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Maharishi Panini Father of Sanskrit Grammar

Quick info

Birth– Around 520 BC, Shaltula (near Attock), now Pakistan

Died– around 460 BC, India


      Panini was a Sanskrit grammarian who gave a comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics, phonology, and morphology.

 Maharishi Panini Father of Sanskrit Grammar


Panini was born in Shaltula, a town near Attock on the Indus River in present-day Pakistan. The dates given for Panini are pure guesses. Experts give dates from the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries BCE and there is no consensus even among historians about the extent of the work attributed to him. There is no doubt that the period in which he worked was one of the most innovative in the entire development of knowledge. Historians will have more to say below about attempting to date the time of Panini.

Biography and works

Panini was born in a village named Shalathur. This village was a few miles away from the confluence where the Kabul river joins the Indus. Now it is called Lahur. According to his birthplace, Panini has also been called Shalaturia. And he himself has mentioned this name in Ashtadhyayi. The Chinese traveler Yuvanchwan (7th century) visited Shalathur village while coming from the northwest. Panini’s teacher’s name was Upavarsha, his father’s name was Panin and his mother’s name was Dakshi. When Panini grew up, he made a deep study of grammar.

Before Panini, there had been many masters of vocabulary. After reading their texts and seeing their mutual differences, Panini thought he should systematize grammar. Firstly, from the expansion of Vedic Samhitas, Shakhas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, etc. before Panini, he took vocabulary for himself which he has used in Ashtadhyayi. He collected and minutely studied the material of the second Nirukta and grammar which was already there. The proof of this is also in the Ashtadhyayi, as it is known from the mention of the views of Acharyas like Shaktayana, Shakalya, Bharadvaja, Gargya, Senak, Apishali, Galab, and Sphotayana.

Panini was a Sanskrit grammarian who gave a comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics, phonology, and morphology. Sanskrit was the classical literary language of the Indian Hindus and Panini is considered the founder of the language and literature. It is interesting to note that the word “Sanskrit” means “absolute” or “absolute” and was considered the divine language of the gods.

The book named Ashtadhyayi (or Ashtak) is the main work of Panini. It has eight chapters, each divided into quarter chapters. In this work, Panini makes a distinction between the language of sacred texts and the ordinary language of communication. Pāṇini gives formal production rules and definitions to describe Sanskrit grammar. Starting with about 1700 basic elements such as nouns, verbs, vowels, and consonants, he put them into classes. The construction of sentences, compound nouns, etc. is explained in terms of ordered rules acting on underlying structures in a manner similar to modern theory. In many ways, Panini’s works are similar to the way a mathematical function is defined today. 

Joseph writes…

[Sanskrit’s] capacity for scientific use was greatly increased as a result of Panini’s thorough systematization of its grammar. … on the basis of only 4000 sutras [rules expressed in the form of sutras], he built virtually the entire structure of the Sanskrit language, the general ‘shape’ of which hardly changed for the next two thousand years. … An indirect result of Pāṇini’s efforts to increase the linguistic convenience of Sanskrit soon became apparent in the character of the scientific and mathematical literature. This can be brought out by comparing the grammar of Sanskrit with the geometry of Euclid – a particularly apt comparison since while mathematics grew out of philosophy in ancient Greece, it was … partly the result of linguistic development in India.

Joseph makes a convincing argument for the algebraic nature of Indian mathematics arising as a result of the structure of the Sanskrit language. In particular, he suggests that algebraic reasoning, the Indian way of representing numbers by words, and eventually the development of modern number systems in India, are linked through the structure of language.

Panini told the derivation of thousands of words which are in the fourth and fifth chapters of Ashtadhyagi. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, soldiers, merchants, farmers, dyers, carpenters, cooks, cobblers, cowherds, cowherds, shepherds, weavers, potters, etc. Panini collected the words of their particular profession after meeting hundreds of professionals.

Panini told that in which word suffix appears. Suffixes were made from the vowels and consonants of the alphabet. For example, annual from rain, here the root word is rain, a suffix was attached to it, and it became annual, that is, related to rain.

The episode of Tadvits in Ashtadhyayi is interesting. Somewhere one is surprised at the subtle scrutiny of Panini, as in the Bangar land on the northern bank of the Vyas river, the names of the permanent perennial wells that were built were pronounced in a different tone, and in the Khadar land on the southern bank of the same, every year The names of the crude wells that were dug had a slightly different sound. Panini has said this in the formula “Udak Cha Bipasha”. Panini has filled the life stories of cows and bulls in his sources.

While studying economic life, Panini also examined the coins that used to run in the markets. Such as “Shatman”, “Karshapan”, “Suvarna”, “Andha”, “Pada”, “Mashak” “Trinshatak” (a coin weighing thirty months or sixty Ratti), “Vinshatik” (a coin weighing twenty months). Some people also used to sell goods by barter. He was called “Niman”.

There was a lot of expansion of education and literature during Panini’s time. He had studied the Sanskrit language very deeply. He was fully conversant with both Vedic and cosmic languages. Panini composed his grammar from his material but kept the importance of secular Sanskrit in it. He has called colloquial Sanskrit the language. He did not only the writing but also the teaching work. (In the examples of grammar the name of his subject is quoted by Kots). Panini’s educational relation, it is possible, has been with the University of Takshashila. It is said that when he had collected his material, he retired for some time and composed the Ashtadhyayi.

Panini should be considered a precursor to the modern formal language theory used to specify computer languages. Backus Normal Form was discovered independently by John Backus in 1959, but Panini’s notation is equal in power to Backus’ and has many of the same properties. It is remarkable to think that concepts that are fundamental to today’s theoretical computer science must have originated with an Indian genius some 2500 years ago.

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that some concepts were attributed to Panini by some historians, which others dispute. One such theory was put forward by B. Indraji in 1876. He claimed that Brahmi numerals evolved from using alphabets or syllables as numerals. He then finalized the theory by suggesting that Pāṇini in the eighth century BCE (placed by most historians before Pāṇini) was the first to come up with the idea of using letters of the alphabet to represent numbers.

There is much evidence to support Indraji’s theory that Brahmi numerals evolved from letters or syllables. However, this is not entirely convincing because, to cite one example, the symbols 1, 2, and 3 clearly do not come from letters, but from lines one, two, and three respectively. Even if one accepts the link between numbers and letters, one has only to realize that Panini was one of the most innovative geniuses the world has known, so it is not unreasonable to attribute the idea to Panini. Is. It is believed that he would have taken this step as well.

There are other works that are closely associated with the Ashtadhyayi, which some historians attribute to Pāṇini, others to authors before Pāṇini, and others to writers after Pāṇini. This is an area where there are many theories but few if any hard facts.

We also promised to return to the discussion of Panini’s dates. There has been no shortage of work on the subject, so the fact that the theory has lasted for several hundreds of years is not a result of a lack of effort, but rather an indication of the difficulty of the subject. The usual way to date such texts would be to check which authors are referred to and which authors refer to the work. One can use this technique and see who Pāṇini refers to.

Panini mentions ten scholars and we must assume from this context that these ten have contributed to the study of Sanskrit grammar. This in itself, of course, indicates that Panini was not a lone genius but, like Newton, “stood on the shoulders of giants”. Panini may have lived after these ten, but this is of no help in providing dates with certainty as we have no idea exactly when any of these ten lived.

What other internal evidence is there to use? Certainly, Panini has used many phrases to clarify his grammar, carefully examining to see whether they contained anything to indicate the date. To give an example of what we mean: If we choose a text that contains “I take the train to work every day” as an example, we will find that it must have been written after the railways were back to normal. Let us illustrate with two real examples of the Ashtadhyayi which has been the subject of many studies. The first is an attempt to see whether there is evidence of Greek influence. Would it be possible to find evidence that would mean the text was written after the conquests of Alexander the Great? There is little evidence of Greek influence, but this northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent was under Greek influence before the time of Alexander. Nothing conclusive has been identified.

Time period

Their timing is uncertain and disputed. It is certain that they must have existed in the period after the 6th century BC and before the 4th century BC. It is believed that he was born in Shalatula in Punjab (Pakistan) which is close to modern Peshawar (Pakistan). His lifetime is believed to be 520-460 BC.

To measure the lifetime of Panini, the support of the quotation of the Yavana word is taken. Its meaning is applied to the woman of Greece or the script of Greece. There was no direct information about the Yavanas (Greeks) in Gandhara before Alexander’s invasion. Alexander came to India around 330 BC. But it may happen that Panini will have knowledge of Yavanas through Persian sex and Panini can also be in the period of Dara I (reign – 521-485 BC). According to Plutarch, when Alexander came to India, there were already some Greek settlements there.

Another angle is to examine Panini’s reference to nuns. Some argue that these must have been Buddhist nuns and therefore the work must have been written after the Buddha. There is a good argument but there is a counter-argument that says that there were Jain nuns before the time of the Buddha and that Panini’s reference to them could be equally good. The evidence is again inconclusive.


1- Ashtadhyayi (Sutrapath) – It has 8 chapters and totals of about 4000 sutras.

2- DhatuPaath – It is divided into 10 Ganas and has about 2000 metals.

3- Ganapaath
– The text of the recited ganas

4- Unadisutra — There is a lot of message in their being watered.

5-Linganushasan – gender determination issue

Katyayan wrote Vartikas on Panini’s sutras. Patanjali wrote his own commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi called Mahabhashya (Maha+bhashya (review, commentary, discussion, criticism)).

Other works

Panini is also known for two literary works, though they are no longer available.

     Jambavati Vijay is an unattainable composition today which has been mentioned by a person named Rajasekhara in Jahlan’s Sukti Muktavali. A part of this is also found in Ramayukta’s commentary on Namlinganushasan.

There are references to other people about Panini. However, it appears that the Panini most commonly referred to is a poet and although some argue that they are one and the same person, most historians agree that the linguist and the poet are two different people. Again this is inconclusive evidence.

      Panini’s grammar has been evaluated from different points of view. After all these different evaluations, I think grammar deserves to be asserted … that it is one of the greatest monuments of human intelligence.

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