One of the very important and fascinating aspects of the Sanskrit language is that each and every word in Sanskrit is conscious of its origin and always refers back to the root from which it is derived. So, there is a perfect relationship between the word and the sense. Sanskrit, in fact, is constructed like geometry and follows a rigorous logic. It is theoretically possible to explain the meaning of the words according to the combined sense of the relative letters, syllables, and roots. Therefore, in Sanskrit, the meaning of any word is not derived by chance or from any convention but from its own depth, the system of root-sounds, and sound-ideas. It is because of this transparency of the system of root-sounds and clear semantics that Sanskrit has the ability to discover its own history. A proper investigation of many words shows that a Sanskrit word is not a conventional symbol for an idea, but itself the parent and the creator of ideas. This natural process is one of the important factors that make Sanskrit an ever-creative language.
Here are some examples with reference to the above:
A letter in Sanskrit is called akshara (a+kshara) which literally means imperishable. This is not merely attributive but the term akshara reveals the whole secret of the speech process or the sound system. It says that the sound is eternal. It does not perish. Shabdo nityah. Nityaa vai vaak. Na vaak kshiyate. It shows the moment one makes a sound, it remains forever and can be retrieved by special yogic power.
The word darshana (from root drish to see) is not philosophy, but seeing revelational; suvaadhyaaya is not mere reading but going deep in self-contemplation. The word sat-sanga is not merely a company of good people but a body of people who have come together (sanga) to ascertain reality (sat). The word sukha is not just happiness but in its root sense, it means moving from the relative narrowness to the vastness (kha) and feeling easy. Similarly, duhkha is not just suffering or misery but remaining in the relative narrowness and finding it difficult to move towards the vastness. The Sanskrit word for beauty is sushama. In its true sense, it means superbly (su) equally (sama). This shows that true beauty is full of harmony. To remain svastha is not just to be healthy but to remain stable in one’s own state of being. These are few examples showing not only the high connotative power of the Sanskrit words but also how Sanskrit has derived meanings of its words from their very depth. The meaning of a word is inherent within the word itself, and it is always discoverable.
Why should one learn Sanskrit?
- Being a well-structured language, Sanskrit’s phonetic and linguistic values not only generate love for languages but also enhance the linguistic faculty of the children learning it methodically.
- The rhythmic beauty of Sanskrit and its majestic sonority is not only great aid to memory, but also helps to develop a sense of music and puts in contact with the universal rhythm necessary for the progressive and harmonious growth of a child.
- The Mantric power of the language is potent enough to instill spiritual value, and because of this, Sanskrit helps maintain the well being of the child learning it.
- Being logical, Sanskrit generates clarity and joy, instills a sense of keen observation and scientific temperament.
- Sanskrit is a unifier of pan-India society from north to south, east to west.
- The best of Indian culture, lifestyles, and philosophy, such as Yoga, languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs have their origins in Sanskrit, which would be lost if Sanskrit loses its existence.
- Because of the transparent system of root-sounds, Sanskrit helps understanding one’s own language better, and also connects the child with other Indian languages. By going deep into its psychological roots, one can even understand non-Indian languages and their evolution.
- There are so many treasures of science, math, and technology written by ancient Indians in Sanskrit. The children should not only be able to learn about it but carry the research forward and bring the glorious findings of ancient India onto the modern global scenario.
This article originally appeared in the Soft Power (March 2021) edition of The Plus magazine by IGenPlus. Read here.