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April 24, 2012 / A

End 2.2

I have finished the sixth chapter of the Ashtadhyayi. With only 38 rules, it’s hardly any great achievement. But together with chapter 2.1, I have now studied and mastered how Sanskrit compounds are formed, वार्त्तिकs and commentaries aside. And I suppose that’s something to be proud of after all. (Still to do, though: compound gender and compound number, which are the focus of the first part of 2.4.)


As usual, rules in isolation are easy to remember. But the order of those rules is much harder to retain. As an experiment, I strung together all of the rules in this chapter as a mnemonic. Some of this mnemonic is as follows:

Punt a dry pig carcass, kneel inside your neighbor’s parking academy, tiptoe quietly, …

My goal is to connect vivid, absurd, and memorable images together, thereby encoding (albeit loosely) the order of the chapter’s rules. In time, the sequence becomes second nature, so the mnemonic becomes less necessary (or even unnecessary).

Facts and Tidbits

Number of rules

38, for a total of 461.

Shortest rule

2.2.6 नञ्
नञ् (the prefix अ/अन्) (is preferably compounded with a सुबन्त word, and the compound that corresponds to the word group is called तत्पुरुष).

Longest rule

2.2.3 द्वितीयतृतीयचतुर्थतुर्याण्यन्यतरस्याम्
द्वितीय “second,” तृतीय “third,” चतुर्थ “fourth,” and तुर्य “fourth” are indifferently (compounded with a सुबन्त word that signifies a single whole entity, and the compound that corresponds to the word group is called तत्पुरुष).
2.2.25 संख्ययाव्ययासन्नादूराधिकसंख्याः संख्येये
Indeclinables, the words आसन्न, अदूर, and अधिक, and numerals (are compounded) with case-inflected numerals in the sense of something that is counted, (and the result is called बहुव्रीहि).

Final thoughts

Together, 2.1 and 2.2 detail the whole of the Ashtadhyayi’s treatment of the compound system. The next chapter, 2.3, discusses the uses of the Sanskrit noun cases, and I am unduly excited at the thought of studying these cases in detail.

S. D. Joshi notes that given that chapter 1.4 discusses the various कारकs (semantic roles of Sanskrit nouns), we would expect 2.3 to immediately follow it. For although the Ashtadhyayi seems to be constructed haphazardly, it does have some internal logic. Thus book 1 consists mostly of definitions, book 2 discusses nouns and compounds, book 3 discusses suffixes of various kinds, and so on. Joshi cites this as possible evidence that the entire treatment of Sanskrit compounds is an interpolation into the text of the Ashtadhyayi.

Perhaps this train of thought is unconvincing. Alone, it is. But S. D. Joshi develops a persuasive argument on the basis of rule 1.4.1 of the text, and I find that argument to be much more convincing. The argument is long, subtle, and touches on many aspects of the Ashtadhyayi; so, I will dedicate a proper post to it in the future.

In other news, I will suspend my quest through the Ashtadhyayi until May 2 or so. Until that time, posts will be sporadic and probably non-technical.


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