[Advaita-l] 'The battle for Sanskrit' - Rajiv Malhotra

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Mon Jan 25 11:35:25 CST 2016

Namaste Ryanji,

Your mail was quite interesting and I am happy to see your perspective on
Sanskrit. My response is inline below.

On Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 5:14 PM, Ryan Armstrong via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> In any case, I have continued the study and have written exams through
> Cambridge University.  The next exam I can write is the "A-level" (AS was
> completed last year.)

Best wishes for your future exams.

> But I am approaching this in the reverse manner which than that which Shri
> Rajiv Malhotra states - I no longer wish to study under the "modern"
> system. I say modern, not Western since it is my opinion that even that
> great work सिद्धान्तकौमुदी is a step backwards from the अष्टाध्याय़ी of
> पाणिनि.

Well, this has been debated like many approaches in every system of
learning and remains debatable to date. What सिद्धान्तकौमुदी and therefore
लघुसिद्धान्तकौमुदी does is approach sUtras by division into topics, which
helps understanding sUtras in groups, which otherwise is a difficult task
with just Panini sUtras. However, the advantage of learning sUtras in
sequence is the advantage of अनुवृत्ति, which helps keep the sUtra
संक्षिप्त। The difference of approaches can be spotted right from opening
sUtra which for Panini is वृद्धिरादैच् while the Laghukara starts with
हलन्त्यम् इत्। The former is too technical for those who know nothing about
Paninian terminology while Laghukara eases one in. The other issue with
Laghu is that although the sutras are taught in groups of topics, any
needed sutra from anywhere is taught when needed first during a topic. Once
taught, it is never revisited. So if you pick up a sUtra to look up, it may
not at all be intuitive as to under which topic the sUtra would be. That
said, sometimes the Laghu वृत्ति and examples are useful when studying
Kashika's. So, my teacher takes a mixed approach of Paninian sequence with
each group.

On a related note, unless you are already aware, Advaita Academy has
Ashthadhyayi video classes by NCT Acharyaji in Panini sequence.

> By
> re-grouping the सूत्रानि into the categories of "noun", "verb" etc. the
> approach begins with the physical. I have not come across anything
> equivalent to the धाताव in any other language (although Jewish friends
> imply that the ancient Hebrew may have used similar seed sounds.)

Kanchi Paramacharya had told to some Jewish scholars who visited him and
who were researching on the most ancient language that their chanting in
Hebrew is Vedic chanting with regional svara and pronunciation changes
which are also mentioned in the Vedas. He asked his Vedic students to chant
some Vedic chants and then asked if they sounded familiar to the Jews. They
weren't so sure. So He made the said changes and chanted and it sounded
familiar Hebrew chant to them! Thats how the Paramacharya explained how
Hebrew is derived from Vedic language.

> The Cambridge approach is (as much of Western education is) one of "learn
> by rote."  So the राम रूपानि are learned by reciting रामः, हे राम, रामम्
> रामेन etc.

रामशब्द is one of the most difficult ones to derive by sUtras, so learning
by rote for some declensions is quite a useful approach even in the
traditional teaching. Moreover, Paninian sUtras were intended for teaching
grammar to people who already knew the language to teach what is
साधुप्रयोग, although we use it as a tool to learn the language itself!

I have often given the allegory of trying to study संस्क्रृतम् using a
> different language (in this case English) as a dam trying to comprehend the
> ocean.

Each language has this issue; the closer the languages, the lesser is the
hurdle. This can be seen especially when making an अन्वय। In Indian
languages, which are quite close to Sanskrit, with many words still in
their Sanskrit form, अन्वय is simpler to understand and translate. Since we
too use English to learn Sanskrit where I learn, this problem is seen quite
often, especially with those do not know any Indian language.

#PS: Since you have studied Sanskrit for long, I assume that the errors in
Devanagari words that you typed were typoes. Anyway, if thats not the case,
you may want to know that गायतृ is गायत्री, औम् is ओम्, ईशोपनिशद् is
ईशोपनिषद्, रूपानि is रूपाणि, रामेन is रामेण, अक्षरानि is अक्षराणि, सुत्रानि
is सूत्राणि, रामायन is रामायण। The णत्वम् of नकार is due to sUtras starting
with 8.4.1 रषाभ्यां नो णः समानपदे and षत्वम् in ईशोपनिषद् is due to 8.3.59
आदेशप्रत्यययोः [अपदान्तस्य मूर्धन्यः]।

Kind rgds,

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