Dear Madhav, John, and others interested in this thread.

Below is my ten-cent’s worth of comment. I hope this helps turning the 
discussion to a more balanced assessment of Rajpopat’s proposal. For some 
reason, my mail application lets me insert my comment only at the end of this 
message thread.

All best wishes,

Hans Henrich

On 20 Dec2022, at 08:37, Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY 
<<>> wrote:

Dear John,

Thanks for a balanced commentary. I think there is too much of मया जितम्, 
rather than a calm presentation and evaluation of alternative proposals. The 
first historical question is to reccognize that it is Patañjali who extends the 
scope of 1.4.2 beyond the ekasaṃjñādhikāra [i.e. the scope defined by 1.4.1], 
and where this extension creates problems, Patañjali interprets the word para 
to mean iṣṭa "desired," allowing a so called pūrvavipratiṣedha. As a result, in 
Patañjali's proposal, the choice between paraṃ kāryaṃ and pūrvaṃ kāryam is 
determined simply by looking at what is iṣṭa "desirable" in a given derivation. 
OK. This is what Patañjali's extension of 1.4.2 has given us. Now Rishi accepts 
Patañjali's extension of 1.4.2 to the whole of the Aṣṭādhyāyī, but not his 
understanding that the rule refers to a resolution of rule conflict by 
referring to the order of the rules. Then he takes the word para to refer to 
the order of morphemes in the derivation [left versus right context], and not 
the order of rules in the Aṣṭādhyāyī. This makes the rule 1.4.2 rather 
irrelevant for the entire ekasaṃjñādhikāra, where the order of morphemes in the 
derivation is not an issue. One then has to find new innovative solutions for 
the choice of saṃjñā in this ekasaṃjñādhikāra, while the very placement of 
1.4.2 coming after 1.4.1 becomes rather meaningless. To account for Rishi's new 
interpretation, certain inconvenient rules in the Aṣṭādhyāyī are then labeled 
as possible interpolations. At least Patañjali's extension of 1.4.2 to the 
whole of the Aṣṭādhyāyī does not leave the ekasaṃjñādhikāra high and dry. For 
these and many other cogent reasons pointed out by various scholars on this 
list, I remain unconvinced of these new proposals.
     An alternative investigation may involve keeping the scope of 1.4.2 
restricted to the ekasaṃjñādhikāra, as Pāṇini most likely intended, and see how 
one can account for the derivations for which Patañjali proposes to extend this 
rule to the rest of the Aṣṭādhyāyī. That would be my suggestion. Best regards,


Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies
Adjunct Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India

[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]

On Tue, Dec 20, 2022 at 4:50 AM John Lowe 
<<>> wrote:
Dear all,

what has surprised and worried me most in all this is the way that an 
unsubstantiated claim has been propagated as truth by Cambridge University, and 
by many otherwise reputable newspapers and broadcasters around the world 
including, in the UK, the BBC and the Independent newspaper, without any of 
them bothering to seek independent confirmation.

I would like to note the honourable exception of the NY Times, who I spoke to 
on Friday after they sought a third-party view. After I explained that this is 
not 'Cambridge student solves 2,500 year old mystery', but rather merely 
'Cambridge student proposes new idea, academic community yet to assess it', 
they quite rightly decided that it was not newsworthy. What I think would be 
much more newsworthy is quite how this Trump-esque propagation of what is 
really - at least at this point in time, that is, until or unless the claims 
are proved true and accepted in the academic community - fake news, happened.

It is of course good to see Sanskrit in the mainstream news, but at the expense 
of truth and academic integrity? I am not so sure.

Rishi, I like you and have supported you in the past, but since you have been 
bold enough to declare yourself the saviour of Pāṇinian studies, perhaps you 
will permit me a few critical comments/questions. The 'philological' argument 
you made in an earlier post does not actively support your argument. At best it 
shows that yes, para in the sense 'subsequent, to the right' can apply to 
contexts for rules. But that doesn't mean that 'subsequent' can't also apply in 
the context of the order of rules themselves, that is, it doesn't rule out the 
interpretation you are arguing against. What would be more probative would be 
to show that Pāṇini himself uses a different term for that, so that para cannot 
have the meaning usually assumed.

Then you note that most readers of this list wouldn't follow the detailed 
technical arguments. True perhaps, but what any academic could follow, what I 
would like in this context, and what is missing from your thesis, is any 
attempt at a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the relative coverage 
of your proposal vs the existing proposals. Let us say, for example, that the 
traditional Pāṇinīya model of rule interaction recognizes, or at least 
discusses, 30 exceptions or classes of exceptions, and the Kiparsky siddha 
model say 20. How many of these does your proposal immediately account for, 
without any other mechanisms required? To what extent can all the cases 
immediately accounted for on the previous models also be immediately accounted 
for on your model? What remains unassessed? What kinds of problematic cases are 
there, and what kinds of solutions are you forced into? How do the numbers and 
types of exceptions compare with those of previous approaches, and can this 
tell us anything about the relative value of the different approaches? This is 
not religion or poetry: it is, or at least aims to be, science - so there must 
be some objective verification available.

Your thesis admits that you have not considered the accent rules nor the Vedic 
rules, so at best you can only claim that your proposal works for a specific 
subset of the sutras. I also note that there are examples discussed in your 
thesis which don't immediately fall out from your proposal, and you admit the 
likelihood of more; and for these you propose 'solutions' like: excluding 
derivations involving uṇādi suffixes as being non-Pāṇinian (p. 230); proposing 
that rules which contradict your idea might be later additions to the 
Aṣṭādhyāyī (p. 212); taking forms which are standardly treated as two-step 
derivations as one-step derivations based on a previously fully constituted 
form (p. 231). To what extent are these 'solutions' better or worse, or 
narrower or broader in scope, than what is needed under earlier proposals?

Perhaps these solutions are valid in the particular cases you discuss, or 
perhaps not, but the point is: only if you, or someone else - but really it 
should be you first off - can provide a clear assessment of the overall 
picture, showing that your proposal uncontroversially - that is, in an 
objectively verifiable way - improves the empirical adequacy of the Aṣṭādhyāyī 
as a grammar of Pāṇinian Sanskrit in comparison with earlier interpretations, 
can the field even begin to move towards the point of accepting this as a 
revolution in our understanding. Otherwise, it is just another idea out there - 
a new one, and an interesting one, yes, and one you can be proud of, but not 
necessarily any better or truer than existing ideas.


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Reading Rajpopat’s dissertation leads to the conclusion that some of the 
objections raised against his approach may be mistaken. Rajpopat (R) does not 
simply talk about the sequencing of affixes and its effects (if any) on rule 
application, but a very specific situation where of two grammatical elements in 
succession, the earlier one can be affected by one rule and the later by a 
different rule, and applying the two rules lead to contradictory results. Only 
in such cases is his interpretation of 1.4.2 applicable and, as he demonstrates 
in a fairly large number of examples, in these cases it gives precedence to the 
rule affecting the later grammatical element.
Because of the large number of examples, R’s proposal deserves to be taken 
seriously. It would be good for Pāṇiniyas to test his examples, check for 
possible alternatives, and to scour Pāṇini’s sūtras for possible 
counterexamples. At this point, I have checked just one example and find that 
it can be accounted for without R’s interpretation of 1.4.2; see below.
Even if R should be right about the fact that, under certain definable 
circumstances, rules affecting the later of two grammatical elements take 
precedence over rules that affect the earlier member, I am still not convinced 
that 1.4.2 accounts for this. If 1.4.2 had been intended as a general rule that 
holds for the entire grammar, it is difficult to understand why it would have 
been inserted after 1.4.1, in a section which (as stated by 1.4.1’s ā kaḍārād) 
has a much more limited domain. Moreover, R’s proposal also has a very specific 
domain; but that domain differs from the one of 1.4.1. So, if the principle 
that R proposes should be correct, it is not likely to have been stated by 
Pāṇini in 1.4.2; like other principles of interpretation it would be inferred, 
rather than stated explicitly by Pāṇini.
Below is my reading of R’s proposal, followed by my critique.
What R. proposes is the following
1. We need to distinguish between “Same Operand Interactions” (SOI) and 
“Different Operand Interactions” (DOI). See the following diagram, where Type 1 
is SOI and Type 2 DOI
2. 1.4.2 applies only in cases of DOI
3. In such cases, the rule applying on the right hand side (RHS; i.e. B) takes 
precedence over the one applying to the left hand side (LHS; i.e. A).
4. In cases of SOI, the apavāda wins out [not clear how R. would handle 
antaraṅga cases, where both rules are apavādas]
Starting with p. 50, R. presents and discusses a fairly impressive number of 
instances where his interpretation of 1.4.2 leads to the correct result.
The first example (p. 50) is this: of a-stems    deva                bhis
    7.3.103            7.1.9
Claim: The two rules 7.3.103 (which changes a to e) and 7.1.9 (which changes 
bhis to ais) mutually block each other; but R’s interpretation of 1.4.2 argues 
for 7.1.9 to apply (hence devais).
The rules are –
ato bhisa ais (7.1.9)
‘After (nominal stems in) a, bhis is replaced by ais.’
bahuvacane jhaly et (7.3.103)
‘In the plural (of a nominal stem), a [anuvṛtti from 7.3.101] is replaced by e 
before (a case ending beginning with [anuvṛtti from 7.3.102] the class of 
consonants defined as jhal [i.e. effectively, before bh or s].’
As it turns out, the choice of devais could also be explained in terms of the 
common-sense principle underlying the notions apavāda, nitya, or siddha, namely 
that rules must have at least some area of application, otherwise they are 
meaningless. So, if there is a conflict, applying a rule that would deprive 
another rule of applying must give way to the latter rule.
In the present case, applying 7.3.103 would deprive 7.1.9 from applying, making 
this rule meaningless. On the other hand, applying 7.1.9 deprives 7.3.103 from 
applying only in this one context (before -bhis); 7.3.103 would still apply 
before -bhyas and before -su and thus remains meaningful. Rule 7.1.9 therefore 
will win over 7.3.103 in the contect  / deva bhis /. [After writing this I 
discovered that Vasu’s “kārikā” on 7.1.9 says essentially the same thing; so 
there is precedence for this account in the commentatorial tradition.]
It remains to be seen whether the other examples adduced by R are amenable to 
similar alternative accounts.

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