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in Indian literature, but which deserve in a high degree to be introduced into view,- the Prátisákhya Sútras.
I have found out three writings under this title. That of greatest extent and importance is ascribed to Saunaka, and consists of eighteen patalas. A second book bears the name of Katyayana (the same without doubt who is named as the author of the Anukramani to the Rik and to the Vájasaneyé Sanhitá,) and numbers eight adhyáyas. Finally, a third Prátisákhya is as yet without a (discoverable) author. The beginning of the text, as well as the commentary, which without doubt would have given some notice of the author, or the school, is wanting in the only MS. of this work which I have found at Oxford. I have but lately learnt that there are several writings of this name in the Berlin collection, and have as yet been able to procure no information respecting them. I conclude however from the statement of the extent of the Berlin MS, that none of them can be the Prátisákhya ascribed to Saunaka, the most important among the three. If the remark made on two Nos., viz. that they consist of three chapters, be correct, we shall find here yet a fourth Prátisákhya.
I must thus in my account confine myself to what I have been able to learn from the explanatory works as yet at my command, which, for the second and third of these books, are very imperfect. These writings contain rules on the elementary part of general, but particularly Vedic Grammar, on the accent, on Saudhi, on the permutation of sounds, (e. g. the nati, change of dentals into cerebrals,) on the lengthening of the vowels in the Veda, (pluti) on pronunciation, on the various páthas of the Veda, &c. The first Prátisákhya contains besides a section on metre, which is far more valuable for the Veda, than the utterly unimportant book Chhandas, included in the Vedanga.
That the common denomination of these writings, PrátisáklyaSútráņi, cannot be the original one, results from the signification of the word; "grammatical aphorisms, current in single Sákhas or schools.” In a commentary on Gobhilas Srauta-Sútras, one of them is designated as Mádhyandina-Sakhiya Prátisákhya, i. e. as a collection of those aphorisms which the well known Vedic schoool of Madhyandina followed. But I conclude from a passage in the first book of the Nirukta, as well as from the introduction and the subscriptions to the chapters of the first Prátisákhya, that these books were at an earlier period
called Párshada, i. e. “what is received from, or belongs to, the assembly," and to this appellation would be joined the particular designation of the school, thus Mádhyandina-párshada, &c. The same passage of the Nirukta also shows that these books are older than Yáska, and that they were known by him as manuals of the different schools of grammarians (Karana.) In order to arrive at an approximative determination of time, let us now assume,-according to the current and tolerably well established view,--the year 350 B. C. as the date of Páņini, let us further set Yáska only 50 years earlier, and we then have the end of the 5th century B. C. as the age of the latter. Since now Yáska is acquainted with the Prátisákhyas, these must have been already composed and recognized as an authority in the 5th century B. C. These books, themselves, again, recognize a great number of still older grammarians (in all about thirty names) and even schools. These must therefore be assigned to the beginning of the 5th or end of the 6th century B. C.
In order to extend my demonstrations from this point, I must mention the various modes of writing the Vedas, the Páthas. Of these, according to the representation of the Prátisákhya, there are three, the Sanhita-pátha, the Pada-pátha, and the Krama-pátha. Sanhita-pátha means the natural mode of writing, with observation of the rules of Sandhi. The Pada-pátha which separates single words, and comparatively speaking parts of words (elements of a compound word, is sufficiently known by means of Rosen's edition. The Krama-pátha, of which we have as yet no printed specimen, is twofold, the letter krama, and the word krama (varna-krama, and pada-krama); the former always doubles the first consonant of a group of consonants (most MSS. of the Vájasaneyi are written in this way): the word krama takes two words of the sentence together, and always repeats the second of them with a following one. In this Pátha itself again a number of changes may take place, which I here pass over.
We know further the inventors of these modes of writing. Sákalya is named by Yáska as the author of the Pada-pátha, (at least for the Rig Veda) and other accounts which we have of him in the Prátisákhya and even in Panini, do not contradict this statement. This grammarian and his school appear to have had a great influence generally on the conformation of the Veda, at least of the Rik. The orthography of
the MSS., as it has come down to us, and as it is fixed in the Práti. sákhya, even to the minutest particulars, is principally that of that teacher, and the Anukramani of the Rik ascribed to Katyayana, calls the Sanhitá, of which it is the index, i. e. the Rik Sanhitá such as we now have it, Sákalaka Rig Vedámnáya, i. e. the redaction of the Rig Veda which has come down to us from Sákalya's school. Further researches may without doubt add more materials on this subject, and place yet more fully in the light the remarkable circumstance of the various redactions of the Veda in remote antiquity. Only we must, in this matter, beware of giving too much credence to the statements of the Puranas, which give us accounts of all possible Sákhás (schools or divisions) of this and that Veda. The numerous citations in older writings, even in the books which pertain to the liturgy of the Veda, will instruct us far more surely on these points.
In regard to the third mode of writing the Veda, the Krama-pátha, we know at least by a statement in the first Prátisákhya, that the word krama, in its simplest form, derives its origin from Panchála, the son of Babhru, (whom I have found named in no other place.)
It is easily seen that these different ways of writing the Veda, can have no other foundation than the securest possible preservation of the text, in a certain degree they also already aim at its explanation. The last named krama is nothing else than the introduction of the padapátha into the Sanhitá-pátha itself; each word appears first in its padaform, and then in its connexion with the whole sentence.
But it will now be conceded that measures, thus carefully sought out, for the fixation of a text could not have been hit upon by its author, or even by a compiler, but must belong to a period for which this text was already something completely fixed, to which it was an object of study, and indeed the most careful, yea, minute study, and had even become a subject of controversy in the schools, (all of which can be established from the Prátisákhya,)-in a word, to a period which was no longer certain of the sense of the Veda, and had to guard it, at least externally, by exact regulation of reading and writing, against the alterations of misunderstanding.
Supposing that we have found above that the teachers who are named in the Prátisákhya as compilers of the Veda, Sákalya and others, must at least fall at the beginning of the 5th or the close of the 6th century before our era, then we may conclude from the nature of that which they have done for the Veda, that several generations must have elapsed between the collection of those texts and them, and that consequently this collection cannot fall later than the 7th century. By what probable interval, again, the origin of these songs may have been separated from their collection, is a question which we shall never be able to answer with certainly, but to the solution of which we may approach tolerably near by means of the share which the compiler has had in producing the present form of the Veda, while this share itself will be on the one hand disclosed to us by the internal marks of the text itself, and on the other by a comparison of the Sáma and the Vájasaneyi.
How closely all these questions touching the Veda are connected with the history of the Grammar so remarkable for its high antiquity, appears from what has been said above. The Veda was the first object on which it exercised itself; and thus there lie in it united in their germ those sciences which at a later period diverged from each other, viz. the explanation of the Veda, and general grammar, of which for us the oldest representatives (who stand equally high in Indian literature) are Yaska and Panini.
To the former the Naighantuka, and Nirukta, the sources of all later exegesis are ascribed. That both these are immediately connected admits of no doubt, but I believe that the Naighantuka is older than the Nirukta : the proofs of which I must reserve for another place. Thus Yáska, if the Nirukta belongs to him, could not be also the author of the Naighantuka. The last named little writing is in its first part a Vedic vocabulary, in the second, a collection of the more difficult or unusual words, taken from the text of the Veda, and ranged together without any alteration or explanation. The third part is a collection of the whole of the names of the gods according to their three domains (sthána) earth, air and heaven. The Nirukta itself is nothing else than an explanation of the Naighantuka (hence, too, its name) to the citations of which it adds the passages of the texts, and comments on them.
People have been hitherto inclined to attribute a very high antiquity to the Nirukta. That it belongs to the oldest part of Indian literature that we possess excepting the Vedic writings, is not to be doubted; it shows however, by its contents that it belongs to an already far advanced period of grammar and interpretation. That however it is older than Pánini, we may conclude from the less developed state, particularly of the technical part of grammatical science in the Nirukta. For along with a certain richness of grammatical expressions, it still wants the greater part of those peculiar technical terms, of which it is not credible that they were wholly Pánini's own creation. Yáska is entirely ignorant of algebraical symbols such as Pánini has. That the latter makes no mention of Yáska, though he ha:l in many places an opportunity of doing so, can no longer strike us now that we know so large a number of decidedly older grammarians of whom he makes no mention ; and would at most show that in Panini's time this book did not yet enjoy that general circulation and esteem, to which it latterly attained. The introduction to the Nirukta, very remarkable in many respects, which contains the sketch of a grammatical and exegetical system, makes us acquainted with the views of Yáska and his predecessors, and it is in this way possible for us to institute a complete comparison between these older grammarians and Pánini. For this I believe I may be permitted to refer to the edition and explanation of the Nirukta, which I think of sending to the press without delay. Let me only be allowed to examine somewhat more closely one section of that introduction, which is calculated to throw light on the age of the Veda, and of its interpretation.
Yáska mentions the opinion of the Grammarian Kautsa that the songs of the Veda are inaccessible to grammatical and logical interpretations; for their sense, says Kautsa, is fixed by the Brahmánas and by the use of the hymns in the ritual, and thus forbid a free explanation. The hymns, says he further, even contain what is absurd and impossible; they contradict themselves, when e. g. they say “ There is but one Rudra and no second ;” and again “numberless are the thousands of Rudras on the earth ;" finally they contain, Kautsa thinks, passages completely unintelligible. To the last reproach Yáska replies, it is not the fault of the beam, if the blind man does not see it, but of the man ; and tries to refute or explain the rest in detail. That the sense of the hymns is determined by their ritual signification, as the latter is taught in the Brahmanas is (he thinks) by no means a fault, since these books give the correct meaning. Yáska (as is further clear from a number