Panini, at most times, is recognised by the title of the grammarian. Apart from that, he is also a Sanskrit philologist and renowned scholar. He is believed to have lived from the sixth century to the fourth century BCE. There is evidence of him living in the Salatura district in the northwest subcontinent of India. This area is located in the Gandhara region. The era that he lived in says that he was present in the Mahajanapada era. Dakshiputra was his first name and Panini his second name. The name Panini is a patronymic name meaning that is a constituent of a personal name on the basis of an ancestor’s name. We can track back the name Dakshiputra Panini from the verse 1.75.13 and 3.251.12 of Mahabhasya. This text is written by the great Patanjali. The first part of his full name suggests his mother’s name, which was Dakshi.
Panini was the son of Panin and Dakshi. His main interests were in Grammar and Linguistics and hence he was also famously known as “Father of Linguistics”. He had a brother named Pingala who was credited for making the use of binary numbers. Panini is frequently mentioned in ancient texts and Indian fables. His mention in the Indian fables is the reason he is so well known within the younger age groups too. Panchatantra, the ancient Indian famed literary series, has a story that tells the story of Panini being killed by a lion. Another reference of Panini from ancient history is his picture being portrayed on a five-rupee postage stamp of India in the year 2004. Panini is considered to be “the first descriptive linguist” for his research and contribution. This work was discovered by some European scholars around the nineteenth century. This is the same reason he is known as the “Father of Linguistics”. Not just this, Panini’s grammar was successful in influencing Ferdinand de Saussure and Leonard Bloomfield for their study on foundational linguistics.
Panini, the great grammarian, is celebrated for his work – Astadhyayi. Ashtadhyayi is a collection of aphorisms known as sutras. It is a text on Sanskrit grammar with 3959 verses or guidelines on syntax, semantics and linguistics. Panini’s expert analysis of noun-compounds is considered to be the base of modern theories of linguism and compounding in the Indian language. It would be an understatement to say that his contribution was limited to a certain era because even today one uses his work to start their research on the mentioned subjects.
Panini’s in-depth knowledge and theories based on scientific findings in grammar are an indicator of the onset of classical Sanskrit. His efforts and consistent practice have helped Sanskrit to be where it is today. Morphological analysis which was done by Panini was much more advanced for the era it was being discovered and used. We can confidently say that even today, one has not been able to develop a theory as comprehensive and detailed as the one developed by Panini. The speciality of his work is that it is generative and extremely descriptive with the use of meta-rules, meta-language and many other elements.