Panini- The great grammarian from Bihar


Panini, the ancient Indian Sanskrit grammarian was a person who provided the Sanskrit with a strong grammatical base and made it one of the most perfect languages in the world. The word Sanskrit is derived from Samskrita which means the refined one. It is the language well known for its perfection and this perfect language is based on the grammar of Panini. He is well known for his 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology in the Sanskrit grammar called Ashtadhyayi.

Birth and early life

Nothing much is known about the birth date and early life of Panini. Like most of the other Vedic scholars and writers of the ancient India, he also did not leave anything about him in his works. But still he is known in the name of his famous book Ashtadhyayi. It can be said that work is only identification of him.

Scholars have different views on the birth date of Panini. Nothing solid is even known about the century in which he lived. But most of the scholars are in an opinion that he lived in the 4th century BC, contemporary to the Nanda dynasty which ruled the Gangetic plain. But there are no proofs that Panini did not lived in the 5th or the 6th century. In a work of Hieun Tsang, it is quoted that a statue of Panini existed in the birth place of Panini, at Salatura.

While Panini's work is based on grammar and lexicography it also gives many hinds about the Geographical and cultural factors of that time. In the works of Panini there is word called "Yavanani" is used which means the Greek language or Greek woman. Nothing was known about the Greeks before the conquests of Alexander the Great in Indian sub continent about the Greeks. So it can be stated that the Ashtadyayi is written after the 330 B.C, the conquests of Alexander. Some scholars also links the words origin to Persian invasions and the conquests of the Darius in India.

In his works he uses the word scribe many times which means writing. This means that some form of writing was available in his time.

The Ashtadyayi

It has been stated earlier that the identity of Panini is his work. The major work of Panini as we know is Ashtadyayi, a text on Sanskrit grammar and linguistics. It is most complete and shortest work in Sanskrit grammar till date. The Ashtadyayi is a perfect and highly systematic text written for the students of classical Sanskrit language. The complex rules of the Sanskrit grammar are organized into well formed sutras easy to memorize. The Ashtadyayi was memorized by all the students who learned Sanskrit language.

Now the modern researches show that the Sanskrit language which is based on the Ashtadyayi is the language most close to the machine language and complex programming languages. Thus it can be said that Sanskrit is one of the greatest languages of the world. The perfect grammatical base provided by Panini is the reason for making the Sanskrit language a perfect one.

The word "Ashtadyayi" means that which consists of eight chapters. The Ashtadyayi is divided into 8 chapters and each chapter is divided into 4 sections or Padas. There are 3,959 sutras in total in Ashtadyayi.

Other works of Panini

Other works of Panini includes the associated texts for Ashtadyayi. They are the Shiva Sutras, Dhatupatha and the Ganapatha .The shiv sitras are short but highly organized collection of the phonemes. The Dhathupatha and Ganapatha are lexical lists.


There is also not much proof about when and how Panini died. But it is stated in the Panchatantra stories that he was killed by a lion.


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