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Sanskrit – a language of high origin and higher values

Sanskrit – the classical language of the world

 

Forming the foundation of many present-day languages of India, Sanskrit is the oldest language of this country. Even languages like Hindi and Urdu owe its origin to Sanskrit. The earliest form of Sanskrit, known as Vedic, was the language of communication of the Aryans. By 100 B.C., Sanskrit had died, but much like Latin in the West, it remained the language of choice for poetry and drama in the royal courts. Sanskrit was also the foundation of many scientific, philosophical and religious texts and theories.  

  

Old is Gold 

  

Other than India, Sanskrit is spoken in many parts of South and Southeast Asia. Buddhist scholars and monks of China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are conversant in Sanskrit. As per official records available, in 1991, there were nearly 50,000 people who were fluent in Sanskrit and approximately 200,000 people to whom Sanskrit was the second language according to information available in 1961.  

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While Sanskrit can be regarded as the core language of the Hindu religion, its origin is Indo-European. It is also the basis of other religions like Buddhism and Jainism. A good parallel could be drawn between Sanskrit and Latin and Greek of Europe. One of the official languages of India and one of the oldest known Indo-European languages,   

it has a documented history which is close to  3500 years old.  

  

Sanskrit – a language of high origin and higher values 

  

 Sanskrit has a rich origin and even richer usage. Used as the primary language for many ancient religious and scientific theories and discourses in India, Sanskrit was never conceived as just another language for communication. It was treated as a “refined” manner of speaking. Consequently, fluency in the language was considered as a hallmark of higher social class and top-class educational achievement, being taught mostly to Brahmins.  

Sanskrit – linked to the world 

  

 Sanskrit is interestingly, linked to the other important languages of the world, in the sense that it has startling resemblances to Latin, Ancient Greek, Avestan and even Persian and German.  Sanskrit forms a section of Satem group of Indo-European languages, which includes the Iranian and the Balto-Slavic branch. Its sub-section includes amongst others, Romani (spoken by gypsies). 

  

Sanskrit & European Scholarship 

  

 Sanskrit played a crucial role in the development of Western linguistics when Heinrich Roth and Johann Ernst Hanxleden, started the European Scholarship in Sanskrit. This resulted in the commencement of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones.  

  

    

Sanskrit & the Internet 

  

 Transliteration of Sanskrit language is being accomplished by using the Latin alphabets since the 18th century. IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration), the academic standard since 1912, is the system currently in use.  The evolution of ASCII-based transliteration schemes, is primarily due to the problems faced in reproducing Sanskrit characters in computers. These include Harvard-Kyoto and ITRANS, languages used widely in the Internet, especially e-mail.  

  

Modern-day Sanskrit Use 

  

  • As is with Latin, Sanskrit has had profound influence on most Indian languages. The religious chants recited by millions of Hindus are all in Sanskrit, often in its original Vedic form. Almost all temple ceremonies are performed using this language. The “pure” or “shuddha” form of many mainline Indian languages, like Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu and Hindi, have strong Sanskrit orientation.  
  • Malayalam, the official language of Kerala,  mixes a great deal of Sanskrit vocabulary with Tamil grammar structure. Kannada, another South Indian language, also contains a lot of words of  Sanskrit origin. Sanskrit is a  widely revered language when it comes to treating it as a medium of spiritual teachings for Hindus in India.  
  • Interestingly, the national anthem as well as the national song of India is in pure Sanskrit. 

Presence of Sanskrit outside India 

  

 One can find the presence and influence of Sanskrit amidst many non-Indian languages. Thai language, for example has many words whose origin is Sanskrit. Ravana – the name of the emperor of Sri Lanka in Thai is “Thoskonth”. Evidently the Sanskrit name for this King is Dashakanth (of ten necks). The influence of the language extends as far as the Philippines. 

  

Sanskrit in the West 

A few examples of Sanskrit influence in the Western world :  

  

  • For the Vorspiel auf dem Theater in Faust, Goethe sought help from Kalidasa. 
  • Henry David Thoreau was an ardent reader of the Bhagavad Gita. 
  • Scientists and scholars are known to refer to undiscovered elements using Sanskrit prefixes.   
  • T.S. Eliot, a student of Indian Philosophy ended The Waste Land with Sanskrit: "Shantih Shantih Shantih". 

  

Sanskrit grammar has always drawn the attention of scholars world over. Precise and extremely contemporary, Sanskrit remains well-structured even today. Recently  Sanskrit has been adjudged as the best language for use with computers. 

  

Sanskrit – a language of the heart 

 

When it comes expressing natural human emotions, experts of the Sanskrit language claim 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, or surprise , one can find the most appropriate words of expression in  Sanskrit. For translating into Indian languages contact info@indianscripts.com

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