VEDIC SANSKRIT 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
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 about Indo-European parent language. Quite early in the
Sanskrit separated from the
Avestan language (an
Eastern Iranian language ). The exact century of separation is unknown
but this separation of
Avestan occurred certainly before
Avestan language developed in ancient Persia, was the
Zoroastrianism , but was a dead language in the Sasanian
period . Vedic
Sanskrit developed independently in ancient India,
evolved into classical
Sanskrit after the grammar and linguistic
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 History
* 1.1 Prehistoric derivation
* 1.2 Chronology
* 2 See also
* 3 Notes
* 4 References
* 5 External links
Sanskrit text on hemp-based paper. Hemp fiber was
commonly used in the production of paper from 200 BCE to the late
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 of
Rigveda is vague at best, generally estimated to roughly 1500 BCE.
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
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 from about 1700 BCE. According to this model,
Rigvedic within the larger Indo-Aryan group is the direct ancestor of
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 at the
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
cognates or direct correspondences with the ancient
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 post-Rigvedic period.
* MANTRA LANGUAGE This period includes both the mantra and prose
language of the
Atharvaveda (Paippalada and Shaunakiya), the Rigveda
Khilani , the
Samaveda Samhita, and the mantras of the
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
Sanskrit verb system has been abandoned, and a prototype of
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
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
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. ISBN
* ^ 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. ISBN 978-0-8093-1091-3 .
* ^ 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. ISBN 0-691-13589-4 .
* ^ 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 called
Avestan because the sacred scriptures of
Zoroastrianism, Avesta, were written in this old form.
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. ISBN
* ^ 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. ISBN
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
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