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Rise and Fall of Sanskrit - in Historical Perspective


Sanskrit - the only preserved and the most ancient of all languages, generally proclaimed as language of the gods. According to Indian tradition, Sanskrit has neither beginning nor an end. It is eternal. It is everlasting. Historically, the Sanskrit was adopted, developed and refined by the invading Aryans in the Indus Valley, during 1500 BC.

Sanskrit survived as the language of religion, literature and Hindu philosophy for over 3,357 years, dating from about 1500 BC to a close ...

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Sanskrit - the only preserved and the most ancient of all languages, generally proclaimed as language of the gods. According to Indian tradition, Sanskrit has neither beginning nor an end. It is eternal. It is everlasting. Historically, the Sanskrit was adopted, developed and refined by the invading Aryans in the Indus Valley, during 1500 BC.

Sanskrit survived as the language of religion, literature and Hindu philosophy for over 3,357 years, dating from about 1500 BC to a close AD 1857. The term Aryans, Indo-Europeans and Indo-European Languages ? frequently used by historians is misleading; it is not correct that the Aryans or the Indo-Europeans were part of a great civilized nation. Aryan is a term that refers to migrants who settled in the Indus Valley; they were a mixed people; wanderers, criminals, mercenaries from the areas now known as Afghanistan, Iran, the tribal areas of Pakistan and Central Asia down to the Caspian Sea. In modern terms they can be identified as Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Kamboja, Yusufzai, Afridi, Khilji and the other Turkic tribes. The present-day Talibans and most of the people affiliated with Al-Qaeda are also the descendants of the Aryans.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477684252
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/6/2012
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2012

    Comments: GM. Umrani on the Book ┬┐Rise and Fall of Sanskrit┬┐

    GM. Umrani
    on the Book

    ‘Rise and Fall of Sanskrit’
    By Yussouf Shaheen

    The Aryans and Sanskrit

    Dear Sir, my views are based on these ideas/ facts:
    Much debated ‘Arya’ (Aryan- noun and adjective) word is from Sanskrit word “Arya”, which means “Noble” - compare it with Shah Abdul Latif’s word “Aryani” (a woman of high status/ wife or consort of a Sardar - in the 5 Surs of the ‘Sasui’ (legend). Dr. N.A. Baloch, my teacher has tried to explain it as “Aliani”, a Balochi woman of noble birth from ‘Aliani’ sub-tribe of Hot Balochs. According to the world renowned source Encyclopedia Britannica- (which is based on an undisputed research of over two hundred years of scholarship): “Aryas are people” who in “pre-historic” time, “settled in Iran and northern India”. Latest ‘Oxford Encyclopedia’ calls “Aryans” as a “number of people” and “not to be regarded as a race” speaking any of the Indo-European languages, especially of the Indo-Iranian Family. The idea current in the 19th century of an Aryan race corresponding to a definite Aryan language (.i.e. Sanskrit) was taken up nationalistic, historical and romantic writings especially it was given currency by M.A. de Gobineau, who “mistakenly” linked it with theory of the essential inferiority of certain races. The term Aryan race was later “mischievously” revived and used for purpose of political propaganda in Nazi racist Germany and fanatic “Aryan Samajis” in India (see Lala Lajpat Rai’s life story in various biograghies). American historian Stanley Wolpert writing about the Aryan Age (ca. 1500-1000 B.C) in “Aryan History of India (O.U.P., N.Y 1982) states that around 2000 B.C. the original Indo-European speaking people, semi-nomadic, barbarians, who most probably lived in the region between the Caspian and the Block Seas, were driven from their homeland by some natural disaster, possibly drought, prolonged frost, or plague. Whatever the cause of their dispersion - it may even have been a series of Mongol invasion from Central Asia - the ancestors of the Italic, Greek, Germanic, English, Celtic, Iranian, Sanskrit- and modern Hindi- speaking peoples were forced to flee from southern Russia to survive. These tribes moved in every direction, splitting up into smaller, more cohesive units driving their herds of cattle, sheep, goats, and domesticated horses with them, and opening a new chapter in the history of Europe, as well as of India. The Hittites were the first Indo- Europeans to settle in a new homeland, for we find traces of them just south of Caucasia in Cappadocia that date from approximately 2000 B.C. Other tribes pushed on, however, some to the west, across Anatolia (Turkey), and some to the east, across Persia (now named Iran). Iran is a cognate of word Arya. The Indo-Iranian language brought by Indo-Europeans to that region (Persia) between 1800-1500 B.C. The Indo-Iranians seem to have lived for sometime in harmony following their long migration. By about 1500 B.C., however they appear to have split once more and pastoral tribes known to history as the Indo-Aryans, or simply Aryans, advanced still further east, across the perilous Hindu Kush mountain into India.
    Our knowledge of the earliest history of our linguistic ancestors is derived from over a century of patient reconstruction of the “Urheim” by philologists such as Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900), who influenced Kalich Beg’s book on philology- “Philological Curiosities.” Max Muller developed the science of linguistic paleontology. By analyzing all the languages within this great linguistic family and extracting the geographic, climatic, botanical, and zoological terms that all have a common ancestry, it has been possible to chart an ecological map of the “original homeland”, which most closely resembles Caucasia. The ingenious insight that sparked this magnificent labour of comparative lingustics and philology was publicized by Sir William Jones (1746-94), a Judge of the British East India Company’s High court. Sir William studied Sanskrit after his arrival in Calcutta in 1783, and thee years later he wrote an illuminating and learned paper that noted the vocabulary and other linguistic bonds that make the Greek Latin, Germanic, and Sanskrit tongues all relatives within one single Indo-European family of languages.
    “An Encyclopedia Dictionary of language and languages “by David Crystal – who is presently the most authoritative professor of Linguistics in U.K and U.S.A, states that “Indo-European” is a major family of languages which spread throughout Europe and Southern Asia in the fourth millennium B.C, and which is now found as a result of colonization and colonialism all over the world. The parent language, proto- Indo-European is traditionally thought to have been spoken in many dialects by a semi nomadic population living in the steppe region to the north of the Black Sea. These people (Aryans) moved west to Europe, and east to Iran (hence got the name Aryan - from ancient Persian language, spoken then) and India, around the beginning of the Bronze Age. The different daughter languages being well established by 1000 BC, when Greek, Anatolian, and Indo-Iranian Languages were in existence. The family has 10 branches, though in the case of Albanian, Armenian, Greek and Tocharian, the branches are represented by a single language. The existence of Proto- Indo- European was postulated at the and of the 18thcentury, following a comparison of Sanskrit and European languages. In the 1980, a controversial alternative view about the Indo-European homeland was proposed by British archeologist Colin Renfrew, who argued for a much earlier point of origin (c.7000 BC) in Anatolia (Asia minor, i.e., Turkey).

    What is an Indo-Aryan language?
    Answer is that a group of c.500 Indo-European languages, forming a branch of the Indo- Iranian family, spoken by c.700 million people is the northern and central parts of the Indian sub-continent. These languages are above called Indic. On a geographical basis, they may be divided into a Midland group, including Hindi/Urdu, Bihari and Rajasthani. An Eastern Group, which includes Assamese, Bengali, and Oriya. Western and South-Western groups, which includes Konkani, Maldivian, Marathi, and Sinhalese. North-Western group, which includes Punjabi, Sindhi, Lahnda, the Dardic languages and the Pahari languages (reference: Herbert Grierson’s ‘A linguistic Survey of India’). Sanskrit is a distinguished member of Indo-Aryan group of languages, and it is the classical language of the Hindus of India. Dating from the early past of the second millennium B.C, it is the language is which the Vedas, the oldest sacred texts were written on the banks of River Indus. The name “Sanskrit” means “purified” or “refined”. Sanskrit was described and codified by the Indian grammarian Panini in the 5th century B.C and is written in Devnagari alphabet. Classical Sanskrit, dated from c. 500 B.C to C.1000 A.D came to be used as the standard language of Hindu scholarship and literature and in recent years has attracked renewed interest both as a language for original writing and as a spoken language. Full fledged departments of Sanskrit exit in major Indian Universities and at London University's ‘School of Oriental and African studies”. Awareness of the structural similarity of Sanskrit to Latin and Greek was a major factor in the development of comparative philology at the end of the 19th century.
    Panini was an eminent Indian Grammarian, the first to produce an authoritative text on the nature of Sanskrit, written sometime between the

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