PANINI is considered to be the greatest grammarian in the Samskrit language. It will be of interest for our young readers to know some incidents from the life of Maharshi Panini.
Panini was admitted in a Pathshala(School) in Lahore, which was a part of the undivided India of yore. At the time of admission in the Patsala, Panini was a young boy.
The Pathshala was generally managed by a Guru with the active cooperation and help of his Dharma Patni (Who is also called Guru Patni). The Guru and Guru Patni, not only managed the affairs of the Pathshala (the abode of education) as managers and teachers but also as the foster-parents of the desciples, education in the Pathshala was not confined to the academics alone. The desciples were also expected to participate actively in other activities like cleaning the premises, taking care of cattle, helping the Guru Patni in her kitchen work, arranging the puja requirements for the Guru, cooking, fuel requirements for kitchen, fetching water from a well and a river nearby and in many other related activities. In other words, the education imparted in the Pathshala was a man-making education.
As for as the academics were concerned, the emphasis was on memory. The desciples were expected to memorise the lessons of the day and repeat them on the following day. While the young boy Panini scrupulously served his Guru and Guru Patni with all devotion in all respects, he was averse to routine memorising and hence he was not considered to be a bright. student. When the Guru called him in the morning and asked him to repeat the aphorisms (Sutras) and the verses (Shlokas) taught on the previous day, he would go near the Guru, stretch his hand and exhibit his palm! Then the Guru would slash two strokes with his cane, on the tender palm of the young Panini. Panini would than feel relieved of the pressure of studies for the day and resume his other household activities.
As days and weeks rolled by, one day the Guru summoned him and told him that he was not fit for education. Hence he was asked to go back to his village, which was nearby, and join his parents. He was also provided with a small lunch packet.
The young Panini walked a long distance and during the midday, when the sun was at its height, he reached a small village where he could find a place to sit under the shade of a tree to partake his lunch. There was also a well at a little distance away, where a lady was drawing water from a well. The well was not provided with a wheel and pulley to draw water. There was only a strong, slanted granite stone, from the top of which a strong rope tied to the metal or earthern pot was lowered into the well to draw water. The young Panini was a keen observer of people and his surroundings. He found to his dismay that the repeated descent and ascent of the rope from the top of the stone, left a deep mark on the hard stone! Then it struck him that by repeated practice even a dull-headed man can become a sparkling genius.
The young Panini did not go back to his village. Instead, he returned to the Pathshala and told his Guru, of his resolve to stay in the Pathshala and complete his education.
In this context, it is worth remembering the Hindi saying (Doha) which reads as under.