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Panini: Catching the Ocean in a Cow's Hoofprint

Sunil Khilnani wonders whether there could be a link between Panini, a man who systematised the ancient language of Sanskrit, and modern computer programmers today.

Professor Sunil Khilnani, from the King's India Institute in London, looks at the life and legacy of Panini, a master of the ancient Sanskrit language who lived around two and a half thousand years ago. His grammar, known as the Astadhyayi, had a lasting impact and helped to make Sanskrit the lingua franca of much of Asia for more than a thousand years - not through conquest or colonisation but because it served a purpose. Panini's grammar relied on a system that functioned like a powerful algorithm, or a computer programme today. He created, "in a mere forty-pages, the most complete linguistic system in history and helped to make Sanskrit the lingua franca of much of Asia for more than a thousand years".
Produced by Mark Savage
With incidental music by composer Talvin Singh.
Listeners can catch up with the series and see the list of remarkable Indians featured on the Radio 4 website.

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