The achievements of Pānini and the Indian grammarians, beginning nearly 2500 years ago, have never been fully appreciated by Western scholars—partly because of the great technical difficulties presented by such an inquiry, and partly because relevant tutorial articles have been confined to obscure and inaccessible publications.
This book makes available to linguists and Sanskritists a collection of the most important articles on the Sanskrit grammarians, and provides a connected historical outline of their activities. It covers studies and fragments ranging from early 7th-century accounts of the grammarians—recorded by Buddhist pilgrims from China and Tibet, by Muslim travelers from the Near East, and by Christian missionaries—to some of the best articles that have appeared during the last century and a half.
Chapters in the book cover the foundation of Sanskrit studies in the West laid by British scholars working in India and including the detailed and accurate information provided by Henry Thomas Colebrooke; the linguistic evaluations of Pānini by von Schlegel and von Humboldt; the work of Bhandarkar and of Kielhorn; William Dwight Whitney's low evaluation of the "native" grammarians; and the philological work of modern Western, Indian, and Japanese scholars.
The editor observes that materials in the Reader reveal problems tackled by the Sanskrit grammarians which closely parallel developments in contemporary linguistics. He has provided historical and linguistic commentary and bibliographic data in the introductions and notes that accompany each selection. Articles are in their original English, German, and French. Texts or passages in Chinese, Tibetan, Arabic, Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek have, for the most part, been translated into English, and all Sanskrit passages have been translated into the Latin alphabet.