Sanskrit or Aryam (Devanagari: आर्यम् IAST: āryam,
"noble") is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of
the Indo-Iranian group. It is the ancient language of the
Hinduism, texts compiled over the period of the mid-2nd to mid-1st
millennium BCE. It was orally preserved, predating the advent of
Brahmi script by several centuries. Vedic
Sanskrit is an archaic
language, whose consensus translation has been challenging.
Extensive ancient literature in the Vedic
Sanskrit language has
survived into the modern era, and this has been a major source of
information for reconstructing
Proto-Indo-Iranian history. Quite early in the pre-historic era,
Sanskrit separated from the
Avestan language, an Eastern Iranian
language. The exact century of separation is unknown but this
Avestan occurred certainly before 1800
Avestan language developed in ancient Persia, was the
language of Zoroastrianism, but was a dead language in the Sasanian
Sanskrit developed independently in ancient India,
evolved into classical
Sanskrit after the grammar and linguistic
treatise of Pāṇini, and later into many related Indian
subcontinent languages in which are found the voluminous ancient and
medieval literature of Buddhism,
Hinduism and Jainism.
1.1 Prehistoric derivation
2 See also
5 External links
Further information: Substratum in the Vedic language
The separation of proto-Indo-Iranian language into
Avestan and Vedic
Sanskrit is estimated, on linguistic grounds, to have occurred around
or before 1800 BCE. The date of composition of the oldest hymns
Rigveda is vague at best, generally estimated to roughly 1500
Asko Parpola (1988) and
J. P. Mallory (1998) place the
locus of the division of Indo-Aryan from Iranian in the Bronze Age
culture of the
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC).
Parpola (1999) elaborates the model and has "Proto-Rigvedic"
Indo-Aryans intrude the BMAC around 1700 BCE. He assumes early
Indo-Aryan presence in the Late Harappan horizon from about 1900 BCE,
and "Proto-Rigvedic" (Proto-Dardic) intrusion to the Punjab as
corresponding to the
Gandhara grave culture
Gandhara grave culture from about 1700 BCE.
According to this model, Rigvedic within the larger Indo-Aryan group
is the direct ancestor of the Dardic languages. The hymns of the
Rigveda are thus composed in a sacred language which was based on the
natural language spoken in
Gandhara during the early phase of the
Gandhara grave culture
Gandhara grave culture at the end of Bronze Age India. This liturgical
language over the following centuries came to be separated from spoken
vernaculars and came to be known as the "artificial" or "elaborated"
(saṃskṛta) language, contrasted to the "natural" or "unrefined"
prākṛta vernaculars by the end of the Vedic period.
According to Michael Witzel, five chronologically distinct strata can
be identified within the Vedic language:
Rigvedic Many words in the Vedic
Sanskrit of the
Rigveda have cognates
or direct correspondences with the ancient
Avestan language, but these
do not appear in post-Rigvedic Indian texts. The
Rigveda must have
been essentially complete by around the 12th century BCE. The pre-1200
BCE layers mark a gradual change in Vedic Sanskrit, but there is
disappearance of these archaic correspondences and linguistics in the
Mantra language This period includes both the mantra and prose
language of the
Atharvaveda (Paippalada and Shaunakiya), the Rigveda
Samaveda Samhita, and the mantras of the Yajurveda. These
texts are largely derived from the Rigveda, but have undergone certain
changes, both by linguistic change and by reinterpretation. For
example, the more ancient injunctive verb system is no longer in
Samhita prose An important linguistic change is the disappearance of
the injunctive, subjunctive, optative, imperative (the modi of the
aorist). New innovation in Vedic
Sanskrit appear such as the
development of periphrastic aorist forms. This must have occurred
before the time of
Pāṇini because Panini makes a list of those from
northwestern region of India who knew these older rules of Vedic
Brahmana prose In this layer of Vedic literature, the archaic Vedic
Sanskrit verb system has been abandoned, and a prototype of pre-Panini
Sanskrit structure emerges. The Yajñagāthās texts provide a
probable link between Vedic Sanskrit,
Classical Sanskrit and languages
of the Epics. Complex meters such as Anuṣṭubh and rules of
Sanskrit prosody had been or were being innovated by this time, but
parts of the
Brahmana layers show the language is still close to Vedic
Sutra language This is the last stratum of Vedic literature,
comprising the bulk of the Śrautasūtras and Gṛhyasūtras and some
Upanishads such as the
Katha Upanishad and Maitrayaniya Upanishad.
Grammar of the Vedic language
A Vedic Word Concordance
Michael Witzel (2006). Victor H. Mair, ed. Contact And Exchange in
the Ancient World. University of Hawaii Press. p. 160.
^ Restoring historical language of the vedas from attested vedic
^ a b c d Philip Baldi (1983). An Introduction to the Indo-European
Languages. Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 51–52.
^ a b Christopher I. Beckwith (2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A
History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present.
Princeton University Press. pp. 363–368.
^ Ahmad Hasan Dani; B. A. Litvinsky (1996). History of Civilizations
of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750.
UNESCO. p. 85. ISBN 978-92-3-103211-0. ; Quote: "The
oldest extant manuscript of the Avesta dates back to 1258 or 1278. In
the Sasanian period,
Avestan was considered a dead language."
^ Hamid Wahed Alikuzai (2013). A Concise History of Afghanistan in 25
Volumes. Trafford. p. 44.
ISBN 978-1-4907-1441-7. ;Quote "The
Avestan language is
Avestan because the sacred scriptures of Zoroastrianism,
Avesta, were written in this old form.
Avestan died out long before
the advent of Islam and except for scriptural use not much has
remained of it."
^ Rens Bod (2013). A New History of the Humanities: The Search for
Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present. Oxford
University Press. pp. 14–18. ISBN 978-0-19-164294-4.
^ William J. Frawley (2003). International Encyclopedia of
Linguistics: AAVE-Esperanto. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press.
p. 269. ISBN 978-0-19-513977-8.
^ Mallory, J.P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language,
Archaeology, and Myth. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 38f.
^ J. P. Mallory; Douglas Q. Adams (1997). Encyclopedia of
Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 306.
^ Parpola, Asko (1999), "The formation of the Aryan branch of
Indo-European", in Blench, Roger & Spriggs, Matthew, Archaeology
and Language, vol. III: Artefacts, languages and texts, London and New
^ a b c d
Michael Witzel 1989, pp. 115-127 (see pp. 26-30 in the
^ a b c d e f Klaus G. Witz (1998). The Supreme Wisdom of the
Upaniṣads: An Introduction. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 24 with
note 73. ISBN 978-81-208-1573-5.
Michael Witzel 1989, pp. 121-127 (see pp. 29-31 in the
Delbrück, Berthold; Windisch, Ernst Wilhelm Oskar (1878).
Syntaktische Forschungen: III. Die Altindische Wortfolge Aus Dem
Catapathabrâhmaòa, Dargestellt Von B. Delbrück.
Arthur Anthony Macdonell, Vedic Grammar (1910)
Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1916). A Vedic Grammar for Students.
Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1052-5.
Lindner, Bruno (1878). Altindische Nominalbildung: Nach den
Michael Witzel (1989), Colette Caillat, ed., Tracing the Vedic
dialects, in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes (PDF),
Paris: de Boccard
Unicode signs for Vedic Sanskrit
index of Vedic texts (TITUS)
Sanskrit Online from the University of Texas at Austin
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
Old and Middle Indo-Aryan languages
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
Modern Indo-Aryan languages