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.
The Views expressed here
are specific to the Samskritapriyah group and the Samskrit Education Society.
IIT Madras, has only made available the web pages as a courtesy to the
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 time.
letters of Sanskrit
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
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.
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.