[INDOLOGY] Patañjali's syntax

Hock, Hans Henrich hhhock at illinois.edu
Wed Oct 30 18:16:12 EDT 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


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