Post No.7710

Date uploaded in London – 18 March 2020   

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Kanchi Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekara Indra Sarasvati (1894-1994) was a great scholar in Sanskrit and Tamil. He spoke other languages too. The way he explains things is very interesting. He gives lot of information while explaining something. We may even forget the context. But he will bring us back to the original thread.

While he explained the six subjects studied along with the Vedas, he described the matters allied to grammar. It is one of the six subjects studied by the Vedic students.

Here is the story of Panini in his own words:-

Nataraja has a drum in one hand, called the dhakka or damaruka. When Nataraja dances, Sanaka and his brother sages Patanjali and Vyaghrapada and so on stand around him. Nataraja’s dance can be seen only by those who has inner vision of Jnana. Sanaka and others saw the dance with their real eyes. Vishnu played the drum and Brahma kept the time. At the close of the dance the concluding beats produced fourteen sounds. Branches of Vedic learning are also the same number — Caturdasa Vidyaa.

The fourteen sounds produced by Nataraja’s drum are the means by which the reality of Siva is to be known and experienced within us in all its plenitude. Nandikesvara has commented upon the fourteen sounds in his Shivabhakti Sutra.

Among those present at Nataraja’s dance was Panini. His story is told in the Brhatkatha which was written by Gunadhya in the Prakrit called Paisaci. Ksemendra produced a summary of it in Sanskrit , and based on it, Somadeva Bhatta wrote the Katha Sarit Sagara. It is the source of some of the stories of The Arabian Nights, Pancatantra and Aesop’s fables. Perunkatai is a Tamil version.

The story of Panini is told in the Katha Sarit Sagara – (ocean of stories). In Pataliputra in Magadha, modern Patna (in Bihar), there were two men called Varsopadhyaya and Upa varsopadhyaya, the second was the younger of the two. Upaa kosalaa was the daughter of Upavarsopadhyaya. Panini and Vararuchi were Varsopadhyaya’s students. Panini made little progress in his lessons. So his teacher asked him to go to the Himalayas and practise austerities. The student did so and through the grace of Iswara (Shiva) received the power to see the Tandava dance of Nataraja. With this divine gift of the Lord, Panini indeed saw the Tandava and heard the fourteen sounds at its conclusion. For him these fourteen sounds meant the fourteen cardinal Sutras of grammar and on them he based his Ashtadhyayi. As its very name suggests, this work which is the source of Sanskrit grammar, has eight chapters (Ashta+ Adhyaya).

The fourteen sounds are recited at the Upakarma (Sacred Thread)  ceremony. Since they emanated from the drum of Maheswara, they are called Maheswara sutras.

How did panini make use of the fourteen sounds? He created an index from the sutras to vocalise the letters or syllables together. According to the arrangement made by him, the first letter or the syllable of a Sutra voiced with the last letter or syllable of another Sutra will indicate the syllables or letters in between. For example, the first syllable of the Hayavarat, the first letter ‘ha’ and the last letter of Hal’ I’ together make ‘Hal’. This embraces all the consonants in between. Similarly, the first letter of the first Sutra ‘a’ and the last letter of the fourth Sutra together form ‘ac’. — that includes all the vowels. The first letter of the first Sutra and the last letter of the fourteenth Sutra together form al— it includes all letters.

Fourteen Maheswara Sutras are

1.a i u 

2. Ṛḷ k
3. e o 

4. ai au c
5. ha ya va ra 

6. la 

7. ña ma 
a na m
8. jha bha ñ
9. gha 
ha dha 
10. ja ba ga 
a da ś
11. kha pha cha 
ha tha ca a ta v
12. ka pa y
13. śa 
a sa r
14. ha l

tags Panini Story, fourteen , sutras, Maheswara Sutrani


Lord Shiva and Panini, the Greatest Grammarian!


Lord Nataraja Shiva with 14 Sutras

Research Paper written by London swaminathan

Research Article No.1657; Dated 17th February 2015.

Vakyakaram Vararuchim, Bhashyakaram Patanjalim

Paninim Sutrakaram cha pranatosmi Munitrayam

Let us bow to the great three seers Vararuchi, Patanjali and Panini.

Two thousand seven hundred years ago, there lived a man in India who is considered the father of grammar in the world. His name was Panini. He lived before Buddha and other great philosophers of sixth century BCE. Though he mentioned several great grammarians before his time, we don’t know anything about them. We could not get their books. Panini’s grammar book Ashtadyayi was the first in the world.

Here is a story of a person who gained the greatest knowledge in the world of languages by the grace of Lord Shiva! Tamil Hindus in South India and their counter parts in North India consider Lord Shiva was the one who gave them the language and the grammar.

nataraja (1)

The world is not celebrating Panini’s work Ashtadyayi or Paniniyam just because it was the first grammar book known in any language, but because of its amazing structure. He constructed a grammar for Sanskrit which shows the greatest height to which human thought can raise. This marvellous thing happened 2700 years ago!

Homer’s Iliad was just 100 years old by that time. Other languages except Sanskrit did not have any literature at all! Moses could repeat only Ten Commands of the God! Of course we have Gilgamesh in the Middle East and some other writings in Hieroglyphs (Book of Dead) in Egypt. But they are all museum materials and that too primitive thinking without any higher thoughts. They are not literature. But Sanskrit had huge volume of literature by then. The world’s greatest literary wonder Rig Veda was reverberating in the nook and corner of Asia. Turkey had Rig Vedic Gods in Cuneiform letters. And Rig Veda is still preserved in its pristine form without a change of single syllable. All this is done by word of mouth!! That is another world wonder. Nowhere in the world a literature of that size is preserved without writing till today!


Lord Shiva’s Grace!

Panini was a student of Guru (teacher) Varsha. He was the dullest student in the group. Guru (teacher) was not happy. Guru’s wife also told him to go out into the world and learn the basics. He went to the Himalayas and did penance. Lord Shiva appeared before him and told him that he was fully satisfied with his prayer and was ready to give him whatever he wanted. Panini was very intelligent. He did not ask for gold coins or beautiful women or a kingdom. He asked Lord Shiva to bestow him knowledge in the language. Shiva was very happy started to dance. His kettle drum boomed and the Himalayan Mountains echoed it.

Paninni was so focussed he could get only 14 beats from the drum called ‘Damaruka’ in Sanskrit. Based on the fourteen sounds he wrote the most famous grammar book in the world called Eight Chapters (In Sanskrit Ashta+Adhyayi). It contains 3959 Sutras. Sutra means formulas. He wouldn’t waste a single space. Even if he could avoid a full stop or a comma he would feel as if he had saved one million dollars. But his grammar was complete, no gap, no incoherency.

  1. a i u ṇ
    2. Ṛḷ k
    3. e o ṅ
    4. ai au c
    5. ha ya va ra ṭ
    6. la ṇ
    7. ña ma ṅa ṇa na m
    8. jha bha ñ
    9. gha ḍha dha ṣ
    10. ja ba ga ḍa da ś
    11. kha pha cha ṭha tha ca ṭa ta v
    12. ka pa y
    13. śa ṣa sa r
    14. ha l

This contain all the letters of Sanskrit language.


He mentioned 500 towns in his work. This shows his vast geographical knowledge. He talks about 51st generation of Bharadwaja etc. This shows his knowledge in the ancient history of India. People erected a statue for him in his birth place, now in Pakistan. Chinese traveller Huan Taang saw the statue 1400 years ago. Patanjali who wrote a commentary praised him as Bhagavan Panini. Like Divine Homer and Divine Tiruvalluvar he was called Divine Panini. He was considered a seer – a Maharishi.

Patanjali says that holding the holy grass Dharba in his hand, facing East, he wrote the marvellous grammar in the world. I will explain the 14 sounds he heard in another article. They are called Maheswarani Sutrani. Brahmins repeat the 14 sutras every year on the day they change their sacred thread and start the Vedic studies again. Great Sanskrit scholars say that his grammar is closer to Vedic language than classical Sanskrit. He never mentioned Buddha or Mahavira. He lived well before their time.

Panini mentioned the grammarians before his time: Upavarsha, Parasarya, Karmanda, Sakatayana, Apitali and Sakalya. When he was going into a jungle with his students, there came a tiger! All the students ran away. But Panini stared at the tiger and analysed the word Vyagra, Sanskrit word for tiger.

Western linguists wonder how a person can write a grammar in such a scientific way at that period. Most of the world was uncivilised at that time. But India had produced wealthy literature, quantitatively and qualitatively very high.

In Kashmir a king passed an order that everyone must learn Ashtadyayi and those who passed in it were awarded 1000 gold coins each!


Panini died on a Trayodasi day (13th day either after the full moon or new moon). Even today traditional learners of Sanskrit in North India declare holiday for the studies on 13th day. Unlucky number 13!! Author of Panchatantra Vishnusarman said that Panini was killed by a lion. We know that his town was Salaturya in Pakistan and his mother was Dakshi. All other details and stories about him are just hearsay!

The name Panini is synonymous with the words WONDER, MARVELLOUS and AMAZING. Those who study his grammar will understand it.

Panini of Seventh Century

Indologist Goldstucker placed him in the seventh century BCE and Max Muller in the sixth century BCE. Dr Radha Kumud Mukerjee, Bhandarkar and Pathak thought that Goldstucker was correct. VS Agrawala, the author of a monumental work “India as Panini knew it” —dated him to fifth century.

A.Kalyanaraman in his book Aryatarangini rightly points out, “A language takes a long time to develop. European languages took several hundreds of years in this process. Modern grammar in English began only under the Stuarts. The earliest grammatical treatises in Sanskrit were written around 1000 BCE.  Had Panini lived in fourth century BCE, then there would not be any commentaries by Vararuchi and Patanjali within a short period. Patanjali was placed in 150 BCE or before. Other languages in the world show a big gap between the original work and the commentaries. In Tamil the commentaries came 1300 years after the original grammar book Tolkappiam. In other languages also there is a 500 to 1000 year gap. So we can boldly say that Panini existed at least 500 years before the commentators.


Let us sing the glory of Lord Shiva and his disciple Panini on this Shivaratri day (17 February 2015).

Pictures were taken from and other sites;thanks.