Grammatical Proof that Sanskrit was a Spoken language

Grammatical Proof that Sanskrit was a Spoken language


This is sort of a sequel to other post on “Grammatical Proof that Sanskrit was written”.


Many vowels can be pronounced in as many as 18 different ways ! All those 18 ways can just not be written. But पाणिनि thought it good to detail them by specific सूत्र-s.


ऊकालोज्झ्रस्वदीर्घप्लुतः (1-2-27)

अचश्च (1-2-28)

उच्चैरुदात्तः (1-2-29)

नीचैरनुदात्तः (1-2-30)

नीचैरनुदात्तः (1-2-30)

उपदेशेऽजनुनासिक इत् । (1-3-2)


With a vowel as अ, different ways of pronouncing the vowel can even communicate some meaning by itself. For example –


अं ? (nasal, short and interrogative) = what did you say ? I was not listening !

अं ऽ  (nasal, long, stressed उच्चैः) = “No ऽ ऽ, I am not liking it” or “you are annoying me”

अ, अ (short, not nasal, अनुदात्त) = But, what I want to say is …


Another proof is from पाणिनीयशिक्षा (Ref. –पाणिनीयशिक्षा ) where one gets to read –



यथा सौराष्ट्रिका नारी तक्रँ इत्यभिभाषते ।

एवं रङ्गाः प्रयोक्तव्याः खे अराँ इव खेदया ।। २६ ।।


The mention here is of सौराष्ट्रिका नारी and how she would pronounce the word तक्रँ.


Since this is in पाणिनीयशिक्षा, it establishes quite a few things –


  1. Sanskrit was a spoken language even among ladies in सौराष्ट्र.

  2. This was so at पाणिनी’s times or even before.

  3. पाणिनी travelled to distant places and noted different styles of pronunciation and thought it good to acknowledge them in पाणिनीयशिक्षा.

  4. It must have been a fairly open society, that पाणिनी could listen to ladies talking.


Having said so, I notice some implants in पाणिनीयशिक्षा. I can’t imagine and accept that an author of the calibre of पाणिनी would say obeisance to oneself. But there is this श्लोक in पाणिनीयशिक्षा –


अज्ञानान्धस्य लोकस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशलाकया ।

चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै पाणिनये नमः ।। ५९ ।।


This श्लोक in पाणिनीयशिक्षा seems to be an implant. Alternatively, पाणिनीयशिक्षा might have been composed by a student of पाणिनी and possibly had पाणिनी’s approval also.


शुभं भवतु !