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Indian student solves 2,500-year-old Sanskrit grammatical problem!

A Cambridge University PhD student has found the solution to the grammatical problem that scholars have been unable to solve since the fifth century BC. Rishi Rajpopat, 27, a master of the Sanskrit language, is said to have cracked a book written by Panini. Master Panini lived about two thousand and fifty years ago.

The Adhyyy of Panini, a set of rules for deriving or generating new words from root words, is said to have conflicting principles. As a result, many academics are confused about which rules to follow in order to make new words. Panini created a meta-rule, which has been translated as follows, to handle rule conflicts in the language algorithm: When two rules of equal force clash, the rule that follows in the grammar’s serial sequence takes precedence.

Rajpopat has argued that this metarule has frequently been understood erroneously. According to him, Panini meant for the reader to choose the rule that applied to the right side of a word out of those that applied to the left, as reported by the British newspaper The Independent. And using this logic, Rajpopat found that Panini’s algorithms can produce sentences and words with perfect grammar.

For instance, there is a rule conflict when the term guru is attempted to be created in the sentence jna dyate guru—knowledge (jna) is imparted (dyate) by the guru. It is a widely used expression that means ‘by the guru’.  If one follows Panini’s directions to create the term that would suggest ‘by the guru,’ two rules — one for the word ‘guru’ and one for — apply: one for the word ‘guru’. The disagreement may be resolved by selecting the rule that applies to the word on the right and the appropriate new form guru.

Academics who have been working for more than 2,600 years are refuted by the work of young Rajpopat. Several academics, notably Patanjali in his Mahbhya, Jayaditya, Vamana, and Katyayana in his respective works of commentary Kikvtt and Vrttikakra, have made an effort to resolve the rule disagreements.

Rajagopat believed his discovery to be the customary ‘eureka’ moment. ‘In Cambridge, something clicked for me. I worked on this problem for nine months before I was prepared to quit up due to my lack of progress. I thus decided to put my textbooks aside for a month and just enjoy the summer by biking, swimming, and praying’, he told The Independent.


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