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A 2,500-Year-Old Sanskrit Puzzle Solved By an Indian Student at Cambridge

by Ayushi Veda
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Meet Rishi Atul Rajpopat, an Indian student who solved a 2,500-year-old Sanskrit puzzle at Cambridge University. Mr. Rishi is a 27-year-old Ph.D. student at Cambridge University. Rishi decodes a text written in Sanskrit by a Sanskrit language master named Panini. The master Panini lived about two and a half thousand years ago. It’s a result of 2 years and nine months.

The Sanskrit language master Panini used to teach a metarule, which says, “in the event of a conflict between two rules of equal strength, the rule that comes later in the grammar’s serial order wins.” But it often did not give correct results. So this traditional interpretation of the metarule did not make sense to Rajpopat, and he went with an argument. Rajpopat said that Panini meant “between the rules applicable to right sides of a word respectively.” Rajpopat further said he wanted to choose the rule applicable to the right side. He further said that Panini’s language machine gave grammatically correct words without exceptions.

Rajpopat said I had a eureka moment at Cambridge. After trying for nine months I almost gave up and took a one-month break. He then enjoyed the summer, swimming, cycling, cooking, praying, and meditating. Then, begrudgingly I went back to work, and, within minutes, as I turned pages, these patterns started emerging, and it all started to make sense.

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