[Advaita-l] Brief speech in Sanskrit

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Jun 22 15:59:57 CDT 2007

On Wed, 20 Jun 2007, Ajit Krishnan wrote:

> Perhaps I misunderstand.

I think you do, please read on.

> Of vedic samskritam and puranic samskritam, which one is wrong?

Well the language of the Vedas should not be strictly referred to as 
Sanskrit at all as it is a pre-systematic stage.  Vyakarana includes 
sutras to explain Vedic usages (framed as exceptions to the general rules 
which is obviously unhistoric.)  but they are not exhaustive and in 
several places, the sutrakara makes a distinction between chhandas and 
bhasha.  Puranic Samskrit is just Samskrit i.e. it follows Paninian rules. 
The commentators on the puranas take care to explain usages based on 
Panini and like in other genres which contain examples of apabramsha 
("corrupt" words--a telling description isn't it?) they bend over 
backwards to try and provide a Paninian explanation.

> Of the
> Maheshwara, Saraswata and Aindra systems of samskritam, which ones are
> wrong?

Yes there were several attempts at constructing a systematic language even 
prior to Panini but it is his system that put all the others in the shade. 
It is his sutras, the amendations (vartikas) by Katyayana and comments on 
both by Patanjali (the Mahabhashya) are the authoritative sources.  After 
them there still were competitive grammars but they restricted themselves 
to the parameters defined by Panini and only sought to improve upon him 
not replace him.

> What was the need for the supplementary unadi etc sutras?

Just because one intends to construct a perfect language doesn't mean it 
will necessarily happen the first time.  Hence Katyayana, hence 
Shakatayana and so on.  But that process finished very early on.

The only major upheaval in the Paninian system came with the 16th century 
Siddhanta Kaumudi by Bhattoji Dikshit a Marathi living in Kashi.  He 
rearranged the order of the sutras and more radically, changed the 
interpretation of a few of them (For which, tellingly, hecame under heavy 
criticism.)  But here's the thing; by this time, Marathi and Hindi were 
both living literary languages.  Did this consideration play any part in 
the Kaumudikars' reforms?  Not at all.  He knew as well as Panini that he 
was dealing with a constructed language and external considerations were 
simply not relevant.

> Kalidasa stick to the letter of the grammatical letter of the law when
> it comes to the lakArA-s...particularly with the multiple futures and
> pasts? Why are there no newly coined words which retain their suffixes
> in samasas (vanecaraH etc)?

Take the example of William Shakespeare and James Joyce.  Shakespeare 
wrote haphazardly sometimes spelling a word in different ways in the same 
works or altogether inventing new words.  This is because Modern English 
barely existed in a systematic form in his day.  When Joyce is mangling 
words it is with deliberate intent and full knowledge of standardized 
English not because he is unsure of the spelling.  Kalidasa is like Joyce. 
He is deliberately twisting language to provide an artistic effect and 
indeed that artistic effect can only occur if the writer and the audience 
are aware of the rules that are being broken.

> Samskritam was codified by the grammarians, that much is clear. The
> grammar reflects the diversity in speech, that much is also clear.

Reflecting diversity of speech was not the goal. Patanjali mentions 
different regional dialects but only in passing.

Take the example of a computer language like c++.  Because it contains 
words like "if", "while", "break" etc. we can agree that it is based on 
English.  But then does it follow that C++ is not a constructed language? 
When extending C++, is reflecting the diversity of English a consideration 
in the minds of the extenders?

> The problem with divinifying everything is that no-one makes an
> attempt. Such is the case with Samskritam. So also with mahApuruShas
> who are said to be avatAra-s. "They were avatAra-s so it was possible
> for them. It is not possible for me. Therefore I should not aspire,
> neither should I try". This line of reasoning is much too common.

Ok this is a tangent and I'm not quite sure I understand its relationship 
to the other topics we've discussed.  Please explain.  I don't think 
whether a language is constructed or not has any bearing on its level of 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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