Some conlanging experiments of Hindu Sanskrit grammarians

Burnell,in one of his appendices to his monograph on the aindra-vyAkAraNa noted a conlang of sorts,which went by the name of bhANDIrabhASA. This conlang prakRt has a grammar on it authored by a certain kRSNa-kavI,and was used to compose songs in plays by a certain veGkatamakhIn,though the only example I heard of was taken from saGgIta sampradAya pradarzini of subbarAma dIkSita(1904).

The origin mythos of this conlang is thus given

bhANDirAdeze bhANDIravaTazAkhAprasArite|
bRndAvanAntare kRSNaH pUrNAnandapariplutaH||
mahArASTre ca saMbhUtaiH sarasair gopikAjanaiH||
taiH sahasraiH SoDazabhiH paritaH paribhUSitaH|
parizramam apAkratuM rAsakrIDAM vidhAya ca|
bhANDiratarum Azritya tribhaGgishAnakanisthitaH|
adhaHkarAbhyAM paJcamakriyAcAturyalolupaH|
cArayann UrdhvapANibhyAM veNunAdaM mRdutvataH(sic)|
tAbhis taddezajAn rAgAn AkarNya parayA mudA||

…..         …. … gopastrIpraibhASitAn|
mRdvAlApAn samAdAya rAgAn so’poSayan mudA||

Of this,nArada was ordered by gopinAtha(kRSNa) to compose a grammar,which he did,and subsequently taught to the sage zArdula.

It’s character and purpose was listed thus:

ghoSAkSarair yuktam api mRdu zrAvyaM manoharam|
prakAzArthaM gItayogaM bhANDIram iti kathyate||

It was indended mainly to suit certain musical purposes.Naresh Keerthi noted that a musical language like this would have been uniformly unintelligible to the different people who inhabited tanjAvUr at the time of its composition,so it would not privilege any particular community in the audience.

It’s grammar has a series of modified zivasutras reproduced below

| a,i,u,n | R,lR,k | e,o,G | ai,au,c | h,y,s,r,l,G | J,m,G,N,n,m | jh,bh,gh,Dh,dh,j,b,g,D,d | c,ph,ch,Th,th,p,c,c,T,t,y | z,S,s,t |

An example of how words seemed to be formed

bhANDIra Sanskrit
aikhun aikhuni AkarNyA’karNya
kRSNuv’Ananddu kRSNasyA’nandaH
teNe ujali teno’jjvalitam
aritu haritaH
aruhu arhaH
cekkam cakram
haricandaru harizcandraH
bhuMmi bhUmiH

It has an elaborate system of inflection for both nouns and verbs. An example given by Burnell:

Singular Present tense: bhU(root): bhomi,bhosi,bhodi/bhoti
Plural Present tense:bhoma,bhodha,bhonti

After giving the pANinian technical terms the writer(presumably kRSNa-kavI) ends with: teSAM rupaM saMskRtavat sarvaM tadbhavasaMmatAt“.

Burnell opines: “It is thus evident that this bhAndIrabhASA is merely a variety of prakRt,but which violates the phonetic rule of the last by which kh,gh,th,dh,bh usually become h”.


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