[Advaita-l] Theory of Language: Mimamsa, Advaita and Vyakarana - 2 of 3

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Dec 22 01:25:13 CST 2015

On Fri, 11 Dec 2015, Praveen R. Bhat via Advaita-l wrote:

> However, it is curious as to why Patanjali uses the word
> pada instead of shabda in the context.

pada and shabda are often used interchangably but in vyakarana pada is a 
technical term.  There is a sUtra supti~NantaM padam "pada is sup and 
ti~Na"  What is sup? Another sUtra says 
"sup is su, au, jas, am, auT, shas, TA, bhyAm, bhis, ~Ne, bhyAm, bhyas, 
~Nasi, bhyAm, bhyas, ~Nas, os, Am, ~Ni, os, sup"  And what does all that 
mean?  These are algebraic symbols for the parts of a noun.  Further 
sUtras act on these in order to make actual nouns.  Similarly 
ti~Na is the base form of a verb.  In other words a pada is not a shabda 
but a template for producing shabdas.

I like to make fun of the kind of Hindu who breathlessly talks about how 
"NASA has declared Sanskrit the best language for computers" etc. but 
Paninis system is a tremendous intellectual achievement and anyone who has 
a background in mathematics or computer science will find it fascinating. 
I know I did.  I credit reading Ballantynes English translation of the 
Laghusiddhantakaumudi as a student at Columbia University for cementing my 
decision to become an astika.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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