Summary – Section 1 (Facts 1 to 13)
In this section we discuss the history of Sanskrit, our mother tongue.
Fact 1 – We postulate that Sanskrit is at least 6000 years old. We fall on internal evidence presented by writers like Tilak to claim that the R̥g Veda is around 6000 years old. It is interesting to note that the Vedic seers devised elaborate schemes, like the various Pāṭhas, to preserve the fidelity of these ancient Vedic texts, rather than just write them down. This points to the fact that the R̥g Veda was composed before writing was invented; We claim that this takes the R̥g Veda, and the language it was composed in, Sanskrit, back to around 6000 years ago.
Fact 2 – We then speculate that the Indus-Saraswati civilisation which evolved around 5000 years ago spoke a form of Sanskrit. We speculate that rather than being ‘Dravidians’ speaking a Dravidian language, the Indus-Saraswati people were one and the same as the ‘Aryans’, who had and were composing the Vedas. The Aryans, who were, in Western imagination, supposed to have come from far away regions, defeated and disposed of these Darvidians, and settled down in the valley to then compose the Vedas. We therefore say that there is a continuous tradition of the Sanskrit language in the Indus/ Saraswati regions.
Fact 3 – We look at how Sanskrit evolved from the language used in the Vedas to the language we know now as Classical Sanskrit. We trace the evolution of the language from The R̥g Veda, which represents the earliest phase of the language that we know, through the Yajur and the Atharva Vedas, through the Brāhmaṇas, the Āraṇyakas and the Upaniṣads, then through the various Sūtras, to the Code of Manu which represents the start of the Classical period of the language. While linguists like Yāska and Pāṇini lived during the late evolutionary period, the epics and the Purāṇas were composed completely in the classical language.
Fact 4 – We also then discuss how the so-called Vedic Sanskrit is not very different from Classical Sanskrit. It is important to note that the gap between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit is not as great as is made out by the western authorities. We show that the difference between Vedic Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit is not as great as between Old English and Modern English, by taking examples from each of the two.
Fact 5 – We then look at how the Sanskrit of the Vedas evolved into some of the so-called Prakrit languages. One of these Prakrit (simplified Sanskrit) languages was the well known Pali language in which many of Buddha’s teachings were propagated. Many of these Prakrits evolved into the spoken languages of North and West India. The history of these North and West Indian languages vis a vis Sanskrit is similar to the history of the Romance languages of Europe vis a vis Latin.
Fact 6 – We also look at how Sanskrit came to be the ‘bearer’ of Indian culture. The scriptures of the so-called Sanatana Dharma (which includes tenets of Jainism, Buddhism and other heterodox and orthodox teachings of India) that are widely recognized in the whole of India were written and propagated through the medium of Sanskrit. This was true even for South India which spoke a different family of languages. It was also clear that all learned discourses across India were conducted in Sanskrit. Thus Sanskrit served as the link language of India.
Fact 7 – We then discuss the origin of languages and the concept of language families and how different language families evolved over the world. We list some of the families and speak of Sanskrit, with a continuous tradition of 6000 years, being the oldest known member of the Indo-European family.
Fact 8 – We continue to look at the origin of the concept of language families and establish why Sanskrit, Persian, Latin and Greek are indeed members of this family. We then list all the major subfamilies of the Indo-European family. We then look at how these different languages evolved from an original language by looking at sound shifts among these various languages. We discuss in particular two laws of sound shift of Germanic languages, Grimm’s and Verner’s law.
Fact 9 – We also look at the intimate relationship between Sanskrit and Avestan (ancient language of Iran in which their scriptures are composed). We use an example to show that there is a close relation between the words and grammatical constructs of the two languages – Vedic and Avestan.
Fact 10 – We then look at how Sanskrit has influenced South Indian languages, and vice-versa. To elaborate on this we look at the many words that a South Indian language like Tamil has borrowed from Sanskrit over many centuries. We look at two types of borrowings, tadbhava, which are words that have been borrowed in early times and have evolved along with native words, and tatsama, which are borrowings that have stayed as Sanskrit words. We also look at how language structures and sounds have been borrowed from Tamil into Sanskrit. We also look at some alternative theories to these.
Fact 11 – We then look at how Sanskrit had a deep influence over the whole of Asia, especially places like China, Japan, Indo-China, being carried there as part of Buddhist teaching and by traders and conquerors. We even speculate that Chinese tones may have their origins in the Vedic tones.
Fact 12 and 13 – We then, over two ‘facts’, look at how Sanskrit was used to express the most ordinary as well as the most sublime ideas by quoting some sample verses from the R̥g Veda.
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