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Sanskrit Grammar (Including Both, the Classical Language and the Older Dialects of Veda and Brahmana))

Sanskrit Grammar (Including Both, the Classical Language and the Older Dialects of Veda and Brahmana))
Item Code: IDD395
Author: William Dwight Whitney
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788120806214
Pages: 576
Cover: PaperBack
Other Details: 8.5" X 5.6"

About the Book:

The Sanskrit Grammar is on a somewhat different plan from those already in use. It presents the facts of the language primarily as they show themselves in use in literature, and only secondarily as they are laid down by the native grammarians. It also includes in the presentation the forms and constructions of the order language as exhibited in the Vedas, the Brahmanas, the Epics and the Puranas.

The author has cast all statements, classifications, etc., into a form consistent with the teachings of linguistic science. Care has been taken to facilitate the transition from the old to the new. It has been sought to help an appreciation of the character of the language by putting its facts as far as possible into a statistical form.

With the practical needs of the students of the language in mind different sizes of type have been used to make the work very useful to the reader whose object is to acquire a knowledge of the Classical Sanskrit. A historical treatment of the facts of the language has also been made.


It was in June, 1875, as I chanced to be for a day or two in Leipzig, that I was unexpectedly invited to prepare the Sanskrit grammar for the Indo-European series projected by Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel. After some consideration, and consultation with friends, I accepted the task, and have since devoted to it what time could be spared from regular duties, after the satisfaction of engagements earlier formed. If the delay seems a long one, it was nevertheless unavoidable; and I would gladly, in the interest of the work itself, have made it still longer. In every such case, it is necessary to make a. compromise between measurably satisfying a present pressing need, and doing the subject fuller justice at the cost of more time; and it seemed as if the call for a Sanskrit grammar on a somewhat different plan from those already in use - excellent as some of these in many respects are - was urgent enough to recommend a speedy completion of the work begun.

The objects had especially in view in the preparation of this grammar have been the following:

1. To make a presentation of the facts of the language primarily as they show themselves in use in the literature, and only secondarily as they are laid down by the native grammarians. The earliest European grammars were by the necessity of the case chiefly founded on their native predecessors ; and a traditional method was thus established which has been perhaps somewhat too closely adhered to, at the expense of clearness and of proportion as well as of scientific truth. Accordingly, my attention has not been directed toward a profounder study of the grammatical science of the Hindu schools: their teachings I have been contented to take as already reported to Western learners in the existing Western grammars.

2. To include also in the presentation the forms and constructions of the older language, as exhibited in the Veda and the Brahmana Grassmann's excellent Index-Vocabulary to the Rig-Veda, and my own manuscript one to the Atharva- Veda (which I hope loon to be able to make public), gave me in full detail the great mass of Vedic material; and this, with some assistance from pupils and friends, I have sought to complete, as far as the circumstances permitted, from the other Vedic texts and from the various works of the Brahmana period, both printed and manuscript.

3. To treat the language throughout as an accented one, omitting nothing of what is known respecting the nature of the Sanskrit accent, its changes in combination and inflection, and the tone of individual words - being, in all this, necessarily dependent especially upon the material presented by the older accentuated texts.

4. To cast all statements, classification, and so on into a form consistent with the teachings of linguistic science. In doing this, it has been necessary to discard a few of the long-used and familiar divisions and terms of Sanskrit grammar - for example, the classification and nomenclature of special tenses" and "general tenses" (which is so indefensible that one can only wonder at its having maintained itself so long), the order and terminology of the conjugation-classes, the separation in treatment of the facts of internal and external euphonic combination, and the like. But care has been taken to facilitate the transition from the old to the new; and the changes, it is believed, will commend themselves to unqualified acceptance. It has been sought also to help an appreciation of the character of the language by putting its facts as far as possible into a statistical form. In this respect the native grammar is especially deficient and misleading.

Regard has been constantly had to the practical needs of the learner of the language, and it has been attempted, by due arrangement and by the use of different sizes of type, to make the work as usable by one whose object it is to acquire a knowledge of the classical Sanskrit alone as those are in which the earlier forms are not included. The custom of transliterating all Sanskrit words into European characters, which has become usual in European Sanskrit grammars, is, as a matter of course, retained throughout; and, because of the difficulty of setting even a small Sanskrit type with anything but a large European, it is practiced alone in the smaller sizes.

While the treatment of the facts of the language has thus been made a historical one, within the limits of the language itself, I have not ventured to make it comparative, by bringing in the analogous forms and processes of other related languages. To do this, in addition to all that was attempted beside, would have extended the work, both in content and in time of preparation, far beyond the limits assigned to it. And, having decided to leave out this element, I have done so consistently throughout. Explanations of the origin of forms have also been avoided, for the same reason and for others, which hardly call for statement.

A grammar is necessarily in great part founded on its predecessors, and it would he in vain to attempt an acknowledgment in detail of all the aid received from other scholars. I have had at hand always especially the very scholarly and reliable brief summary of Kielhorn, the full and excellent work of Monier Williams, the smaller grammar of Bopp (a wonder of learning and method for the time when it was prepared), and the volumes of Benfey and Muller. As regards the material of the language, no other aid, of course, has been at all comparable with the great Peters-burg lexicon of Bohtlingk and Roth, the existence of which gives by itself a new character to all investigations of the Sanskrit language. What I have not found there or in the special collections made by myself or by others for me, I have called below "not quotable" - a provisional designation, necessarily liable to correction in detail by the results of further researches. For what concerns the verb, its forms and their classification and uses, I have had, as everyone must have, by far the most aid from Delbruck, in his A It- i n d i s c h e s Verbum and his various syntactical contributions. Former pupils of my own, Professors Avery and Edgren, have also helped me, in connection with this subject and with others, in a way and measure that calls for public acknowledgment. In respect to the important matter of the declension in the earliest language, I have made great use of the elaborate paper in the Journ. Am. Or. Soc. (printing contemporaneously with this work, and used by me almost, but not quite, to the end of the subject, by my former pupil Prof. Lanman; my treatment of it is founded on his. My manifold obligations to my own teacher, Prof. Weber of Berlin, also require to be mentioned: among other things, I owe to him the use of his copies of certain un- published texts of the Brahmans period, not otherwise accessible to me; and he was kind enough to look through with me my work in its inchoate condition, favoring me with valuable suggestions. For this last favor I have likewise to thank Prof. Delbruck - who, moreover, has taken the trouble to glance over for a like purpose the greater part of the proof-sheets of the grammar, as they came from the press. To Dr. L. von Schroder is due whatever use I have been able to make (unfortunately a very imperfect one) of the important Maitrayani-Sanhita.

Of the deficiencies of my work I am, I think, not less fully aware than any critic of it, even the severest, is likely to be. Should it be found to answer its intended purpose well enough to come to another edition, my endeavor will be to improve and complete it; and I shall be grateful for any corrections or suggestions which may aid me in making it a more efficient help to the study of the Sanskrit language and literature.


It seems desirable to give here such a sketch of the history of Indian literature as shall show the relation to one another of the different periods and forms of the language treated in the following grammar, and the position of the works there quoted.

The name “Sanskrit" (samskrta, 1087 d, adorned, elaborated, perfected), which is popularly applied to the whole ancient and sacred language of India, belongs more properly only to that dialect which, regulated and established by the labors of the native grammarians, has led for the last two thousand years or more an artificial life, like that of the Latin during most of the same period in Europe, as the written and spoken means of communication of the learned and priestly caste; and which even at the present day fills that office. It is thus distinguished, on the one hand, from the later and derived dialects - as the Prakrit, forms of language which have datable monuments from as early as the third century before Christ, and which are represented by inscriptions and coins, by the speech of the uneducated characters in the Sanskrit dramas (see below), and by a limited literature; the Pali, a Prakritic dialect which became the sacred language of Buddhism in Farther India, and is still III service there as such; and yet later and more altered tongues forming the transition to the languages of modern India. And, on the other hand, it is distinguished, but very much less sharply and widely, from the older dialects or forms of speech presented in the canonical literature, the Veda and Brahmana.

This fact, of the fixation by learned treatment of an authorized mode of expression, which should thenceforth be used according to rule in the intercourse of the educated, is the cardinal one in Indian linguistic history; and as the native grammatical literature has determined the form of the language, so it has also to a large extent determined the grammatical treatment of the language by European scholars.

Much in the history of the learned movement is still obscure, and opinions are at variance even as to points of prime consequence. Only the concluding works in the development of the grammatical science have been preserved to us; and though they are evidently the perfected fruits of a long series of learned labors, the records of the latter are lost beyond recovery. The time and the place of the creation of Sanskrit are unknown; and as to its occasion, we have only our inferences and conjectures to rely upon. It seems, however, altogether likely that the grammatical sense of the ancient Hindus was awakened in great measure by their study of the traditional sacred texts, and by their comparison of its different language with that of contemporary use. It is certain that the grammatical study of those texts (cakhas, lit'ly branches), phonetic and other, was zealously and effectively followed in the Brahmanic schools; this is attested by our possession of a number of phonetico-grammatical treatises, praticakhyas (prati cakham belonging to each several text), each having for subject one principal Vedic text, and noting all its peculiarities of form ; these, both by the depth and exactness of their own researches and by the number of authorities which they quote, speak plainly of a lively scientific activity continued during a long time. What part, on the other hand, the notice of differences between the correct speech of the learned and the altered dialects of the vulgar may have borne in the same movement is not easy to determine; but it is not customary that a language has its proper usages fixed by rule until the danger is distinctly felt of its undergoing corruption.

The labors of the general school of Sanskrit grammar reached a climax in the grammarian Panini, whose text-book, containing the facts of the language cast into the highly artful and difficult form of about four thousand algebraic- formula-like rules (in the statement and arrangement of which brevity alone is had in- view, at the cost of distinctness and un ambiguousness), became for all after time the authoritative, almost sacred, norm of correct speech. Respecting his period, nothing really definite and trustworthy is known; but he is with much probability held to have lived some time (two to four centuries) before the Christian era. He has had commentators in abundance, and has under- gone at their hands some measure of amendment and completion; but he has not been overthrown or superseded. The chief and most authoritative commentary on his work is that called the Mahabhashya great comment, by Patanjali.

A language, even if not a vernacular one, which is in tolerably wide and constant use for writing and speaking, is, of course, kept in life principally by direct tradition, by communication from teacher to scholar and the study and imitation of existing texts, and not by the learning of grammatical rules; yet the existence of grammatical authority, and especially of a single one, deemed infallible and of prescriptive value, could not fail to exert a strong regulative influence', leading to the avoidance more and more of what was, even if lingering in use, inconsistent with his teachings, and also, in the constant reproduction of texts, to the gradual effacement of whatever they might contain that was unapproved. Thus the whole more modern literature of India has been Paninized, so to speak, pressed into the mould prepared by him and his school. What are the limits of the artificiality of this process is not yet known.



    Vowels; Consonants; Quality; Accent.


    Introductory, Principles, Rules of Vowel Combination, Permitted Finals, Deaspiration, Surd and Sonant Assimilation, Combinations of Final s and r, Conversion of s to s, Conversion of n to n, Conversion of Dental Mutes to Linguals and Palatals, Combinations of Final n, Combinations of Final m, the Palatal Mutes and Sibilant, and h, the Lingual Sibilant, Extension and Abbreviation, Strengthening and Weakening Processes, Guna and Vrddhi, Vowel-lengthening, Vowel-lightening, Nasal Increment, Reduplication,


    Gender, Number, Case, Uses of the Cases, Endings of declension, Variation of Stem, Accent in Declension.


    Classification etc., Declension I., Stems in a, Declension II., Stems in I and u, Declension III., Stems in Long Vowels (a, i, u): A. Root-words etc., Stems in Diphthongs, B. Derivative Stems etc., Declension IV., Stems in r or ar, Declension V., Stems in Consonants, A. Root Stems etc., B. Derivative Stems in as, is, us, C. Derivative Stems in an, D. in in, E. in ant or at, F. Perfect Participles in vans, G. Comparatives in yans or yas, Comparison.


    Cardinals, Ordianals etc.,


    Personal; Demonstrative; Interrogative; Relative; other Pronouns: Emphatic, Indefinite; Nouns used pronominally; Pronominal Derivatives, Possessives etc.; Adjectives declined pronominally


    Voice, Tense, Mode, Number, Person; Verbal Adjectives and Nouns; Secondary Conjugations; Personal Endings; Subjunctive Mode; Optative; Imperative; Uses of the Modes; Participles; Augment; Reduplication; Accent of the Verb;


    General; Conjugations and Conjugation Classes; Root-Class (Second or ad-class); Reduplicating Class (third or hu-class); Nasal Class (seventh or rudh-class); nu and u-Classes (fifth and eighth, or su- and tan-classes); na-Class (ninth or kri-class); a-Class (first or bhu-class); Accented a-Class (Sixth or tud-Class); ya-Class (fourth or div-class); Accented ya-Class or Passive Conjunction; So-called tenth or cur-class; Uses of the Present and Imperfect.


    Perfect Tense; Perfect Participle; Modes of the Perfect; Pluperfect; Uses of the Perfect.


    Classification, I. Simple Aorist: 1. Root-Aorist; Passive Aorist 3d sing., 2. the a-Aorist; II. 3. Reduplicated Aorist; III. Sibilant Aorist ; 4. the s-Aorist; 5. the is-Aorist; 6. the sis-Aorist; 7. the sa-Aorist; Precative; Uses of the Aorist.


    I. The s-Future; Preterit of the s-Future, conditional; II. The Periphrastic Future; Uses of the Futures and Conditional.


    Passive Participle in ta or na; Past Active Participle in tavant; Future Passive Participles, Gerundives, Infinitives; uses of the Infinitives; Gerunds; Adverbial Gerund in am.


    1. Passive; II.intensive; Present-System; Perfect, Aorist, Future etc., III. Desiderative; Present-System; Perfect, Aorist, Future, etc.; IV. Causative; Present-System; Perfect, Aorist, Future, etc., V. Denominative.


    The Periphrastic Perfect; Participial Periphrastic Phrases; Composition with Prepositional Prefixes, Other Verbal Compounds.


    Adverbs; Prepositions; Conjunctions; Interjections.


    A. Primary Derivatives; B. Secondary Derivatives.


    Classification; I. Copulative Compounds; II. Determinative compounds; A. Dependent Compounds; B. Descriptive Compounds; III. Secondary Adjective Compounds; A. Possessive Compounds; B. Compound with Governed final Member; Adjective Compounds as Nouns and as Adverbs; Anomalous Compounds; Stem- finals altered in Composition; Loose Construction with Compounds.


    A. Examples of various Sanskrit Type; B. Example of Accentuated Text; Synopsis of the conjugation of roots bhu and kr.



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