Sanskrit

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The literature of India makes us acquainted with a great nation of past ages, which grasped every branch of knowledge, and which will always occupy a distinguished place in the history of the civilization of mankind. - Count Magnus Fredrik Ferdinand Bjornstjerna.

Sanskrit (/ˈsænskrɪt/; संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam [səmskr̩t̪əm], originally संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, "refined speech") is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, a philosophical language in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and a literary language that was in use as a lingua franca in the Indian cultural zone. It is a standardised dialect of Old Indo-Aryan language, originating as Vedic Sanskrit and tracing its linguistic ancestry back to Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto-Indo-European. Today it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand. Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies.

CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links

Quotes[edit]

Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F[edit]

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either: yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all without believing them to have sprung from some common source which perhaps no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family. - William Jones
A poem in Sanskrit of the ancient Indian poet Vallana on a wall in the Netherlands - [Sanskrit is] the great spiritual language of the world. - Joseph Campbell.
  • A language, Sanskrit or another, should be acquired by whatever method is most natural, efficient and stimulating to the mind and we need not cling there to any past or present manner of teaching: but the vital question is how we are to learn and make use of Sanskrit and the indigenous languages so as to get to the heart and intimate sense of our own culture and establish a vivid continuity between the still living power of our past and the yet uncreated power of our future, and how we are to learn and use English or any other foreign tongue so as to know helpfully the life, ideas and culture of other countries and establish our right relations with the world around us. This is the aim and principle of a true national education, not, certainly, to ignore modern truth and knowledge, but to take our foundation on our own being, our own mind, our own spirit....
    • Sri Aurobindo, November, 1920 (From an article entitled "A Preface on National Education."), quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [1]
  • It was in India, however, that there rose a body of knowledge which was destined to revolutionize European ideas about language. The Hindu grammar taught Europeans to analyze speech forms; when one compared the constituent parts, the resemblances, which hitherto had been vaguely recognized, could be set forth with certainty and precision.
    • Leonard Bloomfield source: Grammar, Leonard Bloomfield.Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • The creation of Sanskrit, the “refined” language, was a prodigious work on a grand scale. Grammarians and semanticists of genius undertook to create a perfect language, artificial and permanent, belonging to no one, that was to become the language of the entire culture. Sanskrit is built on a basis of Vedic and the Prakrits, but has a much more complex grammar, established according to a rigorous logic. It has an immense vocabulary and a very adaptable grammar, so that words can be grouped together to express any nuance of an idea, and verb forms can be found to cover any possibility of tense, such as future intentional in the past, present continuing into the future, and so on. Furthermore, Sanskrit possesses a wealth of abstract nouns, technical and philosophical terms unknown in any other language. Modern Indian scholars of Sanskrit culture have often remarked that many of the new concepts of nuclear physics or modern psychology are easy for them to grasp, since they correspond exactly to familiar notions of Sanskrit terminology.
  • The majesty and grandeur of the Sanskrit language, the sonorousness of the word music, the rise and fall of the rhythm rolling in waves, the elasticity of meaning and the conventional atmosphere that appears in it have always made it charming to those for whom it was written. ...The wealth of imagery, the vividness of description of natural scenes, the underlying suggestiveness of higher ideals and the introduction of imposing personalities often lead great charm to Sanskrit poetry.
  • The introduction of the use of Sanskrit as the lingu-franca is a turning point in the mental history of the Indian people. The causes that preceded it, the changes in the intellectual standpoint that went with it, the results that followed on both, are each of them of vital importance.
  • Macaulay's policy was implemented and became a resounding success. The pre-Macaulayan vernacular system of education was destroyed, even though British surveys had found it more effective and more democratic than the then-existing education system in Britain. The rivalling educationist party, the so-called Orientalists, had proposed a Sanskrit-based system of education, in which Indian graduates would not have been as estranged from their mother civilization as they became through English education, and in which they could have selectively adopted the useful elements of Western modernity, more or less the way Japan modernized itself.
    • Koenraad Elst. Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001)
  • Old India had a high rate of literacy, particularly because of its educational system, its Sanskrit and its gurukulams.
    • David Frawley, Preface in Ram Swarup (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections.

G - L[edit]

Sanskrit means “complete”, “perfect” and “definitive”. In fact, this language is extremely elaborate, almost artificial, and is capable of describing multiple levels of meditation, states of consciousness and psychic, spiritual and even intellectual processes. As for vocabulary, its richness is considerable and highly diversified. Sanskrit has for centuries lent itself admirably to the diverse rules of prosody and versification.... - Georges Ifrah.
There are many points of great interest to the student of language, in the long history of the speech [of India]; and it has been truly said that Sanskrit is to the science of language what mathematics is to astronomy. Friedrich Max Müller
...The works of Kalidasa (Shakuntala, Meghdoot, Malavikagnimitra, etc.), Bhavabhuti (Malti Madhav, Uttar Ramcharit, etc.) and the epics of Valmiki, Vyasa, etc. are known all over the world. These and countless other Sanskrit works kept the light of learning ablaze in our country upto modern times. - Justice Markandey Katju.
  • The fact is that Sanskrit is more deeply interwoven into the fabric of the collective world consciousness than anyone perhaps knows. After many thousands of years, Sanskrit still lives with a vitality that can breathe life, restore unity and inspire peace on our tired and troubled planet. It is a sacred gift, an opportunity. The future could be very bright. ... In ancient India the intention to discover truth was so consuming, that in the process, they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for fulfilling such a search that the world has ever known — the Sanskrit language. ... With the Muslim invasions from 1100 A.D. onwards, Sanskrit gradually became displaced by common languages patronized by the Muslim kings as a tactic to suppress Indian cultural and religious tradition and supplant it with their own beliefs. But they could not eliminate the literary and spiritual-ritual use of Sanskrit.
  • The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either: yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all without believing them to have sprung from some common source which perhaps no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.

M - R[edit]

  • Many similar views were also expressed in the Sanskrit Commission Report written under the Nehru government in the 1950s. That report declares: "The State in Ancient India, it must be specially pointed out, freely patronised education establishments, but left them to develop on their own lines, without any interference or control. It says that until the British disruption, the salient features of our traditional education included: 'oral instruction, insistence on moral discipline and character-building, freedom in the matter of the courses of study, absence of extraneous control...' ... We can never insist too strongly on this signal fact that Sanskrit has been the Great Unifying Force of India, and that India with its nearly 400 millions of people is One Country, and not half a dozen or more countries, only because of Sanskrit.'
  • He (Pollock) sidesteps the rise in the funding of Persian and Arabic by the secular Indian government and by foreign sponsors, and the concurrent dramatic decline in Sanskrit funding. He does not expose the downsizing and dismantling of the institutions, both formal and informal, on which Sanskrit and sanskriti have traditionally thrived. Pollock is careful not to implicate the non-Hindu forces that have wreaked havoc against Sanskrit... Although he sees this process as politically driven, Pollock does acknowledge there were no conquering Sanskrit legions that caused Sanskritization, unlike the coercive Romanization which followed Roman military legions. Nor was there a central church-like religious institution and hence no evangelism that could have Sanskritized through religious conversion. He admits that the notion of the Sanskrit cosmopolis does not fit the Western notion of an empire. ... I wish to also point out that Dr Ambedkar, the pioneering Dalit leader, had worked zealously to promote Sanskrit. A dispatch of the Press Trust of India dated 10 September 1949 states that he was among those who sponsored an amendment making Sanskrit, instead of Hindi, the official language of the Indian Union.
    • Rajiv Malhotra, The Battle for Sanskrit (2016)
  • Besides the large number of schools at that time, there were also approximately a hundred institutions of higher learning in each district of Bengal and Bihar. Unfortunately, these numbers rapidly dwindled all across India during the nineteenth century under British rule. The British also noted that Sanskrit books were being widely used to teach grammar, lexicology, mathematics, medical science, logic, law and philosophy. ....Furthermore, in the early British period in India, British officials noted that education for the masses was more advanced and widespread in India than it was in England. ....According to Dharampal, the British later replaced this Sanskrit-based system with their own English-based one, the goal being to produce low-level clerks for the British administration.
  • Sanskrit is a beautiful, powerful, resonating language, with a structure and richness not found within most modern languages. The logic and beauty within Sanskrit reflect the two levels needed to appreciate Ayurveda fully; the outer knowledge passed on from teachers and books, and the inner knowledge or intuition gained through experience, by applying what we learn to our daily lives.
...The classical Indian culture in which Sanskrit first flourished offers an immense variety of material, from romantic comedy and sensual poetry to epic, massive-word play, political science and philosophy.... - Nicholas Ostler.
...The vastness and the versatility, and power of expression can be appreciated by the fact that this language has 65 words to describe various forms of earth, 67 words for water, and over 250 words to describe rainfall. - Bansi Pandit.
  • Proposals to include Sanskrit in the course offerings were rejected numerous times by scholars who wanted to protect JNU from what they considered to be a majoritarian or Hindu Nationalist agenda. When I questioned Romila Thapar, a well known historian from JNU, about this issue in July 2000, she explained that if students want to learn Sanskrit, “there are so many Maths and Piths around where they can go”. She added that “most of the regional colleges have some kind of Sanskrit program”.
    • Rosser, Yvette Claire (2003). Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (Dissertation). University of Texas at Austin.

S - Z[edit]

To acquire the mastery of this language is almost a labor of a life; its literature seems exhaustless. The utmost stretch of imagination can scarcely comprehend its boundless mythology. Its philosophy has touched upon every metaphysical difficulty; its legislation is as varied as the castes for which it was designed. - W. C. Taylor.
God spoke once. He spoke in Sanskrit, and that is the divine language. - Swami Vivekananda.
There is no language in the world, even Greek, which has the clarity and the philosophical precision of Sanskrit. - Friedrich von Schlegel
  • The Sanskrit shall be our "devabhasha" (Deva Bhasha) our sacred language and the "Sanskrit Nishtha" Hindi, the Hindi which is derived from Sanskrit and draws its nourishment from the latter, is our rashtrabhasha (Rashtra Bhasha) our current national language—-besides being the richest and the most cultured of the ancient languages of the world, to us Hindus the Sanskrit is the holiest tongue of tongues. Our scriptures, history, philosophy and culture have their roots so deeply imbedded in the Sanskrit literature that it forms veritably the brain of our Race. Mother of the majority of our mother tongues, she has suckled the rest of them at her breast. All Hindu languages current today whether derived from Sanskrit or grafted on to it can only grow and flourish on the sap of life they imbibe from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit language therefore must ever be an indispensable constituent of the classical course for Hindu youths.
    • V.D. Savarkar quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • It was an astounding discovery that India possessed, in spite of the changes of realms and variety, a language, the parent of all those dialects that Europe has fondly called classical - the source alike of Greek flexibility and Roman strength. A philosophy, compared with which, in point of age, the lessons of Pythagoras are but of yesterday, and in point of daring speculation Plato's boldest efforts were tame and commonplace. A poetry more purely intellectual than any of those of which we had before any conception; and systems of science whose antiquity baffled all power of astronomical calculation. This literature, with all its colossal proportions, which can scarcely be described without the semblance of bombast and exaggeration claimed of course a place for itself - it stood alone, and it was able to stand alone.
    • W. C. Taylor in the Journal of Asiatic Society quoted in: Varadaraja V. Raman Indic Visions, Xlibris Corporation, 26 August 2011, p. 68.
  • Sanskrit no doubt has an immense advantage over all other ancient languages of the East. It is so attractive and has been so widely admired, that it almost seems at times to excite a certain amount of feminine jealousy. We are ourselves Indo-Europeans. In a certain sense we are still speaking and thinking Sanskrit; or more correctly Sanskrit is like a dear aunt to us and she takes the place of a mother who is no more.
  • The great difficulty in the way is the Sanskrit language — the glorious language of ours; and this difficulty cannot be removed until — if it is possible — the whole of our nation are good Sanskrit scholars. You will understand the difficulty when I tell you that I have been studying this language all my life, and yet every new book is new to me. How much more difficult would it then be for people who never had time to study the language thoroughly!

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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