Amazing PataJjali, lakSaNa, and vyAkaraNa

Palaniappa at Palaniappa at
Wed Apr 9 07:17:50 UTC 1997

In a message dated 97-04-08 18:11:11 EDT, pfilliozat at (Pierre
Filliozat) writes:

<< This remarkable stanza has been commented by Pata�jali in MahAbhA.sya,
 Paspa"sA,p. 4 (Kielhorn ed.). Pata�jali interprets it as a praise of Lak.smI is given by him as derived from the root lak.s but
 in the meaning of "shining,light".
 Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat >>

My heart-felt thanks to Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat.

Scholars of Sanskrit grammar may not be aware of this. But PataJjali plays a
pivotal role in dating the Tamil literature. Based on the use of the word
�ilakkaNam� by tolkAppiyar and an explanation for the location of the word
with semantic significance when two words form a compound, a Tamil scholar by
name Vaiyapuri Pillai and following him Kamil Zvelebil date tolkAppiyar after
PataJjali. (Apparently, PataJjali was the one to introduce the word �lakSaNa�
in the sense of grammar and he was the one who introduced the classification
of compounds into pUrvapadArtha, uttarapadArtha, anyapadArtha, and
ubhayapadArtha. Vaiyapuri Pillai, in his discussion however, quotes Katyayana
as saying "lakSya lakSane vyakaraNam" for which vArttika PataJjali is
supposed to say "sabdo lakSya sUtram lakSaNam"!) Since the language of the
Classical Tamil texts is supposed to be close to what is described by
tolkAppiyam, Zvelebil says that there could hardly have been a wide gap of
time between the two. 

Vaiyapuri Pillai and Zvelebil, when they saw similar expressions in
tolkAppiyam and mahAbhASya, they did not consider the possibility that both
could be drawing on a common tradition. They simply assumed that Tamil
borrowed from Sanskrit. V.S. Rajam in her 1981dissertation demonstrated that
there could have been several grammatical traditions in India and tolkAppiyar
need not have modeled his grammar after any one tradition, such as that of
pANini. Even after this result, Tamil literary historiography is still based
on Zvelebil�s work. Even the recent translation of cilappatikAram by
Parthasarathy uses a 5th century CE date based on Zvelebil.

For a long time, I have felt that there was some common tradition that
tolkAppiyar and PataJjali shared at least partly. If PataJjali was a kApya
and tolkAppiar was also a kApya, then there might have been some common
familial tradition. While I had planned to explore that more in future, in my
research on �ta�ntra�, I came upon Rig Veda 10.71.2 serendipitously. I was
immediately reminded of Zvelebil�s discussion of the first use of �lakSaNa�
by PataJjali and how this might relate to the Tamil word for grammar

It may be a coincidence but only yesterday, in response to a personal query
from Srini Pichumani on the native word in Tamil for grammar, I was
explaining a possible etymology for �ilakkaNam�, the word used to denote
grammar in Tamil. (I had no idea what PataJjali has said.) I wrote,
<<'ilakku' also means 'to brighten', (effective form for the affective
ilaGku) synonymous with viLakku (effective form for the affective viLanku).
Whenever something is made brighter, it becomes easier to
perceive/understand. That is how the semantic extension of viLaGku to mean
'understand' and 'viLakku' to mean 'explain' came about. If similar
extensions are made to 'ilaGku'/'ilakku' one can see how one could have used
it in the context of a term 'explaining' a particular language. Now 'ilakku'
and 'lakS' can be equivalents. The question is did 'ilakku' come first or
'lakS'? We do not know. In "Old Indian" by J. Gonda on page 222, he says, "
The origin of the base lakS- is however in dispute." >>

It is in this context, PataJjali�s explanation of the root �lakS� as
signifying �shining/light� is absolutely amazing. Consider Tamil �ilanku�
meaning  �to shine, glisten, glitter� (DED 707) the affective form of an
affective/effective verb pair. The effective form can be inferred as �ilakku�
from tolkAppiyar�s use of �ilakkam�. �ilakku�  would mean that which makes
something else bright.(The commonness of verbal noun forms and effective
forms of affective/effective pairs in Dravidian has been noted by linguists.)
�ilakkam� as noun has been used in Classical Tamil texts to mean �target to
aimed at and shoot� as well as �light�. In his book �Aryans in the Rig Veda�,
F. B. J. Kuiper has discussed how some non-Indo-European �-kk-� clusters have
been Sanskritized as �-Sk-� clusters and at least in one case as �-kS-�
cluster (Dravidian Tamil �pAkkam� meaning �sea-side village, etc.� > Sanskrit
 �pakSaNa� meaning �village inhabited by savages�) If the same process has
occurred along with the well-known Dravidian tendency of apical displacement
or loss of root vowel before r, l, etc., then , we will have

ilakk- > lakk > lakS

This will explain the connection between the origins of Dravidian ilakkaNam
and Sanskrit lakSaNa. 

Based on my experience with �sUtra� and �ta�ntra�, I tested to see if there
was any semantic connection between �vyAkaraNa� and �viLakku�, the Tamil
synonym for �ilakku�. The result was unbelievable. vyAkaraNa means
�separation, grammatical analysis� (CDIAL 12182). �viLaGku� (DED 4524) means
�to shine, become renowned, be polished, be clear or plain, know� and
�viLakku�  means as a verb �to make clear, explain, make illustrious, clean,
polish, purify and as a noun �lamp, light, lustre, brightening�. The verb
�viL� in DED 4459 means to open out, expand, unfold as a blossom, crack,
split, burst, be at variance, become clear, be separated from�. DED 4460
lists additional meanings for the same word form as �to say, reveal, make
known�. The semantics of the root �viL� is clear, i.e., �to separate
something from something attached to it and as a result make it
clear/bright�. The striking parallels between �viLakku� and �vyAkaraNa� are
obvious. The Dravidian/ Tamil terms are linked by the concept of brightness.
The Sanskrit terms seem to come from different roots. But the linkage can be
seen in Tamil. The cognates of root �viL� are found in all the Dravidian
language groups. Thus this can be traced to proto-Dravidian.

If we remember that this is the hymn by bRhaspati AGgirasa, in which he has
also used the word �ta'ntra', then we know that definitely
Dravidian/pre-Vedic influence was there. Thus, even the concept of the
grammar as �something which explains/makes thing bright by
separation/analysis� seems to be Dravidian/pre-Vedic as well. The meaning of
�mark,sign� might have developed because of the brightness of the signs
painted on �targets to aim and shoot at�.

If Pali and Prakrit words for grammar are �lakkhaNa�, then they may represent
a form closer to the original �ilakkaNam�. So, no wonder Jains and probably
Buddhists were well-versed in grammar.

In conclusion, PataJjali was amazingly �on target� when he tried to explain
�lakS� as meaning �bright�.  

I would like to hear the reaction of the Sanskrit scholars on this list. 


S. Palaniappan

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