Rishi Rajpopat, an Indian student at Cambridge, solves 2,500-year-old Sanskrit grammatical problem

The grammatical conundrum that academics have been unable decipher since the fifth century BC has been resolved by an Indian PhD student at Cambridge University. According to reports, Rishi Rajpopat, 27, has decrypted a book penned by Panini, a master of the Sanskrit language.  According to academics, the Ashtadhyayi of Panini, a system of rules for deriving or forming new words from root words, has contradicting principles, which has left many scholars perplexed about which rules to follow to produce new words.

In order to resolve rule conflicts in the linguistic algorithm, Panini devised a meta-rule, which has so far been translated as follows: In the case of a conflict between two rules of equal strength, the rule that appears later in the serial order of the grammar prevails.

Rajpopat has countered that this metarule has typically been interpreted incorrectly. According to him, Panini intended for the reader to pick the rule that applied to the right side of a word out of those that applied to the left, as published by the British daily The Independent. And using this reasoning, Rajpopat discovered that Panini’s algorithms can really generate words and phrases that are flawlessly grammatically perfect.

For instance, while trying to create the word guru in the sentence jna dyate guru—knowledge (jna) is imparted (dyate) by the guru—there is a rule conflict. It is a well-known phrase that meaning “by the guru.”

The word’s basic elements are the guru and there are two rules that apply if one follows Panini’s instructions to produce the term that would imply “by the guru” — one for the word “guru” and one for “.” Choosing the rule that applies to the word on the right will produce the right new form guru, resolving the dispute.

Young Rajpopat’s work serves as a refutation to academics who have been striving for more than 2,600 years.

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A number of scholars have attempted to settle the rule disputes, including Patanjali in his Mahbhya, Jayaditya, and Vamana in their commentary work Kikvtt, and Katyayana in his Vrttikakra.

Rajagopat considered his finding to be the traditional “eureka” moment. “In Cambridge, I had a lightbulb moment. I spent nine months working on this issue and was about ready to give up since I was having no luck. As a result, I put my textbooks away for a month and simply enjoyed the summer by cooking, swimming, riding, and praying, he told The Independent.


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