As one of the first languages known to humankind, Sanskrit can be traced back thousands of years, and its influence is seen in languages used around the globe. It is the traditional Indian language (India has 22 official ones!), and is used in Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism ceremonies.
This ancient speak is part of the Indic sub-branch of language, and its oldest form is called Vedic Sanskrit, used around 1500 BCE. Sanskrit is considered a “high language,” and is used mainly for scientific and religious purposes. It was used in most ancient literature, especially important pieces about mathematics, medicine, astrology, and astronomy. It is still being taught and in many places throughout the world.
The Mother for Many Languages
Sanskrit’s geographical influence is seen in India, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. Although Sanskrit is mostly used today for religious and cultural rituals, many different languages can trace its roots back to this classic language. Its reach extends to countries such as India, China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, South East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and the United States. One of the main Indian languages that shows these roots is Hindi. Indo-Aryan languages including Malayalam and Kannada also have it. Traces of it can also be seen in the Chinese language, which uses specific Sanskrit words.
Sino-Tibetan languages like Telugu has hints of Sanskrit vocabulary, and some of the Buddhist texts do as well. The Indonesian language of Javanese and Malaysia’s Malay language also shows a history of Sanskrit influence. Scholars believe that language spoken in the Philippines has a minor Sanskrit flavor as well.
Greek and Latin
Sanskrit is related to Greek and Latin, with similarities in phonetics, grammar, and script. This can be shown with some of the Greek God names and their Sanskrit translations:
Athene = ahana: light of daybreak
Pater = pitri: father
Tres = trayas: three
Divus = devas: god
Regem = raja: king
Our Native Language
It is not surprising that English is also a child of Sanskrit, and many of today’s words show these ancient roots:
Ambrosia = amaruta: food of the Gods
Attack = akramana: hostile action
Door = dwar: doorway connecting two spaces
Primitive = prachin: historical
Man = manu: a male human
Nirvana = nirvana: transcendence
Serpent = sarpa: snake
A Long History
Since languages are constantly evolving, it is possible to trace how Sanskrit has affected how we communicate over time and why it will continue to do so. It can be seen as one of the starting points for the rich variety of languages spoken all around the world.