Post No. 8410

Date uploaded in London – 27 July 2020   

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Theodor Goldstucker was a Jew and a great Sanskrit scholar . Well known Sanskrit scholar Max Muller and Goldstucker were both Germans. Max Muller proposed many absurd theories and contradicted himself even in writing. He was torn to pieces by Goldstucker. To support his argument Goldstucker gave some interesting information. One of them is about 10,000 mistakes of Panini (Paanini), the greatest grammarian the world has ever seen. Panini is the Father of Linguistics. Though 68 Sanskrit grammarians lived before him, he was considered the first and foremost grammarian. We have his book Ashtadhyayi in full (Ashta=Eight, Adhyaaya=Chapter).

Theodor  Goldstucker 1821 to 1872

Max Muller –  1823 to 1900

Max Muller said that both Panini and Katyayana were contemporaries and Panini lived in 4th century BCE. Further down his book, ‘The History of Sanskrit Literature’,  Max Muller contradicted himself.

Here is what Goldstucker wrote in his book- ‘PANINI: His Place in Sanskrit Literature’—

“Now if we take a summary view of the labours of Katyayana (Kaatyaayana), we find that of the 3993 or  3992 Sutras (Suutra) of Panini , more than 1500 offered him the opportunity of showing his superior skill; that his criticism called forth more than 4000 Vartikas (Vaartika) , which at the lowest estimate , contain 10,000 special cases comprised in his remarks.

(Vartikas  are the notes made by Katyaayana on Panini’s sutra/rules; though we did not get Katyayana’s book, Patanjali, the greatest commentator, gives his views on the Vartikas and that is how we learn about Vartikas)

Having arrived at this point let us ask – How could India resound with the fame of a work which was so imperfect as to contain at lest 10,000 inaccuracies, omissions, and mistakes? Suppose that there existed in our days a work of 4000 paragraphs , every second or third of which not merely  called for emendation, an addition and corrections , in formal respects , but which, on the whole, compelled us to draw the conclusions that there were twice and half times  as any blunders in it as it contained matter to be relied upon, — is it possible to assume that such a work could create a reputation for its author except one which no sensible man would be desirous of ? if we assumed such a possibility , it could only be on the supposition that such an author originated the subject he brought before the public , and, as an inventor, had a special claim to indulgence and fame; or, on the supposition of public ignorance and individual immorality.

But there is evidence to show that Panini was not the first Hindu grammarian who wrote nor even the inventor of the technical system which has caused so much uneasiness to would be philologers. It is certain, too, that grammar was not, in ancient India, an esoteric study of the few; and there is no proof of any kind that Panini had influenced or hired a number of scribes to puff his grammar and fame. We must needs, therefore, resort to another explanation., if we want to reconcile the fact of the Vartikas with the fact of Panini’s reputation, which was so great that supernatural agency was considered as having assisted him in his work.

This explanation, I hold, can only be derived from the circumstance that Panini and Katyayana belonged to different periods of Hindu antiquity —  periods separated by such a pace of time as was sufficient to allow—

1.Grammatical forms which were current in the time of Panini to become obsolete or even incorrect.

2.Words to assume meanings which they did not possess at the period when he lived;

3.Words and meanings of words used by him to become antiquated; and

4.A literature unknown to him to arise.

It is on this supposition alone that it seems possible to realise Panini’s influence and celebrity; of course, on the supposition too,  that in his time he gave so accurate, so complete, and so learned a record of the language he spoke , that his contemporaries, and the next ages which succeeded him , could look with admiration on the rules he uttered , as if they were founded on revelations from above. If he had bungled along , as he must appear to have done , had he been a contemporary of Katyayana ,– not he, but the author of the Vartikas, would have been the inspired Rshi and the reputed father of the Vyakarana (grammar)”.

Goldstucker gives lot of examples to support his above four conclusions. His beautiful illustration of the word ‘Nirvaana’ is an example; he shows how the Upanishadic word ‘Nirvaana’ changed its meaning completely during Buddha’s days.


My Comments:

In Sanskrit, we have thousands of grammar books because it is the oldest language in the world; because it has the largest body of literature. Even before Iliad and Odyssey of Homer appeared, even before the Old Testament of the Bible appeared, vast literature , the size of Pacific Ocean appeared in Sanskrit. So, changes are inevitable.

Secondly, Panini continuously quotes how the language of his day (Bhasa) changed from the Vedic Hymns (Chandas) which shows he was closer to Vedic age than Katyayana.

Thirdly , even the other ancient language of India– Tamil also has seen changes from  Tolkappiar’s days until now. And Tamil is at least 1500 years younger to Sanskrit. Sanskrit Vedic Gods are in Bogazkoy inscription (1400 BCE) and Egyptian Dasaratha letters, whereas we have Tamil inscription in Brahmi characters with Prakrit words from first century BCE only.

Those who study grammar and comment on it must know both Tamil and Sanskrit; the comparison would give them a clearer picture; and such scholars are rare. Dr P S Subrahmanya Sastri (1890-1978) and Kanchi Paramacharya Swamikal (1894- 1994) were great scholars who could speak about the grammar in both these languages. When one compares these two languages, one must remember the age of their literature as well. Tamil literature came after the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Chinese, Hebrew and Persian literature. Sanskrit literature came before all these literatures. Sanskrit is the only language which is not named after any race or community; and Sanskrit is the oldest language which is used until today, in temples, in naming children, in naming satellites, in naming missiles and planes, in swearing oaths in Parliament and in courts and above all singing in the White House in Washington and  United Nations Organisation in New York. Kanchi Paraamachaya’s ‘Maitrim Bhajata’ song reverberated throughout the world in M S Subbulakshmi’s voice from the UNO in New York.


tags- 10,000 mistakes, Panini, Goldstucker


Written by London Swaminathan

Post No.7684

Date uploaded in London – 12 March 2020

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Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.


Panini lived 2700 years ago in North West India. Great Sanskrit scholars of India and abroad place him before the Buddha. His grammar is closer to Vedic Sanskrit than the classical Sanskrit. More over Patanjali’s huge Mahabhashya must have been written at least 500 years after Panini. When we look at other ‘sutra’ literature, we see a big gap between the original and the commentary.

“The Sanskrit grammarians were the first to analyse word forms, to recognise the difference between the root and the suffix, to determine the functions of suffixes and on the whole to elaborate a grammatical system to accurate and complete as to be unparalleled in any other country”-Macdonell, India’s Past, p 136

“The celebrated grammar of Panini is the oldest surviving representative of this elaborate grammatical analysis of forms and linguistic investigation.

Panini is the architect of the magnificent edifice known as the Ashtadhyayi, which justly commands the wonder and admiration of the world”—V S Agrawala

Weber regards Panini’s grammar as

“Superior to all similar works of other countries, by the thoroughness with which it investigates the roots the language and the formation of its words”–

History of Indian Literature, p.216

According to Goldstucker

“Panini’s work is indeed a kind of natural history of the Sanskrit language. His grammar is the centre of a vast and important branch of ancient literature. No work has struck deeper roots than his in the soil of the scientific development of India”.

The characteristic feature of Panini’s system is that it derives words from verbal roots. He has given us a comprehensive list of suffixes and roots.

As Colebrook has put it,

“the Ashtadhyayi certainly bears internal evidence of its having accomplished by a single effort.”

According to Burnell,

“Paninis grammar, in all probability, been little tampered with; we have better warrant for its integrity than in the case of any other work”.

On the Aindra School of Sanskrit grammarians

Bhagavan Panini!

Patanjali, the author of Mahabhashya, has applied his master mind to reveal the depth and range of Panini’s scholarship. Like Katyayana, Patanjali applies the term Bhagawan exclusively to Panini in recognition of his supreme position in the field of study he had made his own.

Greatest of the modern Tamil poets Subrahmanya Bharati praised him as the scholar who has produced ‘an incredible work’..

Dr S Radhakrishnan, philosopher and President of India writes,

“Two works on dramaturgy , one by Silali and the other by Krsasva , are referred to by Panini. They show that the dramatic art in India existed long before its rise in Greece.We have lost those works”.

Of Panini’s Sanskrit grammar, which could be printed in about 35 pages of quarto size, the late professor A Macdonnell of Oxford said,

And yet this grammar describes the  entire Sanskrit language  in all the details of its structure with a completeness  which has been never equalled elsewhere.  It is at once the shortest and fullest grammar in the world.”

Kalhana in Rajatarangini

Being to the last degree one, who has achieved his tasks and  helped to augment virtue, what is the difference between  His Majesty J ayapida and  Panini who has fully dealt with the Krthya suffixexs  and made rules for  Guna and  Vrddhi.

During the time of the expounding of Mahabhasya through cleverly camaflouged verses , here is one attack on him which thr scholars circulated as follows,

He who has allwed  himself to be eclipsed  by the brahmins and  who prescribes rules for the stability of society what is the difference    between  His Majesty Jayapida and  Panini who has dealt with the prepositions  Vi and  P ra and laid down rules for the  terminations of the past tense.

— Rajatarangini 4-635 to 637

The comment by R S Pandit on these three verses is

Each of the epithets has a three fold mwaning. One as applied to the grammarian and of the other two , one is in praise of Jayapida and  the other in condemnation of  him. The reference is to  the illustrious grammarian Panini  whose memory is kept ever green in India ,

Yena vyakaranam protam tasmai paninaye namah –

To Panini  by whom  was formulated grammar – a salutation.

tags – Panini, quotes, McDonnell, Burnell,