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Maharshi Panini Father of Linguistics

Maharshi Panini Father of Linguistics


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12. Maharshi Panini

Maharshi Panini was a Sanskrit grammarian from Pushkalavati, Gandhara, in modern day Charsadda District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan (fl. 6th century BC).

Panini is known for his Sanskrit grammar, particularly for his formulation of the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology, syntax and sema...

is one of the earliest known grammars of Sanskrit, although Pāṇini refers to previous texts like the Unadisutra, Dhatupatha, and Ganapatha. It is the earliest known work on descriptive linguistics, and together with the work of his immediate predecessors (Nirukta, Nighantu, Pratishakyas) stands ...

Writing first reappears in India in the form of the Brahmi script from c. the 3rd century BC in the Ashokan inscriptions.

While Panini's work is purely grammatical and lexicographic, cultural and geographical inferences can be drawn from the vocabulary he uses in examples, and from his refe...

Nothing certain is known about Panini's personal life. According to later traditions, his mother's name was Daksi and his maternal uncle's name was Vyadi. Some scholars suggest that his brother's name was Pingala. Still less is known about his father, whose name may have been Paṇi, but most schol...


The Ashtadhyayi is the central part of Panini's grammar, and by far the most complex. It is the earliest complete grammar of Classical Sanskrit, and in fact is of a brevity and completeness unmatched in any ancient grammar of any language. It takes material from the lexical lists (Dhatupatha, Gan...

that is, they are claimed to describe Sanskrit morphology fully, without any redundancy. A consequence of his grammar's focus on brevity is its highly unintuitive structure, reminiscent of modern notations such as the "Backus–Naur Form". His sophisticated logical rules and technique have been wid...

Panini's grammar marks the entry of the non-sacred into Indian thought, and according to Renou and Filliozat, it then defines the linguistic expression of that thought.

The great thinkers of ancient India were primarily linguists. It is not possible to understand fully the works of theologi...

Gradually,mainly after the X century, manuals were produced that reorganised the Ashtadhyayi for didactic purposes.

These generally had simpler structures and were less ambitious than their Ashtadhyayi source.

Panini made use of a technical metalanguage consisting of a syntax, morpho...

The Ashtadhyayi consists of 3,959 sutras (Sutrani) or rules, distributed among eight chapters, which are each subdivided into four sections or padas (padah).

From example words in the text, and from a few rules depending on the context of the discourse, additional information as to the geog...

Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi has three associated texts.

The Shiva Sutras are a brief but highly organized list of phonemes.

 The Dhatupatha is a lexical list of verbal roots sorted by present class.

The Ganapatha is a lexical list of nominal stems grouped by common properties.

Shiva Sutras

The Shiva Sutras describe a phonemic notational system in the fourteen initial lines preceding the Ashtadhyayi. The notational system introduces different clusters of phonemes that serve special roles in the morphology of Sanskrit, and are referred to throughout the text. Each cluster, called a p...


The Dhatupatha is a lexicon of Sanskrit verbal roots subservient to the Ashtadhyayi. It is organized by the ten present classes of Sanskrit, i.e. the roots are grouped by the form of their stem in the present tense.

The ten present classes of Sanskrit are:

    1. bhū-ādayaḥ (root-full...

 9. krī-ādayaḥ (ni presents)

10. cur-ādayaḥ (aya presents, causatives)

Most of these classes are directly inherited from Proto-Indo-European. The small number of class 8 verbs are a secondary group derived from class 5 roots, and class 10 is a special case, in that any verb can form ...

The Ganapatha (gaṇapāṭha) is a list of groups of primitive nominal stems used by the Ashtadhyayi.

After Pāṇini, the Mahābhāṣya ("great commentary") of Patañjali on the Ashtadhyayi is one of the three most famous works in Sanskrit grammar. It was with Patañjali that Indian linguistic science...

The learning of Indian curriculum in late classical times had at its heart a system of grammatical study and linguistic analysis. The core text for this study was the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini, the sine qua non of learning. This grammar of Pāṇini had been the object of intense study for the ten centur...

To the dry bones of this grammar Bhaṭṭi has given juicy flesh in his poem. The intention of the author was to teach this advanced science through a relatively easy and pleasant medium. In his own words:

This composition is like a lamp to those who perceive the meaning of words and like a ha...

General purpose high-level programming language such as C++ or Python. This includes object-oriented concepts of classes, parent/child inheritance or base/derived classes, overriding of inherited methods in derived classes, concept of functions, concept of keywords, etc. Of course, algorithmic de...

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