The history of Sanskrit language is millions of years old. The exact facts are not available about where and how this language originated, but the roots of this language are associated till eternity. Hundreds of languages have emerged from the Sanskrit language of India at present and are being spoken in a particular country. Talking about the texts, the oldest Sanskrit text is the gveda, which is composed of at least two and a half thousand BC. Further discovery is being sought. Sanskrit is not only a language but it is an ocean of words and knowledge in itself. Sanskrit is a language that belongs to the Indo-Aryan group and is the root of all Indian languages. But the irony is that today Sanskrit is spoken by less than 1% of Indians. It is mostly used by Hindu priests during religious ceremonies. It is one of the official languages only in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
According to the last census, only 14,000 of the billions mentioned Sanskrit as their primary language. There was almost no speaker in the North-East of the country, Orissa, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and even Gujarat. In schools, it is only offered as an optional language, with most students preferring to choose French, German, and even Mandarin, which are considered more appropriate in the world. Today, it seems as if Sanskrit, which gave birth to all languages, has grown old and is now a showpiece for honours, indoors. No government has taken any concrete steps for the expansion of Sanskrit language, nor has it insisted on teaching it.
But today we will tell you about how great Sanskrit language is, why Sanskrit is called the language of God.
Meaning of ‘Sanskrit’
Sanskrit is regarded as an ancient language in Hinduism, where it was used as a means of communication and dialogue by the Hindu celestial gods and then by the Indo-Aryans. Sanskrit is also widely used in Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The word ‘Sanskrit’ is derived from the combination of the prefix ‘sama’ meaning ‘samyak’ which indicates ‘whole’, and ‘krita’ which indicates ‘complete’. An extraordinarily complex language with a vast vocabulary, it is still widely used today in the reading of sacred texts and hymns.
Origin and Purity of Sanskrit
The Sanskrit language was called as Deva-Vani (‘Deva’ deities – ‘Vani’ language) because it was believed to have been originated by Lord Brahma. It was given by Brahma as a learning to the sages living in the celestial energy including the earth. These sages immortalized this language on earth. The sages used Sanskrit language for communication among themselves. Here the language spread on the earth through the disciples of the sages.
Sanskrit is classified into two distinct periods, the Vedic and the Classical, in terms of its literary associations. Vedic Sanskrit is found in the sacred texts of the Vedas, especially the Rigveda, the Puranas and the Upanishads, where the most original form of the language was used. The composition of the Vedas is traced back to the period 1000 to 500 BCE, when Sanskrit had a strong tradition of being transmitted orally. It is rich in early Sanskrit vocabulary, phonetics, grammar and syntax, which are consistent in their purity even today. It has 52 letters, 16 vowels and 36 consonants. These 52 letters have never been modified or changed and are believed to have remained constant from the beginning, thus making them the best language for word formation and pronunciation.
The Sanskrit language has been the traditional means of communication in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Sanskrit literature has the privilege of being used in ancient poetry, drama and science, as well as in religious and philosophical texts. Language is believed to have originated by observing the natural progression of sounds produced in the human mouth, thus making sound an important element of language formation. Poems in Sanskrit composed of sounds emanating from the mouth when recited come out of a rhythm and Sanskrit has the expressive quality of extracting the best meaning through sound pleasant to the human ear. Vedic Sanskrit also has abstract nouns and philosophical words that are not found in any other language. Consonants and vowels are flexible enough to be grouped together to express subtle ideas. On the whole, language is like an endless ocean without a basis because of its reach, complexity, and hundreds of words to express a single meaning or object.
Classical Sanskrit – Ashtadhyayi
Classical Sanskrit originated in the late Vedic period when the Upanishads were the last sacred texts to be written, after which Panini, a descendant of Pani and a grammar and linguistic researcher, introduced a refined version of the language. Panini’s timeline is believed to be around the 4th century BCE, when he introduced his work ‘Ashtadhyayi’, meaning eight chapters, the only available foundational and analytical text of Sanskrit grammar. It is today considered the only source of Sanskrit grammar and vocabulary, as nothing that existed before was ever recorded other than their mention in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi.