Showing posts with label Paishachi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paishachi. Show all posts

Myth of Mother Sanskrit Theory

Is sanskrit mother of all Languages. Various theories are being floated. Let us see them.

Mother Sanskrit theory is a Myth
  1. Vedas - The word `Sanskrit' does not occur anywhere in the Vedas. Not a single verse mentions this word as denoting a language.
  2. The Vedic language was referred to as Chandasa even by Panini himself [ Chatt., p. 63 ], and not as `Sanskrit'.
  3. The Buddha was advised to translate his teachings into the learned man's tongue - the `Chandasa' standard [ Chatt., p. 64 ], there is no mention of any `Sanskrit'. The Buddha refused, preferring the Prakrits. There is not even a single reference in any contemporary Buddhist texts to the word `Sanskrit'. This shows that Sanskrit did not even exist at the time of the Buddha.
  4. The word `Sanskrit' occurs for the first time as referring to a language in the Ramayana : "In the latter [Ramayana] the term `samskrta' "formal, polished", is encountered, probably for the first time with reference to the language"
  5. The first inscriptions in Indian history are in Prakrit and not in Sanskrit. These are by the Mauryan King Ashoka (c. 273 BC - 232 BC ), and number over 30. The script utilised is not `sacred' Devanagari, and the language is not `Mother' Sanskrit. They are mostly in the Brahmi script, while 2 inscriptions are in Kharoshtri. They are in various Prakrits and some in Afghanistan are in Greek and Aramaic [ Bas,. p. 390-1 ]. In fact all inscriptions in India were in Prakrit till the early centuries AD : "[T]he earlier inscriptions up to the 1st century AD, were all in Prakrit"
  6. The Satavahanas, the first historical dynasty of the Deccan, also used a Prakrit language. There is no usage of Sanskrit.
  7. The Nanaghat cave inscriptions in Poona distt. are in Prakrit and are the work of the Satavahana Satakarni I. They have been dated to the first half of the 1st century BC. The contemporary relgiion of this region was Vedic. Indra and Vasudev are mentioned as the Vedic gods then worshipped [ Bas, p. 395 ]. The later cave inscriptions of Nasik in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD are in the local Prakrit [ Bas, p. 395 ]. Thus, although the Vedic religion was followed in the Satavahana regions, Sanksrit was not in use.
  8. Kharavela's Kalingan inscription of the 1st century BC were in a Prakrit of the east indian type.
  9. First Sanskrit Inscription : 150 AD - The earliest inscription in Sanskrit is by the Saka
  10. Brajbuli dates to 1000 BC - A central assumption of the MST is that all Prakrit vernaculars must be of a very late date. With the first mention of `Sanskrit' in a Ramayana dating to the ealy centuries AD, any Prakrit existing prior to this necessarily contradicts the Mother Sanskrit Theory. Brajabuli, the precursor to the modern Braj Bhasa, is said to have been used by Krishna and the gopis of Vraja (Vrindavan, whence Braj) and it was thus popular amongst Vaishnava poets [ Assam, p. 422. n3 ]. Krishna is dated to ca. 1000 BC, and this internal evidence would imply that Braj Bhasa dated to 1000 BC. Recently, Krishna's city, Dvaraka, has been excavated, showing that he probably was a historical person. The stories are hence based on fact, and this evidence cannot be dismissed as a `myth'.
  11. Prakrit' = Vernacular - The term `Prakrta' or Prakrit means `common', `natural', while the term `Samskrta' or Sanskrit natural means `polsihed, refined' [ Up. 164 ]. Thus Prakrit refers to any of the natural languages, while Sanskrit refers to the `purified' language. This etymology itself indicates that Sanskrit is derived from Prakrit rather than the other way around. This necessarily implies that Sanskrit is, like Old Church Slavonic, a polished version of various vernaculars.
  12. Apabrahmsa is a Prakrit - Apabrahmsa, which in the MST is seen as a derivative of Prakrit, is in fact itself a Prakrit known as Abhiri. It was actually comtemporary with all the other Prakrits, and the view that it succeeded Prakrit is wrong. Several dramas have characters speaking Apabrahmsa and Prakrits side by side. This shows that Apabrahmsa is not the second stage in the development from Sanskrit, but was merely another Prakrit dilect.
  13. As per the MST, the Prakrits are all dead languages, having `degraded' into the modern Indo-Aryan tongues. However, Prakrits never disappeared. All the modern Indo-Aryan (IA) languages are Prakrits (Bengali, Marathi etc.). The ancient Prakrits are the direct precursors of the modern languages, thus Vangi - Bengali, Odri - Oriya, and Maharastri - Marathi. All these so-called `Prakrits' such as Vangi, Odri and Maharastri, can all be understood by the speakers of their respective IA languages with the same ease with which a modern speaker of English can understand Anglo-Saxon. This fact alone is sufficient to refute the MST. Far from being dead, Prakrit is still spoken in all parts of India just as it has been for thousands of years. The word Prakrit itself merely means `natural' and refers to all the Indo-Iranian languages as spoken by the common man in India. Thus, even the literal meaning of the word `Prakrit' implies that it is far from dead.
  14. Prakrit Older than Sanskrit - The MST claims that Sanskrit is older than Prakrit. However, it is Prakrit which is older than Sanskrit, since several features of Prakrit can be traced to the Rig Veda, which are not found in Sanskrit.
  15. Pali poses another problem for the MST. As per the MST, it is an independant derivation from Sanskrit, and is not a Prakrit. However, Pali is in fact a dialect of Magadhi Prakrit and not a separate language as evidenced by the mutual comprehensibility between these two tongues.
Sanskrit is the mother of all languages
  1. The sound of each of the 36 consonants and the 16 vowels of Sanskrit are fixed and precise since the very beginning. They were never changed, altered, improved or modified. All the words of the Sanskrit language always had the same pronunciation as they have today. There was no ‘sound shift,’ no change in the vowel system, and no addition was ever made in the grammar of the Sanskrit in relation to the formation of the words. The reason is its absolute perfection by its own nature and formation, because it was the first language of the world.
  2. The morphology of word formation is unique and of its own kind where a word is formed from a tiny seed root (called dhatu) in a precise grammatical order which has been the same since the very beginning. Any number of desired words could be created through its root words and the prefix and suffix system as detailed in the Ashtadhyayi of Panini. Furthermore, 90 forms of each verb and 21 forms of each noun or pronoun could be formed that could be used in any situation.
  3. There has never been any kind, class or nature of change in the science of Sanskrit grammar as seen in other languages of the world as they passed through one stage to another.
  4. The perfect form of the Vedic Sanskrit language had already existed thousands of years earlier even before the infancy of the earliest prime languages of the world like Greek, Hebrew and Latin etc.
  5. When a language is spoken by unqualified people the pronunciation of the word changes to some extent; and when these words travel by word of mouth to another region of the land, with the gap of some generations, it permanently changes its form and shape to some extent. Just like the Sanskrit word matri, with a long ‘a’ and soft ‘t,’ became mater in Greek and mother in English. The last two words are called the ‘apbhransh’ of the original Sanskrit word ‘matri.’ Such apbhranshas of Sanskrit words are found in all the languages of the world and this situation itself proves that Sanskrit was the mother language of the world.
I feel the debate will continue for a long time, as there is a absence of written records. But here distinction should be made between vedic and sanskrit. Sanskrit starts with Panini which he calls Chandas.



Myth of Maharastri Prakrit

The meaning of ‘Prakrit’ is ‘Natural’. The word prakrit is used for the group of languages spoken in ancient India.

Jainism has a great relation with Prakrit Languages. In ancient India Sanskrit was spoken only by Vedic Brahmins, while common people’s language was Prakrit. Jains always promoted their religion through people’s languages. So most of ancient Jain literature was written in various Prakrit Languages.

Some of the Prakrit Languages:
a) Ardhmagadhi Prakrit: Ardhmagadhi was the language of people in Magadh (today Bihar). This language is spoken between 600 BCE to 100 CE. Vardhman Mahavir and his Ganadhars gave sermons in Ardhmagadhi. Mahavir teachings were transmitted to next generation through the oral tradition. Later Shrideverdhigani compiled the teachings in 454CE. The famous & popular Namokar-Mantra is in Ardhmagadhi language.

b) Shourseni Prakrit: Shourseni was being spoken at Shoorsen (Mathura) region of North India between 100BCE to 500CE. Digamber Jains wrote their philosophical literature in Shourseni language. The Shatkhandagam and Acharya Kundkund’s works are in Shourseni. In Sanskrit dramas of Bhas, Kalidas etc. Shourseni is used for dialogs of servants, jokers, Labours etc.

c) Apbhransh: The meaning of Apbhransh is ‘Vulgar’ or ‘Impure’. Apbhransh is not a single language but there are many Apbhransh languages that were born from various Prakrit Languages. Apbhransh languages were spoken between 500CE to 1000CE. There is lot off Jain literature written in Apbhransh languages in medieval period.

d) Maharashtri Prakrit: This language is said to be later used by Jains.

Many today modern languages have roots in these prakrits.

Western Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi ------->Shourseni Apbhransh
Eastern Hindi--- --------------------->Ardhmagadhi Apbhransh
Marathi, Konkani -------------------->Maharashtri Apbhransh
Bangla, Udia, Assamese, Bhojpuri----->Magdhi Apbhransh
Gujrathi, Rajasthani ------------------>Nagar Apbhransh
Kashmiri----------------------------->Paishachi Apbhransh

The classic Sanskrit language also has its roots in old Prakrit language spoken in North-India in Vedic & Pre-Vedic period.

Now we have good sources for the other Prakrit. But when we see Maharashtri Prakrit, we have lot of doubts regarding the same. Basically because of the condition of the evidences suggested.

1.It is all Prakrit, little variations.
All the above are Prakrit and apart from the religious leanings there is no evidence of different Prakrits.

2. No parallel history with other prakrits
No Maharashtri Prakrit texts exist to verify whether the Maharashtri Prakrit is different at the time we are talking about Ardhmagadhi or Shourseni Prakrit. After the Ardhmagadhi Prakrit and Shourseni Prakrit eras we find only one Prakrit that is Maharashtri Prakrit. We don’t have any evidence to show all merged into one Prakrit.

3.All languages are like rivers, change in various stages
Like all languages Prakrit has undergone a change. Maharashtri Prakrit is also one of the stages not necessarily one of the branches. We find a Jain literature using early Prakrits in later stages using Maharashtri Prakrits. So it is just evaluation not branch of Prakrit. Jains who want to preach in local languages just picked up the most local of them at that time, which has many Kannada words in them.

4.Maharastri Prakrit does not show any natural characteristic like other Prakrits to show it is different.

Hence Maharashtri Prakrit is a myth that is has propagated to stretch the antiquity of Marathi.