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November 4, 2012 / A

The 27 rules of घञ्

I have always thought of घञ् as the quintessential Sanskrit affix. The strengthened vowels and consonant shifts that it causes are intimately connected to the language’s vowel system and phonetic history. The words it produces (भाव, नाय, योग, सार, कार, and भेद, among them) are almost invariably beautiful to the ear. And the semantics of the suffix are as complex and complicated as most other parts of Sanskrit.

The Ashtadhyayi, being the fussy parent that it is, attends to घञ् in 27 different ways. And by a certain point, one can barely remember what affix the rules discuss.

3.2.16 पदरुजविशस्पृशो घञ्
घञ् appears: after पद्, रुज्, विश्, and स्पृश्;
3.2.17 सृ स्थिरे
after सृ in the sense of something stable (i.e. as an essence of something);
3.2.18 भावे
to denote root sense;
3.2.19 अकर्तरि च कारके संज्ञायाम्
when denoting a संज्ञा, after roots to denote a कारक other than कर्तृ (“agent”);
3.2.20 परिमाणाख्यायां सर्वेभ्यः
and when denoting a measurement, after roots variously.
3.2.21 इङश्च
घञ् appears to denote either भाव or a कारक other than कर्तृ after the following: इङ् (forming words like अध्याय; this overrules a later rule for roots that end in इ)
3.2.22 उपसर्गे रुवः
रु when it has an उपसर्ग;
3.2.23 समि युद्रुदुवः
यु, द्रु, and दु when used with सम्;
3.2.24 श्रिणीभुवोऽनुपसर्गे
श्रि, नी, and भू when used without an उपसर्ग
3.2.25 वौ क्षुश्रुवः
क्षु and श्रु when used with वि;
3.2.26 अवोदोर् नियः
नी when used with अव or उद्;
3.2.27 प्रे द्रुस्तुस्रुवः
द्रु, स्तु, and स्रु when used with प्र;
3.2.28 निरभ्योः पूल्वोः
पू and लू when used with निर् and अभि, respectively;
3.2.29 उन्न्योर् ग्रः
गॄ when used with उद् or नि;
3.2.30 कॄ धान्ये
कॄ when the result is connected with grains;
3.2.31 यज्ञे समि स्तुवः
स्तु when used with सम् and the result is connected with a ritual;
3.2.32 प्रे स्त्रोऽयज्ञे
स्तॄ when: used with प्र and the result is not connected with a ritual;
3.2.33 प्रथने वावशब्दे
used with वि in the sense of spreading some out, but not related to speech;
3.2.34 छन्दोनाम्नि च
or when denoting the name of a meter;
3.2.35 उदि ग्रहः
ग्रह् when: used with उद्;
3.2.36 समि मुष्टौ
or with सम् when the result is connected with a fist;
3.2.37 परिन्योर् नीणोर् द्यूताभेषयोः
नी and इण् when used with परि and नि, respectively, and the result is connected with gambling or propriety, respectively;
3.2.38 परावनुपात्यय इणः
इ when used with परि and the result is connected to some succession of things;
3.2.39 व्युपयोः शेतेः पर्याये
शी when used with वि or उप and the result means “turn” (note this uses पर्याय, which is defined in the previous rule);
3.2.40 हस्तादाने चेरस्तेये
चि when: in the sense of using one’s hands, but not of theft;
3.2.41 निवासचितिशरीरोपसमाधानेष्वादेश्च कः
denoting a dwelling, a collection, a body, or a pile — and for all of these, क् replaces initial च्,
3.2.42 संघे चानौतर्राधर्ये
and it does the same when चि denotes an assembly of people that is not hierarchical.

I imagine that most of the rules listed here are meant to counter exceptions by later rules. For example, roots that end in इ or ई use अच् (अ) instead, which does not cause the same consonant shift as घञ्.

But these rules still leave me sour and slightly mystified. Elsewhere in his system, Panini makes sure to note that some phenomena occur variously and that the ultimate authority on language is the usage of the people. So why take the trouble to define 20+ rules to account for such edge cases? Why was अन्येभ्यो ऽपि दृस्यते (“It’s seen after other roots, too”) not enough?

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