Vyakarana Vedanga (व्याकरणवेदाङ्गम्)
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Vyakarana (Samskrit: व्याकरणम्) roughly translated as grammar, one of the important topics in the shad vedangas, is the foundation of language and communication in the evolutionary history of human beings. In the tradition of vyakarana, one can see the origin of analysis tracing back to Vedas. There are innumerable references to language elements, structure and nature in classical literature. Evidence shows that the terminology used for language analysis has its origin in the Vedas. Speech (Vak) and its meaning (Artha) are the intimately related units most essential in language and communication. The union of Vak and its Artha are primordial just as the parents of the Universe, Parvati and Parameshvara, as beautifully weaved in the salutations of Mahakavi Kalidasa in Raghuvamsha mahakavya.
वागर्थाविव संपृक्तौ वागर्थप्रतिपत्तये । जगतः पितरौ वन्दे पार्वतीपरमेश्वरौ । । १.१ । । (Ragh. 1.1)
vāgarthāviva sampṛktau vāgarthapratipattaye । jagataḥ pitarau vande pārvatīparameṥvarau।।
The philosophy of language evolved by the schools of Vyakarana and Mimasa, is the outcome of elaboration of the suggestions found in the Vedas. The divine nature of speech, the creative and illuminative power of the word and the different levels of speech are the main doctrines which formed the philosophy of language in Bharatiya shastras. Of the six vedangas, the ancillary disciplines of the Vedas, Siksha (pronunciation), Vyakarana (grammar) and Nirukta are directly connected with the Vedas. The major contributors to the language and its understanding are the Vaiyakaranas who developed many theories about language understanding.
Every system of thought and the various darshana schools had to consider language at some stage or other and each one had given attention to the ultimate question concerning the relation between the word and reality. Language had both outer empirical and inner metaphysical dimensions. Panini and Patanjali while elaborating on technical and grammatical aspects of human speech also discussed the divine nature of Vak (वाक्) and the metaphysical qualities of language. Shabda has been directly identified with the language of Vedas as Shabda Brahman and the divine Vak has been considered as the seed of creation. Bharatiya Vyakarana shastra brings one to a unique inquiry of the seers who advocated that shabdas which fall within the limits of vyakarana rules only should be employed for that would fetch dharma to the individual. Thus use and abuse of language came into the precincts of vyakarana.
While it is possible to transform the meaning from the speaker to the listener through both śabdas and apaśabdas, vyākaraṇam prescribes that one should employ śabdas only. Here the term śabdas refers to sādhuśabdas (perfect śabdas that are acceptable to vyākaraṇa). Patanjali used the term शब्दानुशासनम् । śabdānuśāsanam as a synonym of vyākaraṇam.
Origin and History of Vyakarana
It is now accepted fact that Vyakarana follows Literature and the earliest literature is the Veda. Indians considered it their primary duty to preserve them intact. One of the means of preservation was the establishment of Vyakarana rules and its study as a Vedanga.
That there were nine systems of Vyakarana is evident from the shloka of Uttarakanda of Ramayana
सो ऽयं नवव्याकरणार्थवेत्ता ब्रह्मा भविष्यत्यपि ते प्रसादात् ।। ७.३६.४८ ।। (Valm. Rama. 7.36.48)
Hanuman, the minister of Sugriva, mastered over nine treatises of Vyakarana. Of them Panini's treatise seems to be the last since Hanuman is said to have studied the text Sangraha, an elaborate work written by Vyaadi in hundred thousand shlokas based on Panini's Grammar. No one is said to be an equivalent to Hanuman in his shastra panditya in Chandas also.
ससूत्रवृत्त्यर्थपदं महार्थं ससङ्ग्रहं साद्ध्यति वै कपीन्द्रः । नह्यस्य कश्चित्सदृशोऽस्ति शास्त्रे वैशारदे च्छन्दगतौ तथैव ।। ७.३६.४७ ।।(Valm. Rama. 7.36.47)
A grammatical treatise by Indra is mentioned in tradition to have been the first of the nine; but such a treatise does not seem to have been mentioned of in any work. The only reference to Indra's being connected with Grammar is found in Mahabhashya, where it is said that Indra attempted in vain to make a detailed study, in 1000 divine years, of all the words current, at the feet of Brhaspati.
एवं हि श्रूयते- बृहस्पतिरिन्द्राय दिव्यं वर्षसहस्रं प्रतिपदोक्तानां शब्दानां शब्दपारायणं प्रोवाच नान्तं जगाम। बृहस्पतिश्च प्रवक्ता, इन्द्रश्चाध्येता, दिव्यं-वर्षसहस्रमध्ययनकालः। (Maha. Bhas. 1.1.1)
According to another research, Brahma was the first author of vyakarana, who transmitted this science to Brhaspati, who transmitted it to Indra, who in turn gave it to Bharadvaja. The rshis learnt it from Bharadvaja and from them it reached Brahmanas.
It is indisputable that language and literature of Bharatavarsha began with the Vedas. Five rk mantras have been chosen and discussed in relation to vyakarana, by Patanjali in the Paspashnika of his Mahabhashya are as follows.
चत्वारि वाक्परिमिता पदानि तानि विदुर्ब्राह्मणा ये मनीषिणः । गुहा त्रीणि निहिता नेङ्गयन्ति तुरीयं वाचो मनुष्या वदन्ति ॥४५॥ (Rig. Veda. 1.164.45)
This Rik mantra refers to the four-fold division of words. The four-fold division of “nāmākhyātopasarganipātāśca” had its roots in Vedic literature itself.
चत्वारि शृङ्गा त्रयो अस्य पादा द्वे शीर्षे सप्त हस्तासो अस्य । त्रिधा बद्धो वृषभो रोरवीति महो देवो मर्त्याँ आ विवेश ॥३॥ (Rig. Veda. 4.58.3)
सुदेवो असि वरुण यस्य ते सप्त सिन्धवः । अनुक्षरन्ति काकुदं सूर्म्यं सुषिरामिव ॥१२॥ (Rig. Veda. 8.69.12)
सक्तुमिव तितउना पुनन्तो यत्र धीरा मनसा वाचमक्रत । अत्रा सखायः सख्यानि जानते भद्रैषां लक्ष्मीर्निहिताधि वाचि ॥२॥ (Rig. Veda. 10.71.2)
उत त्वः पश्यन्न ददर्श वाचमुत त्वः शृण्वन्न शृणोत्येनाम् । उतो त्वस्मै तन्वं वि सस्रे जायेव पत्य उशती सुवासाः ॥४॥ (Rig. Veda. 10.71.4)
Gopathabrahmana of Atharvaveda mentions many terms that we use in vyakarana even today.
ओंकारं पृच्छामः। को धातुः। किं प्रातिपदिकम्। किं नामाख्यातम्। किं लिङ्गम्। किं वचनम्। का विभक्तिः। कः प्रत्ययः। कः स्वर उपसर्गो निपातः। किं वै व्याकरणम्। को विकारः। को विकारी। कतिमात्रः। कतिवर्णः। कत्यक्षरः। कतिपदः। कः संयोगः। किं स्थानानुप्रदानकरणं। (Gopa. Brah. 1.1.24)
Meaning: Let us analyse Omkara, what is the dhatu? what is pratipadika? what is nama and akhyata? what is lingam ? what is vibhakti ? what is pratyaya? what is svara, upasarga, nipata? what is vyakarana? what is vikara? what is vikari and how many matras? how many varnas? how many aksharas? how many pada-s? what is samyoga? what is staana-naada-anupradana and anukaranam?
Apart from Gopatha Brahmana, Maitrayana samhita and Aitareya Brahmana also discusses different vibhaktis.
Garuda Purana has a व्याकरणनिरूपणं and the examples of words in two adhyayas 206 and 206 (व्याकरणनिरूपणं is in Adhyaya 209 according to Shabdakalpadhruma and Vachaspatyam) in which various Vyakarana aspects are described by Kumara Kartikeya to Katyayana.
अथ व्याकरणं वक्ष्ये कात्यायन समासतः । सिद्धशब्दविवेकाय बालव्युत्पत्तिहेतवे ॥ १,२०५.१ ॥
सुप्तिङन्तं पदं ख्यातं सुपः सप्त विभक्तयः ।स्वौजसः प्रथमा प्रोक्ता सा प्रातिपदिकात्मके ॥ १,२०५.२ ॥
सम्बोधने च लिङ्गादावुक्ते कर्मणि कर्तरि । अर्थवत्प्रातिपदिकं धातुप्रत्ययवर्जितम् ॥ १,२०५.३ ॥ (Garu. Pura. 1.205.1-3)
Kumara says: O Katyayana, I shall explain vyakarana in brief for a proper understanding of the formation of words (from bases) and to help children learn the derivatives. Words are either Subantas or Tingantas. Sup are the seven case endings. Su, Au, Jas are the terminations in the nominative, first case endings. The base is called Pratipadika. A pratipadika must be meaningful devoid of Dhatu and Pratyaya (root and termination).
Aṣtādhyāyī is an exclusive and popular treatise authored by Pāṇini, considered to be the most genius on the earth.
Brevity and perfection are the hallmarks of Aṣṭādhyāyī. With his unsurpassed intellect, Pāṇini compiled Aṣṭādhyāyī in such a way so that both, vaidikaśabdas and laukikaśabdas are analyzed.
Classification of Shabdas
As far as the Sanskrit language is concerned, śabdas are put under two headings viz. vaidikaśabdas and laukikaśabdas. The śabdas that are available in four vedas (roughly 1137 branches) are called vaidikaśabdas. Prātiśākhyas are the works that deal with the grammar of vaidikaśabdas. Each veda has separate prātiśākhyas.
Vyākaraṇam is the system that deals with the linguistic analysis of laukikaśabdas. Indra, Candra, Kāśakṛtsna, Śākaṭāyana etc., were the authors of different vyākaraṇas, earlier to Pāṇini, some of them might have been his contemporaries. Upavedas, purāṇas, vedāṅgas, kāvyas etc., fall under the range of laukikaśabdas. This was the situation prior to Pāṇini.
Vachaspatyam defines Vyakarana (व्याकरणम्) as व्याक्रियन्ते व्युत्पाद्यन्ते अर्थवत्तया प्रतिपाद्यन्ते शब्दा येन । the śabdas are separated and derived for the sake of proposing the meanings by which (processes in vyakarana).
Shabdakalpadhruma gives the definition of Vyakarana by Durgadasa
तत्र साध्यसाधनकर्त्तृकर्म्मक्रिया-समासादिनिरूपणम् । तस्य व्युत्पत्तिर्यथा । व्याक्रियन्ते व्युत्पाद्यन्ते साधुशब्दा अस्मिन् अनेनेति वा । इति दुर्गादासः ॥
In here sadhya, sadhana, karta, karma, kriya, samasa and others are described along with their etymology. The sadhusabdas are separated and derived in this or by this (process in Vyakarana).
The derivative meaning of word vyākaraṇam is-“vyākrīyante apaśabdebhyaḥ sādhuśabdāḥ pṛthak krīyante anena’ (the śabdas are separated from apaśabdas by this). It may be noted that vyākaraṇam includes grammar but not vice versa and the term grammar for vyākaraṇam is used as a rough translation.
The term śabdānuśāsanam is a synonym of vyākaraṇam and the derivation is as follows- “śabdāḥ anuśiṣyante vivicya bodhyante anena” (śabdas are being vividly taught i.e. in the form of root and suffix).
Mahabhashya explicitly discusses the uses of studying vyakarana. It is well known that unless one is informed of the advantages to be derived from doing any activity, one is not generally inclined to do it. The word प्रयोजनानि means not only "the benefits" but also "the authorities that enjoin (प्रयोजकानि)".
कानि पुनः शब्दानुशासनस्य प्रयोजनानि? रक्षोहागमलघ्वसन्देहाः प्रयोजनम् ।। (Maha. Bhas. 3.1)
The advantages are
- रक्षा ।। protection (of the Vedas)
- ऊहः ।। modification (of Vedic mantras)
- लाघवन्।। easy means (of acquiring the knowledge of words)
- असन्देहः ।। absence of ambiguity and the authority is आगमः (Vedas).
रक्षा ।। Protection of the Vedas
रक्षार्थं वेदानामध्येयं व्याकरणम्। लोपागमवर्णविकारज्ञो हि सम्यग्वेदान् परिपालयिष्यतीति ।। (Maha. Bhas. 3.1.1)
To protect Vedas, vyakarana has to be studied. Only one who has a correct knowledge of application of Lopa (removal of), Aagama (augmentation) and Vikara (substitution) of sounds is capable of preserving the Vedas.
ऊहः ।। Modification
ऊहः खल्वपि- न सर्वैर्लिङगैर्न च सर्वाभिर्विभक्तिभिर्वेदे मन्त्रा निगदिताः। ते चावश्यं यज्ञगतेन पुरुषेण यथायथं विपरिणमयितव्याः। तान्नावैयाकरणः शक्नोति यथायथं विपरिणमयितुम्। तस्मादध्येयं व्याकरणम् ।। (Maha. Bhas. 3.1.2)
Modification also (is one of the advantages). Mantras are not mentioned in the Vedas in all genders and cases. They have to be necessarily modified by the rtvik in a yajna according to the context (i.e.) to suit the particular devata invoked. It is not possible for a non-grammarian to suitably modify them. Hence is the need to study grammar.
आगमः ।। Vedas
आगमैः खल्वपि- ब्राह्मणेन निष्कारणो धर्मः षडङ्गो वेदोऽध्येयो ज्ञेयश्च इति। प्रधानं च षट्स्वङ्गेषु व्याकरणम्। प्रधाने च कृतो यत्नः फलवान्भवति ।। (Maha. Bhas. 3.1.3)
Agama also forms a Prayojana, more so a Prayojaka. Veda with six angas shall be studied and understood by a Brahmana without expecting any reward. Of the six Angas, grammar is important. Effort directed towards the prominent bears rich fruit. The word ब्राह्मणेन meaning 'by the Brahmana' suggests that the study of grammar is a nitya-karma to Brahmanas and a kamya-karma to others.
The word करण in निष्कारणः means not "cause" but "fruit". The six angas are the Shad Vedangas (Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Chandas, Niruktam, Jyotisha). Grammar is said to be important since, without its study, one is not capable of understanding the meaning of sentences.
लघु ।। Ease of Study
लघ्वर्थं चाध्येयं व्याकरणम्- ब्रह्मणेनावश्यं शब्दा ज्ञेया इति। न चान्तरेण व्याकरणं लघुनोपायेन शब्दाः शक्या ज्ञातुम् ।। (Maha. Bhas. 3.1.4)
For easy grasp of words is grammar to be studied. Words should necessarily be understood by Brahmanas. There is no easy means of learning words other than grammar.
If the paradigm of one noun is known, the case-forms of similar nouns are also known and hence there is no need to get by heart the forms of all nouns. Similarly if the conjugational forms of one verb is known, those of similar verbs are also known.
असन्देहः ।। Absence of Ambiguity
असन्देहार्थं चाध्येयं व्याकरणम्। याज्ञिकाः पठन्ति- स्थूलपृषतीमाग्निवारुणीमनड्वाहीमालभेत इति। तस्यां सन्देहः- स्थूला चासौ पृषती च स्थूलपृषति, स्थूलानि पृषन्ति यस्याः सेयं स्थूलपृषतीति। तां नावैयाकरणः - स्वरतोऽध्यवस्यति- यदि पूर्वपदप्रकृतिस्वरत्वं ततो बहुव्रीहिः, अथ समासान्तोदात्तत्वं ततस्तत्पुरुष इति ।। (Maha. Bhas. 3.1.5)
For the absence of ambiguity is grammar to be studied. Mantras used in the yajnas are read thus -
Tie to the stake to propitiate Agni and Varuna a cow which is स्थूलपृषति. Here is the doubt whether the word स्थूलपृषति means 'stout and spotted,' or 'having big spots.' The correct meaning cannot be understood by a non-grammarian from its svara. If it has the udatta svara at the usual place of the first member of the compound, it should be taken as bahuvrihi when, it means 'having big spots'; if, on the other hand, it has the udatta svara at the final syllable, it should be taken as tatpurusa when, it means 'stout and spotted.'
- Subramanya Sharma. V. M. (2012) Ph.D Thesis: The Notion of Word in Vakyapadiyam. Hyderabad : University of Hyderabad
- Raghuvamsha (Sarga 1)
- Ramayana (Uttarakanda Adhyaya Sarga 36)
- Sastri. Subrahmaya. P. S. (1944) Lectures on Patanjali Mahabhashya. Vol 1. (Ahnikas 1 - 3). Annamalai Nagar: Annamalai University. (Pages 1-24)
- Patanjali's Mahabhashya (Paspashahnika)
- Gopatha Brahmana (Purvabhaga)
- Shabdakapadhruma (See Vyakarana)
- Garuda Purana (Achara Kaand Adhyaya 205)
- The Garuda Purana, Part II, Translated and Annotated by a Board of Scholars. (1957 First Edition) Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd. (See Pages 605 to 611)
- Vachaspatyam (See Vyakarana)