“If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly-it is the Sanskrit language and literature, and all that it contains. This is a magnificent inheritance, and so long as this endures and influences the life of our people, so long the basic genius of India will continue”
“India built up a magnificent language, Sanskrit, and through this language, and its art and architecture, it sent its vibrant message to far away countries. It produced the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Buddha. Hardly any language in the world has probably played as vital a part in the history of a race as Sanskrit has.
It was not only the vehicle of the highest thought and some of the finest literature, but it became the uniting bond for India, even though there were political divisions.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata were woven into the texture of millions of lives in every generation for a thousand years. I have often wondered if our race forgot the Buddha, the Upanishads, and the great epics, what then would it be like?” Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
In India, many languages are spoken. As a matter of fact, each state has its own language. Sanskrit has a unique place in Indian culture and heritage. Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages of India. It is known as the classical language. It is famous as the ‘language of all languages’.
In the past, Prakrit was the common language. This was spoken in all parts of the country. Later Pali and Sanskrit were considered as the sacred language by all. These languages have been the original source of the languages of the country. Sanskrit has been accepted as the mother language in India. It belongs to the Indo European family. It occupies a central place in the religion of Hinduism.
The oldest known text in Sanskrit was the Rigveda. It is a collection of over a thousand Hindu hymns, composed during the 2nd Millenium BC. Sanskrit, as defined by Panini, had evolved out of the earlier “Vedic” form. Scholars often distinguish Vedic Sanskrit and Classical or “Paninian” Sanskrit as separate dialects.
However, they are extremely similar in many ways. But at the same time, they differ in a few points of phonology, vocabulary, and grammar.
Sanskrit Language of Ancient India
In the Sanskrit language, each word is supposed to have an innate and precious meaning. Further, the word expresses power when they are pronounced correctly. It has no single script associated with it. However, the most widely used was the Devnagiri script. In the Vedas Sanskrit has been defined as the ‘language of the gods’.
Today, it is the official language of the state of Uttarakhand. It is also one of the 22 official languages as per the constitution of India. With the advent of Hindi and other languages which are originally derived from Sanskrit, the language has slightly started to decline. However, attempts are being made to increase its scope and study.