Summary – Section 8(1) (Facts 87 to 94)
In this section we discuss Appreciation and Analysis of our Mother Tongue (1 of 2)
Fact 87 – In this ‘fact’ we look at the method for analysing Sanskrit texts. We look at all the steps involved. The first step is to know the domain and the cultural context of the text. The step after this is syntactic analysis. The next step is semantic analysis. We also briefly touch upon ‘close reading’. This looks at passages or texts to get a very deep interpretation of them.
Fact 88 – As an example of prose analysis we take a story from the Hitopadesa, The Donkey in the Tiger Skin (Hitopadeśa: Book 3 Fable3) and do a word-by-word analysis of this.
Fact 89 – As an example of verse analysis we take a story, The Naḷopākhyānam (the story of Nala), found in the Vana Parva of the Mahābhārata and do a complete analysis of the first few verses. We also use this opportunity to explain the śloka style of stanza metre.
Fact 90 – As an example of the analysis of verses from the Veda we take the first hymn from the R̥g Veda (RV 1.1) and completely analyse it.
Fact 91 – To understand early prose style we analyse a verse from a Brāhmaṇa (the
Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa 220.127.116.11).
Fact 92 – To understand the beauty of Sanskrit literature we look at a few verses from Classical literature (including three gems from Kalidasa).
Fact 93 – In this fact, we look at some of the metres (chandas) employed in Classical and Vedic prosody.
Fact 94 – Semantic analysis is understanding the context of roots, words, phrases, idioms, figurative speech, sentences, paragraphs and relating each of these to the text as a whole to understand the import of the text. There also may be cultural contexts. Interestingly, there were a set of grammarians in India who worked with semantic analysis. The approach of this school of grammarians was to look at language constructions independent of the words used and of the syntax. That is, their approach starts the analysis of a sentence from the semantic (rather than the syntactic) values of it.
We look at a NASA paper entitled ’Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence’ by Rick Briggs. In it, Briggs argued that natural languages can serve as well as artificial languages for representing knowledge. He uses Sanskrit as an example of a natural language that can be used for this purpose. His main references for this are Sanskrit grammarians of the 17th and 18th century. In his paper he says “a typical Knowledge Representation Scheme (using semantic nets) will be laid out, followed by an outline of the method used by the ancient Indian grammarians to analyse sentences unambiguously. Finally, the clear parallelism between the two will be demonstrated and the theoretical implications of this equivalence will be given.” In the ‘fact’ we discuss details of this and explain the parallelism.
One important aspect we can learn from this paper is that research into languages and grammar, syntax and semantics was being actively done in India even in the 17th and 18th centuries, and very substantial results were being published.
We discuss many aspects of claims about Sanskrit language based on this paper and also look at how we need a method to verify the validity of such claims.
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