[INDOLOGY] FW: Can this be true?

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Sun Dec 18 11:54:10 UTC 2022

Dear Rishi, Dear Madhav and Dear All,
Rishi Rajpopat has presented a very well reflected and researched work on
Pānini's grammar which deserves close attention and analysis by specialists.
As I have pointed out a little while ago (Houben 2003), "Cardona's Pāṇini:
A Survey of Research (1976), giving a bibliographic overview plus a
systematic and critical discussion of all research done up to 1975" has  a
bibliographic part (p. 3-136) which "is nearly complete within the limits
the author had set for himself, while the systematic part (p. 139-371, the
Survey proper) can serve as an excellent introduction to the field, the
achievements up to 1975, the major issues of scholarly discussion, the
principal views on these issues as defended by various scholars, and the
evidence on which they based themselves."The problem of "Rule order and the
application of rules" is discussed by George Cardona (1976) on pages
189-191. On p. 190 he mentions Faddegon (1936), Scharfe (1961), Shefts
(1961), Vidya Niwas Mishra (1966), and himself (1970a) as scholars who
accept that "1.4.2 applies only in the section headed by 1.4.1".
In view of  (1) this statement in 1976; (2) Cardona 1970a; (3) the absence
of the formulation of any exceptions to the position taken in Cardona 1970a
and 1976; (6) the organic suitability of Cardona 1970a and 1976 to his
passionate and well-reflected and widely attested endeavour to give full
value to the commentarial tradition, we can, I believe, safely infer that
there is little chance that he would deviate from this in the case under
discussion. Even after Cardona 1976, Joshi and Roodbergen in their
Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini vol. 4, pp. 14, accept that "1.4.2 applies only in the
section headed by 1.4.1" and note that Faddegon only "casually notes" that
AA 1.4.2 is a paribhāṣā valid upto AA 2.2: to this we should add that the
Faddegon does define, as the main topic of his study, the principles on the
basis of which he accepts the validity of AA 1.4.2 up to AA 2.2 only.
With regard to the main thesis, it is attempted to show that it is
*possible* to take AA 1.4.2 vipratiṣedhe paraṁ kāryam as applicable
throughout the Aṣṭādhyāyī with an interpretation of the rule that differs
considerably from those proposed by Pāṇinīyas.
What does not emerge in a convincing way is: why in that case the rule is
placed immediately after AA 1.4.1 ā kaḍārād ekā saṁjñā, and the detailed
answer to this question given by Barend Faddegon has not been refuted.
Moreover, by making the rule AA 1.4.2 vipratiṣedhe paraṁ kāryam apply in a
very different domain than where it was till now thought to be applicable
on account of its position in the sūtrapāṭha -- and, more specifically, in
conflict with the evident adhikāra function of AA 1.4.1 -- creates a lacuna
precisely in the formulation of rules in that section.
If we do not want to use this reference to authority to entirely dismiss
our young colleague Rajpopat's well-researched thesis, we can see how far
we can come if we join him, preliminarily and sketchily, in his
Although unsurmountable from a strict traditional approach, a solution to
the problem pointed out above -- since for this rule this has already been
done by all modern scholars in the field -- could be the following:
if and only if a thorough review of all the cases and the argument
presented by Rajpopat are accepted for his new application (where the
post-Pānini tradition has worked with siddha/asidddha etc.), the rule
vipratiṣedhe paraṁ kāryam should have been placed earlier in the
sūtrapāṭha, before AA 1.4.1ff, because even if the search for the strict
application of linearity in the post-Patañjali tradition shows that this
principle was not there in the grammar as conceived by Pāṇini in the
sūtrapāṭha and Annexes as he accepted them, and even if we accept Joshi and
Kiparsky's argument that the explicit statements on siddha and asiddha
imply the default acceptation of a sarvatra siddham principle, this cannot
mean that the statement of the rules was in an entirely arbitrary manner:
here we see that the entire sūtrapāṭha shows a Triple Dichotomy (see my
"Pānini sans détour", conférences de l'année 2013-2014,
https://journals.openedition.org/ashp/1748), with a first division into a
parsing part (Adhyāya 1-5) and a prakriyā part (Adhyāya 6-8), which
provides a meaningful position to each section and to the rules within each
section (even the Prakriyā works or "reordered grammars" which do not do
away with Pānini's sūtrapāṭha but supplement it often take regarding any
given topic entire continuous series of sūtras as they were given by
However, if the rule vipratiṣedhe paraṁ kāryam is placed earlier in the
sūtrapāṭha, before AA 1.4.1ff, the application in the more restricted
domain of AA 1.4, would not have been evident -- that is, not sufficiently
anchored in the teaching in Pāṇini's school -- and, moreover, the meaning
of the terms used in the rule would have been different. It would, then, be
necessary to have the rule twice: both at an earlier place in the
sūtrapāṭha and where it is now. For the sake of lāghava the rule was
nevertheless read at only one place, where its absence would have been most
problematic, although it stands for both rules.
Whereas this is open to further discussion, Rajpopat's argument goes
entirely wrong where he writes:
"Houben is not in favour of perceiving the Aṣṭādhyāyī as a derivational
machine, thereby also implicitly dismissing both the concept of linearity
and consistent conflict-resolution procedures."
However "Houben 2003" (i.e., "Three Myths in Modern Pāṇinian Studies" which
is a critical review of and supplement to Cardona 1999) does not accept the
Aṣṭādhyāyī as a "derivational machine" because it shows it is a
"reconstitutive" machine -- it is more like a 4th century BCE
spelling-and-grammar checker than a grammar in any modern term of the word
-- and by this neither the linearity (to the extent this is inherent in the
Aṣṭādhyāyī as sūtrapāṭha) nor the presence of conflict-resolution
procedures (which are explicitly stated in the Aṣṭādhyāyī, even in the main
rule under discussion in Rajpopat's thesis, whether interpreted according
to the Pāṇinīyas or according to Rajpopat) are rejected in the "machine"
part of the grammar, which is so impressive that it makes us overlook the
importance of the unformalizable domains of the sentence and sentence
meaning as the main units of language and the beginning and end point of
the progressive re-creation (prakriyā) of words which are syntactically
connected (another way of saying that they presuppose a sentence or part of
a sentence).
See now also my “The Art of Grammar in Context: ‘Science’, Human Interest,
and the Construction of Cultural and Political Worlds.” In: *Science and
Scientification in South Asia and Europe* (ed. by Axel Michaels and
Christoph Wulf): 13-41. London: Routledge, 2020.
(Houben 2020, p. 18: "On the rules, skilfully formulated by several
generations of grammarians up to Pāṇini, a formalism was superimposed and
finally brought to perfection by Pāṇini. Behind it, the skilful and even
artful choices of description all but disappeared except to the discerning
eye of a few critical thinkers, including the earliest great
grammarian-philosopher in the Pāṇinian tradition, Bhartṛhari (fifth century
CE), who at a few occasions emphasised the ‘arbitrariness’ of the
descriptive choices").
That for Kātyāyana and Patañjali and many Pāṇinīyas Pāṇini’s grammar as a
closed system of rules and metarules was not a given but a challenge is
borne out not only by Patañjali’s discussions themselves and works such as
Nāgeśa’s Paribhāṣenduśekhara, but also by (unduly neglected) Pāṇinīyas such
as Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa, author of the Prakriyāsarvasva (Houben 2015 “Pāṇinian
grammar of living Sanskrit: features and principles of the
Prakriyā-Sarvasva of Nārāyaṇa-Bhaṭṭa of Melputtūr,“ *Bulletin d’Études
Indiennes* (BEI) vol. 32, pp. 149-170.) , for whom the metarules, often in
the same wording as the paribhāṣas of Nāgeśa and numerous predecessors, are
explicitly presented as nyāyas, ‘rules of thumb’. Pāṇinīyas such as
Bhaṭṭojī Dīkṣita and Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa have discovered regularity and
occasionally constructed it where it was not there, just as regularity was
apparently occasionally lost (*na veti vibhā.sā*) even at the time of
With best wishes for the festive season,

*Jan E.M. Houben*

Directeur d'Études, Professor of South Asian History and Philology

*Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite*

École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, Paris Sciences et Lettres)

*Sciences historiques et philologiques *

Groupe de recherches en études indiennes (EA 2120)

*johannes.houben [at] ephe.psl.eu <johannes.houben at ephe.psl.eu>*


*https://www.classicalindia.info* <https://www.classicalindia.info/>

LabEx Hastec OS 2021 -- *L'Inde Classique* augmentée: construction,

et transformations d'un savoir scientifique

On Thu, 15 Dec 2022 at 15:11, Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> In contrast with Patañjali, many modern scholars have argued that
> originally the rule "vipratiṣedhe paraṃ kāryam" was intended to apply only
> within the ekasaṃjñādhikāra prescribed by the previous rule "ā kaḍārād ekā
> saṃjñā." While Rishi Popat disagrees with Patañjali, he still seems to take
> the rule as applying across the entire Aṣṭādhyāyī. Popat has an interesting
> suggestion, but I am not yet convinced of his understanding of paratva. I
> would like to hear from my Guru, Professor Cardona.
> Madhav M. Deshpande
> Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
> University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
> Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies
> Adjunct Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India
> [Residence: Campbell, California, USA]
> On Thu, Dec 15, 2022 at 3:42 AM Arash Zeini via INDOLOGY <
> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>> Thanks for sharing this. A great example of close reading, if true. I was
>> most intrigued by Prof. Vergiani's statement:
>> "Mr Rajpopat said he had a ‘eureka moment’ after his supervisor at
>> Cambridge, Professor of Sanskrit Vincenzo Vergiani, advised him: ‘If the
>> solution is complicated, you are probably wrong.’"
>> All best,
>> Arash
>> On Thu, 15 Dec 2022, 08:13 Kenneth Gregory Zysk via INDOLOGY, <
>> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>>> I came across this in my morning news:
>>> *https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/student-solves-ancient-puzzle-that-baffled-scholars-for-centuries/ar-AA15i1XE?cvid=6546b24b0bde472b850c8525d2afe813*
>>> <https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/student-solves-ancient-puzzle-that-baffled-scholars-for-centuries/ar-AA15i1XE?cvid=6546b24b0bde472b850c8525d2afe813>
>>> Best,
>>> Ken
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