Methodology for Study of a सूत्रम् in अष्टाध्यायी

Recently Mr. Kristan Stratos posted a query at samskrita@googlegroups-dot-com. His query was –

May I have a good example from the following;  

अश्टाध्यायी सूत्र १।४।१३ – सिद्धान्तकौमुदीं  १९९

यस्मात्प्रत्ययविधिस्तदादि  प्रत्ययेऽङ्गम् ।।

That was a good opportunity for me to summarize the methodology for Study of a सूत्रम् in अष्टाध्यायी. I detailed it as follows –

I understand that for understanding any सूत्रम् one should follow a sequence –

  1. Write down the सूत्रम् as given यस्मात्प्रत्ययविधिस्तदादि प्रत्ययेऽङ्गम्
  2. Do पदच्छेद – यस्मात् प्रत्यय-विधिः तत्-आदि प्रत्यये अङ्गम् |
  3. Decipher compound words –  
    1. प्रत्ययस्य विधिः इति प्रत्ययविधिः (षष्ठी-तत्पुरुषः)
    2. तत् (एव) आदि इति तदादि (कर्मधारयः)
    3. यस्मात् प्रत्ययस्य विधिः [तत् (एव) आदि] प्रत्यये अङ्गम् |
  4. Do case-number analysis of all पद-s – यस्मात् (5/1) प्रत्ययस्य (6/1) विधिः (1/1) तत् (1/1) एव (0/0) आदि (1/1) प्रत्यये (7/1) अङ्गम् (1/1)
  5. Bring forth any such word(s) or phrase(s) from previous सूत्र (or सूत्र-s), which would be essential for proper interpretation of the given सूत्र. This step called as अनुवृत्ति may be or may not be required or applicable. For this सूत्रम् no अनुवृत्ति seems necessary.
  6. Paraphrase the सूत्रम् i.e. put it in a proper syntax i.e. write the अन्वय so that the paraphrasing brings forth the meaning. Such paraphrasing is called as वृत्ति. One may do this not necessarily in संस्कृत. Concept of वृत्ति is to bring forth the interpretation. So it can be done in any language.
    1. यस्मात् = That from which
    2. प्रत्ययस्य विधिः = the process of affixing the suffix
    3. [तत् (एव) आदि] = itself (becomes) the beginning
    4. प्रत्यये = in the (instance of) a suffix
    5. अङ्गम् = (is) the अङ्गम्
    6. In a book व्यावहारिकं पाणिनीयम् by डॉ. नरेन्द्रः published by संस्कृतकार्यालयः, श्रीअरविन्दाश्रमः, पुदुच्चेरी, the वृत्ति of this सूत्रम् is given as यस्मात् [धातोः प्रातिपदिकात् वा] प्रत्ययविधिः (प्रत्ययः विधीयते, प्रत्ययस्य प्रयोगः क्रियते) तस्मात् आरभ्य प्रत्ययपर्यन्तं (प्रत्ययं विहाय) अङ्गं कथ्यते
  7. To reinforce the interpretation, one may compile examples.
    1. Suppose we want to get प्रथमाबहुवचनम् of प्रातिपदिकम् – फल
    2. The सुप्-प्रत्यय is इ.
    3. Before affixing इ, the प्रातिपदिकम् – फल would undergo some transformation unto फलान्. That then is the अङ्गम्
      1. How फल transforms to फलान् would itself be a विधिः, a sub-process
      2. That would be explained by some other सूत्र-s.
    4. But for interpretation of this सूत्रम्, one can say, in short अङ्गम् + प्रत्ययः = पदम्
    5. Hence फलान् + इ = फलानि
  8. One may elaborate one’s own commentary. This is what has been done by वार्तिक-s in their वार्तिका-s.
    1. For example, I would dare to add my commentary that in this सूत्रम् one may do the interpretation right, even if the सूत्रम् did not have the word प्रत्यये. This word, prima facie, appeals to be superfluous.
      1. But I do acknowledge that पाणिनि would not have composed any सूत्रम् with not even a single मात्रा excessive, let alone a whole word excessive.
      2. In that case I should deliberate more to understand the significance of this word प्रत्यये. I may leave it for advanced study. For the present, let me be happy with the preliminary interpretation as above.
    2. Since this सूत्रम् sort of defines what is अङ्गम्, it can be considered as a संज्ञासूत्रम् to define the संज्ञा – अङ्गम्
    3. The summary statement अङ्गम् + प्रत्ययः = पदम् is well endorsed by the immediate next सूत्रम् – सुप्तिङन्तं पदम्

Dr. H. N. Bhat added an observation “… I understand that every case ending in a Sutra, is governed with the meta rules prescribed by Panini and used with precise meaning defining the scope of the rule. ..”. By his comment Dr. Bhat has sort of laid a preface on the topic of meta rules and the purpose of doing case-number analysis, as detailed at step (4). I understand from my friend and व्याकरणशास्त्री Dr. Nilesh Joshi that this topic involves study of परिभाषासूत्राणि. Of course this topic of meta rules परिभाषासूत्राणि is a topic by itself in the study of Sanskrit grammar and of अष्टाध्यायी.

शुभमस्तु !




What is in a word ?

It came to mind that words distinguish one language from the other. So I searched for “What is a word in English grammar ?” I got “.. It is easy to give examples of words, but much harder to give a precise definition. ..”

Since I have come to believe that Sanskrit grammar is more precise, I searched first for translation of the word “word” into Sanskrit. I get a large number of optional translations at

Those that appealed to me as notable are – शब्द, पद, निगम, निघण्टु, वाच्, उक्ति, ध्वनि, from the first page. And there are 25+ more pages ! Does that itself justify the title of this article “What is in a word ?”

Among all these, I think Sanskrit grammar acknowledges पद as the grammatical terminology for what is called as “word” in English grammar.

In my article on “Phonetics and Phonology in Sanskrit” I dwelt upon how different intonations of vowels can be meaningful.

The question now is “By being meaningful do they become words ?” I am inclined to take recourse to समर्थः पदविधिः (पा. सूत्रम् 2-1-1) where I would interpret

  1. अर्थेण सह इति समर्थः what is meaningful is समर्थ
  2. विधिः = becoming; hence पदविधिः = becoming of a पद
  3. समर्थः पदविधिः = that, which has its becoming meaningful is पद. In saying so, I am interpreting समर्थः पदविधिः as यस्य विधिः समर्थः तत्पदम्

I know that this interpretation is questionable. Many may raise their eyebrows. But this helps me to contend that all those vowel-intonations, which are meaningful, can as well be called as पद-s.

I get further justification to this contention of mine from स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् (१।१।३७)

  1. All vowel-intonations are स्वरादिनिपात-s.
    1. निपात = intonation or expression which is
    2. स्वरादि = beginning with a vowel
  2. स्वरादिनिपात-s are अव्यय-s.
  3. अव्यय-s are पद-s.
  4. All vowel-intonations are पद-s.

I do not know whether English grammar would acknowledge “Uhm” or “eh” as words.

Interestingly, all स्वरादिनिपात-s seem to have universally same meaning, independent of languages. They do not have to be listed in dictionaries. But transliterations can be different, depending upon the script.

One need not go into etymology of these vowel-intonations, to find out how they emerge and get their meanings, as they emerge.

There is no need of morphological analysis, because there is no morphology. They are अव्यय-s.

Curiously, since every सूत्रम् which has the word आदि in it is detailed further in गणपाठ-appendix of अष्टाध्यायी, the गणपाठ related to स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् reads –

स्वरादिः। स्वर्। अन्तर्। प्रातर्। अन्तोदात्ताः। पुनर्। सनुतर्। उच्चैस्। नीचैस्। शनैस्। ऋधक्। ऋते। युगपत्। आरात्। अन्तिकात्। पृथक्। आद्युदात्ताः। ह्यस्। स्वस्। दिवा। रात्रौ। सायम्। चिरम्। मनाक्। ईषत्। शश्वत्। जोषम्। तूष्णीम्। बहिस्। अधस्। अवस्। समया। निकषा। स्वयम्। मृषा। नक्तम्। नञ्। हेतौ। हे। है। इद्धा। अद्धा। सामि। अन्तोदात्ताः। वत्। बत। सनत्। सनात्। तिरस्। आद्युदात्ताः। अन्तरा। अन्तोदात्तः। अन्तरेण। मक्। ज्योक्। योक्। नक्। कम्। शम्। सना। सहसा। श्रद्धा। अलम्। स्वधा। वषट्। विना। माना। स्वस्ति। अन्यत्। अस्ति। उपांशु। क्षमा। विहायसा। दोषा। मृषा। मिथ्या। मुधा। पुरा। मिथो। मिथस्। प्रायस्। मुहुस्। प्रवाहुकम्। प्रवाहिका। आर्यहलम्। अभीक्ष्णम्। साकम्। सार्धम्। नमस्। हिरुक्। धिक्। अथ। अम्। आम्। प्रताम्। प्रशान्। प्रतान्। मा। माङ्। आकृतिगणोऽयम्। हम्। वा। ह। अह। एव। एवम्। नूनम्। शश्वत्। युगपत्। भूयस्। कूपत्। कुवित्। नेत्। चेत्। चण्। कच्चित्। यत्र। नह। हन्त। माकिः। माकिम्। नकिः। नकिम्। माङ्। नञ्। यावत्। तावत्। त्वे। द्वै। त्वै। रै। श्रौषट्। वौषट्। स्वाहा। स्वधा। वषट्। तुम्। तथाहि। खलु। किल। अथो। अथ। सुष्ठु। स्म। आदह। (उपसर्गविभक्तिस्वरप्रतिरूपकाश्च)। अवदत्तम्। अहंयुः। अस्तिक्षीरा। अ। आ। इ। ई। उ। ऊ। ए। ऐ। ओ। औ। पशु। शुकम्। यथाकथाचम्। पाट्। प्याट्। अङ्ग। है। हे। भोः। अये। द्य। विषु। एकपदे। युत्। आतः। चादिरप्याकृतिगणः। तसिलादयःप्राक्पाशपः। शस्प्रभृतयःप्राक्समासान्तेभ्यः। अम्। आम्। कृत्वोर्थाः। तसिवती। नानाञौ। एतदन्तमप्यव्ययम्।

Every item here is not स्वरादि = beginning with a vowel. Here the word स्वरादि is स्वर् + आदि i.e. starting with स्वर् and many others follow. There certainly are in the list, many beginning with a vowel.

In गणपाठ there is also the next list –

चादिः | चादयोऽसत्त्वे (१-४-५७)

च। वा। ह। अह। एव। एवम्। नूनम्। शश्वत्। युगपत्। सूपत्। कूपत्। कुवित्। नेत्। चेत्। चण्। कच्चित्। यत्र। नह। हन्त। माकिम्। नकिम्। माङ्। माङोङकारोविशेषणार्थः, माङिलुङ्इति। इहनभवति, माभवतु, मभविष्यति। नञ्। यावत्। तावत्। त्वा। त्वै। द्वै। रै। श्रौषट्। वौषट्। स्वाहा। वषट्। स्वधा। ओम्। किल। तथा। अथ। सु। स्म। अस्मि। अ। इ। उ। ऋ। ल्। उ। ए। ऐ। ओ। औ। अम्। तक्। उञ्। उकञ्। वेलायाम्। मात्रायाम्। यथा। यत्। यम्। तत्। किम्। पुरा। अद्धा। धिक्। हाहा। हे। है। प्याट्। पाट्। थाट्। अहो। उताहो। हो। तुम्। तथाहि। खलु। आम्। आहो। अथो। ननु। मन्ये। मिथ्या। असि। ब्रूहि। तु। नु। इति। इव। वत्। चन। बत। इह। शम्। कम्। अनुकम्। नहिकम्। हिकम्। सुकम्। सत्यम्। ऋतम्। श्रद्धा। इद्धा। मुधा। नोचेत्। नचेत्। नहि। जातु। कथम्। कुतः। कुत्र। अव। अनु। हाहौ। हैहा। ईहा। आहोस्वित्। छम्बट्। खम्। दिष्ट्या। पशु। वट्। सह। आनुषक्। अङ्ग। फट्। ताजक्। अये। अरे। चटु। बाट्। कुम्। खुम्। घुम्। हुम्। आईम्। शीम्। सीम्। वै।

I am surprised and curious that there are some repeats in the two lists e.g. श्रौषट्। वौषट्। स्वाहा।

Coming back to the theme “What is in a word” and continuing with specific सूत्र-s in अष्टाध्यायी which give some insight into the concept of पद-s, I have been particularly deliberating on

  1. प्रादयः (१.४.५८) prefixes and उपसर्गाः क्रियायोगे (१-४-५९) prefixes as applied to verbal roots
  2. प्रत्ययः (३।१।१) – a suffix morpheme
  3. सुप्तिङन्तं पदम् (१।४।१४) – suffixes to be affixed to
    1. nominal roots to get शब्दरूप-s
    2. verbal roots to get क्रियापद-s
  4. कृदतिङ् (३।१।९३) – suffixes to get verbal derivatives
  5. उपपदमतिङ् (२.२.१९) – a component-word obtained from a verbal root, for use in compound words

Logic for deliberating on these is because these, to my mind, are morphemes, which are defined as – “.. In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest grammatical unit in a language. In other words, it is the smallest meaningful unit of a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. ..”.

From morphological viewpoint, simple answer to the question “What is in a word ?” is, word has morphemes. Above सूत्र-s are worth deliberating upon, because they are related to morphemes – prefixes, suffixes, derivatives, component words.

This deliberation reinforces my contention that in Sanskrit there are चत्वारि वाक्पदानि.

I have linked above with  three phrases “Phonetics and Phonology in Sanskrit”, “morphological viewpoint” and “चत्वारि वाक्पदानि” my related articles. In those articles and this one, I am attempting to develop for myself, some understanding of the concept of speech वाच्, how it gets formed and expressed.  

“What is in a word” is certainly an important aspect of it. By the way, in Sanskrit-English dictionary one meaning of शब्द is “.. A word, sound, significant word ..”. The English meaning “word” is a grammatical term in English grammar. But the word शब्द is not a grammatical term in Sanskrit grammar. The most appropriate term, I contend, is पदम्. In Apte’s Sanskrit-English dictionary among various meanings of this word पदम्  there are two meanings, which are grammatical

  1. A complete or inflected word; सुप्तिडन्तं पदम् P.I. 4.14. वर्णाः पदं प्रयोगार्हानन्वितैकार्थबोधकाः S. D.9; R.8.77; Ku.4.9.
  2. A name for the base of nouns before all consonantal case-terminations except nom. singular.

I am not happy with this. I would rather put पदम् to be every such component of speech, which makes the speech meaningful. This would include the vowel-intonations also and of course, the words. Is this okay ?

शुभमस्तु !



Phonetics and Phonology in Sanskrit

When I searched on the internet for “what is the difference between phonetics and phonology”. I got, “phonetics is the production and perception of speech sounds in any language and it deals with “phone”. Phonology on the other hand is the interpretation of speech sounds in a particular language and it deals with phoneme: the smallest unit of sound.”

I would think that Devanagari script is a phonetic script. As mentioned in above definition of phonetics there is mention of “perception of sound”. Script gives visibility and in turn, such  perception of sound. If a script gives good perception of sound, it becomes a phonetic script.

I think phonetics and phonology are much easier understood from the Devanagari script and Sanskrit grammar.

I would look at the above definition of phonetics in three parts – (1) production of speech sounds (2) perception of speech sounds (3) it deals with “phone”.

In respect of (1) production of speech sounds and (3) it deals with “phone”, it is interesting to note how production of phones is detailed in Sanskrit grammar.

  1. phones produced from the throat are कण्ठ्य.
    1. among them there are vowels स्वर-s अ, आ
    2. among them there are harsh consonants कठोर व्यञ्जन-s, क् with अल्पप्राण and ख् with महाप्राण
    3. among मृदु व्यञ्जन-s soft consonants, there is ग् with अल्पप्राण and घ् with महाप्राण
    4. among this class, there is a nasal phone अनुनासिक  ङ्.
    5. among this class, there is a phone produced by some internal recirculation अन्तस्थ ह्,
  2. phones produced by tip of tongue touching the gum are तालव्य
    1. among them there are vowels स्वर-s इ, ई
    2. among harsh consonants कठोर व्यञ्जन-s, there is च् with अल्पप्राण and छ् with महाप्राण
    3. among मृदु व्यञ्जन-s soft consonants, there is ज् with अल्पप्राण and झ् with महाप्राण
    4. among this class, there is a nasal phone अनुनासिक ञ्
    5. among this class, there is a phone produced by some internal recirculation अन्तस्थ य्
    6. among this class, there is an oozing ऊष्म phone श्
  3. phones produced by tip of tongue touching teeth are दन्त्य.
    1. among them there is vowel स्वर लृ
    2. among harsh consonants कठोर व्यञ्जन-s  there is त् with अल्पप्राण and थ् with महाप्राण
    3. among मृदु व्यञ्जन-s soft consonants, there is द् with अल्पप्राण and ध् with महाप्राण
    4. among this class, there is a nasal phone अनुनासिक न्
    5. among this class, there is a phone produced by some internal recirculation अन्तस्थ ल्
    6. among this class, there is an oozing ऊष्म phone स्
  4. phones produced by tip of tongue striking the roof are मूर्धन्य
    1. among them there are vowels स्वर ऋ ॠ
    2. among harsh consonantsकठोर व्यञ्जन-s, there is ट् with अल्पप्राण and ठ् with महाप्राण
    3. among मृदु व्यञ्जन-s soft consonants, there is ड् with अल्पप्राण and ढ् with महाप्राण
    4. among this class, there is a nasal phone अनुनासिक ण्
    5. among this class, there is a phone produced by some internal recirculation अन्तस्थ र्  
    6. among this class, there is an oozing ऊष्म phone ष्
  5. phones produced from the lips are ओष्ठ्य
    1. In this class there are vowels स्वर-s उ, ऊ ओ औ
    2. In this class there are  there are harsh कठोर and soft मृदु
    3. In this class there are harsh consonants कठोर व्यञ्जन-s, प् with अल्पप्राण and फ् with महाप्राण
    4. In this class there are soft consonants मृदु व्यञ्जन-s, ब् with अल्पप्राण and भ् with महाप्राण
    5. In this class, there is a nasal phone अनुनासिक म् .
  6. Vowels ए ऐ are phones produced from the throat and gum कण्ठतालव्य  
  7. Vowels ओ औ are phones produced from throat and rounded lips कण्ठौष्ठ्य  
  8. All vowel sounds can also have a soft release mode called as विसर्जनीय, for which the colon (:) symbol is used.

In respect of (2) perception of speech sounds

  1. it is to be acknowledged that the consonant-sounds are perceptible only if they are preceded or followed by a vowel,
    1. preceded by a vowel as in अक् इण् etc.,
    2. followed by a vowel as in पु, कि, स्त्री etc.
  2. It is also acknowledged in Sanskrit grammar that all vowel sounds can be pronounced and perceived in 18 different ways. The 18 ways are defined by following five aphorisms सूत्र-s in अष्टाध्यायी of पाणिनि.
    1. मुखनासिकावचनोऽनुनासिकः (1-1-8) The pronunciations can be nasal अनुनासिक or not nasal अननुनासिक
    2. ऊकालोऽज्झ्रस्वदीर्घप्लुतः (1-2-27) The pronunciations can be short ह्रस्व long दीर्घ extended प्लुत as in the crowing of a cock कुक कू कूऽऽ
    3. उच्चैरुदात्तः (1-2-29) The pronunciations can be pitched or stressed उदात्त
    4. नीचैरनुदात्तः (1-2-30) The pronunciations can be low and soft अनुदात्त
    5. समाहारः स्वरितः (1-2-31) The pronunciations can be level स्वरित
    6. Number of variations are [nasal or not nasal (2) x short, long, extended (3) x pitched, low or level (3)] = 18.
    7. Interestingly, all these sounds can be meaningful speech, e.g.
      1. short, nasal, low अँ may mean “Did you say something ? I was not listening”
      2. long, nasal, pitched आँ when said to a baby may mean “That’s not right, baby !”
      3. short, not nasal, level ए (eh) would mean seeking attention of someone nearby
      4. long/extended, not nasal, pitched एऽऽ would mean calling someone from a distance
      5. Such meanings are universal and not specific to any language. But it is to be appreciated that they are so clearly elaborated in Sanskrit grammar.

Since perceptions of speech sounds can be meaningful as above, it means that there are interpretations inherent in them. I am hence inclined to take it that what are ‘phone’s in phonetics are phonemes in phonology.

Since phonemes are called in phonology as smallest units of sound, phoneme can be considered as equivalent of what is called as वर्ण in Sanskrit grammar. All vowels and consonants are वर्ण-s. अक्षर is what can be pronounced and may contain one or more वर्ण-s. All vowels are अक्षर-s.

There is great logic behind how the vowels and consonants are set in different aphorisms known as शिवसूत्र-s. Looking specifically at the first four सूत्र-s containing vowels – (1) अ इ उ ण् (2) ऋ लृ क् (3) ए ओ ङ् (4) ऐ औ च् it can be noticed that the diphthongs are put together very well in सूत्र-s (3) and (4). By the way, diphthong is defined as type of vowels where two vowel sounds are connected in a continuous, gliding motion. They are often referred to as gliding vowels. Most languages have a number of diphthongs, although that number varies widely, from only one or two to fifteen or more.

There is another great aspect of perception of speech sounds, which is clarified very well in Sanskrit grammar. One should deliberate on the terms conjoint consonants संयुक्ताक्षर and conjugations संहिता/संधि. In अष्टाध्यायी there are two specific सूत्र-s, which brings out clear distinction between conjoint consonants संयुक्ताक्षर and conjugations संहिता/संधि.

  1. हलोऽनन्तराः संयोगः (१।१।७) = अनन्तराः हलः संयोगः consecutively successive consonants make a conjoint consonant. For example in the word कार्त्स्न्यम् there are phonemes वर्ण-s क् आ र् त् स् न् य् अ म्. Note, the consonants र् त् स् न् य् are in consecutive succession of each other. With all of these together, we get one conjoint consonant र्त्स्न्य
  2. परः संनिकर्षः संहिता (१।४।१०९) = different or another effect or result is (due to) conjugation. For example, तान् + ते = तांस्ते This result has an inflow of an additional स्. So तांस्ते is conjugation संहिता of तान् + ते. Having given this example, it be noted that गीतान्ते is also a संहिता of गीत + अन्ते (at the end अन्ते of a song गीत) or गीतान्ते = गीता + अन्ते (at the end of the divine verse गीता). 

There is an appendix to अष्टाध्यायी known as पाणिनीया शिक्षा. This deals with phonetics and phonology in Sanskrit in great detail, taking care of even regional variations or accents in pronunciation. For example note this → यथा सौराष्ट्रिका नारी तक्रँ इत्यभिभाषते । एवं रङ्गाः प्रयोक्तव्याः खे अराँ इव खेदया ।।

Note the symbol ँ This is the symbol for nasal अनुनासिक pronunciation. It was mentioned earlier that all vowels can be pronounced in 18 different ways. Can they be written in 18 ways ? Yes ! Note these 18 ways of writing अ.

  1. Nine not nasal अननुनासिक अ would be – अ (short ह्रस्व) अऽ (long दीर्घ) अ (extended प्लुत) (These three have उदात्त stressed pronunciation) अऽ (Note, there has to be an underscore here to indicate the pronunciation to be अनुदात्त unstressed. I could not get the underscore effect in the template of ‘wordpress’) अ| अऽ|३| (Note, the vertical lines here should be small superscript vertical marks above the letter is to indicate the pronunciation to be स्वरित level. I could not get the superscript effect in the template of ‘wordpress’) Image below shows the correct writing.
  2. Nine nasal अनुनासिक अ would be – अँ अँऽ अँ अँ अँअँ अँ| अँ|ऽ अँ|३ 


Phonetic writing (1)

One finds most Vedic texts written with these स्वराङ्कन-s pronunciation markings. Often one finds ॐ written optionally as ओम् Note, here and at six places above, the mark ३ is to be superscript. I could not get that effect in this template of ‘wordpress’.

It is said that Rishis and Munis realized that correct pronunciation of मन्त्र-s would have the mystique power to empower one with ulterior (or superhuman) effects or capabilities सिद्धि-s. That may be the reason, why phonetics and phonology is dealt with in great detail in Sanskrit grammar and Vedic texts have स्वराङ्कन-s also. Sanskrit is a language of distinction, pun intended ! Does not example of the word गीतान्ते bring forth that one needs to be smart and distinctive to indulge in interpretation of Sanskrit texts ? Or, one can say that study of Sanskrit would build in one’s intellect distinctive skills of interpretation of speech sounds, of every phone / phoneme, not just interpretation, but experiencing the impact of every phone / phoneme.

शुभमस्तु !