The importance of Sanskrit grammar

Language: After studying Sanskrit grammar for 18 years in India, monk Khenrab Singye has decided to teach the ancient grammar to help monks understand the teachings of the Buddha better.

Sanskrit grammar is the basis of all Buddha teachings in the form of sutras, tantras, philosophy, literature and texts.  Khenrab Singye studied at the Sampurnanand Sanskrit University in Varanasi to master ancient Sanskrit grammar, which is called vyakarana.

Grammarian Panini codified it in the 4th century BC and formulated 3,996 rules of Sanskrit morphology, syntax and semantics.

Khenrab Singye said that Panini’s version of grammar has 1,500 root verses, which was later elaborated into 6,000 verses.

Probably one of the first in the county to have mastered vyakarana, Khenrab Singye said he would teach in one of the Buddhist institutes in Kalimpong, India.

The Choeked grammar that was codified by Tibetan grammarian Thumi Samnota in the 7th century was based on Sanskrit, Khenrab Singye said.  On the basis of Choeked, Bhutanese scholars derived Dzongkha grammar in the early 1960s.

Khenrab Singye, who is from Deothang in Samdrupjongkhar, said that Sanskrit grammar would enable one to know the meaning of mantras, which are found in every Buddhist text. “If one doesn’t know Sanskrit, it’ll be difficult to read mantras,” he said.

He is the author of Yangchen Drador Tsamjor Nga, a book that talks about formulation of Sanskrit in Buddhist text.  He has also written an explanation of Tantric Threma Nagmo text.

Before joining Varanasi University, Khenrab Singye spent more than nine years in Ngagyur Nyingma Institute in Mysore, India where he studied Buddhist philosophy and literature.  He also completed a three-year retreat.

By Tenzin Namgyel

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