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May 1, 2012 / A

End 2.3

I have reached the end of the seventh chapter of this glorious text. This is exciting for so many reasons.

First, I am a step closer to finishing book 2 and the Ashtadhyayi. Hooray!

Second, I am a step closer to the really exciting parts of the Ashtadhyayi: how words are actually created. All of the rules I have seen so far have been definitions of various sorts, but I still do not know how to use Panini’s system to create a Sanskrit word: how to inflect a noun, how to form certain verbs, and so on.

Third, I found a memorization technique that I like and that has been very successful. Ironically, it’s one I first tried out a year ago, but I had forgotten about it. I look forward to trying this technique on 2.4 and 3.1, where I can really see how effective it is.


I tackled the chapter with a variety of memorization techniques. Increasingly I find that although I can memorize rules easily in isolation, it is extremely hard to string them together into a sequence. I tried a variety of mnemonics, some of which I have detailed before. But to my surprise I found that the most effective mnemonic of all was just to take the first few letters from the next rule and tack them on to the current one. Applying sandhi changes between the two rules made the connection even more memorable.

Now I am thinking about how I can feasibly pack in as many mnemonics as possible.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had found recordings of the Ashtadhyayi, but that I didn’t think they would be very useful. Well, they turned out to be rather useful after all. I can play the recording of a chapter in the background while cleaning or exercising. But most surprisingly, I found that the recordings could work mnemonically. I wrote earlier that “the rules in these recordings are accented only stylistically; the accent has no meaning in the context of the text as a whole.” That’s still true. But due to the nature of modern Sanskrit accentuation, I could rely on accent to tell me whether or not I was at the end of a rule. This is important information; sometimes I tend to leave off the last word of a rule, especially when it’s something generic like बहुलम् “generally” or च “and.”

Facts and tidbits

Number of rules

73, for a total of 534.

Shortest rule

2.3.23 हेतौ
(The endings of case 3 are added after a प्रातिपदिक “bare stem”) in the sense of हेतु (“cause, reason”).

Longest rule

2.3.33 करणे च स्तोकाल्पकृच्छ्रकतिपयस्यासत्त्ववचनस्य
(The endings of case 3 are indifferently added after a प्रातिपदिक) in the sense of करण “means” with स्तोक, अल्प कृच्छ्र, and कतिपय when the result does not refer to a substantive thing. (This defines a few adverbs.)
2.3.46 प्रातिपदिकार्थलिङ्गपरिमाणवचनमात्रे प्रथमा
The endings of case 1 (are added after a प्रातिपदिक) to express the stem meaning, gender, number, and nothing more.
2.3.73 चतुर्थी चाशिष्यायुष्यमद्रभद्रकुशलसुखार्थहितैः
The endings of case 4 are indifferently added after a प्रातिपदिक (when connected with words) meaning आयुष्य “longevity,” मद्र “joy,” भद्र “good luck,” कुशल “well-being,” and सुख “pleasure” or with the word हित “benefit.”

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, I will have to wait before starting with chapter 2.4; I will be disappearing again, but I will be back in about a week. Until that time, posts will be sporadic and of a general nature. But I hope to tackle some of the meatier systemic qualities of the Ashtadhyayi, including its philosophy of language, variant readings, and interpolations, later on.

2.4 is a mix of different rules, I’ve heard, and it’s not as focused as 2.1 (Compounds, part 1), 2.2 (Compounds, part 2), or 2.3 (the use of different case endings). I’m not looking forward to that. But maybe I’ll find something interesting there after all.


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