Panini knew Greek and Hebrew? (Post No.8010)


Post No. 8010

Date uploaded in London – 20 May 2020   

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VS Agrawala makes some interesting observations about ‘Ashtadhyayi’ of Panini in his doctoral thesis ‘India as known to Panini’.

Here are some details on colouful lightning flashes, Coriander and Poison:-

Aja (goat) 4-1-4;4-2-39

A herd of goats was called Aajaka. Goats and sheep together were called Ajaavi and Ajaida.

Jaabaala denoted a goat herd and Mahaa  jaabaala 6-2-38 one who was the owner of a big sheep run.

Jabala does not seem to be a word of Sanskrit origin. It may be traced to a Hebrew word Yobel or Jobil, signifying Ram’s horn.

Panini shows some acquaintance with Semitic and Iranian words in use across the frontier.

E.g. Hailihila 6-2-38; Arabic halahila, deadly poison, Steigas’ Persian English dictionary, page 1506, whence later Sanskrit Halaahala or Haalahala;

similarly Karsha-berry


Coriander, Coriandrum sativum

Kustumburu 6-1-143

In the South Indian languages, the word for coriander bear a closer affinity to Sanskrit Kustumburu,

E.g. Kotamalli in Tamil, Kotimiri in Telugu and Kotambari in Kannada. It seems to be a loan word in Sanskrit.

My comments

All the above matter has been taken out from his book published in 1953.

A lot of research would have been done by scholars in different parts of the world on these topics.

If we accept Agrawala’s guess that Kustumburu is derived from Tamil that would establish Panini’s knowledge about Tamil Nadu; I have already quoted his reference to Mirchi, black pepper. That was exported to all parts of the world from old Tamil Nadu; now the part which grows black pepper is called Kerala.

But to my surprise the Tamil word Kothamalli is neither in Sangam Tamil works nor in post Sangam Tamil works. So for 1800 Year period we don’t come across Kothamalli or Malli or Dhania seeds in Tamil language.

But Wikipedia shows its origin in Minoan And Mycenean Greece from 2000 BCE.

The words sound similar to coriander.

Here also we can surmise that the word first entered Sanskrit and came to Tamil Nadu. Unless and otherwise we get some other evidence to disprove it, I would say it came from outside like tomato, coffee, cocoa, and chillies.

Either way Indian contacts with these countries, even before Alexander’s invasion will be confirmed.


First attested in English in the late 14th century, the word “coriander” derives from the Old French coriandre, which comes from Latin coriandrum,[4] in turn from Ancient Greek κορίαννον koriannon (or κορίανδρον koriandron),[5][6] possibly derived from or related to κόρις kóris (a bed bug),[7][8] and was given on account of its foetid, bed bug-like smell.[9] The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek 𐀒𐀪𐀊𐀅𐀙 ko-ri-ja-da-na[10] (variants: 𐀒𐀪𐁀𐀅𐀙 ko-ri-a2-da-na, 𐀒𐀪𐀊𐀈𐀜 ko-ri-ja-do-no, 𐀒𐀪𐀍𐀅𐀙 ko-ri-jo-da-na)[11] written in Linear B syllabic script (reconstructed as koriadnon, similar to the name of Minos‘s daughter Ariadne) which later evolved to koriannon or koriandron,[12] and koriander (German).[13]

Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander, also deriving from coriandrum. It is the common term in American English for coriander leaves, due to their extensive use in Mexican cuisine.[13] Both cilantro and coriander are understood in Canada though the seeds are always called coriander.



Modern research in meteorology says that there are three types of lightnings. They are based on the place of its origin in the clouds. But Panini’s grammar and it’s commentaries talk about four different types of lightning on the basis of colours.

I am translating it from Tamil translation of Panini by Dr K Meenakshi. She has given the commentary, but we don’t know whether it is from Vartika or Mahabhasya or Kasika.

If the lightning is red, it means hurricane winds;

If it is deep red, it means it is going to be hot;

If the lightning is yellow, it means rain.

If the flash is white, it is going to be famine.

It is on the sutra 2-3-13

Vaah utpaadena gnaabyamane chaturthy vaktavya

It is about using fourth case suffix in the description of natural catastrophes.

The examples given are

Vaataaya kapila Vidyut,

Atapaaya atilohinii,

Pitaa varshaaya vigneyaa,

Durbikshaaya sitaa bhavet.

Meteorologists have to do more research on the comments and say whether the ancient Hindus were right in their observations. If it is correct, we can claim another first in science.

Though Ashtadhyayi and the three commentaries on it are primarily grammar works they contain encyclopaedic information on various subjects from Astronomy to Zoology.

tags — Panini, Hebrew, Greek, Coriander, colour lightning, Jabala,


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