Panini’s ‘Ashtadhyayi

  • IASbaba
  • December 21, 2022
  • 0
History and Art and Culture
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Context: Recently Cambridge scholar claims to have solved Sanskrit’s biggest puzzle—a grammar problem found in the ‘Ashtadhyayi’, an ancient text written by the scholar Panini towards the end of the 4th century BC.

About Panini, the ‘father of linguistics’:

  • Panini probably lived in the 4th century BC, the age of the conquests of Alexander and the founding of the Mauryan Empire.
  • He has also been dated to the 6th century BC, the age of The Buddha and Mahavira.
  • He likely lived in Salatura (Gandhara), which today would lie in north-west Pakistan.
  • Panini was probably associated with the great university at Taksasila, which also produced Kautilya and Charaka, the ancient Indian masters of statecraft and medicine respectively.

About Ashtadhyayi

  • ‘Ashtadhyayi’, or ‘Eight Chapters’ – Panini’s great grammar
  • It is a linguistics text that set the standard for how Sanskrit was meant to be written and spoken.
  • The Ashtadhyayi laid down more than 4,000 grammatical rules, couched in a sort of shorthand, which employs single letters or syllables for the names of the cases, moods, persons, tenses, etc. in which linguistic phenomena are classified.

Significance of Asthadhyayi:

  • By the time it was composed, Sanskrit had virtually reached its classical form — and developed little thereafter, except in its vocabulary.
  • Panini’s grammar, which built on the work of many earlier grammarians, effectively stabilized the Sanskrit language.
  • Panini’s grammar is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilization, and the most detailed and scientific grammar composed before the 19th century in any part of the world.
  • The earlier works had recognised the root as the basic element of a word, and had classified some 2,000 monosyllabic roots which, with the addition of prefixes, suffixes and inflexions, were thought to provide all the words of the language.
  • Commentaries on Panini includes Mahabhasya of Patanjali (2nd century BC) and the Kashika Vritti of Jayaditya and Vamana (7th century AD).

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) According to Kautilya’s Arthashastra, which of the following are correct?

  1. A person could be a slave as a result of a judicial punishment.
  2. If a female slave bore her master a son, she was legally free.
  3. If a son born to a female slave was fathered by her master, the son was entitled to the legal status of the master’s son.

Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


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