A Sanskrit Grammar for Students
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A Sanskrit Grammar for Students

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Item Code: IDD240
Author: Arthur A. Macdonell
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 9788124600955
Pages: 264
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7" x 4.7"
Weight 250 gm

This fresh typesetting of Prof. Macdonell's work explains the mechanics of the Sanskrit language's euphonic combinations (sandhi), declension, conjugation, nominal stem formation and compounds, etc., with insights into the syntactical arrangement of Sanskrit sentence.

About the Book

It is an altogether fresh 'reprint' of the eminent Orientalist, Arthur Macdonell's Sanskrit Grammar (1927 edition: Oxford). Which, ever since its first appearance, has been widely acclaimed: both in India and elsewhere in the world, as an authentic, at once relevant account of classical Sanskrit.

Projecting, with well-chosen examples, a whole mass of grammatical forms to be met with in the post-Vedic Sanskrit literature, the author systematically explains the mechanics of its euphonic combinations (sandhi), declension, conjugation, nominal stem formation and compounds, and a lot else - with complete insights into the syntactical arrangement of Sanskrit sentence. Supported by several information-packaged appendices, the book also carries a brilliant resume of the Sanskrit grammatical tradition going back to the 5th century BC.

Now typeset anew with the latest technological aids, the late Macdonell's work today remains as much indispensable to the students of Sanskrit as to the scholars, who see to discover for themselves the splendour of its literary classics.

Preface to Second Edition

The original form of the present work was my abridgement (1886) of Max Muller’s Sanskrit Grammar (2nd ed., 1870). That abridgement was the outcome of what I had found by experience, both as a learner and a teacher, to be unessential in an elementary grammar. It was also partly due to my conviction that the existing Sanskrit grammars, being too much dominated by the system of Panini, rendered Sanskrit unnecessarily hard to learn. The introductory sketch of the history of Sanskrit grammar prefixed to the present volume will, I think, sufficiently show that the native Indian system is incompatible with the practical methods of teaching and learning in the West.

In the first edition of this grammar, published in 1901, the earlier book was transformed into an entirely new work. Though, on the whole, considerably enlarged it showed many omissions. For I made it my guiding principle to leave out all matter that is found exclusively in Vedic literature or in the Hindu grammarians, the aim I had in view being to describe only such grammatical forms as are to be met with in the actual literature of post-Vedic Sanskrit. The student of Sanskrit grammar would thus not be burdened with matter which could never be of any practical use to him. Hence I refrained from employing, even in a paradigm, any word not to be found in the literature; though for the sake of completeness I here often gave inflected forms represented only by other words of the same type. The purpose of the book, then, was not to supply a mass of forms and rules mainly useful for answering examination questions more or less mechanically, but to provide the student with the full grammatical equipment necessary for reading any Sanskrit text with ease and exactness.

The present edition has undergone a thorough revision aided by the experience of ten more years’ teaching and by the suggestions of pupils and others who have used the first edition. The improvements chiefly consist of additions, which have increased the size of the book by twenty-four pages.

An entirely new portion of the grammar are the three sections comprised in pages 159-168. The first (182) deals with nominal stem formation, giving an account of the primary and secondary suffixes, and thus furnishing the student with a more complete insight into the structure of Sanskrit words then the first edition supplied. In connexion with these suffixes a survey (183) of the rules of gender is added. The third new section (184) describes the formation of verbal compounds. The most noticeable case of expansion is otherwise to be found in the rules about the treatment of final dental n in Sandhi: these now give a complete account (36, 40) of the changes undergone by that letter. In the accidence a few new paradigms have been introduced, such as graven (90, 4) and additional forms have been given, as in the difficult s-aorist of dah, where (144, 5) even middle forms, though not occurring in that verb, are supplied as a model for other verbs presenting similar difficulties of euphonic combination. Other improvements are intended to facilitate the use of the grammar. Thus in the list of verbs (Appendix I) abbreviations have been added to indicate the various forms which beginners have otherwise often found difficulty in identifying. Again, the Sanskrit Index has been made both fuller and more explanatory (see e.g. prakrta). A decidedly practical improvement is the substitution of a brief synopsis of the subject-matter for an elaborate table of contents at the beginning, and the addition of a General Index at the end. All these extensions and changes will, I feel sure, be found to have considerably increased the practical value of the grammar both in matter and form.

As in the first edition, the book is transliterated through-out, excepting the list of verbs (Appendix I) and the syntactical examples at the end (180; 190-218). The system of transliteration remains the same, being that which is now most generally adopted in the West. This system includes the use of r (to be pronounced with a syllabic value, as the r in French chambre) to represent the weak grade of the syllables ar and ra.

The improvements appearing in this edition are largely due to the suggestions of former pupils or of friends. The gentlemen to whom I owe thanks for their advice are- Prof. E.J. Rapson; Dr. James Morison; Mr. M.L. Puri, B.A., of Exeter College; Mr. Horace Hart, M.A., Controller of the University Press; and especially Mr. T.E. Moir, I.C.S., of wadham College, as well as Dr. F.W. Thomas, Librarian of the India Office. Mr. J.C. Pembrey, Hon. M.A., Oriental Reader of the University Press, has read with his usual care the proofs of this edition, which is separated by no less an interval than sixty-four years from the first Sanskrit Grammar which he (together with his father) corrected for the press, that of Prof. H.H. Wilson, in 1847. To Dr. A.B. Keith I am indebted for reading the proofs of this as well as of all the other books I have published since 1900. I must take this opportunity of thanking him not only for having read the proofs of the whole of my Vedic Grammar, but also for having passed several sheets of that work through the press for me during my absence in India between September, 1907, and April, 1908.


Brief History of Sanskrit Grammar

The first impulse to the study of grammar in India was given by the religious motive of preserving intact the sacred Vedic texts, the efficacy of which was believed to require attention to every letter. Thus, aided by the great transparency of the Sanskrit language, the ancient Indian grammarians had by the fifth century BC arrived at scientific results unequalled by any other nation of antiquity. It is, for instance, their distinctive achievement to have recognized that words for the most part consist on the one hand of roots, and on the other of affixes, which, when compounded with the former, modify the radical sense in various ways.

The oldest grammar that has been preserved is Panini’s. It already represents a fully developed system, its author standing at the end of a long line of predecessors, of whom no fewer than sixty-four are mentioned, and the purely grammatical works of all of whom, owing to the excellence and comprehensiveness of his work, have entirely perished.

Panini is considerably later than Yaska (probably about 500 BC), whom he mentions, and between whom and himself a good number of important grammarians intervene. On the other hand, Panini is much older than his interpreter Patanjali, who probably dates from the latter half of the second century BC, the two being separated by another eminent grammarian, Katyayana. Panini himself uses the word yavanani, which Katyayana explains as ‘writing of the Yavanas’ (i.e. Iaones or Greeks). Now it is not at all likely that the Indians should have become acquainted with it soon after that date. They must, however, have grown familiar with it before a grammarian would make a rule as to how to form from Yavana, ‘Greek,’ a derivative form meaning ‘Greek writing’. It seems therefore hardly possible to place Panini earlier than about 300 BC.

Panini’s grammar consists of nearly 4,000 rules divided into eight chapters, Being composed with the utmost imaginable brevity, each Sutra or aphorism usually consists of only two or three words, and the whole work, if printed continuously in medium-sized Devanagari type, would not occupy more than about thirty-five pages of the present volume. And yet this grammar describes the entire Sanskrit language in all the details of its structure, with a completeness which has never been equalled elsewhere. It is at once the shortest and fullest grammar in the world.

In his endeavour to give an exhaustive survey of the bhasa or classical Sanskrit with a view to correct usage, Panini went on to include within the scope of his grammar the language of the sacred texts, which was no longer quite intelligible. He accordingly gives hundreds of rules about the Veda, but without completeness. His account of the Vedic language, taken as a whole, thus shows many gaps, important matters being often omitted, while trifles are noticed. In this part of his work Panini shows a decided incapacity to master his subject-matter, attributing to the Veda the most unbounded grammatical license, especially in interchanging or dropping inflections.

The grammar of Panini is a sabdanusasana, or ‘Treatise on Words’, the fundamental principle of which is, that all nouns are derived from verbs. Starting with the simplest elements into which words can be analysed, root, affix and termination, Panini shows how nominal and verbal stems are formed from roots and complete words from stems. He at the same time indicates the functions which words acquire by the addition of formative elements and by being compounded with other words. It is a peculiarity of Panini’s word-formation, that he recognizes derivation by suffixes only. Thus when a verbal root like bhid, ‘to pierce,’ is used in the nominal sense of ‘piercer’, he has recourse to the highly artificial expedient of assuming an imaginary suffix, for which a blank is substituted!

Yaska records that the universality of Sakatayana’s principle of nouns being derived from verbs was contested by Gargya, who objected to the forced etymologies resulting from a general application of this principle. Gargya maintained that if asva, ‘horse,’ for instance, were derived from as, ‘to travel,’ not only would everything that travels be called asva, and everything be antecedent to things (which are presupposed by those states).

Panini makes a concession to Gargya’s objection by excluding all words the derivation of which is difficult owing to their form of meaning, as asva, ‘horse,’ go, ‘cow,’ and purusa, ‘man.’ Primary nouns of this kind had been collected before Panini’s time in a special list, in which they were often forcibly derived from verbal roots by means of a number of special suffixes. The first of these suffixes being u, technically called un, the whole list of these formations received the name of unadi (‘beginning with un’). Panini refers to all such words as ready-made stems, the formation of which does not concern him.


Preface to Third Editionv-vi
Preface to Second Editionvii-ix
Introduction: Brief History of Sanskrit Grammarx-xviii
Table of the Devanagari Lettersxx
Chapter-IThe Alphabet1-9
Chapter-IIEuphonic Combination10-32
Chapter-VIndeclinable Words144-159
Chapter-VINominal Stem Formation and Compounds159-178
Appendix-IList of Verbs210-231
Appendix-IIMetre in Classical Sanskrit232-235
Appendix-IIIChief Peculiarities of Vedic Grammar236-244
Sanskrit Index245-259
General Index259-264
Sample Pages

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