Is the language of Vedic era Sanskrit, different from the Classical era Sanskrit?

I have heard, read and listened at almost all the forums regarding this prevalence of difference.
Some of the people say that Sanskrit in the puranas is different from the Sanskrit in the Vedas.
But some of my other close people, say that there isn't much or no difference at all.
Some say that only the Vedic Sanskrit should be the original "Language of the Gods" and the Classical Sanskrit is man-made.
I find these kind of logic, personally a nonsense. But, I'm not a authority. I'm looking for direct answers from the higher defined authorities.

So please answer,
Does any scriptures or important guru people in the Hindu culture or community make such observations regarding the difference or sameness of the colonial defined categories of Vedic and Classical Sanskrit language?
What does the Hindu scholarly canon say on this problems?

  • 1
    I agree with you. The only difference is intonation, which is meant for Bhakti/Invoking. Consider the sentence 'Ramesh didn't do it'. Now the same sentence 'Ramesh didn't do it'. The emphasis on Ramesh means it adds additional context to the same grammatical sentence. Similarly, the Vedic chants have emphasis, denoted by higher or lower pitches. And that's needed when talking with Devas because they are very precise in giving results according to your pronunciation. Whereas for humans, it's not that necessary. So it's not a new man-made language like people make it out to be.
    – ram
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 4:25

3 Answers 3


Vedic sanskrit is different from classical sanskrit. Because vedic sanskrit was used around 1500 to 600bce and vedas were written in vedic sanskrit.
After that classical sanskrit was used.

There are major and minor differences in the pronunciation and spelling of words(same words) and vocabulary is also different .

Understand it with this example :

Rig Veda 3.3.1[Vedic sanskrit]

वैश्वानराय पृथुपाजसे विपो रत्ना विधंत धरुणेषु गातवे । अग्निर्हि देवाँ अमृतो दुवस्यत्यथा धर्माणि सनता न दूदुषत् ॥

vaishvAnarAya pRRithupAjase vipo ratnA vidhaMta dharuNeShu gAtave | agnirhi devAN amRRito duvasyatyathA dharmANi sanatA na dUduShat ||

To him who shines afar, Vaisvanara, shall bards give precious thingthat he may go on certain paths: For Agni the Immortal serves the Deities, and therefore never breaks their everlasting laws.

Manu Smriti 4.138[classical sanskrit]

सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयान्न ब्रूयात् सत्यमप्रियम् । प्रियं च नानृतं ब्रूयादेष धर्मः सनातनः ।।

satyaM brUyAt priyaM brUyAnna brUyAt satyamapriyam । priyaM cha nAnRRitaM brUyAdeSha dharmaH sanAtanaH ।।

He shall say what is true; and he shall say what is agreeable; he shall not say what is true, but disagreable; nor shall he say what is agreeable, but untrue; this is the eternal law.

You can see there is a clear difference.

In classical sanskrit(manu Smriti) the word to "eternal/everlasting law" is "धर्मः सनातनः"[dharmaH sanAtanaH].

But in vedic sanskrit(Rig ved) the word to "eternal/everlasting law" is "धर्माणि सनता"[dharmANi sanatA] .

That's why people differentiate .

Vedic has a pitch accent system; classical does not. Vedic separates prefixes/upasargas from verbs; classical does not. Vedic uses older vocabulary like "ille" whose meaning is not certain, and which are not used in Classical.Source

Check this website for better understanding. And this too.

  • 1
    I just checked sanskritdictionary.com, and "sanatA" doesn't mean eternal or everlasting, but means "old". Also, "dharman" is neutral gender, whereas "dharmaH", is masculine gender, but both mean "law". I agree that there is a difference between vedic and classical, but there are better examples than this. One that comes to my mind is the plural instrumental of "karna" in the Vedas, which is "karnebhiH", instead of "karnaiH".
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 18:16

This division has the greatest authority - Panini - behind it. In his Ashtadhyayi - he sees two languages - the language of Chandas and just plain "bhasha" the spoken language of his time.

Chandas approximately refers to older, metrical scriptures like Rig Veda.


Classical Sanskrit refers to the language codified by Panini, after excluding grammatical forms found only in Chandas. There is a misconception that Classical Sanskrit is more recent than Chandas - but the fact that it has correspondences with Avestan not found in Chandas shows that it is descended from another dialect of Indo-Aryan that was contemporaneous with Chandas.

The two languages are very similar, in fact there are RigVedic verses that can be considered to be Classical Sanskrit.

Vocabulary-wise, lot of IndoEuropean vocabulary of Chandas dropped out and a vast array of new words were innovated in Classical Sanskrit.

Style-wise, Classical Sanskrit works feature the passive voice profusely and also very long compounds - so that most samples of classical Sanskrit writing can be instantaneously told apart from Chandas.


Namaskara and Pranipaatam !!

No, this is a big misconception. There's nothing called as Vedic Sanskrit or Classical Sanskrit. I'll just quote an eminent author from Quora:

This “Vedic vs classical Sanskrit” is one of the great misconceptions in the popular amateur understanding of enthusiasts.

This ridiculous idea can doubtlessly be traced to the ill-conceived notions of colonial-era linguists who jumped to incorrect conclusions based on their outsider perspective. And these ideas persist in the western academic paramparā. But we must admire the westerners in two aspects:

  1. Their hard work in gathering just enough understanding (but not deep understanding) > to force-fit the native subject of their study into their own non-native framework

  2. Their imperialistic audacity and impudence with which they pass off their wrong understanding as the absolute established truth and in turn impose it on the natives.

    • The same thing is still happening with their Aryan invasion theory.
    • The same thing happened when Columbus set sail to discover India, but when he lost way and ended up in America, he lied and asserted that he had discovered India, and > called the natives Indians, a term that still persists to this day.

The division into so-called “Vedic Sanskrit” and “classical Sanskrit” as though they are two different languages makes no sense whatsoever, because two different languages cannot be governed by one grammar. Imagine French and German being governed by one grammar!

But Panini’s Ashtadhyayi grammar is precisely the one grammar that governs both “Vedic Sanskrit” and “classical Sanskrit”. This is because they are not two different languages. Probably around 10–15% of Panini’s sutras deal with exceptions to describe the variations in the word forms found in the Vedas. The remaining 85–90% of his sutras describe the one and same language that is found in the Vedas and that was also spoken in Panini’s time.

  • 2
    Quora is not acceptable source on this site.. Please check What kind of references are valid in answers? Are modern works allowed?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 4:21
  • 3
    If by "Aryan invasion" that random author on Quora is talking about the history of Indo-Aryan migrations, and not Mortimer Wheeler's discredited theory of invasion, then that is not some flimsy colonialist idea, but rather supported by linguistic, genetic, and other studies, including a great deal of research by Indian academics. Take a look at "Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distributions in India Identify Both Indigenous and Exogenous Expansions and Reveal Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists" (Sengupta et al).
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 13:36
  • 2
    Also, Columbus never set out to "discover" India, which was certainly already known in Europe. What he wanted to discover was a new trade route to the east coast of India, although his geographical calculations were faulty. Further, when he ended up in America, he did not lie about discovering India: rather, he ignorantly believed he had actually landed in the easternmost part of the Asian countries to the east of India.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 13:43
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    – Pandya
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 16:21

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