Re: [INDOLOGY] Patañjali's syntax

Hock, Hans Henrich hhhock at
Wed Oct 30 22:16:12 UTC 2013

Thanks for this, Tim. I deal with this issue in some detail in my contribution to the just-published proceedings volume of the Veda Section, 15th World Sanskrit Conference--copies available on request.

All the best,


On 30 Oct 2013, at 16:59, Lubin, Tim wrote:

In re this message of Andrew's, I differ strongly on the middle bullet point below (scroll down).  I tracked this carefully a number of years ago, and though I don't have hard numbers, I would say that the inverse is the case at least 90%  of the time or more: vai marks the predicate in a nominal sentence, i.e., X vai Y = Y is X.

e.g., uṣā vā aśvasya medhyasya śiraḥ BĀU 1.1.1
The head of the sacrificial horse, clearly, is the dawn.  (Olivelle tr.; Hume got it backwards!)

That the horse and not the dawn is the topic becomes clear further on in the passage, where the syntax shifts:

yad vijṛmbhate tad vidyotate…
When it yawns, lightning flashes...

I don't have time to multiply examples, but if checked it will bear out.

In the case of the construction under discussion, it seems to me that the formula "etad- yad Y" is simply an idiomatic expansion of "Y" marked as topic.
So Prof. Bhattacharya's rendering of mleccho ha vā eṣa yad apaśabdaḥ ("For a corrupt word is indeed a barbarian") gets things in the right order (as well as capturing the sense of the statement as a whole).


Em 30/10/2013, às 16:53, Andrew Ollett escreveu:
Dear Adriano,

I am by no means an expert, but I would agree with Dr. Hock about "invariable yat" (discussed by Gonda in Lingua 4:1ff.) for the following reasons:

  *   I take "ha" to be a causal particle (= yasmāt, hence yat != yasmāt);
  *   I take "vai" to mark the topic of the sentence (usually equivalent to the subject: in most nominal sentences, the subject comes AFTER the predicate, i.e., X Y should be translated as "Y is X," but X-vai Y should usually be translated as "X is Y");
  *   hence "for this mleccha (viz., 'mleccha' in the prohibition "na mlecchitavai") in fact means (yat) 'a bad word'"

Timothy Lubin
Professor of Religion
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, Virginia 24450

INDOLOGY mailing list

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list