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April 23, 2012 / A

The history of the periphrastic future (लुट्)

Via Flickr.

As I continue to push through the various rules of the Ashtadhyayi, I can’t help but look back occasionally on some of the rules I have already covered. S. D. Joshi’s insightful and (perhaps) iconoclastic commentary is invaluable in this regard. So while recalling some of the rules I have already studied, I remembered the last rule of chapter 1.3:

1.3.93 लुटि च कॢपः
And (parasmaipada endings are optionally added) after कॢप् (कल्पते) in the periphrastic future (लुट्).

And once again, I perused Joshi’s commentary:

The formation of the periphrastic future (LUṬ) is mentioned in the A. by P. 2.4.85. … It is noted that P. 2.4.85 also comes at the end of a pāda, without any connection with what precedes and follows. … P.8.1.28 prescribes that a finite verb loses its accent when preceded by a non-finite verb. The immediately following rule, P. 8.1.29, makes an excception for LUṬ formations. Moreover, in the A. all suffixes added to lakāras are dealt with in the third adhyāya, whereas the substitutions for the lakāras have been stated in adhyāya 3, pāda 4. All of this appears to point to one conclusion, namely, that the rules in the A. which deal with LUṬ are later additions to the original text. One such later addition, it may be assumed, is the present rule, P. 1.3.93.
— Joshi vol. 3, p. 166 (emphasis added)

The gist of this rather dense explanation is that although the sections of the Ashtadhyayi are not always in a predictable order, those sections themselves tend to follow consistent rules. Joshi makes the point here that a rule for forming the periphrastic future appears in 2.4.85 instead of with the other verb-forming rules in 3.4, where we would expect it. Moreover, 1.3.93 appears in an unexpected place and at the end of a chapter, both of which imply that the rule was added to the text later on.

All together, this means that the periphrastic future was probably not part of the core of the Ashtadhyayi. What this implies about Sanskrit itself is less certain.

Certainly the periphrastic perfect is an unusual tense with an odd history. Why else would it borrow forms from the तृ nouns and merge them with existing verbs? And how else can we explain the fact that early on this tense usually appeared with श्वस् “tomorrow,” as if the verb on its own were not strong enough to convey a future sense? But I did not realize there were grounds to question whether Panini really talked about it.

Again, I disclaim all of this by noting that I am not an expert of this text. But Joshi’s observation is certainly food for thought. Elsewhere he asserts that the समास “compound” and तद्धित “secondary suffix” systems were not part of the “original” Ashtadhyayi either, although they were certainly a part of Sanskrit. More on this as I come across it.


One Comment

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  1. Rадим & Rада / Jan 24 2014 7:34 am

    what meaning does periphrastic future express? what is the difference in meaning against simple future?
    I met this for the first time today as follows:
    भवांश्च द्वारकां गन्ता नचिरादिव माधव (Mahabharata 14.16:07)

    thx, Radim (Russia)

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