1. Importance of Sanskrit
“If it was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhestingly it is the Sanskrit language and literature and all that it contains. This is a magnificant inheritance, and so long as this endures and influences the life of our people, so long will the basic genius of india continue.” These are the words, not of a devout orthodox, Hindu, but of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was rather heterodox and disliked most of the orthodox practices. Sanskrit , indeed, marks the climax of india’s glory. The translation of Shakuntala into English by William Jones in 1789 was one of the greatest events of modern times. It sent a wave of enthusiasm for Sanskrit throughout Europe. Shakuntala was translated into Latin and a number of other European languages. Hundreds of European scholars with Greek, Iralic, Celtic, German, Blato-Slavonic and Iranian languages, constituting the Indo-European scholars turned to the study of Sanskrit family of languages, was discovered. This led to the foundation of a new science, Comparative Philology. “Since the Renaissance there has been no event of such world-wide significance in the history of culture as the discovery of Sanskrit literature in the later part of the 18th century.” William jones wrote in 1786-“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more prefect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either.”
The intellectual enthusiasm of European people in those days was directed towards all spheres of discovery and invention, but there was an additional reason for this keen and special interest in sanskrit.
After the establishment of the Indo-European family of languages, they found that Sanskrit was a language of the same family, as their own language of the same family, as their own language, and they realized that the Indians speaking Sanskrtic languages were their own kith and kin. It has made even a deeper appeal to the new socialist world which has come into existence on this basis of Marxism. Recently, Kalidasa’s jubilee was celebrated in all parts of the U.S.S.R. the Soviet people hailed Kalidasa as a poet of humanity, and not of India alone.
2. Irresisitble Charm of Sanskrit
Apart from the glory of Sanskrit as a language occupying a place of honour in the languages of the world, it has a charm of its own which makes direct personal appeal to every one, especially to an Indian. The present writer, otherwise heterodox, has always been thrilled by the irresistible beauty of Sanskrit language and its literature. Its remarkable elasticity, its unsusal expressive power and unbounded suggestiveness, its way of putting an idea in a charming form, its humour and subtle wit and, above all its exalted moral tone, have always appealed to every one who has a sense of beauty. The question aries regarding the reason and sources of that irresistible charm of Sanskrit.
Two things in this context are significant, it is the nature of a spoken dialect that it undergoes constant. The literary form of a language, on the other hand, is by nature stationary. But changes do occur even in the literary form of a language; only they are very slow. The same principle applies to old Sanskrit also. The language of Rgveda, later Samhitas, undergo changes. But about the 4th century B.C., there appeared on the Indian horizon, an intellectual giant, Panini, the greatest perfect that it exercised an over-bearing authority; and no change thenceforward was permitted. Sanskrit become a changeless language.
There is yet another feature of Sanskrit which differentiates it form all other literary works in all the periods of Indian history, and continues to be so used even today. In the case of other classical languages like Hebrew, Greek or Latin, some ceremonial compositions might have been attempted even in later periods, but they have ceased since long to be used for new literary compositions, at leasts in their old forms; and hence those classical language in the sence that it is the same Sanskrit in which valmiki wrote more 3000 years ago and in which a Sanskrit scholar writes today. An unchanging and living Sanskrit has rightly been called ‘Devavani,; the speech of gods, who do not age, do not die and enjoy eternal youth.
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