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  San·skrit (s?#131;n'skrĭt')
n.

An ancient Indic language that is the language of Hinduism and the Vedas and is the classical literary language of India.

[Sanskrit saṃskṛtam, from neuter of saṃskṛta-, perfected, refined : sam, together + karoti, he makes.]

San'skrit'ist n.

WORD HISTORY   Like Latin in Europe and elsewhere, Sanskrit has been used by the educated classes in India for literary and religious purposes for about four thousand years. It achieved this status partly through a standardization that resulted from a long tradition of grammatical theory and analysis. This tradition reached its height around 500 B.C. in the work of the grammarian Panini, who composed an intricate and complex description of the language in the form of quasi-mathematical rules reminiscent of the rules of generative grammar in modern times. The language thus codified was called saṃskṛtam, ?#128;œput together, artificial,?#128; to distinguish it from pr?#129;kṛtam or the ?#128;œnatural, vulgar?#128; speech of ordinary people. Sanskrit thus became a fixed literary language, while Prakrit continued to develop into what are now the modern spoken languages of northern and central India, such as Hindi and Bengali.


 
Sanskrit (s?#131;n'skrĭt)  or Samskrtam , the language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian). Sanskrit was the classical standard language of ancient India, and some of the oldest surviving Indo-European documents are written in Sanskrit; however, Hittite is probably the earliest recorded Indo-European tongue with at least one text dated c.17th cent. B.C. The oldest known stage of Sanskrit is Vedic or Vedic Sanskrit, so-called because it was the language of the Veda, the most ancient extant scriptures of Hinduism. The Veda probably date back to about 1500 B.C. or earlier, many centuries before writing was introduced into India. Vedic Sanskrit was current c.1500 B.C. to c.200 B.C. However, Sanskrit in its classical form, a development of Vedic, was spoken c.400 B.C. as a standard court language. It became the literary vehicle of Hindu culture and as such was employed until . 1100 (see Sanskrit literature). Even today Sanskrit survives in liturgical usage. Sanskrit is not a dead language as is alleged by many Western Indologists. It is a living and vibrant language with about 5 million people speaking conversational sanskrit and many more capable of chanting it as well as reading it.

Study of grammar by Indian scholars began early. The oldest existing Sanskrit grammatical work was written by the Indian grammarian Panini (dated by Western Historians to the 4th cent. B.C. But we believe he is to be dated much earlier to the 17th century BCE. Interestingly he is also credited  with the invention of the zero which is to be found in his works)), who perceptively analyzed and commented on the Sanskrit language. Grammatically, Sanskrit has eight cases for the noun (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative, instrumental, vocative, and locative), three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), three numbers for verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (singular, dual, and plural), and three voices for the verb (active, middle, and passive). The language is very highly inflected. The ancient Indian scripts known as the Brahmi and Kharosthi alphabets have been employed to record Sanskrit. Both Brahmi and Kharosthi are thought to be of Semitic origin. The Devanagari characters, which are descended from Brahmi, also were, and still are, used for writing Sanskrit. The comparison of Sanskrit with the languages of Europe, especially by Sir William Jones, opened the way to the scientific study of language in Europe in the 18th cent.

Bibliography

See J. Bloch, Indo-Aryan, from the Vedas to Modern Times (rev. ed., tr. 1965); R. P. Godman and S. J. Sutherland, Devavanipravesika: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language (2d ed. rev. 1987).


 
Sanskrit

The language of ancient India, and one of the oldest languages of the Indo-European family, to which English belongs.

 
Note: click on a word meaning below to see its connections and related words.

The noun Sanskrit has one meaning:

Meaning #1: an ancient language of India (the language of the Vedas and of Hinduism); an official language of India although it is now used only for religious purposes
  Synonym: Sanskritic language


 
Sanskrit
Sanskrit (स?#130;स?#141;?#149;?#131;तम?#141; sa?#131;sk?#155;tam)
Spoken in: India and some other areas of South and Southeast Asia; many Buddhist scholars in the countries of East Asia such as China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are also able to communicate in Sanskrit.
Total speakers: 6,106 (1981 census)
194,433 second language speakers (1961 census)
Language family: Indo-European
 Indo-Iranian
  Indo-Aryan
   Sanskrit 
Official status
Official language of: India (one of the scheduled languages)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: sa
ISO 639-2: san
ISO/DIS 639-3: san 
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Sanskrit (sa?#131;sk?#155;tam स?#130;स?#141;?#149;?#131;तम?#141;) is an Indo-European Classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It has a position in India and Southeast Asia similar to that of Latin and Greek in Europe, and is a central part of Hindu tradition. It also has the prestige of being one of the oldest Indo-European languages in use in the world. Sanskrit is one of the 22 official languages of India. Sanskrit is taught in schools and households throughout India as a second language. Some identify it as their mother tongue. According to recent reports, it is being revived as a vernacular in the village of Mattur near Shimoga in Karnataka.

Sanskrit is mostly used as a ceremonial language in Hindu religious rituals in the forms of hymns and mantras. Its pre-Classical form of Vedic Sanskrit, the liturgical language of the Vedic religion, is one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family, its most ancient text being the Rigveda. It is also the language of Yoga.

The scope of this article is that of Classical Sanskrit as laid out in the grammar of Panini, roughly around 500 BC. Most Sanskrit texts available today were transmitted orally for several centuries before they were written down in medieval India.

History

Devimahatmya manuscript on palm-leaf, in an early Bhujimol script, Bihar or Nepal, 11th century.
Enlarge
Devimahatmya manuscript on palm-leaf, in an early Bhujimol script, Bihar or Nepal, 11th century.

The adjective sa?#131;sk?#155;ta- means "refined, consecrated, sanctified". The language referred to as sa?#131;sk?#155;t?#129; v?#129;k "the refined language" has by definition always been a 'high' language, used for religious and scientific discourse and contrasted with the languages spoken by the people. The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar is P?#129;?#135;ini's Aṣt?#129;dhy?#129;yī ("Eight-Chapter Grammar") dating to ca. the 5th century BC. It is essentially a prescriptive grammar, i.e., an authority that defines (rather than describes) correct Sanskrit, although it contains descriptive parts, mostly to account for Vedic forms that had already passed out of use in Panini's time.

When the term arose in India, "Sanskrit" was not thought of as a specific language set apart from other languages (the people of the time regarded languages more as dialects), but rather as a particularly refined or perfected manner of speaking. Knowledge of Sanskrit was a marker of social class and educational attainment and was taught mainly to Brahmanas through close analysis of Sanskrit grammarians such as P?#129;?#135;ini.

Sanskrit is almost a direct descendent of the Proto-Indo-European language. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages. It is part of the Satem group of Indo-European languages, which also includes the Iranian branch and the Balto-Slavic branch. The categorization may be shown as:

Indo-European ?#134;’ Indo-Iranian ?#134;’ Indo-Aryan (i.e., Sanskrit and its descendents).

Technically, Sanskrit is the oldest of the Old Indo-Aryan languages. Its "daughter languages" include the Prakrits of ancient India, Hindi, Bengali, Kashmiri, Urdu, Marathi, Gujrati, Assamese, Nepali, Punjabi and Romany (spoken by the European gypsies). It is no wonder that Sanskrit shows stark similarities?#128;”to varying degrees?#128;”with Latin, Ancient Greek, Avestan and even Persian and German.

Vedic Sanskrit

Main article: Vedic Sanskrit

Sanskrit, as defined by P?#129;?#135;ini, had evolved out of the earlier "Vedic" form, and scholars often distinguish Vedic Sanskrit and Classical or "Paninian" Sanskrit as separate dialects. However, they are extremely similar in many ways and differ mostly in a few points of phonology, vocabulary, and grammar. Classical Sanskrit can therefore be considered a seamless evolution of the earlier Vedic language. Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, a large collection of hymns, incantations, and religio-philosophical discussions which form the earliest religious texts in India and the basis for much of the Hindu religion. Modern linguists consider the metrical hymns of the Rigveda Samhita to be the earliest, composed by many authors over centuries of oral tradition. The end of the Vedic period is marked by the composition of the Upanishads, which form the concluding part of the Vedic corpus in the traditional compilations. The current hypothesis is that the Vedic form of Sanskrit survived until the middle of the first millennium BC. It is around this time that Sanskrit began the transition from a first language to a second language of religion and learning, marking the beginning of the Classical period.(ed.note - we believe that classical sanskrit evolved with Panini during the beginning of the second millennium BCE circa1700 BCE

Orthodox Hinduism believes that the language of the Vedas is eternal and revealed in its wording and word order. Evidence for this belief is found in the Vedas itself, where in the Upanishads they are described as the very "breath of God" (nihsvasitam brahma). The Vedas are therefore considered "the language of reality", so to speak, and are unauthored, even by God, the rishis or seers ascribed to them being merely individuals gifted with a special insight into reality with the power of perceiving these eternal sounds. At the beginning of every cycle of creation, God himself "remembers" the order of the Vedic words and propagates them through the rishis. Orthodox Hindus, while accepting the linguistic development of Sanskrit as such, do not admit any historical stratification within the Vedic corpus itself.

This belief is of significant consequence in Indian religious history, as the very sacredness and eternality of the language encouraged exact memorization and transmission and discouraged textual learning via written propagation. Each word is believed to have innate and eternal meaning and, when properly pronounced, mystic expressive power. Erroneous learning of repetition of the Veda was considered a grave sin with potentially immediate negative consequences. Consequently, Vedic learning by rote was encouraged and prized, particularly among Brahmins, where learning of one's own Vedic texts was a mandated duty. On the social side, the need to preserve the error-free nature of the Veda served as a justification to prevent teaching and propagation of the text to those considered "unworthy" of receiving it, by virtue of caste and gender.

Vedic Sanskrit differs from Classical Sanskrit in to an extent comparable to the difference between Homeric Greek and Classical Greek. Some differences are:

  • Phonology
    • Vedic Sanskrit had a voiceless bilabial fricative (/ɸ/, called upam?#129;dhamīya) and a voiceless velar fricative (/x/, called jihv?#129;mūlīya)?#128;”which used to occur when the breath visarga appeared before voiceless labial and velar consonants respectively. Both of them were lost in Classical Sanskrit.
    • Vedic Sanskrit had a retroflex lateral approximant (/ɭ/), which was lost in Classical Sanskrit.
    • Vedic Sanskrit had a pitch accent which could fall freely within the word, but Classical Sanskrit as described by P?#129;?#135;ini had only a stress accent where the placement of the accent was restricted to the last three syllables. Today, the pitch accent can be heard only in the traditional Vedic chantings.
  • Grammar
    • The subjunctive mood of Vedic Sanskrit was also lost in Classical Sanskrit.
    • There were more than 12 ways of forming infinitives in Vedic Sanskrit, of which Classical Sanskrit retained only one single form.
  • Nominal declinations and verbal conjugation also changed pronunciation, although the spelling was retained in Classical Sanskrit.
  • Vocabulary
    • Many lexemes attested in the Vedic texts became lost, while others were contained a considerable amount of polysemy.

Classical Sanskrit

There is a strong relationship between the various forms of Sanskrit and the Middle Indo-Aryan "Prakrits", or vernacular languages (in which, among other things, most early Jain and Buddhist texts are written), and the modern Indo-Aryan languages. The Prakrits are probably descended from Vedic, and there is mutual interchange between later forms of Sanskrit and various Prakrits. There has also been reciprocal influence between Sanskrit and the Dravidian languages.

A significant form of post-Vedic but pre-Paninian Sanskrit is found in the Sanskrit of the Hindu Epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. This dialect includes many archaic and unusual forms which deviate from Panini and are denoted by traditional Sanskrit scholars as aarsha or "of the rishis", the traditional title for the ancient authors. In some contexts there are also more "prakritisms" (borrowings from common speech) than Classical Sanskrit proper. Finally, there is also a language dubbed "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit" by scholars, which is actually a prakrit ornamented with Sanskritized elements, perhaps for purposes of ostentation (see also termination of spoken Sanskrit).

European Scholarship

European scholarship in Sanskrit, begun by Heinrich Roth and Johann Ernst Hanxleden, led to the proposal of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones, and thus played an important role in the development of Western linguistics. Indeed, linguistics (along with phonology, etc.) first arose among Indian grammarians who were attempting to catalog and codify Sanskrit's rules. Modern linguistics owes a great deal to these grammarians, and to this day, for example, key terms for compound analysis such as bahuvrihi are taken from Sanskrit.

Phonology and writing system

Classical Sanskrit distinguishes 48 sounds. Some of these, are, however, allophones. The number of phonemes is smaller, at about 35, see below.

The sounds are traditionally listed in the order vowels, diphthongs, anusvara and visarga, stops and nasals (starting in the back of the mouth and moving forward), and finally the liquids and fricatives, written in IAST as follows (see the tables below for details):

a ?#129; i ī u ū ?#155; ?#157; ḷ ḹ ; e ai o au
?#131; ḥ
k kh g gh ?#133;; c ch j jh ñ; ṭ ṭh ?#141; ?#141;h ?#135;; t th d dh n; p ph b bh m
y r l v; ?#155; ṣ s h

An alternate traditional ordering is that of the Shiva Sutra.

Vowels

Devanagari script is the one traditionally and most popularly associated with Sanskrit. Modern Hindi also uses the Devanagari script (its alphabets are truly speaking, alpha-syllables). Devanagari, being an abugida script, non-word-initial vowels are expressed by diacritics; see Devanagari for details. The vowels of Sanskrit with their word-initial devanagari symbol, diacritical mark with the consonant प?#141; (/p/), pronunciation (of the vowel alone and of /p/+vowel) in IPA, equivalent in IAST and ITRANS and (approximate) equivalents in Standard English are listed below:

Alphabet Diacritical mark with ?#128;œप?#141;?#128; Pronunciation Pronunciation with /p/ IAST equiv. ITRANS equiv. English eqivalent
?#133; /?#153;/ /p?#153;/ a a short Schwa: as the a in above or ago
?#134; पा /?#145;?#144;/ /p?#145;?#144;/ ?#129; A long Open back unrounded vowel: as the a in father
?#135; पि /i/ /pi/ i i short close front unrounded vowel: as i in bit
?#136; प?#128; /i?#144;/ /pi?#144;/ ī I long close front unrounded vowel: as i in machine
?#137; प?#129; /u/ /pu/ u u short close back rounded vowel: as u in put
?#138; प?#130; /u?#144;/ /pu?#144;/ ū U long close back rounded vowel: as oo in school
?#143; प?#135; /e?#144;/ /pe?#144;/ e e long close-mid front unrounded vowel: as a in game (not a diphthong), or é in café
?#144; प?#136; /?#153;i/ or /ai/ /p?#153;i/ or /pai/ ai ai a long diphthong: approx. as ei in height
?#147; प?#139; /ο?#144;/ /po?#144;/ o o long close-mid back rounded vowel: as o in tone (not a diphthong)
?#148; प?#140; /?#153;u/ or /au/ /p?#153;u/ or /pau/ au au a long diphthong: approx. as ou in house
?#139; प?#131; /r̩/ /pr̩/ ?#155; R short syllabic vowel-like retroflex approximant: approx. as American Eng. bird or meter
?nbsp; प?#132; /r̩?#144;/ /pr̩?#144;/ ?#157; RR long syllabic vowel-like retroflex approximant: a longer version of /r̩/
?#140; पॢ /l̩/ /pl̩/ LR short syllabic vowel-like retroflex-lateral approximant: approx. as handle
पॣ /l̩?#144;/ /pl̩?#144;/ LRR long syllabic vowel-like retroflex-lateral approximant: longer version of /l̩/

The long vowels are held about twice as long as their short counterparts. Also, there exists a third, extra-long length for most vowels, called pluti, which is used in various cases, but particularly in the vocative. The pluti is not accepted by all grammarians.

The vowels e and o continue as allohonic variants of Proto-Indo-Iranian /ai/, /au/, and they are phonologically (conceptually) /ai/ and /au/ still in Sanskrit, and are categorized as diphthongs by Sanskrit grammarians even though they are realized phonetically as simple long vowels.

Additional points:

  • There are some additional vowels traditionally listed in the Sanskrit/Hindi alphabet. They are :
    • ?#133;?#130; (called anusv?#129;ra), pronounced as /?#153;?#139;/ (IAST: ?#131;). Its diacritic (the dot above) is used both for nasalizing the vowel in the syllable and for the sound of a vowel-like /n/ or /m/. (प?#130;).
    • ?#133;?#131; (called visarga), pronounced as /?#153;h/ (IAST: ).
    • The diacritic ?#129;}} (called chandrabindu), not listed in the alphabet, is used interchangeably with the anusv?#129;ra to indicate nasalization of the vowel (प?#129;).
  • If a lonely consonant needs to be written without any following vowel, it is given a halanta/vir?#129;ma diacritic below (प?#141;).
  • The vowel /?#145;?#144;/ in Sanskrit is more central and less back than in English.
  • All vowels in Hindi, short or long, can be nasalized. All vowels can have acute grave or circumflex pitch accent.
  • Note that the ancient Sanskrit grammarians have classified the vowel system as velars, retroflexes, palatals and plosives rather than as back, central and mid vowels. Hence ?#143; and ?#147; are classified respectively as palato-velar (a+i) labio-velar (a+u) vowels respectively. But the grammarians have classified them as diphthongs and in prosody, each is given two m?#129;tr?#129;s. This does not necessarily mean that they are proper diphthongs, but neither excludes the possibility that they could have been proper diphthongs at a very ancient stage. These vowels are pronounced as long /e/ and /o/ respectively by learned Sanskrit Brahmins and priests of today. Other than the "four" diphthongs, Sanskrit usually disallows any other diphthongs?#128;”vowels in succession, if occur, are converted to semivowels according to predetermined rules.
  • In the devanagari script used for Sanskrit, whenever a consonant in a word-ending position is without any vir?#129;ma (ie, freely standing in the orthography: as opposed to प?#141;), the neutral vowel schwa (/?#153;/) is automatically associated with it?#128;”this is of course true for the consonant to be in any position in the word. Word-ending schwa is always short. But the IAST a appended to the end of masculine noun words rather confuses the foreigners to pronounce it as /?#145;?#144;/?#128;”this makes the masculine Sanskrit/Hindi words sound like feminine! e.g., shiva must be pronounced as /?#131;iv?#153;/ and not as /?#131;iv?#145;?#144;/.

Consonants

Devanagari and IAST notation is given, with approximate IPA values in sqare brackets.

Labial Labiodental Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop Unaspirated p [p] b [b] t [t] d [d] ?#159; [?#136;] ?#141; [?#150;] c ?#154; [c] j ?#156; [?#159;] k ?#149; [k] g ?#151; [g]
Aspirated ph [pʰ] bh [bʱ] th [tʰ] dh [dʱ] ṭh ?nbsp; [?#136;ʰ] ?#141;h [?#150;ʱ] ch ?#155; [cʰ] jh ?#157; [?#159;ʱ] kh ?#150; [kʰ] gh ?#152; [gʱ]
Nasal m [m] n [n] ?#135; [ɳ] ñ ?#158; [ɲ] ?#133; ?#153; [?#139;]
Semivowel v [?#139;] y [j]
Liquid l [l] r [r]
Fricative s [s] [?#130;] ?#155; [?#149;] ?#131; [h] h [ɦ]

The table below shows the traditional listing of the Sanskrit consonants with the (nearest) equivalents in English/Spanish. Each consonant shown below is deemed to be followed by the neutral vowel schwa (/?#153;/), and is named in the table as such.

Plosives
Unaspirated
Voiceless
Aspirated
Voiceless
Unaspirated
Voiced
Aspirated
Voiced
Nasal
Velar ?#149;
/k?#153;/; English: skip
?#150;
/kʰ?#153;/; English: cat
?#151;
/g?#153;/; English: game
?#152;
/gʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /g/
?#153;
/?#139;?#153;/; English: ring
Palatal ?#154;
/c?#153;/; ?#137;ˆEnglish: chat
?#155;
/cʰ?#153;/; Aspirated /c/
?#156;
/?#159;?#153;/; ?#137;ˆEnglish: jam
?#157;
/?#159;ʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /?#159;/
?#158;
/ɲ?#153;/; English: finch
Retroflex ?#159;
/?#136;?#153;/; American Eng: hurting
?nbsp;
/?#136;ʰ?#153;/; Aspirated /?#136;/

/?#150;?#153;/; American Eng: murder

/?#150;ʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /?#150;/

/ɳ?#153;/; American Eng: hunter
Apico-Dental
/t̪?#153;/; Spanish: tomate

/t̪ʰ?#153;/; Aspirated /t̪/

/d̪?#153;/; Spanish: donde

/d̪ʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /d̪/

/n?#153;/; English: name
Labial
/p?#153;/; English: spin

/pʰ?#153;/; English: pit

/b?#153;/; English: bone

/bʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /b/

/m?#153;/; English: mine
Non-Plosives/Sonorants
Palatal Retroflex Dental/
Alveolar
Labial/
Glottal
Approximant
/j?#153;/; English: you

/r?#153;/; American Eng: tearing

/l?#153;/; English: love
व (labio-dental)
/?#139;?#153;/; English: vase
Sibilant/
Fricative

/?#149;?#153;/; English: ship

/?#130;?#153;/; Retroflex form of /?#131;/

/s?#153;/; English: same
(glottal)
/ɦ?#153;/; ?#137;ˆEnglish home

Phonology

The Sanskrit vowels are as discussed in the section above. The long syllabic l () is not attested, and is only discussed by grammarians for systematic reasons. Its short counterpart occurs in a single root only, kḷp "to order, array". Long syllabic r (?#157;) is also quite marginal, occurring in the genitive plural of r-stems (e.g. m?#129;t?#155; "mother" and pit?#155; "father" have gen.pl. m?#129;t?#157;?#135;?#129;m and pit?#157;?#135;?#129;m). i, u, ?#155;, ḷ are vocalic allophones of consonantal y, v, r, l. There are thus only 5 invariably vocalic phonemes,

a, ?#129;, ī, ū, ?#157;.

Visarga ?#131; is an allophone of r and s, and anusvara ?#131;, Devanagari ?#130; of any nasal, both in pausa (ie, the nasalized vowel). The exact pronunciation of the three sibilants may vary, but they are distinct phonemes. An aspirated voiced sibilant /zʱ/ was inherited by Indo-Aryan from Proto-Indo-Iranian but lost shortly before the time of the Rigveda (note that aspirated sibilant are exceedingly rare in any language). The retroflex consonants are somewhat marginal phonemes, often being conditioned by their phonetic environment; they do not continue a PIE series and are often ascribed by some linguists to the substratal influence of Dravidian. The nasal ñ is a conditioned allophone of n (n and ?#135; are distinct phonemes - one has to distinguish a?#135;u "minute, atomic" (nom. sg. neutr. of an adjective) from anu "after, along"; phonologically independent ?#133; occurs only marginally, e.g. in pr?#129;?#133; "directed forwards/towards" (nom. sg. masc. of an adjective) and can thus be omitted). There are thus 31 consonantal or semi-vocalic phonemes, consisting of four/five kinds of stops realized both with or without aspiration and both voiced and voiceless, two nasals, four semi-vowels or liquids, and four fricatives, written in IAST transliteration as follows:

p, ph, b, bh; t, th, d, dh; ṭ, ṭh, ?#141;, ?#141;h; c, ch, j, jh; k, kh, g, gh; m, n, ?#135;; v, y, l, r; s, ṣ, ?#155;, h

or a total of 36 unique Sanskrit phonemes altogether.

The phonological rules to be applied when combining morphemes to a word, and when combining words to a sentence are collectively called sandhi "composition". Texts are written phonetically, with sandhi applied (except for the so-called padap?#129;ha).

Some additional features of the Sanskrit phonological system are given here, as well as some useful tips for those whose native language is English but are interested in learning Sanskrit language.

  • No other nasal consonant except /m/ and /n/ can start a word in Sanskrit.
  • The distinction between the aspirated and the unaspirated consonants is really very strong, not only in Sanskrit, but also in Hindi and all other Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages of India.
  • The distinction between the dental plosives and the retroflex plosives is also very stark in all Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages.
  • The number of allowable consonant clusters of Sanskrit is limited, but still very large as compared to other IE languages.
  • The "r" of Sanskrit may be as in Standard American English. In modern Sanskrit pronunciation, the vowel "?#155;" is pronounced as /ri/. The oldest ?#154;ikṣ?#129;s (general phonetic texts) and Pr?#129;ti?#155;?#129;khyas (phonetic studies of particular branches of Vedas) vary significantly in descriptions of these sounds; this may be due to different dialects and/or traditions their authors belonged to.
  • There is no retroflex flap in Sanskrit. In modern Hindi and other Indo-Aryan languages, they have sprung up as the allophonic flap variants of Sanskrit's simple voiced retroflex plosives. The /ɳ/ (?#135; or ण) in Sanskrit is not a flap but a simple nasal stop, although it is pronounced by modern pundits while chanting as a nasal variant of the voiced retroflex flap.
  • Aspiration is actually a puff of breath that may follow a plosive consonant. English speakers could try pronouncing the words "kite", "take", "chip" and "pat" with a greater-than-usual puff of breath after the first consonant. The corresponding unaspirated plosives must be pronounced with no significant puff of breath at all.
  • For practicing the voiced aspirates, one could try: "drag him", "said him", "enrage him", "grab him". The voiced aspirated plosives (also called as murmur stops) are extremely important and frequent in Sanskrit. Sanskrit (and its daughters) is the only language that has faithfully preserved these original Proto-Indo-European stops.
  • The dental consonants in Sanskrit are as in Spanish or French. They can be pronounced by pronouncing /t/ and /d/ (of English) by pressing the tip of the tongue against the back of the teeth rather than against the back of the alveolar ridge as done by English speakers. The normal "t" and "d" in IAST transliteration are the dental stops; and they occur much, much more frequently than the retroflex stops.
  • The retroflex consonants are the most difficult to pronounce. They are pronounced by curling the tongue such that its tip touches the roof of the mouth, like how the Americans pronounce their "r". However, bringing the tip of the tongue a bit above the normal alveolar ridge would also work fine. The normal alveolar plosives of English /t/ and /d/ do not exist as such in Sanskrit.
  • The palatal plosives of Sanskrit do not have a sharp frictional sound following them, as what happend in English chips and jam. These are more of pure plosives than affricates.
  • Sanskrit has no /v/. Its nearest equivalent is /?#139;/, which is very close to /v/, but does not a friction or buzzing sound associated with it. But in consonant clusters, this may allophonically change to /w/.
  • The palatal sibilant of Sanskrit (IAST: ?#155;) is very close to like the English sh in ship (although the Sanskrit phoneme is the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative /?#149;/) while the English phoneme is the voiceless postalveolar fricative /?#131;/ with lip rounding). Today, speakers of Sanskrit vary the palatal fricative from /?#149;/ to /?#131;/.
  • The retroflex sibilant /?#130;/ is pronounced like /?#131;/, but with the tongue curled upwards towards the roof of the mouth. In M?#129;dhyandini branch of Yajurveda, this phoneme is allowed to be pronounced at certain places as /kʰ/.
  • The Sanskrit /ɦ/ is a voiced allophone of the normal h.
  • Although any consonant may come in the word-final position in an uninflected word-stem, the number of word-final consonants in any inflected word (or verb or particle) standing freely by itself is severly limited and determined by the rules of Sandhi. Only the following consonants may come in the word-final position: /k/, /?#136;/, /t/, /p/, /l/ (rare), voiceless /h/ (i.e., visarga), and all nasals except /ɲ/. Any vowel may come at the word-final position.

Pitch

Vedic Sanskrit is a pitch accent language. Native grammarians define three tones (svara): ud?#129;tta = 'raised', anud?#129;tta = 'not raised', and svarita = 'sounded'. The ud?#129;tta syllable corresponds to the original Proto-Indo-European stress. The svarita is usually the next syllable after an ud?#129;tta. Probably when the Rigveda was written down, the pitch of speech rose through the ud?#129;tta and came back down through the following svarita. A svarita which is not preceded by an ud?#129;tta is called an "independent svarita". In transliteration ud?#129;tta is marked with acute accent (´) and independent svarita with a grave accent (`). Independent svarita occurs only where its ud?#129;tta was lost because of vowel sandhi.

Classical Sanskrit is usually pronounced with a stress accent decided by the syllable length pattern of each word.

Script

Kashmiri Shaivaite manuscript in the Sharada script (17th or 18th century)
Enlarge
Kashmiri Shaivaite manuscript in the Sharada script (17th or 18th century)

Sanskrit historically has had no single script associated with it. Since the late 19th century, the Devanagari (meaning "as used in the city of the gods") script has become the most widely used and associated with Sanskrit, yet this was by no means the case earlier. Each region adapted the script of the local vernacular, whether Indo-Aryan or Dravidian. In the north, there are inscriptions dating from the early centuries B.C. in the Brahmi script, also used by the king Ashoka in his famous Prakrit pillar inscriptions. Roughly contemporary with the Brahmi, the Kharosthi script was used. Later (ca. 4th to 8th centuries AD) the Gupta script, derived from Brahmi, became prevalent. From ca. the 8th century, the Sharada script evolved out of the Gupta script, and was mostly displaced in its turn by Devanagari from ca. the 12th century, with intermediary stages such as the Siddham script. The Bengali and other scripts were also used in their respective regions.

The devanagari alphabets (alpha-syllables) for the vowels and the consonants have been discussed in the sections above. The next table gives the system of combining two consonants, ie., making a consonant cluster. To write a consonant cluster /XYa/ from /Xa/ and /Ya/ syllables, Sanskrit usually converts the alphabetic symbol of the initial consonant X into the corresponding half-consonant (sic)?#128;”mostly achieved by cutting the right-side portion of the alphabet. Similarly for a cluster /XYZa/, both X and Y would be "halved". There are many variants for this consonant cluster writing in devanagari script. The most common system is shown below for the traditional table. Here the second vowel is taken to be /n/, followed by the schwa.

ka-group ?#149;?#141;न
/kn?#153;/
?#150;?#141;न
/kʰn?#153;/
?#151;?#141;न
/gn?#153;/
?#152;?#141;न
/gʱn?#153;/
?#153;?#141;न
/?#139;n?#153;/
cha-group ?#154;?#141;न
/cn?#153;/
?#155;?#141;न
/cʰn?#153;/
?#156;?#141;न
/?#159;n?#153;/
?#157;?#141;न
/?#159;ʱn?#153;/
?#158;?#141;न
/ɲn?#153;/
Ta-group ?#159;?#141;न
/?#136;n?#153;/
?nbsp;?#141;न
/?#136;ʰn?#153;/
ड?#141;न
/?#150;n?#153;/
ढ?#141;न
/?#150;ʱn?#153;/
ण?#141;न
/ɳn?#153;/
ta-group त?#141;न
/t̪n?#153;/
थ?#141;न
/t̪ʰn?#153;/
द?#141;न
/d̪n?#153;/
ध?#141;न
/d̪ʱn?#153;/
न?#141;न
/nn?#153;/
pa-group प?#141;न
/pn?#153;/
फ?#141;न
/pʰn?#153;/
ब?#141;न
/bn?#153;/
भ?#141;न
/bʱn?#153;/
म?#141;न
/mn?#153;/
ya-group य?#141;न
/yn?#153;/
र?#141;न
/rn?#153;/
ल?#141;न
/ln?#153;/
व?#141;न
/?#139;n?#153;/
va-group श?#141;न
/?#149;n?#153;/
ष?#141;न
/?#130;n?#153;/
स?#141;न
/sn?#153;/
ह?#141;न
/ɦn?#153;/

In the south where Dravidian languages predominate, scripts used include Grantha in Tamil speaking regions, Telugu in Telugu and Tamil speaking regions, Kannada, and Malayalam. Grantha, though modeled on the Tamil script, was used exclusively for Sanskrit and is rarely seen today. A recent development has been to use Tamil characters with numeric subscripts indicating voicing and aspiration.

Image:Phrase_sanskrite.png
Sanskrit in modern Indian scripts. May ?#154;iva bless those who take delight in the language of the gods. (Kalidasa)

Verbal learning occupied the pride of place in ancient India and bears an influence which can still be felt in Indian schooling today. Very high value was placed on large-scale memorization of texts, often using sophisticated mnemonic techniques. As such, propagation and learning through writing was correspondingly deemphasized and it is hypothesized that writing was introduced relatively late to India. Rhys Davids suggests that writing may have been introduced from the Middle East by traders, with Sanskrit remaining a purely oral language until well into India's Classical age.

It is interesting to note the importance that Sanskrit orthography and Vedic philosophy of sound play in Hindu symbolism, as the varnamala, or sound-garland/alphabet, of 51 letters is also seen to be represented by the 51 skulls of Kali. In the Upanishads, the transcendent-immanent nature of Brahman is represented by the half-matra, or sphota of sound that is inherent to a beat of sound in the Sanskrit system.

Romanization

Main article: Romanization of Sanskrit

Since the late 18th century, Sanskrit has also been transliterated using the Latin alphabet. Most commonly used today is the IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration), which has been the academic standard since 1912, and which is used in this article. ASCII based transliteration schemes have evolved due to difficulties representing Sanskrit characters in computer systems. These include Harvard-Kyoto and ITRANS, a lossless transliteration scheme that is used widely on the Internet, especially in Usenet and in email, for considerations of speed of entry as well as rendering issues. With the wide availability of Unicode aware web browsers, IAST has become common also for online articles.

For scholarly work, Devanagari in the 19th century was generally preferred for the transcription and reproduction of whole texts and lengthy excerpts also by European scholars; however, references to individual words and names in texts composed in European languages are usually represented using Roman transliteration, and from the mid 20th century, textual editions edited by Western scholars have also been mostly in romanized transliteration.

Grammar

Grammatical tradition

Main article: Sanskrit grammarians

Sanskrit grammatical tradition (vy?#129;kara?#135;a, one of the six Vedanga disciplines) begins in late Vedic India, and culminates in the Aṣṭ?#129;dhy?#129;yī of P?#129;?#135;ini (ca. 5th century BC). Patañjali, who lived several centuries after Panini, is the reputed author of the Mah?#129;bh?#129;ṣya, the "Great Commentary" on the Aṣṭ?#129;dhy?#129;yī.

Verbs

Classification of verbs

Sanskrit has ten classes of verbs divided into in two broad groups: athematic and thematic. The thematic verbs are so called because an a, called the theme vowel, is inserted between the stem and the ending. This serves to make the thematic verbs generally more regular. Exponents used in verb conjugation include prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and reduplication. Vowel gradation is also very common; every root has (not necessarily all distinct) zero, gu?#135;a, and v?#155;ddhi grades. If V is the vowel of the zero grade, the gu?#135;a-grade vowel is traditionally thought of as a + V, and the v?#155;ddhi-grade vowel as ?#129; + V.

Tense systems

The verbs tenses (a very inexact application of the word, since more distinctions than simply tense are expressed) are organized into four 'systems' (as well as gerunds and infinitives, and such creatures as intensives/frequentatives, desideratives, causatives, and benedictives derived from more basic forms) based on the different stem forms (derived from verbal roots) used in conjugation. There are four tense systems:

Present system

The present system includes the present and imperfect tenses, the optative and imperative moods, as well as some of the remnant forms of the old subjunctive. The tense stem of the present system is formed in various ways. The numbers are the native grammarians' numbers for these classes.

For athematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:

  • 2) No modification at all, for example ad from ad 'eat'.
  • 3) Reduplication prefixed to the root, for example juhu from hu 'sacrifice'.
  • 7) Infixion of na or n before the final root consonant (with appropriate sandhi changes), for example rundh or ru?#135;adh from rudh 'obstruct'.
  • 5) Suffixation of nu (gu?#135;a form no), for example sunu from su 'press out'.
  • 8) Suffixation of u (gu?#135;a form o), for example tanu from tan 'stretch'. For modern linguistic purposes it is better treated as a subclass of the 5th. tanu derives from tnnu, which is zero-grade for *tannu, because in Indo-European [m] and [n] could be vowels, which in Sanskrit (and Greek) change to [a]. Most members of the 8th class arose this way; kar = "make", "do" was 5th class in Vedic (krnoti = "he makes"), but shifted to the 8th class in Classical Sanskrit (karoti = "he makes")
  • 9) Suffixation of n?#129; (zero-grade or n), for example krī?#135;a or krī?#135;ī from krī 'buy'.

For thematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:

  • 1) Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with gu?#135;a strengthening, for example, bháva from bhū 'be'.
  • 6) Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with a shift of accent to this vowel, for example tudá from tud 'thrust'.
  • 4) Suffixation of ya, for example dī?#129;vya from div 'play'.

The tenth class described by native grammarians refers to a process which is derivational in nature, and thus not a true tense-stem formation.

Perfect system

The perfect system includes only the perfect tense. The stem is formed with reduplication as with the present system.

The perfect system also produces separate "strong" and "weak" forms of the verb ?#128;” the strong form is used with the singular active, and the weak form with the rest.

Aorist system

The aorist system includes aorist proper (with past indicative meaning, e.g. abhū "you were") and some of the forms of the ancient injunctive (used almost exclusively with m?#129; in prohibitions, e.g. m?#129; bhū "don't be"). The principal distinction of the two is presence/absence of an augment - a- prefixed to the stem.

The aorist system stem actually has three different formations: the simple aorist, the reduplicating aorist (semantically related to the causative verb), and the sibilant aorist. The simple aorist is taken directly from the root stem (e.g. bhū-: a-bhū-t "he was"). The reduplicating aorist involves reduplication as well as vowel reduction of the stem. The sibilant aorist is formed with the suffixation of s to the stem.

Future system

The future system is formed with the suffixation of sya or iya and gu?#135;a.

Verbs: Conjugation

Each verb has a grammatical voice, whether active, passive or middle. There is also an impersonal voice, which can be described as the passive voice of intransitive verbs. Sanskrit verbs have an indicative, an optative and an imperative mood. Older forms of the language had a subjunctive, though this had fallen out of use by the time of Classical Sanskrit.

Basic conjugational endings

Conjugational endings in Sanskrit convey person, number, and voice. Different forms of the endings are used depending on what tense stem and mood they are attached to. Verb stems or the endings themselves may be changed or obscured by sandhi.

Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Primary First Person mi vás más é váhe máhe
Second Person si thás thá ?#129;?#129;the dhvé
Third Person ti tás ánti, áti ?#129;?#129;te ánte, áte
Secondary First Person am í, á váhi máhi
Second Person s tám th?#129;?#129;s ?#129;?#129;th?#129;m dhvám
Third Person t t?#129;?#129;m án, ús ?#129;?#129;t?#129;m ánta, áta, rán
Perfect First Person a é váhe máhe
Second Person tha áthus á ?#129;?#129;the dhvé
Third Person a átus ús é ?#129;?#129;te
Imperative First Person ?#129;ni ?#129;va ?#129;ma ?#129;i ?#129;vah?#129;i ?#129;mah?#129;i
Second Person dhí, hí, ?#128;” tám svá ?#129;?#129;th?#129;m dhvám
Third Person tu t?#129;?#129;m ántu, átu t?#129;?#129;m ?#129;?#129;t?#129;m ánt?#129;m, át?#129;m

Primary endings are used with present indicative and future forms. Secondary endings are used with the imperfect, conditional, aorist, and optative. Perfect and imperative endings are used with the perfect and imperative respectively.

Present system conjugation

Conjugation of the present system deals with all forms of the verb utilizing the present tense stem (explained under Tense Stems above). This includes the present tense of all moods, as well as the imperfect indicative.

Athematic inflection

The present system differentiates strong and weak forms of the verb. The strong/weak opposition manifests itself differently depending on the class:

  • The root and reduplicating classes (2 & 3) are not modified in the weak forms, and receive gu?#135;a in the strong forms.
  • The nasal class (7) is not modified in the weak form, extends the nasal to in the strong form.
  • The nu-class (5) has nu in the weak form and in the strong form.
  • The n?#129;-class (9) has in the weak form and n?#129;?#129; in the strong form. disappears before vocalic endings.

The present indicative takes primary endings, and the imperfect indicative takes secondary endings. Singular active forms have the accent on the stem and take strong forms, while the other forms have the accent on the endings and take weak forms.

Indicative
Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Present First Person dvémi dvivás dvimás dvié dviváhe dvimáhe
Second Person dvéki dviṣṭhás dviṣṭ dviké dvi?#129;?#129;the dvi?#141;?#141;hvé
Third Person dvéṣṭi dviṣṭás dviánti dviṣṭé dvi?#129;?#129;te dviáte
Imperfect First Person ádveam ádviva ádvima ádvii ádvivahi ádvimahi
Second Person ádve ádviṣṭam ádvisa ádviṣṭh?#129;s ádvi?#129;th?#129;m ádvi?#141;?#141;hvam
Third Person ádve ádviṣṭ?#129;m ádvian ádviṣṭa ádvi?#129;t?#129;m ádviata

The optative takes secondary endings. y?#129; is added to the stem in the active, and ī in the passive.

Optative
Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
First Person dviṣy?#129;?#129;m dviy?#129;?#129;va dviy?#129;?#129;ma dviīyá dviīvahi dviīmahi
Second Person dviy?#129;?#129;s dviy?#129;?#129;tam dviy?#129;?#129;ta dviīth?#129;s dviīy?#129;th?#129;m dviīdhvam
Third Person dviy?#129;?#129;t dviy?#129;?#129;t?#129;m dviyus dviīta dviīy?#129;t?#129;m dviīran

The imperative takes imperative endings. Accent is variable and affects vowel quality. Forms which are end-accented trigger gu?#135;a strengthening, and those with stem accent do not have the vowel affected.

Imperative
Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
First Person dvéṣ?#129;?#135;i dvé?#129;va dvé?#129;ma dvé?#129;i dvé?#129;vah?#129;i dvé?#129;mah?#129;i
Second Person dvi?#141;?#141; dviṣṭám dviṣṭá dvik dvi?#129;th?#129;m dvi?#141;?#141;hvám
Third Person dvéṣṭu dviṣṭ?#129;?#129;m dviántu dviṣṭ?#129;?#129;m dvi?#129;?#129;t?#129;m dviát?#129;m

Nominal inflection


Sanskrit is a highly inflected language with three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and three numbers (singular, plural, dual). It has eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, and locative.

The number of actual declensions is debatable. In this article they are divided into five declensions. Which declension a noun belongs to is determined largely by form.

The basic declination suffix scheme for nouns and adjectives

The basic scheme is given in the table below?#128;”valid for almost all nouns and adjectives. However, according to the gender and the ending consonant/vowel of the uninflected word-stem, there are predermined rules of compulsory sandhi which would then give the final inflected word. The parentheses give the case-terminations for the neuter gender, the rest are for masculine and feminine gender. Both devanagari script and IAST transliterations are given.

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -स?#141; -s
(-म?#141; -m)
-?#148; -au
(-?#136; -ī)
-?#133;स?#141; -as
(-?#135; -i)
Accusative -?#133;म?#141; -am
(-म?#141; -m)
-?#148; -au
(-?#136; -ī)
-?#133;स?#141; -as
(-?#135; -i)
Instrumental -?#134; -?#129; -भ?#141;याम?#141; -bhy?#129;m -भिस?#141; -bhis
Dative -?#143; -e -भ?#141;याम?#141; -bhy?#129;m -भ?#141;यस?#141; -bhyas
Ablative -?#133;स?#141; -as -भ?#141;याम?#141; -bhy?#129;m -भ?#141;यस?#141; -bhyas
Genitive -?#133;स?#141; -as -?#147;स?#141; -os -?#134;म?#141; -?#129;m
Locative -?#135; -i -?#147;स?#141; -os -स?#129; -su
Vocative -स?#141; -s
(- -)
-?#148; -au
(-?#136; -ī)
-?#133;स?#141; -as
(-?#135; -i)

a-stems

A-stems (/?#153;/ or /?#145;?#144;/) comprise the largest class of nouns. As a rule, nouns belonging to this class, with the uninflected stem ending in short-a (/?#153;/), are either masculine or neuter. Nouns ending in long-A (/?#145;?#144;/) are almost always feminine. A-stem adjectives take the masculine and neuter in short-a (/?#153;/), and feminine in long-A (/?#145;?#144;/) in their stems.

Masculine (k?#129;?#129;ma- 'love') Neuter (?#129;sya- 'mouth') Feminine (k?#129;nta- 'beloved')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative k?#129;?#129;ma k?#129;?#129;m?#129;u k?#129;?#129;m?#129; ?#129;sy?nbsp;m ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ni k?#129;nt?#129; k?#129;nte k?#129;nt?#129;
Accusative k?#129;?#129;mam k?#129;?#129;m?#129;u k?#129;?#129;m?#129;n ?#129;sy?nbsp;m ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ni k?#129;nt?#129;m k?#129;nte k?#129;nt?#129;
Instrumental k?#129;?#129;mena k?#129;?#129;m?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;?#129;m?#129;i ?#129;syèna ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;bhy?#129;m ?#129;sy?#129;ì k?#129;ntay?#129; k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;bhi
Dative k?#129;?#129;m?#129;ya k?#129;?#129;m?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;?#129;mebhya ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ya ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;bhy?#129;m ?#129;syèbhya k?#129;nt?#129;yai k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;
Ablative k?#129;?#129;m?#129;t k?#129;?#129;m?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;?#129;mebhya ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;t ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;bhy?#129;m ?#129;syèbhya k?#129;nt?#129;y?#129; k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;
Genitive k?#129;?#129;masya k?#129;?#129;mayo k?#129;?#129;m?#129;n?#129;m ?#129;sy?nbsp;sya ?#129;sy?nbsp;yo ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;n?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;y?#129; k?#129;ntayo k?#129;nt?#129;n?#129;m
Locative k?#129;?#129;me k?#129;?#129;mayo k?#129;?#129;meu ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?nbsp;yo ?#129;syèu k?#129;nt?#129;y?#129;m k?#129;ntayo k?#129;nt?#129;su
Vocative k?#129;?#129;ma k?#129;?#129;mau k?#129;?#129;m?#129; ?#129;?#129;sya ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ni k?#129;nte k?#129;nte k?#129;nt?#129;

i- and u-stems

i-stems
Masc. and Fem. (gáti- 'gait') Neuter (v?#129;?#129;ri- 'water')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative gátis gátī gátayas v?#129;?#129;ri v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;ī v?#129;?#129;rī?#135;i
Accusative gátim gátī gátīs v?#129;?#129;ri v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;ī v?#129;?#129;rī?#135;i
Instrumental gáty?#129; gátibhy?#129;m gátibhis v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;?#129; v?#129;?#129;ribhy?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ribhis
Dative gátaye, gáty?#129;i gátibhy?#129;m gátibhyas v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;e v?#129;?#129;ribhy?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ribhyas
Ablative gátes, gáty?#129;s gátibhy?#129;m gátibhyas v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;as v?#129;?#129;ribhy?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ribhyas
Genitive gátes, gáty?#129;s gátyos gátīn?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;as v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;os v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;?#129;m
Locative gát?#129;u, gáty?#129;m gátyos gátiu v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;i v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;os v?#129;?#129;riu
Vocative gáte gátī gátayas v?#129;?#129;ri, v?#129;?#129;re v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;ī v?#129;?#129;rī?#135;i
u-stems
Masc. and Fem. (?#155;átru- 'enemy') Neuter (mádhu- 'honey')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ?#155;átrus ?#155;átrū ?#155;átravas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Accusative ?#155;átrum ?#155;átrū ?#155;átrūn mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Instrumental ?#155;átru?#135;?#129; ?#155;átrubhy?#129;m ?#155;átrubhis mádhun?#129; mádhubhy?#129;m mádhubhis
Dative ?#155;átrave ?#155;átrubhy?#129;m ?#155;átrubhyas mádhune mádhubhy?#129;m mádhubhyas
Ablative ?#155;átros ?#155;átrubhy?#129;m ?#155;átrubhyas mádhunas mádhubhy?#129;m mádhubhyas
Genitive ?#155;átros ?#155;átrvos ?#155;átrū?#135;?#129;m mádhunas mádhunos mádhūn?#129;m
Locative ?#155;átr?#129;u ?#155;átrvos ?#155;átruu mádhuni mádhunos mádhuṣu
Vocative ?#155;átro ?#155;átrū ?#155;átravas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni

Long Vowel-stems

?#129;-stems (j?#129;- 'prodigy') ī-stems (dhī- 'thought') ū-stems (bhū- 'earth')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative j?#129;?#129;s j?#129;ú j?#129;?#129;s dhī?#129;s dhíy?#129;u dhíyas bhū?#129;s bhúv?#129;u bhúvas
Accusative j?#129;?#129;m j?#129;ú j?#129;?#129;s, jás dhíyam dhíy?#129;u dhíyas bhúvam bhúv?#129;u bhúvas
Instrumental j?#129;?#129; j?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m j?#129;?#129;bhis dhiy?#129;?#129; dhībhy?#129;?#129;m dhībhís bhuv?#129;?#129; bhūbhy?#129;?#129;m bhūbhís
Dative j?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m j?#129;?#129;bhyas dhiyé, dhiy?#129;í dhībhy?#129;?#129;m dhībhyás bhuvé, bhuv?#129;í bhūbhy?#129;?#129;m bhūbhyás
Ablative jás j?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m j?#129;?#129;bhyas dhiyás, dhiy?#129;?#129;s dhībhy?#129;?#129;m dhībhyás bhuvás, bhuv?#129;?#129;s bhūbhy?#129;?#129;m bhūbhyás
Genitive jás jós j?#129;?#129;n?#129;m, j?#129;?#129;m dhiyás, dhiy?#129;?#129;s dhiyós dhiy?#129;?#129;m, dhīn?#129;?#129;m bhuvás, bhuv?#129;?#129;s bhuvós bhuv?#129;?#129;m, bhūn?#129;?#129;m
Locative jós j?#129;?#129;su dhiyí, dhiy?#129;?#129;m dhiyós dhīṣú bhuví, bhuv?#129;?#129;m bhuvós bhūṣú
Vocative j?#129;?#129;s j?#129;ú j?#129;?#129;s dhī?#129;s dhiy?#129;u dhíyas bhū?#129;s bhuv?#129;u bhúvas

?#155;-stems

?#155;-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like d?#129;t?#155; 'giver', though also include kinship terms like pit?#155;?#129; 'father', m?#129;t?#155;?#129; 'mother', and svás?#155; 'sister'.

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative pit?#129;?#129; pitár?#129;u pitáras
Accusative pitáram pitár?#129;u pit?#157;?#129;n
Instrumental pitr?#129;?#129; pit?#155;?#129;bhy?#129;m pit?#155;?#129;bhis
Dative pitré pit?#155;?#129;bhy?#129;m pit?#155;?#129;bhyas
Ablative pitúr pit?#155;?#129;bhy?#129;m pit?#155;?#129;bhyas
Genitive pitúr pitrós pit?#157;?#135;?#129;?#129;m
Locative pitári pitrós pit?#155;?#129;ṣu
Vocative pítar pitár?#129;u pitáras

See also Devi inflection, Vrkis inflection.

Personal Pronouns and Determiners

The first and second person pronouns are declined for the most part alike, having by analogy assimilated themselves with one another.

Note: Where two forms are given, the second is enclitic and an alternative form. Ablatives in singular and plural may be extended by the syllable -tas; thus mat or mattas, asmat or asmattas.

First Person Second Person
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative aham ?#129;v?#129;m vayam tvam yuv?#129;m yūyam
Accusative m?#129;m, m?#129; ?#129;v?#129;m, nau asm?#129;n, nas tv?#129;m, tv?#129; yuv?#129;m, v?#129;m yuṣm?#129;n, vas
Instrumental may?#129; ?#129;v?#129;bhy?#129;m asm?#129;bhis tvay?#129; yuv?#129;bhy?#129;m yuṣm?#129;bhis
Dative mahyam, me ?#129;v?#129;bhy?#129;m, nau asmabhyam, nas tubhyam, te yuv?#129;bhy?#129;m, v?#129;m yuṣmabhyam, vas
Ablative mat ?#129;v?#129;bhy?#129;m asmat tvat yuv?#129;bhy?#129;m yuṣmat
Genitive mama, me ?#129;vayos, nau asm?#129;kam, nas tava, te yuvayos, v?#129;m yuṣm?#129;kam, vas
Locative mayi ?#129;vayos asm?#129;su tvayi yuvayos yuṣm?#129;su

The demonstrative ta, declined below, also functions as the third person pronoun.

Masculine Neuter Feminine
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative sás t?#129;ú tát t?#129;?#129;ni s?#129;?#129; t?#129;?#129;s
Accusative tám t?#129;ú t?#129;?#129;n tát t?#129;?#129;ni s?#129;?#149; t?#129;?#129;s
Instrumental téna t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;ís téna t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;ís táy?#129; t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;?#129;bhis
Dative tásm?#129;i t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyas tásm?#129;i t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyas tásy?#129;i t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;?#129;bhyas
Ablative tásm?#129;t t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyam tásm?#129;t t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyam tásy?#129;s t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;?#129;bhyas
Genitive tásya táyos téṣ?#129;m tásya táyos téṣ?#129;m tásy?#129;s táyos t?#129;?#129;s?#129;m
Locative tásmin táyos téṣu tásmin táyos téṣu tásy?#129;m táyos t?#129;?#129;su

Compounds

One other notable feature of the nominal system is the very common use of nominal compounds, which may be huge (10+ words) as in some modern languages such as German. Nominal compounds occur with various structures, however morphologically speaking they are essentially the same. Each noun (or adjective) is in its (weak) stem form, with only the final element receiving case inflection. Some examples of nominal compounds include:

1. Dvandva (co-ordinative)

These consist of two or more noun stems, connected in sense with 'and', e.g. matara-pitara 'Mother and Father'. Due to these compounds having more than one noun in them, they must be in the dual or plural.

2. Bahuvrīhi (possessive)

Bahuvrīhi, or "much-rice", denotes a rich person?#128;”one who has much rice. Bahuvrīhi compounds refer (by example) to a compound noun with no head -- a compound noun that refers to a thing which is itself not part of the compound. For example, "low-life" and "block-head" are bahuvrihi compounds, since a low-life is not a kind of life, and a block-head is not a kind of head. (And a much-rice is not a kind of rice.) Compare with more common, headed, compound nouns like "fly-ball" (a kind of ball) or "alley cat" (a kind of cat). Bahurvrīhis can often be translated by "possessing..." or "-ed"; for example, "possessing much rice", or "much riced".

3. Tatpuruṣa (determinative)

There are many tatpuruas (one for each of the nominal cases, and a few others besides); in a tatpurua, the first component is in a case relationship with another. For example, a doghouse is a dative compound, a house for a dog. It would be called a "caturtitatpurua" (caturti refers to the fourth case?#128;”that is, the dative). Incidentally, "tatpurua" is a tatpurua ("this man"?#128;”meaning someone's agent), while "caturtitatpurua" is a karmadh?#129;rya, being both dative, and a tatpurua. An easy way to understand it is to look at English examples of tatpuruas: "battlefield", where there is a genitive relationship between "field" and "battle", "a field of battle"; other examples include instrumental relationships ("thunderstruck") and locative relationships ("towndwelling").

4. Karmadh?#129;raya (descriptive)

The relation of the first member to the last is appositional, attributive or adverbial, e. g. uluka-yatu (owl+demon) is a demon in the shape of an owl.

5. Amre?#141;ita (iterative)

Repetition of a word expresses repetitiveness, e. g. dive-dive 'day by day', 'daily'.

Syntax

Word order is free with tendency toward SOV.

Numerals

The numbers from one to ten are:

1 éka
2 dví
3 trí
4 catúr
5 pañca
6 ṣáṣ
7 saptá, sápta
8 aṣṭá, áṣṭa
9 náva
10 dá?#155;a

The numbers one through four are declined. ?#137;ka is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. Dvá appears only in the dual. Trí and catúr are declined irregularly:

Three Four
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative tráyas trī?#129;?#135;i tisrás catv?#129;?#129;ras catv?#129;?#129;ri cátasras
Accusative trīn trī?#129;?#135;i tisrás catúras catv?#129;?#129;ri cátasras
Instrumental tribhís tis?#155;?#129;bhis catúrbhis catas?#155;?#129;bhis
Dative tribhyás tis?#155;?#129;bhyas catúrbhyas catas?#155;?#129;bhyas
Ablative tribhyás tis?#155;?#129;bhyas catúrbhyas catas?#155;?#129;bhyas
Genitive triy?#129;?#135;?#129;?#129;m tis?#155;?#135;?#129;?#129;m catur?#135;?#129;?#129;m catas?#155;?#135;?#129;?#129;m
Locative triṣú tis?#155;?#129;ṣu catúrṣu catas?#155;?#129;ṣu

Influence

Modern-day India

Sanskrit's greatest influence, presumably, is that which it exerted on languages that grew from its vocabulary and grammatical base. Especially among elite circles in India, Sanskrit is prized as a storehouse of scripture and the language of prayers in Hinduism. Like Latin's influence on European languages, Sanskrit has influenced most Indian languages. While vernacular prayer is common, Sanskrit mantras are recited by millions of Hindus and most temple functions are conducted entirely in Sanskrit, often Vedic in form. Most higher forms of Indian vernacular languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu and Hindi, often called 'shuddha' (pure, higher) are much more heavily Sanskritized. Of modern day Indian languages, while Hindi tends to be, in spoken form, more heavily weighted with Arabic and Persian influence, Bengali and Marathi still retain a largely Sanskrit vocabulary base. The national anthem, Jana Gana Mana is higher form of Bengali, so Sanskritized as to be archaic in modern usages. The national song of India Vande Mataram which is originally a poem - composed by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and taken from his book called 'Aanandmath', is in pure Sanskrit. Malayalam, which is spoken in the Kerala state of India, also combines a great deal of Sanskrit vocabulary with Tamil (Dravidian) grammatical structure. Kannada, another South Indian language, also contains Sanskrit vocabulary. But as a medium of spiritual instruction for Hindus in India, Sanskrit is still prized and widespread.

Sanskrit words are found in many other present-day non-Indian languages. For instance, the Thai language contains many loan words from Sanskrit. For example, in Thai, the R?#129;vana - the emperor of Sri Lanka is called 'Thoskonth' which is clearly a derivation of his Sanskrit name 'Dashakanth' (of ten necks). And ranged as far as the Philippines, e.g., Tagalog 'gurò' from 'Guru', or 'teacher', with the Hindu seafarers who traded there.

Attempts at revival

Of late, there have been attempts to revive the speaking of this ancient tongue among people, so that vast literature available in Sanskrit can be made easily available to everyone. The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) in India has made Sanskrit a third language in the schools it governs. In such schools, learning Sanskrit is an option for grades 5 to 8. An option between Sanskrit and Hindi (or many other local languages) as a second language exists for grades 9 and 10. Many organizations like the Samskrta Bharati are conducting Speak Sanskrit workshops to popularize the language. About four million people are claimed to have acquired the ability to speak Sanskrit.

Sanskrit is claimed to be spoken natively by the population in Mattur, a village in central Karnataka. Inhabitants of all castes learn Sanskrit starting in childhood and converse in the language. Even the local Muslims speak and converse in Sanskrit. Historically, the village was given by king Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire to Vedic scholars and their families. People in his kingdom spoke Kannada and Tuluva.

Interactions with Sino-Tibetan languages

Sanskrit and related languages have also influenced their Sino-Tibetan-speaking neighbors to the north through the spread of Buddhist texts in translation. Buddhism was spread to China by Mahayanist missionaries mostly through translations of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit texts, and many terms were transliterated directly and added to the Chinese vocabulary. (Although Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit is not Sanskrit, properly speaking, its vocabulary is substantially the same, both because of genetic relationship, and because of conscious imitation on the part of composers. Buddhist texts composed in Sanskrit proper were primarily found in philosophical schools like the Madhyamaka.)

Western vogue for Sanskrit

Main article: Sanskrit in the West

At the end of the introduction to The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer claimed that the rediscovery of the ancient Indian tradition would be one of the great events in the history of the West. Goethe borrowed from Kalidasa for the Vorspiel auf dem Theater in Faust.

Goethe and Schopenhauer were riding a crest of scholarly discovery, most notably the work done by Sir William Jones. (Goethe likely read Kalidasa's The Recognition of Sakuntala in Jones' translation.) However, the discovery of the world of Sanskrit literature moved beyond German and British scholars and intellectuals ?#128;” Henry David Thoreau was a sympathetic reader of the Bhagavad Gita ?#128;” and even beyond the humanities. In the early days of the Periodic Table, scientists referred to as yet undiscovered elements with the use of Sanskrit prefixes (see Mendeleev's predicted elements).

The nineteenth century was a golden age of Western Sanskrit scholarship, and many of the giants of the field (Whitney, Macdonnell, Monier-Williams, Grassmann) knew each other personally. Perhaps the most commonly known example of Sanskrit in the West was also the last gasp of its vogue. T.S. Eliot, a student of Indian Philosophy and Lanham's, ended The Waste Land with Sanskrit: "Shantih Shantih Shantih".

Computational linguistics

There have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a metalanguage for knowledge representation in e.g. machine translation, and other areas of natural language processing because of its highly regular structure (The AI Magazine, Spring, 1985 #39). This is due to Classical Sanskrit being a regularized, prescriptivist form abstracted from the much more irregular and richer Vedic Sanskrit. This levelling of the grammar of Classical Sanskrit occurred during the Brahmana phase, after the language had fallen out of popular use, arguably qualifying Classical Sanskrit as an early engineered language.

See also

References

  • The Sanskrit Language - T. Burrow - ISBN 8120817672
  • Sanskrit Grammar - William D. Whitney - ISBN 8185557594
  • Sanskrit Pronunciation - Bruce Cameron - ISBN 1557000212
  • "Teach Yourself Sanskrit" - Prof. M. Coulson - ISBN 0340859903
  • "A Sanskrit Grammar for Students" - A.A. Macdonell - ISBN 8124600945

External links

Wikibooks
Wikibooks has more about this subject:

Mentioned In
Sanskrit is mentioned in the following topics:
List of Malay words of Sanskrit origin Gurkha (member of a Rajput ethnic group predominant)
til Pabbajja
Shweta Sloka meter
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit language Nikhil
Kamasutra (Sanskrit treatise setting forth rules) kavya
More>
 

 

Dictionary definition of Sanskrit
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.   More from Dictionary
Encyclopedia information about Sanskrit
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. http://www.answers.com/main/Record2?a=NR&url=http://www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/   More from Encyclopedia
Literature information about Sanskrit
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.   More from Literature
WordNet information about Sanskrit
WordNet 1.7.1 Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.   More from WordNet
Wikipedia information about Sanskrit
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documenta
Developing the Sanskrit Authoring System - VYASA

With a view to nurture and preserve the richness of Sanskrit, C-DAC has taken the initiative of developing a Sanskrit Authoring system under its ?#128;˜Heritage Group?#128;™ activities. Shri Ramanujan has played a central role as part of this project, and summarizes below the work being done.
____________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

Sanskrit has been a parent of many modern Indian languages. The name Sanskrita suggests ?#128;˜adorned?#128;™, ?#128;˜elaborate?#128;™, or ?#128;˜perfected?#128;™ form of speech. The beauty of Sanskrit lies in the fact that it has extremely well structured and unambiguous grammar. This is a great advantage and helps in determining and representing precisely the syntactic and semantic meaning of a sentence.

In ancient literature, the entire grammar of Sanskrit has been laid down as a finite and exhaustive set of rules in Panini?#128;™s Astadhyayi. These rules were valid for Sanskrit, centuries ago and these rules still hold, eliminating any scope for any evolutionary changes in grammar or usage. In no other language can such a set of rules, which are rather mathematical in nature, be found or formulated.

The Sanskrit grammar rules are well-structured amongst themselves. There are sets of meta-rules, which, with the help of various conditions, can be used in linguistic processing. It is due to such a Sastraic (Sastra = science) nature of Sanskrit that it is such an alluring language for Natual Language Processing (NLP) research.

C-DAC?#128;™s Indian Heritage Group based at its Centre in Bangalore is engaged in activities related to Sanskrit and Vedic texts?#128;™ processing since 1990. To consolidate the work done so far, the Sanskrit Authoring System (SAS) project was launched with the sponsorship of the Department of Information Technology.

Work on ISCII standard, GIST applications in Data processing, building a Natural Language Understanding (NLU) System for Sanskrit called DESIKA, Computational rendering of Paninian grammar and computational text of Rgveda Samhita, preparing ?#128;˜Sakala Shastra Sutra Kosha?#128;™, a compendium of all the original treatises of the Ancient Indian Sciences, are sought to be covered.

Benefits from Information Technology

It is a common experience when one reads books or articles in Indian languages, that help on retrieving the desired analytical information such as indices of different types, sources of quotations and their full forms is often lacking. With Sanskrit texts, the need to be able to access such information is even more since many scriptural sources get quoted.

With a view to help Sanskritists in their creative scholarly pursuits like research and academics, Content, Tools for processing and Schemes for tagging, hyper-linking and references are thus essential in such a system.These are all possible, thanks to the information technology developments.

Let us look at some of these as provided for in our system.

Editor for Multi-script use, tools for morphological, syntactic and semantic analysis, tools for searching/indexing/sorting, lexical updation, lexical tagging, extraction / indexing of quotations in commentaries/explanations, transliteration facility, word split programs for sandhi and samasa, poetry analysis (textual/metric/statistical), statistical tools like concordance, thesauri, electronic dictionaries.

Digital content from the reference compendium mentioned above, lexicons like Amarakosha., Paninian Grammar rules, Word analyses, Derivations, Quotes from Veda-s (scriptures), Epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, Shastraic texts in Sutra form are a part of the system.

The DESIKA Parser provides all the grammatically valid identifications for a word in isolation, as Syntactic Analysis - Mapping Vibhakti-s to Karaka-s, Semantic - Confirm/disambiguate senses of each word including ontological compatibility ascertainment.

Graphical outputs option, Query processing and Updating lexicons for morphological and semantic processing are provided alongwith tools for linguistic analysis like tagging, lemmatising, statistical studies.

A scheme to extract quotations from texts/commentaries and locating their sources from our knowledge-base is provided as a tool.

Abbreviations of sources updatable/modifiable search/retrieval and hyperlinking with a standard form of source specification.

Indexing, sorting, concordance tools for multi-lingual inputs are also provided for. Tamil sorting order also is considered in isolation as well as in multi-lingual files.

The other features include

  • Semantic lexical update provides the current ontology for view/revision/update
  • New instances under existing categories and new categories can be added incrementally
  • Ontology with the revisions applied is displayed before okaying multiple memberships at different layers and categories allowed lexical/morphological suffixes/rules acceptable for characterising sentence type also updatable (existing types listed for view)
  • Sloka analysis taking different anvaya type specification.

With regard to the Shabda-bodha, diagrammatic representation according to any shastra can be studied

Newer types can be updated based on paradigm specification.

Case-relationships and case-marker mappings are provided exhaustively with examples to help syntactic analysis and creating new appropriate categories

Tried out on several actual texts of various types and complexities like:

Some of the objectives realised as ?#128;˜proof-of-concepts?#128;™ are -

OCX based applications using GIST-SDK for all vidyasthana-s, Linux-based work alongwith ITRANS/JTRANS conversion.

Web-server set up to help access our ?#128;˜on-line readers?#128;™ including free font downloads

Vedic (accented) inputs also handled - RgVeda Samhita completely indexed for words, mantras, rishi, chandas, devata, viniyoga, anukramani, bhashya, and search on Mandala-anuvaka-sukta-rk OR ashtaka-adhyaya-varga systems.

 


Enchanting Sanskrit
http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/2003..._sanskrit.shtml

Scholars, priests, villages, young and old are part of an all-India movement to revive our sacred language

BY CHOODIE SHIVARAM, BANGALORE

Soothing tones of sanskrit waft through the air as you walk past the spacious two-storied school in the interiors of Bangalore's Girinagar. Enter the building and it reverberates with the rich traditions of this land. You are at Aksharam, the organization that teaches spoken Sanskrit in ten days! People thus initiated are all set to commence their wonderful journey in the world of Sanskrit. Aksharam is an offshoot of Samskrita Bharathi, a voluntary organization devoted to the revival of Sanskrit ( www.samskrita-bharati.org/). It seeks to restore Sanskrit to daily life in India and re-establish it as a common man's language. [clor=blue](Sunder
Adds: I remember, the Navaratri vacations of 1987, Sri Guravarujulu was my teacher from Samskritha Barathi.. the words, "Mama nama Guravarajah, Bhavaaan naama kim?" still rings in my ears..)[/color]

At Aksharam, everyone, including toddlers, converse in the ancient language. You speak to the little ones in English or Kannada, and precisely comes the reply in Sanskrit. I was unable to converse in Sanskrit, despite some study of the language. Honestly, the little children gave me a complex. Unlike at other homes, parents here translate the English rhymes children learn at school into Sanskrit. These children in turn are able to teach Sanskrit to their teachers and friends! Sanskrit sounds so pure and divine as it emanates from the innocent mouths of little children. It's a unique experience.

When I called Aksharam at ten one night, I was surprised to hear the solemn chanting of slokas in the background. Even at this late hour, the senior research students were learning the nuances of spiritual Sanskrit from Guru Vishwas. He told me, "Sanskrit is the most ancient, highly developed, literature-rich language. It is a treasure house of ancient Indian wisdom. It is certainly the vehicle of our culture and key to the heritage of this great civilization. Speaking the language not only helps in learning, but also gives the students pride in their civilizational values. Speaking this language generates energy."

Why do people think Sanskrit is difficult to learn? "The answer is simple. They don't follow the natural way. The first step in learning any language is to converse in it, because speaking and listening to a language takes you closer to it," explained Vishwas. He has been conducting the ten-day speak Sanskrit courses in India and abroad and is the chief editor of the Sanskrit monthly Sambhasana Sandesha, which is published by Aksharam.

Speak Sanskrit Movement

The decline of Sanskrit in modern times worried people like Sri Krishna Sastry. He knew the wealth of knowledge we were losing by forgetting the language. He proposed, "Let service to Sanskrit not stop at worshiping with the language; everyone should be able to speak the language. Conversational Sanskrit has to be taught and popularized." In 1981 Sri Krishna Sastry, with a group of like-minded friends at Tirupati Sanskrit College, founded Samskrita Bharathi and evolved the "Speak Sanskrit Movement."

They launched the movement through the Sanskrit unit of Hindu Seva Prathisthana. Organisations like Bharath Samskrita Parishad, the Sanskrit unit of Vidhya Bharathi, Vishwa Samskrita Prathisthanam and Swaadhyaaya Mandalam contributed to accelerating the propagation of Sanskrit. To keep pace with the rapid growth of the movement, a centralized institute of Samskrita Bharathi was formed at New Delhi in 1995. Aksharam in Bangalore became its international center.

"Our mission is to engender a cultural renaissance of India by bringing Sanskrit back to the mainstream, to propagate the great scientific truths hidden in our ancient scriptures, attain social harmony by removing barriers of caste, creed and race, and achieve national integration through Sanskrit," Sri Krishna Sastry told me.

In 15 years, Samskrita Bharathi reached impressive heights through its sevavratis (Sanskrit missionaries), who relentlessly work towards resuscitating the language. Now more than two million people around the world can speak simple Sanskrit. Nearly four million people have learned Sanskrit through correspondence, and 25,000 teachers have been trained to conduct spoken Sanskrit workshops.

As a result of their efforts and the efforts of many others, 30 million students in India are studying Sanskrit. There are 1,500 mahapatashalas (Sanskrit colleges), with 100,000 students, and 3,500 patashalas (primary and secondary schools), where students learn Sanskrit in its traditional form. Premier scientific and technical institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, have introduced the study of Sanskrit.

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, C-DAC, has been conducting research on Sanskrit and computers. Sanskrit is also taught in about 250 universities in 40 countries. Over 400 universities promote Sanskrit Studies and Research. India has ten Sanskrit universities and 250 institutions involved in Sanskrit research. Eighty Sanskrit journals are circulated in the country.

Among the most unusual results of the Speak Sanskrit Movement are the two villages of Mathoor and Hosahalli in Karnataka. The movement adopted them as a means to promote spoken Sanskrit, and today everyone in them-from the menial laborer to the merchant, to the brahmins-speaks Sanskrit with élan. These two villages are known throughout the country. More recently, Samskrita Bharathi has succeeded in teaching conversational Sanskrit to the entire tribal village of Mohaka, near Jabalpur.

Sanskrit's checkered history

Yes, Sanskrit is regaining its lost grandeur in India, but how did it ever get relegated to such a low position in the first place? Sanskrit was the lingua franca of India before the country was invaded by aliens. It was the medium of administration, commerce, trade and education. Cultural, religious and intellectual transactions were in Sanskrit. Then in 1835, Lord Macaulay produced his "Minute of Indian Education" in which he stated, "What we spend on the Sanskrit colleges is not merely a dead loss to the cause of truth; it is bounty money paid to raise up champions of error [that is, Sanskrit scholars]." He said Sanskrit literature is, "barren of useful knowledge" with "the most serious errors on the most important subjects." His recommendation, adopted by the British administration, was to no longer fund any Sanskrit education, save the Sanskrit college at Banaras.

The knowledge and use of Sanskrit became limited to the priestly class and a small number of pundits who used it for religious practices. "Thanks to that priestly class, the language was preserved. They must be given credit that their continued use of Sanskrit helped its survival," avers Shri Shivamurthy Swamiji, pontiff of Tarabalu Math in Bangalore.

"After independence, the Kothari commission sacrificed Sanskrit by not including it in the three-language formula," states Sri Krishna Sastry. He is referring to the system whereby students would learn English, their regional language and Hindi. Those already in Hindi-speaking areas would learn another Indian or European language. "Compelled by political and economic pressures and fascination for the West," he went on, "India continued learning foreign languages, especially English. The elimination of Sanskrit for the majority of Indians resulted in the loss of the rich traditional knowledge. Macaulay killed the ancient traditional education system of India. It created a land in which we do not inherit our traditional knowledge," said Sri Krishna Sastry.

Dr. Ashok Aklujkar of British Columbia, Canada, concurs. "I am strongly in favor of the Speak Sanskrit Movement," he told Hinduism Today. "However, it and other similar movements will have only band-aid successes until Hindus realize that they have to have a long-term, comprehensive vision for their way of living and plan how to bring about the desired changes in 50 or 100 years. The Indian education system needs to change from the present three-language formula to one which teaches the regional language, the classical language (e.g., Sanskrit) and an international language (e.g., English)." Aklujkar (aklujkar@interchange.ubc.ca) is author of an innovative course, Sanskrit: an Easy Introduction to an Enchanting Language. (Sunder adds: I personally know Shri Aklujkar. He is pretty knowledgeable on the subject, although, there are not many *indians* around here who are motivated enough to take up samskrit. It's sad to see such a good resource underappreciated.)

Sanskrit, however, was not a pariah in Europe and America, where its status as one of the most ancient Indo-European languages was appreciated by Western academics and promoted by Indian scholars in the West such as Aklujkar. Thus Indian students studying in the West have found a more positive treatment of Sanskrit than they can in India. Dr. Kamat, an educator, told me, "Our traditional knowledge systems flourish in the West because they are looking towards India for wisdom. The Indian student, once abroad and out of the claustrophobic clutches of Indian environs, starts looking for his roots. That's how Indians abroad take to study of our traditional systems and Sanskrit. There is a paradigm shift in their thinking."

When I attended the Tenth World Sanskrit Conference, held in 1997 in Bangalore, I found a number of non-Indians who presented papers on complex topics such as grammar, medical literature and navigational terms. I met an Australian professor who was an authority on Vishnu Purana, a topic unknown to many Hindus.

Dr. Garry A. Tubb, a professor from Columbia University and former professor at Harvard University, who was at that conference, expressed regret that there is no systematic Sanskrit education in India. "Indians should develop love and respect for their ancient culture and rich heritage. If they neglect the ancient manuscripts, the rich, millennia-old knowledge will perish," he predicted. Dr. Tubb has written a critique on Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam as well as a guide to Sanskrit teaching for Western students. Dr. Rahul Peter Das of Martin Luther University in Germany believes that "studying Sanskrit will help students understand mathematics better." Dr. Das has studied the Vedas from their original texts and is an authority on Sanskrit grammar.

Dr. Robert Goldman, head of the Sanskrit department at Philadelphia University, says, "Learning Sanskrit and its grammar will help one easily understand world civilization and literature." Dr. Goldman, who has traveled extensively in India, can recite the Vedas, Upanishads and mantras and speak fluently in Sanskrit. He has also translated the original Valmiki Ramayana into English.

Better teaching methods

Another factor that contributed greatly to the neglect and "death" of Sanskrit was the treatment it received at the hands of academics. "Nowhere will you find a language being taught in a foreign language," says Sri Krishna Sastry. The easiest and most effective way is the conversational method. Ironically, Sanskrit was being taught through English and in textbook fashion. As a result, students, instead of learning the language and developing affinity, moved away from it.(anyone remember, "Ramaha Ramau Ramaaha?" I remember a 'class comedian' in my class made fun when "Mundakopanishad" calling it 'munda-koduku-upanishad'. And ppl *laughed* sad.gif )

For seven years through high school and college I studied Sanskrit through English and yet I do not know the language. Many like me took Sanskrit as an optional language because obtaining marks was easy. Without studying grammar, which accounted for thirty marks, we would answer in English or Kannada for the remaining 70 marks and still score well. Why did we need to know the language when the focus was on the marks? The need to understand the nuances of Sanskrit was not emphasized. My children have been studying Sanskrit from class five and are quite good at it-they know the language. The teaching methods have been wholesome, with complete focus on the language, including conversation.

The teachers have improved along with the method. "Sanskrit teachers today are driven by the promote Sanskrit movement and have a passion for the language. They are no longer seen as tuft-growing men in dhotis," opines Mr. Uday Narayan, a teacher. Decades ago Sanskrit teachers were looked down upon as "pundits." They did not fit into the fashionable English school environs. Today, an increasing number of educators feel that teaching Sanskrit in schools will open up the treasure house of traditional knowledge and wisdom to children.

Sanskrit versus science

Knowledge of Sanskrit is imperative for understanding ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical science, not to mention architecture, statecraft and the many other subjects dealt with in the Sanskrit literature.

The attempts to bring these ancient sciences into prominence in modern India are not without difficulties. Take ayurveda as an example. It used to be that ayurveda students knew Sanskrit. However, in an apparent attempt to upgrade the status of ayurveda, the Central Council for Alternative Systems of Indian Medicine, which administers and manages ayurvedic colleges across India, made a new rule. They said only students with modern science as majors would be admitted to ayurvedic courses. At the same time, the Central Board for Secondary Education made Sanskrit an optional subject up to class 12 for students of science.

As a result, students with a science background who study ayurveda at the college level haven't learned Sanskrit, resist studying it and insist upon using translated texts. Sanskrit, which was compulsory for all the five years during the ayurveda course, was reduced to only one year of study. Now science students are protesting even this one year of Sanskrit study.

The communal issue

Sanskrit still draws resistance from certain castes, especially the economically weaker sections and backward classes. They feel the language is difficult to pronounce and believe it is only for the upper castes, not for them. "The problem of our Dalit brethren is not just economic disparity but also cultural disparity. Providing knowledge of Sanskrit gives them this cultural equality and brings social harmony. But the most important factor is how the language is taught and how the teacher motivates," says Krishna Sastry. It is worth noting that great Sanskrit works were written by non-brahmins, such as Vyasa, son of a fisherwoman and editor of the Mahabharatha; Valmiki, son of a hunter and author of Ramayana; Kalidas, a shepherd and poet; and Jabala, an outcaste and author of the Jabala Upanishad.

Still, Sanskrit was branded a brahminical language and tainted "communal," contrary to its true nature. "Sanskrit is the only language that has a secular policy. See the Bhagavad Gita. It gives a global or universal message. It does not say worship one God alone. This is not so in scriptures of other faiths. India's secular nature is because of the Sanskrit culture, which is the very culture of this land," states Sri Krishna Sastry. "The secular policy practiced by our politicians and so-called secularists has done everything to keep the language out."

Courts rescue the language

The central government wanted Sanskrit to be removed from the higher secondary syllabus, arguing that by allowing Sanskrit, other classical languages [Pali, for example] must be included, and citing the secular policy of the government. In 1994, the Supreme Court came to the rescue, noting the importance of Sanskrit for nurturing our cultural heritage as a nation.

Similarly, in 1994, the Madras High Court held that "Sanskrit is not a dead language," and observed that the reasoning of the Tamil Nadu Government that Sanskrit had ceased to be a language in use "is nothing but ignorance of reality." Justice S. S. Subramani referred to a Supreme Court decision which said Sanskrit is the mother of all Indo-Aryan languages, and it was this language in which our Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads had been written, and in which Kalidas, Bhavbuti, Banabhatta and Dandi wrote their classics. The judge also said that the teachings of Sankaracharya, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Nimbarka and Vallabhacharya would not have been woven into the fabric of Indian culture if Sanskrit had not have been available to them as a medium of expressing their thoughts. Dr. Karan Singh, son of the last Maharaja of Kashmir and a prominent Indian statesman, said, "The ancient language has kept our samskriti (culture) alive. We are India as it is today because of Sanskrit."

In 1990, bharata natyam exponent and long-time Delhi resident Justin McCarthy made an impassioned plea for Sanskrit in the Indian Express. He wrote, "Sanskrit is not dead, nor is it merely a language. It is a science and art, and insofar as it is a compendium of a people's consciousness, it is a microcosm of all that is essentially Indian. It is more precise and profound than any of the world's tongues. In literary terms, the expressive power of Sanskrit is unparalleled in multi-dimensional subtlety. My desperate plea for the preservation of Sanskrit may seem to many to be unwarranted. But India's identity as unique amongst the world's nations is at stake. What is that uniqueness? This is a country whose citizens are living descendants of a vibrant past, a tradition which still colors the lives of most Indians today. It is a tradition which, in its ideal state, affords a fertile, holistic approach to living even in the hyped-up, commercial age, inspiring all those, both Indian and foreign, who are at all touched by it."
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  San·skrit (s?#131;n'skrĭt')
n.

An ancient Indic language that is the language of Hinduism and the Vedas and is the classical literary language of India.

[Sanskrit saṃskṛtam, from neuter of saṃskṛta-, perfected, refined : sam, together + karoti, he makes.]

San'skrit'ist n.

WORD HISTORY   Like Latin in Europe and elsewhere, Sanskrit has been used by the educated classes in India for literary and religious purposes for about four thousand years. It achieved this status partly through a standardization that resulted from a long tradition of grammatical theory and analysis. This tradition reached its height around 500 B.C. in the work of the grammarian Panini, who composed an intricate and complex description of the language in the form of quasi-mathematical rules reminiscent of the rules of generative grammar in modern times. The language thus codified was called saṃskṛtam, ?#128;œput together, artificial,?#128; to distinguish it from pr?#129;kṛtam or the ?#128;œnatural, vulgar?#128; speech of ordinary people. Sanskrit thus became a fixed literary language, while Prakrit continued to develop into what are now the modern spoken languages of northern and central India, such as Hindi and Bengali.


 
Sanskrit (s?#131;n'skrĭt)  or Samskrtam , the language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian). Sanskrit was the classical standard language of ancient India, and some of the oldest surviving Indo-European documents are written in Sanskrit; however, Hittite is probably the earliest recorded Indo-European tongue with at least one text dated c.17th cent. B.C. The oldest known stage of Sanskrit is Vedic or Vedic Sanskrit, so-called because it was the language of the Veda, the most ancient extant scriptures of Hinduism. The Veda probably date back to about 1500 B.C. or earlier, many centuries before writing was introduced into India. Vedic Sanskrit was current c.1500 B.C. to c.200 B.C. However, Sanskrit in its classical form, a development of Vedic, was spoken c.400 B.C. as a standard court language. It became the literary vehicle of Hindu culture and as such was employed until . 1100 (see Sanskrit literature). Even today Sanskrit survives in liturgical usage. Sanskrit is not a dead language as is alleged by many Western Indologists. It is a living and vibrant language with about 5 million people speaking conversational sanskrit and many more capable of chanting it as well as reading it.

Study of grammar by Indian scholars began early. The oldest existing Sanskrit grammatical work was written by the Indian grammarian Panini (dated by Western Historians to the 4th cent. B.C. But we believe he is to be dated much earlier to the 17th century BCE. Interestingly he is also credited  with the invention of the zero which is to be found in his works)), who perceptively analyzed and commented on the Sanskrit language. Grammatically, Sanskrit has eight cases for the noun (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative, instrumental, vocative, and locative), three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), three numbers for verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (singular, dual, and plural), and three voices for the verb (active, middle, and passive). The language is very highly inflected. The ancient Indian scripts known as the Brahmi and Kharosthi alphabets have been employed to record Sanskrit. Both Brahmi and Kharosthi are thought to be of Semitic origin. The Devanagari characters, which are descended from Brahmi, also were, and still are, used for writing Sanskrit. The comparison of Sanskrit with the languages of Europe, especially by Sir William Jones, opened the way to the scientific study of language in Europe in the 18th cent.

Bibliography

See J. Bloch, Indo-Aryan, from the Vedas to Modern Times (rev. ed., tr. 1965); R. P. Godman and S. J. Sutherland, Devavanipravesika: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language (2d ed. rev. 1987).


 
Sanskrit

The language of ancient India, and one of the oldest languages of the Indo-European family, to which English belongs.

 
Note: click on a word meaning below to see its connections and related words.

The noun Sanskrit has one meaning:

Meaning #1: an ancient language of India (the language of the Vedas and of Hinduism); an official language of India although it is now used only for religious purposes
  Synonym: Sanskritic language


 
Sanskrit
Sanskrit (स?#130;स?#141;?#149;?#131;तम?#141; sa?#131;sk?#155;tam)
Spoken in: India and some other areas of South and Southeast Asia; many Buddhist scholars in the countries of East Asia such as China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are also able to communicate in Sanskrit.
Total speakers: 6,106 (1981 census)
194,433 second language speakers (1961 census)
Language family: Indo-European
 Indo-Iranian
  Indo-Aryan
   Sanskrit 
Official status
Official language of: India (one of the scheduled languages)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: sa
ISO 639-2: san
ISO/DIS 639-3: san 
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Sanskrit (sa?#131;sk?#155;tam स?#130;स?#141;?#149;?#131;तम?#141;) is an Indo-European Classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It has a position in India and Southeast Asia similar to that of Latin and Greek in Europe, and is a central part of Hindu tradition. It also has the prestige of being one of the oldest Indo-European languages in use in the world. Sanskrit is one of the 22 official languages of India. Sanskrit is taught in schools and households throughout India as a second language. Some identify it as their mother tongue. According to recent reports, it is being revived as a vernacular in the village of Mattur near Shimoga in Karnataka.

Sanskrit is mostly used as a ceremonial language in Hindu religious rituals in the forms of hymns and mantras. Its pre-Classical form of Vedic Sanskrit, the liturgical language of the Vedic religion, is one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family, its most ancient text being the Rigveda. It is also the language of Yoga.

The scope of this article is that of Classical Sanskrit as laid out in the grammar of Panini, roughly around 500 BC. Most Sanskrit texts available today were transmitted orally for several centuries before they were written down in medieval India.

History

Devimahatmya manuscript on palm-leaf, in an early Bhujimol script, Bihar or Nepal, 11th century.
Enlarge
Devimahatmya manuscript on palm-leaf, in an early Bhujimol script, Bihar or Nepal, 11th century.

The adjective sa?#131;sk?#155;ta- means "refined, consecrated, sanctified". The language referred to as sa?#131;sk?#155;t?#129; v?#129;k "the refined language" has by definition always been a 'high' language, used for religious and scientific discourse and contrasted with the languages spoken by the people. The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar is P?#129;?#135;ini's Aṣt?#129;dhy?#129;yī ("Eight-Chapter Grammar") dating to ca. the 5th century BC. It is essentially a prescriptive grammar, i.e., an authority that defines (rather than describes) correct Sanskrit, although it contains descriptive parts, mostly to account for Vedic forms that had already passed out of use in Panini's time.

When the term arose in India, "Sanskrit" was not thought of as a specific language set apart from other languages (the people of the time regarded languages more as dialects), but rather as a particularly refined or perfected manner of speaking. Knowledge of Sanskrit was a marker of social class and educational attainment and was taught mainly to Brahmanas through close analysis of Sanskrit grammarians such as P?#129;?#135;ini.

Sanskrit is almost a direct descendent of the Proto-Indo-European language. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages. It is part of the Satem group of Indo-European languages, which also includes the Iranian branch and the Balto-Slavic branch. The categorization may be shown as:

Indo-European ?#134;’ Indo-Iranian ?#134;’ Indo-Aryan (i.e., Sanskrit and its descendents).

Technically, Sanskrit is the oldest of the Old Indo-Aryan languages. Its "daughter languages" include the Prakrits of ancient India, Hindi, Bengali, Kashmiri, Urdu, Marathi, Gujrati, Assamese, Nepali, Punjabi and Romany (spoken by the European gypsies). It is no wonder that Sanskrit shows stark similarities?#128;”to varying degrees?#128;”with Latin, Ancient Greek, Avestan and even Persian and German.

Vedic Sanskrit

Main article: Vedic Sanskrit

Sanskrit, as defined by P?#129;?#135;ini, had evolved out of the earlier "Vedic" form, and scholars often distinguish Vedic Sanskrit and Classical or "Paninian" Sanskrit as separate dialects. However, they are extremely similar in many ways and differ mostly in a few points of phonology, vocabulary, and grammar. Classical Sanskrit can therefore be considered a seamless evolution of the earlier Vedic language. Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, a large collection of hymns, incantations, and religio-philosophical discussions which form the earliest religious texts in India and the basis for much of the Hindu religion. Modern linguists consider the metrical hymns of the Rigveda Samhita to be the earliest, composed by many authors over centuries of oral tradition. The end of the Vedic period is marked by the composition of the Upanishads, which form the concluding part of the Vedic corpus in the traditional compilations. The current hypothesis is that the Vedic form of Sanskrit survived until the middle of the first millennium BC. It is around this time that Sanskrit began the transition from a first language to a second language of religion and learning, marking the beginning of the Classical period.(ed.note - we believe that classical sanskrit evolved with Panini during the beginning of the second millennium BCE circa1700 BCE

Orthodox Hinduism believes that the language of the Vedas is eternal and revealed in its wording and word order. Evidence for this belief is found in the Vedas itself, where in the Upanishads they are described as the very "breath of God" (nihsvasitam brahma). The Vedas are therefore considered "the language of reality", so to speak, and are unauthored, even by God, the rishis or seers ascribed to them being merely individuals gifted with a special insight into reality with the power of perceiving these eternal sounds. At the beginning of every cycle of creation, God himself "remembers" the order of the Vedic words and propagates them through the rishis. Orthodox Hindus, while accepting the linguistic development of Sanskrit as such, do not admit any historical stratification within the Vedic corpus itself.

This belief is of significant consequence in Indian religious history, as the very sacredness and eternality of the language encouraged exact memorization and transmission and discouraged textual learning via written propagation. Each word is believed to have innate and eternal meaning and, when properly pronounced, mystic expressive power. Erroneous learning of repetition of the Veda was considered a grave sin with potentially immediate negative consequences. Consequently, Vedic learning by rote was encouraged and prized, particularly among Brahmins, where learning of one's own Vedic texts was a mandated duty. On the social side, the need to preserve the error-free nature of the Veda served as a justification to prevent teaching and propagation of the text to those considered "unworthy" of receiving it, by virtue of caste and gender.

Vedic Sanskrit differs from Classical Sanskrit in to an extent comparable to the difference between Homeric Greek and Classical Greek. Some differences are:

  • Phonology
    • Vedic Sanskrit had a voiceless bilabial fricative (/ɸ/, called upam?#129;dhamīya) and a voiceless velar fricative (/x/, called jihv?#129;mūlīya)?#128;”which used to occur when the breath visarga appeared before voiceless labial and velar consonants respectively. Both of them were lost in Classical Sanskrit.
    • Vedic Sanskrit had a retroflex lateral approximant (/ɭ/), which was lost in Classical Sanskrit.
    • Vedic Sanskrit had a pitch accent which could fall freely within the word, but Classical Sanskrit as described by P?#129;?#135;ini had only a stress accent where the placement of the accent was restricted to the last three syllables. Today, the pitch accent can be heard only in the traditional Vedic chantings.
  • Grammar
    • The subjunctive mood of Vedic Sanskrit was also lost in Classical Sanskrit.
    • There were more than 12 ways of forming infinitives in Vedic Sanskrit, of which Classical Sanskrit retained only one single form.
  • Nominal declinations and verbal conjugation also changed pronunciation, although the spelling was retained in Classical Sanskrit.
  • Vocabulary
    • Many lexemes attested in the Vedic texts became lost, while others were contained a considerable amount of polysemy.

Classical Sanskrit

There is a strong relationship between the various forms of Sanskrit and the Middle Indo-Aryan "Prakrits", or vernacular languages (in which, among other things, most early Jain and Buddhist texts are written), and the modern Indo-Aryan languages. The Prakrits are probably descended from Vedic, and there is mutual interchange between later forms of Sanskrit and various Prakrits. There has also been reciprocal influence between Sanskrit and the Dravidian languages.

A significant form of post-Vedic but pre-Paninian Sanskrit is found in the Sanskrit of the Hindu Epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. This dialect includes many archaic and unusual forms which deviate from Panini and are denoted by traditional Sanskrit scholars as aarsha or "of the rishis", the traditional title for the ancient authors. In some contexts there are also more "prakritisms" (borrowings from common speech) than Classical Sanskrit proper. Finally, there is also a language dubbed "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit" by scholars, which is actually a prakrit ornamented with Sanskritized elements, perhaps for purposes of ostentation (see also termination of spoken Sanskrit).

European Scholarship

European scholarship in Sanskrit, begun by Heinrich Roth and Johann Ernst Hanxleden, led to the proposal of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones, and thus played an important role in the development of Western linguistics. Indeed, linguistics (along with phonology, etc.) first arose among Indian grammarians who were attempting to catalog and codify Sanskrit's rules. Modern linguistics owes a great deal to these grammarians, and to this day, for example, key terms for compound analysis such as bahuvrihi are taken from Sanskrit.

Phonology and writing system

Classical Sanskrit distinguishes 48 sounds. Some of these, are, however, allophones. The number of phonemes is smaller, at about 35, see below.

The sounds are traditionally listed in the order vowels, diphthongs, anusvara and visarga, stops and nasals (starting in the back of the mouth and moving forward), and finally the liquids and fricatives, written in IAST as follows (see the tables below for details):

a ?#129; i ī u ū ?#155; ?#157; ḷ ḹ ; e ai o au
?#131; ḥ
k kh g gh ?#133;; c ch j jh ñ; ṭ ṭh ?#141; ?#141;h ?#135;; t th d dh n; p ph b bh m
y r l v; ?#155; ṣ s h

An alternate traditional ordering is that of the Shiva Sutra.

Vowels

Devanagari script is the one traditionally and most popularly associated with Sanskrit. Modern Hindi also uses the Devanagari script (its alphabets are truly speaking, alpha-syllables). Devanagari, being an abugida script, non-word-initial vowels are expressed by diacritics; see Devanagari for details. The vowels of Sanskrit with their word-initial devanagari symbol, diacritical mark with the consonant प?#141; (/p/), pronunciation (of the vowel alone and of /p/+vowel) in IPA, equivalent in IAST and ITRANS and (approximate) equivalents in Standard English are listed below:

Alphabet Diacritical mark with ?#128;œप?#141;?#128; Pronunciation Pronunciation with /p/ IAST equiv. ITRANS equiv. English eqivalent
?#133; /?#153;/ /p?#153;/ a a short Schwa: as the a in above or ago
?#134; पा /?#145;?#144;/ /p?#145;?#144;/ ?#129; A long Open back unrounded vowel: as the a in father
?#135; पि /i/ /pi/ i i short close front unrounded vowel: as i in bit
?#136; प?#128; /i?#144;/ /pi?#144;/ ī I long close front unrounded vowel: as i in machine
?#137; प?#129; /u/ /pu/ u u short close back rounded vowel: as u in put
?#138; प?#130; /u?#144;/ /pu?#144;/ ū U long close back rounded vowel: as oo in school
?#143; प?#135; /e?#144;/ /pe?#144;/ e e long close-mid front unrounded vowel: as a in game (not a diphthong), or é in café
?#144; प?#136; /?#153;i/ or /ai/ /p?#153;i/ or /pai/ ai ai a long diphthong: approx. as ei in height
?#147; प?#139; /ο?#144;/ /po?#144;/ o o long close-mid back rounded vowel: as o in tone (not a diphthong)
?#148; प?#140; /?#153;u/ or /au/ /p?#153;u/ or /pau/ au au a long diphthong: approx. as ou in house
?#139; प?#131; /r̩/ /pr̩/ ?#155; R short syllabic vowel-like retroflex approximant: approx. as American Eng. bird or meter
?nbsp; प?#132; /r̩?#144;/ /pr̩?#144;/ ?#157; RR long syllabic vowel-like retroflex approximant: a longer version of /r̩/
?#140; पॢ /l̩/ /pl̩/ LR short syllabic vowel-like retroflex-lateral approximant: approx. as handle
पॣ /l̩?#144;/ /pl̩?#144;/ LRR long syllabic vowel-like retroflex-lateral approximant: longer version of /l̩/

The long vowels are held about twice as long as their short counterparts. Also, there exists a third, extra-long length for most vowels, called pluti, which is used in various cases, but particularly in the vocative. The pluti is not accepted by all grammarians.

The vowels e and o continue as allohonic variants of Proto-Indo-Iranian /ai/, /au/, and they are phonologically (conceptually) /ai/ and /au/ still in Sanskrit, and are categorized as diphthongs by Sanskrit grammarians even though they are realized phonetically as simple long vowels.

Additional points:

  • There are some additional vowels traditionally listed in the Sanskrit/Hindi alphabet. They are :
    • ?#133;?#130; (called anusv?#129;ra), pronounced as /?#153;?#139;/ (IAST: ?#131;). Its diacritic (the dot above) is used both for nasalizing the vowel in the syllable and for the sound of a vowel-like /n/ or /m/. (प?#130;).
    • ?#133;?#131; (called visarga), pronounced as /?#153;h/ (IAST: ).
    • The diacritic ?#129;}} (called chandrabindu), not listed in the alphabet, is used interchangeably with the anusv?#129;ra to indicate nasalization of the vowel (प?#129;).
  • If a lonely consonant needs to be written without any following vowel, it is given a halanta/vir?#129;ma diacritic below (प?#141;).
  • The vowel /?#145;?#144;/ in Sanskrit is more central and less back than in English.
  • All vowels in Hindi, short or long, can be nasalized. All vowels can have acute grave or circumflex pitch accent.
  • Note that the ancient Sanskrit grammarians have classified the vowel system as velars, retroflexes, palatals and plosives rather than as back, central and mid vowels. Hence ?#143; and ?#147; are classified respectively as palato-velar (a+i) labio-velar (a+u) vowels respectively. But the grammarians have classified them as diphthongs and in prosody, each is given two m?#129;tr?#129;s. This does not necessarily mean that they are proper diphthongs, but neither excludes the possibility that they could have been proper diphthongs at a very ancient stage. These vowels are pronounced as long /e/ and /o/ respectively by learned Sanskrit Brahmins and priests of today. Other than the "four" diphthongs, Sanskrit usually disallows any other diphthongs?#128;”vowels in succession, if occur, are converted to semivowels according to predetermined rules.
  • In the devanagari script used for Sanskrit, whenever a consonant in a word-ending position is without any vir?#129;ma (ie, freely standing in the orthography: as opposed to प?#141;), the neutral vowel schwa (/?#153;/) is automatically associated with it?#128;”this is of course true for the consonant to be in any position in the word. Word-ending schwa is always short. But the IAST a appended to the end of masculine noun words rather confuses the foreigners to pronounce it as /?#145;?#144;/?#128;”this makes the masculine Sanskrit/Hindi words sound like feminine! e.g., shiva must be pronounced as /?#131;iv?#153;/ and not as /?#131;iv?#145;?#144;/.

Consonants

Devanagari and IAST notation is given, with approximate IPA values in sqare brackets.

Labial Labiodental Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop Unaspirated p [p] b [b] t [t] d [d] ?#159; [?#136;] ?#141; [?#150;] c ?#154; [c] j ?#156; [?#159;] k ?#149; [k] g ?#151; [g]
Aspirated ph [pʰ] bh [bʱ] th [tʰ] dh [dʱ] ṭh ?nbsp; [?#136;ʰ] ?#141;h [?#150;ʱ] ch ?#155; [cʰ] jh ?#157; [?#159;ʱ] kh ?#150; [kʰ] gh ?#152; [gʱ]
Nasal m [m] n [n] ?#135; [ɳ] ñ ?#158; [ɲ] ?#133; ?#153; [?#139;]
Semivowel v [?#139;] y [j]
Liquid l [l] r [r]
Fricative s [s] [?#130;] ?#155; [?#149;] ?#131; [h] h [ɦ]

The table below shows the traditional listing of the Sanskrit consonants with the (nearest) equivalents in English/Spanish. Each consonant shown below is deemed to be followed by the neutral vowel schwa (/?#153;/), and is named in the table as such.

Plosives
Unaspirated
Voiceless
Aspirated
Voiceless
Unaspirated
Voiced
Aspirated
Voiced
Nasal
Velar ?#149;
/k?#153;/; English: skip
?#150;
/kʰ?#153;/; English: cat
?#151;
/g?#153;/; English: game
?#152;
/gʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /g/
?#153;
/?#139;?#153;/; English: ring
Palatal ?#154;
/c?#153;/; ?#137;ˆEnglish: chat
?#155;
/cʰ?#153;/; Aspirated /c/
?#156;
/?#159;?#153;/; ?#137;ˆEnglish: jam
?#157;
/?#159;ʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /?#159;/
?#158;
/ɲ?#153;/; English: finch
Retroflex ?#159;
/?#136;?#153;/; American Eng: hurting
?nbsp;
/?#136;ʰ?#153;/; Aspirated /?#136;/

/?#150;?#153;/; American Eng: murder

/?#150;ʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /?#150;/

/ɳ?#153;/; American Eng: hunter
Apico-Dental
/t̪?#153;/; Spanish: tomate

/t̪ʰ?#153;/; Aspirated /t̪/

/d̪?#153;/; Spanish: donde

/d̪ʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /d̪/

/n?#153;/; English: name
Labial
/p?#153;/; English: spin

/pʰ?#153;/; English: pit

/b?#153;/; English: bone

/bʱ?#153;/; Aspirated /b/

/m?#153;/; English: mine
Non-Plosives/Sonorants
Palatal Retroflex Dental/
Alveolar
Labial/
Glottal
Approximant
/j?#153;/; English: you

/r?#153;/; American Eng: tearing

/l?#153;/; English: love
व (labio-dental)
/?#139;?#153;/; English: vase
Sibilant/
Fricative

/?#149;?#153;/; English: ship

/?#130;?#153;/; Retroflex form of /?#131;/

/s?#153;/; English: same
(glottal)
/ɦ?#153;/; ?#137;ˆEnglish home

Phonology

The Sanskrit vowels are as discussed in the section above. The long syllabic l () is not attested, and is only discussed by grammarians for systematic reasons. Its short counterpart occurs in a single root only, kḷp "to order, array". Long syllabic r (?#157;) is also quite marginal, occurring in the genitive plural of r-stems (e.g. m?#129;t?#155; "mother" and pit?#155; "father" have gen.pl. m?#129;t?#157;?#135;?#129;m and pit?#157;?#135;?#129;m). i, u, ?#155;, ḷ are vocalic allophones of consonantal y, v, r, l. There are thus only 5 invariably vocalic phonemes,

a, ?#129;, ī, ū, ?#157;.

Visarga ?#131; is an allophone of r and s, and anusvara ?#131;, Devanagari ?#130; of any nasal, both in pausa (ie, the nasalized vowel). The exact pronunciation of the three sibilants may vary, but they are distinct phonemes. An aspirated voiced sibilant /zʱ/ was inherited by Indo-Aryan from Proto-Indo-Iranian but lost shortly before the time of the Rigveda (note that aspirated sibilant are exceedingly rare in any language). The retroflex consonants are somewhat marginal phonemes, often being conditioned by their phonetic environment; they do not continue a PIE series and are often ascribed by some linguists to the substratal influence of Dravidian. The nasal ñ is a conditioned allophone of n (n and ?#135; are distinct phonemes - one has to distinguish a?#135;u "minute, atomic" (nom. sg. neutr. of an adjective) from anu "after, along"; phonologically independent ?#133; occurs only marginally, e.g. in pr?#129;?#133; "directed forwards/towards" (nom. sg. masc. of an adjective) and can thus be omitted). There are thus 31 consonantal or semi-vocalic phonemes, consisting of four/five kinds of stops realized both with or without aspiration and both voiced and voiceless, two nasals, four semi-vowels or liquids, and four fricatives, written in IAST transliteration as follows:

p, ph, b, bh; t, th, d, dh; ṭ, ṭh, ?#141;, ?#141;h; c, ch, j, jh; k, kh, g, gh; m, n, ?#135;; v, y, l, r; s, ṣ, ?#155;, h

or a total of 36 unique Sanskrit phonemes altogether.

The phonological rules to be applied when combining morphemes to a word, and when combining words to a sentence are collectively called sandhi "composition". Texts are written phonetically, with sandhi applied (except for the so-called padap?#129;ha).

Some additional features of the Sanskrit phonological system are given here, as well as some useful tips for those whose native language is English but are interested in learning Sanskrit language.

  • No other nasal consonant except /m/ and /n/ can start a word in Sanskrit.
  • The distinction between the aspirated and the unaspirated consonants is really very strong, not only in Sanskrit, but also in Hindi and all other Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages of India.
  • The distinction between the dental plosives and the retroflex plosives is also very stark in all Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages.
  • The number of allowable consonant clusters of Sanskrit is limited, but still very large as compared to other IE languages.
  • The "r" of Sanskrit may be as in Standard American English. In modern Sanskrit pronunciation, the vowel "?#155;" is pronounced as /ri/. The oldest ?#154;ikṣ?#129;s (general phonetic texts) and Pr?#129;ti?#155;?#129;khyas (phonetic studies of particular branches of Vedas) vary significantly in descriptions of these sounds; this may be due to different dialects and/or traditions their authors belonged to.
  • There is no retroflex flap in Sanskrit. In modern Hindi and other Indo-Aryan languages, they have sprung up as the allophonic flap variants of Sanskrit's simple voiced retroflex plosives. The /ɳ/ (?#135; or ण) in Sanskrit is not a flap but a simple nasal stop, although it is pronounced by modern pundits while chanting as a nasal variant of the voiced retroflex flap.
  • Aspiration is actually a puff of breath that may follow a plosive consonant. English speakers could try pronouncing the words "kite", "take", "chip" and "pat" with a greater-than-usual puff of breath after the first consonant. The corresponding unaspirated plosives must be pronounced with no significant puff of breath at all.
  • For practicing the voiced aspirates, one could try: "drag him", "said him", "enrage him", "grab him". The voiced aspirated plosives (also called as murmur stops) are extremely important and frequent in Sanskrit. Sanskrit (and its daughters) is the only language that has faithfully preserved these original Proto-Indo-European stops.
  • The dental consonants in Sanskrit are as in Spanish or French. They can be pronounced by pronouncing /t/ and /d/ (of English) by pressing the tip of the tongue against the back of the teeth rather than against the back of the alveolar ridge as done by English speakers. The normal "t" and "d" in IAST transliteration are the dental stops; and they occur much, much more frequently than the retroflex stops.
  • The retroflex consonants are the most difficult to pronounce. They are pronounced by curling the tongue such that its tip touches the roof of the mouth, like how the Americans pronounce their "r". However, bringing the tip of the tongue a bit above the normal alveolar ridge would also work fine. The normal alveolar plosives of English /t/ and /d/ do not exist as such in Sanskrit.
  • The palatal plosives of Sanskrit do not have a sharp frictional sound following them, as what happend in English chips and jam. These are more of pure plosives than affricates.
  • Sanskrit has no /v/. Its nearest equivalent is /?#139;/, which is very close to /v/, but does not a friction or buzzing sound associated with it. But in consonant clusters, this may allophonically change to /w/.
  • The palatal sibilant of Sanskrit (IAST: ?#155;) is very close to like the English sh in ship (although the Sanskrit phoneme is the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative /?#149;/) while the English phoneme is the voiceless postalveolar fricative /?#131;/ with lip rounding). Today, speakers of Sanskrit vary the palatal fricative from /?#149;/ to /?#131;/.
  • The retroflex sibilant /?#130;/ is pronounced like /?#131;/, but with the tongue curled upwards towards the roof of the mouth. In M?#129;dhyandini branch of Yajurveda, this phoneme is allowed to be pronounced at certain places as /kʰ/.
  • The Sanskrit /ɦ/ is a voiced allophone of the normal h.
  • Although any consonant may come in the word-final position in an uninflected word-stem, the number of word-final consonants in any inflected word (or verb or particle) standing freely by itself is severly limited and determined by the rules of Sandhi. Only the following consonants may come in the word-final position: /k/, /?#136;/, /t/, /p/, /l/ (rare), voiceless /h/ (i.e., visarga), and all nasals except /ɲ/. Any vowel may come at the word-final position.

Pitch

Vedic Sanskrit is a pitch accent language. Native grammarians define three tones (svara): ud?#129;tta = 'raised', anud?#129;tta = 'not raised', and svarita = 'sounded'. The ud?#129;tta syllable corresponds to the original Proto-Indo-European stress. The svarita is usually the next syllable after an ud?#129;tta. Probably when the Rigveda was written down, the pitch of speech rose through the ud?#129;tta and came back down through the following svarita. A svarita which is not preceded by an ud?#129;tta is called an "independent svarita". In transliteration ud?#129;tta is marked with acute accent (´) and independent svarita with a grave accent (`). Independent svarita occurs only where its ud?#129;tta was lost because of vowel sandhi.

Classical Sanskrit is usually pronounced with a stress accent decided by the syllable length pattern of each word.

Script

Kashmiri Shaivaite manuscript in the Sharada script (17th or 18th century)
Enlarge
Kashmiri Shaivaite manuscript in the Sharada script (17th or 18th century)

Sanskrit historically has had no single script associated with it. Since the late 19th century, the Devanagari (meaning "as used in the city of the gods") script has become the most widely used and associated with Sanskrit, yet this was by no means the case earlier. Each region adapted the script of the local vernacular, whether Indo-Aryan or Dravidian. In the north, there are inscriptions dating from the early centuries B.C. in the Brahmi script, also used by the king Ashoka in his famous Prakrit pillar inscriptions. Roughly contemporary with the Brahmi, the Kharosthi script was used. Later (ca. 4th to 8th centuries AD) the Gupta script, derived from Brahmi, became prevalent. From ca. the 8th century, the Sharada script evolved out of the Gupta script, and was mostly displaced in its turn by Devanagari from ca. the 12th century, with intermediary stages such as the Siddham script. The Bengali and other scripts were also used in their respective regions.

The devanagari alphabets (alpha-syllables) for the vowels and the consonants have been discussed in the sections above. The next table gives the system of combining two consonants, ie., making a consonant cluster. To write a consonant cluster /XYa/ from /Xa/ and /Ya/ syllables, Sanskrit usually converts the alphabetic symbol of the initial consonant X into the corresponding half-consonant (sic)?#128;”mostly achieved by cutting the right-side portion of the alphabet. Similarly for a cluster /XYZa/, both X and Y would be "halved". There are many variants for this consonant cluster writing in devanagari script. The most common system is shown below for the traditional table. Here the second vowel is taken to be /n/, followed by the schwa.

ka-group ?#149;?#141;न
/kn?#153;/
?#150;?#141;न
/kʰn?#153;/
?#151;?#141;न
/gn?#153;/
?#152;?#141;न
/gʱn?#153;/
?#153;?#141;न
/?#139;n?#153;/
cha-group ?#154;?#141;न
/cn?#153;/
?#155;?#141;न
/cʰn?#153;/
?#156;?#141;न
/?#159;n?#153;/
?#157;?#141;न
/?#159;ʱn?#153;/
?#158;?#141;न
/ɲn?#153;/
Ta-group ?#159;?#141;न
/?#136;n?#153;/
?nbsp;?#141;न
/?#136;ʰn?#153;/
ड?#141;न
/?#150;n?#153;/
ढ?#141;न
/?#150;ʱn?#153;/
ण?#141;न
/ɳn?#153;/
ta-group त?#141;न
/t̪n?#153;/
थ?#141;न
/t̪ʰn?#153;/
द?#141;न
/d̪n?#153;/
ध?#141;न
/d̪ʱn?#153;/
न?#141;न
/nn?#153;/
pa-group प?#141;न
/pn?#153;/
फ?#141;न
/pʰn?#153;/
ब?#141;न
/bn?#153;/
भ?#141;न
/bʱn?#153;/
म?#141;न
/mn?#153;/
ya-group य?#141;न
/yn?#153;/
र?#141;न
/rn?#153;/
ल?#141;न
/ln?#153;/
व?#141;न
/?#139;n?#153;/
va-group श?#141;न
/?#149;n?#153;/
ष?#141;न
/?#130;n?#153;/
स?#141;न
/sn?#153;/
ह?#141;न
/ɦn?#153;/

In the south where Dravidian languages predominate, scripts used include Grantha in Tamil speaking regions, Telugu in Telugu and Tamil speaking regions, Kannada, and Malayalam. Grantha, though modeled on the Tamil script, was used exclusively for Sanskrit and is rarely seen today. A recent development has been to use Tamil characters with numeric subscripts indicating voicing and aspiration.

Image:Phrase_sanskrite.png
Sanskrit in modern Indian scripts. May ?#154;iva bless those who take delight in the language of the gods. (Kalidasa)

Verbal learning occupied the pride of place in ancient India and bears an influence which can still be felt in Indian schooling today. Very high value was placed on large-scale memorization of texts, often using sophisticated mnemonic techniques. As such, propagation and learning through writing was correspondingly deemphasized and it is hypothesized that writing was introduced relatively late to India. Rhys Davids suggests that writing may have been introduced from the Middle East by traders, with Sanskrit remaining a purely oral language until well into India's Classical age.

It is interesting to note the importance that Sanskrit orthography and Vedic philosophy of sound play in Hindu symbolism, as the varnamala, or sound-garland/alphabet, of 51 letters is also seen to be represented by the 51 skulls of Kali. In the Upanishads, the transcendent-immanent nature of Brahman is represented by the half-matra, or sphota of sound that is inherent to a beat of sound in the Sanskrit system.

Romanization

Main article: Romanization of Sanskrit

Since the late 18th century, Sanskrit has also been transliterated using the Latin alphabet. Most commonly used today is the IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration), which has been the academic standard since 1912, and which is used in this article. ASCII based transliteration schemes have evolved due to difficulties representing Sanskrit characters in computer systems. These include Harvard-Kyoto and ITRANS, a lossless transliteration scheme that is used widely on the Internet, especially in Usenet and in email, for considerations of speed of entry as well as rendering issues. With the wide availability of Unicode aware web browsers, IAST has become common also for online articles.

For scholarly work, Devanagari in the 19th century was generally preferred for the transcription and reproduction of whole texts and lengthy excerpts also by European scholars; however, references to individual words and names in texts composed in European languages are usually represented using Roman transliteration, and from the mid 20th century, textual editions edited by Western scholars have also been mostly in romanized transliteration.

Grammar

Grammatical tradition

Main article: Sanskrit grammarians

Sanskrit grammatical tradition (vy?#129;kara?#135;a, one of the six Vedanga disciplines) begins in late Vedic India, and culminates in the Aṣṭ?#129;dhy?#129;yī of P?#129;?#135;ini (ca. 5th century BC). Patañjali, who lived several centuries after Panini, is the reputed author of the Mah?#129;bh?#129;ṣya, the "Great Commentary" on the Aṣṭ?#129;dhy?#129;yī.

Verbs

Classification of verbs

Sanskrit has ten classes of verbs divided into in two broad groups: athematic and thematic. The thematic verbs are so called because an a, called the theme vowel, is inserted between the stem and the ending. This serves to make the thematic verbs generally more regular. Exponents used in verb conjugation include prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and reduplication. Vowel gradation is also very common; every root has (not necessarily all distinct) zero, gu?#135;a, and v?#155;ddhi grades. If V is the vowel of the zero grade, the gu?#135;a-grade vowel is traditionally thought of as a + V, and the v?#155;ddhi-grade vowel as ?#129; + V.

Tense systems

The verbs tenses (a very inexact application of the word, since more distinctions than simply tense are expressed) are organized into four 'systems' (as well as gerunds and infinitives, and such creatures as intensives/frequentatives, desideratives, causatives, and benedictives derived from more basic forms) based on the different stem forms (derived from verbal roots) used in conjugation. There are four tense systems:

Present system

The present system includes the present and imperfect tenses, the optative and imperative moods, as well as some of the remnant forms of the old subjunctive. The tense stem of the present system is formed in various ways. The numbers are the native grammarians' numbers for these classes.

For athematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:

  • 2) No modification at all, for example ad from ad 'eat'.
  • 3) Reduplication prefixed to the root, for example juhu from hu 'sacrifice'.
  • 7) Infixion of na or n before the final root consonant (with appropriate sandhi changes), for example rundh or ru?#135;adh from rudh 'obstruct'.
  • 5) Suffixation of nu (gu?#135;a form no), for example sunu from su 'press out'.
  • 8) Suffixation of u (gu?#135;a form o), for example tanu from tan 'stretch'. For modern linguistic purposes it is better treated as a subclass of the 5th. tanu derives from tnnu, which is zero-grade for *tannu, because in Indo-European [m] and [n] could be vowels, which in Sanskrit (and Greek) change to [a]. Most members of the 8th class arose this way; kar = "make", "do" was 5th class in Vedic (krnoti = "he makes"), but shifted to the 8th class in Classical Sanskrit (karoti = "he makes")
  • 9) Suffixation of n?#129; (zero-grade or n), for example krī?#135;a or krī?#135;ī from krī 'buy'.

For thematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:

  • 1) Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with gu?#135;a strengthening, for example, bháva from bhū 'be'.
  • 6) Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with a shift of accent to this vowel, for example tudá from tud 'thrust'.
  • 4) Suffixation of ya, for example dī?#129;vya from div 'play'.

The tenth class described by native grammarians refers to a process which is derivational in nature, and thus not a true tense-stem formation.

Perfect system

The perfect system includes only the perfect tense. The stem is formed with reduplication as with the present system.

The perfect system also produces separate "strong" and "weak" forms of the verb ?#128;” the strong form is used with the singular active, and the weak form with the rest.

Aorist system

The aorist system includes aorist proper (with past indicative meaning, e.g. abhū "you were") and some of the forms of the ancient injunctive (used almost exclusively with m?#129; in prohibitions, e.g. m?#129; bhū "don't be"). The principal distinction of the two is presence/absence of an augment - a- prefixed to the stem.

The aorist system stem actually has three different formations: the simple aorist, the reduplicating aorist (semantically related to the causative verb), and the sibilant aorist. The simple aorist is taken directly from the root stem (e.g. bhū-: a-bhū-t "he was"). The reduplicating aorist involves reduplication as well as vowel reduction of the stem. The sibilant aorist is formed with the suffixation of s to the stem.

Future system

The future system is formed with the suffixation of sya or iya and gu?#135;a.

Verbs: Conjugation

Each verb has a grammatical voice, whether active, passive or middle. There is also an impersonal voice, which can be described as the passive voice of intransitive verbs. Sanskrit verbs have an indicative, an optative and an imperative mood. Older forms of the language had a subjunctive, though this had fallen out of use by the time of Classical Sanskrit.

Basic conjugational endings

Conjugational endings in Sanskrit convey person, number, and voice. Different forms of the endings are used depending on what tense stem and mood they are attached to. Verb stems or the endings themselves may be changed or obscured by sandhi.

Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Primary First Person mi vás más é váhe máhe
Second Person si thás thá ?#129;?#129;the dhvé
Third Person ti tás ánti, áti ?#129;?#129;te ánte, áte
Secondary First Person am í, á váhi máhi
Second Person s tám th?#129;?#129;s ?#129;?#129;th?#129;m dhvám
Third Person t t?#129;?#129;m án, ús ?#129;?#129;t?#129;m ánta, áta, rán
Perfect First Person a é váhe máhe
Second Person tha áthus á ?#129;?#129;the dhvé
Third Person a átus ús é ?#129;?#129;te
Imperative First Person ?#129;ni ?#129;va ?#129;ma ?#129;i ?#129;vah?#129;i ?#129;mah?#129;i
Second Person dhí, hí, ?#128;” tám svá ?#129;?#129;th?#129;m dhvám
Third Person tu t?#129;?#129;m ántu, átu t?#129;?#129;m ?#129;?#129;t?#129;m ánt?#129;m, át?#129;m

Primary endings are used with present indicative and future forms. Secondary endings are used with the imperfect, conditional, aorist, and optative. Perfect and imperative endings are used with the perfect and imperative respectively.

Present system conjugation

Conjugation of the present system deals with all forms of the verb utilizing the present tense stem (explained under Tense Stems above). This includes the present tense of all moods, as well as the imperfect indicative.

Athematic inflection

The present system differentiates strong and weak forms of the verb. The strong/weak opposition manifests itself differently depending on the class:

  • The root and reduplicating classes (2 & 3) are not modified in the weak forms, and receive gu?#135;a in the strong forms.
  • The nasal class (7) is not modified in the weak form, extends the nasal to in the strong form.
  • The nu-class (5) has nu in the weak form and in the strong form.
  • The n?#129;-class (9) has in the weak form and n?#129;?#129; in the strong form. disappears before vocalic endings.

The present indicative takes primary endings, and the imperfect indicative takes secondary endings. Singular active forms have the accent on the stem and take strong forms, while the other forms have the accent on the endings and take weak forms.

Indicative
Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Present First Person dvémi dvivás dvimás dvié dviváhe dvimáhe
Second Person dvéki dviṣṭhás dviṣṭ dviké dvi?#129;?#129;the dvi?#141;?#141;hvé
Third Person dvéṣṭi dviṣṭás dviánti dviṣṭé dvi?#129;?#129;te dviáte
Imperfect First Person ádveam ádviva ádvima ádvii ádvivahi ádvimahi
Second Person ádve ádviṣṭam ádvisa ádviṣṭh?#129;s ádvi?#129;th?#129;m ádvi?#141;?#141;hvam
Third Person ádve ádviṣṭ?#129;m ádvian ádviṣṭa ádvi?#129;t?#129;m ádviata

The optative takes secondary endings. y?#129; is added to the stem in the active, and ī in the passive.

Optative
Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
First Person dviṣy?#129;?#129;m dviy?#129;?#129;va dviy?#129;?#129;ma dviīyá dviīvahi dviīmahi
Second Person dviy?#129;?#129;s dviy?#129;?#129;tam dviy?#129;?#129;ta dviīth?#129;s dviīy?#129;th?#129;m dviīdhvam
Third Person dviy?#129;?#129;t dviy?#129;?#129;t?#129;m dviyus dviīta dviīy?#129;t?#129;m dviīran

The imperative takes imperative endings. Accent is variable and affects vowel quality. Forms which are end-accented trigger gu?#135;a strengthening, and those with stem accent do not have the vowel affected.

Imperative
Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
First Person dvéṣ?#129;?#135;i dvé?#129;va dvé?#129;ma dvé?#129;i dvé?#129;vah?#129;i dvé?#129;mah?#129;i
Second Person dvi?#141;?#141; dviṣṭám dviṣṭá dvik dvi?#129;th?#129;m dvi?#141;?#141;hvám
Third Person dvéṣṭu dviṣṭ?#129;?#129;m dviántu dviṣṭ?#129;?#129;m dvi?#129;?#129;t?#129;m dviát?#129;m

Nominal inflection


Sanskrit is a highly inflected language with three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and three numbers (singular, plural, dual). It has eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, and locative.

The number of actual declensions is debatable. In this article they are divided into five declensions. Which declension a noun belongs to is determined largely by form.

The basic declination suffix scheme for nouns and adjectives

The basic scheme is given in the table below?#128;”valid for almost all nouns and adjectives. However, according to the gender and the ending consonant/vowel of the uninflected word-stem, there are predermined rules of compulsory sandhi which would then give the final inflected word. The parentheses give the case-terminations for the neuter gender, the rest are for masculine and feminine gender. Both devanagari script and IAST transliterations are given.

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -स?#141; -s
(-म?#141; -m)
-?#148; -au
(-?#136; -ī)
-?#133;स?#141; -as
(-?#135; -i)
Accusative -?#133;म?#141; -am
(-म?#141; -m)
-?#148; -au
(-?#136; -ī)
-?#133;स?#141; -as
(-?#135; -i)
Instrumental -?#134; -?#129; -भ?#141;याम?#141; -bhy?#129;m -भिस?#141; -bhis
Dative -?#143; -e -भ?#141;याम?#141; -bhy?#129;m -भ?#141;यस?#141; -bhyas
Ablative -?#133;स?#141; -as -भ?#141;याम?#141; -bhy?#129;m -भ?#141;यस?#141; -bhyas
Genitive -?#133;स?#141; -as -?#147;स?#141; -os -?#134;म?#141; -?#129;m
Locative -?#135; -i -?#147;स?#141; -os -स?#129; -su
Vocative -स?#141; -s
(- -)
-?#148; -au
(-?#136; -ī)
-?#133;स?#141; -as
(-?#135; -i)

a-stems

A-stems (/?#153;/ or /?#145;?#144;/) comprise the largest class of nouns. As a rule, nouns belonging to this class, with the uninflected stem ending in short-a (/?#153;/), are either masculine or neuter. Nouns ending in long-A (/?#145;?#144;/) are almost always feminine. A-stem adjectives take the masculine and neuter in short-a (/?#153;/), and feminine in long-A (/?#145;?#144;/) in their stems.

Masculine (k?#129;?#129;ma- 'love') Neuter (?#129;sya- 'mouth') Feminine (k?#129;nta- 'beloved')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative k?#129;?#129;ma k?#129;?#129;m?#129;u k?#129;?#129;m?#129; ?#129;sy?nbsp;m ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ni k?#129;nt?#129; k?#129;nte k?#129;nt?#129;
Accusative k?#129;?#129;mam k?#129;?#129;m?#129;u k?#129;?#129;m?#129;n ?#129;sy?nbsp;m ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ni k?#129;nt?#129;m k?#129;nte k?#129;nt?#129;
Instrumental k?#129;?#129;mena k?#129;?#129;m?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;?#129;m?#129;i ?#129;syèna ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;bhy?#129;m ?#129;sy?#129;ì k?#129;ntay?#129; k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;bhi
Dative k?#129;?#129;m?#129;ya k?#129;?#129;m?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;?#129;mebhya ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ya ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;bhy?#129;m ?#129;syèbhya k?#129;nt?#129;yai k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;
Ablative k?#129;?#129;m?#129;t k?#129;?#129;m?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;?#129;mebhya ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;t ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;bhy?#129;m ?#129;syèbhya k?#129;nt?#129;y?#129; k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;bhy?#129;
Genitive k?#129;?#129;masya k?#129;?#129;mayo k?#129;?#129;m?#129;n?#129;m ?#129;sy?nbsp;sya ?#129;sy?nbsp;yo ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;n?#129;m k?#129;nt?#129;y?#129; k?#129;ntayo k?#129;nt?#129;n?#129;m
Locative k?#129;?#129;me k?#129;?#129;mayo k?#129;?#129;meu ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?nbsp;yo ?#129;syèu k?#129;nt?#129;y?#129;m k?#129;ntayo k?#129;nt?#129;su
Vocative k?#129;?#129;ma k?#129;?#129;mau k?#129;?#129;m?#129; ?#129;?#129;sya ?#129;syè ?#129;sy?#129;?#128;ni k?#129;nte k?#129;nte k?#129;nt?#129;

i- and u-stems

i-stems
Masc. and Fem. (gáti- 'gait') Neuter (v?#129;?#129;ri- 'water')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative gátis gátī gátayas v?#129;?#129;ri v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;ī v?#129;?#129;rī?#135;i
Accusative gátim gátī gátīs v?#129;?#129;ri v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;ī v?#129;?#129;rī?#135;i
Instrumental gáty?#129; gátibhy?#129;m gátibhis v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;?#129; v?#129;?#129;ribhy?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ribhis
Dative gátaye, gáty?#129;i gátibhy?#129;m gátibhyas v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;e v?#129;?#129;ribhy?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ribhyas
Ablative gátes, gáty?#129;s gátibhy?#129;m gátibhyas v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;as v?#129;?#129;ribhy?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ribhyas
Genitive gátes, gáty?#129;s gátyos gátīn?#129;m v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;as v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;os v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;?#129;m
Locative gát?#129;u, gáty?#129;m gátyos gátiu v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;i v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;os v?#129;?#129;riu
Vocative gáte gátī gátayas v?#129;?#129;ri, v?#129;?#129;re v?#129;?#129;ri?#135;ī v?#129;?#129;rī?#135;i
u-stems
Masc. and Fem. (?#155;átru- 'enemy') Neuter (mádhu- 'honey')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ?#155;átrus ?#155;átrū ?#155;átravas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Accusative ?#155;átrum ?#155;átrū ?#155;átrūn mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Instrumental ?#155;átru?#135;?#129; ?#155;átrubhy?#129;m ?#155;átrubhis mádhun?#129; mádhubhy?#129;m mádhubhis
Dative ?#155;átrave ?#155;átrubhy?#129;m ?#155;átrubhyas mádhune mádhubhy?#129;m mádhubhyas
Ablative ?#155;átros ?#155;átrubhy?#129;m ?#155;átrubhyas mádhunas mádhubhy?#129;m mádhubhyas
Genitive ?#155;átros ?#155;átrvos ?#155;átrū?#135;?#129;m mádhunas mádhunos mádhūn?#129;m
Locative ?#155;átr?#129;u ?#155;átrvos ?#155;átruu mádhuni mádhunos mádhuṣu
Vocative ?#155;átro ?#155;átrū ?#155;átravas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni

Long Vowel-stems

?#129;-stems (j?#129;- 'prodigy') ī-stems (dhī- 'thought') ū-stems (bhū- 'earth')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative j?#129;?#129;s j?#129;ú j?#129;?#129;s dhī?#129;s dhíy?#129;u dhíyas bhū?#129;s bhúv?#129;u bhúvas
Accusative j?#129;?#129;m j?#129;ú j?#129;?#129;s, jás dhíyam dhíy?#129;u dhíyas bhúvam bhúv?#129;u bhúvas
Instrumental j?#129;?#129; j?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m j?#129;?#129;bhis dhiy?#129;?#129; dhībhy?#129;?#129;m dhībhís bhuv?#129;?#129; bhūbhy?#129;?#129;m bhūbhís
Dative j?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m j?#129;?#129;bhyas dhiyé, dhiy?#129;í dhībhy?#129;?#129;m dhībhyás bhuvé, bhuv?#129;í bhūbhy?#129;?#129;m bhūbhyás
Ablative jás j?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m j?#129;?#129;bhyas dhiyás, dhiy?#129;?#129;s dhībhy?#129;?#129;m dhībhyás bhuvás, bhuv?#129;?#129;s bhūbhy?#129;?#129;m bhūbhyás
Genitive jás jós j?#129;?#129;n?#129;m, j?#129;?#129;m dhiyás, dhiy?#129;?#129;s dhiyós dhiy?#129;?#129;m, dhīn?#129;?#129;m bhuvás, bhuv?#129;?#129;s bhuvós bhuv?#129;?#129;m, bhūn?#129;?#129;m
Locative jós j?#129;?#129;su dhiyí, dhiy?#129;?#129;m dhiyós dhīṣú bhuví, bhuv?#129;?#129;m bhuvós bhūṣú
Vocative j?#129;?#129;s j?#129;ú j?#129;?#129;s dhī?#129;s dhiy?#129;u dhíyas bhū?#129;s bhuv?#129;u bhúvas

?#155;-stems

?#155;-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like d?#129;t?#155; 'giver', though also include kinship terms like pit?#155;?#129; 'father', m?#129;t?#155;?#129; 'mother', and svás?#155; 'sister'.

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative pit?#129;?#129; pitár?#129;u pitáras
Accusative pitáram pitár?#129;u pit?#157;?#129;n
Instrumental pitr?#129;?#129; pit?#155;?#129;bhy?#129;m pit?#155;?#129;bhis
Dative pitré pit?#155;?#129;bhy?#129;m pit?#155;?#129;bhyas
Ablative pitúr pit?#155;?#129;bhy?#129;m pit?#155;?#129;bhyas
Genitive pitúr pitrós pit?#157;?#135;?#129;?#129;m
Locative pitári pitrós pit?#155;?#129;ṣu
Vocative pítar pitár?#129;u pitáras

See also Devi inflection, Vrkis inflection.

Personal Pronouns and Determiners

The first and second person pronouns are declined for the most part alike, having by analogy assimilated themselves with one another.

Note: Where two forms are given, the second is enclitic and an alternative form. Ablatives in singular and plural may be extended by the syllable -tas; thus mat or mattas, asmat or asmattas.

First Person Second Person
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative aham ?#129;v?#129;m vayam tvam yuv?#129;m yūyam
Accusative m?#129;m, m?#129; ?#129;v?#129;m, nau asm?#129;n, nas tv?#129;m, tv?#129; yuv?#129;m, v?#129;m yuṣm?#129;n, vas
Instrumental may?#129; ?#129;v?#129;bhy?#129;m asm?#129;bhis tvay?#129; yuv?#129;bhy?#129;m yuṣm?#129;bhis
Dative mahyam, me ?#129;v?#129;bhy?#129;m, nau asmabhyam, nas tubhyam, te yuv?#129;bhy?#129;m, v?#129;m yuṣmabhyam, vas
Ablative mat ?#129;v?#129;bhy?#129;m asmat tvat yuv?#129;bhy?#129;m yuṣmat
Genitive mama, me ?#129;vayos, nau asm?#129;kam, nas tava, te yuvayos, v?#129;m yuṣm?#129;kam, vas
Locative mayi ?#129;vayos asm?#129;su tvayi yuvayos yuṣm?#129;su

The demonstrative ta, declined below, also functions as the third person pronoun.

Masculine Neuter Feminine
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative sás t?#129;ú tát t?#129;?#129;ni s?#129;?#129; t?#129;?#129;s
Accusative tám t?#129;ú t?#129;?#129;n tát t?#129;?#129;ni s?#129;?#149; t?#129;?#129;s
Instrumental téna t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;ís téna t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;ís táy?#129; t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;?#129;bhis
Dative tásm?#129;i t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyas tásm?#129;i t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyas tásy?#129;i t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;?#129;bhyas
Ablative tásm?#129;t t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyam tásm?#129;t t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m tébhyam tásy?#129;s t?#129;?#129;bhy?#129;m t?#129;?#129;bhyas
Genitive tásya táyos téṣ?#129;m tásya táyos téṣ?#129;m tásy?#129;s táyos t?#129;?#129;s?#129;m
Locative tásmin táyos téṣu tásmin táyos téṣu tásy?#129;m táyos t?#129;?#129;su

Compounds

One other notable feature of the nominal system is the very common use of nominal compounds, which may be huge (10+ words) as in some modern languages such as German. Nominal compounds occur with various structures, however morphologically speaking they are essentially the same. Each noun (or adjective) is in its (weak) stem form, with only the final element receiving case inflection. Some examples of nominal compounds include:

1. Dvandva (co-ordinative)

These consist of two or more noun stems, connected in sense with 'and', e.g. matara-pitara 'Mother and Father'. Due to these compounds having more than one noun in them, they must be in the dual or plural.

2. Bahuvrīhi (possessive)

Bahuvrīhi, or "much-rice", denotes a rich person?#128;”one who has much rice. Bahuvrīhi compounds refer (by example) to a compound noun with no head -- a compound noun that refers to a thing which is itself not part of the compound. For example, "low-life" and "block-head" are bahuvrihi compounds, since a low-life is not a kind of life, and a block-head is not a kind of head. (And a much-rice is not a kind of rice.) Compare with more common, headed, compound nouns like "fly-ball" (a kind of ball) or "alley cat" (a kind of cat). Bahurvrīhis can often be translated by "possessing..." or "-ed"; for example, "possessing much rice", or "much riced".

3. Tatpuruṣa (determinative)

There are many tatpuruas (one for each of the nominal cases, and a few others besides); in a tatpurua, the first component is in a case relationship with another. For example, a doghouse is a dative compound, a house for a dog. It would be called a "caturtitatpurua" (caturti refers to the fourth case?#128;”that is, the dative). Incidentally, "tatpurua" is a tatpurua ("this man"?#128;”meaning someone's agent), while "caturtitatpurua" is a karmadh?#129;rya, being both dative, and a tatpurua. An easy way to understand it is to look at English examples of tatpuruas: "battlefield", where there is a genitive relationship between "field" and "battle", "a field of battle"; other examples include instrumental relationships ("thunderstruck") and locative relationships ("towndwelling").

4. Karmadh?#129;raya (descriptive)

The relation of the first member to the last is appositional, attributive or adverbial, e. g. uluka-yatu (owl+demon) is a demon in the shape of an owl.

5. Amre?#141;ita (iterative)

Repetition of a word expresses repetitiveness, e. g. dive-dive 'day by day', 'daily'.

Syntax

Word order is free with tendency toward SOV.

Numerals

The numbers from one to ten are:

1 éka
2 dví
3 trí
4 catúr
5 pañca
6 ṣáṣ
7 saptá, sápta
8 aṣṭá, áṣṭa
9 náva
10 dá?#155;a

The numbers one through four are declined. ?#137;ka is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. Dvá appears only in the dual. Trí and catúr are declined irregularly:

Three Four
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative tráyas trī?#129;?#135;i tisrás catv?#129;?#129;ras catv?#129;?#129;ri cátasras
Accusative trīn trī?#129;?#135;i tisrás catúras catv?#129;?#129;ri cátasras
Instrumental tribhís tis?#155;?#129;bhis catúrbhis catas?#155;?#129;bhis
Dative tribhyás tis?#155;?#129;bhyas catúrbhyas catas?#155;?#129;bhyas
Ablative tribhyás tis?#155;?#129;bhyas catúrbhyas catas?#155;?#129;bhyas
Genitive triy?#129;?#135;?#129;?#129;m tis?#155;?#135;?#129;?#129;m catur?#135;?#129;?#129;m catas?#155;?#135;?#129;?#129;m
Locative triṣú tis?#155;?#129;ṣu catúrṣu catas?#155;?#129;ṣu

Influence

Modern-day India

Sanskrit's greatest influence, presumably, is that which it exerted on languages that grew from its vocabulary and grammatical base. Especially among elite circles in India, Sanskrit is prized as a storehouse of scripture and the language of prayers in Hinduism. Like Latin's influence on European languages, Sanskrit has influenced most Indian languages. While vernacular prayer is common, Sanskrit mantras are recited by millions of Hindus and most temple functions are conducted entirely in Sanskrit, often Vedic in form. Most higher forms of Indian vernacular languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu and Hindi, often called 'shuddha' (pure, higher) are much more heavily Sanskritized. Of modern day Indian languages, while Hindi tends to be, in spoken form, more heavily weighted with Arabic and Persian influence, Bengali and Marathi still retain a largely Sanskrit vocabulary base. The national anthem, Jana Gana Mana is higher form of Bengali, so Sanskritized as to be archaic in modern usages. The national song of India Vande Mataram which is originally a poem - composed by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and taken from his book called 'Aanandmath', is in pure Sanskrit. Malayalam, which is spoken in the Kerala state of India, also combines a great deal of Sanskrit vocabulary with Tamil (Dravidian) grammatical structure. Kannada, another South Indian language, also contains Sanskrit vocabulary. But as a medium of spiritual instruction for Hindus in India, Sanskrit is still prized and widespread.

Sanskrit words are found in many other present-day non-Indian languages. For instance, the Thai language contains many loan words from Sanskrit. For example, in Thai, the R?#129;vana - the emperor of Sri Lanka is called 'Thoskonth' which is clearly a derivation of his Sanskrit name 'Dashakanth' (of ten necks). And ranged as far as the Philippines, e.g., Tagalog 'gurò' from 'Guru', or 'teacher', with the Hindu seafarers who traded there.

Attempts at revival

Of late, there have been attempts to revive the speaking of this ancient tongue among people, so that vast literature available in Sanskrit can be made easily available to everyone. The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) in India has made Sanskrit a third language in the schools it governs. In such schools, learning Sanskrit is an option for grades 5 to 8. An option between Sanskrit and Hindi (or many other local languages) as a second language exists for grades 9 and 10. Many organizations like the Samskrta Bharati are conducting Speak Sanskrit workshops to popularize the language. About four million people are claimed to have acquired the ability to speak Sanskrit.

Sanskrit is claimed to be spoken natively by the population in Mattur, a village in central Karnataka. Inhabitants of all castes learn Sanskrit starting in childhood and converse in the language. Even the local Muslims speak and converse in Sanskrit. Historically, the village was given by king Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire to Vedic scholars and their families. People in his kingdom spoke Kannada and Tuluva.

Interactions with Sino-Tibetan languages

Sanskrit and related languages have also influenced their Sino-Tibetan-speaking neighbors to the north through the spread of Buddhist texts in translation. Buddhism was spread to China by Mahayanist missionaries mostly through translations of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit texts, and many terms were transliterated directly and added to the Chinese vocabulary. (Although Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit is not Sanskrit, properly speaking, its vocabulary is substantially the same, both because of genetic relationship, and because of conscious imitation on the part of composers. Buddhist texts composed in Sanskrit proper were primarily found in philosophical schools like the Madhyamaka.)

Western vogue for Sanskrit

Main article: Sanskrit in the West

At the end of the introduction to The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer claimed that the rediscovery of the ancient Indian tradition would be one of the great events in the history of the West. Goethe borrowed from Kalidasa for the Vorspiel auf dem Theater in Faust.

Goethe and Schopenhauer were riding a crest of scholarly discovery, most notably the work done by Sir William Jones. (Goethe likely read Kalidasa's The Recognition of Sakuntala in Jones' translation.) However, the discovery of the world of Sanskrit literature moved beyond German and British scholars and intellectuals ?#128;” Henry David Thoreau was a sympathetic reader of the Bhagavad Gita ?#128;” and even beyond the humanities. In the early days of the Periodic Table, scientists referred to as yet undiscovered elements with the use of Sanskrit prefixes (see Mendeleev's predicted elements).

The nineteenth century was a golden age of Western Sanskrit scholarship, and many of the giants of the field (Whitney, Macdonnell, Monier-Williams, Grassmann) knew each other personally. Perhaps the most commonly known example of Sanskrit in the West was also the last gasp of its vogue. T.S. Eliot, a student of Indian Philosophy and Lanham's, ended The Waste Land with Sanskrit: "Shantih Shantih Shantih".

Computational linguistics

There have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a metalanguage for knowledge representation in e.g. machine translation, and other areas of natural language processing because of its highly regular structure (The AI Magazine, Spring, 1985 #39). This is due to Classical Sanskrit being a regularized, prescriptivist form abstracted from the much more irregular and richer Vedic Sanskrit. This levelling of the grammar of Classical Sanskrit occurred during the Brahmana phase, after the language had fallen out of popular use, arguably qualifying Classical Sanskrit as an early engineered language.

See also

References

  • The Sanskrit Language - T. Burrow - ISBN 8120817672
  • Sanskrit Grammar - William D. Whitney - ISBN 8185557594
  • Sanskrit Pronunciation - Bruce Cameron - ISBN 1557000212
  • "Teach Yourself Sanskrit" - Prof. M. Coulson - ISBN 0340859903
  • "A Sanskrit Grammar for Students" - A.A. Macdonell - ISBN 8124600945

External links

Wikibooks
Wikibooks has more about this subject:

Mentioned In
Sanskrit is mentioned in the following topics:
List of Malay words of Sanskrit origin Gurkha (member of a Rajput ethnic group predominant)
til Pabbajja
Shweta Sloka meter
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit language Nikhil
Kamasutra (Sanskrit treatise setting forth rules) kavya
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Dictionary definition of Sanskrit
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.   More from Dictionary
Encyclopedia information about Sanskrit
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. http://www.answers.com/main/Record2?a=NR&url=http://www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/   More from Encyclopedia
Literature information about Sanskrit
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.   More from Literature
WordNet information about Sanskrit
WordNet 1.7.1 Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.   More from WordNet
Wikipedia information about Sanskrit
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Developing the Sanskrit Authoring System - VYASA

With a view to nurture and preserve the richness of Sanskrit, C-DAC has taken the initiative of developing a Sanskrit Authoring system under its ?#128;˜Heritage Group?#128;™ activities. Shri Ramanujan has played a central role as part of this project, and summarizes below the work being done.
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INTRODUCTION

Sanskrit has been a parent of many modern Indian languages. The name Sanskrita suggests ?#128;˜adorned?#128;™, ?#128;˜elaborate?#128;™, or ?#128;˜perfected?#128;™ form of speech. The beauty of Sanskrit lies in the fact that it has extremely well structured and unambiguous grammar. This is a great advantage and helps in determining and representing precisely the syntactic and semantic meaning of a sentence.

In ancient literature, the entire grammar of Sanskrit has been laid down as a finite and exhaustive set of rules in Panini?#128;™s Astadhyayi. These rules were valid for Sanskrit, centuries ago and these rules still hold, eliminating any scope for any evolutionary changes in grammar or usage. In no other language can such a set of rules, which are rather mathematical in nature, be found or formulated.

The Sanskrit grammar rules are well-structured amongst themselves. There are sets of meta-rules, which, with the help of various conditions, can be used in linguistic processing. It is due to such a Sastraic (Sastra = science) nature of Sanskrit that it is such an alluring language for Natual Language Processing (NLP) research.

C-DAC?#128;™s Indian Heritage Group based at its Centre in Bangalore is engaged in activities related to Sanskrit and Vedic texts?#128;™ processing since 1990. To consolidate the work done so far, the Sanskrit Authoring System (SAS) project was launched with the sponsorship of the Department of Information Technology.

Work on ISCII standard, GIST applications in Data processing, building a Natural Language Understanding (NLU) System for Sanskrit called DESIKA, Computational rendering of Paninian grammar and computational text of Rgveda Samhita, preparing ?#128;˜Sakala Shastra Sutra Kosha?#128;™, a compendium of all the original treatises of the Ancient Indian Sciences, are sought to be covered.

Benefits from Information Technology

It is a common experience when one reads books or articles in Indian languages, that help on retrieving the desired analytical information such as indices of different types, sources of quotations and their full forms is often lacking. With Sanskrit texts, the need to be able to access such information is even more since many scriptural sources get quoted.

With a view to help Sanskritists in their creative scholarly pursuits like research and academics, Content, Tools for processing and Schemes for tagging, hyper-linking and references are thus essential in such a system.These are all possible, thanks to the information technology developments.

Let us look at some of these as provided for in our system.

Editor for Multi-script use, tools for morphological, syntactic and semantic analysis, tools for searching/indexing/sorting, lexical updation, lexical tagging, extraction / indexing of quotations in commentaries/explanations, transliteration facility, word split programs for sandhi and samasa, poetry analysis (textual/metric/statistical), statistical tools like concordance, thesauri, electronic dictionaries.

Digital content from the reference compendium mentioned above, lexicons like Amarakosha., Paninian Grammar rules, Word analyses, Derivations, Quotes from Veda-s (scriptures), Epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, Shastraic texts in Sutra form are a part of the system.

The DESIKA Parser provides all the grammatically valid identifications for a word in isolation, as Syntactic Analysis - Mapping Vibhakti-s to Karaka-s, Semantic - Confirm/disambiguate senses of each word including ontological compatibility ascertainment.

Graphical outputs option, Query processing and Updating lexicons for morphological and semantic processing are provided alongwith tools for linguistic analysis like tagging, lemmatising, statistical studies.

A scheme to extract quotations from texts/commentaries and locating their sources from our knowledge-base is provided as a tool.

Abbreviations of sources updatable/modifiable search/retrieval and hyperlinking with a standard form of source specification.

Indexing, sorting, concordance tools for multi-lingual inputs are also provided for. Tamil sorting order also is considered in isolation as well as in multi-lingual files.

The other features include

  • Semantic lexical update provides the current ontology for view/revision/update
  • New instances under existing categories and new categories can be added incrementally
  • Ontology with the revisions applied is displayed before okaying multiple memberships at different layers and categories allowed lexical/morphological suffixes/rules acceptable for characterising sentence type also updatable (existing types listed for view)
  • Sloka analysis taking different anvaya type specification.

With regard to the Shabda-bodha, diagrammatic representation according to any shastra can be studied

Newer types can be updated based on paradigm specification.

Case-relationships and case-marker mappings are provided exhaustively with examples to help syntactic analysis and creating new appropriate categories

Tried out on several actual texts of various types and complexities like:

Some of the objectives realised as ?#128;˜proof-of-concepts?#128;™ are -

OCX based applications using GIST-SDK for all vidyasthana-s, Linux-based work alongwith ITRANS/JTRANS conversion.

Web-server set up to help access our ?#128;˜on-line readers?#128;™ including free font downloads

Vedic (accented) inputs also handled - RgVeda Samhita completely indexed for words, mantras, rishi, chandas, devata, viniyoga, anukramani, bhashya, and search on Mandala-anuvaka-sukta-rk OR ashtaka-adhyaya-varga systems.

 


Enchanting Sanskrit
http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/2003..._sanskrit.shtml

Scholars, priests, villages, young and old are part of an all-India movement to revive our sacred language

BY CHOODIE SHIVARAM, BANGALORE

Soothing tones of sanskrit waft through the air as you walk past the spacious two-storied school in the interiors of Bangalore's Girinagar. Enter the building and it reverberates with the rich traditions of this land. You are at Aksharam, the organization that teaches spoken Sanskrit in ten days! People thus initiated are all set to commence their wonderful journey in the world of Sanskrit. Aksharam is an offshoot of Samskrita Bharathi, a voluntary organization devoted to the revival of Sanskrit ( www.samskrita-bharati.org/). It seeks to restore Sanskrit to daily life in India and re-establish it as a common man's language. [clor=blue](Sunder
Adds: I remember, the Navaratri vacations of 1987, Sri Guravarujulu was my teacher from Samskritha Barathi.. the words, "Mama nama Guravarajah, Bhavaaan naama kim?" still rings in my ears..)[/color]

At Aksharam, everyone, including toddlers, converse in the ancient language. You speak to the little ones in English or Kannada, and precisely comes the reply in Sanskrit. I was unable to converse in Sanskrit, despite some study of the language. Honestly, the little children gave me a complex. Unlike at other homes, parents here translate the English rhymes children learn at school into Sanskrit. These children in turn are able to teach Sanskrit to their teachers and friends! Sanskrit sounds so pure and divine as it emanates from the innocent mouths of little children. It's a unique experience.

When I called Aksharam at ten one night, I was surprised to hear the solemn chanting of slokas in the background. Even at this late hour, the senior research students were learning the nuances of spiritual Sanskrit from Guru Vishwas. He told me, "Sanskrit is the most ancient, highly developed, literature-rich language. It is a treasure house of ancient Indian wisdom. It is certainly the vehicle of our culture and key to the heritage of this great civilization. Speaking the language not only helps in learning, but also gives the students pride in their civilizational values. Speaking this language generates energy."

Why do people think Sanskrit is difficult to learn? "The answer is simple. They don't follow the natural way. The first step in learning any language is to converse in it, because speaking and listening to a language takes you closer to it," explained Vishwas. He has been conducting the ten-day speak Sanskrit courses in India and abroad and is the chief editor of the Sanskrit monthly Sambhasana Sandesha, which is published by Aksharam.

Speak Sanskrit Movement

The decline of Sanskrit in modern times worried people like Sri Krishna Sastry. He knew the wealth of knowledge we were losing by forgetting the language. He proposed, "Let service to Sanskrit not stop at worshiping with the language; everyone should be able to speak the language. Conversational Sanskrit has to be taught and popularized." In 1981 Sri Krishna Sastry, with a group of like-minded friends at Tirupati Sanskrit College, founded Samskrita Bharathi and evolved the "Speak Sanskrit Movement."

They launched the movement through the Sanskrit unit of Hindu Seva Prathisthana. Organisations like Bharath Samskrita Parishad, the Sanskrit unit of Vidhya Bharathi, Vishwa Samskrita Prathisthanam and Swaadhyaaya Mandalam contributed to accelerating the propagation of Sanskrit. To keep pace with the rapid growth of the movement, a centralized institute of Samskrita Bharathi was formed at New Delhi in 1995. Aksharam in Bangalore became its international center.

"Our mission is to engender a cultural renaissance of India by bringing Sanskrit back to the mainstream, to propagate the great scientific truths hidden in our ancient scriptures, attain social harmony by removing barriers of caste, creed and race, and achieve national integration through Sanskrit," Sri Krishna Sastry told me.

In 15 years, Samskrita Bharathi reached impressive heights through its sevavratis (Sanskrit missionaries), who relentlessly work towards resuscitating the language. Now more than two million people around the world can speak simple Sanskrit. Nearly four million people have learned Sanskrit through correspondence, and 25,000 teachers have been trained to conduct spoken Sanskrit workshops.

As a result of their efforts and the efforts of many others, 30 million students in India are studying Sanskrit. There are 1,500 mahapatashalas (Sanskrit colleges), with 100,000 students, and 3,500 patashalas (primary and secondary schools), where students learn Sanskrit in its traditional form. Premier scientific and technical institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, have introduced the study of Sanskrit.

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, C-DAC, has been conducting research on Sanskrit and computers. Sanskrit is also taught in about 250 universities in 40 countries. Over 400 universities promote Sanskrit Studies and Research. India has ten Sanskrit universities and 250 institutions involved in Sanskrit research. Eighty Sanskrit journals are circulated in the country.

Among the most unusual results of the Speak Sanskrit Movement are the two villages of Mathoor and Hosahalli in Karnataka. The movement adopted them as a means to promote spoken Sanskrit, and today everyone in them-from the menial laborer to the merchant, to the brahmins-speaks Sanskrit with élan. These two villages are known throughout the country. More recently, Samskrita Bharathi has succeeded in teaching conversational Sanskrit to the entire tribal village of Mohaka, near Jabalpur.

Sanskrit's checkered history

Yes, Sanskrit is regaining its lost grandeur in India, but how did it ever get relegated to such a low position in the first place? Sanskrit was the lingua franca of India before the country was invaded by aliens. It was the medium of administration, commerce, trade and education. Cultural, religious and intellectual transactions were in Sanskrit. Then in 1835, Lord Macaulay produced his "Minute of Indian Education" in which he stated, "What we spend on the Sanskrit colleges is not merely a dead loss to the cause of truth; it is bounty money paid to raise up champions of error [that is, Sanskrit scholars]." He said Sanskrit literature is, "barren of useful knowledge" with "the most serious errors on the most important subjects." His recommendation, adopted by the British administration, was to no longer fund any Sanskrit education, save the Sanskrit college at Banaras.

The knowledge and use of Sanskrit became limited to the priestly class and a small number of pundits who used it for religious practices. "Thanks to that priestly class, the language was preserved. They must be given credit that their continued use of Sanskrit helped its survival," avers Shri Shivamurthy Swamiji, pontiff of Tarabalu Math in Bangalore.

"After independence, the Kothari commission sacrificed Sanskrit by not including it in the three-language formula," states Sri Krishna Sastry. He is referring to the system whereby students would learn English, their regional language and Hindi. Those already in Hindi-speaking areas would learn another Indian or European language. "Compelled by political and economic pressures and fascination for the West," he went on, "India continued learning foreign languages, especially English. The elimination of Sanskrit for the majority of Indians resulted in the loss of the rich traditional knowledge. Macaulay killed the ancient traditional education system of India. It created a land in which we do not inherit our traditional knowledge," said Sri Krishna Sastry.

Dr. Ashok Aklujkar of British Columbia, Canada, concurs. "I am strongly in favor of the Speak Sanskrit Movement," he told Hinduism Today. "However, it and other similar movements will have only band-aid successes until Hindus realize that they have to have a long-term, comprehensive vision for their way of living and plan how to bring about the desired changes in 50 or 100 years. The Indian education system needs to change from the present three-language formula to one which teaches the regional language, the classical language (e.g., Sanskrit) and an international language (e.g., English)." Aklujkar (aklujkar@interchange.ubc.ca) is author of an innovative course, Sanskrit: an Easy Introduction to an Enchanting Language. (Sunder adds: I personally know Shri Aklujkar. He is pretty knowledgeable on the subject, although, there are not many *indians* around here who are motivated enough to take up samskrit. It's sad to see such a good resource underappreciated.)

Sanskrit, however, was not a pariah in Europe and America, where its status as one of the most ancient Indo-European languages was appreciated by Western academics and promoted by Indian scholars in the West such as Aklujkar. Thus Indian students studying in the West have found a more positive treatment of Sanskrit than they can in India. Dr. Kamat, an educator, told me, "Our traditional knowledge systems flourish in the West because they are looking towards India for wisdom. The Indian student, once abroad and out of the claustrophobic clutches of Indian environs, starts looking for his roots. That's how Indians abroad take to study of our traditional systems and Sanskrit. There is a paradigm shift in their thinking."

When I attended the Tenth World Sanskrit Conference, held in 1997 in Bangalore, I found a number of non-Indians who presented papers on complex topics such as grammar, medical literature and navigational terms. I met an Australian professor who was an authority on Vishnu Purana, a topic unknown to many Hindus.

Dr. Garry A. Tubb, a professor from Columbia University and former professor at Harvard University, who was at that conference, expressed regret that there is no systematic Sanskrit education in India. "Indians should develop love and respect for their ancient culture and rich heritage. If they neglect the ancient manuscripts, the rich, millennia-old knowledge will perish," he predicted. Dr. Tubb has written a critique on Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam as well as a guide to Sanskrit teaching for Western students. Dr. Rahul Peter Das of Martin Luther University in Germany believes that "studying Sanskrit will help students understand mathematics better." Dr. Das has studied the Vedas from their original texts and is an authority on Sanskrit grammar.

Dr. Robert Goldman, head of the Sanskrit department at Philadelphia University, says, "Learning Sanskrit and its grammar will help one easily understand world civilization and literature." Dr. Goldman, who has traveled extensively in India, can recite the Vedas, Upanishads and mantras and speak fluently in Sanskrit. He has also translated the original Valmiki Ramayana into English.

Better teaching methods

Another factor that contributed greatly to the neglect and "death" of Sanskrit was the treatment it received at the hands of academics. "Nowhere will you find a language being taught in a foreign language," says Sri Krishna Sastry. The easiest and most effective way is the conversational method. Ironically, Sanskrit was being taught through English and in textbook fashion. As a result, students, instead of learning the language and developing affinity, moved away from it.(anyone remember, "Ramaha Ramau Ramaaha?" I remember a 'class comedian' in my class made fun when "Mundakopanishad" calling it 'munda-koduku-upanishad'. And ppl *laughed* sad.gif )

For seven years through high school and college I studied Sanskrit through English and yet I do not know the language. Many like me took Sanskrit as an optional language because obtaining marks was easy. Without studying grammar, which accounted for thirty marks, we would answer in English or Kannada for the remaining 70 marks and still score well. Why did we need to know the language when the focus was on the marks? The need to understand the nuances of Sanskrit was not emphasized. My children have been studying Sanskrit from class five and are quite good at it-they know the language. The teaching methods have been wholesome, with complete focus on the language, including conversation.

The teachers have improved along with the method. "Sanskrit teachers today are driven by the promote Sanskrit movement and have a passion for the language. They are no longer seen as tuft-growing men in dhotis," opines Mr. Uday Narayan, a teacher. Decades ago Sanskrit teachers were looked down upon as "pundits." They did not fit into the fashionable English school environs. Today, an increasing number of educators feel that teaching Sanskrit in schools will open up the treasure house of traditional knowledge and wisdom to children.

Sanskrit versus science

Knowledge of Sanskrit is imperative for understanding ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical science, not to mention architecture, statecraft and the many other subjects dealt with in the Sanskrit literature.

The attempts to bring these ancient sciences into prominence in modern India are not without difficulties. Take ayurveda as an example. It used to be that ayurveda students knew Sanskrit. However, in an apparent attempt to upgrade the status of ayurveda, the Central Council for Alternative Systems of Indian Medicine, which administers and manages ayurvedic colleges across India, made a new rule. They said only students with modern science as majors would be admitted to ayurvedic courses. At the same time, the Central Board for Secondary Education made Sanskrit an optional subject up to class 12 for students of science.

As a result, students with a science background who study ayurveda at the college level haven't learned Sanskrit, resist studying it and insist upon using translated texts. Sanskrit, which was compulsory for all the five years during the ayurveda course, was reduced to only one year of study. Now science students are protesting even this one year of Sanskrit study.

The communal issue

Sanskrit still draws resistance from certain castes, especially the economically weaker sections and backward classes. They feel the language is difficult to pronounce and believe it is only for the upper castes, not for them. "The problem of our Dalit brethren is not just economic disparity but also cultural disparity. Providing knowledge of Sanskrit gives them this cultural equality and brings social harmony. But the most important factor is how the language is taught and how the teacher motivates," says Krishna Sastry. It is worth noting that great Sanskrit works were written by non-brahmins, such as Vyasa, son of a fisherwoman and editor of the Mahabharatha; Valmiki, son of a hunter and author of Ramayana; Kalidas, a shepherd and poet; and Jabala, an outcaste and author of the Jabala Upanishad.

Still, Sanskrit was branded a brahminical language and tainted "communal," contrary to its true nature. "Sanskrit is the only language that has a secular policy. See the Bhagavad Gita. It gives a global or universal message. It does not say worship one God alone. This is not so in scriptures of other faiths. India's secular nature is because of the Sanskrit culture, which is the very culture of this land," states Sri Krishna Sastry. "The secular policy practiced by our politicians and so-called secularists has done everything to keep the language out."

Courts rescue the language

The central government wanted Sanskrit to be removed from the higher secondary syllabus, arguing that by allowing Sanskrit, other classical languages [Pali, for example] must be included, and citing the secular policy of the government. In 1994, the Supreme Court came to the rescue, noting the importance of Sanskrit for nurturing our cultural heritage as a nation.

Similarly, in 1994, the Madras High Court held that "Sanskrit is not a dead language," and observed that the reasoning of the Tamil Nadu Government that Sanskrit had ceased to be a language in use "is nothing but ignorance of reality." Justice S. S. Subramani referred to a Supreme Court decision which said Sanskrit is the mother of all Indo-Aryan languages, and it was this language in which our Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads had been written, and in which Kalidas, Bhavbuti, Banabhatta and Dandi wrote their classics. The judge also said that the teachings of Sankaracharya, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Nimbarka and Vallabhacharya would not have been woven into the fabric of Indian culture if Sanskrit had not have been available to them as a medium of expressing their thoughts. Dr. Karan Singh, son of the last Maharaja of Kashmir and a prominent Indian statesman, said, "The ancient language has kept our samskriti (culture) alive. We are India as it is today because of Sanskrit."

In 1990, bharata natyam exponent and long-time Delhi resident Justin McCarthy made an impassioned plea for Sanskrit in the Indian Express. He wrote, "Sanskrit is not dead, nor is it merely a language. It is a science and art, and insofar as it is a compendium of a people's consciousness, it is a microcosm of all that is essentially Indian. It is more precise and profound than any of the world's tongues. In literary terms, the expressive power of Sanskrit is unparalleled in multi-dimensional subtlety. My desperate plea for the preservation of Sanskrit may seem to many to be unwarranted. But India's identity as unique amongst the world's nations is at stake. What is that uniqueness? This is a country whose citizens are living descendants of a vibrant past, a tradition which still colors the lives of most Indians today. It is a tradition which, in its ideal state, affords a fertile, holistic approach to living even in the hyped-up, commercial age, inspiring all those, both Indian and foreign, who are at all touched by it."
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Checkout Sample pages of Samskrit magazine:
http://sanskrit.gde.to/atul/sandeshah.html

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0016/0016_01.asp



Which mountain range derives its name from the Sanskrit words for "home" and "snow"?

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