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  About the Book: The present book is an English translation of Nitti Dolco's French work on the grammarians of the Prakrit languages. Nitti Dolci's work, though written in the early nineteenth century, has remained the only uptodate treatise on the subject. Besides providing a chronological account of several well known authors - Bharata, Purusottama, Ramasarman, Markandeya, Kramadisvara, Hemachandra, Trivikarama, Canda and others - it offers a detailed study of the ...


About the Book:

The present book is an English translation of Nitti Dolco's French work on the grammarians of the Prakrit languages.

Nitti Dolci's work, though written in the early nineteenth century, has remained the only uptodate treatise on the subject. Besides providing a chronological account of several well known authors - Bharata, Purusottama, Ramasarman, Markandeya, Kramadisvara, Hemachandra, Trivikarama, Canda and others - it offers a detailed study of the systems followed by them. Moreover, it presents an exegesis on a number of rules, of which interpretation had hitherto been difficult.

In addition to the textual criticism which forms the kernel, the book has a critical introduction, three appendixes, viz., list of abbreviations, index of names and index locarum. The translation is rendered in a lucid and intelligible style. The book will form a valuable companion to Pischel's Comparative Grammar of Prakrit language.



This book could not have come into being without the constant help and collaboration of my teacher, Mr. Jules B l o c h. I read with him elements of Sanskrit and principles of scientific research. In addition I believe to owe to him in a great measure my representation of historical facts and linguistic data about India. I can simply acknowledge this debt of which I do not have even the capacity to measure the extent.

Messrs Alfred F o u c h e r, Louis R e n o u, Helmer Smith of the University of Upsala and my friend Madame Stchoupak have helped me most ungrudgingly in my study of the subject and they have spared no pains in doing this. I alone am aware of amount of the facility that my researches have obtained from them.

Although Mr. Sylvain Levi had all through been very kind and cordial towards me, I could not dare often disturb him whose disciples had been my teachers. But chance has deprived me of the anxiously long-awaited happiness to carry the first printed copy of my book to him and to request him to go through it—alas the work of publication was interrupted by his death l The results of any serious research never left him indifferent; on so many occasions it so occurred to him that he would, even in books of mediocre merit, find an un- expected confirmation of a circumstance anticipated by him, and thus he would supply the last necessary link to complete the chain of facts coming closer together about the earth, so that the course of an idea could traverse in the world in the span of time and space.

In case he were still amongst us, I would have been less doubtful about the utility of my work and about the fruitfulness of these researches that at times appear so far remote from our daily occupations.



11. In case any value can be attributed to the dates whatsoever, I should just rejoice at the fact that the present study has come to appear exactly one century after the publication of Institutiones Linguae Prakriticae of Christian Lassen. If I would have been born a century earlier, I think, I would have written to the author the words that Eugene Jacquet had addressed to him, “Your book is a masterpiece: not only all your observations are precious, but in Germany you alone still share with M. de Schlegel the credit of knowing method of handling the entire stock of materials with clarity and in a perfect order in writing a book.”

12. In these old pages, in these Latin sentences, that even today evoke certain amount of elegance, I began assiduously the study of Prakrit philology: in 1837 a rapid survey of available literature was made; till then scholars were not confronted with so large a mass of books and critical studies: in between these narrow limits one enjoys a bit of rest and he is able to cast his glance without fear from time to time on the Indian sub-continent.

13. When later I took up to the study of more complex and mature work of Richard Pischel, it was astonishing to discover that most of the opinions expressed in it had already been discussed, either in dissertations de grammaticis Pracriticis or in later works, going back to Lassen.

14. Lassen was the first scholar who, for example enunciated the rule by which later grammarians have described more dialects than the ancient ones. It was he who explained the superior status accorded to Maharastri on the basis of its stronger resemblance with Sanskrit. It was he who identified Paisaci with the dialects of North. West India etc.

15. These hypotheses have been partly refuted with the growth of our knowledge, but all of them find justification in the age when Lassen postulated them. Sometimes it would have been necessary to discard them rather, and I do not know the force of the inertia by which they often obstruct the passage of Pischel’s thought.

16. If we examine for example, the second paragraph of his Grammatik der Prakrit Sprachen and then compare it with the exposition of Lassen, we are obliged to recognise that still Lassen is most analytical and most precise.

17. But since it is Pischel alone who is being studied these days, we shall try, before we come to our subject proper, to clear away the ground of some preconceived ideas that are still found in Pischel.

18. When we refer to Dandin’s verse (Kavyadar’sa 1, 34) about Maharastri, we should not stop at the first half, because the second one offers the explanation:-


maharastrasrayam bhasam prakrstam prakrtam viduk I

sagarah suktiratnanam setubandhadi yanmayam II

"Above all they consider the language spoken in the Maharastra country to be the best Prakrta (pracritica praecipuasays Lassen): ocean of beautiful expressions-these pearls! with which Setubandha and other poems have been composed.”

19. Dandin does not think of giving a linguistic classification: Maharastri is the best Prakrit, because it has the richest literature.

110. As for the explanation that Maharastri was considered to be the best Prakrit because it was probably closer to Sanskrit, it cannot be accepted without reservation, and none of the Indian grammarians has ever expressed such a heresay. Sauraseni, on the contrary, was for them, as for us, nearer to the source: cf. for example the formula of Markandeya. (Prakrtasarvasa, IX, 1).

sauraseni maharastryah samskrtanugamat kvacit.

“(In some places Sauraseni, on account of Maharastri being closer to Sanskrit).”

111. It is no longer considered correct to make the large or small number of dialects criteria for a chronological classification of grammarians. The date of a grammar is independent of the number of the dialects that are treated by it.

112. We shall find many cases attesting to what I have put forward in course of my exposition; for the present it suffices merely to refer to the fact that the Natyastra, in the recension of Abhinava gupta, consequently earlier than all the Prakrit grammarians, excepting Vararuci, names many more dialects than a most recent grammarian does.

113. In general, the grammarians who had written for the theatre admit existence of a large number of dialects, thus for example, Purusottama, who wrote certainly before the 13th century A. D.

114. On the contrary, Maharastri-gramamarians studied only this dialect and that upto a very recent date. The books on the other dialects of the Prakrtaprakasa are interpolations made by Bhamaha or of other commentators, but the Prakrta-sanjivani and Prakrtamanjari for example treat only Maharastri.

115. On the contrary, one is often confronted with the phenomenon that is in verse to what had been supposed by Lassen and Pischel: a more recent a grammarian, the less the number of the dialects. It is the case with the Jainas who considered Prakrit mainly as the language of their preaching, and for them, therefore, the dialects of the theatre were not of interest. One often finds among their works some treatises that contain exclusively rules on the principal Prakrit reproduced from a treatise which on the contrary, had taken into consideration also the other dialects. The Valmikisutras, preserved in the library of Madras, furnish a good example of this (cf. $ 735).

116. It can no more be argued with Pischel (Grammar $ 2) that Vararuci devotes only a few sutras to the dialects other than Maharastri, and that in this regard he provides few cases in comparison with the value that he attaches to them. Leaving aside the question of authenticity of the last books of Vararuci, it may be advantageous to refer to methods of Indian grammars : all sorts of repetition is carefully avoided. Now, when the author of Prakrtaprakasa begins to treat for example Paisaci, he assumes all that has been said before about the principal Prakrit holds good, excepting those referred to in particular, for the new dialect. Therefore, it is not the 14 sutras, that he devotes to Paisaci, but the 424 sutras concerning the principal Prakrit in addition to these 14 sutras that serve to restrict the scope of the first ones and to add certain treatments that were holding good for Paisaci. And so on.

117. It is also unjust to accuse Indians for considering Sanskrit to be the source of Prakrit, although the latter contains some Vedic peculiarities (cf. Pischel, Gramm. $ 6). A Pandit would be greatly astonished if he is told that the Vedic language did not belong to Sanskrit. Panini himself has never considered Vedic as an independent language : there it is always referred to by the word Chandas.

118. Even if the Indian grammarians had noted the affinities existing between the language of Veda and Prakrit, they would have continued to consider Sanskrit (=Vedic Sanskrit + Classical Sanskrit) as the source of Prakrit.

119. In addition to the illustrious names of Lassen and Pischel and the criticisms that I have taken liberty to raise up against some of their statements, perhaps one will be disappointed not to find in this book anything excepting a study and a solution of a few problems in matters of detail.

120 I have talked only about the Prakrit grammarians whose works could be accessible to me : readers will notice that I have given quotations only from the treatises that I myself have consulted. If in some rare cases I have chosen to be content with notices thereof given in a catalogue of manuscripts or with extracts published by some other person it has been done only when the notices and extracts left no doubt about the nature of the work in question.

121. This is equivalent to admitting that my book does not exhaust the question: Virtually I believe so; but I am in a position to assure that it is neither due to idleness nor due to fear of difficulties.

122. Possibly, one will feel that some of my conclusions, on account of their being of a more general character, should have been suitably grouped and classified. I am, however, convinced that the book would thus have acquired a more harmonious appearance; nevertheless to me it seemed preferable to leave these conclusions by the side of logical development that have resulted in them. Thus it would be easier to check them : if there is an error in reasoning, it will become vivid to the eye.

123. With this very motive, I have attempted throughout my discussions not to concentrate my view to any particular system; I have grouped together only the works that were of demonstrable origin; and perhaps this limitation has made my researches less interesting, although it has made them more accurate and definite.

124. Consequently it will be indispensible-when this entirely exterior primary classification of the grammatical schools would have been well established-to superpose another for it, on the basis of the functions of the Prakrit-dialects. There are three important ways of their use : the Prakrits of the dramas, the Prakrits of the regional lyrics (Mahara stri of the gatha, Apa-bhramsa of the dohas, etc.) the Prakrits of religious propaganda (canonical texts and non-canonical texts of the Jainas). The use in the first way is certainly very ancient, but it has not given birth to real grammatical treatises, except the fragment preserved in the Natyasastra, which would lead us to believe that the rules of these scenic dialects had in the beginning been drawn up in Prakrit.




Chapter I. Vararuci

Chapter II. Bharata

Chapter III. Oriental Grammarians

Chapter IV. Kramadisvara

Chapter V. Hemacandra

Chapter VI. Trivikrama

Chapter VII. Canda

Appendix I - List of Abbreviations

Appendix II - Index of Names

Appendix III - Index Locarum

Correction Slipso far remote from our daily occupations.


Sample Pages

Item Code: IDD580 Author: LUIGIA NITTI-DOLCI Cover: Hardcover Edition: 1972 Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Language: English Size: 8.8" X 5.8" Pages: 252 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 438 gms
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