History of Sanskrit

The Vedic Age – Upto 600 BC     

Quote eminent freedom fighter K M Munshi and founder of the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan “The multiplicity of languages and communities is widely advertised, but little emphasis is laid on certain facts which make India what she is. Throughout the last two millennia, there was linguistic unity. Some sort of a lingua franca was used by a very large past of the country, and Sanskrit (S), for a thousands years the language of the royal courts and at all times the language of culture, was predominant, influencing life, language and literature in most provinces. For over 3,000 years, social and family life has been molded or influenced by the Dharma-Sastra texts, containing a comprehensive code of personal law, which though adapted from time to time to suit every age, province, provided a continuous unifying force. Aryan (Arya means cultured) drew its inspiration in every successive generation from Sanskrit works on religion, philosophy, ritual, law and science, and particularly the two epics Ramayana and Mahabharat”.

It appears, therefore, that not only the Indo-European vowl-system has been fundamentally transformed in Sanskrit, as is universally recognized today, but also that, atleast in one respect, namely in respect of spirants, S consonantism has innovated no less. And this holds good for the oldest recorded form of Sanskrit, namely the language of the Rigveda. ‘In the days of Panini, app 500 BC, Sanskrit was still a living language of some sort. But in the days of grammarian Patanjali it must have become more or less like Latin in mediaeval Italy. In any case S had long ceased to be a living language before the days of Asoka’. Keith HSL. The basic language of the Atharvaveda is however, not too unlike, say the S of grammarian Patanjali, and is on the whole not difficult to understand except in a few cases.

The Brahmana texts, together with prose parts of the Atharveda and Yajurveda, are perhaps the only genuine prose works, which the Sanskrit, as a popular language, has produced.

The language of the Upanishads is more akin to the Classical than to the Vedic Sanskrit. 

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