SANSKRIT is one of the official languages of India, and is popularly known as a classical language of the country. Considered to be the Mother of all Languages, it belongs to the Indic group of language family of Indo-European and its descendents, which are Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan.
The meaning of Sanskrit is refined, decorated or produced in perfect form. The language is also known for its clarity and beauty. It is also a language of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Sanskrit is now attracting the modern world. This is the only language that is used in Holy functions and ceremonies of Hindus, as it has always been regarded as the sacred language of the religion. Sanskrit mantras, when recited in combination with the sound vibration, have a specific effect on the mind and the psyche of the individual.
It is said that Brahma was the creator and introduced Sanskrit language to the Sages of celestial bodies. Therefore, this language is also called Dev Vani, which means the language of Gods. It was during the 18th Century when a similarity between Sanskrit, Latin and Greek was found, which gave the reason to study and discover the relationship of all Indo-European languages.
The earliest form of Sanskrit language was Vedic Sanskrit that came approximately around 1500-200 B.C. This was the period when knowledge was imparted orally through the generations.
One of the oldest languages known for over thousands of years, Sanskrit literature is the richest literature in the history of humankind. The composition of hymns, poems, puranas during the Vedic period formed sacred scripts of Hindus. The oldest known texts in Sanskrit are the Rigveda, Sama-veda, Yajur-veda and the Atharva-veda. Classical Sanskrit based on the old Vedic speech came up approximately between 500 B.C.-1000 A.D. It was the period after which Panini composed his grammar of Sanskrit. The two great epics of this period were Ramayana and Mahabharata.
NUMBER OF SPEAKERS
Around 49,736 of the population speak the Sanskrit language fluently, according to the 1991 Indian census. Many Buddhist scholars of Japan, China, Thailand use Sanskrit language apart from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, some areas of south and Southeast Asia.
Through the development of early classical Sanskrit literature, the oral tradition was maintained. Sanskrit was spoken in an oral society and the writing was not introduced to India until after Sanskrit had evolved into the Prakrits.
The regional scripts of the scribe influenced the choice of writing system. Devanagari has been considered as the effective writing system for Sanskrit since the late 19th century. The reason for this could be the European practice of printing Sanskrit texts in this script. Brahmi developed into an array of scripts of the Brahmic family, many of which were used to write Sanskrit. The Kharosthi script was used in the northwest of the subcontinent. The Gupta script that has been derived from Brahmi, became prevalent around the 4th to 8th centuries CE. The Bengali script and the Oriya script were used in Eastern India. In the south, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Grantha were the scripts used for Sanskrit.