A taste of Panini’s Kaaraka PrakaraNa..

Unfolding the Power of Expression

Sujatha Ratnala
6 min readSep 11, 2023

‘Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music’.

Listening to the architecture of कारक, did feel like poetry and music. Design principles at the micro level, stacking up to grand definitions, some unlearning and relearning, and eventually unraveling the grand experience of the world of grammar.

AnoraNeeya.. Mahati maheeya.. Aprameya..

I was scouting for answers to grammar questions in Bhaja Govindam, and landed in these video lessons in Hindi. Sprinkling here a few lines that caught my attention. If it intrigues, do checkout the topic some time.

Panini’s audacity in capturing the fabric of Sanskrit grammar and diction into the capsule of ashtadhyayi, and Neelesh ji’s audacity to make them accessible for all in today’s age in ashtadhyayi.com, with side notes and cross-referencing commentaries, is indeed mind-boggling.

kurai ondrum illai.. I have no qualms that it is extremely complex for me. Still delighted to land and sample a small taste of the framework.

For a beginner, कारकs and विभक्तिs may seem the same. From these lessons, it seemed like these are 2 overlapping topics.

The words are lent a “power” to express and complete the verb. That “power” is “कारक”.. Shakti = कारक.

Just like, when we shout out “Auto!”, we mean the enabler “Autowaala

There are 6 of them.. अपादानम्, सम्प्रदानम्, करणम्, अधिकरणम्, कर्म, कर्ता ।

What a philosophical framework.. Mortal words engaging in forming a sentence due to the कारक in each.. Like the planets and its moons revolving around the Sun.

Just like water takes the color of the dye, Vibhaktis take the meaning of the word.

विभक्ति प्रत्यय do not have a definite meaning. They are अनिर्दिष्टार्थाः, स्वार्थिक

विभक्ति help the words to land, help the word to express its धर्म, and represent plurality of expression.

विभक्ति may serves twofold purpose: Of supporting all कारकs and सम्बन्ध linkages

And the mapping between विभक्ति and कारक may not be 1:1.. Sometimes, it is many-to-one mapping.

विभक्तिs and कारकs are detailed in different sections of Astadhyayi.

Not just सुप्-प्रत्यय .. these 5 elements may also contribute to कारक under special conditions

1) कृत्-प्रत्यय, 2)तद्धित प्रत्यय, 3) तिङ्-प्रत्यय, 4)समास, 5)निपात

कृत्-प्रत्यय may lend to कारक..

पाचकः is कर्ता, पठितः is कर्म, लेखनी is करण, भवनम् is अधिकरण.. All of these extended from the dhatus

पाचकः (कर्ता)
पचति सः पाचकः

पठितः (कर्म)
अपठ्यत सः पठितः ‘he who has read’

लेखनी (करण)
लिखति अनया इति लेखनी ‘written with it’

आहारः (अपादान)
आहरन्ति रसम् अस्मात् इति आहारः ‘that which is snatched’

भवनम् (अधिकरण)
भवति अस्मिन् इति भवनम् ‘that which is lived in ’

This bit of information regarding these words having an inherent कारक literally spinned me.. It was like unlearning the basics, and learning newer paradigms. The architecture of Sanskrit never ceases to amaze..

तद्धित प्रत्यय & समास may support कारक

तद्धित — वैयाकरणः He who studies grammar (कर्ता)

समास — वीरपुरुषः The place where there are brave people (अधिकरण)

निपात like ‘इति’ converts a phrase to karma कारक

देवदत्तः “पुत्रः सुन्दरः” इति मन्यते ।

तिङ्-प्रत्यय may support कारक..

तिङ्-प्रत्यय encodes kaaraka via “kartru/karma prayog”. Additionally, kaala/vachana/purusha information is encoded along with the intent conveyed by dhatu.

Hence, The तिङ्-प्रत्यय may indirectly reveal information about karta/karma kaaraka

2.3.1 अनभिहिते (vibhakti prakaranam spans till 2.3.73)

When the above 5 factors fail to resolve कारक, only then, it is सुप्-प्रत्यय that resolves. ‘an abihite’ ‘does not support’, Panini sutra 2.3.1

Note: In ‘देवदत्तः पचति’, तिङ्-प्रत्यय ‘पचति’resolves कर्तृकारक. Hence, देवदत्त does not resolve to कर्तृकारक. Then what is the purpose of देवदत्तः? It gives देवदत्त a landing, it encodes plurality of expression and conveys the word’s dharma.

2.3.2 कर्मणि द्वितीया 2.3.2

Karta is mostly lucidated by the verb तिङ्-प्रत्यय. If karma still remains unresolved by the 5 elements, then 2 vibhakti becomes karma.

कटं करोति। ग्रामं गच्छति।

Case where Karma kaaraka is resolved by the 5 elements:

तिङ् — हरिः सेव्यते । कृत् — लक्ष्म्या सेवितः
तद्धितः — शतेन क्रीतः शत्यः । समासः — प्राप्तः आनन्दो यं स प्राप्तानन्दः

Need for ‘अनभिहिते

Was ‘अनभिहिते’ needed.. The counter arguments. प्रत्याख्यानवार्तिकम्..

There were the 2 schools of thought.. Was कारक the primary purpose of सुप्-प्रत्यय, or was it vachana?

पाचक, which is derived from तिङ्-प्रत्यय, already has कर्ता embedded. But it does not have plurality/vachana encoded. Hence सुप्-प्रत्यय seems to be needed for supporting “plurality” vachana vibhakti to the already established kaarakas

Therefore, for landing पाचwith plurality of vachana, सुप्-प्रत्यय shall not superimpose any new कारक information, as पाचक already is resolved as कर्ता. Hence पाच कर्ता could be conveyed with प्रथमा/truteeya/shashTi vibhaktis to retain कर्ता, and by law of proximity, shasTi takes precedence.

1.4.23 कारके (kaaraka prakaranam spans till 1.4.55)

Interestingly, the names of all the 7 कारकs have both the meaning and the right कारक embedded in its etymology. Such specially crafted words are called अन्वर्थ

1.4.24 ध्रुवमपायेऽपादानम्

When the verb is separating from a relatively fixed source, the source is in अपादानम् kaarak.

But then, there are different kinds of Separation, and for clarity, the sub sutras must have been crafted brilliantly, even though some where implied by the primary sutra.

1.4.25 भी-त्रा-अर्थानाम् भयहेतुः
1.4.26 पराजेः असोढः
1.4.27 वारण-अर्थानाम् ईप्सितः
1.4.28 अन्तर्द्धौ येन अदर्शनम् इच्छति
1.4.29 आख्यातोपयोगे
1.4.30 जनिकर्तुः प्रकृतिः
1.4.31 भुवः प्रभवः

- Seperation seen at a physical level, which is the normal case
- Separation as desired by the mind, in case of ‘fear from/protect from/fed up from X’
-‘Prohibition of object meeting the desired X’, as indirect means of separation
- Desire for the self to remain visually concealed/ unseen from X

- Dissemination and transmission of knowledge from the words of teacher, when student is grasping as per the niyamaas of shravana/manana.. And each student receives knowledge differently. Like Sun igniting 1000 rays. Like continuous flow of river of knowledge..Not to mixup this scenario with passive listening to a narrator.

- From creator, creation is spun off and born
- Manifestation of the subject for the first time at this point.

It is like cutting a Pie of अपादानम्, and each slice having a different flavor.

**Patanjali defines 3 levels of apaadanam. 
Physical seperation / some where encoded/ implicit verb

**भी-त्रा-अर्थानाम् fear/protect from X
चोराद् बिभेति fear from thieves

**पराजेरसोढः fed up from X
अध्ययनात् पराजयते fed up from studying

**वारणार्थानामीप्सितः prohibition of karma meeting the desired X
देवदत्तः माणवकम् अग्नेः वारयति
Devadattah prevents maanavaka "from" stepping into "fire"
देवदत्तः अन्धं कूपात् वारयति
Devadattah prevents the blindman "from" stepping into "well"
माता पुत्रं मधुरात् वारयति
Mother prevents son "from sweets"

**अन्तर्द्धौ येनादर्शनमिच्छति concealing from
उपाध्यायादन्तर्धत्ते। उपाध्यायान् निलीयते।
मातुर्निलीयते कृष्णः
He wishes to be unseen from his teacher
Krishna wishes to be unseen from his mother

**आख्याता उपयोगे hearing/learning from
छात्रः उपाध्यायात् अधीते / आगमयति / जानाति / पठति / वेत्ति ।
Student learns from his teacher

vs plain listening
आचार्यस्य वाक्यं शृणोति listening teacher’s words
नटस्य गाथां शृणोति listening narrator’s words

** जनिकर्तुः प्रकृतिः From creator, creation is created
उपादानकारणम् - Material Cause
शृङ्गाच्छरो जायते। from horn, arrow is made
गोमयाद् वृश्चिको जायते। from cowdung, flies arise

सहकारिकारण - Secondary Cause (tool, help)
पुत्रात् प्रमादो जायत from son, joy is born
क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोह:, सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रम:

ब्रह्मणः प्रजाः प्रजायन्ते - both causes

** भुवः प्रभवः place of first manifestation.. not creation
हिमवतो गङ्गा प्रभवति

**** As per kashika, Apadaan kaaraka suitable when these dhatus are used
अधर्माज् जुगुप्सते he dislikes from injustice
अधर्माद् विरमति he ceases from injustice
धर्मात् प्रमाद्यति he neglects from justice.

If I can sustain to the series, I will add some interesting insights.. Till then, stopping with the homage.

येनाक्षरसमाम्नायमधिगम्य महेश्वरात् ।
कृत्स्नं व्याकरणं प्रोक्तं तस्मै पाणिनये नमः॥
My salutation to Panini, who taught the entire grammar system after understanding that Maheshvarasutras.

वाक्यकारं वररुचिं भाष्यकारं पतञ्जलिम् ।
पाणिनिं सूत्रकारं च प्रणतोऽस्मि मुनित्रयम् ॥
I pay homage to the three sages.. Panini the creator of sutras, Katyayana who compiled vaartika, and Patanjali who compiled the Mahabhashya.



Sujatha Ratnala

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Patterns, Science, Linguistics, Sanskrit et al..