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March 25, 2012 / A

Memorizing words and lines

I was working my way through chapter 1.3 of the Ashtadhyayi when I suddenly hit a rule I did not recognize. Clearly, this is where I gave up last time. So it’s encouraging that I’ve gone slightly further than before. But now, I have to spend much more time on each rule.

I had trouble with 1.3 in part because most of the early lines start with strings of prefixes that share so many elements that they’re easy to confuse. Some examples:

  • परिव्यव
  • विपर
  • अनुसम्परि
  • समवप्रवि

Perhaps some of you find these easy to keep apart. But for me it’s rather difficult. Fortunately, the next few rules are a little easier.

Mainly for my own sake, I will record how I am remembering these lines. I’m using the same principles I mentioned in the past, but there is more to consider when keeping these things straight.

Rules of स्था

1.3.22 समवप्रविभ्यः स्थः
स्था (is used with आत्मनेपद endings) after सम्, अव, प्र, or वि ;
1.3.23 प्रकाशनस्थेयाख्यानयोः
in the senses of disclosing something or resorting to an arbitrator;
1.3.24 उदो ऽनूर्ध्वकर्मणि
after उद् when not in the sense of “rising up” ;
1.3.25 उपान् मन्त्रकरणे
after उप in the sense of reciting a mantra ;
1.3.26 अकर्मकाच्च
and intransitively.

Given the rules before, the rules for स्था are a nice break, especially because they deal with different meanings of the verb. I was able to make a crude rhyme out of 1.3.24 and 1.3.25, and Patanjali has a nice example passage to illustrate 1.3.25:

बहूनामप्यचित्तानामेको भवति चित्तवान् ।
“Look, there’s one with a bit of reason among the senseless creatures
पश्य वानरसैन्ये ऽस्मिन्यदर्कमुपतिष्ठते ॥
in this monkey army, for he’s worshipping the sun.”
मैवं मंस्थाः सचित्तो ऽयमेषो ऽपि हि यथा वयम् ।
(In reply) “Don’t think that even this one is endowed with reason like we are;
एदतप्यस्य कापेयं यदर्कमुपतिष्ठति ॥
This, too, is part of his monkey nature: for he’s basking in the sun.”

1.32.26 is hard to remember because “अकर्मकाच्च” appears three times within the chapter. So to account for it I used the mnemonic “स्था 5”. It’s pretty simple: स्था has 5 rules.

The next line is उद्विभ्यां तपः . This is an easy one: taking the first letters of उद् (ud) and वि (vi), we have UV, and the sun, which is a source of तपस् , produces UV light. This is clumsy, in a way, but it’s an easy way to fix the prefixes here, especially since these roots deal with so many combinations.

Longer lines

So far, longer lines have been much easier to remember, especially since they usually use non-grammatical terminology:

1.3.32 गन्धनावक्षेपनसेवनसाहसिक्यप्रतियत्नप्रकथनोपयोगेषु कृञः
गन्धन-अवक्षेपन-सेवन-साहसिक्य-प्रतियत्न-प्रकथन-उपयोगेषु कृञः
कृ (is always आत्मनेपद) in the senses of derision, threats, service, violent action, requital, announcing, or resolving upon something.

I’m not sure how गन्धन can mean “derision” here and “revelation” in 1.2.15 (यमो गन्धने). I need to follow up on that. My current guess is that the काशिकावृत्ति has some authoritative opinion here.

From one line to the next

I’ve found it very helpful to add a few letters from the current line onto the end of the previous one. By learning the previous rule with that “hook” to the next one, it takes much less time to recall how to proceed. This helped immediately with these two rules:

1.3.28 आङो यमहनः
यम् and हन् (are आत्मनेपद) after the prefix आ.
1.3.29 समो गम्यृच्छिभ्याम्
गम् and ऋच्छ् (are आत्मनेपद) after the prefix सम्.

These rules don’t belong to larger groups, so it can be hard to remember them. By studying 1.3.28 as आङो यमहनः (समो) instead, I was able to create a “hook” to the next rule and remember both of them together. This also helped when I tried memorizing the Amarakosha several months ago. I gave up on that effort too, but if this experiment with the Ashtadhyayi succeeds, perhaps I’ll turn to that text next.


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