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Yāska (यास्क) (Yaskacharya) was an early Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini (fl. 6-5th century BCE), assumed to have lived in the 7th century BCE. Nothing is known about him other than that he is traditionally identified as the author of Nirukta, the discipline of "etymology" (explanation of words) within Sanskrit grammatical tradition. Jats are mentioned in Yaska's graphic phrase: Jatya Atanaro (जाट्य आटनारो).

Mention by Panini

Yaskyah (यास्क्य:) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [1] A bevy of woman of Yaska gotra was named as Yāskyāḥ (II.4.63)

Author of the Nirukta

Yaska is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of Sanskrit words. He is thought to have succeeded Śākaṭāyana, an old grammarian and expositor of the Vedas, who is mentioned in his text.

The Nirukta attempts to explain how certain words get to have their meanings, especially in the context of interpreting the Vedic texts. It includes a system of rules for forming words from roots and affixes, and a glossary of irregular words, and formed the basis for later lexicons and dictionaries. It consists of three parts, viz.:(i) Naighantuka, a collection of synonyms; (ii) Naigama, a collection of words peculiar to the Vedas, and (iii) Daivata, words relating to deities and sacrifices.

The Nirukta was one of the six vedangas or compulsory ritual subjects in syllabus of Sanskrit scholarship in ancient India.

All nouns are derived from verbs

Yāska also defends the view, presented first in the lost text of Sakatayana that etymologically, most nouns have their origins in verbs. An example in English may be the noun origin, derived from the Latin originalis, which is ultimately based on the verb oriri, "to rise". This view is related to the position that in defining agent categories, behaviours are ontologically primary to, say, appearance. This was also a source for considerable debate for several centuries.

Yaska on Jats

Jatya Atanaro

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[2] writes on Yaska's graphic phrase: Jatya Atanaro (जाट्य आटनारो)

Approximately a couple of centuries before 135 Panini, Yaska 136 gives a phrase Jatya Atanaro (जाट्य आटनारो) in his Nirukta, a comprehensive treatise on the Science of words not commonly understood. Apparently Jatya Atanaro means in or like the Jat nomads with matted hair. Sense perceptions do not need further inference or proof: we identify a gem by direct cognition, by its gem-like brilliance, The description of the ancient people of Sindh and Panjab given by contemporary Greek historians is as vivid as the sparkle of a gem. They 137 very clearly depict the long beards and ample locks or hair of the Getae and Indian warriors. Yaska's graphic phrase Jatya Atanaro is so striking so striking in its Vividness that we can almost see the Jat tribes roaming the land with their matted hair, as brave warriors in the time of Yaska. By the time of Panini they must have settled down as Ayudhjivi ganas. The trail goes further hack in time. Yaska138 quotes Sakatayana, an earlier authority, to support the view that all nouns are derived from verbs. Consequently, it is logical to conclude that the root139 of the known Jat in the phrase Jatya Atanaro did exist at the time of Sakatayana or ven earlier as well. In fact all the thro further conclusion that the term Jat existed in its present form in Yaska's time, and even earlier in that of Sakatayana.

The antiquarians, who connect Jat (जाट) with Jata (जट), a root given by Panini, ignoring the fact that it trickled down to Panini from earlier times, generally opine that search for Jats and variants of this name in further remoter times may be an attempt as ephemeral as a furrow in water. The ocean of history and the womb of time, however, have vast stores of information which they would yield to those who have faith and persistence. The morel in one's hand reaches the seeking mouth unerringly even in pitch darkness.

135. Date of Yaska is two centuries earlier than Panini, i.e. before 9th Cen. B.c. (Kaiyanaramana, op.cit., p.6).

136. Nirukta, Ch. 1, 4, Jatya is adjective like Udichya, Prachya, etc. and Jat is noun. If 'Y' is used as suffix to a noun in Skt. it becomes an adjective. Dev. Sharma gives the meaning of Jatya Atnaro which seems inconsistent. (Dev. Sharma, Niruktam, p. 39).

137. Majumdar, Class. Accts., pp. 105-259. R.P. Lister, Travels of Herodotus, London, 1979, pp. 39-71.

138. Aggarwal, op.cit., p. 434. Dev Sharma, Delhi, 1963, p. 33; Niruktam. 1:1.

139. Dev Sharma, op.cit., p. 39. The roots given by Bhagirath Shastri in the Hindi Tans. is 'Jri' or 'Jani' It means he is uncertain and his suggestion appears quite incongruous and arbitrary. Can the root change from time to time? The supposed roots are definitely wrong and far fetched.

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[3] writes....An amateur enthusiast tried its origin from an allegedly unintelligible phrase, "jatya atnaro", given by Yaskacharya in his Niruktam, but left it halfway as unexplained....Yaska and Sakatayana, who were keen students of the Vedas, especially the Rig Veda which describes the role of various confederacies of the Yayatas in the Dasharajna wars fought on the plains of the Sapta-Sindhu.

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[4] writes.... We may draw attention once again, to a phrase in Yaska's Nirukta. The phrase in Nirukta is Jatya Atnaro which has been dismissed by some scholars as unintelligible, by others to mean "nomads with matted locks of hair". There is, however, a consensus that Atnaro means "nomads or wanderers". In the local Prakrit dialects, Atnaro (Atna + Naro) means" person(s) who develop 'Atna'( coarse hardening of skin) on the joints of the toes by roaming about: this confirms the meaning. The dispute is only the word "Jatya". We derive the word "Jatya" (of the Jat) from Jat. It is thus that adjectives are formed from nouns. Monier-Williams cites examples of this rule, i.e., the words "Prachya" (of the east) from "Prachi" (the east), and "Udichya" from "Udichi" (the north). Examples of this can be multiplied. Jatya Atnaro thus becomes easily intelligible as meaning "nomads like Jats or belonging to Jat(s)".

We are prepared to concede that the term Jatya may mean "hair" or "hairy" or in the "hair" or belonging to "hair" as was interpreted by some scholars. We must point out, however, that the context rules out this meaning, because "hair" have no toes and they cannot grow "Atna" on them, nor can they (hair) be equated with persons, sedentary or nomadic. The word must have been used by Yaska as well as (possibly) by Sakatayana to represent those nomadic Jats who, unlike their sedentary brethren, did not prefer to settle down as agriculturists in the Paraskara desha (Panini, VI, I, 157; Patanjli, III, 96). It corresponds to the Tharparkar desert. This is the home region of Yaska where a good many of them still lead the same type of life as graziers and where we find the word Jat as an ethnic name as much used in its present form as it was during the time of Yaska.


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[5] ने लेख किया है ...कीकट (AS, p.192) गया (बिहार) का परिवर्ती प्रदेश था. पुराणों के अनुसार बुद्धावतार कीकट देश में ही हुआ था. कीकट का सर्वप्रथम उल्लेख ऋग्वेद में है-- ' किंते कृण्वंति कीकटेषु गावो नाशिरं दुहे न तपन्ति धर्मं आनोभरप्रमगंदस्य वेदो नैचाशाखं के मधवत्रन्ध्यान:' 3,53, 14. इस उद्धरण में कीकट के शासक है प्रमगंद का उल्लेख है. यास्क के अनुसार (निरुक्त 6,32) कीकट अनार्य देश था. पुराण काल में कीकट मगध ही का एक नाम था तथा इससे सामन्यत: अपवित्र समझा जाता था; केवल गया और राजगृह तीर्थ रूप में पूजित थे-- 'कीकटेषु गया पुण्या पुण्यं राजगृहं वनम्' वायु पुराण 108,73. बृहद्धर्मपुराण में भी कीकट अनिष्ट देश माना गया है किन्तु कर्णदा और गया को अपवाद कहा गया है-- 'तत्र देशे गया नाम पुण्यदेशोस्ति वुश्रुत:, नदी च कर्णदा नाम पितृणां स्वर्गदायिनी' 26,47. श्रीमद्भागवत में कतिपय अपवित्र अथवा अनार्य लोगों के देशों में कीकट या मगध की गणना की गई है. महाभारत काल में भी ऐसी ही मान्यता थी. पांडवों की तीर्थ यात्रा के प्रसंग में वर्णन है कि वे जब मगध की [p.193] सीमा के अंदर प्रवेश करने जा रहे थे तो उनके सहयात्री ब्राह्मण वहां से लौट आए. संभव है कि इस मान्यता का आधार वैदिक सभ्यता का मगध या पूर्वोत्तर भारत में देर से पहुंचना हो. अथर्ववेद 5,22,14 से भी अंग और मगध का वैदिक सभ्यता के प्रसार के बाहर होना सिद्ध होता है. पुराण काल में शायद बौद्ध धर्म का केंद्र होने के कारण ही मगध को अपुण्य देश समझा जाता था.


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