Article by Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Panini is the greatest pioneers of Sanskrit Grammar. He is known for his works on ‘Sanskrit Grammar’, particularly for his formulation of the 3,959 rules of ‘Sanskrit Morphology’, syntax and semantics in the grammar known as ‘Ashtadhyayi’ meaning ‘Eight Chapters’.
Ashtadhyayi can be considered as the foundational text of the grammatical branch of the Vedanga (auxillary scholarly disciplines of the historical Vedic religion). Panini, means descendant of Pani. He is rightly considered as the ‘father of linguistics’.
Origin of Panini – Panini is said to belong to 4th century BCE, to the early Mahajanapada era of ancient India. He was born in Pushkalavati, Gandhara (outskirts of modern day Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).
The Ashtadhyayi is one of the earliest known works on Sanskrit Grammar. Panini also refers to previous texts like Unadisutra, Dhatupatha and Ganapatha. Panini’s comprehensive and scientific theory of grammar conventionally marks the end of the period of ‘Vedic Sanskrit’, and introduction of the period of ‘Classical Sanskrit’.
Sanskrit was the spoken language of the people in Panini’s days.
Modifications and improvisations of Panini’s works – In the 3rd century BCE, Katyayana improved the works of Panini. Again in the 2nd century BCE, Patanjali wrote a commentary named Mahabhashya on the ‘Panini Sutras’.
Other names of Panini – Panini was also called by the names Dakshi Putra and Shalaturiya, according to references from Mahabhashya.
Along with the grammer, the condition of the society and the habits of the people and other important information about the status of Ayurveda can also be understood from Panini’s works.
Read related: Ayurveda in Chanakya’s Arthashastra
Ayurveda and Panini’s works
References of Ayurveda Acharyas (authors and teachers) – The names of Bharadwaja, Atreya etc are found mentioned in ‘Aswadi Gana’. The disciples of Atreya i.e. Agnivesha, Parashara, Jatukarna are mentioned in ‘Gargadi Gana’. In Ashtadhyayi we can find mentioned Acharya Sushruta and his disciples.
Tridoshas – The Tridoshas i.e. Vata, Pitta and Shleshma (kapha) are mentioned in ‘Sidhmadi Gana’.
Pancha Mahabhutas – The Pancha Mahabhutas (basic elements of creation) namely, Prithvi (Earth), Ap (water), Teja (fire), Vayu (air) and Akasha (space, ether) and Pancha Tanmatras (the qualities of Pancha Mahabhutas) i.e. Shabda (sound, of ether), Sparsha (touch, of air), Rupa (vision, of fire), Rasa (taste, of water) and Gandha (smell, of earth) are explained in ‘Rasadi Gana’.
Rutus – The seasons have been explained just as they have been done in Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, the seasons are mentioned in 2 different chronologies i.e. Shishiradi Krama (starting from Shishira followed by Vasantha, Grishma, Varsha, Sharad and Hemanta). In another chronology, Shishira is replaced by Pravrit, this system is followed particularly during the process of eliminating the vitiated Doshas. Panini seemed to be acquainted with both these systems and has mentioned the same.
Classification of Plants – The plants have been classified as Oshadhi and Oushadhi and have been elaborated in Ashtadhyayi. Oushadhi and Oushadha are also differentiated such as Oushadhi means medicinal plants and Oushadha means the finished products.
Categories of medicines – A large number of names of medicinal plants are found elaborated in Ashtadhyayi. These plants are mentioned under various Ganas or categories just as in Ayurveda. Example, Haritakyadi Gana, Plakshadi Gana, Bilwadi Gana etc.
Names of Plants – Some of the names of plants mentioned in Ashtadhyayi are Soma, Munja, Vrihi, Kasa, Darbha, Khadira, Amra, Ikshu, Yava, Shali, Mudga, Masha, Tila etc
Mention of Metals – Metals like Swarna (Gold), Rajata (silver), Loha (iron), Tin (Vanga) etc are also seen explained in ‘Apupadi Gana’.
Weights and measures – Almost all the units of weights and measures are found mentioned in different Sutras as were explained in Ayurvedic texts.
Formulations and medicine preparations – Panini also has mentioned Pancha Vidha Kashaya Kalpana and alcoholic preparations like Maireyaka, Madya, Sura etc.
References related to Anatomy – References pertaining to anatomical structures like Sakha (extremities), Hridaya (heart), Vasti (urinary bladder), Yakrit (liver) etc are found in different contexts. The word Nadi was used in the sense of tubular structures.
Mention of diseases – Various types of fevers like Dwitiyaka, Tritiyaka, Chaturthika Jwara etc are mentioned. Also, the other diseases like Atisara (diarrhoea), Arshas (haemorrhoids), Kushta (skin diseases, leprosy), Unmada (insanity), Vata Roga, Hridroga (heart diseases) etc are mentioned in different contexts.
Classification of diseased – Patients were classified on the basis of the disease that they suffer from. They were called as Kushti (affected with Kushta), Atisaraki (affected with diarrhoea), Unmadi (affected with insanity) etc.
Summing up –
The references of Ayurveda in 4th century BCE, that too in the oldest compiled works of Sanskrit Grammar composed by Panini shows that Ayurveda was in practice at that time and was extensively used for healing the ailing mankind. This also shows how Ayurveda had found its place in many ancient treatises, the texts of grammar being no exemption!! How influential would have been this great medical science!!