To enquirers in the field of sociology, ethnography, history, and kindred subjects, Malabar has afforded ample food for speculation. The present volume is devoted to a subject, no less interesting, namely, the origin and growth of the Malayalam language. This is the second edition of Keralapaniniyam, the memorable publication of which took place nearly 21 years ago. Though it professes only to be a second edition, a superficial reader may fail to discover much ground common to both the editions. To all appearance the present edition with the alternations and additions, amounts to what one may call an 'allotropic modification' of the original work.
Before the publication of Keralapaniniyam, a number of works with varying pretensions to accuracy and completeness had appeared in the field of Vernacular Grammar. Such works may roughly speaking be associated with two stages in the development of our language and appear to be profoundly influenced by the dominant characteristic of those stages. After separating itself from the parentstock and setting out on an independent course, Malayalam could not help deviating more from its original Dravidian ties, owing to the altogether dissimilar influence exerted over it by Sanskrit. It appears to have pervaded our language to such a depth at one period, as to produce extravagant consequences. Sufficient light is thrown on this period by the discovery of Unnunilisandesam, a work composed about the middle of the sixth century M.E. while the struggle in earlier works such as Ramacharitam, is to assimilate Sanskrit words to Dravidian forms the attempt is quite the other way in Unnunilisandesam in which Sanskrit suffixes appear freely glued on to Dravidian roots and noutis, entirely leaving out of account the fundamental differences between the two languages. For example, one may quote, "പാലവുംപിന്നിടേഥാഃ" "കരംകൊണ്ടുതാൻ പൊത്തയിത്വാ" "മാടമ്പീനാമവിടെ വസതാം" and other instances occurring in the work under reference. We would view them as sheer vagaries at this distance of time. Probably as Dr. Johnson's dictum goes "to use two languages familiarly and without contaminating one by the other is very difficult." Such disturbance at the very foundation of our language could not last long; for we see the author of Lilathilakam, which also has been happily brought to light just recently, entering a serious protest against those innovating tendencies. The wave of Sanskrit influence which thus pressed on our mother-tongue though somewhat subsequently checked, has not passed away yet. We need not pause to examine all the results brought about by this action of the one language on the other. The relevant aspect of the situation is that the principles of Dravidian Grammar become gradually submerged and though their cryptic operation continued in everything our ancestors said or wrote, consciousness prevailed that Malayalam had nothing to do with its Dravidian Kindreds.The system of education then in vogue only tended to accentuate the position. Sanskrit was the chief subject of study. The medium of instruction being the mother-tongue some device was found necessary for the appropriate representation of Sanskrit case-endings and bewildering conjugations. In this way the eight Sanskrit cases inclusive of the vocative, brought into existence that corresponding counterparts in Malayalam. The verbs proved more difficult to be dealt with. The active and passive voices were easily assimilated and were denoted respectively by the names കർത്തരിപ്രയോഗം & കർമ്മണിപ്രയോഗം of course borrowed from Sanskrit. Sanskrit has a third voice called ഭാവേപ്രയോഗം. With some difficulty this also appears to have been managed by equivalence such as പതിപ്പൂ എന്നുള്ളതുണ്ടായി, ഗമിപ്പൂ എന്നുള്ളതുണ്ടായി and similar formations. Regarding the tenses there was fortunately no attempt to import the ten lakarams (ലകാരം) into our language with their delicate distinction of അദ്യതനം, അനദ്യതനം, പരോക്ഷം and other shades of difference. Such subtle distinctions could only be classified under the three broad heads of past, present and future, the terminology being again taken from Sanskrit. As to desi-deratives, frequentatives and other complicate formations, imitation must have appeared hopeless. Structure of sentences also caused some trouble. For example some verbs in Sanskrit govern two nouns in the objective case. In translating such it was evidently thought desirable to preserve a similar structure in Malayalam as well, see for instance, the example in Balaprabodhanam “ഗോപാലൻ പശുവേപ്പാലേ കറക്കുന്നതിപ്രകാരമാം” It is strange that the author could not realise the grotesqueness of the construction. When this process of assimilation was complete it was readily assumed that പ്രഥമ, ദ്വിതീയ and other inflexions as well as കർത്തരിപ്രയോഗം കർമ്മണിപ്രയോഗം and other conjugations are really inherent in Malayalam Grammar. A more fallacious assumption could not have been made. All the same not only was it made, but has been seriously set forth as the basis of their works by writers on Malayalam Grammar belonging to the Sanskrit School. See for example how deeply these preconceived ideas have coloured the work of Patchoo Muthathoo and Kovunny Nedungady. left to the learned author of Keralapaniniyam to examine this per theory and to explode it once for all.
The introduction of English education with its steadily increasing influence on the vernacular, marks the commencement of the second stage. At present the attachment of our language to English is in full swing. Our prose literature is entirely fashioned on English literature. The new poetic spirit in our language is directly traceable to English models. Nay the peaceful penetration of English language, if not controlled to some substantial extent, menaces to dislodge our mother-tongue even from our hearth and home. Now to confine ourselves to the topic in hand we find that from about the beginning of the 19th century, attempts have been made by western scholars to survey the hold of our language and to classify the rules underlying its correct use. In 1799appeared, as I have said elsewhere, the first product of European research in this subject namely a Malayalam grammar complied from the notes prepared by a Romish Bishop. Next followed in 1889 “Outlines of a grammar of the Malayalam language” by Mr. F. Spring of the honourable East India Company’s service, Madras. Another rudimentary treatise was published in 1841 by Re. Peet which called for a second edition in 1854. Then we have the works of the well-known eminent scholar Dr. Gundert. In 1851 was issued the first edition of his grammar which was admittedly but a portion of his work. In 1860 when Inspector of schools in Malabar and Canara, he published the first catechism of Malayalam Grammmar which was corrected by himself and was handed over by his Editor Mr. E. Diez to Mr. L. Garthwaite in 1865. Ultimately in 1865, after the learned Doctor had left India, complete edition of his grammar was brought out by the Editor aforesaid. Another work which calls for a mention in this connection is Rev. George Mathen's grammar published in 1863. The author assures us in the preface that the greater part of his work had been prepared before Gundert's grammar was published and a comparison of the two works clearly bears out the claim originally implied in the assurance. Somehow Mr. Garthwaite's catechism appears to have held the field against the other works noticed above and enjoyed a precarious survival even at the date of the appearance of Keralapaniniyam. The works of Dr. Gundert and George Mathen possess certain undeniable merits and disclose much originality in many respects. They restored the kinship of Malayalam with the other Dravidian tongues but imparted in their own turn a western tine to the grammar of our language. They borrowed Sanskrit terminology so far as it had got imbedded in our language and proceeded to fill up the lacunae by the new inventions of grammatical terns, not very happy in the majority of cases. Some of the rules and theories formulated by them are open to question with respect to their precision and correctness. Suffice it to say, their defects and inaccuracies appear to have been totally eclipsed the merits, which in all fairness, be it conceded, deserved to have preponderated. So much so for many a long year were entirely left with Mr. Garthwaite’s book more amusing than instructive, as controlling the tender destinies of our language. The situation made a keen demand for authoritative work at least for the purpose of getting rid of Garthwaite.
It was in these circumstances the first edition of this work was projected and written by our author. His profound scholarship, high academic distinction, his first-hand knowledge of Malayalam as well as his scientific and linguistic attainments eminently fitted him to the task and inspired the highest hopes. It took him more than four years, as he tells us to supply the long left desideratum by the publication of the original edition. The merits and the original aspect of the work have been clearly set forth in the masterly introduction prefaced to it by that prince of letters and paramount authority, His Highness the late lamented Kerala Varma Valia Koil Thampran. From the very alphabet to derivation there is not a single phase of grammar on which his extraordinary powers of precise generalisation and keen observation have not been brought to bear. He has said many new things and said many other things in a new way. George Mathen and Gundert have not omitted to notice the suppressed 'u' vowel in our language and they have taken considerable pains to demonstrate its existance. But the case has not been stated by either of them with half as much perspicuity and cogency as observable in Keralapaniniyam. Then again credit is due to George Mathen for questioning the correctness of the name പഞ്ചമീവിഭക്തി as applied to such formations as അതിൽനിന്ന്. He even created an അഷ്ടമീവിഭക്തി for the vocative. But he does not adequately deal with the anomaly and Keralapaniniyam was the first to place the question of case formations on a rational footing by separating the genuine suffixes from the group of Quasi-case-formatives consisting of നിന്നു, കൊണ്ട് etcetera. The division of the part of speech into five is again an original idea, departing from the threefold classification of the preceding grammarians who simply follow the Sanskrit lead. It is unnecessary to multiply instances. All the same the excellence of the work did not silence criticism. The main objection related to the casting the grammar of a living and growing language into the mould of the great Sanskrit Grammarian Panini whose proceedings it was hinted, were rather in the nature of a postmortem examination held on the body of a dead language. To see how far this criticism is well-founded one cannot do without some knowledge of the method adopted by Panini. For this purpose, I may quote from a recent publication, 'Systems of Sanskrit Grammar' by S.K Belvelkar M.A.Ph.D. “Panini has discussed his entire subject in a manner which is very simple in outline, could we but once grasp it, but which has proved very complex in execution. We may conceive of it in some such way as the following. Analysing language and that is what Vyakarana literally means, the first element we reach is a sentence which again consist of a verb in the various tenses and moods and a number of substantives in case relations to each other. ….Now the forms of verbs that we meet with in sentences seem to be made up of an original root stem and a number of ‘Pratyayas’ of endings, and it is these endings that give the verbs their several model and temporal significances. These endings, we further notice group themselves into two sets. Turning paripasu to the other element of the sentence-we notice that there are often in a sentence, substantives without any case termination at all. We explain these as the members of a whole which we call technically a Samasa or a compound. The formation and varieties of these must be explained before we actually treat of the Karakas or case-relations. Taking up the verbs where we left them… we deal at length with the formation and uses of the various tenses and moods: and while we are still on the subject we explain what are usually known as verbal derivatives. Now we are free to concentrate on the noun element of the sentence. The Nairuktas or etymologists seem to assert that all these nouns are derived from the root-stems which were the ultimate factors that we reached in our examination of the verb element. We must in the first place dispose of a large number of nouns formed from other nouns by the addition of the so-called Taddhita-affixes. Then it is that we reach the substantive divested of all external wrappings. But may not there be some changes in the very body of the nouns which we can explain? It is only when we have done that, that we are at liberty, to style the residuals as അവ്യുത്പന്നാനി പ്രാതിപദികാനി’ unless of’ course, we intend to step outside the role of a mere grammarian, as distinguished from a philologist, and try to trace even these back to some more primitive verb stems. Panini has made his contribution to Philology in the form of the Unadisutras. The difficulty in understanding Panini comes from... his attempts to economic expression where conceivably he would do so, without being misunderstood…. The foremost among the devices used (to secure terseness and brevity) was of course that of the Pratyaharas or elliptical statements and of the Anubandhas or significant endings. The formation of Ganas, by which are meant lists of words which undergo similar grammatical changes, also tended towards the same result. Some of these Ganas are complete and some Akriti-ganas, that is to say, Ganas which do not exhaustively enumerate all the words of a class but rather give merely a few leading types.. . The next device to secure brevity was the invention of peculiar technical symbols such as ഘീ, ഷഷ്, ലുക്, ശ്ലൂ, ലുപ്, etc. In the framing of the Sutras Panini always scrupulously omitted all such words as may be conveniently supplied from sense or from preceding Sutras. The technical name for this process is Anuvritti and to secure it he has made some of the Sutras, Adhikarasutras, that is to say, Sutras which have to be repeated wholly or in part, each time any 'of the Sutras dominated by them are to be interpreted... There is yet one more device.. . namely the use of Paribhashas of canons or interpretations. Some of them are enunciated by Panini himself, but a larger number he found already current in his day.." Now Panini himself was not above criticism. For we see the next great grammarian Katyayana subjecting അഷ്ടാദ്ധ്യായീ to a searching criticism modifying or supplementing the rules of Panini wherever they were or had become partially or totally inapplicable. We have also to take in to account the Mahabhashya of Patanjali who deals with his predecessor Katyayana in the same way as the latter did with Panini. "Besides giving the ishtis (desiderata) on Panini's sutras wherever Katyayana had omitted to give varthikas, his chief aim was to vindicate Panini against the often unmerited attacks of Katyayana; and in this he has achieved a remarkable success, although in some places he overdoes his defence and becomes decidedly unfair to Katyayana."
It is better to state at once that both Katyayana and Patanjali are regarded as the indispensable compliments of Panini; and that the cumulative labours of the trio have been the subject of heaps of commentaries for further elucidation. Let us now advert to the criticism regarding Keralapaniniyam, with which we entered on the above digression. In addition to the already current technical terms borrowed from Sanskrit the author has drawn further on Sanskrit Grammar and adopted നിത്യം, വികല്പം, വിഭാഷ, ബഹുലം, ആകൃതിഗണം, കാരകം, കൃത്, തദ്ധിതം and other technical terms. He has also coined a few others. The general outline of his analysis may be argued as tallying more or less with the method pursued by Panini. As for that matter, English Grammarians have also followed that course. There practically the resemblance stops. The painful brevity of Panini is altogether absent in Keralapaniniyam. There is no employment of പ്രത്യാഹാരം or അനുബന്ധം. The use of അനുവൃത്തി and ആകൃതിഗുണം is occasionally resorted to but it is too mild to lead to any bewilderment. And above all, the author has himself supplied his വാർത്തികം and ഭാഷ്യം wherever necessary. So then, the charge levelled against the work is more apparent than real, except in one important particular which will be dealt with later on. H.H. The Valia Koil Thampuran observes: “Thus it will be found the Keralapaniniya is not an imitation of Panini's code of the Ashtadhyayi but is an adaptation of his systems as it is presented to us with explanatory and critical comments of later writers“ This in other words means that the author of Keralapaniniyam, though he has cast aside the modus operandi of Panini has adhered to the underlying principle of the Sanskrit prototype. In a measure this is true. Panini's grammar which is essentially analytical aims almost exclusively at logical precision and coherence. Though there is a Vedic chapter added to his work, Panini is practically dent as to the course of the linguistic development from the Vedic period to his own. In other words, he is more logical than historical. Probably it may not at all matter in view of the fact that he was dealing with a dead language. But will such a ground-work equally suit a language like Malayalam ever spreading and growing, with such a chequered career in the past? I take this edition of Keralapaniniyam as a concession on the part of the erudite author, to the force of the above question. Hence we see in this edition that the ground-work is wholly recast, and the historical aspect has superseded the logical one, though logic itself has not been sacrificed. That is a change which goes to the root. Naturally enough the present volume opens with a peep into the ancient history of Kerala and its language. The author's conclusion is that Malayalam is a dialect of Tamil and in seeking to establish this theory he discusses the causes which operated to estrange Malayalam from Tamil. A comparison of the other Dravidian languages leads him to the same inference. Then he takes up the stages in the development of our language. These are divided into three, each being discussed and illustrated. So much by way of introduction. The body of the work begins with a consideration of the alphabet and with tracing its history as far backward as possible. In this connection the latent existence of two consonants "4" and “ഌ“ is brought to light. Then follows a chapter as to how the sound of some letters gets commuted into other sounds in ordinary pronunciation. The rules of സന്ധി follow next. Then the parts of speech are taken up. In subsequent chapters these are elaborated and dealt with. The book winds up with the chapter on syntax, followed by another one on derivation. Briefly, this is the scheme of the work. Sutras which formed the obnoxious element in the first edition have been removed en masse and verses have been introduced in their stead. It is only in keeping with the order of things that the Sutra style should be followed by metrical composition. It is not possible in this place to enumerate and dwell upon the various merits of this volume, unless one is prepared to ignore the claims of space and transgress one's sense of proportion. The verdict on the whole cannot be equivocal as to its value. We may pride ourselves on this valuable addition to the study of our language and congratulate the author for the heavy indebtedness under which he has placed the Malayalam-speaking people by this excellent publication.
A word more before concluding. When it was proposed that I should write an introduction to this edition, I was practically overpowered and unnerved by diffidence in view of the introduction to the first edition by one beside whom what are we but pigmies and dwarfs. If there was anything to take heart and venture on, it was only the affectionate partiality shown by the esteemed author towards the writer since the days the latter used to dispute in the class-room the rules of Keralapaniniyam and to get invariably silenced by the author in his brief convincing way. I feel a sort of personal loss in the omission of the Sutras which proved such a delight to me to tackle and to master. With the liveliest sense of thankfulness for this flattering permission to connect myself with this edition, I bring this to a close.
Kottayam P.K. Narayana Pillai 1-7-1917