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October 9, 2012 / A

Revisiting book 2

The rules from book 1 have started to become familiar again. I can quickly move through the entire book, with some hesitancy in 1.4. But otherwise, I am recovering faster than I had hoped. And as I reread these rules, I am starting to remember more of the Ashtadhyayi’s systemic properties.

Now I have started into book 2. Surprisingly, I can remember even the longest rules perfectly. And thanks to the mnemonic-based approach I used for the first few chapters in book 2, those rules are returning rather quickly.

When I was first learning Sanskrit, I recalled a verse that I had heard growing up:

पार्थाय प्रतिबोधितां भगवता नारायणेन स्वयं
व्यासेन ग्रथितां पुराणमुनिना मध्येमहाभारतम् ।
अद्वैतामृतवर्षिणीं भगवतीमष्टादषाध्यायिनीम्
अम्ब त्वामनुसन्दधामि भगवद्गिते भवद्वेषिणीम् ॥
Revealed for Partha’s sake by the blessed Narayana himself,
composed by Vyasa the ancient sage in the middle of the Mahabharata,
showering advaita’s nectar, a blessed work of eighteen chapters —
I meditate upon you, O mother, O Bhagavad Gita, who destroys rebirth.

Mulling over this verse, I could not untangle the word मध्येमहाभारतम् . It obviously means something like “in the middle of the Mahabharata,” but why does महाभारत remain uninflected? Thankfully, the Ashtadhyayi can resolve this issue for us:

2.1.18 पारे मध्ये षष्ठ्या वा
पारे and मध्ये are preferably compounded with a genitive word to form an अव्यय.

And words formed by this rule have subtle differences from more traditional constructions: गङ्गायां पारे means “on the opposite side of the Ganga,” but “पारेगङ्गम्” means “across the Ganga.” So says S.D. Joshi, anyway.

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