[Note: In an earlier comment that is available at http://www.bharatvani.org/reviews/philology.html, Dr. Swaminathan had questioned Professor Witzel’s estimation of Panini’s comprehension of Vedic grammar. Professor Witzel responded in a very abusive and arrogant manner, just as he often addresses other Indian/Hindu scholars. This response is available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INDOLOGY/message/2939 .

The first few lines of the response by Professor Witzel read –


 Again, I don't object if people want to make fools of themselves. V. Swaminathan, Retired Principal, Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tiruchur, now finds himself on the "patriotic" bharatvani web site in the good company of Rajaram, Frawley et al. Thank god(s) I can save time to answer this purely grammatical question (which could have been handled calmly!)… Daniel Baum <dbaum@i...> has felt it necessary to correct the grammatical deficiencies of Swaminathan in his Indo-Iranian list (Mon, 13 Jan 2003)….”


Daniel Baum himself professes ignorance of Panini, in subsequent communication. Nevertheless, the reader can refer to his view at the URL of Professor Witzel’s post listed by me above. The reader can also refer to considerable discussion on this matter in the public archives of the  Indo-Iranian Discussion list, available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/indo_iranian  ( - Bharatvani Team) ]



Panini’s Understanding of Vedic Grammar

A Rejoinder to Professor Michael Witzel and Daniel Baum


By Dr. V. Swaminathan, Retd. Principal, Guruvayur Sanskrit Vidyapeeth




In my article entitled “Panini’s Grammar, Sayanacharya’s Vedic Bhasyas and Michael Witzel’s Philology” I had exposed the hollowness of Witzel’s allegation that “Panini and Sayana do not know the injunctive e.g. han” and conclusively established that Panini and Sayana were thoroughly acquainted with the injunctive. My thesis rests upon the secure foundation of Panini’s sutras whose dependability as valid evidence can never be questioned. The sutras speak for themselves; they do not expect corroboration or support from any external source.


Witzel has not spoken anything against my thesis. Nor has he made any attempt to examine the evidences I have adduced. It is highly impossible for him to venture upon such an examination as his writings reveal he had not studied Panini’s work in the original Sanskrit.  How can he understand the subtle meanings and the modus operandi of the sutras of Panini?  Therefore he has chosen to launch a personal attack on me, employing offending and uncharitable expressions.  He writes –

1.      that I am a fool (indirectly of course),

2.      that my article is the result of mere patriotism,

3.      that he could calmly answer questions pertaining to grammar, implying that I am ignorant of solutions to difficult problems in grammar, and

4.      that my knowledge of grammar is deficient.

The motive behind this scathing attack is to make the reader prejudiced against my article and tell him that the author can deliver no goods worth the name.


      Let us now see whether these hostile remarks are substantiable. An intelligent reader with a balanced mind knows pretty well that leaving the subject aside and indulging in personal attacks, in a discussion or debate, is a positive sign of weakness – incompetence to proceed on or lack of wit. Will any wise person believe that an intelligent reader will tacitly subscribe to his biased views and switch over to his way of thinking? Certainly not.


      It is absolutely absurd and ridiculous on the part of Witzel to say that he would answer this purely grammatical question calmly. If he is capable of answering this purely grammatical question he could have given his answer in a brief manner at least. Where is the necessity to depute Mr. Daniel Baum to deal with this grammatical question? What is it that prevented him from providing an answer? The intelligent reader certainly knows what it is.


      Reeling under a tight grip of prejudice and intolerance of colossal magnitude could he ever think of calmness? With little or nil knowledge of Panini’s work he arrogates to answer difficult questions in grammar. A penniless man rushes forward to extend financial assistance to others.


      By casting the sarcastic remark “now finds himself on the patriotic website”, Witzel intends to say that my article is not founded on facts; it is a product of mere patriotism. His intolerant attitude has deprived him of his mental faculties to distinguish a writing containing purely matter of fact statements from a writing emerging from pure patriotism. I give, hereinafter, extracts from the writings of some well-known scholars representing their estimate of Panini.


T. Goldstuker:


      “Panini’s grammar is the centre of a vast and important branch of the ancient literature. No work has struck deeper roots than his in the soil of the scientific development of India. It is the standard of accuracy in speech – the grammatical basis of Vaidika commentaries. It is appealed to by every scientific writer whenever he meets with a linguistic difficulty - Panini is the only one among those authors of scientific works who may be looked upon as real personages, who is a Rishi in the proper sense of the word, an author supposed to have had the foundation of his work revealed to him by a divinity”.


Paul Thieme:


      “If Panini had done nothing more than expound the rather simple principles of his functional analysis and make them clear by a few well chosen examples, he would have earned already a claim to be held one of the greatest linguist of all times. Even then he could have furnished Bopp the key to his comparative grammar. Even then we should have to acknowledge that our modern representations of stem - and word - formation in the ‘Indo-European’ languages essentially are nothing else but the consistent application of his great discovery. We merely add the idea of historical development, which is a modern, which is totally European, idea. In fact, Panini has done more. He applied the principles of his functional analysis to the entire extensive field of the Sanskrit language, following it up to its last consequence by leaving unexplained nothing he could explain by it. Thus he presented us not only with a great idea, but with a grand scientific work. It lies before us spread out like a wonderful carpet woven out of hundreds of brilliant discoveries and inventions, all of which derive from one fundamental truth, are subservient to one fundamental truth: the truth that, the inflected word forms of the Sanskrit language can be analyzed into their functional elements in a rational way. The passionate wish to limit the unavoidable rest to a minimum – that is the spring setting in motion the capacities of his prodigious sagacity and of his ingenious intuition, the splendour of which millennia could not tarnish”. “Panini’s grammar has been called the first complete and accurate description of a language”.


“Panini’s teaching method approaches the accuracy of a mathematical deduction. It has, apparently, no practical, but only a theoretical, purpose. It seems to give knowledge for the sake of knowledge only. It does not belong to the category of ‘arts’ but of science”.


“The ‘built-up’ ‘regularly formed’ character of the Sanskrit words and utterances is complicated enough to the layman. It is a truth that could be looked upon as paroksha ‘beyond sensual conception’. It is realizable to the deep insight only”.


“Studying Panini’s vyakaranam we are in the presence of a momentous hour in the history of the development of human thinking. It is an hour of birth of science out of magic”.


A.L. Basham:


      “Though its fame is much restricted by its specialized nature, there is no doubt that Panini’s grammar is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilization, and the most detailed and scientific grammar composed before the 19th century in any part of the world”.


George Cardona, a living Panini expert:


      “Panini’s is the earliest complete treatise of its kind to have been preserved. Moreover this work has exalted status”.


      All these four scholars are non-Indians. Will Witzel boldly declare that they have been inspired by patriotic feelings when they penned the extracts quoted above? Even a cursory reader will not fail to notice that every item in my article is fully supported by unassailable evidence. It is purely objective in nature. Witzel’s presumption that my article is an outcome of patriotism is sheer nonsense.


In contrast, I present here a few samples of patriotic writings.


Shakespeare, in Richard II:


This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden, demiparadise

This fortress built by nature for herself

This precious stone set in the silver sea

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,

This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,

Feared by their breed, and famous by their birth;

Renowned for their deeds afar from home

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land

Dear for her reputation through the world

England bound in with the triumphant sea

Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege.


Sir Walter Scott, in Lay of the last Minstrel


Breathes there the man whose soul so dead

Who never to himself hath said

This is my own my native land.


      Witzel writes, “Daniel Baum has felt it necessary to correct the grammatical deficiency of Swaminathan” (I quote) and reproduces Daniel Baum’s comments that appeared in his Indo-Iranian list. We shall now see whether this statement contains any truth and whether Mr. Baum can propose any correction worth the name.


      It requires no special skill to know that it is Witzel who has commissioned Baum to go through my article and offer adverse comments. The comments offered by Baum might have surely disappointed Witzel owing to the absence of personal attack and use of foul and pungent language in them.


      The purpose of my penning the article is to highlight the fact that Panini and Sayana were thoroughly acquainted with the injunctive in both of its aspects, via, morphological and functional and to prevent the misapprehension that Witzel’s Open Page write up may create in the mind of the readers. In evidence of what I had said I had solely relied upon Panini’s sutras, Patanjali’s comments thereon, RV verses and Sayana’s comments thereon. I had not quoted from the works of any European writer in support of my statements since Panini and Sayana stand on their own legs and do not stand in need of support from any European Orientalist who will be appearing on the arena several centuries after their times. Any citation I had made or will make in the course of this article from their works is only to show their concurrence in respect of the issue on hand and not to derive and add any weight to Panini’s and Sayana’s writings. This fact I had clearly indicated in the first paragraph of my article, by the words “a close study of Sayana and Panini”. Any attempt therefore to assess my article with an invocation to the writings of the European Orientalists is unwarranted. I have freely availed the grammatical terms used in the works, on Sanskrit grammar, in English since the article is mainly meant for the English knowing readers.


      With this preamble I now proceed on a critical examination of Baum’s comments.




      Mr. Daniel Baum accepts unequivocally that Panini and Sayana were acquainted with the injunctive forms when he says “it is pretty obvious they were acquainted with the forms themselves”. But he also says that “he cannot comment on whether or not Panini or Sayana were acquainted with the functions of the injunctive”. He has not disclosed the evidence he has relied upon to arrive at the conclusion that Panini and Sayana were acquainted with the injunctive form.


      Evidently he has to go to the works of Panini or Sayana in the original to ascertain whether they have known the injunctive. Secondhand information gathered from the studies carried on in the modern European languages, distanced by millennia, will never serve as a secure foundation to base any conclusion. If his assertion that Panini and Sayana were acquainted with the injunctive form is a result of a first hand knowledge of the Ashtadhyayi, then he must be able to express decisively about Panini’s acquaintance with the functions of the injunctive. There would have been no occasion for the non-committal statement ‘I cannot comment on whether or not Panini or Sayana were acquainted with the function of the injunctive’, to emerge. The study of the Ashtadhyayi would have unfailingly enabled him to come forward with a decisive statement. If Panini’s work in the original had not been consulted by him in this regard, then he is not competent to offer any comment on my article. I reiterate that my account of the injunctive in both of its aspects was entirely based on the grammatical rules of Panini. In fact, my account is only an English rendering of the rules. In my article I had referred to the rules concerned by the numbers of the chapters, sections and the rules.


      Panini has elaborately dealt with the functions of all the verbs – tenses and moods, ten in total according to his scheme – by a large number of sutras nestling in the second, third and fourth sections of the third chapter of his work. In the light of the above-mentioned facts the comment “the description of the functions of the injunctive as found in the article are quite inaccurate” cannot sustain. I also quoted from A. A. Macdonell’s Vedic grammar, “The general meaning of the injunctive expresses a desire combining the senses of the subjunctive, the optative and the imperative”.




      Never had I said that the augment is optional in general. Nor had I referred to any rule of Panini that enjoins the augment optionally. Nor had I written that the injunctive form takes the augment optionally. All the five examples I had given for the injunctive are augmentless forms; I had not included even one augmented form in the list. Therefore the statements “the augment is probably never optional”, “Thus the augmentless forms should always be termed injunctives” meant as a corrective to my description of the injunctive form cannot claim legitimate accommodation in the midst of the comments and as such unwarranted. It presupposes what I had never said and is therefore baseless. Perhaps Mr. Baum thinks that the word ‘bahulam’ in P VI.4.75 (I had cited) means option. In Panini’s sutras,bahulam’ is employed to convey more than one sense and option is one among them. Bahulam meaning option holds good only in the case of the augmentless indicative.


      Further the statement that “the augment is simply to be dropped when the poet felt like it” involves self-contradiction. It implies that the poet does not drop it when he does not feel like it. The clause ‘when the poet felt like it’ is meant to necessarily exclude the opposite (when he did not feel like it) as otherwise it becomes superfluous and has no place in the sentence. If the augmentless forms are always injunctive how could the poet use an augmented form?  When he does not drop it the augment becomes optional, an instance of blatant contradiction.


An important note on augment (agama) dropping (lopa) and option (vibhasha)


      Augment, dropping, option and the like are certain devices, adopted by the ancient Sanskrit grammarians, to enable the students to learn the formation of words easily (laghuna upayena) with minimum effort (alpena yatnena) and in less time. Patanjali observes, “Very extensive indeed is the domain of words”, “There is no easier method other than Vyakarana in learning words”, “Will learn vast expanse of words with minimum effort”. These devices have no function in the actual language. Finished words are already available in the language. The speaker chooses the words capable of conveying his ideas. Both the scholar and the layman do not fashion words either by dropping some element from (bhavati, bhavat), or by adding some element to (dattva, dattvaya), the existing word. Nor do they optionally effect an addition or dropping (ahni, ahani, janah, janasah).


An ordinary individual (with moderate learning or no learning) even without a knowledge of the grammatical devices is able to clothe his ideas in a correct and easily understandable language. Patanjali expresses this in a humorous language. “When one wants to do some work with a jar he goes to the potter and requests him to make a jar for his use. Whereas a person who wants to express by means of words does not go to the residence of a grammarian and request him to manufacture words for his use. Even without going to the grammarian he simply gathers the ideas in his mind and makes them known by the utterance of proper words”.


Reverting to the foregoing discussion, the poet does not fashion the injunctive from an augmented past tense form by dropping the augment. Both the augmented and augmentless forms are already there in the language he speaks. He picks up the augmented or augmentless forms according to his requirements. In a prose composition the author can freely exercise his option. But in a metrical composition like the RV Samhita, his freedom for option becomes restricted and he has to abide by the exigencies of the metre. Exercise of option could take place only in respect of the past indicative and not the injunctive.


      The augmented aorist and imperfect form of a verb expresses an action of the past, P III.2.110 and 111. In the sutras that define them, the words aorist and imperfect stand for both the augmented and augmentless forms. As a consequence, the augmentless form also expresses an action of the past. Further according to P III.4.6, the past tense forms (augmented and augmentless) are optionally employed as moods, in the Vedas. To facilitate a clear understanding, the meaning of P III.4.6 is presented in two parts – (1) the augmentless past tense form signifies either a tense or a mood and (2) the augmented past tense form also signifies either a tense or a mood.


      In my article I spoke about the dual function of the augmentless form as a tense (past indicative) and a mood (injunctive). I also pointed out the difficulty in identifying the augmentless verbal formation on account of the identity in its form and also the context as the infallible guide in settling the nature of the form – tense or mood.


      A close study of the contextual setting of the verb becomes an indispensable aid in taking a decision in this regard. The augmentless past tense form will have to be taken as past indicative if,

1)   it unmistakably expresses an event of the past. Eg. Vadhim (RV VI.165.8), vadhih (RV IV.30.8), vadhit (RV IV.17.3), manyata (RV IV.17.4), janayanta (RV VII.22.9), janayan (RV X.66.9)

2)   the other finite verbs in the verse describe the happenings of the past.

Eg. (a) Prairayat, ajanayat, vidat, saadhat.  II.19.3 (all imperfect forms predicated to the same subject)

      (b) Vriscat, cakramanta (II.19.2)

      (Several verses in II.19 allude to the various exploits of Indra – all events of the past)

      (c) prabharah, avah, ahan, tutoh (VI.26.4)

      (d) Asa, mamada, han (VI.47.2)

3)   it happens to be one among the verbs, in a verse, that allude to a chain of past events.

(a)                astabhayat, dharayat, paprathat, cakara, II.15.2

(b)               archan, adatta, han, asrijat  V.29.2

(c)                airayatam, pra vocat. I.117.22

 4)  the augmented form is employed in the same hymn to express the same action.

(a)                Kah, akah V.29.5, 10

(b)               Han, ahan V.29.2, 3

(c)                Bhinat, abhinat II.11.20, 18; I.52.5, 10

(d)               Vocat, avocan I.117.22, 25


      A careful examination of the context would reveal some more guidelines required in deciding the indicative character of the verb (augmentless past tense form); but the guidelines utilized above are sufficient for our purpose.


      The above cited examples (of augmentless forms) in their contextual setting unequivocally speak in favour of their indicative character. They satisfy Panini’s definition of the past indicative, (P III.2.110 and 111). In light of the facts presented above, the statement ‘they do not really behave like indicative forms’ dwindles into nothing.


      The description of the function of the indicative forms in my article is strictly in accordance with the definition given by Panini. Consequently, the charge of inaccuracy vanishes into thin air. The European orientalists also accept the indicative character of the augmentless past tense forms. A. A. Macdonell writes, “In sense the forms that drop the augment are either indicative or injunctive, these being about equal in number in the RV”. “When normal they are of course identical with the unaugmented indicative”. “Its use constitutes one of the chief difficulties of Vedic grammar and interpretation because it cannot always be distinguished from the subjunctive or from an unaugmented indicative”.


Note on the second meaning of P III.4.6


      In my article I had observed that the term imperfect and aorist in P III.4.6 stand for both the augmented and augmentless forms. In a former context I described the meaning of the sutra in two parts; i.e., with reference to (1) the augmentless forms and (2) the augmented forms. So far we had occasion to speak only about the augmentless form behaving as a mood (injunctive) as well as a tense (past indicative) – the first part of the meaning of P III.4.6. Now we turn towards the second part; i.e., the augmented form and its dual function; modal and temporal. The augmented form as a past tense verb is too well known to require any proof. The behaviour of the augmented form as a mood stands in need of clarification. There are certain augmented injunctive forms, of course, in association with ‘maa’. The Kasika gives some examples: (1) ‘maa bijaani avaapsuh’ (2) maa abhitthas and (3) maa avah, under P VI.4.75. The Kasika considers P VI.4.75 a more fitting context since the injunctives appear in association with the prohibitive particle ‘maa’. It is evident that the source of these examples must be some Vedic texts since they had been cited as illustrations of a grammatical rule whose field of operation is limited to the Vedas. This usage appears to be a deviation from the normal. This rather strange usage, however, has gained entry even into the classical poetry through the epic. The famous verse, in the first canto of the first book of the Ramayana, ‘maa pratishtham agamah’, etc is a typical example from the epic. The Padamanjari while explaining Kasika VI.4.74 quotes, ‘maa valipatham anvagah’, the foot of a verse from a kavya. P III.4.6 is a general rule and the augmented injunctive comes within the purview of this rule. According to P III.4.6., the augmented injunctive will have to be considered a normal formation, not an instance of deviation or irregularity. This single rule comprehends all types of injunctives (with maa, without maa, augmented and augmentless) leaving none beyond its ambit. It establishes beyond doubt that Panini is a great grammarian endowed with an incisive intellect and possessing a deep insight into the very nature of the language enabling him to have a comprehensive view of the entire domain of words, the units of speech.


      The writer has said that “there is a big difference between the present injunctive and aorist injunctive”; but not what the difference consists in. He perhaps intends, by implication (as understood from the next sentence), that the aorist injunctive may sometimes be used as imperative, but never the present injunctive.


      The existence of such a difference is not borne out by facts. On the other hand, there is ample testimony to invalidate the stand taken by the writer. In my article I pointed out that ‘han’ RV VII.9.6 is second person present injunctive and Sayana has given the meaning by the imperative form, ‘jahi’. The following instances are second person present injunctives used in the imperative sense: rinoh, pinak, veh etc. Besides the second person, we come across instances where forms of the other two persons also are used in the imperative sense eg. han, kshipat, takshat, nakshat, sphurat, namanta, navanta, nakshanta, cyavam. In the presence of examples to prove the contrary, the observation that the present injunctive is apparently never used modally lacks substance.

      The writer has also said that the present and the aorist differ in their other functions when not combined with ‘maa’, but not what those differences are.


      Panini has described the meanings of the optative in a number of sutras. The meanings given by him could be brought under two distinct categories – (1) those independent of the associate word and (2) those dependent on the associate word. He ascribes to the imperative (P III.3.162) and subjunctive (P III.4.7) only those meanings that belong to the first category. To put it precisely, the imperative and the subjunctive convey all the meanings (independent of the associate word) of the optative i.e., to express the meanings of the first category the speaker is at liberty to use any one of the modal forms – injunctive, optative, imperative or subjunctive.

 eg. na maa taman na sraman nota tandran

na vocaama maa sunoteti somam I

yo maa prinaat yo dadat yo nibodhaat

yo maa sunvantam upa gobhir aayat     II.30.7


Here we witness the free use of the subjunctive, imperative and injunctive. According to P III.4.6, the imperfect and the aorist forms – augmented as well as augmentless – could be used modally. In other words, the augmentless past tense form conveys the meanings of the injunctive, optative, imperative or subjunctive.


      Vocam according to Panini is a regular injunctive form. There is no evidence to presume that it must be a subjunctive form. The other subjunctive forms of ‘vac’ that actually occur in the RV are ‘vocaati’, ‘vocaama’ and ‘vocaavahai’ and accordingly the first person singular form would have been ‘vocaa’. ‘Vocam occurs in several hymns of the RV.  One such instance is ‘vishnor nukam viryaani pra vocam’ (I.154.1). Macdonell also holds that ‘vocam’ here is an injunctive form.


      The writer believes that ‘vocam’ in ‘indrasya nu viryaani pravocam’ does not in itself contain the injunctive sense (injunction or command), but borrows it from the outsider ‘nu’.


      Nu’ is an adverbial particle meaning, ‘now’, ‘quickly’ etc. ‘Nu’ as an adverb can express only time or place or the manner of the action denoted by the verb – here the injunctive form - and nothing else; it could never convey the injunctive sense (command). As such, it cannot give what it never possesses. If the injunctive does not contain the modal sense within itself it forfeits its claim for the name, injunctive.


      An injunctive verbal form means a command to execute the action expressed by the root element (of the verb). “The augmentless forms of the past tenses used modally are suitably termed injunctives as they appear to have originally expressed an injunction”.


      Further if ‘vocam’ is assumed to be an injunctive it contains in itself, beforehand, the injunctive sense and therefore it does not require importation of the sense from an external source.


      Furthermore, the use of the injunctive forms – in large number – of the root ‘vac’ not in association with ‘nu’ absolutely rules out the possibility of ‘nu’ being a lender.

Vocam: ‘Indrasya vocam prakritani viryaa RV II.21.3 Also V.31.6 and V.85.5

Vocat:   III.54.5 and IV.5.3


      The analogies of ‘maa’ and the augment ‘a’ are not befitting in the present context. Maa is a negative prohibitive particle and like ‘nu’ has a definite meaning (negation) of its own: negation pure and simple, i.e., unsullied and unalloyed with any extraneous meaning. When construed with a verbal form in a sentence it could only negate what has been expressed by the verb; it neither acquires any additional meaning nor does it become capable of imparting any extra meaning. The word and the particle (with which it is construed in a sentence) with their own individual meanings are already there in the language. The speaker simply pieces them together to express the intended meaning. There is no usage or Panini’s rule which speaks for ‘maa’ acquiring or imparting any extra meaning. The writer’s contention that the injunctive gains extra meaning - negative modality - from the addition of ‘maa’ leads to the presupposition of (1) ‘maa’ performs the dual function of expressing negation and modality and (2) the modal form stands stripped of its modal sense. As pointed out previously, there is no evidence whatsoever to sustain the first supposition.


      The writer affixes his seal of approval on the second supposition when he says ‘the injunctive lacks verbal categories’. Such a supposition entails the acceptance of the following deductions.

1.      A finite verb (the injunctive) expresses a mere action - the meaning of only a part (root) of it.

2.      The verbal inflection conveys no meaning.

3.      The subject of a sentence will have to be syntactically related to a word expressing mere action (having no reference to time or mode).

4.      The root even with the addition of a verbal inflection expresses mere action (its own meaning).

5.      The term injunctive becomes a misnomer; i.e., it is called injunctive although it never expresses an injunction.


      A careful consideration of the nature of the verbal forms in Sanskrit will falsify these deductions. By subjecting the Sanskrit language to a minute analysis Panini has discovered that every constituent unit of a word (root, suffix, inflection and preposition) expresses a meaning of its own. The finished word conveys the sum total of the meanings of its constituent units. No word therefore could afford to drop out the meanings of its constituents and no constituent of a word could be deemed meaningless. The result of his penetrating analysis (the meanings of suffixes and inflections) lay embodied in chapters 3, 4 and 5 of his ashtadhyayi. By any stretch of imagination no word or a part of it could be deemed as devoid of meaning.


      “A full description is given of the suffixes (pratyaya) only; we are instructed not only as to their phonetic shape and the effect they have on preceding elements (guna, vrddhi, accent), but also as to their functions, since these are the necessary condition for their being added. Panini focuses his interest on the proceedings by which the simple abstract elements are connected in order to form utterance (speech units)”.


“Panini offers his arguments in the form of a description. It is not the description of the Sanskrit language, but a regular description of word formation in Sanskrit. As such it is indeed perfect, not only in the sense that it is (almost) complete but also as to its quality. It is throughout mechanistic, in so far as it does not make, beside its basic assumption, any arbitrary assumption and presents only observable and verifiable facts with strict objectivity”.

In a sentence, verb is the most dominant element and as such a sentence can never dispense with a verb. A verb, by definition, must necessarily express the time or mode of action in addition to the action. In a Sanskrit sentence there must be perfect agreement between the subject and verb (the main element of the predicate). The agreement consists of identity in person and number. To make a meaningful sentence the verb must convey an action - temporal or modal - a person and a number. In other words, a word, built of a root and inflection (verb), must be an integral part of a sentence.


      As such, an injunctive form would fail to convey any meaning and therefore cannot become the essential part of a sentence if the modal inflection refrains from expressing any meaning. i.e., a word expressing a mere action is not a verb and cannot act as a constituent unit of a sentence.


      In Sanskrit, a root expresses its meaning, ‘action’, only when accompanied by an action- noun, suffix.  In association with a modal inflection a root can never express its meaning. There is no usage or grammatical rule that may be profitably availed in this regard. Even root nouns such as ‘druh’, ‘subh’, ‘rish’ and the like are supposed to be followed by a suffix capable of preventing the strengthening (‘guna’) of the root. Otherwise the absence of ‘guna’ in these instances would become inexplicable.


      The term injunctive is not a misnomer in Panini’s grammar since it expresses an injunction, one among the meanings of the injunctive, according to P III.4.6.  This aspect of the

injunctive has been highlighted earlier.


      The augment ‘a’ does not stand on a par with ‘nu’ or ‘maa’ – particles having independent existence and a meaning of their own. Whereas the augment ‘a’ never exists independent of the verbal form; it always exists as a limb of the past tense verb. It does not possess any meaning. Panini also does not ascribe any meaning to the augment as he does in the case of a suffix. Both the augmented and augmentless past indicatives do not exhibit any difference in their meanings. A meaningful augment would have necessarily brought about a difference in their meanings. A meaningless augment cannot furnish the past tense with meaning.


      Further it does not stand aloof like ‘nu’ or ‘maa’; it is a part and parcel of the verb. The augment alone bears the accent (P VI.4.71) and not any other vowel forming part of the augmented past tense form; this fact is indeed a strong proof of its being an integral part of the past tense verb. The analogy of the augment therefore becomes irrelevant in the present context.


      The augmentless indicative, the injunctive and the subjunctive forms of a good number of roots are identical and therefore a confusion regarding their identity is bound to prevail. In such instance the context is a safe guide in identifying the mood of the form in question.


      Mr. Baum has accepted in no uncertain terms that Panini had a thorough knowledge of the formal aspect of the injunctive. He has also confessed that he cannot say anything about Panini’s acquaintance with the functional aspect i.e., he is unable to give a decisive reply.


      Therefore Witzel’s allegation that Panini was ignorant of the Vedic injunctive crumbles into nothing since he cannot obtain the eagerly expected assent from Baum’s comments.


      Baum’s attempt to discover inaccuracy in my descriptions of the functions of injunctive and the indicative has not been attended with success; on the other hand it is a thorough failure.  I have proved that my description of the functions of the injunctive and the indicative are strictly in accordance with Panini’s definitions and therefore accurate – illustrating by extensively quoting, at every step, the usages in the Rigveda Samhita.


      Not only when attributing inaccuracy to my description of the functions of the injunctive and indicative, but throughout his comments he is not sure of what he is articulating. His comments abound in such vague utterances as ‘probably never’, ‘do not really behave very much’, ‘may sometimes be used’, ‘mostly in cases where’, ‘probably secondary’, ‘apparently never used’, ‘I believe’ and ‘in general lacks verbal categories’ which will land the reader nowhere. This uncertainty is perfectly in conformity with his opening statement ‘I cannot comment whether or not’ etc. In short, Baum is unable to pronounce anything about my article.


      Witzel’s conveniently ignoring the subject and calling me deficient in grammar will never confer on him proficiency in grammar. Could he establish that I am deficient in grammar?  It is only to conceal his deficiency that he freely and frequently resorts to personal attacks. His knowledge of Sanskrit grammar is questionable; what to speak of his proficiency? He should not forget the English proverb: ‘Those who live in glass houses should not throw stone at others’.


      He is an unrivalled adept in slinging mud at others and his articles contain only personal attacks. The Open Page, ‘The Hindu’ dated March 12, 2003 reads “Witzel’s present article reads personal rather than academic presentation”  -- “ for an unbiased reader the whole article reads a personal attack on an individual writer and exhibits certain amount of impatience to listen to the other view”.


      Witzel by himself could not deliver any message on the matter under discussion. Nor could he gain enlightenment from Baum.


      My thesis stands unshaken.