Opinion

What is so great about Sanskrit?

सुरस सुबोधा विश्वमनोज्ञा ललिता हृद्या रमणीया अमृतवाणी संस्कृतभाषा नैव क्लिष्टा कठिना ।। I was never a good singer. I wouldn’t listen to too much of music, I wouldn’t sing. But there are some things which you can’t resist in life. And some songs which you can’t stop listening to. Like this song mentioned. I just keep wondering how great the ‘Deva Bhasha’ is. Just check this song

And I had listened to this song for the first time when I was in 8th standard. The song had a magnetic effect on me. It was wonderful. It had influenced me a lot that I had learned to speak fluently in Sanskrit in 3 years from then on. Thanks to Sriman. Shridhar Acharya, our Sanskrit sir, and more importantly a man who talks, walks and lives for Sanskrit. But it is a shame that I am not able to speak that fluently today, after 6 six years. Now I have Sanskrit as a language I know only in my resume. But what got me writing this today is the sight of Irish kids welcoming Modiji with the same language which we proudly call ours (At least I do). Watch the way they do it with all grace in this video.

Every time someone speaks about Sanskrit, you will have wondered what makes this language so special, what makes it so important? What makes the Germans say, they are Aryans, and Sanskrit is their language? And what makes all those universities in USA, England, and Australia to teach Sanskrit as a language. We don’t do that. Arre! Who pronounces it man? “Mama naama Aashishaha. Aham lekhanamidam sanskrita bhaashayaameva likhami. Aham Sanskrit bhaashayameva vaarthalapam karomi”. Who do all those things? It’s not my cup of coffee. You know English is global, and my accent is US, so I am a great guy. This is what we Indians think. And the ones who love this language are treated and marked as either right wing activists, saffronisers, or Bhakths. But who cares for what is that which makes people from other parts of the world pickup what is rejected by us?

This can be explained in a very complicated way, or in a simple way. Let me use the simplest approach. I could have used mama naama ashishaha to tell this, but let me use a bit complex sentence. Saha kadaa gachchati iti bhavaan jaanaati vaa? A sentence which means do you know when is he leaving? Now try interchanging word positions saha gachchati kada iti jaanati vaa bhavaan? He is leaving, do you know, when?  gachchati saha bhavaan jaanaati wa kada iti? He leaves, you know when is he doing that? bhavaan jaanathi vaa gachchathi saha kada iti?  Do you know as on when is he leaving? Now compare what you did in Sanskrit with what you did in English. You had to add, delete, modify words to make a grammatical sentence in English, and also you had to change your tone, and give pauses to make it a meaningful question. Try Sanskrit. You needn’t ache your tongue twisting, brain storming. Just interchange the word positions and speak. It doesn’t make a difference. In programming terms, this language is modular. Put it here, put it there, put it anywhere, but it will still serve the purpose of what you had to convey. Well can you appreciate the greatness of this language, or do you still thank Macaulay for his English education, or support someone like Bhagwan (well if you are someone who is not from Karnataka, and you are reading this,and wondering who this person is, try googling with the following tags , <BHAGVAN>, <BHAGAVADGEETHA>, < BURNING>,  <RAMA>, <KRISHNA>) I promise not to disappoint you, you will hate this man. Well, no deviations. You shouldn’t call in a Satan when you speak about the Gheervanavaani.

Now, what do we have to say about the origin of Sanskrit, and its organization. Panini writes in Astadhyayi (A book on Sanskrit grammar, particularly a formulation of the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology, syntax and semantics) meaning “eight chapters”. He gives references to other ancient books like Unadisutra, Dhatupatha, and Ganapatha. (I haven’t found much information about them. My bad!! L). Now the most important part, and the part I love. The Maheshwara sutra!! This is what Panini writes.

नृत्तावसाने नटराजराजो ननाद ढक्कां नवपञ्चवारम्।
उद्धर्त्तुकामो सनकादिसिद्धादिनेतद्विमर्शे शिवसूत्रजालम्

Which means At the end of His Cosmic Dance, Shiva, the Lord of Dance, with a view to bless the sages Sanaka and so on, played on His Damaru fourteen times, from which emerged the following fourteen Sutras, popularly known as Shiva Sutras or Maheshvara Sutras. I want you to follow this link and listen to the sutras. Try reciting them. I loved doing it. And I memorized it. It gives a great feel doing that. Try it on your own.

The 14 sutras are listed below

1. ण् |
2.
क् |
3.
ङ् |
4.
च् |
5.
ट् |
6.
ण् |
7.
म् |
8.
ञ् |
9.
ष् |
10.
श् |
11.
व् |
12.
य् |
13.
र् |
14.
ल् |

 

What’s great with this organization? And why this language invoke so much of appreciation? Pandit Rajmani Tigunait says on a more subtle level, the Sanskrit phonemes relate to the energy currents which lie deep within the interior of the human body. Each of the 72,000 currents has a distinct sound, although they are too diffuse and vague to be enunciated distinctly. Moreover, the yogis have identified places in the body where two or more energy currents cross. In mantra shastra, the point where two energy currents intersect is called a sandhi, the point where three energy currents cross is called marma shthana, and the point where more than three energy currents converge is called a chakra. Here at the chakras, the vibratory patterns of energy are strong and vibrant. At the center of each chakra a distinct sound predominates, and other distinct sounds are centered around it. That is why, in kundalini yoga, each chakra is represented as having a particular letter at its center, as well as a letter on each petal for the organization of this. For more information please refer to these chitrapurmath blog and this link

Some unique features of Sanskrit are…

  1. The sound of each of the 36 consonants and the 16 vowels of Sanskrit are fixed and precise since the very beginning. They were never changed, altered, improved or modified. All the words of the Sanskrit language always had the same pronunciation as they have today. There was no ‘sound shift,’ no change in the vowel system, and no addition was ever made in the grammar of the Sanskrit in relation to the formation of the words. The reason is its absolute perfection by its own nature and formation because it was the first language of the world.
  2. The morphology of word formation is unique and of its own kind where a word is formed from a tiny seed root (called dhatu) in a precise grammatical order which has been the same since the very beginning. Any number of desired words could be created through its root words and the prefix and suffix system as detailed in the Ashtadhyayi of Panini. Furthermore, 90 forms of each verb and 21 forms of each noun or Pronoun can be formed and could be used in any situation.
  1. There has never been any kind, class or nature of change in the science of Sanskrit grammar as seen in other languages of the world as they passed through one stage to another (old English, new English)
  2. The perfect form of the Vedic Sanskrit language had already existed thousands of years earlier even before the infancy of the earliest prime languages of the world like Greek, Hebrew, Latin etc.
  3. When a language is spoken by unqualified people the pronunciation of the word changes to some extent; and when these words travel by word of mouth to another region of the land, with the gap of some generations, it permanently changes its form and shape to some extent. Just like the Sanskrit word matri, with a long ‘a’ and soft ‘t,’ became mater in Greek and mother in English. The last two words are called the ‘apbhransh’ of the original Sanskrit word ‘matri.’ Such apbhranshas of Sanskrit words are found in all the languages of the world and this situation itself proves that Sanskrit was the mother language of the world.

One more important thing, why do you call a bus as a bus? Or a bicycle as a bicycle? I am talking shit, right? Well wait, let me explain. In Sanskrit, it is not an object or a thing that is being referenced. It is instead the nature of the object. For example, what will you explain if someone asks you why do you call a tree as a tree? Well in Sanskrit a tree is called as a Vruksha वृक्ष or Padapa पादप or even Taru तरुWhat difference? Well, the answer follows. Vruksha essentially means something which falls down when cut. And padapa means something which drinks using its feet, and taru means something that floats. So anything which matches these qualities can be called a Vruksha. That is the beauty of this language.  Now the bottom line भाषासु मुख्या मधुरा दिव्या गीर्वाणभारती तस्माद्धि काव्यं मधुरं तस्मादपि सुभाषितम्  which means, the speech of India (Sanskrit), is the foremost, the sweetest and the divine among all languages. The poetry becomes sweet because of it and even the sayings become eloquent.

 This article is not a completely a work of mine since there have been numerous references and a lot of materials referred in writing this article. If at least 10 are impressed by this and decide to explore this language I would feel accomplished. And another word of caution for all those who blame Sanskrit as the Mrutha Bhasha, the language is not what is dead, it’s you who are dying in the darkness of “Ajnana”. Sanskrit has survived for so long and it will do in future too, because it stays in the heart and blood of people like me.

References:

  1. https://uttishthabharata.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/sanskrit/
  2. http://learnsanskrit.org/panini
  3. http://learnsanskrit.org/panini/shivasutras
  4. http://ancientindians.in/vedangas/vyakarana/maheswara-sutras-2/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Sanskrit_origin

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About the author

Ashish Saradka

Ashish Saradka

I am a debater orator and luckily an engineer. I work for HP, Writing is a passion .my principle in life " LOVE CAN CONQUER ANYTHING AND ANYONE ". Electronics computer and nature pull out the child in me

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  • Budhhesha

    The reason for Sanksrit’s downfall, is that it never reached the common man. Even among the brahmins who know sanksrit, it is not used for communication, but just for some special occasions.

    Plus the people who de-facto owned it, were not adaptive. English, the most polluted language thrives, because its adaptive. It still keeps adding many words from all the languages all over the world; plus new words too.

    Darwin’s adapt or die principle applies to languages too.

    Sanskrit from rig-vedic/pre-rig-vedic era and that after 10th century AD (which is what we know of) have huge differences. If you have learned today’s sanskrit, you may not understand much of ancient sanskrit-works. So there have been changes, but the changes stopped before 15th century.

    BTW old-Avesta and Sanskrit share huge many similarities. The mantras in Zoroastrian religion sound almost like Sanskrit mantras. So the father language, father to both is unknown to us now.

    The original may have Sanskrit died long ago, whatever we use today is a polluted version of it!

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