11 facts you did not know about Sanskrit

This is article #2 – part of deep trip series on Sanskrit.

Before you read this article, check out article #1 here.

1) Uttarakhand, the 27th state of India, formed as recently as 2000, declared Sanskrit as the second official language (along with Hindi) in 2010.

2) To this date, there are four villages in India where everyone speaks in Sanskrit:

  • MatturShimoga district, Karnataka
  • Jhiri, Rajgarh district, Madhya Pradesh
  • Ganoda, Banswara district, Rajasthan
  • Shyamsundarpur, Kendujhar district, Odisha

3) There have only ever been two feature films made in Sanskrit:

 

Adi Shankaracharya (1983)
Adi Shankaracharya (1983)

 

Bhagavad Gita (1993)
Bhagavad Gita (1993)

Both these movies are made by G V Iyer and both have bagged national awards in their respective years. After a drought of 22 years, the third Sanskrit movie is scheduled to release this month, it is named ‘Priyamanasam’. Vinod Mankara is the director of the movie.

4) Programmers have been enamoured by Sanskrit since Rick Briggs showed in 1984 how Sanskrit would be the best language to communicate with AI. Structurally & mathematically, it is the most complete language even though it is one of the oldest languages.

5) Youth have been flocking to Sanskrit in recent times. This can be witnessed by the rapid growth in the popularity of ‘Sanskrit Appreciation Hour’ conducted daily by UK-based advertising personnel, Rohini Bakshi. Sanskrit might actually be a hitting Yoga-like cult status soon it seems.

6) China has taken steps to promote interest in learning Sanskrit so as to translate the ancient wisdom & scriptures of Tibet.

7) Germany has been taking the most interest in Sanskrit. They have Sanskrit courses in 14 universities now. More & more students are signing up for Sanskrit courses each year as they understand that documented & researched material on literature, history, poetry, drama, linguistics, medicine, meditation, spirituality, chemistry, logic, philosophy, mathematics, botany, etc. is all available in ancient Sanskrit literature. There are manuscripts for deep research on consciousness, mind exploration and there are also some on obscure topics like ‘how to raise an elephant’ or ‘how to grow crooked bamboos for Palanquin Beams’.

8) There are evidences that suggest that Sanskrit was first spoken in Syria and not in India. As the Scroll article tells us, the most ancient form of Sanskrit must have evolved in the region which corresponds to modern day Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

tigris-euphrates 

9) Sanskrit literature has the oldest surviving manuscripts. It is believed that Sanskritic culture had reluctance towards writing; and oral transmission was preferred. Despite of this fact, there are over 30 million Sanskrit manuscripts available today (Plofker, Wujastyk). This means there are more surviving manuscripts in Sanskrit than in Latin & Greek combined. And this is still a very small fraction of the total work available in Sanskrit. Lot of manuscripts were lost because they were not properly catalogued, indexed or digitized. A huge majority of the manuscripts were lost with the destruction of the universities of Nalanda & Takshashila by Mughals.

10) Almost 10% of the surviving manuscripts deal with proper sciences of mathematics, astronomy & medicine. A number of globally accredited universities boast about archives of Sanskrit literature on the above topics in their libraries, such as University of Cambridge, PENN library UPENN (see also resources mentioned on Stanford website). 

11) The number of Sanskrit speakers in India has risen and fallen over the years, with drastic changes being reflected in the numbers: 

1921 census 356
1981 census 6106
1991 census 49,736
2001 census 14,135

 

About Hardeep Pathak

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