HINDU ENCYCLOPEDIA

सनातन धर्म भूमिका

Meaning of "Sutra"

Word

Sutra

Sanskrit

सूत्र

IAST

sūtra

In General

The Sutras are terse and laconic style literature. Many of them are like an aphorism or short formula in least possible number of letters expressing the exact core idea, without any ambiguity. During the ancient period documentation and its preservation were costly. So Sutras written in beautiful poetry with bare minimum size were easy to by heart thus became a success.

Though sutras were written by literary geniuses in the subject, it is very difficult to understand without the help of commentaries by equally great creative minds. Hence, there arose many commentators or Bhashyakaras. There are glosses, notes and, later, commentaries on the original commentaries. Each set of Sutras has, therefore, got its Bhashya, Vritti, Varttika, Vyakhyana, Tika, Tippani.

The best example of the greatest, the tersest and the most perfect of Sutra literature is the series of aphorisms called the Ashtadhyayi composed by Panini. Panini is the father of all Sutrakaras from whom all others seem to have borrowed the method of composition. Without the help of Mahabhasya of Patanjali the great work of Panini is impossible to understand.

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