A grammatical problem that has defeated Sanskrit scholars since the 5th Century BC has finally been solved by Rishi Rajpopat, an Indian PhD student at the University of Cambridge.

 

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, even though 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, and was probably associated with the great university at Taksasila, which also produced Kautilya and Charaka, the ancient Indian masters of statecraft and medicine respectively.
  • ‘Ashtadhyayi’, or ‘Eight Chapters’, an ancient text written by the scholar Panini towards the end of the 4th century BC.
  • It is a linguistics text that set the standard for how Sanskrit was meant to be written and spoken.
  • It delves deep into the language’s phonetics, syntax and grammar, and also offers a ‘language machine’, where one can feed in the root and suffix of any Sanskrit word, and get grammatically correct words and sentences in return.
  • Panini’s grammar, which built on the work of many earlier grammarians, effectively stabilised the Sanskrit language.
  • The Ashtadhyayi laid down more than 4,000 grammatical rules.
  • Later Indian grammars such as the Mahabhasya of Patanjali (2nd century BC) and the Kasika Vritti of Jayaditya and Vamana (7th century AD), were mostly commentaries on Panini.