The earliest epigraphic
evidence on languages employed in
In India, before the Christian era, there
were many foreign invasions which introduced many foreign languages. These
mixing with the early Indian languages led to what is often called a Prakrit which was diverse in nature. The first evidence of classical Sanskrit
is attested by an inscription dating around A.D.150 in the Brahmi
records the repair of a dam originally built by Chandragupta Maurya, and also contains a panegyric in verse which can be
regarded as the first literary composition in classical Sanskrit. It is at Girnar in
A key evidence often presented in the dating of Sanskrit is Patanjali’s Vyakarana - Mahabhasya (Great Commentary). The Mahabhasya is both a defense of the grammarian Panini against his chief critic and detractor Katyayana and a refutation of some of Panini’s aphorisms. Patanjali is dated anywhere from 2nd c BC to 5th c AD4.
On Patanjali’s date, the composition of the Mahabhasya and its early tradition, Joshi and Roodbergen write5 ,
It is nearly unanimously agreed
that Patanjali has lived around 140 BC. But as stated
by Winternitz, we are not in a position to confirm
that this is the correct date. The question largely depends on the other
question, namely, whether Patanjali was the author of
the examples he quotes. According to
The period 1st c BC to 1st c
AD is extremely significant in the history of
that Thomas set out for
in the North West of India broke relations with the Iranians and were under the
dominion of the Pahlavas. There were two dynasties of
Saka Satrapas with
considerable independence on behalf of the Pahlava
suzerains, but as regards to language and culture, the Sakas
mostly adopted those of the Pahlavas. The Pahlavas were soon driven out by the Kushans
and in Kanishka’s reign gained control of the
western half of northern
campaigns, an extensive area of northern
The stone pillar inscription11,12 of Samudra Gupta (AD 330 to 380) written in Sanskrit and a late Brahmi script called the Gupta script is an undated inscription incised on an Asokan pillar at Allahabad. Composed by Harisena, a commander-in-chief of the king it describes elaborately the moral, intellectual and military achievements of this king. This inscription possibly dates 350 AD.
Candra Gupta II (AD 380 to 415) subjugated the Saka territories, and Sanskrit which developed in the Pahlava-Saka Empire gained eminence in the Gupta Empire as
evidenced by the
Another interesting fact is
The spread of Sanskrit South is first evidenced by the Talagunda stone pillar inscription of Kadamba Kakusthavarman13 in the Shimoga District, Karnataka dated between 455 and 470 AD. It is written in late southern Brahmi inscribed in the reign of Santivarman (450 to 470 AD). It is a postthumous record of Kakusthavarman.
Sanskrit then spreads in the
South evidenced by the inscriptions in Early Grantha,
dating from the 5th to 6th c. AD on copper plates and stone monuments from the
kingdom of the Pallavas near Chennai (
Further more research on the
development of writing scripts in
script came into being during the 5th c.
BC in northwest
In the later centuries of its
existence, Brahmi gave rise to eight varieties of
scripts. Three of them - the early and late Mauryas
and the Sunga - became the prototypes of the scripts
However, certain other factors
need to be considered to get the complete picture of script development in
The extensive excavations
carried out at the two principal city sites, Harappa and
What this points to is the
existence of a system of writing far more ancient than what was originally
considered. For instance when the Indian scripts are grouped, the southern
scripts form a class of their own. The Grantha
alphabet, which belongs to the writing system of southern
A key area of error is
linguistic research, and in
During the Middle Ages various suggestions had been put forward with regard to language development, but religious prejudices frequently stood in the way of a correct understanding of historical processes; thus one widespread view was that all languages somehow descended from Hebrew. Then is his justly famous Anniversary Discourse of 2 February 1786 (published in Asiatick Researches 1.415-431 (1788)) Sir William Jones brought basic features of Sanskrit to the attention of western scholars. He contended that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin stem from a ‘common source, which perhaps, no longer exists’ and surmised that Germanic and Celtic derive from the same source ‘though blended with a very different idiom’. ………
A good deal of what will be said in the following paragraphs is speculation. Linguistic reconstruction can hardly ever be ‘proved’; only very rarely do further discoveries confirm the reconstructions at which scholars arrived on theoretical grounds.
The last statement is so important to remember: Linguistic reconstruction can hardly ever be ‘proved’; only very rarely do further discoveries confirm the reconstructions at which scholars arrived on theoretical grounds. Thus one has to be extremely cautious of conclusions drawn from linguistic research which have presently flooded our universities, libraries and society.
The influx of foreign invaders
The scriptures of Hinduism are written in Sanskrit, and epigraphic evidence clearly shows that they could not have been written before the second century A.D. The Christian thought is seen in the Hindu scriptures and this influence traces back to Christian Gospel preached by the Apostle Thomas first to the Pahlavas.
The bibliographical evidences indicate that the Vedas are written in the Grantha and Nagari scripts, and according to tradition Veda Vyasa, a Dravidian, compiled and wrote the Vedas. The Grantha script belongs to the southern group of scripts and Veda Vyasa being a Dravidian would certainly have used it. Since the earliest evidence for Grantha is only in the 5th c. AD, the Vedas were written rather late.
1. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Hinduism, Oxford University Press, 1979, page 38.
2. Ibid, page 39.
3. R. Venkataraman, Indian Archaeology, Ennes Publications, 1985, page 223.
4. The New Encyclopardia Britannica, Micropaedia Vol VII, 1982, page 793.
5. S.D. Joshi and J.A.F. Roodbergen, Patanjali’s Vyakarana-Mahabhasya, Poona University Press, 1976, No. 11, page i.
6. A.D.H. Bivar, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol 3 (1), Edited by Ehsan Yarshater, Cambridge University Press, 1983, page 197.
7. Wright, The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostle, page 146.
8. A.T. Olmstead, The Chronology of Jesus’ life, Anglican Theological Review XXIV. 1 (Evanston, Ill. 1942), page 23.
9. A.L. Basham, The Wonder that was India, page 61.
10. Sukumari Bhattacharji, History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, Orient Longman, 1993, page 17.
11. R Venkatraman, Indian Archaeology (A Survey), Ennes Publications, 1993, page 224.
12. D.B. Diskalkar, Selections from Sanskrit Inscriptions (2nd to 8th c AD), Classical Publishers, 1977, page 23-43.
13. R Venkatraman, Indian Archaeology (A Survey), Ennes Publications, 1993, page 224.
14. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia Vol II, page 226.
15. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia Vol 9, page 450.
16. The Cambridge History of the English Language, Vol 1, The Beginnings to 1066, edited by Richard M. Hogg, Cambridge University Press, 1992, pages 26&27.
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