Sunday, October 4, 2009
Whitby and Toronto Sanskrit class participants can now phone into to a
teleclass every Sunday at 7pm. If you are interested, you can still
participate by emailing me at
speaksamskrit at yahoo dot com
There is a small registration fee of under a $1 per class for 40
classes throughout the year. Pretty good deal! The class is 1 hour
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Haryana announces incentives to promote Sanskrit
http://www.hindusta ntimes.com/ StoryPage/ Print.aspx? Id=274bd2eb-
1168-4a41- b29b-74162cc9ded 7
Sanskrit is all set to get a major boost in Haryana. The state
government has announced various grants for gurukuls (traditional
residential schools) to promote the ancient language.
Announcing the incentives Friday, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder
Singh Hooda said gurukul culture would be promoted in the state to
encourage teaching of Sanskrit.
Hooda announced that gurukuls having 100 students would be given a
grant of Rs 150,000 annually while those having 200 students would get
a grant of Rs 250,000 per annum. Those having over 300 students would
be given a grant of Rs 350,000, he added.
The number of students would be counted on the basis of those who take
the examination finally, officials said.
The government has also announced new qualifications for recruitment
of Sanskrit teachers.
latha vidyaranya said...
thats a great heart warming move taken by the haryana government. i
wish other states follow suit.
January 17, 2009 12:42 AM
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Thursday, December 4, 2008
Samskrit Website Links
Samskrit Literatures - http://www.vedamu.org/Sankrit/sankritmain.asp
Sacred Texts - http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/index.htm
Upanishads - http://www.gatewayforindia.com/upanishad/upanishads.htm
Vedic Resources - http://is1.mum.edu/vedicreserve/
Resources - http://www.mywhatever.com/sanskrit/index.html
News - http://sudharma.epapertoday.com/
AIR Samskrit News - http://girvanavani.googlepages.com/newsheadlines
latha vidyaranya said...
thanks for providing so many useful links to sanskrit lovers.
January 17, 2009 12:43 AM
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Saturday, September 20, 2008
Sanskrit speaking village in Madhya Pradesh
by Aditya Ghosh, Hindustan Times
Prem Narayan Chauhan pats his oxen, pushing them to go a little
faster. Ziighrataram, ziighrataram chalanti, he urges them. The
animals respond to their master's call, picking up pace on the muddy
path that leads to his 10-acre cornfield. Chauhan, 35, dropped out of
school early, after Class II. He does not consider it remarkable that
he speaks what is considered a dying language (or that his oxen
respond to it).
For him, Sanskrit is not a devabhasha, the language of the gods, but
one rooted in the commonplace, in the ebb and flow of everyday life in
Jhiri, the remote hamlet in Madhya Pradesh, where he lives. Mutterings
under banyan trees, chit-chat in verandahs, pleasantries on village
paths, disputes in the panchayat — in Jhiri, it's all in Sanskrit.
And then, a cellphone rings. The moment of contemporary reality is
fleeting. Anachronism and Amar Chitra Katha take over as the
conversation begins: "Namo, namah. Tvam kutra asi?" (Greetings. Where
are you?) A lost world rediscoveredJhiri is India's own Jurassic Park.
A lost world that has been recreated carefully and painstakingly, but
lives a precarious existence, cut off from the compelling realities of
the world outside.
The 1,000-odd residents of this hamlet, 150 km north of Indore, hardly
speak the local dialect, Malwi, any longer. Ten years have been enough
for the Sanskritisation of life here. Minus the Brahminical pride
historically associated with the language — Jhiri has just one Brahmin
family. The much-admired 24-year-old Vimla Panna who teaches Sanskrit
in the local school belongs to the Oraon tribe, which is spread over
Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. And the village is an eclectic mix of
Kshatriyas, Thakurs, Sondhias, Sutars and the tribal Bhils. Panna has
been key in popularising Sanskrit with the women of Jhiri. With
mothers speaking the language, the children naturally follow. Take 16-
year-old unlettered Seema Chauhan. She speaks Sanskrit as fluently as
Panna, who studied the language for seven years for her Master's
Chauhan is a livewire, humouring and abusing the village girls in
Sanskrit. "I just listened to Vimla didi," she says. "In fact, I'm
often at a loss for words in Malwi." Just married to a man from a
neighbouring village, she says confidently, "My children will speak in
Sanskrit because I will talk to them in it." As eight-year-old Pinky
Chauhan joins us, she greets me politely: "Namo namaha. Bhavaan kim
karoti?" (What brings you here?) Her father Chander Singh Chauhan
laughs and says, "My wife started speaking to me in this language, so
I learnt it to figure out what she was saying behind my back." Let's
get official Mukesh Jain, CEO, Janpad Panchayat, Sarangpur tehsil
(which includes Jhiri), recalls, "I could not believe it when I first
came here. It can get difficult during official interactions, but we
encourage them." All kinds of logistical problems crop up in Jhiri.
This year, 250 students did their school-leaving exams in Sanskrit. "A
Sanskrit teacher had to work along with all the examiners of other
subjects," says Jain.
But there are some positive offshoots too. Thanks to Sanskrit, Jhiri
has re-discovered some lost technologies of irrigation, conservation
and agriculture from the old scriptures.
A siphon system of water recharging, for instance, resulted in
uninterrupted water supply through the year in the fields. Small check-
dams, wells and irrigation facilities followed. "It is matter of pride
for us to retrieve these old techniques from the scriptures. With no
help from the government and without using any artificial systems,
we've reaped great benefits," says Uday Singh Chauhan, president of
the Vidya Gram Vikash Samity, which runs development programmes in the
village. But Jhiri's pride stops at Sanskrit. The first doctor,
engineer, economist, scientist or linguist is yet to walk out from it.
After finishing school, most village youth join a political party.
Electricity is a matter of luxury, so is sanitation. Even the school
does not have a toilet, which is the single biggest reason for girls
dropping out at the senior secondary level. The average age of
marriage for women is 14. Even Panna, who was thinking of doing her
PhD, had to give in to the wishes of the wise men of Jhiri who got her
married to the other schoolteacher, Balaprasad Tiwari.
There is no public transport; an Internet connection is unimaginable.
Jhiri desperately needs to connect to the rest of the world, to
explore its infinite possibilities, to grow. But Jhiri is still a
success story, especially when you consider that a similar experiment,
started a couple of decades ago in Muttur village of Karnataka's
Shimoga district, failed, because of the caste factor — it remained
caged with Brahmin patrons. "About 80 per cent people of the village
are Brahmins who know Sanskrit but won't speak it. This is because the
carpenters and blacksmiths would not respond to it," says Dr Mathur
Krishnaswami, head of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore, who was
involved with the movement. "No language in the world can survive
until the common man starts speaking it," he points out. Muttur
failed. Jurassic Park destroyed itself. Jhiri must not.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Kalam on why Sanskrit is important
Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad February 01, 2007 17:14 IST
President A P J Abdul Kalam on Thursday termed Guru Raghavendraswamy
of Mantralayam as a 'divine soul' and recalled the rich cultural
heritage of Sanskrit in Indian history.
Dr Kalam interacted with the students of Sree Guru Sarvabhouma
Sanskrit Vidyapeetam at Mantralayam in Kurnool district. Reciting the
Moola Mantram of Raghavendraswamigal, he said "We worship Guru
Raghavendraswamy, the divine soul who practiced and taught truth and
dharma (the right conduct). We chant his name as Kalpavrisha (the
giver of limitless material wealth) and bow before him as Kamadenu
(the giver of spiritual knowledge)."
"Though I am not an expert in Sanskrit, I have many friends who are
proficient in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a beautiful language. It has
enriched our society from time immemorial. Today many nations are
trying to research Sanskrit writings which are there in our ancient
scriptures. I understand that there is a wealth of knowledge available
in Sanskrit which scientists and technologists are finding today," he
"There is a need to carry out research on our Vedas, particularly
Atharvana Veda, for eliciting valuable information in science and
technology relating to medicine, flight sciences, material sciences
and many other related fields. Cryptology is another area where
Sanskrit language is liberally used," he added.
He suggested that the Sanskrit Vidyapeetam, apart from their academic
activity, should take up the task of locating missing literature in
Sanskrit available on palm leaves spread in different parts of the
country so that these could be documented and preserved. He suggested
that they should avail the help of digital technology for documenting
those scriptures both in audio and video form which can be preserved
as long term wealth for use by many generations.
He asked the Sanskrit Vidyapeetam to should go into details of lives
of great scholars, poets, epic creators like Valmiki, Veda Vyasa,
Kalidasa and Panini. He wanted the Vidyapeetam to invite well-known
Sanskrit scholars so that they can stay and interact with the students
for a certain period. "This will provide an opportunity for students
to interact and get enriched in Sanskrit and Vedas," he noted.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Samskrit and Technical Age
by Vyaas Houston, M.A.
The mentality of mankind and the language of mankind created each
other. If we like to assume the rise of language as a given fact, then
it is not going too far to say that the souls of men are the gift from
language to mankind. The account of the sixth day should be written:
He gave them speech, and they became souls.
— Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought
The quote of Whitehead may have created in the readers as many
different responses as there are readers. One may perceive it as a
noble and inspiring truth. Another may react to the notion that a
"soul" could depend on language. Still another may be completely in
the dark about what Whitehead is saying.
The quote will actually take on meaning according to context. And the
context is largely determined by the meanings we attribute to words,
especially in this quote the word "soul". "Soul", according to Webster
can mean "the immortal part of human being" or "the seat of emotional
sentiment and aspiration" or simply "a human being."
In addition to or apart from these definitions, each of us may bring
our own religious or philosophical beliefs or experiences into the
context, "the soul is this", or "the soul is that."
The point is this: wherever we go in our interpretation of Whitehead,
we use language. So the question arises "where does the soul exist
other than in language?"
Suppose we were to continue to challenge Whitehead in his implication
that only human beings, by having speech, became souls. We say
"animals have souls." But again the question occurs, where does the
animal's soul exist other than in our describing it with language?
Even if we were to have a vision of the soul of an animal, still we
would have to return to language to report what we saw. The soul of
the animal would continue to exist for us in memory as language.
Through language we could even recreate a picture of the animal's
Perhaps we should recreate North's recreation of creation and say "He
gave speech, and they became souls, and in turn some of them gave
souls to all creatures, to all life."
All of this is not to in any way invalidate the sanctity and
perfection of creation but only to point out that we have greatly
underestimated the sacred power of language. When the power of
language to create and discover life is recognized, language becomes
sacred. In ancient times, language was held in this regard. Nowhere
was this more so than in ancient India. It is evident that the ancient
scientists of language were acutely aware of the function of language
as a tool for exploring and understanding life, and in the process of
using language with greater and greater rigor discovered Sanskrit or
the "perfected" language.
This along with the example of Whitehead's quote points out what is
perhaps the most important distinction we can make in the fulfillment
of our lives: either language uses us or we use language. Either we
think that Whitehead is right or wrong based on what our already
established definition of "soul" is or we discover the relation of his
use of words, to our own use of words. This opens the possibility of
seeing something that lies beyond both. Only in the latter do we
actually communicate, free from the domination of unconscious memory
In ancient India the intention to discover truth was so consuming,
that in the process, they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for
fulfilling such a search that the world has ever known — the Sanskrit
Of all the discoveries that have occurred and developed in the course
of human history, language is the most significant and probably the
most taken for granted. Without language, civilization could obviously
not exist. On the other hand, to the degree that language becomes
sophisticated and accurate in describing the subtlety and complexity
of human life, we gain power and effectiveness in meeting its
challenges. The access to modern technology which has been designed to
give ease, efficiency and enjoyment in meeting our daily needs did not
exist at the beginning of the century. It was made possible by
accelerated advancement in the field of mathematics, a "language"
which has helped us to discover the interrelationship of energy and
matter with a high degree of precision. The resulting technology is
evidence of the tremendous power that is unleashed simply by being
able to make the finer and finer distinction that a language like
At the same time humankind has fallen far behind the advancements in
technology. The precarious state of political and ecological imbalance
that we are now experiencing is an obvious sign of the power of
technology far exceeding the power of human beings to be in control of
it. It could easily be argued that we have fallen far behind the
advancements in technology, simply because the languages we use for
daily communication do not help us to make the distinctions required
to be in balance with the technology that has taken over our lives.
Relevant to this, there has recently been an astounding discovery made
at the NASA research center. The following quote is from an article
which appeared in AI Magazine (Artificial Intelligence) in Spring of
1985 written NASA researcher, Rick Briggs:
In the past twenty years, much time, effort, and money has been
expended on designing an unambiguous representation of natural
languages to make them accessible to computer processing. These
efforts have centered around creating schemata designed to parallel
logical relations with relations expressed by the syntax and semantics
of natural languages, which are clearly cumbersome and ambiguous in
their function as vehicles for the transmission of logical data.
Understandably, there is a widespread belief that natural languages
are unsuitable for the transmission of many ideas that artificial
languages can render with great precision and mathematical rigor.
But this dichotomy, which has served as a premise underlying much work
in the areas of linguistics and artificial intelligence, is a false
one. There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration
of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable
literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a
long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to
exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the
accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for
paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in
essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence. This
article demonstrates that a natural language can serve as an
artificial language also, and that much work in AI has been
reinventing a wheel millennia old.
The discovery is of monumental significance. It is mind-boggling to
consider that we have available to us a language which has been spoken
for 4000 - 7000 years that appears to be in every respect a perfect
language designed for enlightened communication. But the most stunning
aspect of the discovery is this: NASA, the most advanced research
center in the world for cutting edge technology, has discovered that
Sanskrit, the world's oldest spiritual language, is the only
unambiguous spoken language on the planet.
In early AI research it was discovered that in order to clear up the
inherent ambiguity of natural languages for computer comprehension, it
was necessary to utilize semantic net systems to encode the actual
meaning of the sentence. Briggs gives the example of how a simple
sentence would be represented in a semantic net:
John gave the ball to Mary.
give, agent, John
give, object, ball
give, recipient, Mary
give, time, past
He further comments, "The degree to which a semantic net (or any
unambiguous nonsyntactic representation) is cumbersome and odd-
sounding in a natural language is the degree to which that language is
'natural' and deviates from the precise or 'artificial.' As we shall
see, there was a language (Sanskrit) spoken among an ancient
scientific community that has a deviation of zero."
Considering Sanskrit's status as a spiritual language, a further
implication of this discovery is that the age old dichotomy between
religion and science is an entirely unjustified one.
It is also relevant to note that in the last decade physicists have
begun to comment on the striking similarities between their own
discoveries and the discoveries made thousands of years ago in India
which went on to form the basis of most Eastern religions.
Because of the high level of collaboration required in uncovering the
nature of energy and matter, it is inconceivable that it ever could
have taken place without a common language, namely mathematics. This
is a perfect example of using a language for discovering and designing
life. The language of mathematics, being inherently unambiguous,
minimizes personal interpretation and therefore maximizes opportunity
for exploration and discovery. The result of this is a worldwide
community of scientists working together with extraordinary vitality
and excitement about uncovering the unknown.
It can also be inferred that the discoveries that occurred in India in
the first millennia B.C. were also the result of collaboration and
inquiry by a community of spiritual scientists utilizing a common
scientific language, Sanskrit. The truth of this is further accented
by the fact that throughout the history and development of Indian
thought, the science of grammar and linguistics was attributed a
status equal to that of mathematics in the context of modern
scientific investigation. In deference to the thoroughness and depth
with which the ancient grammatical scientists established the science
of language, modern linguistic researchers in Russia have concluded
about Sanskrit, "The time has come to continue the tradition of the
ancient grammarians on the basis of the modern ideas in general
Sanskrit is the most ancient member of the European family of
languages. It is an elder sister of Latin and Greek from which most of
the modern European languages have been derived. The oldest preserved
form of Sanskrit is referred to as Vedic. The oldest extant example of
the literature of the Vedic period is the Rig-Veda. Being strictly in
verse, the Rig-Veda does not give us a record of the contemporary
The very name Sanskrit meant "language brought to formal perfection"
in contrast to the common languages, Prakrits or "natural" languages.
The form of Sanskrit which has been used for the last 2500 years is
known today as Classical Sanskrit. The norms of classical Sanskrit
were established by the ancient grammarians. Although no records are
available of their work, their efforts reached a climax in the 5th
century B.C. in the great grammatical treatise of Panini, which became
the standard for correct speech with such comprehensive authority that
it has remained so, with little alteration until present times.
Based on what the grammarians themselves have stated, we may conclude
that the Sanskrit grammar was an attempt to discipline and explain a
The NASA article corroborates this in saying that Indian grammatical
analysis "probably has to do with an age old Indo-Aryan preoccupation
to discover the nature of reality behind the impressions we human
beings receive through the operation of our senses."
Until 1100 A.D., Sanskrit was without interruption the official
language of the whole of India. The dominance of Sanskrit is indicated
by a wealth of literature of widely diverse genres including religious
and philosophical; fiction (short story, fable, novels, and plays);
scientific literature including linguistics, mathematics, astronomy,
and medicine; as well as law and politics.
With the Muslim invasions from 1100 A.D. onwards, Sanskrit gradually
became displaced by common languages patronized by the Muslim kings as
a tactic to suppress Indian cultural and religious tradition and
supplant it with their own beliefs. But they could not eliminate the
literary and spiritual-ritual use of Sanskrit.
Even today in India, there is a strong movement to return Sanskrit to
the status of "national language of India." Sanskrit being a language
derived from simple monosyllabic verbal roots through the addition of
appropriate prefixes and suffixes according to precise grammatical
laws has an infinite capacity to grow, adapt and expand according to
the requirements of change in a rapidly evolving world.
Even in the last two centuries, due to the rapid advances in
technology and science, a literature abundant with new and improvised
vocabulary has come into existence. Although such additions are based
on the grammatical principles of Sanskrit, and mostly composed of
Sanskrit roots, still contributions from Hindi and other national and
international languages have been assimilated. For example: The word
for television, duuradarshanam, meaning "that which provides a vision
of what is far away " is derived purely from Sanskrit.
Furthermore, there are at least a dozen periodicals published in
Sanskrit, all-India radio news broadcast in Sanskrit, television shows
and feature movies produced in Sanskrit, one village of 3000
inhabitants who communicate through Sanskrit alone, not to mention
countless smaller intellectual communities throughout India, schools,
as well as families where Sanskrit is fostered. Contemporary Sanskrit
is alive and well.
The discussion until now has been about Sanskrit, the language of
mathematical precision, the world's only unambiguous spoken language.
But the linguistic perfection of Sanskrit offers only a partial
explanation for its sustained presence in the world for at least 3000
years. High precision in and of itself is of limited scope. Generally
it excites the brain but not the heart. Sanskrit is indeed a perfect
language in the same sense as mathematics, but Sanskrit is also a
perfect language in the sense that, like music, it has the power to
uplift the heart.
It's conceivable that for a few rare and inspired geniuses,
mathematics can reach the point of becoming music or music becoming
mathematics. The extraordinary thing about Sanskrit is that it offers
direct accessibility by anyone to that elevated plane where the two,
mathematics and music, brain and heart, analytical and intuitive,
scientific and spiritual become one. This is fertile ground for
revelation. Great discoveries occur, whether through mathematics or
music or Sanskrit, not by the calculations or manipulations of the
human mind, but where the living language is expressed and heard in a
state of joy and communion with the natural laws of existence.
Why has Sanskrit endured? Fundamentally it generates clarity and
inspiration. And that clarity and inspiration is directly responsible
for a brilliance of creative expression such as the world has rarely
seen. No one has expressed this more eloquently than Sri Aurobindo,
the 20th century poet philosopher:
The Ancient and classical creations of the Sanskrit tongue both in
quality and in body and abundance of excellence, in their potent
originality and force and beauty, in their substance and art and
structure, in grandeur and justice and charm of speech and in the
height and width of the reach of their spirit stand very evidently in
the front rank among the world's great literatures. The language
itself, as has been universally recognized by those competent to form
a judgment, is one of the most magnificent, the most perfect and
wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by the human
mind, at once majestic and sweet and flexible, strong and clearly-
formed and full and vibrant and subtle, and its quality and character
would be of itself a sufficient evidence of the character and quality
of the race whose mind it expressed and the culture of which it was
the reflecting medium.
Sanskrit after all is the language of mantra — words of power that are
subtly attuned to the unseen harmonies of the matrix of creation, the
world as yet unformed. The possibility of such a finely attuned
language is only conceivable by drawing upon sounds so inherently pure
in combinations so harmoniously blended that the result is as
refreshing and pure as the energy of creation forming into mountain
streams and lakes and the flawless crystal structures of natural gems,
while at the same time wielding the power of nebulae and galaxies
expanding into the infinitude of space.
But from the perception of Rishis, the source of language transcends
such conceptions. In Sanskrit, vaak, speech, the "word" of Genesis,
incorporates both the sense of "voice" and "word". It has four forms
of expression. The first, paraa, represents cosmic ideation arising
from the original and absolute divine presence. The second, pashyantii
(literally "seeing") is vaak as subject "seeing," which creates the
object of madhyamaavaak, the third and subtle form of speech before it
manifests as vaikhariivaak, the gross production of letters in spoken
Sanskrit is a language whose harmonic subtlety, mysteriously sources
the successive phases of creation all the way to origination. This
implies the possibility of having speech oriented to a direct living
truth which transcends individual preoccupation with the limited
information available through the senses. Spoken words as such are
creative living things of power. They penetrate to the essence of what
they describe. They give birth to meaning which reflects the profound
interrelatedness of life.
It is a tantalizing proposition to consider speaking a language whose
sounds are so pure and euphonically combined. The mere listening or
speaking inspires and produces joy and clarity. And yet it has been
precisely the tendency of humanity as a whole to merely be tantalized
by happiness, but not actually to choose it. It's as though we had
been offered the most precious gem and we answered, "No, I'd rather be
poor." The only possible background for such a choice is the
unconscious belief that, "I can't have it. I can't be that."
Interestingly enough, this is exactly what is triggered in people who
are faced with the opportunity to learn Sanskrit. The basic attitude
towards learning Sanskrit in India today is, "It's too difficult."
Actually Sanskrit is not difficult. On the contrary, there are few
greater enjoyments. The first stage, experiencing the individual power
of each of the 49 basic sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet is pure
discovery, especially for Westerners who have never paid attention to
the unique distinctions of individual letters such as location of
resonance and tongue position. The complete alphabet must have been
worked out by learned grammarians on phonetic principles by long
before it was codified by Panini around 500 B.C. It is arranged on a
thoroughly scientific method, the simple vowels (short and long)
coming first, then the complex vowels (dipthongs), followed by the
consonants in uniform groups according to the organs of speech with
which they are pronounced.
The unique organization of the Sanskrit alphabet serves to focus one's
attention on qualities and patterns of articulated sound in a way that
occurs in no other language. By paying continuous attention to the
point of location, degree of resonance and effort of breath, one's
awareness becomes more and more consumed by the direct experience of
articulated sound. This in itself produces and unprecedented clarity
of mind and revelry in the joy of language. Every combination of sound
in Sanskrit follows strict laws which essentially make possible an
uninterrupted flow of the most perfect euphonic blending of letters
into words and verse.
The script used to depict written Sanskrit is known as Devanaagari or
that "spoken by the Gods." Suitably for Sanskrit, it is a perfect
system of phonetic representation. According to linguists, the
phonetic accuracy of the Devanaagari compares well with that of the
modern phonetic transcriptions.
Because of its inherent logic, systematic presentation and adherence
to only the most clear and most pure sounds, the Sanskrit alphabet in
its spoken form, is perhaps the easiest in the world to learn and
recall. Once the alphabet is learned, there is just one major step to
take in gaining access to the Sanskrit language: learning the case and
tense endings. The endings are what make Sanskrit a language of math-
like precision. By the endings added onto nouns or verbs, there is an
obvious determination of the precise interrelationship of words
describing activity of persons and things in time and space,
regardless of word order. Essentially, the endings constitute the
software or basic program of the Sanskrit language.
The rigor of learning the case endings is precisely the reason why
many stop in their pursuit of Sanskrit. Yet by an effective immersion
method, fluent reading of the Devanagari script, accurate
pronunciation, and the inputting of the case and tense endings can
easily be accomplished. Such a method must take advantage of the fact
that Sanskrit grammar is structured by precise patterns, and once a
pattern has been noted it is a simple exercise to recognize all the
individual instances that fit the pattern; rather than see the pattern
after all the individual instances have been learned. Color coding
provides a tremendous support in this regard.
Learning the case endings through the chanting of basic pure sound
combinations in musical and rhythmic sequences is a way to overcome
learning inhibitions, attune to the root power of the Sanskrit
language and access the natural computer efficiency, speed and clarity
of the mind.
Although learning Sanskrit in some ways presents challenges similar to
those of learning calculus or music, it also induces a lubrication and
acceleration of mental function that actually makes such a process
exciting and enjoyable. Perhaps the greatest immediate benefit of
learning Sanskrit by this method is that it requires participants to
relinquish control, abandon prior learning structures and come into a
direct experience of the language.
The actual simplicity and enjoyment of the sounds of Sanskrit provides
everyone with an opportunity to learn a subject which is technically
precise with fluidity and ease. This tends to produce a complete
reversal of the inhibiting competitive environment in which most life
education traditionally took place, by creating an atmosphere in which
mutual support generates personal breakthrough and vice-versa.
One thing is certain, Sanskrit will only become the planetary language
when it is taught in a way which is exciting and enjoyable.
Furthermore it must address individual learning inhibitions with
clarity and compassion in a setting which encourages everyone to step
forth, take risks, make mistakes and learn. Already we have
outstanding examples of this approach in the work of teachers such as
Jaime Escalante, whose remarkable achievements in teaching advanced
calculus to underprivileged high school students in East Los Angeles
were featured in the Academy Award nominated movie, "Stand and
Another hope for the return of Sanskrit lies in computers. Sanskrit
and computers are a perfect fit. The precision play of Sanskrit with
computer tools will awaken the capacity in human beings to utilize
their innate higher mental faculty with a momentum that would
inevitably transform the world. In fact the mere learning of Sanskrit
by large numbers of people in itself represents a quantum leap in
consciousness, not to mention the rich endowment it will provide in
the arena of future communication.
Sanskrit has always inspired the hearts, mind and souls of wise
people. The great German scholar Max Muller, who did more than anyone
to introduce Sanskrit to the West in the latter part of the 19th
century, contended that without a knowledge of the language
(Sanskrit), literature, art, religion and philosophy of India, a
liberal education could hardly be complete — India being the
intellectual and spiritual ancestor of the race, historically and
Max Muller also pointed out that Sanskrit provides perfect examples of
the unity and foundation it offers to the Celtic, Teutonic, Slavonic,
Germanic and Anglo-Saxon languages, not to mention its influence on
Asian languages. The transmission of Buddhism to Asia can be
attributed largely to the appeal to Sanskrit. Even in translation the
works of Sanskrit evoked the supreme admiration of Western poets and
philosophers like Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Melville, Goethe,
Schlegel and Schopenhauer.
The fact is that Sanskrit is more deeply interwoven into the fabric of
the collective world consciousness than anyone perhaps knows. After
many thousands of years, Sanskrit still lives with a vitality that can
breathe life, restore unity and inspire peace on our tired and
troubled planet. It is a sacred gift, an opportunity. The future could
be very bright.
The Mother on Sanskrit, by Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, India.
A History of Sanskrit Literature, by Arthur A. MacDonnell, M.A.,
Ph.D., Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1962.
A Short History of Sanskrit Literature, by H. R. Aggarwal, M.A.,
P.E.S., R.D.E., Munshi Ram Manohar Lal, Delhi, 1963.
A Companion to Contemporary Sanskrit, by Hajime Nakamura, Motilal
Banarsidas, Delhi, 1973.
Sanskrit, V. V. Ivanov and V. N. Toporov, Nauka Publishing House,
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Rellevance of Sanskrit in Contemporary Society
by B Mahadevan
[B Mahadevan is a professor at the Indian Institute of Management
Bangalore. This write-up is an edited transcript of the lecture
delivered by Professor Mahadevan at the Indian Institute of World
Culture, Bangalore during August 10, 2003 at the invitation of Sri
Thirunarayana Trust Bangalore.
This is the first draft of the write-up and is likely to undergo
further refinements and corrections. Comments and suggestions are
I have chosen to talk about the relevance of Sanskrit in today's
society. In fact I have been thinking about this often, for the last
10 years. To tell you the truth, until I was doing my PhD, I was
learning, writing examinations and talking about Sanskrit using
several other languages such as Tamil, English and Hindi. That is what
most of us do when it comes to Sanskrit. Yet we pass judgments about
Sanskrit, we discuss about how important Sanskrit is, we discuss as to
what is good in Sanskrit and what is not good in Sanskrit – everything
in some other language, usually in one's own 'Matrubhasha' and
predominantly in English. I was also doing that.
Only when I was doing my PhD I happened to acquire some knowledge in
Sanskrit, and ever since then, after I finished my PhD, the first
question that naturally came to my mind was – 'why do we need
Sanskrit?' I personally liked it; I personally enjoyed whatever little
I have understood. I am not a Sanskrit scholar – let me clarify. But
whatever little I have understood and have gone through in the last
10-12 years – there was one question that was ringing in my mind all
the time, 'Do we need Sanskrit? And, if we need Sanskrit, what do we
need it for?'
So it is only natural that I broached the subject with anybody who was
willing to talk about it. What I am presenting today is, in some
sense, an accumulation of my thoughts arising out of these
discussions. I have discussed these issues with my students; I have
discussed these in my house;
I have discussed these with my colleagues in the Indian Institute of
Management; I have discussed these with professionals belonging to
different areas like management consultants, software and so on. In
some sense what I am going to present today represents a certain
evolution of my thought in this subject. I would think that it
continuously evolves in my mind. I personally don't think that I have
reached any substantive conclusion or opinion on this particular
issue, but what I would like to share with you is what appears to be a
reasonable way of putting the pros and cons of the subject in the
society and it being so, what does it mean, and what do we do? So that
is going to be the broad context in which I intend to spend the next
45 - 50 minutes, or one hour, depending on the interest.
[For full article, please visit http://www.iimb.ernet.in/~mahadev/samskrit_why.pdf]
Friday, October 17, 2008
Facts making people to think of learning Samskruta
1) The best language to be used in the computers -
ref:Forbes 1987 magzine
2) The best type of calendar being used is hindu calendar(as the new
year starts with the geological change of the solar system) -
ref: German State University
3) The most usefull languge for medication i.e persons by talking
Samskruta will be healthy and free from disease like
bp,diabities,cholestrol etc.. as talking in Samskruta makes activate
the nervous system of the human body so that the persons body gets
activated with positive charges
ref:American Hindu University
(after constant study)
4) The language which contains most advanced technology in it in their
books called Vedas, Upanishads, Shruti, Smruti, Puranas, Mahabhaarath,
ref: Russian State University, NASA etc..(NASA contains 60,000
manscripts of palm leaf with them which they are using to study)
(unverified reports say that the Russians, Germans, Japanese,
Americans are actively researhing new things from our sacred books and
are producing them back to the world by their name on it.17 countries
in the world have a university or more to study about Samskruta and
gain new technology but there is not a single university dedicated to
Samskruta for its real study in INDIA (BHAARATH).
5) Mother of all languages of the world - all the languages(97%)
have been directly or indirectly influenced by this language. -
6) There is a report by a NASA Scientist that America is creating a
6th and 7th generation super computers based on the Samskruta language
for the use of super computers to their maximum extent.project
deadline is 2025(6th generation) 2034(7th generation) after this there
will be a language revolution all over the world to learn Samskruta.
7) The best language availabe in the world for translation purpose -
ref: forbes 1985 magzine
8) The language presently being used in advanced kirlian photography
techniques.(advanced kirlian photography techniques are present only
in Russia and USA presently.INDIA does not posses even the simple
kirlian photography techniques today.)
9) US, Russia, Sweden, Germany, UK, France, Japan, Austria are
presently researching about the significance of Bharatanatyam and the
Nataraja (the cosmic dance of Shiva.There is a statue of Shiva or
Nataraja in front of the UN office in Geneva.)
10) The UK is presently researching on a Defence system based on our
Aren't these facts making people to think of learning samskruta ?
Learn Samskruta which was our mother tongue in the past, which
contains many things in it. For our country to survive and hit
the world back we need to study Samskruta.
For further information, contact <***@gmail.com>
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Why Study Sanskrit?
The study of languages is always fascinating. For this reason alone,
one can study or learn Sanskrit. The members of the Samskritapriyah
group are more than fascinated by this language. They come from
different disciplines and have had a long lasting association with
Sanskrit. This group, comprising scientists, linguistic scholars,
computer scientists, Indologists and above all, well respected
Sanskrit scholars, feels convinced that there are aspects to Sanskrit
not yet seen or observed in other languages.
While the lessons are the primary means to learning the language, the
information presented alongside will more than arouse the curiosity of
the reader. It must be emphasized that the views expressed here are
not intended to start a big debate on the language itself. The group
has carefully studied the information presented here, for validity,
correctness and authenticity. As a consequence, the information should
appeal to the scientific mind.
Sanskrit, earliest of the ancient languages.
There is sufficient evidence available today to say that Sanskrit is
the oldest language of the world.
Among the current languages which possess a hoary antiquity like Latin
or Greek, Sanskrit is the only language which has retained its
pristine purity. It has maintained its structure and vocabulary even
today as it was in the past.
The oldest literature of the world, the Vedas, the Puranas and the
Ithihasas which relate to the Indian subcontinent, are still available
in the same form as they were known from the very beginning. There are
many many scholars in India who can interpret them today, much the
same way great scholars of India did years ago. Such interpretation
comes not by merely studying earlier known interpretations but through
a steady process of assimilation of knowledge linking a variety of
disciplines via Sanskrit.
Sanskrit is as modern as any language can be
Sanskrit is very much a spoken language today. Even now, as we enter
the twenty first century, Sanskrit is spoken by an increasing number
of people, thankfully many of them young. Among the learned in India,
it continues to be a bridge across different states where people, in
spite of their own mother tongue, use it to exchange scholarly and
even general information relating to the traditions of the country.
The News service offered by the Government of India through television
and radio continues to feature daily Sanskrit program catering to
local as well as international news.
The grammar of Sanskrit has attracted scholars world over. It is very
precise and upto date and remains well defined even today. Of late,
several persons have expressed the opinion that Sanskrit is the best
language for use with computers. The Samskritapriyah group does not
subscribe to this view however.
Sanskrit is a Scientist's paradise
Sanskrit, the vocabulary of which is derived from root syllables, is
ideal for coining new scientific and technological terms. The need to
borrow words or special scientific terms does not arise.
From the very beginning, scientific principles have been hidden in the
verses found in the Vedas, Upanishads and the great epics of India.
Concepts and principles seen in present day mathematics and astronomy,
are all hidden in the compositions and treatises of many early
scholars of the country. Some of these principles and concepts will be
shown in the information section that will accompany the lessons.
The precise and extremely well defined structure of Sanskrit, coupled
with its antiquity offers a number of areas in linguistics research
including Computational Linguistics. Also, Sanskrit distinguishes
itself in that it is the only known language which has a built-in
scheme for pronunciation, word formation and grammar.
Sanskrit, a language for Humanity
Sanskrit is a language for humanity and not merely a means for
communication within a society. The oldest surviving literature of the
world, viz. the Vedas, encompass knowledge in virtually every sphere
of human activity. The fact that many profound principles relating to
human existence were given expression through Sanskrit, continue to
amaze those who study Sanskrit. A Sanskrit Scholar understands the
world better than most others.
Sanskrit perfectly depicted (and continues to depict) the social order
of the day and offers clues to historical developments within the
Society. The language has been used effectively to describe the
virtuous and the not so virtuous qualities of great men, women, kings
and queens, the philosophers and Saints of the country.
Philosophy, Theology and Sanskrit
Sanskrit abounds in Philosophy and Theology related issues. There are
so many words one encounters within Sanskrit that convey subtly
differing meanings of a concept that admits of only one interpretation
when studied with other languages. The language thus has the ability
to offer links between concepts using just the words.
Sanskrit for your emotions
The connoisseurs of the Sanskrit language know that it is the language
of the heart. Whatever be the emotion one wishes to display, be it
devotion, love, affection, fear, threat, anger, compassion,
benevolence, admiration, surprise and the like, the most appropriate
words of Sanskrit can flow like a gushing stream.
Some Unique Characteristics of the language
Sanskrit is co-original with the Vedas.. The vedas cannot be studied
without the Vedangas, which are six in number. The first three deal
with the spoken aspects of the language. The first of these three,
namely Siksha, tells us how to pronounce the letters of the aksharas.
Siksha divides the letters into three classes- Swaras, Vyanjanas and
Oushmanas. Depending on the effort (Prayatna), place of origin in the
body (Sthana), the force used (Bala) and the duration of time (Kala),
the letters differ from each other in their auditory quality and
Vyakarna, known as the grammar of Sanskrit, is the second Vedanga
which describes meaningful word formations. This is usually referred
to as Sphota or meaningful sound.
The third Vedanga, Niruktam, describes certain fundamental root words
used in the Vedas. Classification of words into groups of synonyms is
an example. For instance, approximately a hundred and twenty synonyms
for water are given in Niruktam.
The fourth Vedanga, Chandas, describes the formation of sentences in
metrical form. Unlike English which used a very limited number of
metres (basically four), Sanskrit offers about two dozen Vedic metres
and innumerable conventional metres.
The remaining two Vedangas, Kalpa and Jyothisha deal with space and
The letters of Sanskrit
Sanskrit comprises fifty one letters or aksharas. In other languages,
we refer to the letters of the alphabet of the language. We know that
the word alphabet is derived from the names of the first two letters
of Greek. The term alphabet has no other meaning except to denote the
set of letters in the language.
In contrast, the word "akshara" in Sanskrit denotes something
fundamental and significant. One of the direct meanings of the word is
that it denotes the set of letters of Sanskrit from the first to the
last. The word also means that the sound of the letter does not ever
get destroyed and thus signifies the eternal quality of the sound of
the letters. The consequence of this meaning is that the sound of a
word is essentially the sounds of the aksharas in the word, a concept
which will help simplify text to speech applications with computers.
There are two aspects of non destruction in the above explanation. The
first one refers to the phonetic characteristics of the language,
i.e., in any word, the aksharas retain their sound. The second aspect
of non destruction, amazingly, is that the aksharas retain their
individual meanings as well! To give an example, the word "guru"
consisting of the aksharas "gu" and "ru" stands for a teacher- one who
dispels darkness (ignorance) of the the mind (person). "gu" means
darkness and "ru" means the act of removal.
Now, aren't we beginning to see something very interesting?
The popular Sanskrit language is based on root syllables and words.
Unlike the other languages of the world, every word in Sanskrit is
derived from a root. It is a well accepted fact that all Indo-European
languages have a common origin. On the basis of the above mentioned
fact that all the words of Sanskrit are traceable to specific roots, a
feature not seen in other languages, one can presume that Sanskrit is
most certainly the origin.
Massive, yet precise
One can learn Sanskrit purely for the sake of the great epics of
India. The Ramayana has 24,000 verses fully in metre and the
Mahabharata qualifies as the world's largest epic with 100,000 verses.
The Mahabharata says, "what is here may be elsewhere, what is not here
is nowhere." The precision with which the verses convey information on
so many different aspects of life in a society, is a factor one must
reckon as the ultimate in composition.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The Origin of Sanskrit
The one which is introduced or produced in its perfect form is called
Sanskrit. The word Sanskrit is formed from "sam + krit" where (sam)
prefix means (samyak) 'entirely' or 'wholly' or 'perfectly,' and krit
means 'done.' Sanskrit was first introduced by Brahma to the Sages of
the celestial abodes and it is still the language of the celestial
abode, so it is also called the Dev Vani.
Sanskrit was introduced on the earth planet, by the eternal Sages of
Sanatan Dharm along with the Divine scriptures such as the Vedas, the
Upnishads and the Puranas. A famous verse in Sage Panini's Ashtadhyayi
tells that the Panini grammar that is in use now is directly Graced by
Once, at the end of His Divine ecstatic dance induced by the
enthralling effects of Krishn love, God Shiv played on His damru (the
mini hand-drum which God Shiv holds in His hand). Fourteen very
distinct sounds came out of it. Sage Panini conceived them in his
Divine mind and on the basis of those Divine sounds, reestablished the
science of Sanskrit grammar which already eternally existed.
Since the start of human civilization on the earth, people and the
Sages both spoke pure Sanskrit language. The historical records
indicate that three public programs of the recitation of the Bhagwatam
and the discourses on Krishn leelas had happened in Sanskrit language
in 3072 BC, 2872 BC and 2842 BC in which Saints and the devotees
participated. Later on when the population increased, the prakrit form
of speech with partly mispronounced words (called apbhranshas) was
developed in the less educated society and became popular.
The Manu Smriti says that the ambitious chatriyas of Bharatvarsh went
abroad to the neighboring countries to establish their new kingdoms
and, as they were cut off from the mainstream of the Bhartiya
civilization and culture, they developed their own language and
civilization as time went on. Natural calamities (such as ice ages)
totally shattered their civilizations but still the survivors, in the
spoken form of their primitive languages, held many apbhransh words of
the original Sanskrit language which their remote ancestors had
retained in their memory. As a result of this affiliation with
Bhartiya culture and the Sanskrit language, Sanskrit became the origin
of the growth of the literary development in other languages of the
The phonology (the speech sound) and morphology (the science of word
formation) of the Sanskrit language is entirely different from all of
the languages of the world. Some of the unique features of Sanskrit
1. The sound of each of the 36 consonants and the 16 vowels of
Sanskrit are fixed and precise since the very beginning. They were
never changed, altered, improved or modified. All the words of the
Sanskrit language always had the same pronunciation as they have
today. There was no 'sound shift,' no change in the vowel system, and
no addition was ever made in the grammar of the Sanskrit in relation
to the formation of the words. The reason is its absolute perfection
by its own nature and formation, because it was the first language of
2. The morphology of word formation is unique and of its own kind
where a word is formed from a tiny seed root (called dhatu) in a
precise grammatical order which has been the same since the very
beginning. Any number of desired words could be created through its
root words and the prefix and suffix system as detailed in the
Ashtadhyayi of Panini. Furthermore, 90 forms of each verb and 21 forms
of each noun or pronoun could be formed that could be used in any
3. There has never been any kind, class or nature of change in the
science of Sanskrit grammar as seen in other languages of the world as
they passed through one stage to another.
4. The perfect form of the Vedic Sanskrit language had already
existed thousands of years earlier even before the infancy of the
earliest prime languages of the world like Greek, Hebrew and Latin
5. When a language is spoken by unqualified people the pronunciation
of the word changes to some extent; and when these words travel by
word of mouth to another region of the land, with the gap of some
generations, it permanently changes its form and shape to some extent.
Just like the Sanskrit word matri, with a long 'a' and soft 't,'
became mater in Greek and mother in English. The last two words are
called the 'apbhransh' of the original Sanskrit word 'matri.' Such
apbhranshas of Sanskrit words are found in all the languages of the
world and this situation itself proves that Sanskrit was the mother
language of the world.
Considering all the five points as explained above, it is quite
evident that Sanskrit is the source of all the languages of the world
and not a derivation of any language. As such, Sanskrit is the Divine
mother language of the world.
A Glimpse of the Perfection of Sanskrit Grammar
Sage Panini conceived fourteen very distinct sounds from God Shiv's
damru (small hand-drum which God Shiv holds in His hand) and created
the entire Sanskrit grammar called Ashtadhyayi. Those Divine sounds
There are total of 52 letters (16 vowels and 36 consonants). The
The consonants are:
A glimpse of the perfection of Sanskrit grammar can be seen by the
extensiveness of its grammatical tenses. There are ten tenses: one
form for the present tense, three forms for the past tense and two
forms for the future tense. There is also imperative mood, potential
mood, benedictive mood (called asheerling, which is used for
indicating a blessing), and conditional. Each tense has three separate
words for each of the three grammatical persons (first person, second
person and third person), and it further distinguishes if it's
referring to one, two, or more than two people (called eakvachan,
dvivachan and bahuvachan). Then there are three categories of the
verbs called atmanepadi, parasmaipadi and ubhaipadi. These forms
indicate whether the outcome of the action is related to the doer or
the other person or both. In this way there are ninety forms of one
Sanskrit words are formed of a root word called dhatu. For instance:
kri root word means 'to do,' gam root word means 'to go.' So, there
are ninety forms of each of these verbs like, karoti, kurutah,
kurvanti, and gachchati, gachchatah,
gachchanti etc. In English language there are only a few words like:
do, doing and done, or go, gone, going and went; then some more words
have to be added to express the variations of the tense like: is, was,
will, has been, had, had had, etc. But in the Sanskrit language there
are ready-made single words for all kinds of uses and situations.
This is elucidated with an example of kri-dhatu (parasmaipadi).
As far as nouns and pronouns are concerned, there are words for all
the three genders and each word has twenty-one forms of its own which
covers every situation. Then there is a very elaborate and precise
system of composing, phrasing, making a sentence, joining two words
and coining any number of words according to the need.
Regarding Sanskrit vocabulary, there is a dictionary of the root words
and prefixes and suffixes called dhatu path at the end of Ashtadhyayi.
It has an abundance of words and furthermore, Sanskrit grammar has the
capacity for creating any number of new words for a new situation or
concept or thing.
There is a detailed system of every aspect of the grammar. All the
aspects of the Sanskrit grammar along with the dictionary were
received as one packet from the very beginning along with the Vedas.
Moreover, from the historical and logical point of view, since the
very first day the linguists have learned about the existence of the
Sanskrit language, they have seen it in the same perfect form. No
'sound shift,' no change in the vowel system, and no addition was ever
made in the grammar of the Sanskrit in relation to the formation of
In the last 5,000 years, since the Sumerians uttered the communicating
words in a very limited scope and their wedge-shaped cuneiform writing
came into existence, there has been no such genius born who could
produce a grammar as perfect as Sanskrit.
All the languages of the world started in a primitive form with
incomplete alphabet and vowels, having only a few words in the
beginning which were just enough for the people to communicate with
each other. Even the advanced international language of today, the
English language, when it took its roots from West Germanic around 800
AD, was in an absolutely primitive form. As it developed, it
assimilated about 30% of its words from Latin and numerous words from
French and Greek. Slowly developing and improving its vocabulary, the
style of writing and the grammar from Old English (which had only two
tenses) to Middle English, to Early Modern English, and then to Modern
English, took a very long time.
As late as the beginning of the 17th century when its first dictionary
was published in London in 1604, there were only 3,000 words. The
title of the dictionary was, "A Table Alphabetical, conteyning and
teaching the true writing and understanding of hard unusual English
wordes, borrowed from the Hebrew, Greeke, Latine or French & c."
Somewhat similar is the story of all the ancient and modern languages
which started from a very primitive stage of their literal
representation with no regular grammar. Proper grammar was introduced
at a much later date as their society reached a significant level of
From the exacting nature of the pronunciation of its 52 letters to the
science of word formation, there has never been any kind, class or
nature of change in the science of Sanskrit grammar. Sanskrit has been
in its perfect form since the very beginning.
Six Unmatched Features of Sanskrit
The perfection of the pronunciation (of the consonants and the vowels)
and the uniqueness of the grammar that stays the same in all the ages
from the very beginning of human civilization and up till today are
such features which prove that Sanskrit is not manmade; it is a Divine
gift to the people of this world. The following six examples
demonstrate some of the unique features of Sanskrit that distinguishes
it from other languages of the world.
1. The vowel-consonant pronunciation of the alphabet
The most striking feature of the Sanskrit language is the vowel-
consonant pronunciation of the alphabet and the uniqueness of every
consonant (or its combination) as a complete syllabic unit when it is
joined with a vowel. For example: Its 16 vowels are the actual 'voice
pattern' of the sound and 36 consonants are only the 'form' of the
'voice pattern' of the sound. So a consonant ( ) alone cannot be
pronounced as it is only a 'form' of the 'voice pattern' until it is
attached to a vowel. Thus, a vowel, which itself is a 'voice pattern,'
can be pronounced alone (like,) or it can be modulated by adding a
consonant to it (like,).This system was not adopted in the languages
of the world. Thus, their syllables have no uniformity. For example,
in come and coma 'co' has two different pronunciations, and in come
and kind or kiss, the letter 'c' and 'k' both have the same
In Sanskrit, the basic structure of its vowel-consonant pronunciation
is the unique foundation of the language that precisely stabilizes the
word pronunciation where each letter (or a combination of consonants
with a vowel) is a syllable.
2. Formation of the Sanskrit words
The second unmatched feature is the formation of the Sanskrit words.
Since the beginning there was a complete dictionary of root words
called dhatu that could create any number of words based on the
requirement by adding a proper prefix and suffix described in detail
in the Sanskrit grammar. There are 90 forms (conjugations) for every
verb to be used in the 10 tenses and 21 forms for other words. The
formation, modulation and creation of words have been originally the
same, in an absolutely perfect state since the beginning, as they are
3. The uniqueness of the grammar
The most impressive uniqueness of the Sanskrit grammar is that, along
with the Sanskrit language, it is unchanged in every age because it is
a Divinely produced grammar. Its conjugation system, word formation
and the style of poetry formation are all unique, unchanged and
perfectly detailed since it appeared on the earth planet through the
descended Saints. Take a line of the Yajurved,
There is a noun janah (people), and verb gachcòhanti (to go into)
which is formed of gam dhatu (to go), like, gachcòhati, gachcòhatah,
gachcòhanti. All the 90 conjugations of the verb gaccòh (to go) and
all the 21 forms of the noun jan (people) are used in the same way
without any change in the Vedas, in the Puranas and in other Sanskrit
literature as well, because they are ever perfect without any sound
shift. The Sanskrit language represents the literal form of the
Divinity on the earth planet.
4. The style of literary presentation
The three styles of Sanskrit are: (a) the Vedas (sanhita), (b) the
Upnishads and (c) the Puranas. All of them were reproduced during the
same period before 3102 BC. But their literature has its own style.
The difference in the style and the uses of words in all the three
kinds of scriptures does not mean any evolution or improvement in the
Vedic verses do not use the full range of words as is used in the
Puranas because the Vedic verses are mainly the invocation mantras for
the celestial gods and that too for ritualistic purposes, not for the
devotion to supreme God. So they don't need too many words to relate a
mantra. The language of the Bhagwat Mahapuran is very scholarly,
poetic and rich as it explains the richest philosophy of God, God's
love and God realization along with its other affiliated theories. The
language of the other 17 Puranas is less rich. The language of the
Upnishads sometimes leans towards the Vedic sanhita side. The peculiar
characteristic of the Vedas can be observed in the tenth canto,
chapter 87, of the Bhagwat Mahapuran where the Vedas themselves are
offering their homage to supreme God Krishn.
The whole chapter is like this, grammatically perfect, but it is a
kind of twisted and uncharming style of language. This is the style
and the character of the Vedas (the sanhita). All the chapters of the
Bhagwatam, before and after this particular chapter, have elegant
literary presentation but this particular chapter, which is in the
style of the language of the Vedas, stands out with its own
peculiarity. The difference in the literary presentation of the Vedic
sanhita and the Puranas has their own nature and style and do not
relate to their seniority or juniority.
5. The apbhransh
In every society there are many classes of people. Some are educated,
some are less educated and some are much less educated. Accordingly,
the quality of their speech differs. Thus, during the time of Ved
Vyas, when Sanskrit was the spoken language of India, there may have
been some people who spoke a localized form of less perfect Sanskrit.
As time went on a new language developed in the Bihar area of North
India which was a combination of the localized dialect with the
apbhransh words of Sanskrit. The pronunciation of the Sanskrit word
changes when it is spoken by the people who are less educated or not
educated in the Sanskrit language, and then such words permanently
enter into their locally spoken language. These, partly mispronounced
words, are called the apbhransh. Just like the words teen and sat are
the apbhransh of the Sanskrit words trai and sapt which mean three and
seven. It was called the Pali language in which the teachings of
Gautam Buddh were written around 1800 BC. Still, Sanskrit remained the
spoken language of the literary class of India at least up to the time
When Shankaracharya went to have an audience with Mandan Mishra he
found two parrots in two cages that were hung in front of his house.
They were happily uttering Sanskrit phrases, which they had memorized
by listening to the scriptural discussions that were usually happening
in the house. All over India Shankaracharya debated in Sanskrit
language wherever he went. It was around 500 BC.
That was the time when the Greek and Latin languages were in the
course of their development. Trade communications between India,
Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Greece were already well established.
The stories of the Puranas and the Bhagwatam had already reached, in a
broken form, into those countries which they then adopted in their
society and incorporated into their religious mythology. The Iliad and
the Odyssey in their earliest and incomplete forms were composed
around 600 BC, and later on certain Sanskrit apbhransh words were
added in the Greek and Latin languages.
6. Sanskrit, the scriptural language up till today
Sanskrit is the language of Bhartiya scriptures. It is also the
language of the Divine abodes. The word 'language' is termed as bhasha
in Sanskrit. Thus, the bhasha of Vaikunth abode in its original form
descended on the earth planet through Brahma in the form of the Vedas
and the Puranas and all of its affiliates and branches along with its
grammar. First it was called the bhasha as it was the only language of
India, literary and spoken both. Later on, when its offshoots
developed, it began to be called the Sanskrit bhasha (Sanskrit
language) to distinguish it from the other local languages that used
the apbhransh words of Sanskrit mixed with their locally spoken
tongue. For convenience, these local languages were called the
'prakrit' languages by the history writers.
Sanskrit maintained the glory of eternal Bhartiya scriptures in its
perfect linguistic representation since its appearance on the earth
planet. If someone's conscience fails to comprehend the eternal
authenticity of the Sanskrit language for some reason, then at least,
according to the above descriptions, one can surely understand its
unparalleled perfection that had the capacity of introducing hundreds
of thousands of words according to its root system since the very
beginning, when even the earliest known cursive writing systems of the
world (Greek and Hebrew etc.) were at their infancy and were
struggling to standardize the pronunciation and to improve their
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Geopolitics and Sanskrit Phobia
This paper discusses the historical and contemporary relationship
between geopolitics and Sanskrit, and consists of the following
I. Sanskrit is more than a language. Like all languages, its
structures and categories contain a built-in framework for
representing specific worldviews. Sanskriti is the name of the culture
and civilization that embodies this framework. One may say that
Sanskriti is the term for what has recently become known as Indic
Civilization, a civilization that goes well beyond the borders of
modern India to encompass South Asia and much of Southeast Asia. At
one time, it included much of Asia.
II. Interactions among different regions of Asia helped to develop and
exchange this pan-Asian Sanskriti. Numerous examples involving India,
Southeast Asia and China are given.
III. Sanskrit started to decline after the West Asian invasions of the
Indian subcontinent. This had a devastating impact on Sanskriti, as
many world-famous centers of learning were destroyed, and no single
major university was built for many centuries by the conquerors.
IV. Besides Asia, Sanskrit and Sanskriti influenced Europe's
modernity, and Sanskrit Studies became a large-scale formal activity
in most European universities. These influences shaped many
intellectual disciplines that are (falsely) classified as "Western".
But the "discovery" of Sanskrit by Europe also had the negative
influence of fueling European racism since the 19th century.
V. Meanwhile, in colonial India, the education system was de-
Sanskritized and replaced by an English based education. This served
to train clerks and low level employees to administer the Empire, and
to start the process of self-denigration among Indians, a trend that
continues today. Many prominent Indians achieved fame and success as
middlemen serving the Empire, and Gandhi's famous 1908 monograph,
"Hind Swaraj," discusses this phenomenon.
VI. After India's independence, there was a broad based Nehruvian love
affair with Sanskrit as an important nation-building vehicle. However,
successive generations of Indian intellectuals have replaced this with
what this paper terms "Sanskrit Phobia," i.e. a body of beliefs now
widely disseminated according to which Sanskrit and Sanskriti are
blamed for all sorts of social, economic and political problems facing
India's underprivileged classes. This section illustrates such phobia
among prominent Western Indologists and among trendy Indians involved
in South Asian Studies who learn about Sanskrit and Sanskriti
according to Western frameworks and biases.
VII. The clash of civilizations among the West, China and Islam is
used as a lens to discuss the future of Sanskriti across South and
VIII. Some concrete suggestions are made for further consideration to
revitalize Sanskrit as a living language that has potential for future
knowledge development and empowerment of humanity.
I. Sanskrit and the Multicultural Sanskriti (Indic Civilization)
In modern Westernized universities, Sanskrit is taught primarily as a
language only and that too in connection with Indo-European philology.
On the other hand, other major languages such as English, Arabic and
Mandarin are treated as containers of their respective unique
civilizational worldviews; the same approach is not accorded to
Sanskrit. In fact, the word itself has a wider, more general meaning
in the sense of civilization. Etymologically, Sanskrit means
"elaborated," "refined," "cultured," or "civilized," implying
wholeness of expression. Employed by the refined and educated as a
language and a means of communication, Sanskrit has also been a
vehicle of civilizational transmission and evolution.
The role of Sanskrit was not merely as a language but also as a
distinct cultural system and way of experiencing the world. Thus, to
the wider population, Sanskrit is experienced through the civilization
named Sanskriti, which is built on it.
Sanskriti is the repository of human sciences, art, architecture,
music, theatre, literature, pilgrimage, rituals and spirituality,
which embody pan-Indic cultural traits. Sanskriti incorporates all
branches of science and technology - medical, veterinary, plant
sciences, mathematics, engineering, architecture, dietetics, etc.
Pannini's grammar, a meta-language with such clarity, flexibility and
logic that certain pioneers in computer science are turning to it for
ideas is one of the stunning achievements of the human mind and is a
part of this Sanskriti.
From at least the beginning of the common era until about the
thirteenth century, Sanskrit was the paramount linguistic and cultural
medium for the ruling and administrative circles, from Purushapura
(Peshawar) in Gandhara (Afghanistan) to as far east as Pandurang in
Annam (South Vietnam) and Prambanam in Central Java. Sanskrit
facilitated a cosmopolis of cultural and aesthetic expressions that
encompassed much of Asia for over a thousand years, and this was not
constituted by imperial power nor sustained by any organized church.
Sanskriti, thus, has been both the result and cause of a cultural
consciousness shared by most South and Southeast Asians regardless of
their religion, class or gender and expressed in essential
similarities of mental and spiritual outlook and ethos.
Even after Sanskrit as a language faded explicitly in most of Asia,
the Sanskriti based on it persists and underpins the civilizations of
South and Southeast Asia today. What Monier-Williams wrote of India
applies equally to Southeast Asia as well: "India's national character
is cast in a Sanskrit mould and in Sanskrit language. Its literature
is a key to its vast religious system. Sanskrit is one medium of
approach to the hearts of the Indians, however unlearned, or however
disunited by the various circumstances of country, caste, and
creed" (Gombrich 1978, 16).
Sanskrit unites the great and little traditions:
A bi-directional process facilitated the spread of Sanskriti in South
and Southeast Asia. The top-down meta-structure of Sanskrit was
transmitted into common spoken languages; simultaneously, there was a
bottom-up assimilation of local culture and language into Sanskrit's
open architecture. This is analogous to Microsoft (top down) and Linux
(bottom up) rolled into one. Such a culture grows without breaking
down, as it can evolve from within to remain continually
contemporaneous and advanced.
Pan-Indic civilization emerged in its present composite form through
the intercourse between these two cultural streams, which have been
called the "great" and "little" traditions, respectively. The streams
and flows between them were interconnected by various processes, such
as festivals and rituals, and scholars have used these "tracers" to
understand the reciprocal influences between Sanskrit and local
Marriott has delineated the twin processes: (i) the "downward" spread
of cultural elements that are contained in Sanskrit into localized
cultural units represented by local languages, and (ii), the "upward"
spread from local cultural elements into Sanskrit. Therefore, Sanskrit
served as a meta-language and framework for the vast range of
languages across Asia. While the high culture of the sophisticated
urbane population (known as "great tradition" in anthropology)
provides Sanskriti with refinement and comprehensiveness, cultural
input produced by the rural masses ("little tradition") gives it
popularity, vitality and pan-Indian outlook.
Once information about local or regional cultural traits is recorded
and encoded in Sanskrit, they become part of Sanskriti. On the other
hand, when elements of Sanskriti are localized and given local
flavour, they acquire a distinct regional cultural identity and
colour. Just as local cultural elements become incorporated into
Sanskriti, elements of Sanskriti are similarly assimilated and
multiply into a plurality of regional cultural units.
Sanskriti includes the lore and repository of popular song, dance,
play, sculpture, painting, and religious narratives. Dimock (1963,
1-5) has suggested that the diversity to be found in the Indic region
(i.e. South and Southeast Asia) is permeated by patterns that recur
throughout the country, so that each region, despite its differences
from other regions, expresses the patterns - the structural
paradigmatic aspects - of the whole. Each regional culture is
therefore to be seen as a structural microcosm of the full system.
Sanskrit served two purposes: (1) spiritual, artistic, scientific and
ritual lingua franca across vast regions of Asia, and (2) a useful
vehicle of communication among speakers of local languages, much as
English is employed today.
Early Buddhist scriptures were composed and preserved in Pali and
other Prakrit (local) languages, but later started to also be composed
in what is known as "hybrid Sanskrit." There was a trend using
elegant, Paninian Sanskrit for both verbal and written communication.
Tibetan was developed based on Sanskrit and is virtually a mirror
image of it.
By the time of Kalidasa (600 C.E.) Sanskrit was mastered diligently by
the literati and was, therefore, never a dead language. It is living,
as Michael Coulson points out, because people chose it to formulate
their ideas in preference to some other language. It flourished as a
living language of inter-regional communication and understanding
before becoming eclipsed first by Persian and then by English after
the military and political conquest of India.
Refuting the habit of dividing the Prakrit languages of India into two
structurally separate "North" and "South" independent families,
Stephen Tyler explains that "[M]odern Indo-Aryan languages are more
similar to Dravidian languages than they are to other Indo-European
languages" (Tyler 1973: 18-20).
There is synergy between Sanskrit and Prakrit: A tinge of Prakrit
added to Sanskrit brought Sanskrit closer to the language of the home,
while a judicious Sanskritization made Prakrit into a language of a
higher cultural status. Both of these processes were simultaneous and
worked at conscious as well as subconscious levels (Deshpande 1993,
35). As an example of this symbiosis, one may point to various
Sanskrit texts in medieval India which were instruction manuals for
spoken or conversational Sanskrit by the general public (Deshpande
1993; Salomon 1982; Wezler 1996).
Understanding this leads us to a vital insight about Sanskriti: Given
this relationship between Sanskrit and local languages, and that
Sanskriti is the common cultural container, it is not necessary for
everyone to know Sanskrit in order to absorb and develop an inner
experience of the embedded values and categories of meaning it
carries. Similarly, a knower of the local languages would have access
to the ideas, values and categories embodied in Sanskriti.
Unlike the cultural genocides of natives by Arabic, Mandarin and
English speaking conquerors and colonizers, Sanskrit had a mutually
symbiotic relationship with the popular local languages, and this
remained one of reciprocal reinforcement rather than forced adoption
through coercion or conquest.
This deeply embedded cultural dynamism could be the real key to a
phenomenon that is often superficially misattributed to the British
English: how modern India despite its vast economic disadvantages is
able to produce adaptive and world-class individuals in virtually all
fields of endeavour. This dynamism makes the assimilation of "modern"
and "progressive" ideologies and thought patterns easier in India than
in many other developing countries. In fact, it facilitates
incorporating "modern" innovations into the tradition. It allows India
to achieve its own kind of "modernity" in which it would also remain
"Indian," just as Western modernity is built on distinctly European
structures despite their claim of universality. This is why Indians
are adaptive and able to compete globally compared to other non-
Western traditions today.
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...and I am Sid Harth