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1-Sanskrit Language of India
See also  Sanskrit Literature of India-3 for individual people and their works

Greatness of Sanskrit
The most important cause for the continuity of Indian culture throughout the country is undoubtedly Sanskrit. All languages of India with perhaps the exception of Tamil consider Sanskrit as the mother. The world’s most ancient language was used in early Vaidik literature about 5000 years back.

The sanskrit literature is divided into two main periods'the Vedic , when the Vedic form of Sanskrit generally prevailed, and the Sanskrit , when classical Sanskrit (a development of Vedic) predominated. now i will start with Vaidik.

The Vaidik Period
The first part of the Vaidik period is that of the Ved (four Ved), was a poetic and creative age, but afterwards the priestly class transferred its energies to sacrificial ceremonial. They produced the Braahman, prose commentaries, in a later form of Vaidik, explaining the relations of the Ved (which became the sacred texts) to the ceremonials of the Vaidik religion. In time the Braahman, like the Ved, came to be considered Shruti means "which are heard.

All later works, in contrast, are called Smriti, means by memory or tradition, and are considered to be derived from the ancient sages. The later portions of the Braahman are theosophical treatises; since they were meant to be studied in the solitude of the forest, they are called Aaranyak, means forest books. The final parts of the Aaranyak are the philosophical Upanishad, means secret doctrine. In language structure the Aaranyak and the Upanishad approach classical Sanskrit.

The Sootra, means thread or clue, were written in the third and final stage of the Vaidik period. They are treatises dealing with Vaidik ritual and customary law. They were written to fulfill the need for a short survey in mnemonic, aphoristic form of the past literature, which by this time had assumed massive proportions. There are two main forms of Sootra;
(1) the Shraut Sootra, based on Shruti, which developed the ritualistic side, and
(2) the Grihya Sootra, based on Smriti. These Grihya Sootra deal with social and legal usage and are the Dharm Sootra, the oldest source of Indian law.

The body of works composed in the Sootra style was divided into 6 Vedaang - members of the Ved; (1) Shikshaa (phonetics), (2) Chhand (meter), (3) Vyaakaran (grammar, (4) Nirukt (etymology), (5) Kalp (religious practice), and (6) Jyotish (astronomy). A Sootra that is particularly well known in the West is the Kaam Sootra of Vaatsyaayan concerning the art and practice of love. Linguistic standards were stereotyped in the middle of the Sootra period by the grammar of Paanini, regarded as the starting point of the Sanskrit period.

Paanini - Paanini’s “Ashtaadhyaayee”, the most ancient grammar helped to initiate writing. In fact there were 8 grammarians, but Paanini is among the eight as the late comer in chronology into the field. But his work superseded the others and survives till today due to its scientific design in the description of the Sanskrit Language. Indra, Chandra, Kashakrishn, Apishali, ShaakTaayan, Amar, Jainendra and Paanini are the eight grammarians enumerated in the above list. There are several later grammars for Sanskrit composed in the attempt to simplify the grammar, but none of them could not succeed in the well planned Paaninian Grammar.

Great epics - Mahaabhaarat and Raamaayan - were authored later.
Vaalmeeki is considered as the first poet of the world.
Ashwaghosh’s "Buddh Charit" and "Saundaryaanand" were later works.
Kaali Daas’ "Kumaar Sambhav", "Raghuvansh", "Abhigyaan Shaakuntalam" etc, written somewhere near 5th century.
Bhairavee’s "Kirataarjuneeya was written in about 6th century.

Varieties in Sanskrit literature extends from dramas of Bhaas (Pratigyaa Yaughandhraayan, Swapna Vaasavdattaa etc), Kaalidaas, Shoodrak (Mrichchikatikaa), Vishaakhdatt (Mudraa Raakshas), Bhavabhooti (Mahaaveer Charit, Uttar Raamcharit, Maalatee Maadhav), Harsh (Ratnaavalee, Priyadarshikaa, Naagnand), Mahendra Vikram (Matta Vilaas) etc.

Vishnu Sharmaa’s "Panchtantra" started the art of story telling. Baan Bhatt’s "Kaadambaree" started the novel writing. Goddal’s "Udaya Sundaree" started the love stories - also called Champoo Kaavya. Bhoj Raaj’s "Shringaar Manjaree" is a novel where different types of love are explained. Som Dev’s "Kathaa Sarit Saagar" is a treasure of stories. Kshemendra’s "Kalaa Vilaas", "Darp Dalan", "Deshopadesh" etc, are works of satire dealing with corruption, and other evil practices.

Patanjali’s "Mahaabhaashya" started the analytical writing. Aaryabhatt and Bhaaskaraachaarya wrote of mathematics and astronomy. Charak and Sushrut wrote of medicine. Kautilya (Chaanakya) wrote on politics and administration.

Bharat Muni’s "Naatya Shaastra" started the art of criticism. Bhamaha, Dandin, Vemana, Rudrata, Aanand Vardhan, Kuntak, Udbhut, Lollat, Dhananjaya and others including Raajaa Bhoj were famous critics of their time.

Downfall of Sanskrit
The downfall of Sanskrit literature started with foreign aggression from about 1200 AD. Even then there were some efforts to further the literature. Amar Chandra, Someshwar, Baalchandra, Vastupaal, Princess Gangaa, Ahobila, Dindimaa, Gopaal, Man Dev, Neel Kaantaa, Venkataadhwari and others were the famous writers of the time. These efforts continued even during the British period. Even now Sanskrit is providing a storehouse for the words required to write scientific and technical books.

Why Sanskrit is Important?
There are four reasons.
(1) The accuracy of grammar, beauty of the expressions and the sound of Sanskrit is not found in any other language of the world. It provides the basis for all other Indian languages like what Greek and Latin are for the western languages.
(2). Indian culture rests on Sanskrit. Ved, Upanishad, Puraan, Epics like Mahaabhaarat and Raamaayan, Yog Sootra are all in Sanskrit. It is these that have bonded India together.
(3) Sanskrit is rich in literature by poets like Kaali Daas, Bhairavee, Baan Bhatt, Bhartrihari etc., It is not that it deals only with spiritual matters. It caters to all needs of all people including finance, politics, law, mental health, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, engineering and many others.
(4) It provides values applicable to the whole humanity. It not only provides a hope for the individual that he can rise to the level of the divine and through that concept, one can identify with every one else and thus helps in developing brotherhood in the whole world.

Specialty of Sanskrit
expressions of vowels and consonants.
1. Consonants have no independent expression without the vowels. This system is not seen in other languages. (Example: - FRY, DRY. In come and coma, “co” has different expressions. TOP, MOP, JUM, CHUM – here, O and U have expression like "a".) Such anomalies are not found in Sanskrit.
2. From the Mool Dhaatu (root), it is possible to create a number of words in Sanskrit. There has been no change in either the words or their meanings from times immemorial.
3. There has been no change in the rules of grammar and hence the same type of poetical works is there irrespective of when the works were created.
4. There is a specialty in the literature connected to Ved, Upanishad and Puraan. Although there is a difference in the style in these works, there is no difference in the words used.

Should we not protect such a beautiful and unique language which is our proud heritage?


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 04/09/13