Dharmakirti’s Rupavatara,A Critical Study by K.S.Lalithambal

Dharmakirti’s Rupavatara,A Critical Study

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Dharmakirti’s Rupavatara,A Critical Study
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Of recent Panini’s grammar has evoked a fresh interest in the minds not only of linguistsbut also of scientists in different areas such as the natural sciences and the computer science, mainly because of his refined methodology. His derivational approach to Sanskrit language is one of the prominent aspects of his descriptive technique. However, his grammar, formulated in a pithy sutra-style governed by the dictates of Anuvrtti remained beyond the reach of common students of grammar even in the past. Its study received a flow because of its concise character. It lost its position and popular school grammars which could cater to the needs of different groups of students arose in the course of time. In the 10/11th century a Buddhist Pandit, Dharmakirti undertook the task of remoulding Panini’s grammar as a reply to the classroom needs and presented it in the form of a series of formations of words entitled Rupavatara. This new appearance of Panini succeeded in popularizing and establishing, once again, the Paninian tradition in the Indian system of education. The emergence of the Rupavatara lay foundation of a new teaching methodology in Fatiinian School which culminated in the Vaiyakaraa Siddhantakaumudi of Bhattoji Diksita. The method popularly known as the Prakriyã method has been the popular method of studying Pãxini since its emergence. Since the reestablishment of Paninian tradition in the history of the study of Sanskrit grammar is due to the introduction of the prakriya method, Rupavatara which serves as a gate-way to this method occupies an important position in the study of Paninian grammatical tradition.

The present work, which is a critical study of this important text, fulfils the longfelt desideratum for a good, complete work dealing with Rupavatara, with all its aspects. The author deserves compliments for her comprehensive approach. Her study of the text reflected in this book has a wider significance than it appears to have. For instance, the variant readings in the sutrapatha as well as the Varttikapatha recorded by her as well as the comparison of the text with other important Paninian grammatical texts like the Kastki7 and the Siddhantakaumudi are very important contributions of the author which are useful for the historical study of Panini’s grammar. The scholarly and thorough approach to the text with critical acumen is reflected in the book. I strongly believe the book will be a welcome addition to the shelf of Paninian studies.



Rupavatãra is the first work composed in the prakriya style of treatment of the sutras of Astadhyayi and is written by Dharmakirti, a Buddhist philosopher. The work aims to bring within the easy grasp of the students of grammar, the accomplishment of the vocabulary of Sanskrit language by means of the Aadhyayi of Panini. To secure this purpose, the method adopted by the author shows his originality and this is well acknowledged by the fact that his successors in the field of grammar began to copy his method of forming recasts of Astadhyayi for the easy understanding of the parini1Jiitarupa (fully furnished form). As one, who invented for the first time a new style of treatment of Astadhyayi, Dharmakirti no doubt occupies an enviable status among the Sanskrit grammerians and his work too, stands as a torch becoming a new path of approach in the study of the sutras of Astadhyayi.

The present book is the printed form of my Doctoral thesis ‘Rupavatara—A Critical Study’. The study of Rupävatãra was undertaken by me in 1980 at the instance of late Dr.S Venkitasubramonia Iyer who had been the Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Kerala and was executed under the guidance of Dr. E. Easwaran Nampoothiry who was then the Reader in Sanskrit, in the University of Kerala. I am thankful to the authorities of the University of Kerala for granting me the permission to publish my doctoral thesis. I also express my sincere thanks to Dr. (Mrs.) Saroja Bhate, Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Poona, Pune for contributing a foreword for the book.

In this book I have given the results of my close study of Rupavatãra. The study has made me to go into the depth of this work and has led me to the conclusion that the study of Rupãvatãra is essential for a beginner of Paninian grammar and my obligations are due to Indian Books Centre, for the neat and quick printing of the book



Vyäkarana, the most prominent of the six vedangas has been studied with great zeal in ancient India. Among the different systems of Sanskrit grammar that arose in India, the school of Paoini is the most outstanding and the most popular. Pänini (c. 600 B.C.) the author of Astadhyayi, Katyayana (c. 500 to 350 B.C.) the author of the vartikas and Patanjali (c. 150 B.C.) the author of Mahabhasya are traditionally known as ‘munitraya’ who gave the law to the science of grammar.

The Kasika of Jayaditya and Vamana of the 7th century A.D. is the fullest commentary on Astadhyayi. The rules of Astadhyayi are arranged in such a manner that only after a careful study of Astadhyayi, one acquires knowledge of the various topics of grammar and hence the students of Panini were not satisfied with the exhaustive commentaries like Kasika which explained the rules in the order of Astadhyayi itself. An attempt was therefore made to recast the sutras of Patini according to the subjects treated therein. The works, which are the outcome of this subject-wise treatment of Astadhyayi, are better known as Prakriya works and proved most suitable to the changing needs of the hour because Sanskrit was no longer a spoken language. Rupavatara is the earliest work of this type. It is followed by later works like Prakriyaratna of unknown authorship (c. 13th century AD.), Rupamala of Vimalasarasvati (c. 13th Century AD.), Prakriyakaumudi of Rãmacandra (15th century A.D.), Prakriyasarvasva of Narayara Bhattaa (l6th-l7th century AD,) and Siddliantakaumudi of Bhattoji Diksita (l6th-l7th century AD.).

The present study is divided into three parts. Part I ‘General,’ consisting of three chapters, aims at introducing the author and his work. Chapter 1 is concerned with Dharmakirti with particular reference to his authorship, identity and date. Chapter II gives a description of the work with main reference to its origin, title, contents, sources and commentaries. The characteristic features of the work as well as its defects and drawbacks are elaborated in chapter III. PART II is termed ‘ANALYTICAL STUDY’ and contains chapters IV to VII. The text is analysed in all its details in this part. Chapters IV and V are meant for examining the treatment of the science of grammar by Dharmakirti with particular regard to the interpretation, illustration of sutras and the like. Chapter VI examines the readings of the sutras and discusses the vartikas while Chapter VII is concerned with the verses of Rupavatara, a meritorious feature of the work. Part III ‘Observations’ comprehends Chapters VIII and IX. A com concer parative study of Rupavatara with Kasika and later recasts like Siddhãntakaumudi is attempted in Chapter, VIII and Chapter IX sums up the results of this critical study and concludes with an attempt to evaluate the work. The appendix, comprehending 1. List of rules of Astadhyayi interpreted in Rupavatara, and 2. List of rules of Astadhyayi referred to in Rupavatara, has got great bearing on this thesis since it gives an analytical outline of this recast of Astadhyayi.

In this book, an attempt has been made to bring out all the meritorious as well as defective aspects of the work which is the first outcome of prakriya style of treatment of the rules of Astadhyayi and consequently it has been established that Dharmakirti deserves high esteem for the creation of this recast ad that, to a beginner of Sanskrit grammar expounded by Panini, this work is a better asset than any other one in the field.




Foreword IX
Preface XI
Abbreviations XIII
Introduction XV
Part I : General
Chapter I Dharmakirti - The Author 3
Chapter II Rupavatara—The Work 17
Chapter III Characteristics of The Work 31
Part II: Analytical Study
Chapter IV Dharmakirti's Treatment of the Science of Grammar 47
Chapter V Dharmakirti;s Treatment of the Science of Grammar (contd.) 77
Chapter VI Readings of the Sutras and Vatikas in Rupavatara 99
Chapter VII Verses in Rupavatara 117
Chapter VIII Conclusion 163
Appendix List of Rules of Astadhyayi Interpreted in rupavatara 169
List of Rules of Astadhyayi referred to in Rupavatara. 210
Bibliography 213

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