As a doctoral student, Rishi attempted to answer the following question: "If two (or more) rules are simultaneously applicable at any given step in a Pāṇinian derivation, which of the two rules should be applied?" In other words, in such a case of ‘rule conflict’, which rule prevails?
During his PhD, he mainly focused on deriving (unaccented) forms from classical Sanskrit.
As a Gonda fellow with IIAS, Rishi will specifically investigate those conflicts that involve rules of (pitch) accentuation – which is a unique and distinguishing feature of Vedic Sanskrit. This will hopefully lend greater clarity to the meanings of certain Vedic forms and open up new avenues for philological work on the Vedic canon.
Rishi Rajpopat has joined IIAS with a fellowship provided by the J Gonda Foundation to work on certain interesting aspects of the functioning of the Aṣṭādhyāyī, a 4000 rules-long grammar of Sanskrit composed by Pāṇini around 400 BC. By developing a system built on bases and affixes, this remarkable grammar helps us construct any word – and subsequently, any sentence – of Sanskrit through a process of step-by-step derivation.