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May 23, 2012 / A

End 3.1

With 150 rules, chapter 3.1 is the longest I’ve seen so far. And the next is even longer. Right now I can’t tell whether I’m at the heart of the text or just at its fringes; many of the most critical operations are only really established in books 6 and 7, which are still a far way away. But as far as its technical detail is concerned, 3.1 is a huge step up over books 1 and 2. For Sanskrit is primarily an affix-based language, and for the first time I finally get to study some affixes.

I’ll fill in the rest of this post, time-permitting; I’m publishing this early to mark the occasion at least somewhat accurately. But for now, it’s back to real work.

Facts and tidbits

Number of rules

150, for a total of 769.

Shortest rule

Excluding governing rules (3.1.91 धातोः “after a root” and 3.1.95 कृत्याः “A कृत्य suffix”) these two are the shortest:

3.1.43 च्लेः सिच्
The affix च्लि is replaced by सिच्. (This is an उत्सर्ग, or “general rule,” for forming लुङ्, the aorist. The many rules that follow this one make several exceptions.)
3.1.47 ण्युच् च
ण्युत् (one of the many technical names for अन) is added after गै in the sense of शिल्पिन् “artisan.” (This is an oddly specific rule. See the note below on निपातन.)

Longest rule

3.1.123 छन्दसि निष्टर्क्यदेवहूयप्रणीयोन्नीयोच्छिष्यमर्यस्तर्याध्वर्यखन्यखान्यदेवयज्यापृच्छ्यप्रतिषीव्यब्रह्मवाद्यभाव्यस्ताव्योपचाय्यपृडानि
The words निष्टर्क्य, देवहूय, प्रणीय, उन्नीय, उच्छिष्य, मर्य, स्तर्य, अध्वर्य, खन्य, खान्य, देवयज्य, आपृच्छ्य, प्रतिषीव्य, ब्रह्मवाद्य, भाव्य, स्ताव्य, and उपचाय्यपृड exist as-is in the Vedas.

A quick comment here. About a few dozen forms (so far at least) are tricky or cumbersome to derive in the Ashtadhyayi. This is especially the case when these forms come from non-Paninian works, like the Vedas. In these cases, it’s often easier to state the forms ready-made. This process is called निपातन (“irregular derivation,” morphologically “slipping down”). The text states these forms as if to say, “we could have derived these forms, but it would made the system needlessly complex for the sake of a few edge cases.” I’m surprised the device is not used more, especially for some of the stranger one-off derivations that the Ashtadhyayi allows.


Even without a specific mnemonic, I’ve found it very useful to write out the first letter of each rule in a set of ten. By going over these sequences so often, I tend to remember how the rules are ordered. When this fails, my other technique — of tacking part of the next rule onto the end of the one I’m studying — has worked well too.

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