Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
Vyakarana or grammar is the "mukha" of the Vedapurusa, his mouth. The
Tamil word for grammar is "illakanam". Grammar deals with the
"laksanas" of a language. "Laksmana(n)" is "llukkumanan" in Tamil. In
same way, "laksana(m)" becomes "illakanam" in that language.
There are a number of works on Sanskrit grammar. The most widely used
and important is the one by the great sage Panini. There is a gloss - a
vartika- on his "Vyakarna-sutra" by Vararuci. Patanjali has written a
bhasya or commentary on Panini's sutras. These three are the chief works
on Sanskrit grammar.
There is a difference between grammar and other sastras. In the case of
other subjects the original sutras constituting them are esteemed more
than their bhasyas. But, in the case of grammar, or Vyakarana, the
is more valued than the sutras and still more valued is the bhasya.
According to one reckoning, there are six sastras. Vyakarana is one of
them. Four of the sastras are particularly important: apart from
Vyakarana, Tarka (logic), Mimamsa and Vedanta. Vyakarna is also one of
the vedic sadanga (six limbs of the vedas).
"Sucant sutram ", so it is said. (The sutra is just an indication of
something, a truth or a principle.) Every sastra has a bhasya and each
such bhasya is known by a particular name. The vyakarana bhasya (of
Patanjali) alone is called "Mahabhasya", "the great commentary ".