Sanskrit Compounds

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Oct 14 22:30:24 UTC 2008

Dear list,

I'm hoping someone with a better knowledge of the history of the Sanskrit grammatical traditions, particularly those that deliberately deviated from Panini-Patanjali, can help with this query.

Traditionally the paninian tradition holds that there are four major categories of compounds which are then variously subdivided. In East Asia, when Xuanzang (600-664) introduced some of the Sanskrit grammatical tradition he had learned in India, he provided a list of six compounds, which have become the "standard" typology in East Asia ever since (though modern scholars have returned to the paninian models, via Western studies). The six are (as commonly 'explained' in Chinese texts):

1. tat-puruṣa — dependent compound, in which the first noun modifies the second noun . 
2. dvaṃdva — a compound in which both elements are equal ( 'mountains and temples' ). A term indicating two separate ideas, e. g. teaching and meditation. 
3. karma-dhāraya —a compound in which the first element is an adjective or adverb, and the second element a noun or adjective, respectively ( 'high mountain,' 'very high' ). May also indicate two nouns in apposition, referring to the equality of dependence of both terms, e. g.  Mahā-yāna, 'great' and 'vehicle'. 
4. dvigu — a compound in which the first element is a numeral. 
5. avyayī-bhāva — An adverbial compound , or a term resulting from 'neighboring' association.  
6. bahu-vrīhi —a compound of two or more elements which is used adjectivally ( 'black robe' used adjectivally— 'black-robed man' ); the sign of possession.  

Note, for instance, that in this classification that karmadhāraya is treated as distinct from tatpuruṣa.

According to M. Srimannarayana Murti's _Sanskrit Compounds: A Philosophical Study_ (1974,  Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, v. 93. Vārāṇasī.), this list of six was known as an alternative to Pāṇini in India, but the works he cites that expound it -- Mugdhabodhavyākaraṇa of Vipadeva, Sārasvatavyākaraṇa of Anubhūtisvarūpācārya and Śabdaśaktiprakāśika of Jagadīśa -- are much later than Xuanzang (Hsuan-tsang, Hiuen-tsang, etc.). 

Does anyone know of works or grammatical schools -- either with extant texts or by implication from citations in other works -- that promoted this sixfold classification before or during Xuanzang's time?

Thank you.

Dan Lusthaus

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