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Sanskrit has been termed as "Language of the Gods". Its versatility and power have even been extolled by the modern scholars of linguistics. Sri Panini helped to codify the classical form of Sanskrit. Prior to him, the Vedas were composed in an older form of Sanskrit (Vedic Sanskrit) which is different from classical Sanskrit. Vedic Sanskrit is also more difficult to decipher than classical Sanskrit. The modern scholars of languages are trying to understand the origin of Sanskrit; there are still many gaps in their current knowledge base.

  • Have our Hindu Acharyas and/or scriptures spoken about the origin of this mysterious "Language of the Gods"?

  • Was Sanskrit an "eternal language" which our ancient Rishis "discovered" during their deep meditational states of consciousness?

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    Yes, Veda Samhitas are in Sanskrit... and Samhitas are heard by seers (Rishis) during deep meditation... and they were preserved precisely and we have it now... see my answer here to know how they were preserved....hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/9517/… – Tejaswee Jul 4 '16 at 14:43
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    @Tezz: Thank you for posting the link to your fascinating explanation regarding the Veda Samhitas. I know that Sanskrit verses and mantras have a certain potency. – Nehal Patel Jul 4 '16 at 15:08
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    @Nehal Patel - How do you came to conclusion that sanskrit language is of mysterious origin? Yes it is termed as language of gods , but that dose not mean it's mystetious. It is said so because the sanskrit language is believed to be of divine nature , and not mysterious.it's a naturally evolved language. – SwiftPushkar Jul 5 '16 at 12:33
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    Herein lies the mystery: how can a language which has a divine origin be subject to a process of natural evolution? These seem to be two opposing processes. Should it not have been perfect in form during its original conception? – Nehal Patel Jul 5 '16 at 13:42
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    "there are still many gaps in their current knowledge base." Exactly thus it does not mean that there is a divine origin. – Wikash_ Dec 5 '20 at 8:09
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Vedas are eternally existing sounds. They are Apaurusheya (no creator). They exist as the breath of Brahmam itself.

Now, any language is a combination of 4 things - sounds, grammar, meaning, and script (optional).

The language of Vedas / SanatanaDharma / Hinduism is called Sanskrit. Out of 6 Vedangas (auxilary), 4 deal with this language :

  1. Shiskha - sound/pronunciation
  2. Vyakarana - grammar/sentences
  3. Chanda - meter/prosody
  4. Nirukta - meaning/dictionary

For most languages, the sound-meaning associations and written script can change over time e.g. the word 'thou' became 'you' in English.
Except for Sanskrit, whose sound-meaning associations never change - because they are of divine origin.
While the written script changes over time - because it is of mortal origin, e.g. Brahmi became Devanagari.

The story behind how Sanskrit grammar (Vyakarana) was formulaized (literally made into forumlas or Sutras) by Panini is an interesting one.

Panini and Vyagrapadha rishis did tapas towards Shiva, to watch his divine Tandav. When he appeared before them, he also played his dumroo. This created 14 primordial sounds, known as Maaheshwara Sutras. From this, Panini was able to derive formulas, and compiled into a magnum opus known as Ashtadhyayi. These were extremely terse. So Patanjali explained them in detail in Mahabhashya.

Fun fact: Vyagrapadha (tiger's feet), is the reason for the name of a town in TamilNadu called Sirupuliyur (puli = tiger). Source : Krishna Premi Upanyasam.

There is a common misconception, usually propounded by Western Indologists, that Sanskrit 'manually evolved over time into a perfect form' and that's why its called 'Samyak Kritam' (well-done), hence 'Samskrutam'.
They even come up with nonsense theories like PIE (Proto-Indo-European language) as the forefather of Sanskrit, despite there being no civilization, country, culture, history or script associated with PIE.
Whereas Sanskrit has all of them - a civilization, country, culture, history and script.
Even despite the overwhelming number of Sanskrit origin words used in Latin and thus English (e.g. the word 'mother' morphed over time from Sanskrit word 'matru', father from pitru, brother from bhratru, daughter from duhitri.. the list is endless), despite Baltic languages like Lithuaninan sharing a ton of similarties with Sanskrit, despite the Gods of most ancient civilizations bearing resemblance to Indra, Agni, Varuna etc., their ego is unable to digest the antiquity of Sanskrit, and they end up concocting more fantasy like Aryan Invasion Theory.

TL;DR : Sanskrit is the name of a language which is a collection of sound-meaning combinations of the eternal Vedas. It's grammar was expressed in forumlas by Panini based on Shiva's 14 primordial sounds emanating from his dumroo.

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Was Sanskrit an "eternal language" which our ancient Rishis "discovered" during their deep meditational states of consciousness?


No, as C. V. Vaidya explains in History of Sanskrit Literature, (Vedic) Sanskrit was simply the language spoken by the common people during the Vedic times:

THREE PERIODS

Macdonell divides the history of Sanskrit literature into two periods, the Vedic period and the Sanskrit period. But it is more proper to divide the history into three periods, the Śruti period, the Smṛti period and the Bhāṣya period, as we propose to call them. The language of the Vedic literature can be given no other name than Sanskrit, the Indo-Aryans brought with them into the Panjab a branch of the language of the ancient Aryan people which may properly be called, by distinction, Sanskrit. This name no doubt arose later when the Prakrits came into being, by way of opposition, meaning the language of the refined people, as opposed to Prakrit, the language of the common people. But that name has to be carried back to the Vedic times. If Sanskrit is a name which is to be confined to the language of Patañjali's days, Vedic literature cannot come within the range of a history of Sanskrit literature. We may call the Vedic language Vedic Sanskrit, the language of the days of Pāṇini post-Vedic Sanskrit, the language of the days of Patañjali classical Sanskrit and the language of the days of Śaṅkarācārya and after modern Sanskrit. The language is the same throughout this length of time, though it has different aspects in these four, rather three, periods, just as English has been divided into old English, Elizabethan English, and modern English. It is needless to state that the identity of a language continues so long as its grammar remains practically the same.

The Vedic people actually spoke this Sanskrit language in the form it then had and the Vedic singers did not use an artificial language for their poetry as is sometimes supposed. There was, in the beginning, no Śūdra caste, the Aryans being homogeneous; the cultivators, the warriors and the priests, being of the same Aryan race, were of the same mental and physical capacities. There was then a slight difference between the spoken language of the common people and that of the higher class people, such as exists in every country and at every time. The language of the Vedic common people must, however, still be called Vedic Sanskrit; and it is interesting to find that when the Aryans migrated to the Deccan, they carried words of this Vedic Sanskrit, some of which still survive in the language of the common people of the Deccan. The pronoun tyo, used by common people, instead of to used by higher classes in Maharashtra, is a survival of the tyas of Vedic times. In short Vedic Sanskrit was a spoken language as well as post-Vedic Sanskrit of the days of Pāṇini. The language had changed visibly by this time; but it was still the same language and Pāṇini gives no separate grammar for Vedic Sanskrit, but simply marks certain peculiarities of the language as used in the hymns. He always makes the simple distinction bhāshāyam and chhandasi where there are differences. The word bhāshāyam used by Pāṇini clearly proves that it was a spoken language of which he wrote the grammar and that the name Sanskrit had not yet arisen, nor of course, Prakrit.

...

For these reasons, therefore, it would be appropriate to divide the history of Sanskrit literature into three periods; viz., the Vedic and post-Vedic period (c. 4500 B. C. to 800 B. C.) to be called the Śruti period, the classical period (c. 800 B. C. to 800 A. D.) to be called the Smṛti period and the modern period (c. 800 to 1500 A. D.) to be called the Bhāṣya period. In the first period, Sanskrit was spoken by all people who were chiefly of the Aryan race; in the second, it was spoken by the high class males while their women and lower classes spoke the ancient Prakrits which were only softened Sanskrit; and in the third period Sanskrit was dead as a spoken language. Naturally the literatures of the three periods differ in language — easy and simple in the first, polished and refined in the second and artificial and pedantic in the third. Then again in the first period, literature is chiefly religious and philosophical and at once became sacred. In the second period literature is highly thoughtful and has become quasi-sacred or authoritative, where not religious, and in the third period literature becomes scholastic though usually full of powerful reasoning and forceful expression.

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  • How did you arrive at c4500 BC for the start of the Vedic period? – iruvar May 6 '20 at 18:43
  • @iruvar You mean how the author did? See the previous page for his reasons. – sv. May 6 '20 at 18:47
  • ah ok, I assumed the c4500BC date was yours due to thinking it was outside the quoted portion of the answer, I now see I was mistaken. I'm not convinced the start of the Vedic period goes that far back but that's neither here nor there. – iruvar May 6 '20 at 18:56

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