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Sanskrit (; , Sanskrit: संस्कृतम्) is a language of ancient India with a documented history of nearly 3,500 years. It is the primary of ; the predominant language of many works of as well as some principal texts of and . Sanskrit, in its various variants and dialects, was the of . In the early 1st millennium CE, along with and , Sanskrit migrated to , parts of the

(2018). 9789004184916, BRILL Academic. .
(1992). 9788170172895, Abhinav Publications. .
and the ,
(1989). 9788120800632, Motilal Banarsidass. .
emerging as a language of and of local ruling elites in these regions.
(2018). 9780786490332, McFarland. .
, Quote: "Sanskrit was another important lingua franca in the ancient world that was widely used in South Asia and in the context of Hindu and Buddhist religions in neighboring areas as well. (...) The spread of South Asian cultural influence to Southeast Asia, meant that Sanskrit was also used in these areas, especially in a religious context and political elites."
, Quote: "Once Sanskrit emerged from the sacerdotal environment ... it became the sole medium by which ruling elites expressed their power ... Sanskrit probably never functioned as an everyday medium of communication anywhere in the cosmopolis—not in South Asia itself, let alone Southeast Asia ... The work Sanskrit did do ... was directed above all toward articulating a form of ... politics ... as celebration of aesthetic power."

Sanskrit is an Old Indo-Aryan language. As one of the oldest documented Indo-European family of languages, Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies.

(1974). 9789027208941, Benjamins.
It is related to Greek and Latin, as well as , , and many other extinct languages with historical significance to Europe, West Asia and Central Asia. It traces its linguistic ancestry to the Proto-Indo-Aryan language, Proto-Indo-Iranian and the Proto-Indo-European languages.Burrow, T. (2001). The Sanskrit Language. Faber: Chicago p. v & ch. 1 Sanskrit is traceable to the 2nd millennium BCE in a form known as the , with the as the earliest surviving text. A more refined and an exact grammatical form called the Classical Sanskrit emerged in mid-1st millennium BCE with the Aṣṭādhyāyī treatise of Pāṇini. Sanskrit is the root language of many Prakrit languages and numerous modern daughter Northern Indian subcontinental languages such as Hindi, Nepali, Bengali, Punjabi and Marathi.
(2018). 9783110863116, Walter De Gruyter. .
(2018). 9781137519610, Palgrave Macmillan UK. .
(2018). 9780822981022, University of Pittsburgh Press. .

The body of Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of and texts, as well as , , , scientific, technical and . In the ancient era, Sanskrit compositions were by methods of memorisation of exceptional complexity, rigour and fidelity.. The earliest known inscriptions in Sanskrit are from the 1st-century BCE, such as the few discovered in and Ghosundi-Hathibada (Chittorgarh). Sanskrit texts dated to the 1st millennium CE were written in the , the Nāgarī script, the historic South Indian scripts and their derivative scripts.

(2018). 9783447045049, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. .
(2018). 9781135797119, Routledge. .
Pārameśvaratantra (MS Add.1049.1) with images , Puṣkarapārameśvaratantra, University of Cambridge (2015), Quote: "One of the oldest known dated Sanskrit manuscripts from South Asia, this specimen transmits a substantial portion of the Pārameśvaratantra, a scripture of the Śaiva Siddhānta, one of the Tantric theological schools that taught the worship of Śiva as "Supreme Lord" (the literal meaning of Parameśvara). ... According to the colophon, it was copied in the year 252, which some scholars judge to be of the era established by the Nepalese king Aṃśuvarman (also known as Mānadeva), therefore corresponding to 828 CE." - a Palm Leaf manuscript at the Cambridge University Library in Late Gupta in black ink, MS Add.1049.1 Sanskrit is one of the 22 languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. It continues to be widely used as a ceremonial and ritual language in Hinduism and some Buddhist practices such as and .

Etymology and nomenclature
The Sanskrit verbal adjective is a compound word consisting of sams (together, good, well, perfected) and krta- (made, formed, work).
(2018). 9780199601103, OUP Oxford. .
(2018). 9780231511599, Columbia University Press. .
It connotes a work that has been "well prepared, pure and perfect, polished, sacred".
(1963). 9781567310122, Simon & Schuster. .
(2018). 9788120831056, Motilal Banarsidass. .
According to Biderman, the perfection contextually being referred to in the etymological origins of the word is its tonal qualities, rather than semantic. Sound and oral transmission were highly valued quality in ancient India, and its sages refined the alphabet, the structure of words and its exacting grammar into a "collection of sounds, a kind of sublime musical mold", states Biderman, as an integral language they called Sanskrit.
(2018). 9780231511599, Columbia University Press. .
From late Vedic period onwards, state Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus, resonating sound and its musical foundations attracted an "exceptionally large amount of linguistic, philosophical and religious literature" in India. The sound was visualized as "pervading all creation", another representation of the world itself, the "mysterious magnum" of the Hindu thought. The search for perfection in thought and of salvation was one of the dimensions of sacred sound, and the common thread to weave all ideas and inspirations became the quest for what the ancient Indians believed to be a perfect language, the "phonocentric episteme" of Sanskrit.
(2018). 9783110240030, Walter de Gruyter. .
(2018). 9780889204218, Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. .

Sanskrit as a language competed with numerous less exact vernacular Indian languages called Prakritic languages ( ). The term prakrta literally means "original, natural, normal, artless", states Franklin Southworth. The relationship between Prakrit and Sanskrit is found in the Indian texts dated to the 1st millennium CE. The early Sanskrit grammarian Dandin states, for example, that much in the Prakrit languages is etymologically rooted in Sanskrit but involve "loss of sounds" and corruptions that result from a "disregard of the grammar". Dandin acknowledged that there are words and confusing structures in Prakrit that thrive independent of Sanskrit. This view is found in the writing of Bharata Muni, the author of the ancient text. The early Jain scholar Namisadhu acknowledged the difference, but disagreed that the Prakrit language was a corruption of Sanskrit. Namisadhu stated that the Prakrit language was the purvam (came before, origin) and they came naturally to women and children, that Sanskrit was a refinement of the Prakrit through a "purification by grammar".

(2018). 9783110261288, Walter De Gruyter. .


Origin and development
Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. It is one of the three ancient documented languages that likely arose from a common root language now referred to as the Proto-Indo-European language:
(2018). 9781134921874, Routledge. .
  • (c. 1500 – 500 BCE).
  • (c. 1450 BCE) and (c. 750 – 400 BC). Mycenaean Greek is the older recorded form of Greek, but the limited material that has survived has a highly ambiguous writing system. More important to the Indo-European studies is Ancient Greek, documented extensively beginning with the two (the and the , c. 750 BC).
  • (c. 1750 – 1200 BCE). This is the earliest-recorded of all Indo-European languages, distinguishable into Old Hittite, Middle Hittite and Neo-Hittite. It is divergent from the others likely due to its early separation. Discovered on clay tablets of central Turkey in cuneiform script, it possesses some highly archaic features found only fragmentarily, if at all, in other languages. At the same time, however, it appears to have undergone a large number of early phonological and grammatical changes along with the ambiguities of its writing system.

Other Indo-European languages related to Sanskrit include archaic and classical (c. 600 BCE – 100 CE, old Italian), (archaic Germanic language, c. 350 CE), (c. 200 CE and after), (c. late 2nd millennium BCE

(2011). 9781441122360, Bloomsbury Publishing. .
) and (c. 900 BCE).
(2018). 9783110461756, De Gruyter. .
The closest ancient relatives of Vedic Sanskrit in the Indo-European languages are the Nuristani language found in remote northeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Himalayas,
(1999). 9788120814073, Motilal Banarsidass. .
as well as the extinct and – both Iranian languages.
(2018). 9781317887638, Routledge. .

Colonial era scholars familiar with Latin and Greek were struck by the resemblance of the Sanskrit language, both its vocabulary and grammar, to the classical languages of Europe. It suggested a common root and historical links between some of the major distant ancient languages of the world. William Jones remarked:

In order to explain the common features shared by Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages, the Indo-Aryan migration theory states that the original speakers of what became Sanskrit arrived in the Indian subcontinent from the north-west some time during the early second millennium BCE. Evidence for such a theory includes the close relationship between the Indo-Iranian tongues and the and , vocabulary exchange with the non-Indo-European , and the nature of the attested Indo-European words for flora and fauna.

(1991). 9780521234207, Cambridge University Press. .

Vedic Sanskrit
The pre-Classical form of Sanskrit is known as . The earliest attested Sanskrit text is the , a Hindu scripture, from the mid-to-late second millennium BCE. No written records from such an early period survive if they ever existed. However, scholars are confident that the oral transmission of the texts is reliable: they were ceremonial literature where the exact phonetic expression and its preservation were a part of the historic tradition.
(2018). 9783110174335, Walter de Gruyter. .
(2018). 9781417906192, Kessinger Publishing.
(1993). 9788120811003, Motilal Banarsidass Publishe. .

Beyond the Rigveda, the ancient literature in Vedic Sanskrit that has survived into the modern age include the Samaveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda along with the embedded and layered Vedic texts such as the , and the early . Vedic Sanskrit was both a spoken and literary language of ancient India. According to Michael Witzel, Vedic Sanskrit was a spoken language of the semi-nomadic Aryas who temporarily settled in one place, maintained cattle herds, practiced limited agriculture and after some time moved by wagon train they called grama. The Vedic Sanskrit language or a closely related Indo-European variant was recognized beyond ancient India as evidenced by the " Treaty" between the ancient Hittite and Mitanni people, carved into a rock, in a region that are now parts of Syria and Turkey.

(2018). 9781317636960, Taylor & Francis. .
Parts of this treaty such as the names of the Mitannian princes and technical terms related to horse training, for reasons not understood, are in early forms of Vedic Sanskrit. The treaty also invokes the gods Varuna, Mitra, Indra and Nasatya found in the earliest layers of the Vedic literature.
(2018). 9780500771952, Thames & Hudson. .
The Vedic documents reflect the dialects of Sanskrit found in the various northwestern, northern and eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent.

The Vedic Sanskrit found in the Rigveda is distinctly more archaic than other Vedic texts, and in many respects, the Rigvedic language is notably more similar to those found in the archaic texts of Old Avestan Gathas and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.

(2018). 9780198701361, Oxford University Press. .

Classical Sanskrit
The Vedic Sanskrit evolved over time and was ultimately formalized with the work by . Panini composed ("Eight-Chapter Grammar"). The century in which he lived is unclear and debated, but his work is generally accepted to be from sometime between 6th and 4th centuries BCE., Quote: "Ashtadhyayi, Sanskrit Aṣṭādhyāyī (“Eight Chapters”), Sanskrit treatise on grammar written in the 6th to 5th century BCE by the Indian grammarian Panini." (1965), Euclid and Pāṇini, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Apr., 1965), pp. 99-116

The was not the first description of Sanskrit grammar, but it is the earliest that has survived in full. Pāṇini cites ten scholars on the phonological and grammatical aspects of the Sanskrit language before him, as well as the variants in the usage of Sanskrit in different regions of India. The ten Vedic scholars he quotes are Apisali, , Gargya, Galava, Cakravarmana, , Sakatayana, Sakalya, Senaka and Sphotayana.

(1989). 9788120805217, Motilal Banarsidass. .
The of Panini became the foundation of Vyākaraṇa, a . In the , language is observed in a manner that has no parallel among Greek or Latin grammarians. Pāṇini's grammar, according to Renou and Filliozat, defines the linguistic expression and a classic that set the standard for the Sanskrit language.Louis Renou & Jean Filliozat. L'Inde Classique, manuel des etudes indiennes, vol.II pp.86–90, École française d'Extrême-Orient, 1953, reprinted 2000. . Pāṇini made use of a technical metalanguage consisting of a syntax, morphology and lexicon. This metalanguage is organised according to a series of meta-rules, some of which are explicitly stated while others can be deduced.Angot, Michel. L'Inde Classique, pp.213–215. Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 2001.

Pāṇini's comprehensive and scientific theory of grammar is conventionally taken to mark the start of Classical Sanskrit.

(2018). 9789027272157, John Benjamins Publishing Company. .
His systematic treatise inspired and made Sanskrit the preeminent Indian language of learning and literature for two millennia.
(2018). 9780231500043, Columbia University Press. .

It is unclear whether Pāṇini wrote his treatise on Sanskrit language or he orally created the detailed and sophisticated treatise then transmitted it through his students. Modern scholarship generally accepts that he knew of a form of writing, based on references to words such as ("script") and lipikara ("scribe") in section 3.2 of the Aṣṭādhyāyī.

(1998). 9780195356663, Oxford University Press. .
(2018). 9781402081927, Springer. .

Classical Sanskrit is the standard register as laid out in the grammar of , around the fourth century BCE.

(1996). 9789004106130, E.J. Brill.
Its position in the cultures of is akin to that of and in Europe. Sanskrit has significantly influenced most modern languages of the Indian subcontinent, particularly the languages of the northern, western, central and eastern Indian subcontinent.

Coexistence with vernacular languages
According to Sanskrit linguist Madhav Deshpande, when the term "Sanskrit" arose it was not considered a separate language, but rather as a particularly refined or perfected manner of speaking. The Classical Sanskrit with its exacting grammar was the language of the Indian scholars and the educated classes, while others communicated with approximate or ungrammatical variants of it as well as other natural Indian languages. Sanskrit, as the learned language of Ancient India, thus existed alongside the vernacular Prakrits.

A rock inscription at added around 150 CE by Mahakshatrap , the () ruler of , has been described as "the earliest known Sanscrit inscription of any extent",Meaning, that is not very short. Quoted from D.D. Kosambi in , India, a History, p. 132, 2000, HarperCollins, as the Ashokan and other early inscriptions were in Prakrit of various forms. This "unexpected resurgence as a language of contemporary record" is a sign of a "brahminical renaissance", which continued through the , expanding the usage of Sanskrit., India, a History, p. 132, 2000, HarperCollins,

Many indicate that the language coexisted with the vernacular Prakrits. In the medieval era, Sanskrit speakers were almost always multilingual and well-educated. They were often learned using the language for scholarly communication, a thin layer of Indian society that covered a wide geographical area. Centres like , , and had a strong presence as teaching and debating institutions, and high classical Sanskrit was maintained until British times.

There are a number of of spoken Sanskrit which strongly suggest that oral use of modern Sanskrit is limited, having ceased development sometime in the past.

argues that "most observers would agree that, in some crucial way, Sanskrit is ". Pollock has further argued that, while Sanskrit continued to be used in literary cultures in India, it was never adapted to express the changing forms of subjectivity and sociality as embodied and conceptualised in the modern age. Instead, it was reduced to "reinscription and restatements" of ideas already explored, and any creativity was restricted to hymns and verses.

Hatcher argues that modern works continue to be produced in Sanskrit, while according to Hanneder,

Hanneder has also argued that modern works in Sanskrit are either ignored or their "modernity" contested.

When the British imposed a Western-style education system in India in the 19th century, knowledge of Sanskrit and ancient literature continued to flourish as the study of Sanskrit changed from a more traditional style into a form of analytical and comparative scholarship mirroring that of Europe.

(2018). 9780822341055, Duke University Press. .

Contemporary usage

As a spoken language
In the 2001 Census of India, 14,135 Indians reported Sanskrit to be their .

Indian newspapers have published reports about several villages, where, as a result of recent revival attempts, large parts of the population, including children, are learning Sanskrit and are even using it to some extent in everyday communication:

  1. , ,
  2. Jhiri, ,
  3. , Banswara district,
  4. , Kendujhar district,

According to the 2011 national census of , 1,669 people use Sanskrit as their first language.

In official use
In , Sanskrit is among the 22 languages of the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. The state of in India has ruled Sanskrit as its second official language. In October 2012 social activist filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for declaring Sanskrit as a 'minority' language.

Contemporary literature and patronage
More than 3,000 Sanskrit works have been composed since India's independence in 1947. Much of this work has been judged of high quality, in comparison to both classical Sanskrit literature and modern literature in other Indian languages.
(2018). 9788186111215, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. .

The has given an award for the best creative work in Sanskrit every year since 1967. In 2009, Satya Vrat Shastri became the first Sanskrit author to win the , India's highest literary award.

In music
Sanskrit is used extensively in the and Hindustani branches of classical music. , , , and of Sanskrit are popular throughout India. The uses musical notations in several of its recessions.

In , musicians such as have written in Sanskrit.

In mass media
Over 90 weeklies, fortnightlies and quarterlies are published in Sanskrit. , a daily newspaper in Sanskrit, has been published out of , India, since 1970, while Sanskrit Vartman Patram and Vishwasya Vrittantam started in Gujarat during the last five years. Since 1974, there has been a short daily news broadcast on state-run All India Radio. These broadcasts are also made available on the internet on AIR's website. Sanskrit news is broadcast on TV and on the internet through the DD National channel at 6:55 AM IST.

In liturgy
Sanskrit is the sacred language of various Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. It is used during worship in throughout the world. In , it is used in all monasteries, while and religious texts and sutras are in Sanskrit as well as vernacular languages. are written in Sanskrit, including the , Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, the Bhaktamara Stotra and the .

It is also popular amongst the many practitioners of in the West, who find the language helpful for understanding texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Symbolic usage
In Nepal, India and , Sanskrit phrases are widely used as for various national, educational and social organisations:
  • : (सत्यमेव जयते) meaning: Truth alone triumphs.
  • : Janani Janmabhoomischa Swargadapi Gariyasi meaning: Mother and motherland are superior to heaven.
  • : In Indonesia, Sanskrit are usually widely used as terms and mottoes of the armed forces and other national organizations (See: Indonesian Armed Forces mottoes). Rastra Sewakottama (राष्ट्र सेवकोत्तम; People's Main Servants) is the official motto of the Indonesian National Police, Tri Dharma Eka Karma(त्रीधर्म एक कर्म) is the official motto of the Indonesian Military, Kartika Eka Paksi (कार्तिक एक पक्षी; Unmatchable Bird with Noble Goals) is the official motto of the , Adhitakarya Mahatvavirya Nagarabhakti (अधीतकार्य महत्ववीर्य नगरभक्ती; Hard-working Knights Serving Bravery as Nations Hero") is the official motto of the Indonesian Military Academy, Upakriya Labdha Prayojana Balottama (उपकृया लब्ध प्रयोजन बालोत्तम; "Purpose of The Unit is to Give The Best Service to The Nation by Finding The Perfect Soldier") is the official motto of the Army Psychological Corps, Karmanye Vadikaraste Mafalesu Kadachana (कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन; "Working Without Counting The Profit and Loss") is the official motto of the Air-Force Special Forces (), Jalesu Bhumyamcha Jayamahe (जलेशु भूम्यं च जयमहे; "On The Sea and Land We Are Glorious") is the official motto of the Indonesian Marine Corps, and there are more units and organizations in Indonesia either Armed Forces or civil which use the Sanskrit language respectively as their mottoes and other purposes. Although Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, it still has major Hindu and Indian influence since pre-historic times until now culturally and traditionally especially in the islands of and .

Many of India's and Nepal's scientific and administrative terms are named in Sanskrit. The Indian guided missile program that was commenced in 1983 by the Defence Research and Development Organisation has named the five missiles (ballistic and others) that it developed Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Nag and the Trishul missile system. India's first modern fighter aircraft is named .

Several nations in of have numerous loan Sanskrit words, such as in Filipino,

9783110218435, De Gruyter Mouton.
, , Sak-Humphry, Channy. The Syntax of Nouns and Noun Phrases in Dated Pre-Angkorian Inscriptions. Mon Khmer Studies 22: 1–26. Thai and its alphabets, Malay, Indonesian (old Javanese-English dictionary by P.J. Zoetmulder contains over 25,500 entries), and even in English.

Public education and popularisation

Adult and continuing education
Attempts at the Sanskrit language have been undertaken in the Republic of India since its foundation in 1947 (it was included in the 14 original languages of the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution).

Samskrita Bharati is an organisation working for Sanskrit revival. The "All-India Sanskrit Festival" (since 2002) holds composition contests. The 1991 Indian census reported 49,736 fluent speakers of Sanskrit. Sanskrit learning programmes also feature on the lists of most AIR broadcasting centres. The village in central claims to have native speakers of Sanskrit among its population. Inhabitants of all castes learn Sanskrit starting in childhood and converse in the language. Even the local Muslims converse in Sanskrit. Historically, the village was given by king of the Vijayanagara Empire to Vedic scholars and their families, while people in his kingdom spoke Kannada and Telugu. Another effort concentrates on preserving and passing along the of the , is one such organisation based out of that has been digitising the Vedas by recording recitations of Vedic Pandits.

state has over 24 Sanskrit colleges offering education equivalent to bachelors degree, additionally masters and doctoral level degrees are also offered by the Kurukshetra University and Maharshi Dayanand University.

School curricula
The Central Board of Secondary Education of India (CBSE), along with several other state education boards, has made Sanskrit an alternative option to the state's own official language as a second or third language choice in the schools it governs. In such schools, learning Sanskrit is an option for grades 5 to 8 (Classes V to VIII). This is true of most schools affiliated with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) board, especially in states where the official language is . Sanskrit is also taught in traditional throughout India.

In the West
St James Junior School in , England, offers Sanskrit as part of the curriculum. In the United States, since September 2009, high school students have been able to receive credits as Independent Study or toward Foreign Language requirements by studying Sanskrit, as part of the "SAFL: Samskritam as a Foreign Language" program coordinated by Samskrita Bharati. In , the private boys' high school Sydney Grammar School offers Sanskrit from years 7 through to 12, including for the Higher School Certificate.

A list of Sanskrit universities is given below in chronological order of establishment:

1791Government Sanskrit College, Benares
1821Poona Sanskrit College
1824, Calcutta
1876Sadvidya Pathashala
1915Baroda Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya
1961Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University
1962Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha
1962Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha
1970Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan
1981Shri Jagannath Sanskrit University
1986Nepal Sanskrit University
1993Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit,
1997Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University
2001Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Rajasthan Sanskrit University
2005Uttarakhand Sanskrit University
2005Shree Somnath Sanskrit University
2008Maharshi Panini Sanskrit Evam Vedic Vishwavidyalaya
2011Karnataka Samskrit University

Many universities throughout the world train and employ Sanskrit scholars, either within a separate Sanskrit department or as part of a broader focus area, such as South Asian studies or Linguistics. For example, Delhi university has about 400 Sanskrit students, about half of which are in post-graduate programmes.

European scholarship

European scholarship in Sanskrit, begun by (1620–1668) and Johann Ernst Hanxleden (1681–1731), is considered responsible for the discovery of an Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones (1746–1794). This research played an important role in the development of Western , or historical linguistics.

Sir William Jones was one of the most influential philologists of his time. He told The Asiatic Society in on 2 February 1786:

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.

British attitudes
Orientalist scholars of the 18th century like Sir William Jones marked a wave of enthusiasm for Indian culture and for Sanskrit. According to , after this period of "", a certain hostility to Sanskrit and to Indian culture in general began to assert itself in early 19th century Britain, manifested by a neglect of Sanskrit in British academia. This was the beginning of a general push in favour of the idea that India should be culturally, religiously and linguistically assimilated to Britain as far as possible. Trautmann considers two separate and logically opposite sources for the growing hostility: one was "British Indophobia", which he calls essentially a developmentalist, progressivist, liberal, and non-racial-essentialist critique of Hindu civilisation as an aid for the improvement of India along European lines; the other was scientific racism, a theory of the English "common-sense view" that Indians constituted a "separate, inferior and unimprovable race".
(2018). 9788190227216, Yoda Press. .

Classical Sanskrit distinguishes about 36 ; the presence of leads the writing systems to generally distinguish 48 phones, or sounds. The sounds are traditionally listed in the order ( Ac), ( Hal), and , plosives (Sparśa), , and finally the liquids and , written in the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) as follows:



+ vedic sanskrit consonants

Writing system

Sanskrit originated in an oral society, and the was maintained through the development of early classical Sanskrit literature.

(1998). 9780195356663, Oxford University Press.
Some scholars such as Jack Goody suggest that the Vedic Sanskrit texts are not the product of an oral society, basing this view by comparing inconsistencies in the transmitted versions of literature from various oral societies such as the Greek, Serbian and other cultures, then noting that the Vedic literature is too consistent and vast to have been composed and transmitted orally across generations, without being written down.
(1987). 9780521337946, Cambridge University Press. .
These scholars add that the Vedic texts likely involved both a written and oral tradition, calling it "parallel products of a literate society".

Sanskrit has no native script of its own, and historical evidence suggests that it has been written in various scripts on a variety of media such as palm leaves, cloth, paper, rock and metal sheets, at least by the time of arrival of Alexander the Great in northwestern Indian subcontinent in 1st millennium BCE.

(1989). 9788120800632, Motilal Banarsidass.

The earliest known rock inscriptions in Sanskrit date to the first century BCE,The and Hāthībādā-Ghosuṇḍī (near ) stone inscriptions:

(1998). 9780195356663, Oxford University Press.
and the rock inscription of (c. 150 AD) "represents a turning point" as it is a more "extensive record in the poetic style" of "high Classical Sanskrit".
(1998). 9780195356663, Oxford University Press.
They are in the , which was originally used for Prakrit, not Sanskrit. It has been described as a paradox that the first evidence of written Sanskrit occurs centuries later than that of the Prakrit languages which are its linguistic descendants. In northern India, there are Brāhmī inscriptions dating from the third century BCE onwards, the oldest appearing on the famous Prakrit pillar inscriptions of king . The earliest South Indian inscriptions in Tamil Brahmi, written in early Tamil, belong to the same period. When Sanskrit was written down, it was first used for texts of an administrative, literary or scientific nature. The sacred hymns and verse were preserved orally, and were set down in writing "reluctantly" (according to one commentator), and at a comparatively late date.
(1991). 9780521299442, Cambridge University Press.
(2018). 9780674012271, Cre-A Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University Distributed by Harvard University Press.

Brahmi evolved into a multiplicity of , many of which were used to write Sanskrit. Roughly contemporary with the Brahmi, was used in the northwest of the subcontinent. Sometime between the fourth and eighth centuries, the , derived from Brahmi, became prevalent. Around the eighth century, the Śāradā script evolved out of the Gupta script. The latter was displaced in its turn by in the 11th or 12th century, with intermediary stages such as the Siddhaṃ script. In , the , and the , were used.

In the south, where Dravidian languages predominate, scripts used for Sanskrit include the , , the and .

Since the late 18th century, Sanskrit has been using the . The system most commonly used today is the IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration), which has been the academic standard since 1888. -based transliteration schemes have also evolved because of difficulties representing Sanskrit characters in computer systems. These include and , a 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 -aware web browsers, IAST has become common online. It is also possible to type using an alphanumeric keyboard and transliterate to Devanagari using software like Mac OS X's international support.

European scholars in the 19th century generally preferred Devanagari for the transcription and reproduction of whole texts and lengthy excerpts. However, references to individual words and names in texts composed in European Languages were usually represented with Roman transliteration. From the 20th century onwards, because of production costs, textual editions edited by Western scholars have mostly been in transliteration.

The Sanskrit grammatical tradition, Vyākaraṇa, one of the six , began in the late and culminated in the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini, which consists of 3990 sutras (ca. fifth century BCE). About a century after Pāṇini (around 400 BCE), Kātyāyana composed Vārtikas on the Pāṇini sũtras. , who lived three centuries after Pāṇini, wrote the Mahābhāṣya, the "Great Commentary" on the Aṣṭādhyāyī and Vārtikas. Because of these three ancient Vyākaraṇins (grammarians), this grammar is called Trimuni Vyākarana. To understand the meaning of the sutras, Jayaditya and Vāmana wrote a commentary, the Kāsikā, in 600 CE. Pāṇinian grammar is based on 14 sutras (aphorisms), where the whole mātrika (alphabet) is abbreviated. This abbreviation is called the Pratyāhara.

Sanskrit verbs are categorized into ten classes, which can be conjugated to form the , , , , perfect, , , and and tenses. Before Classical Sanskrit, older forms also included a . Each conjugational ending conveys person, number, and voice.

Nouns are highly inflected, including three grammatical genders, three numbers, and eight . Nominal compounds are common, and can include over 10 word stems.

is free, though there is a strong tendency toward subject–object–verb, the original system of Vedic prose.

Influence on other languages
For nearly 2,000 years, Sanskrit was the language of a cultural order that exerted influence across , , , and to a certain extent . A significant form of post-Vedic Sanskrit is found in the Sanskrit of Indian epic poetry—the and Mahabharata. The deviations from in the epics are generally considered to be on account of interference from , or innovations, and not because they are pre-Paninian.
(2018). 9783110144482, Walter de Gruyter.
Traditional Sanskrit scholars call such deviations ārṣa (आर्ष), meaning 'of the ', the traditional title for the ancient authors. In some contexts, there are also more "prakritisms" (borrowings from common speech) than in Classical Sanskrit proper. Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit is a literary language heavily influenced by the Middle Indo-Aryan languages, based on early Buddhist texts which subsequently assimilated to the Classical Sanskrit standard in varying degrees.
(2018). 9788121511100, Motilal Banarsidass.

Indic languages
Sanskrit has greatly influenced the languages of India that grew from its vocabulary and grammatical base; for instance, is a "Sanskritised register" of Hindustani. All modern Indo-Aryan languages, as well as and Dravidian languages have borrowed many words either directly from Sanskrit ( words), or indirectly via middle Indo-Aryan languages ( words). Words originating in Sanskrit are estimated at roughly fifty percent of the vocabulary of modern Indo-Aryan languages, as well as the literary forms of and . Literary texts in are Sanskrit or Sanskritised to an enormous extent, perhaps seventy percent or more.
(2018). 9780520225985, University of California Press.
is another prominent language in Western India, that derives most of its words and from Sanskrit.Sugam Marathi Vyakaran & Lekhana. 2007. Nitin publications. Author: M.R.Walimbe Sanskrit words are often preferred in the literary texts in Marathi over corresponding colloquial Marathi word.Carey, William (1805). A Grammar of the Marathi Language. Serampur ''

Interaction with other languages
Sanskrit has also influenced Sino-Tibetan languages, mostly through translations of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. Many terms were transliterated directly and added to the Chinese vocabulary. Chinese words like 剎那 chànà (: क्षण 'instantaneous period') were borrowed from Sanskrit. Many Sanskrit texts survive only in Tibetan collections of commentaries to the Buddhist teachings, the .
(2018). 9788177420388, International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan.

Sanskrit was a language for religious purposes and for the political elite in parts of medieval era Southeast Asia, Central Asia and East Asia. In , languages such as and contain many from Sanskrit, as do . For example, in Thai, , the emperor of , is called Thosakanth, a derivation of his Sanskrit name Dāśakaṇṭha "having ten necks".

Many Sanskrit loanwords are also found in Austronesian languages, such as Javanese, particularly the in which nearly half the vocabulary is borrowed. Other Austronesian languages, such as and modern Indonesian, also derive much of their vocabulary from Sanskrit. Similarly, Philippine languages such as have some Sanskrit loanwords, although more are derived from . A Sanskrit loanword encountered in many Southeast Asian languages is the word , or spoken language, which is used to refer to the names of many languages. also has words of Sanskrit origin. Sanskrit has also influenced the religious register of Japanese mostly through transliterations.These were borrowed from Chinese transliterations. "Sanskrit Personal Names and their Japanese Equivalents"

In popular culture
Satyagraha, an opera by , uses texts from the Bhagavad Gita, sung in Sanskrit. The closing credits of The Matrix Revolutions has a prayer from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The song "Cyber-raga" from Madonna's album Music includes Sanskrit chants,
(2018). 9781463725624, Mahodara Press.
and Shanti/Ashtangi from her 1998 album Ray of Light, which won a Grammy, is the ashtanga vinyasa yoga chant. The lyrics include the mantra Om shanti. Composer featured choirs singing in Sanskrit for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and in . The theme song of Battlestar Galactica 2004 is the , taken from the . The lyrics of "The Child In Us" by Enigma also contains Sanskrit verses.

See also



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