William Dwight Whitney.

A Sanskrit grammar : including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana online

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E. wnroisoH.


A Sanscrit Grammar, including both the Classical Language, and

THE Older Dulects, of Veda and Brahhana

BY William Dwight Whitney.




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Entered according to Act of Coagreis, in the year 1879, by W. D. Whitney in the office
of the Librarian of Congwse at Waehington D. C.

Printers: Breitkopf 6 H&rtel, Leipiig.

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'fcUut,-*— ^ '^^ -t-J.- n^i^^^i.^^)



TO THE First Edition.

It was in June, 1875, as I chanced to be for a day or
two in Leipzig, that I was unexpectedly invited to prepare
the Sanskrit grammar for the Indo-European series projected
by Messrs. Breitkopf and H^rtel. After some consideration,
and consultation with friends, I accepted the task, and have
since devoted to it what time could be spared from regular
duties, after the satisfaction of engagements earlier formed.
If the delay seems a long one, it was nevertheless unavoid-
able; and I would gladly, in the interest of the work itself,
have made it still longer. In. every such case, it is necess-
ary to make a compromise between measurably satisfying a
present pressing need, and doing the subject fuller justice
at the cost of more time ; and it seemed as if the call for
a Sanskrit grammar on a somewhat different plan from those
already in use — excellent as some of these in many respects
are — was urgent enough to recommend a speedy com-
pletion of the work begun.

The objects had especially in view in the preparation
of this grammar have been the following:

1. To make a presentation of the facts of the language
primarily as they show themselves in use in the literature,
and only secondarily as they are laid down by the native
grammarians. The earliest European grammars were by the
necessity of the case chiefly founded on their native prede-

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vi Preface.

cessors; and a traditional method was thus established which
has been perhaps somewhat too closely adhered to, at the
expense of clearness and of proportion, as well as of scien-
tific truth. Accordingly, my attention has not been directed
toward a profonnder study of the grammatical science of the
Hindu schools : their teachings I have been contented to take
as already reported to Western learners in the existing
Western grammars.

2. To include also in the presentation the forms and
constructions of the older language, as exhibited in the Veda
and the Brahmana. Grassmann's excellent Index- Vocabulary .
to the Rig- Veda, and my own manuscript one to the Atharra-
Veda (which I hope soon to be able to make public*), gave
me in full detail the great mass of Vedic material ; and this,
with some assistance from pupils and friends, I have sought
to complete, as far as the circumstances permitted, from the
other Vedic texts and from the various works of the Brah-
mana period, both printed and manuscript.

3. To treat the language throughout as an accented one,
omitting nothing of what is known respecting the nature of
the Sanskrit accent, its changes in combination and inflection,
and the tone of individual words — being, in all this, ne-
cessarily dependent especially upon the material presented
by the older accentuated texts.

4. To cast all statements, classifications, and so on,
into a form consistent with the teachings of linguistic science.
In doing this, it has been necessary to discard a few of the
long-used and familiar divisions and terms of Sanskrit gram-
mar — for example, the classification and nomenclature of
'^special tenses" and "general tenses" (which is so indefen-
sible that one can only wonder at its having maintained itself
so long), the order and terminology of the conjugation-classes,
the separation in treatment of the facts of internal and ex-

* It was published, as vol. XII. of the Journal of the American
Oriental Society, in 1881.

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ternal euphonic combination, and the like. But care has been
taken to facilitate the transition from the old to the new;
and the changes, it is belieyed, will commend themselves to
unqualified acceptance. It has been sought also to help an
appreciation of the character of the language by putting its
facts as far as possible into a statistical form. In this respect
the native grammar is especially deficient and misleading.

Regard has been constantly had to the practical needs
of the learner of the language, and it has been attempted,
by due arrangement and by the use of different sizes of
type, to make the work as usable by one whose object
it is to acquire a knowledge of the classical Sanskrit alone
as those are in which the earlier forms are not included.
The custom of transliterating all Sanskrit words into Euro-
pean characters, which has become usual in European San-
skrit grammars, is, as a matter of course, retained through-
out; and, because of the difficulty of setting even a small
Sanskrit type, with anything but a large European, it is
practiced alone in the smaller sizes.

While the treatment of the facts of the language has
thus been made a historical one, within the limits of the
language itself, I have not ventured to make it comparative,
by bringing in the analogous forms and processes of other
related languages. To do this, in addition to all that was
attempted beside, would have extended the w^k, both in
content and in time of preparation, far beyond the limits
assigned to it. And, having decided to leave out this ele-
ment, I have done so consistently throughout. Explanations
of the origin of forms have also been avoided, for the same
reason and for others, which hardly call for statement.

A grammar is necessarily in great part founded on its
predecessors, and it would be in vain to attempt an acknowl-
edgment in detail of all the aid received from other schol-
ars. I have had at hand always especially the very schol-
arly and reliable brief summary of Eielhom, the full and

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▼Hi Peepace.

excellent work of Monier Williams, the smaller grammar of
Bopp (a wonder of learning and method for the time when
it was prepared), and the volumes of Benfey and Mttller.
As regards the material of the language, no other aid, of
course, has been at all comparable with the great Peters-
burg lexicon of Btthtlingk and Roth, the existence of which
gives by itself a new character to all investigations of the
Sanskrit language. What I have not found there or in the
special collections made by myself or by others for me, I
have called below "not quotable" — a provisional designa-
tion, necessarily liable to correction in detail by the results
of further researches. For what concerns the verb, its forms
and their classification and uses, I have had, as every one
must have, by far the most aid from Delbrtlok, in his Alt-
indiscbes Verbum and his various syntactical contribu-
tions. Former pupils of my own, Professors Avery and
Edgren, have also helped me, in connection with this
subject and with others, in a way and measure that calls for
public acknowledgment. In respect to the important matter
of the declension in the earliest language, I have made great
use of the elaborate paper in the Journ. Am. Or. Soc. (print-
ed contemporaneously with this work, and used by me
almost, but not quite, to the end of the subject) by my
former pupil Prof. Lanman; my treatment of it is founded
on his. Myi< manifold obligations to my own teacher, Prof.
Weber of Berlin, also require to be mentioned : among other
things, I owe to him the use of his copies of certain un-
published texts of the Brahmana period, not otherwise access-
ible to me; and he was kind enough to look through vnth
me my work in its inchoate condition, favoring me with
valuable suggestions. For this last favor I have likewise to
thank Prof. Delbrttck — who, moreover, has taken the trouble
to glance over for a like purpose the greater part of the
proof-sheets of the grammar, as they came from the press.
To Dr. L. von Schroder is due whatever use I have been

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Preface ix

able to make (unfortunately a very imperfect one) of the im-
portant Maitrayani-Samhita. *

Of the deficiencies of my mork I am, I think, not less
fully aware than any critic of it, even the severest, is likely
to be. Should it be found to answer its intended purpose
well enough to come to another edition, my endeavor will
be to improve and complete it; and I shall be grateful for
any corrections or suggestions which may aid me in mak-
ing it a more efficient help to the study of the Sanskrit
language and literature.

GoTHA, July 1879.

W. D. W.


TO THE Second Edition.

In preparing a new edition of this grammar, I have
made use of the new material gathered by myself during
the intervening years,** and also of that gathered by others,
so far as it was accessible to me and fitted into my plan;***
and I have had the benefit of kind suggestions from various
quarters — for all of which I desire to return a grateful
acknowledgment. By such help, I have been able not only
to correct and repair certain errors and omissions of the
first edition, but also to speak with more definiteness upon

* Since published in full by him, 1881—6.
** A part of this new material was published by myself in 1885,
as a Supplement to the grammar, under the title **Roots, Verb-Forms^
and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language'^.

*♦♦ Especially deserving of mention is Holtzmann^s collection of
material from the Mahabharata, also published (1884) in the form of
a Supplement to this work; also BOhtlingk's similar collection from
the larger half of the Ramayana.

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X Prefacb.

very many points relating to the material and usages of
the language.

In order not to impair the applicability of the referen-
ces already made to the work by various authors, its para-
graphing has been retained unchanged throughout; for in-
creased convenience of further reference, the subdivisions
of paragraphs have been more thoroughly marked, by letters
(now and then changing a former lettering); and the par-
agraph-numbers have been set at the outer instead of the
inner edge of the upper margin.

My remoteness from the place of publication has for-
bidden me the reading of more than one proof; but the
kindness of Professor Lanman in adding his revision (ac-
companied by other timely suggestions) to mine, and the
care of the printers, will be found, I trust, to have aided
in securing a text disfigured by few errors of the press.^

Circumstances beyond my control have delayed for a
year or two the completion of this revision, and have made
it in some parts less complete than I should have desired«

New-Haven, Sept. 1888.

W. D. W.

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Brief Account op the Indian Literature.

it seems desirable to give here such a sketch of the
history of Indian literature as shall show the relation to
one another of the different periods and forms of the lan-
guage treated in the following grammar, and the position
of the works there quoted.

The name ^Sanskrit" (saihskqrta, 1087 d, adomedy elab-
orated, perfected), which is popularly applied to the whole
ancient and sacred language of India, belongs more properly
only to that dialect which, regulated and establis hed by the
laoors oi the nativ e grammarians; has le d tor the lajst two
ti iousana years or more an artificial |ifft^ li kft that of the
Liatin during most of the same period in Europe, as the
written and spoken means of communication of the learned
and priestly caste; and which even at the present day fills
that office. It is thus distinguished, on the one hand, from
the later and derived dialects — as the Prakrit, forms of
language which have datable monuments from as early as
the third century before Christ, and which are represented
by inscriptions and coins, by the speech of the uneducated
characters in the Sanskrit dramas (see below), and by a limited
literature; the Pali, a Prakritic dialect which became the sac-
red lang^uage'SrKuddhism in Ceylon and Farther India, and is

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Still in service theie as such; and yet later and more altered
tongues forming the transition to the languages of modern
India. And, on the other hand, it is distinguished, but
very much less sharply and widely, from the older dialects
or forms of speech presented in the canonical literature,
the Veda and Brahmana.

This fact, of the fixation by learned treatment of an
authorized mode of expression, which should thenceforth be
used according to rule in the intercourse of the educated,
is the cardinal one in Indian linguistic history; and as the
native grammatical literature has determined the form of
the language, so it has also to a large extent determined
the grammatical treatment of the language by European

Much in the history of the learned movement is still
obscurse, and opinions are at variance even as to points of
prime consequence. Only the concluding works in the devel-
opment of the gramatical science have been preserved to
us; and though they are evidently the perfected fruits of a
long series of learned labors, the records of the latter are
lost beyond recovery. The time and the place of the cre-
ation of Sanskrit are unknown; and as to its occasion, we
have only our inferences ahd conjectures to rely upon. It
seems, however, altogether likely that the grammatical sense
of the ancient Hindus was awakened in great measure by
their study of the traditional sacred texts, and by their com-
parison of its different language with that of contemporary
use. It is certain that the grammatical study of those texts
(9&kh&8, lit'ly branche^\ phonetic and other, was zealously
and effectively followed in the Brahmanic schools; this is
attested by our possession of a number of phonetico-gram-
matical treatises, pr&ti9SkliyaB (prati 9&khSm bdonging to
each several text), each having for subject one principal
Vedic text, and noting all its peculiarities of form; these,
both by the depth and exactness of their own researches
and by the number of authorities which they quote, speak
plainly of a lively scientific activity continued during a long
time. What part, on the other hand, the notice of differ-

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eences between the correct speech of the learned and the
altered dialects of the vulgar may have borne in the same
«ioyement is not easy to determine; but it is not customary
thi^ a language has its proper usages fixed by rule until
the danger is distinctly felt of its undergoing corruption.

The labors of the general school of Sanskrit grammar
reached a climax in the grammarian Panini, whose text^book,
containing the facts of the language cast^to the highly
drtful and difficult form of about four thousand algebraic-
formula-likfi rules (in the statement and arrangement of
which brevity alone is had in view, at the cost of distinct^
ness and unambiguousness), became for all after time the
authoritative, almost sacred, norm of correct speech. ' Re-
specting his period, nothing really definite and trustworthy
is known; but he is with much probability held to have
lived some time (two to foui: centuries) before the Christian
era. He has had commentators in abundance, and has under-
gone at their hands some measure of amendment .and com-
pletion; but he has not been overthrown or superseded.
The chief and most authoritative commentary on his work
is that called the MahSbhSshya great comment^ by Pa-

A language, even if not a vernacular one which is in
tolerably wide and constant use for writing and speaking,
is, of course-, kept in life principally by direct tradition, by
communication from teacher to scholar and the study and
imitation of existing texts, and not by the learning of gram-
matical rules; yet the existence of grammatical authority,
and especially of a single one, deemed infallible and of pre-
scriptive value, could not fail to' exert a strong regulative
influence, leading to the avoidance more and more of what
was, even if lingering in use, inconsistent with his teachings,
and also, in the constant reproduction of texts, to the grad-
ual effacemenl^of whatever they might contain that was
unapproved. Thus the whole more modern literature of
India has been Taninized, so to speak, pressed into the
mould prepared by him and his school. What are the
limits of the artificiality of this process is not yet known.

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xiv Introduction.

The attention of special students of the Hindu grammar
(and the subject is so intricate and difficult that the number
is exceedingly small of those who have mastered it suffix
. ciently to have a competent opinion on such general matters)
has been hitherto mainly directed toward determining what
the Sanskrit according to Panini really is, toward explaining
the language from the grammar. And, naturally enough,
in India, or wherever else the leading object is to learn to
speak and write the language correctly — that is, as author-
ized by the grammarians — that is the proper course to
pursue. This, however, is not the way really to understand
the language. The time must soon come, or it has come
already, when the endeavor shall be instead to explain the
grammar from the language: to test in all details, so far
as shall be found possible, the reason of Fai^dni's rules
(which contain not a little that seems problematical, or even
sometimes perverse); to determine what and how much
genuine usage he had everywhere as foundation, and what
traces may be left in the literature of usages possessing an
inherently authorized character, though unratified by him.
By the term '^classical" or ^ater" language, then, as
constantly used below in the grammar, is meant the lan-
guage of those literary monuments which are written in con-
formity with the rules of the native grammar: virtually, the
whole proper Sanskrit literature. For although parts of this
are doubtless earlier than Panini, it is impossible to tell
just what parts, or how far they have escaped in their style
the leveling influence of the grammar. The whole, too,
may be called so far an artificial literature as it is written
in a phonetic form (see grammar, 101 a) which never can
have been a truly vernacular and living one. Nearly all of
it is metrical: not poetic works only, but narratives, histories
(so far as anything deserving that name can be said to exist),
and scientific treatises of every variety, are done into verse ;
a prose and a prose literature hardly has an existence (the
principal exceptions, aside from the voluminous commen-
taries, are a few stories, as the Da9akumfiraoarita and the
VSsavadatt^). Of linguistic history there is next to nothing

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in it all ; but only a history of style, and this for the most
part showing a gradual depravation, an increase of artificiality
and an intensification of certain more undesirable features
of the language — such hjs the use of passive constructions
and of participles instead of verbs, and the substitution of
compounds for sentences.

This being the condition of the later literature, it is of
so much the higher consequence that there is an earlier
literature, to which the suspicion of artificiality does not
attach, or attaches at least only in a minimal degree, which
has a truly vernacular character, and abounds in prose as
well as verse.

The results of the very earliest literary productiveness
of the Indian people -are the hymns with which, when they
had only crossed the threshold of the country, and when
their geographical horizon was still limited to the river-
basin of the Indus with its tributaries, they praised their
gods, the deified powers of nature, and accompanied the
rites of their comparatively simple worship. At what period
these were made and sung cannot be determined with any
approach to accuracy: it may have been as early as 2000
B. C. They were long handed down by oral tradition, pre-
served by the care, and increased by the additions and
imitations, of succeeding generations; the i^iass was ever
growing, and, with the change of habits and beliefs and
religious practices, was becoming variously applied — sung
in chosen extracts, mixed with other material into liturgies,
adapted with more or less of distortion to help the needs
of a ceremonial which was coming to be of immense elab-
oration and intricacy. And, at some time in the course
of this history, there was made for preservation a great col-
lection of the hymn-material, mainly its oldest and most
genuine part, to the extent of over a thousand hymns and ten
thousand verses, arranged according to traditional authorship

Online LibraryWilliam Dwight WhitneyA Sanskrit grammar : including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana → online text (page 1 of 59)