By Ac Bhaskarananda Avt and Bhaeravii Devi
Yah va’radvayam’ niyamitaru’pen’a sa’dhana’m’ karoti, mrityuka’le Paramapurus’asya katha’ tasya manas’i ja’garis’yati ja’garis’yatyeva’ tatha’ sa muktih pra’psyati pra’psyatyeva – tasma’t pratyekam A’nandama’rgiin’a va’radvayam sa’dhana’ avasya kartavya’ – ayameva Paramapurus’asya nirdeshah. Yama-niyama vya’tireken’a sa’dhana’ anus’t’ita’ na bhavati, tasma’t yama-niyamayoh pa’lanam Paramapurus’asya eva nirdeshah. Asya nirdeshasya avama’nana’m na’ma kot’ikot’ivatsarasya krite pashujiivansya kleshe dahanameva. Kopi ma’nanvah yatha’ tadrisha kleshe’ dagdhah na bhavet – sarve yatha’ Paramapurus’asya snehachha’ya’m pra’pya sha’shvatiim sha’ntiim pra’pnuyuh, tena sakala ma’nvanam A’nandama’rgasya kalya’nasya pathi a’nayanasya ce’s’t’a’ pratyekam A’nandama’rgiin’a’ avashyakaraniiyah. Anya’n satpathah nirdeshada’nam sa’dhana’ya’h angameva.
( Shishyadhame’na bhaskara’nande’na mu’la Bangala Bhasha’yam Samskrite anuditam idam paramanirdesham.)
The Supreme Command translated into Roman Sanskrit
by Ac. Bhaskarananda Avt. & Ac. Sudhiirananda Avt./Winter 2008
Sanskrit is the language the Taraka Brahma preferred. Any learner of this language will find that he will fall in love with this divine language (Giirva’ni). Many are its heart-touching sensibilities. Our Master has opened up many hitherto unknown facts on various aspects of Sanskrit for the sake of its scientific origin and hence, universal acceptance as the base for unified and glorious march of the human society. He authored two books on the specific study of linguistics and Sanskrit, Varn’a Vigina’na, “The Science of Letters”, and the Shabda Cayanika series. He often said that Sanskrit would come into more common use again in future generations, stressing its importance to each individual on the path of self-realization
Exactly what is language? Certainly we are all dependent on it, needing it to communicate with the rest of our human community (note the similarity of the two words here, communicate and community). Language is an external reality of organized audible uttered sounds produced in our vocal cords that have become organized into different patterns and agreed upon over time allowing the speaker to convey his meaning. This formation and transformation of expression is then heard and, hopefully, interpreted by another speaker of the same language. The grammar in a language is the intellectual governing factor in the way the words are put together to make larger more complex units, such as compound words and sentences, for the full expression of ideas and emotions. Word order is a dominant factor, as much as intonation, and all languages are tightly organized by a set of strict, non-flexible, logical rules.
Written words are conventionalized symbols of spoken language. When you think about it, we are habitualized by the usage of our formal language system and it is a clear indication of our cultural heritage. It is a skill involving signs, sounds, and gestures, once mastered, is totally taken for granted. “The three fundamental relative factors are the spatial factor, temporal factor, and personal factor,” says Baba. “These three are called Tridan´d´a in Sanskrit. Tri means three in Sanskrit. T-R-I. Tri. In Latin also, tri-angle. Tridan´d´a. Dan´d´a means pillar or stand. In Latin, “triped”. These are the fundamental relative factors.” (AV-14)
The Vedic language is the oldest language which we are familiar with. This language was influential in central Asia and certain parts of India for a period that extended from 15,000 years ago to about 7,500 years ago. It is unique, as for all Indian languages up to the present, by containing a series of sounds that cannot be traced to any other Indo-European tongue, showing the influence of the early native and aboriginal peoples who would later meld with the Åryas tribes who spoke pre-Sanskrit dialects.
Written script did not yet exist at the beginning of the Vedic era, a transitional period between pre-history and history. It came in to existence between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago with the Saindhavi Script, which is the beginning of the study of the human past from written sources. One of India’s greatest achievements is her remarkable alphabet. It commences with the vowels, followed by the consonants, all scientifically ordered according to their mode of production (in contrast to the Roman alphabet, which is haphazard, yet borrows many concepts from the Indian script).
If all the languages of India are like the veins and arteries of those ancient people, then Sanskrit is the language of our bone marrow. The language of Sanskrit was invented nearly 3,500 years ago in the periods of time that produced the Mahâbhârata, the wisdom epic Sanskrit poem that chronicles the life of Krishna and contains the Bhagavad-Gita (“the Lord’s Song”), as well as chronicling the titanic proportions of the civil war battle of Kuruksetra that was fought with tribes from the Himalayas to the tip of southern India, Cape Comorin and almost caused annihilation of the human race.
The earliest surviving form of written Sanskrit is the Rg Veda, a collection of 1028 sacred hymns used at sacrificial rites, collected and written down in archaic Sanskrit by tribal Aryan brahman priests who became known as Brahmavarta. These priests had a spiritual genius in perfecting advanced poetic techniques used for the compositions. The hymns composed by the priests were handed down by word of mouth within seven priest families, each with a sort of copyright on their own collection, and were so sacred that no minor alteration was allowed. This was accomplished though a complex system of checks and balances, along with feats of remarkable memory, within the priestly schools (Gurukuls) that preserved them. The divine and eternal Rg Veda has never been accurately dated, but it is most probable between 1,500 and 1,000 B.C.E.
The Aryans took the spoken word very seriously (as a natural phenomena, speech was given divinity and considered a deva), so the act of listening and chanting was what bought them in contact with the sacred rather than gazing visually at images. So the syllabic sounds in a chant were holy. These Vedic hymns in Sanskrit are still recited today and solidly connect the modern living Indian religious culture as a bridge to ancient oral traditions with remarkably exact accuracy of tonal accents and intonations to the ones chanted over 3,000 years ago.
Baba says, “Although the Rg Veda is mainly concerned with hymns, it also contains various tales and anecdotes. While not all of these stories and tales carry equal spiritual value, they are representative of the cultural heritage of those ancient humans. They paint a portrait of the gradual advancement of human thinking and the structure of society. When considered from this point of view, the language, literature and expression of the Rg Veda is of special value to the world.” (SC-2, 96-7)
The Birth and Development Of Sanskrit
Sanskrit is descended from common parent dialect spoken by semi-nomadic pastoral tribesmen in the steppelands of an area that stretched from Poland into Central Asia, dated by linguists at approximately 2,000 B.C. The exact locality is conjectured near the Oxus River at an archeological site called Balkh in Bactria, near present day Bokara. This was one of the chief Aryan settlements, with ruins that extend over 20 miles, and an overland stop on the Silk Road and Greco-Persian colony that economically linked China to the Middle East for centuries. Think of this site as the radiating point for the development of six lines of speech–Indian, Iranian, and European.
When referring to migrations, one cannot think in terms of a single exodus, but must embrace a multitude of generations and tribes with circumstances that affects peoples, such as desiccation of pastoral lands and population pressures. When looking at a map of the ancient world, the mercantile exchange, migrations, and military invasions become logical. The three main civilizations were the Nile, Euphrates, and Indus river areas. The outlaying areas to the north, along the Mediterranean, and into the eastern deserts all connected these highly populated areas, making the Middle East and India almost one nation.
The Aryans who migrated were originally nomadic tribal pastorals, but gradually had adopted some agriculture as well, with cultural and religious traditions of their own. Their dialect is now known as Avestan. They called their gods daevas (“the shining ones”) and amesha (“the immortals”). In Sanskrit these terms evolved to devas and amrita, words that are still in use today. They had a patrilinear tribal organization and deep spiritual respect for nature. In the lands they they settled and intermarried, their original language gradually adapted itself to the tongue of the conquered peoples of the older civilizations and ancient cultures.
The entirety of Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, and India were connected by one language prior to the emergence of Sanskrit. The three cultural lineages of the Indus were Mangolian, Vaedic, and Tantrika, co-existing in Jambu dwiipa (the area from Gandhar to Southeast Asia all the way to the Great Barrier Reef situated on the eastern side of Australia.). Roughly speaking, until the times of Mahabharata, due to constant giving and taking amongst these three lineages there had come a cultural equilibrium and uniformity that gradually merged in to one language of binding. This remarkable indigenous language that gradually merged with the structure of the Avestan Aryans and became that we now call Sanskrit.
The Avestan Aryans transmigrated in waves into Punjab and the highly populated Indus Valley, arriving well after the Harappan empire, one of the most advanced civilizations of the ancient world, had crumbled. There was no invasion or mass migration. The Avestan Aryans were culturally diametrically opposed to the local peoples and it took centuries for the older civilization of non-Aryans to significantly influence and meld with the Aryans. The Aryans originally did not live in cities, but little villages, so there is little archeological remains. The Aryan expansion is conjectured and recreated for history through Sanskrit literary sources such as the Rg Veda, Atharva Vedas (sacrificial instructions of the Brahmanas), and mystical Upanisads.
Over a span of centuries, these northern tribes who tamed the swift horse and harnassed it to a light two spoke-wheeled chariot (as opposed to the heavy four solid-wheel bullock carts), migrated far west, into Europe (ancestors of the Latins, Greeks, Celts, and Teutons),while others spread south into Anatolia (Turkey), and into the Causcasus and fertile Iran tableland of the the Euphrates Valley (the conquerors of Babylon), to make an Indo-Iranian culture (Old Iranian is a form of Sanskrit).
Out of Southern Russia through the high-altitude mountain passes of the Kirthar Range and the Hindu Kush, others migrated into the northwest of India, down into the Kashmir and Punjab valleys, gateway to the rice and cotton-growing civilization along the Indus River valley (present day Pakistan), the home of Sadashiva and roughly one-quarter of the world’s population at the time. Here Indian history becomes like a jigsaw puzzle, with scholars still debating when what happened, for after the initial migrations, there is much conjecture and over a thousand years completely unaccounted for until the first written Sanskrit hymns and inscriptions, proof of the antecedent development of the language.
With all this movement of peoples, it is now easy to see how Sanskrit is a remote cousin to all the languages of Europe with the exception of Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian, Turkish, and Basque. Any student of Latin and Greek can immediately recognize the relationship between Western verbal systems and Sanskrit. (Think of Sanskrit as the elder didi and English as one of the youngest didis.) Baba says, “Latin is the daughter of Vedic and so is Sam´skrta.”. (PNS-17, ‘The Significance of Language’) “Latin is very close to Sanskrit. The Latin term fraternity comes from the root frater adding nity suffix. In Latin frater changed in Vaedic bhra’tar amd that changed to Bhrater in Sanskrit. Latin mater changed to Vaedic ma’tar and then in Pharsi meyer and changed to English mother. And the same word from Vaedic became ma’tr in Sanskrit. And from ma’tr to ma’ta’ in Bangla and Hindi. The Latin word pater, in pharsi became pader, and that same pater from Latin became pear in Vaedic, and from Vaedic it became pitr in Sanskrit. And in Indian languages in Hindi and Bangla, it became pita. And from Latin pater it became father.” (Varna Vijina: Disc 6) For this reason Sanskrit is dubbed the ‘faithful guardian of the Indo-European lines of speech’. Plus it is Sanskrit is the root of so many Arabic & Middle-Eastern words.
Baba says, “Sam’skrta is a classical subject as well as an ancient
language. It is the mother of all the mother languages of South Asia and
Southeast Asia.” (PNS-17, p. 62)
No living language stands still. Just as our solid body is a mass of constantly moving minute cellular action not visible to the naked eye, this is also true of a language. It is alive–changing and evolving within its embodied form of use. After the collection of the archaic Rg Veda, Sanskrit developed quickly to a more simplified grammar, although remaining terrifically complex. New words from non-Aryan sources appeared, old words forgotten. With this evolution, doubts arose to the precise pronunciation and meaning in the older Vedic texts, which had a mandatory rule to be recited accurately or else lose the effective intensity they were designed to invoke. Out of the need to preserve the sanctity and purity of the religious texts, India developed the sciences of phonetics and grammar. India is the only country to investigate the laws that govern the evolution of language in a scientific manner except for the Greeks.
In India, Sanskrit was an exclusive lingua franca, a secret one for high caste people belonging to the priestly and brahmanic circles, gradually becoming that of the governing class as well. If a lower caste woman even listened to it, she was punished by having molten lead poured into her ears. The bulldozer of Muslims and Christians were a reaction of Parama Purusha. They plundered India for a thousand years, looting and raping the women folk as a result of this superiority arrogance that reinforced the chasm of social inequality. But they strenuously preserved this language for their own purposes, the only plus point of these arrogant and bigoted brahmins. Hundreds of regional dialects developed in the lower castes.
The Legacy of Panini’s Grammar
Linguistic textbooks appeared, analyzing the verbiage of Sanskrit, with the most famous one by Maharshi Panini in Astadhyayi (‘Eight Chapters’) around 400 B.C. Up until the 18th & 19th century study of Sanskrit by Western scholars, it is the most detailed and scientific grammar composed in any part of the world in all of history. It was of a specialized nature, this great terse grammar of Panini, recognizing the root as the basic element of a word, of which there are thousands of monosyllabic roots that change with the augmentation of prefixes, suffixes, and inflections. Every beginner struggles with Panini’s rules of euphonic combination (sandhi) and every word of a sentence is affected by the neighboring words to create an acoustic effect pleasing to the ear.
Panini’s grammar is considered one of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilization for his systemization of Sanskrit Philology into Grammar, Phonetics and Rhythms. (Philology is the study of human speech specifically to literature as a key to illuminate cultural history, hence the importance of the Vedic and Epic literature.) Panini was the undisputed authority on Sanskrit, so much so that no writer or speaker for the past 2,000 years dared infringe on his fixed framework of 4,000 grammatical rules, even if they disagreed with minor points. He stabilized the Brahman’s classical Sanskrit and the only changes thereafter were to be in vocabulary, and with fixed rules, the language developed freely within them. Panini called the priestly elitist language Samskrta, meaning ‘perfected’ or ‘refined’, and the naturally developing simpler everyday speech of the lower castes and tribespeople, Prakrtas, or ‘unrefined’.
All later Indian grammars are commentaries on Panini, including the Mahabhasya of Patanjali (aprox. 2nd century B.C.), a follower of the Sankhya metaphysical philosophy (its influences are seen in our Baba’s Tantra). This is the same Patanjali of Yoga Sutras fame. His yoga-darshanas are grouped into aphorisms on yoga practices, the nature of prakrti and Purusa, spiritual disciplines, and meditation techniques recorded from the Upanishads, handed down verbally from prehistoric times. Since there were no books at that time, gurus would memorize each aphorism and then give oral commentary in a local Prakrita. Later the commentaries were memorized, then transcribed.
Apabhramsa was a language developed after the Prakrit languages. Apabhramsa means a corrupted form of Sanskrit language. Patanjali was the first to use Apabhramsa in his Mahabhasya. Mostly Jain religious language and spiritual literature of the Siddhas were composed in Apabhramsa language. The Romani people migrated from Rajasthan, Punjab, Sindh and Afghanistan in first century A.D. They were speaking Apabhramsa language pertaining to western part of India. They spread in western countries about 12 century A.D. Modern Provincial languages have all developed from different Apabhramsas.
The Prakrita languages, simpler in sound and grammar, came in to general use around the same time as Sanskrit, shortly before the birth of Krishna, and there were a multitude of dialects by the time of the Buddha. This everyday speech of ancient India has been preserved almost exclusively throughout the unorthodox esoteric spiritual traditions, such as the Tantra and the Jainas, for their idiomatic scriptures were composed in languages for the common people to understand. One of the earliest Prakritas was Pali, the language of the orthodox Sthaviras Buddhists, although Buddha himself taught in the Magadhi prakritic dialect and his oratories were translated into other local dialects (the Buddha himself produced no written scriptures in his lifetime). Pali has remained a living religious language in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka, and is included in modern Sanskrit Dictionaries.
Certain royal courts had their own Prakrita. There were Prakritas especially for the speech of women and respectable people of lower orders, one especially a literary language especially for lyric song. There was even a standardized procedure for dramatists who first thought in Sanskrit, then produced their Prakrita passages by mechanical rules of conversion for working from one language into the other. A hybrid of Western Prakrits used for inscriptions and as an official court language became the sacred language of the Jainas and their sacred literature is written in it. There was also a prakritic dialect spoken exclusively in Ceylon, influenced by an old Dravidian language of India, Tamil, a non-Sanskrit based independent language. A derivative of Prakrita was used in Bengal by Buddhist writers and is the ancestor of modern Bengali (Bengali is 94% Sanskrit).
The Amarakosha written by Amarasinha was the first Sanskrit thesaurus. He was a distinguished scholar and contemporary of Kalidasa, “India’s Shakespeare”, both members of the nine “gems” (a reference to nine important scholarly advisors) of the Gupta court around AD 380. The Amarakosha-grantha (from amara “immortal” and kosha “collection or dictionary”), consists of three parts, or kandas, and is written in in verse format. It is still in use and available online.
The Europeans Discover Sanskrit and Become Indologists
Up into the late 18th century, Europeans made no attempt to study India’s ancient past beyond a few references by early Greek and Latin authors. Portuguese Jesuit Father Hanxleden compiled the very first handwritten Sanskrit grammar in the early 1700s, which was used by his successors. Another Jesuit noted the connection between Sanskrit and European languages, but conjectured that the Brahmins were descended from one of the migrating Hebrew tribes. With the exception of the few Jesuit missionaries who mastered Sanskrit since it was the classical language of India and necessary for conversion, the first linguistic interest emerges with the East India Company employees who learned Sanskrit from Bengali pandits.
Charles Wilkins made the first direct translation of the Bhagavad Gita into English in 1784 through the Asiatic Society of Bengal, newly founded by Sir William Jones, a Supreme Court judge in Calcutta. Jones, a linguistic genius speaking Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Arabic, rejected the view held at the time that all European languages stemmed from a Hebrew spoken in Persia. He challenged the dogma by claiming that both European languages and Persian were derived from a common ancestor not Hebrew. This small band of Englishmen in the Asiatic Society, translating works such as Kalidasa’s Sakuntala, the Gita Govinda in 1792 (the Dasama Granth of the 10th Skih Guru written in 1730 in Braj, a melange of Sanskrit, medieval Hindi, Persiona and Arabic), and the Upanisads in 1801 (which were first translated from Persian), were the first Indologists, giving Europe a taste and growing interest for the literature of ancient India. Later the Society would delve into archeology by government grant (and the translations of temple inscriptions) and the monumental task of working backwards through the present scripts to decipher the earliest Brahmi script, giving access to translating and reading the massive rock face-inscribed edicts of emperor Ashoka from the 2nd century B.C.E.
The government of the French Republic founded the Ecole des Langues Orientales Vivanes and Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding members of the Asiatic Society, held on parole in France in 1803, was the first to teach Sanskrit in Europe. It was from Hamilton that the first German Sanskritist learnt the language. The first university chair was set up in France and from there the larger German universities all set up departments for Sanskrit and Indian studies. The first Sanskrit was taught in England in 1805 at the training college for the East India Company, following with chairs at all the major universities. Grammarian scholars and linguists created the science of comparative philology just to analyze Sanskrit’s relation to Indo-European languages.
The Germans published the not-to-be-outdone Sanskrit-German Wörterbuch in 1819, which is a full 7 volumes. Dubbed the St. Petersburg Lexicon, it was published in part by the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences in the 1850s. The first edition of the Sanskrit-English Dictionary appeared in 1872, compiled by Sir Monier Monier-Williams (it is still in print) of the newly formed Indian Institute at Oxford University, to promote the translation of the New and Old Testaments into Sanskrit for the conversion of native Indians to the Christian religion.
This passion for Sanskrit in the 19th century, along with the fascination with all things of the East, laid the groundwork for yoga to be introduced to America and Europe decades later. Oxford University Sanskrit professor Friedrich Max Müller edited and published the first English Rg Veda and the great series of annotated translations called the Sacred Books of the East. Swami Vivekananda, the Bengali disciple to the Hindu saint Ramakrishna, traveled to America for the Chicago Dharma Samellan, the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, giving the first spiritual lectures on jnana, bhakti, karma, and raja yogas to Westerners and subsequently established the Vedanta Society.
Around this time, native Indian Sanskritists such as Sir R.G. Bhandarkar (1837-1925) became dominant in the field of philology and took the initiative for scholars to translate works such as the gigantic Mahabbharata. The Sanskrit College, established in 1824 during the Governor-Generalship of Lord Amherst and currently affiliated with the University of Calcutta, specialized in the scholarship of Indian tradition, including ancient Indian languages like Pali and Prakrit, and interpretation of ancient Indian texts. The institution came into prominence during the principalship by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in 1851, who admitted students from other than the brahmin caste. All major Sanskrit translations of ancient Indian literature now comes from Indian Sanskritists.
Long ago, there was an article in the Bhavans Journal published by the Bharatiiya Vidya Bhavan in the early 1970’s written by two visiting grammarians of the German language who paid glowing tributes to Panini. They opinioned that if a grammarian of any language on earth wants to write a grammar book for his own language, he will have no alternative than to take recourse to come to India and study Panini.
Sanskrit and Connecting with the Realm of the Spirit
The formation of the language now known as Sanskrit is not as simple as the regional Indian people adopting a language from the Causasian steppes. While the grammatical structure of the pre-Sanskrit dialects of Aryans is clear, the merging and evolution with the embodiment of a universal language detailing the energy philosophy of the Tantra created the most remarkable and transcendant of all of human languages. It is the most ancient of languages and purposely constructed with the fifty principal sounds of the alphabet developed within the concept of bringing the fundamental energy of sacred vision into daily life. This means the soundless, inaudible absolute is interpreted through bodily vibrations and expressed through the vibratory source point (bindu) to form the letters. The letters form words and then mantras, the sonic expression of shakti, or pure consciousness, and secular speech. The creation of the sounds of the letters in the Sanskrit language is especially relevant to the practice of Tantra. While many traditions utilize the famous sacred syllable OM, it is the sound heard in the deepest of meditation and its psychospiritual essence must be awakened and realized to be empowering, so initiation is mandatory.
Along with the geographical, social, historical, and cultural applications, Sanskrit is a language with depth and dimension that is totally unique in any world language. It utilizes a spiritual technology designed to use human energy to convert and neutralize aggression. The yogins of ancient India explored and analyzed the unconscious realm to a degree that has never been exceeded or even corrected it is so brilliant. This language is the only one that has its sound vibrations rooted in spirituality, giving Sanskrit a mythical and mystical quality side-by-side with the practical. Baba gave attention to the most minute roots of the creation of language by his expatiation of psycho-acoustic notes and inferential acoustic notes, both known to and developed by the ancients, and their integral affect on the Sanskrit language.
Sadashiva was the first to organize the Tantra in His mental laboratory. He found that the microcosm, or Jiiva’tman/the unit being, is a sleeping or hibernating macrocosm. In other words, he discovered that the human body is a miniature form of the cosmos. You know that amphibians like the frog and snakes hibernate; for a long period in the year they sleep off or suspend the animation of their body. Sadashiva knew that each soul is potentially divine and to shake off this ‘sleep’ and the goal of life is self-realization, he organized the Science of Spirituality or Tantras (the original sadhana-shastra scriptures are considered to be direct teachings from Sadashiva) for the foundation of his metaphysical truths and pragmatic orientation where action plays the key role. He studied the mental tendencies or propensities (vrittis) and categorized them into 50 main proclivities. He defined the seven energy centers of the body (called cakras, which in English is the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’) and located the central points, or nucleus, of the collection of glands which control these vrittis, and then a subsidiary gland which control the variable tendencies of each. Further, each vritti has an acoustic root, its own Viiija Mantra. So the subtle sounds of the 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet can be said to be representative of the basic vibrations of the kundalini. In meditation, the fundamental energies as they rise from the bottom cakra are caught in the petals, or letters, of each lotus.
Wherever there is any entity, any movement, any functional activity, there is sound, and that sound is called the acoustic root. Each and every expression has got its acoustic root. For example, when one laughs, the sound “ha ha ha” is produced universally on the outbreath. That ha ha sound thus produced is the actionable or entitative representative, the acoustic root or Viija Mantra, of that particular action bearing the tendency which propels the action. On another, more subtle level of yoga, the acoustic root for all celestial bodies is the sound’ ha’. ‘Ha’ is the acoustic root for eternal space. The controlling sound is ‘ha’. The influence of light waves on the navel and below is’ ksìa’, the last letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. Thus, the power of the mantric syllables.
Despite their overlap, the Vedic language and Sanskrit are very different. The primary use of this language pertained to pure spiritual practices. It was the spoken language of the then elites of Indian savants and luminaries. Krishna, known for his radical visionary ability, used to speak Sanskrit with the Kauravas, and the Shaurase’ni Pra’krita to the Pa’ndvas, since they were informal with each other due to close affinity. Those were the days Krishna Himself was renovating the Prayoga Shastra, or the
A’gama (‘textbook’ of spiritual practices), the experimental science in the laboratory of His mind. He was following the foot prints of Sadshiva. There are references when Krishna shows Arjuna his past life as Sadashiva, the organizer of the Science of Spirituality and author of the Tantras .
Indian Sanskrit poetry is akin to an incantation of words and phrases, which can become incredibly ornate and one of the characteristics of Sanskrit is its startling verbal ingenuity and complex polyphony. But the normal stanza was one of four quarters, each of a length varying from eight to twenty-one syllables, equal and unrhymed. Single-stanza poetry is concise and expressive. The most basic meter is called a sloka (a unit of poetry translating to ‘stanza’, grammatically complete into itself), eight syllables to a quarter. If you study the first three letters of each lines of the following Sanskrit sloka, you will find the word A’gama (translating to ‘practical spiritual cult’ or referring to knowledge gained by means of texts) spelled out. The arrangement is one of beauty in its balance, appealing to the Western mind with its worldly wisdom and spiritual theme of Sacred Law.
A’gatam Shiva Vaktrebhyo,
Gatam ca Girija shrutau
Matam ca Vasudevasya,
Tasmat A’ ga ma ucyatei
Originated from the mouth of Shiva,
Entered also the ears of Girija (Parvati)
Receiving acceptance of Vasudeva (Krishna)
Therefore it took the shape of A’gama.
Our Master has brought out the inner secrecy of word formations in Sanskrit language. The hidden truth behind the creation of words has been hitherto neglected by science and philosophy. But it should not be so because all sounds in this universe have their origin in what are known as psycho-acoustic notes.
The evolution of sound vibration is divided into three basic levels: visible speech, the most subtle sound that is heard only by the intuition; intermediate speech, sound which is the voice of thought you hear in your mind; and manifest speech, or audible sound spoken that is transmitted as you speak out into the air.
Sanskrit Grammar in a Nutshell
Originally the Vedas and ancient Sanskrit had three methods of pronunciation — the Samvrita, the Vivrta and the Tiryak. These have evolved into the four accepted systems of modern Sanskrit pronunciation in India. Kashika (of Benares), Dakshinii (Southern Peninsula), Maharashtrii (of Maharashtra), and Gauriiya (Bengali). Modern Prakritas are the vernacular of the modern Hindu culture. There are a lot of differences in each style; the less informed keep fighting for superiority of their style instead of accepting the wide variety.
Language is primarily composed of vowels, consonants, and diphthongs, although in Sanskrit, the vowels and diphthongs were discovered originally only for spiritual use in Tantric practices. There are 16 vowels and 34 consonants in Sanskrit, for a total of 50 basic letters.
Both the Sanskrit and the Vedic have three measures of pronunciation. They are the Hrsva (short), Diirgha (long), and Plu’ta (extended or prolated). While Sanskrit is scientific in that the ‘one sound one symbol’ principle applies (and each consonant and vowel sound has a symbol attached), given the variable power to construct a tremendous variety of conjunct consonants, naturally intricate and complicated, you end up with almost infinite variety of sounds. Sanskrit is considered the highest type of language due to its construction patterning off these basic sounds. It has 20 different prefixes and just less than 2,000 Roots (Dhatus or the primordial constituent substance) divided into ten categories. If a prefix is added to a root, the original meaning could be forcibly replaced. The laws of root evolution are a marked idiosyncrasy of Sanskrit.
The Future of Sanskrit
“If Sam’skrta is used human unity will be encouraged and
human beings will move closer together. See how sweet the link is
between Vedic, Sam’skrta and the other classical languages of the world?
So you should encourage the study of Sam’skrta.” (PNS-17)
While Baba required all his acaryas to master a working knowledge of Sanskrit grammar to aid in their understanding and correct pronunciation of the mantras as teachers, as well as a key into their own spiritual process, not all who walk the yogi path can speak it. While classical Sanskrit was never spoken by the masses, it was the official tongue of the Hindu church and state, along with being spoken by the upper classes. It connected the whole of India for centuries and is a living connection to the past generations.
Today, learned Brahman, serious students, spiritual aspirants, and visiting scholars from around the globe can all meet and converse in Sanskrit with perfect understanding. It is an essential study for Baba’s sannyasii, coupled with Bengali, to being able to read Baba’s texts in their original language, to encounter Baba’s inherent meaning in the most direct manner. Sam’skrta is a fascinating language and immanently suited to our spiritual lifestyle. words like Guru, dharma, mantra, karma, and so many others have been incorporated to languages all over the globe. Since it is a unifying languge, Baba gave his sadhakas Sanskrit names.
Today English is spoken throughout India and co-exists with Sanskrit among intellectuals, and the Roman alphabet is used as a written expression of Sanskrit, a leftover of the British Raj, just as Arabic and Persian elements were absorbed during the occupation of Muslim Iranian peoples. Baba said that the Roman script is the best script of the world. Since Sanskrit does not have any script of its own and English is the lingua franca of AMarga. the Roman script was adopted by Him. Baba gave a few innovations by adding ten more letters, and called it His Roman Sanskrit. There is the book “Basic Sam’skrta” by the late Dada Vijayanandaji of the Publications Department, out of print, but its a wonderful starter for those who want to learn Romanised Sam’skrta There are 34 consonants in Sanskrit. In Indian schools, first the students are taught the Svara and then the Vyanjanas separately. This is the scientific reason why the vowels and consonants are created. In the Shabda Cayanika series, He has said the languages who do not adopt innovations made by Him and avoid the habit of constant innovation, will end up perishing.
For the serious student of Baba’s work, as a guide while reading our philosophy publications and an excellent reference to Baba’s unique interpretations of Sanskrit words and concepts, there is a volume devoted to the supplementary definitions of terms called Ánanda Marga Dictionary, which has been in print since 2004. This dictionary supercedes the Ánanda Márga Gurukula’s Ananda Sutram Word Index compiled by the late Shri Ladli Prasad Bhargava. the first etymology of all the basic Sanskrit words used in the aphorisms. This was combined with a one-letter Tantrika dictionary commonly dubbed ekákïarimátrkákoïah.
Sanskrit, the mother of all languages, was developed from the externalized sounds of the human inner body, essentially an eternal song. Our Master clearly said: “All languages of the world are bound together on a single thread — su’tre mani’gan’a’ iva — translating to ‘no language is beyond this law’. Those languages which used to carry the remnants of natural melodies have also finally had to obey this law”. (Varn’a Vigina’na, “The Science of Letters”).
Baba made many references to the fact that Sanskrit will re-emerge as being a relevant living global language in the future generations. Here is a quote written in the late 1800s in England regarding Sanskrit, that could have been authored by Baba himself:
“…our so-called European alphabet, as adopted by the Greeks, Romans, and modern nations of Europe, is really Asiatic, and not European in its origin….certain features which connect it with the so-called divine Nagari alphabet of the Brahmans. …it is well suited to the expression of their venerated Sanskrit; while its numerous accessory appliances, its types of various kinds and sizes, its capital and small letters, hyphens, brackets, stops &c., make it better suited than any other graphic system to meet the linguistic requirements of the coming century–a century which will witness such vast physical, moral, and intellectual changes, that a new order of things, and almost a new world and new race of being, will come into existence. In that new world some of the most inveterate prejudices and and peculiarities now separating nation from nation will be obliterated, and all nationalities–brought into fraternal relationship–will recognize their kinship and solidarity.” (Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 1994 [originally published 1899])