[Advaita-l] Vedic grammar

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Aug 9 13:10:44 CDT 2004

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On Mon, 9 Aug 2004 sanskrit_beginner at unlimitedmail.org wrote:

>  Also in this respect, in my attempts to understand some vedic
> statements purely on a sanskrit basis, I am told that vedas are
> not bound by sanskrit rules of grammar, but are bound only by
> rules of chandas (sound?). Is this true?

speech is speech.  Even if it is not totally systemized it still follows
rules.  For example some English speakers use constructions like "ain't"
which are not grammatical but one can still understand what they mean.

Chandas are poetic meters.  As many of the Vedic mantras are metrical,
"chhandas" became a synonym
>  Also, the modern school of thought is that sanskrit as a
> formalized and codified grammatically correct language came
> into existence much after the vedas (chronologically speaking).

The science of vyakarana (grammar) arose in India precisely to safeguard
the meaning of the Vedas. (One of six vedangas,  chhanda shastra is
another.)  Panini, Katyayana, and Patanjali, took the Vedic and laukika
(everyday) language and made it "purified" or "perfected" (Samskrta) as
opposed to the "natural" (Prakrit) languages that became the ancestors of
our modern north Indian languages.

> This would then presuppose that the vedas are gramatically
> incorrect if one were to purely look at the words and sentences
> themselves.

Yes, in places.  But most of it is pretty much the same as Sanskrit.

> If that is the case, then one needs to be very very
> careful in interpreting the statements, for the meaning would
> be missed otherwise. How do scholars deal with this?

Paninis' sutras do note Vedic variations in many cases.  There were also
other grammatical works dealing exclusively with issues of Vedic language.
Still sometimes differences of interpretation have caused problems.  But
it is amazing to note that for a corpus of texts so ancient, how little
disagreement there is over its' meaning.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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