Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, and mother of all Indo-European languages. Impressed with Sanskrit grammar and scientific structure, the linguists consider it the most suitable language for computers. It is link between present generation of population divided into Nationalities all over the world, and past of entire mankind on this planet.
Richness of Original Texts
The Sanskrit is written in Devanagari script. Rishis discovered Sanskrit and used it to create the mantras that were made up of a combination of sound vibrations to create specific effect on the mind and the psyche, when recited. It is the language of the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas. Sanskrit literature is the richest literature in the history of mankind.
The popularity and richness of Sanskrit is indicated by the wealth of literature composed in the language covering every subject under the Sun. On every subject a masterpiece treatise can be found in the Sanskrit literature. The range expands from Philosophy, Religion, Science, Fine Arts, Sex, Music, Astrology, Palmistry, Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics, Martial Arts, and Diplomacy, just to list the few.
Panini’s Grammar Ashtadhyayi
Panini’s Sanskrit grammar, produced in about 300 BC is the shortest but complete grammar in the world for its precision of statement, for its thorough analysis of the roots of the language and of the formative principles of words. By employing an Algebraic terminology it attains a sharp succinct-ness unrivalled in brevity. It arranges, in logical harmony, the whole phenomena, which the Sanskrit language presents. It is one of the most splendid achievements of human invention in the science of Linguistics.
Panini’s masterpiece Ashtadhyayi (Eight Chapters) stands out as the first scientific analysis of any alphabet. The work is the more remarkable since the author did not write it down. He worked it all out of his head. Panini’s disciples committed the work to memory and in turn passed it on to their disciples. Though the Astadhayayi has long since been committed to writing, rote memorization of the work, with several of the more important commentaries, is still the approved method of studying grammar in India today.
Ashtadhyayi comprises of four thousand sutras or aphoristic rules. Prior grammatical analysis is clearly evidenced by the fact that Panini himself mentioned over sixty predecessors in the field. Subsequent grammarians, especially Katyayana and Patanjali, carried the work much further, and by the middle of the second century BC Sanskrit had attained a stereotyped form, which has remained unaltered for centuries.
Scientific Structure of Sanskrit
The Indian grammar set the pace for Europeans to analyze speech forms. Ancient Indian work on grammar was objective, systematic, and brilliant than that done in Greece and Rome. This refers to the period centuries before that of Geoffrey Chaucer; the Father of English poetry who came on the literary scene in 1350 AD. In most of the European countries people resorted to yodeling to draw attention of their neighbors working nearby.
Since English has been enjoying the status of global language, it will be appropriate to compare and contrast Sanskrit with international language in simple laymen style, to avoid complexity of jargon.
- Alphabets – In every language, sounds are represented by signs. One distinct sign is allotted for identifying every smallest audible sound. Total number of signs when arranged in any uniform order worked out by users is called alphabet of language. Thus every developed language has its own alphabet, otherwise it has to borrow the same from some other language. English borrowed Roman script. English language has only 26 alphabets; implying only 26 basic natural sounds can be recorded in her script for use. Even out of that ‘Q’ ‘W’ ‘X’ are not natural sounds. Thus the efficacy of scripting natural sounds is only 23. Compared to this, Sanskrit has 46 Alphabets in her own Devanagri Obviously for this reason, her capability to record natural sounds is twice more than English.
- Vowels and Consonants – Alphabets are subdivided into Vowels and Consonants. Consonants are natural sounds expressed in shortest durations. Vowels are added to consonants to prolong, mold and twist the natural sound towards desired expression. English has only five vowels in her kitty. Those are often used as consonants also. Thus most of the time every vowel has to perform double or even triple role by producing different sounds. In comparison, Sanskrit has thirteen vowels distinct from consonants. Therefore on this count also capability of Sanskrit to articulate natural sounds is much higher than English. In Sanskrit, no vowel is assigned dual role.
- Simplicity There are several sounds which cannot be properly written or spoken in English, such as ‘Kha’, ‘Tha’ ‘Khsa’ to express proper nouns imported from other languages. The vowels in use are not sound specific so are the consonants too. For instance, the sound of alphabet ‘c’ is not uniform in the word ‘ceased’ and ‘cat’. The alphabet ‘w’ and ‘v’ are used for similar expression on the basis of convention. West begins with ‘W’, while vest is to be worn with ‘v’. In contrast, whatever is scripted in Sanskrit, the same is spoken also. Every sound can be scripted the way it should be spoken. Nothing is left to guess-work or convention. Therefore Sanskrit is easier to learn and use.
- Pronunciation – The Sanskrit alphabets have been arranged according to their body source, such as sounds made from throat, nasal and tongue or through the combination of body parts. The sounds represented by the letters of the alphabet have been scientifically arranged. Vowels and diphthongs are separated from mutes, semivowels, and sibilants. The sounds have been grouped into guttural, palatal, cerebral, dental and labial. This purely corresponds with human anatomy in practice.
The above is a brief but obvious comparison between ancient languages with the current International language, on few counts only. Sanskrit is no doubt a scientific and systematic language with perfect grammar. It has rightly attracted scholars worldwide.
But there is no justification for present generation of Indians to feel proud about it unless Sanskrit is respected by Indians at home also. Until 1100 AD Sanskrit was without interruption the official language of the whole of India, but now it is losing home turf to regional languages, English and Urdu. Younger generations are not being attracted towards it due to neglect of India’s selfishly secular politicians.
Language is the identity of Individuals and nationalities. England though a tiny country in size to India, is regarded as a super power in the world. This equation of strength is mainly due to the English language that the British introduced throughout in their colonies. They initiated the most primitive and illiterate locals of their colonies to English and raised the strength of working classes to accept as their language. Today economy and technology of the developed countries is being commanded by the English-speaking people only. Libraries all over the world have been stocked with volumes of English literature and Technology scripted in English.
In contrast, India and China despite being world’s most populated countries, have no say in their own language. They are compelled to interact only through English. Unless they learn to converse in English they are regarded deaf and dumb on the global stage. Is it not a shameful situation for the youth of any self-respecting country?
Cultural Identity of India
For lack of determination, Indians have failed to establish their linguist identity anywhere in the world as well as at home. They prefer to continue being yoked under English for earning bread. Our ancestors had left most valuable legacies for the world to admire and educate us in return, but we have proved worthless to deserve and uphold their glory.
No doubt, India has an edge over China, because Chinese script is difficult and complicated. Our Devanagri script is more scientific, simple and natural. This script is used for Sanskrit and Hindi that happens to be the National Language of India. Still there are no takers for both the languages even in India, and the class rooms in Universities of India have been facing shortage of students. Those who do not get admission anywhere finally take up these languages to obtain a degree to be called qualified and learned.
The word Sanskrit literally means Perfected Language. This is quite an appropriate name to describe Sanskrit, but unfortunately our convent educated secularists did not reconcile to it. We run after certificates from others. Till NASA declared Sanskrit to be the only unambiguous language on the planet we did not care about her well-being. Little do we realize that Sanskrit is the only language that can function as an effective tool to link with the past history of India, and to enable us understand literature of Ancient time.
If we want to stand at our own in the world, we shall have to build indigenous technology; for which the road passes through the domain of Sanskrit. If we continue to overlook the importance of Sanskrit in India, we shall be obliterating this last link also that has provided continuity with since the creation of Universe. If India wants to regain her past, they shall have to revert to Sanskrit, otherwise they would be drowned in English Channel
Chand K Sharma
(Next: Splashes – 40/72 – Literary Contributions by India)