, by Patañjali, the author of the (Vyākaraṇa-) Mahā-bhāshya,[9] or Great Commentary. For the great variety of information it incidentally supplies regarding the literature and manners of the period, this is, from an historical and antiquarian point of view, one of the most important works of the classical Sanskrit literature. Fortunately the author's date has been fairly settled by synchronisms implied in two passages of his work. In one of them the use of the imperfect—as the tense referring to an event, known to people generally, not witnessed by the speaker, and yet capable of being witnessed by him—is illustrated by the statement, “The Yavana besieged Sāketa,” which there is reason to believe can only refer to the Indo-Bactrian king Menander (144-c. 124 B.C.), who, according to Strabo, extended his rule as far as the Yamunā.[10] In the other passage the use of the present is illustrated by the sentence, “We are sacrificing for Pushpamitra”-this prince (178-c. 142 B.C.), the founder of the Śunga dynasty, being known to have fought against the Greeks.[10] We thus get the years 144 B.C. as the probable time when the work, or part of it, was composed. Although Patañjali probably gives not a few traditional grammatical examples mechanically repeated from his predecessors, those here mentioned are fortunately such as, from the very nature of the case, must have been made by himself. The Mahābhāshya is not a continuous commentary on Pāṇini's grammar, but deals only with those Sūtras (some 1720 out of a total of nearly 4000) on which Kātyāyana had proposed any Vārttikas, the critical discussion of which, in connexion with the respective Sūtras, and with the views of other grammarians expressed thereon, is the sole object of Patañjali's commentatorial remarks. Though doubts have been raised as to the textual condition of the work, Professor Kielhorn has clearly shown that it has probably been handed down in as good a state of preservation as any other classical Sanskrit work. Patañjali is also called Gonardīya—which name Professor Bhandarkar takes to mean “a native of Gonarda,” a place, according to the same scholar, probably identical with Goṇḍa, a town some 20 m. north-west of Oudh—and Goṇikāputra, or son of Goṇikā. Whether there is any connexion between this writer and the reputed author of the Yogaśāstra is doubtful. The Mahābhāshya has been commented upon by Kaiyaṭa, in his Bhāshyapradīpa, and the latter again b Nagojibhatta, a distinguished grammarian of the earlier part of the 18th century, in his Bhāshya-pradīpoddyota.

Of running commentaries on Pāṇini's Sūtras, the oldest extant and most important is the Kāśikā Vṛitti,[11] or “comment of Kāśī Kāśikā Vṛitti. (Benares),” the joint production of two Jaina writers of probably the first half of the 7th century, viz. Jayāditya and Vāmana, each of whom composed one half (four adhyāyas) of the work. The chief commentaries on this work are Haradatta Miśra's Padamañjarī, which also embodies the substance of the Mahābhāshya, and Jinendra-buddhi's Nyāsa.[12]

Educational requirements in course of time led to the appearance of grammars, chiefly of an elementary character, constructed


  1. Printed, with a commentary, at Calcutta; also, with notes, indexes and an instructive introduction, by O. Böhtlingk (1839-1840); and again with a German translation (1887).
  2. I.e. son of Śakaṭa, whence he is also called Śakaṭāngaja.
  3. Compare G. Bühler's paper, Orient und Occident, p. 691 seq.
  4. A. Burnell, On the Aindra School of Sanskrit Grammarians.
  5. Pāṇini, his Place in Sanskrit Literature (1861).
  6. See Lassen, Ind. Alt. i. p. 723; M. Müller, Hist. of A.S. Lit. p. 521; A. Weber, Ind. Stud. v. p. 2 seq.
  7. F. Kielhorn, Kātyāyana und Patañjali (1876). The Sangraha, a huge metrical work on grammar, by Vyāḍi, which is frequently referred to, doubtless belonged to this period.
  8. E.g. A. Weber. Goldstücker and M. Müller take the opposite view.
  9. Part of this work was first printed by Ballantyne; followed by a lithographed edition, by two Benares pandits (1871); and a photolithographic edition of the text and commentaries, published by the India Office, under Goldstücker's supervision (1874); finally, a critical edition by F. Kielhorn. For a review, of the literary and antiquarian data supplied by the work, see A. Weber, Ind. Stud. xiii. 293 seq. The author's date has been frequently discussed, most thoroughly and successfully, by R. G. Bhandarkar in several papers. See also A. Weber, Hist. of I.L. p. 223.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lassen, Ind. Alt. ii. 341, 362.
  11. Edited by Pandit Bāla Sāstrī (Benares, 1876-1878).
  12. As it is quoted by Vopadeva it cannot be later than the 12th century.