Introduction to Mahabhashyam


Prof. Gangadharan Nair


Mahābhāṣyam, the celebrated commentary on grammar given to the world by Maharṣi Patañjali based on Aṣṭādhyāyī of Maharṣi Pāṇini, deals with the theory of language from Bhāratīya perspective. The siddhāntas behind the origin and development of sound, syllable, word, sentence and context and their interrelated features are discussed in this commentary. The present course deals with two āhnikas (units).


  • Course Name : Introduction to Mahābhāṣyam
  • Designer and Instructor: Prof. Gangadharan Nair, Former Dean and Professor at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady.
  • Course Delivery : Interactive online lectures (Zoom web conference) recorded for offline viewing.
  • Schedule:  Dec 21 , 2019 – May 2, 2020, Saturdays and Sundays 8 – 9.30 pm IST.
  • Credits: 4; 57 Hours; 19 Weeks
  • Course fee:
    • Current Students (valid student id required): Rs 2400/- (USD 35)
    • Others: Rs 4800/- (USD 70)
  • Language of Instruction: Mix of Saṁskṛta and English
  • Prerequisites:  Basics of Saṁskṛta language is essential, while knowledge of conversational Saṁskṛta is encouraged.
  • Minimum Eligibility: No restriction as long as the participant can follow the course.
  • Preferred: Passing Vedavaapi Samskrit Proficiency Test with a score of 70%.


  • Students and research scholars in their chosen field of vyākaraṇa
  • Content Generators/Creators: Authors, bloggers, academicians, editors, translators, non-fictional writers who seek to enhance their language skills
  • Professionals interested in pursuing vyākaraṇa


  • Introduction to Vyākaraṇa, the science of language.
  • Understand the nuances related to Saṁskṛta letters and the rationale behind word and sentence construction
  • Understanding the structure of Aṣṭādhyāyī 

Topics of Study

Unit 1 : Ahnika 1

  • Introduction lecture, Definition of Shabda (word) – 1 lecture
  • Major objectives of Vyakarana (science of language) – 2 lectures
  • Minor objectives of Vyakarana – 3 lectures 
  • Reasons for introducing objectives in the beginning – 1 lecture
  • Paninian method of teaching words – 1 lecture
  • Meaning of world – class or individual? – 4 lectures
  • Word, meaning and their relationship – 3 lectures
  • Words not in common use – grammar’s role – 2 lectures
  • Where is dharma – in knowledge of word or in use of it in conversation – 3 lectures
  • What is constituent of grammar – 1 lecture
  • Why does Panini teach a rearranged alphabet – 1 lecture

Unit 2 : Ahnika 2

  • Why ‘’a’’ in Panini’s alphabet is of open mode? – 2 lectures 
  • ‘’a’’ in Panini’s alphabet and ‘’a’’ in common use – major issues – 2 lectures 
  • ‘’l’’ in Panini’s alphabet – objective – 2 lectures 
  • Marker ‘’t’’ in signified of Guna and Vriddhi – 1 lecture 
  • Phonemes and their parts – 1 lecture 
  • Phonemes not taught in Panini’s alphabet – 2 lectures 
  • Why ‘’ha’’ is taught twice in Panini’s alphabet – 2 lectures 
  • Do individual phonemes in words have meaning? – 2 lectures 
  • Objectives of Panini’s teaching of alphabet – 1 lecture

About the Course Instructor

Prof. G. Gangadharan Nair, a well-renowned Saṁskṛta scholar and a pioneer in the field of spoken Sanskrit, pursued both traditional and modern education in the fields of  saṁskṛta vyākaraṇa and linguistics. He was awarded a doctorate degree in Saṁskṛta vyākaraṇa for his work on uṇadi sutrāṇi. He also holds a master’s degree in a foreign language, namely Russian. He successfully guided many students, most notable among them being Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai of the Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership.

Having a distinguished career Prof. Nair has served in various positions in universities and colleges across the country as follows

  • Member of the senate of the Cochin University of Science and Technology.
  • Member of the senate of Rashtriya Sanskrit University, Tirupati.  
  • Member in the faculty of Oriental studies, A.P. Singh University, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. 
  • As a UGC nominee on the advisory committee of DRS programme of the Department of Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkota. 
  • Dean and Professor of Sanskrit Grammar in Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. 
  • Chairman of the Academic council of Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute, Kochi and member of the editorial board of the journal of the same institute.


References are available online and include commentaries such as Udyota and Pradīpa.

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