Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Literature
1-Sanskrit Language in Ancient India
See also Sanskrit Literature of India-3 for individual people and their works
There were two languages in the ancient times. Manu Smriti too talks about two languages prevailing in the ancient times.
One was Braahmee and the other was Paishaachee. Braahmee is now known as Sanskrit or refined. Initially it was the Vaidik Sanskrit. In fact a westerner Macdonald wrote a good book on the Grammar of Vedic Sanskrit. Eventually the Sanskrit of the Ved got somewhat corrupted during and after the times of Buddha and that is known as the Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit. Ashwaghosh and his contemporary Naagaarjun used that language. The Mahaayaan Buddhist literature was in the Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit. Then came Paanini, whose grammatical work heralded the period of Classical Sanskrit. Kaali Daas and a quite a few eminent writers have written great classics with the classical Sanskrit. The scholars see close similarity between the use of the language by Ashwaghosh and Kwaali Daas-I. Some scholars even wrongly suggested that Kaali Daas-I could have preceded Ashwaghosh. Only the script continued to retain the name Braahmee. Of course the Braahmee too has evolved. Gupta Braahmee is one of these.
The other language was Paishaachee which probably became Praakrit. Hanumaan's Vritti on the Bhagavad Geetaa is known as the Paishaach Bhaashya. While Krishn was giving the spiritual advice to Arjun in Kurukshetra, Hanumaan was very much present on the top of Arjun's chariot and he too heard the discourse of Krishn. The Paishaaachee Bhaashya is more like a grammatical elucidation on the Bhagavad Geetaa. The Praakrit spoken during the times of Buddha is called the Shuddha Magadhee or Paalee. The name Paalee came to be used as it had done the Paalan (nurturing) of the Heenayaan Buddhist scriptures and the Paalee became the classical language for the Heenayaan Buddhist literature. The Praakrit evolved further and during the times of Mahaaveer it became the Ardha-Magadhee and the Jain texts were mainly written in Ardha Magadhee or Jain Praakrit language. Linguistically it is clear that Buddha lived much before Mahaveer.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 10/31/12