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Sanskrit language


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 Sanskritand tracing its linguistic ancestry back to Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto-Indo-European.[4] Today it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India[5]and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand.[6] Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies. Varieties The pre-Classical form of Sanskrit is known as Vedic Sanskrit, with the language of the Rigveda being the oldest and most archaic stage preserved, its oldest core dating back to as early as early 2nd millennium BCE. This qualifies Rigvedic Sanskrit as one of the oldest attestations of any Indo-Iranian language, and one of the earliest members of the Indo-European languages, which includes English and most European languages.[ Decline There are a number of sociolinguistic studies of spoken Sanskrit which strongly suggest that oral use of Sanskrit is limited, with its development having ceased sometime in the past. Pollock has further argued that, while Sanskrit continued to be used in literary cultures in India, Sanskrit was not used to express changing forms of subjectivity and sociality embodied and conceptualised in the modern age. Instead, it was reduced to "reinscription and restatements" of ideas already explored, and any creativity in Sanskrit was restricted to hymns and verses.[16]:398 A notable exception are the military references of Nīlakaṇṭha Caturdhara's 17th-century commentary on the Mahābhārata. Writing system Sanskrit was spoken in an oral society, and the oral tradition was maintained through the development of early classical Sanskrit literature.[59] Writing was not introduced to India until after Sanskrit had evolved into the Prakrits; when it was written, the choice of writing system was influenced by the regional scripts of the scribes. Therefore, Sanskrit has no native script of its own.[2] As such, virtually all the major writing systems of South Asia have been used for the production of Sanskrit manuscripts. Since the late 19th century, Devanagari has become the de facto standard writing system for Sanskrit publication, quite possibly because of the European practice of printing Sanskritic texts in this script. Devanāgari is written from left to right, does not have distinct letter cases, and is recognisable by a distinctive horizontal line running along the tops of the letters that links them together.