In the trail of "A Literary Study of the Campu-Ramayana" by Dr Karuna Srivastava, published last year, the "Paninian Interpretation of the Sanskrit Language" by Dr N. C. Nath is being presented as the second publication under the BHU Sanskrit Series.
The present endeavour has a speciality of its own. It is an honest attempt towards the fulfilment of an academic desideratum pronounced as early as 1879 by W. D. Whitney in his Sanskrit Grammar "The time must soon come, or it has come already, when the endeavour shall be instead to explain the grammar from the language : to test in all details, so far as shall be found possible, the reason of Panini's rules (which contain not a little that seems problematical, or even sometimes perverse) ; to determine what and how much genuine usage be had everywhere as foundation, and what traces maybe left in the literature of usages possessing an inherently authorized character, though unratified by him".
Success in this direction is left to the judgement of the scholarly world.
The author himself has borne the brunt of seeing the publication through the Press. The quality of printing is an eloquent testimony to the best co-operation available from the B.H.U. Press.
Any inaccuracies may kindly be brought to the notice of the editor to the benefit of the Series itself.
The omissions and commissions in the Paninian system of grammar have been the subject-matter of the present volume.
After obtaining the Ph.D. degree of the Banaras Hindu University on comparative linguistics in April 1964, I had applied for a Senior Research Fellowship of the U.G.C., being encouraged for higher research by Dr S. Bhattacharya, M.A., Ph.D. (London), D.Litt,. (Lille), Bar-at-law etc., the Head of the Department of Sanskrit and Pali, Banaras Hindu University. The application was sponsored by the Banaras Hindu University with due recommendations from Dr S. Bhattacharya.
Thereafter I was contacting other agencies also seeking opportunities for further research. Suddenly I was invited by the Vishweshwarananda Vedic Research Institute, Hoshiarpur (Punjab). In mid-July 1964 I rushed to Hoshiarpur and there came to know from Acharya Vishwabandhu Shastri, M.A., D.Litt., the Hony. Director of the Institute, that I had been awarded a Senior Research Fellowship of U.G.C.
Upon this, I retraced my steps to Varanasi, and joined the Banaras Hindu University on 24th July 1964 as a D.Litt. researcher. Though under the B.H.U. rules D.Litt. research requires no guidance, yet U.G.C. Fellow- ship rules require it, and guidance from a master-mind is always to one's benefit. Dr Bhattacharya, Head of the Deptt. of Sanskrit & Pali, very kindly undertook to guide me in my work. Since then I have worked under his sage guidance to the last.
My work has been on Paninian Interpretation of the Sanskrit Language, because I saw Panini's rules had been obeyed without question throughout the past centuries but had never been tested on the touch-stone of literature and linguistics. I thought I could render more service to the cause of Sanskrit language by testing those time-honoured aphorisms than by undertaking a literary estimate of some poetical work.
The work was completed by July 1967. Now, the Banaras Hindu University rules require that a D.Litt. thesis must be submitted in printed form. I had not the money; nor could I find out an agency for help. At this juncture Dr. Bhattacharya again came forward as the silver lining. He accepted my thesis for publication from the Research Publication Scheme in Sanskrit, whereof he is the Director. But for this very kind act of his, the thesis would have hardly seen the light of day.
The thesis was submitted to the Banaras Hindu University Press for printing in March 1968 and by February 1969 the printing was complete.
I acknowledge my deep debt of gratitude to my Supervisor Guru Dr S. Bhattacharya for the constant inspiration and guidance that I have received from him in course of this work. But for his precious counsel at every step, his sustained efforts for the overall success of the work, and his watchful eyes, the work could hardly have taken its present shape. Even the proof-sheets have received his final corrections.
My thanks are due also to Dr K. C. Jain, and Dr K. P. Singh, both of the Department of Sanskrit & Pali, for rendering valuable help, at the initial stage, in proof-reading and negotiation with the Press; Shri S. P. Bhattacharya, B.Com., Office Assistant of the Department, who, on many occasions, helped me in receiving and despatching the proof-sheets in the shortest time; the painstaking workers of the B.H.U. Press for careful and neat printing; and lastly many other scholars and friends who may have directly or indirectly encouraged me in this work.
1. The Work
In the introduction to his Sanskrit Grammar William Dwight Whitney makes the following observation: "The time must soon come, or it has come already, when the endeavour shall be to explain the grammar from the language, to test in all details, so far as shall be found possible, the reason of Panini's rules, which contain not a little that seems problematical, or even sometimes perverse,' to determine what and how much genuine usage he had everywhere as foundation, and what traces may be left in the literature of usages possessing an inherently authorised character, though unratified by him."
But neither Whitney nor any other scholar has elaborated what these problematical' and 'perverse' elements in Panini are. The need existed, therefore, for a full-scale treatment of the 'problematical' and 'perverse' portions of Panini, and the present work is a modest venture in that direction with the help, among other things, of comparative philology, which was unknown in the days of Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali.
2. The Data
Panini has spoken of two branches of the Sanskrit language-chandas and bhasa-whereof he has written the grammar. By chandas, is usually understood the language of the Veda, and by bhasa, the post- Vedic Sanskrit, although more properly they should mean poetry and prose respectively. For, chandas cannot denote the entire Veda consisting of poetry and prose, and bhasa cannot denote the metrical portion of post-Vedic literature, because nobody speaks in poetry. Therefore it is doubtful what panini really meant by those terms (chandas and bhasa).
Now, the question is whether the Epic or Puranic language has been included in these chandas and bhasa. If it is included, it is expected to conform to Paninian rules. But this is not the case. The Puranic language very often violates Panini's rules. This shows that the type of language represented in the Epics and Puranas has not received due consideration in Panini. But Sanskrit is not the language of Veda and kavya alone. The great Epics and the extensive Purana literature cannot be thrown away as unworthy of the name 'Sanskrit'.
It has been the custom to look upon the un-Paninian Puranic uses as arsa-prayoga, which is a milder term for 'mistakes'. This is hardly justifiable. It cannot be admitted that the Purana texts are replete with grammatical mistakes, that their authors were ignorant of grammar. Rather it is the Puranic language which has the most natural flow and the most appealing tone.
The Puranic language, as also the Puranas themselves, has not received due appreciation as yet, and it is customary to look upon the meticulously Paninian, studied kavyas and dramas of the classical period as the best specimen of Sanskrit composition. But judged properly, kavya Sanskrit, barring a few pieces, is the backwater of Sanskrit composition. Sanskrit shines in its original, beautiful form in the Epics, Puranas, Smrtis and other technical writings. The poetry of the ancient penancegroves is much more elegant, appealing, impressive, expressive, and pervasive than that of the medieval court poets. The ornate, Panini-abiding poetry is much inferior to the simple, natural, racy Puranic poetry in spite of its apparently aberrant forms, as an 'udyana-lata is to a vana-lata. By the side of Vyasa and Valmiki and many other unnamed, forgotten Puranic poets, the later kavya poets glow dim with all their avowed verbal skill. Few people read the kavyas except for an examination purpose. But the readers and listeners of the Gita, Candi, Bhagavata etc. are available everywhere and throughout life. Passages from these works are memorised and reproduced frequently. On occasions, selected portions of these texts are read out. In this way, the language of the Puranas has been associated with the life of the Indian people. The kavya language has little place in life outside the class-room.
It is therefore improper to call the Puranic language incorrect and the Kavya language alone correct. The Puranic language is the language of the people, lively and practical. It also has its grammar, but that does not bind one like the octopus, or take away one's freedom of speech as a military regime.
About the two types of language M. Monier Williams writes as follows: "We have two distinct phases of literature, the one simple and natural, that is to say, composed independently of grammatical rules, though of course amenable to them; the other elaborate, artificial, and professedly written to exemplify the theory of grammar.
The literary compositions which preceded the appearance of Panini's aphorisms belong of course to the first of these phases. Such are the Vedas, the code of Manu, and the two epic poems... The simplicity of the style in the code of Manu and the two epic poems is a plain indication that a grammar founded on, and intended to be a guide to, the literature, as it then existed, would have differed from the Panini sutras as a straight road from a labyrinth."
This simple, natural, Purana language with all its so-called peculiarities is the truest form of the Sanskrit language, and in it is couched the major portion of the Sanskrit literature. The peculiarities are, therefore, no peculiarities at all. These are to be accepted as time-honoured usage. If the Paninian system did not note these usages, that is not the fault of the Puranas.
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