Age of Panini and his Knowledge about South India (Post No.7222)

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 16 NOVEMBER 2019

Time  in London – 21-27

Post No. 7222

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The greatest grammarian the world has ever produced is Panini. His master piece Ashtadhyayi (literally Eight Chapters) is the creation of a great genius. Within 4000 sutras (pithy sayings with grammar rules) he has proved that Brevity is the soul of wit. No one else can say such rules in such a short sutras.

Panini’s knowledge about South India is taken as one of the factors to decide his age. Goldstucker and RG Bhandarkar placed him in the seventh century BCE. Others gave him various dates between 4th century BCE and seventh Century BCE. But his silence on Upanishads, Buddha, Mahavira etc place him definitely before Buddha.

Following is the dates given to Panini  by various scholars:-

Goldstucker – seventh century BCE

R G Bhandarkar – seventh century BCE

D R Bandarkar – middle of sixth century BCE

Charpentier – 500  BCE

H C Rayachaudhry –  later half of sixth century BCE.

Grierson – a century elapsed between Panini and Asokan inscriptions

Weber – post Alexander

Each one of them gave his own reasons to place him in the above periods .


Panini did not write about geography of India. But yet he gives the names of rivers, mountains and towns to illustrate some rules.

Panini besides referring to the seas and the islands lying near the coast and mid ocean, actually mentions the portion of country which lies between the  tropics as antar ayana desa. It can refer only to Deccan lying south of the Tropic of Cancer, which passes through Kachcha and Avanti.

Panini also knows of Asmaka on the banks of modern Godavari. He also refers to Kalinga. And people who lived before Panini also mentioned several places in the south. That indirectly proves that south India was known to them.


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