Imatges de pàgina
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differed from the Páņiniya Sútras as a straight road from a labyrinth.

What then was the nature of Páņini's extraordinary work, which caused so complete a revolution in the character of Sanskțit literary composition? It consisted of about four thousand Sútras or aphorisms, composed with the symbolic brevity of the most concise memoria technica. These were to the science of Sanskrit grammar what the seed is to the tree, the bud to the full-blown flower. They were the germ of that series of grammatical treatises which, taking root in them, speedily germinated and ramified in all directions. Each aphorism, in itself more dark and mystic than the darkest and most mystical of oracles, was pregnant with an endless progeny of interpretations and commentaries, sometimes as obscure as the original. About one hundred and fifty grammarians and annotators followed in the footsteps of the great Father of Sansksit grammar, and, professing to explain and illustrate his dicta, made the display of their own philological learning the paramount aim and purpose of their disquisitions.

It cannot be wondered, when all the subtlety of the Indian intellect expended itself in this direction, that the science of Sanskrit grammar should have been refined and elaborated by the Hindús to a degree wholly unknown in the other languages of the world. The highly artificial writings of later times resulted from such an elaboration, and were closely interwoven with it; and although much of the literature was still simple and natural, the greater part was affected by that passion for the display of philological erudition which was derived from the works of Páņini and his disciples. Poetry itself became partially inoculated with the mania. Great poets, like Kálidása, who in the generality of their writings were remarkable for majestic simplicity and vigour, condescended in some of their works to humour the taste of the day by adopting

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a pedantic and obscure style; while others, like Bhatti, wrote long poems, either with the avowed object of exemplifying grammar, or with the ill-concealed motive of exhibiting their own familiarity with the niceties and subtleties of speech.

Indeed it is to be regretted that the Pandits of India should have overlaid their system, possessing as it does undeniable excellencies, with a network of mysticism. Had they designed to keep the key of the knowledge of their language, and to shut the door against the vulgar, they could hardly have invented a method more perplexing and discouraging to beginners. Having required, as a preliminary step, that the student shall pass a noviciate of ten years in the grammar alone, they have constructed a complicated machinery of signs, symbols, and indicatory letters, which may be well calculated to aid the memory of the initiated natives, but only serves to bewilder the English tyro. He has enough to do, in conquering the difficulties of a strange character, without puzzling himself at the very threshold in a labyrinth of symbols and abbreviations, and perplexing himself in his endeavour to understand a complicated cipher, with an equally complicated key to its interpretation. Even Colebrooke, the profoundest Sanskrit scholar of his day, imbued as he was with a predilection for every thing Indian, remarks on the eight lectures or chapters, which, with four sections under each, comprise all the celebrated Páņiniya Sútras, and constitute the basis of the Hindú grammatical system;—“The outline of Páņini's arrangement is simple, but numerous exceptions and frequent digressions have involved it in much seeming confusion. The first two lectures (the first section especially, which is in a manner the key of the whole grammar) contain definitions; in the three next are collected the affixes by which verbs and nouns are inflected. Those which appertain to verbs occupy the third lecture; the fourth

and fifth contain such as are affixed to nouns. The remaining three lectures treat of the changes which roots and affixes undergo in special cases, or by general rules of orthography, and which are all effected by the addition or by the substitution of one or more elements. The apparent simplicity of the design vanishes in the perplexity of the structure. The endless pursuit of exceptions and limitations so disjoins the general precepts, that the reader cannot keep in view their intended connexion and mutual relation. He wanders in an intricate maze, and the clue of the labyrinth is continually slipping from his hand.' Again; “The studied brevity of the Páņiniya Sútras renders them in the highest degree obscure; even with the knowledge of the key to their interpretation, the student finds them ambiguous. In the application of them, when understood, he discovers many seeming contradictions; and, with every exertion of practised memory, he must experience the utmost difficulty in combining rules dispersed in apparent confusion through different portions of Páņini's eight lectures.'

That the reader may judge for himself of the almost incredible brevity and hopeless obscurity of these grammatical aphorisms, it may be worth while here to furnish him with one or two examples. The closing Sútra at the end of the eighth lecture is as follows: ' na a.' Will it be believed that this is interpreted to mean, “Let short a be held to have its organ of utterance contracted, now that we have reached the end of the work, in which it was necessary to regard it as being otherwise ?'

Another example, taken from the third section of the eighth lecture, may be useful as showing that grammatical theory is sometimes not strictly carried out in practice. The Sútra (VIII. 3. 31) is as follows: "For Tom si tuk.' This is interpreted to signify, that “when a n comes at the end of a word, and yś follows, the augment at may be inserted,

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and ay may then be written in three ways, thus; sed, s,

9. But if we examine the best MSS. and printed works throughout the whole compass of the literature, we shall find that in practice a y are constantly left unchanged. The same may be said of a , which by another Sútra ought to pass into . See rr. 55, 56, a, pp. 30, 31, of this book.

My aim has been, in the present work, to avoid the mysticism of Indian grammarians, without ignoring the best parts of their system, and without rejecting such of their technical symbols as I have found by experience to be really useful in assisting the memory.

With reference to my first chapter, the student will doubtless be impatient of the space devoted to the explanation of the alphabet. Let him understand at the outset, that a minute and accurate adjustment of the mutual relationship of letters is the very hinge of the whole subject of Sanskrit grammar. It is the point which distinguishes the grammar of this language from that of every other. In fact, Sanskrit, in its whole structure, is an elaborate process of combining letters according to prescribed rules. Its entire grammatical system, the regular formation of its nouns and verbs from crude roots, its theory of declension and conjugation, and the arrangement of its sentences, all turn on the reciprocal relationship and interchangeableness of letters, and the laws which regulate their euphonic combination. These laws, moreover, are the key to the influence which this language has exercised on the study of comparative philology. Such being the case, it is scarcely possible for a Sansksit grammar to be too full, luminous, and explicit in treating of the letters, their pronunciation, classification, and mutual affinities.

With regard to the second chapter, which contains the rules of Sandhi or euphonic combination, I have endeavoured as far as possible to simplify a part of the grammar which is the great impediment to the progress of beginners. There can be little doubt that the necessity imposed on early students of conquering these rules at the commencement of the grammar, is the cause why so many who address themselves energetically to the study of the language are compelled after the first onset to retire from the field dispirited, if not totally discomfited. The rules for the combination and permutation of letters form, as it were, a mountain of difficulty to be passed at the very beginning of the journey; and the learner cannot be convinced that, when once surmounted, the ground beyond may be more smooth than in other languages, the ingress to which is comparatively easy. My aim has been to facilitate the comprehension of these rules, not by omission or abbreviation, but by a perspicuous method of arrangement, and by the exhibition of every Sanskrit word with its equivalent English letters. The student must understand that there are two distinct classes of rules of Sandhi, viz. those which affect the final or initial letters of complete words in a sentence, and those which relate to the euphonic junction of roots or crude bases with affixes and terminations. Many of the latter class come first into operation in the conjugation of the more difficult verbs. In order, therefore, that the student may not be embarrassed with these rules, until they are required, the consideration of them is reserved to the middle of the volume. (See p. 124.)

As to the chapter on Sanskřit roots and the formation of nominal bases, the place which it occupies before the chapter on declension, although unusual, scarcely calls for explanation; depending as it does on the theory that nouns as well as verbs are derived from roots, and that the formation of a nominal base must precede the declension of a noun, just as the formation of a verbal base must be anterior to the conjugation of a verb. Consistency and clearness of arrangement certainly require that an enume

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