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|Spoken in:||India, Nepal|
|Total speakers:||49,736 fluent speakers (1991 Indian census)|
|Writing system:||Devanāgarī and several other Brāhmī-based scripts; Latin alphabet|
|Official language of:||India (one of the scheduled languages)|
|Regulated by:||no official regulation|
The Sanskrit language (संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. It has the same status in Nepal as well.
Its position in the cultures of South and Southeast Asia is akin to that of Latin and Greek in Europe and it has evolved into many modern-day languages of the Indian subcontinent. It appears in pre-Classical form as Vedic Sanskrit, with the language of the Rigveda being the oldest and most archaic stage preserved. Dating back to as early as 1700 BC, Vedic Sanskrit is the earliest attested Indo-Aryan language, and one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family.
The corpus of Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of poetry and drama as well as scientific, technical, philosophical and religious texts. Today, Sanskrit continues to be widely used as a ceremonial language in Hindu religious rituals in the forms of hymns and mantras. Spoken Sanskrit is still in use in a few traditional institutions in India, and there are some attempts at revival.
The adjective saṃskṛta- means "cultured". The language referred to as saṃskṛtā vāk "the language of cultured" has by definition always been a "high" language, used for religious and learned discourse and contrasted with the languages spoken by the people. It is also called deva-bhāṣā meaning "language of the gods". The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar is Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī ("Eight-Chapter Grammar") dating to ca. the 5th century BC. It is essentially a prescriptive grammar, i.e., an authority that defines (rather than describes) correct Sanskrit, although it contains descriptive parts, mostly to account for Vedic forms that had already passed out of use in Panini's time.
Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-Aryan sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages. Together with the Iranian languages it belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch and as such is part of the Satem group of Indo-European languages, which also includes the Balto-Slavic branch.
When the term arose in India, "Sanskrit" was not thought of as a specific language set apart from other languages, but rather as a particularly refined or perfected manner of speaking. Knowledge of Sanskrit was a marker of social class and educational attainment and the language was taught mainly to members of the higher castes, through close analysis of Sanskrit grammarians such as Pāṇini. Sanskrit as the learned language of Ancient India thus existed alongside the Prakrits (vernaculars), which evolved into the modern Indo-Aryan languages (Hindi, Assamese, Urdu, Bengali etc.). Most of the Dravidian languages of India, despite being a separate linguistic family in their own right, are highly influenced by Sanskrit, especially in terms of loanwords. Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam have the highest incidence of loans while Tamil has the lowest. This influence of Sanskrit on these languages is recognized by the notions of Tat Sama (equivalent) and Tat Bhava (rooted in). Sanskrit itself has also been exposed to Dravidian substratum influence since very ancient times.
 Vedic Sanskrit
Sanskrit, as defined by Pāṇini, had evolved out of the earlier "Vedic" form, and scholars often distinguish Vedic Sanskrit and Classical or "Paninian" Sanskrit as separate dialects. However, they are extremely similar in many ways and differ mostly in a few points of phonology, vocabulary, and grammar. Classical Sanskrit can therefore be considered a seamless evolution of the earlier Vedic language. Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, a large collection of hymns, incantations, and religio-philosophical discussions which form the earliest religious texts in India and the basis for much of the Hindu religion. Modern linguists consider the metrical hymns of the Rigveda Samhita to be the earliest, composed by many authors over centuries of oral tradition. The end of the Vedic period is marked by the composition of the Upanishads, which form the concluding part of the Vedic corpus in the traditional compilations. The current hypothesis holds that the Vedic form of Sanskrit survived until the middle of the first millennium BC. It is around this time that Sanskrit began the transition from a first language to a second language of religion and learning, marking the beginning of the Classical period.
Hinduism believes that the language of the Vedas is eternal and revealed in its wording and word order. Evidence for this belief is found in the Vedas itself, where in the Upanishads they are described as the very "breath of God" (niḥśvāsitam brahma). The Vedas are therefore considered "the language of reality", so to speak, and are unauthored, even by God, the rishis or seers ascribed to them being merely individuals gifted with a special insight into reality with the power of perceiving these eternal sounds. At the beginning of every cycle of creation, God himself "remembers" the order of the Vedic words and propagates them through the rishis. Orthodox Hindus, while accepting the linguistic development of Sanskrit as such, do not admit any historical stratification within the Vedic corpus itself.
This belief is of significant consequence to Indian religious history, for the very sacredness and timelessness of the language encouraged exact memorization and transmission and discouraged textual learning via written propagation (see: Apaurusheyatva). Each word is believed to have innate and eternal meaning and, when properly pronounced, mystic expressive power. Erroneous learning of repetition of the Veda was considered a grave sin with immediate potentially negative consequences. Consequently, Vedic learning was encouraged and prized among Brahmins. Various ways of recitation, called pathas, were developed to achieve optimal memorization.
 Classical Sanskrit
A significant form of post-Vedic Sanskrit is found in the Sanskrit of the Hindu Epics—the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The deviations from Pāṇini in the epics are generally on account of interference from Prakrits, and not because they are 'pre-Paninean'. "In fact, almost all 'un-Paninean' forms of Epic Sanskrit are innovations" [Oberlies, "A Grammar of Epic Sanskrit", p.XXIX, emphasis in the original]. Traditional Sanskrit scholars call such deviations aarsha (आर्ष), or "of the rishis", the traditional title for the ancient authors. In some contexts there are also more "prakritisms" (borrowings from common speech) than in Classical Sanskrit proper. Finally, there is also a language dubbed "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit" by scholars, which is actually a prakrit ornamented with Sanskritized elements (see also termination of spoken Sanskrit). According to Tiwari ( 2004), there were four principal dialects of Sanskrit, viz., paścimottarī (Northwestern, also called Northern or Western), madhyadeśī (lit., middle country), pūrvi (Eastern) and dakṣiṇī (Southern, arose in the Classical period). The first three are even attested in the Vedic Brāhmaṇas, of which the first one was regarded as the purest (Kauṣītaki Brāhmaṇa, 7.6).
 European Scholarship
European scholarship in Sanskrit, begun by Heinrich Roth (1620–1668) and Johann Ernst Hanxleden (1681–1731), put forth the proposal of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones, and played an important role in the development of Western linguistics.
- The Sanskrit language whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.
Indeed, linguistics (along with phonology, etc.) first arose among Indian grammarians who were attempting to catalog and codify Sanskrit's rules. Modern linguistics owes a great deal to these grammarians, and to this day, key terms for compound analysis such as bahuvrihi are taken from Sanskrit.
- Further information: Śikṣā
The sounds are traditionally listed in the order vowels (Ach), diphthongs (Hal), anusvara and visarga, stops (Sparśa) and nasals (starting in the back of the mouth and moving forward), and finally the liquids and fricatives, written in IAST as follows (see the tables below for details):
- a ā i ī u ū ṛ ṝ ḷ ḹ ; e ai o au
- ṃ ḥ
- k kh g gh ṅ; c ch j jh ñ; ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ; t th d dh n; p ph b bh m
- y r l v; ś ṣ s h
The vowels of Classical Sanskrit with their word-initial Devanagari symbol, diacritical mark with the consonant प् (/p/), pronunciation (of the vowel alone and of /p/+vowel) in IPA, equivalent in IAST and ITRANS and (approximate) equivalents in English are listed below:
|Letter||Diacritical mark with “प्”||Pronunciation||Pronunciation with /p/||IAST equiv.||ITRANS equiv.||Approximate English equivalent|
|अ||प||/ə/ or /ä/ (two sounds are represented by the same letter)||/pə/ or /pä/||a||a||short Schwa: as the a in above or sometimes like the u in under.|
|आ||पा||/ɑː/||/pɑː/||ā||A||long Open back unrounded vowel: as the a in father|
|इ||पि||/i/||/pi/||i||i||short close front unrounded vowel: as i in bit|
|ई||पी||/iː/||/piː/||ī||I||long close front unrounded vowel: as i in machine|
|उ||पु||/u/||/pu/||u||u||short close back rounded vowel: as u in put|
|ऊ||पू||/uː/||/puː/||ū||U||long close back rounded vowel: as oo in school|
|ए||पे||/eː/||/peː/||e||e||long close-mid front unrounded vowel: as a in game (not a diphthong), or é in café|
|ऐ||पै||/əi/ or /ai/||/pəi/ or /pai/||ai||ai||a long diphthong: approx. as ei in height|
|ओ||पो||/οː/||/poː/||o||o||long close-mid back rounded vowel: as o in tone (not a diphthong)|
|औ||पौ||/əu/ or /au/||/pəu/ or /pau/||au||au||a long diphthong: approx. as ou in house|
|ऋ||पृ||/ɻ̩/||/pɻ̩/||ṛ||R||short syllabic vowel-like retroflex approximant|
|ॠ||पॄ||/ɻ̩ː/||/pɻ̩ː/||ṝ||RR||long syllabic vowel-like retroflex approximant: a longer version of /r̩/|
|ऌ||पॢ||/ɭ̩/||/pɭ̩/||ḷ||LR||short syllabic vowel-like retroflex lateral approximant: approx. as handle|
|ॡ||पॣ||/ɭ̩ː/||/pɭ̩ː/||ḹ||LRR||long syllabic vowel-like retroflex lateral approximant: longer version of /l̩/|
The long vowels are held about twice as long as their short counterparts. Also, there exists a third, extra-long length for most vowels, called pluti, which is used in various cases, but particularly in the vocative. The pluti is not accepted by all grammarians.
The vowels e and o continue as allophonic variants of Proto-Indo-Iranian /ai/, /au/, and they are phonologically (conceptually) /ai/ and /au/ still in Sanskrit, and are categorized as diphthongs by Sanskrit grammarians even though they are realized phonetically as simple long vowels. (See above).
- There are some additional signs traditionally listed in tables of the Devanagari script:
- The diacritic ं called anusvāra, pronounced as /əŋ/ (IAST: ṃ). It is used both for nasalizing the vowel in the syllable and for the sound of a vowel-like /n/ or /m/; eg. पं /pəŋ/.
- The diacritic ः called visarga, pronounced as /əh/ (IAST: ḥ); eg. पः /pəh/.
- The diacritic ँ called candrabindu, not traditionally included in Devanagari charts for Sanskrit, is used interchangeably with the anusvāra to indicate nasalization of the vowel, primarily in Vedic notation; eg. पँ /pə̃/.
- If a lone consonant needs to be written without any following vowel, it is given a halanta/virāma diacritic below (प्).
- The vowel /aː/ in Sanskrit is realized as being more central and less back than the closest English approximation, which is ɑː. But the grammarians have classified it as a back vowel. (Tiwari,  2004).
- Note that the ancient Sanskrit grammarians have classified the vowel system as velars, retroflexes, palatals and plosives rather than as back, central and front vowels. Hence ए and ओ are classified respectively as palato-velar (a+i) and labio-velar (a+u) vowels respectively. But the grammarians have classified them as diphthongs and in prosody, each is given two mātrās. This does not necessarily mean that they are proper diphthongs, but neither excludes the possibility that they could have been proper diphthongs at a very ancient stage (see above). These vowels are pronounced as long /eː/ and /oː/ respectively by learned Sanskrit Brahmans and priests of today. Other than the "four" diphthongs, Sanskrit usually disallows any other diphthong—vowels in succession, where they occur, are converted to semivowels according to sandhi rules.
- In the Devanagari script used for Sanskrit, whenever a consonant in a word-ending position is without any virāma (ie, freely standing in the orthography: प as opposed to प्), the neutral vowel schwa (/ə/) is automatically associated with it—this is of course true for the consonant to be in any position in the word. Word-ending schwa is always short. But the IAST a appended to the end of masculine noun words rather confuses the foreigners to pronounce it as /ɑː/—this makes the masculine Sanskrit words sound like feminine! e.g., shiva must be pronounced as /ɕivə/ and not as /ɕivɑː/. Tiwari ( 2004) argues that in Vedic Sanskrit, अ was simply short ɑ, and became centralized and raised in the era of the Prakrits.
|p प [p]||b ब [b]||t त [t̪]||d द [d̪]||ṭ ट [ʈ]||ḍ ड [ɖ]||c च [c͡ç]||j ज [ɟ͡ʝ]||k क [k]||g ग [g]|
|ph फ [pʰ]||bh भ [bʱ]||th थ [t̪ʰ]||dh ध [d̪ʱ]||ṭh ठ [ʈʰ]||ḍh ढ [ɖʱ]||ch छ [c͡çʰ]||jh झ [ɟ͡ʝʱ]||kh ख [kʰ]||gh घ [gʱ]|
|m म [m]||n न [n̪]||ṇ ण [ɳ]||ñ ञ [ɲ]||ṅ ङ [ŋ]|
|v व [ʋ]||y य [j]|
|l ल [l]||r र [r]|
|s स [s̪]||ṣ ष [ʂ]||ś श [ɕ]||ḥ ः [h]||h ह [ɦ]|
The table below shows the traditional listing of the Sanskrit consonants with the (nearest) equivalents in English/Spanish. Each consonant shown below is deemed to be followed by the neutral vowel schwa (/ə/), and is named in the table as such.
/kə/; English: skip
/kʰə/; English: cat
/gə/; English: game
/gʱə/; Aspirated /g/
/ŋə/; English: ring
/cə/; ≈English: chat
/cʰə/; Aspirated /c/
/ɟə/; ≈English: jam
/ɟʱə/; Aspirated /ɟ/
/ɲə/; English: finch
/ʈə/; American Eng: hurting
/ʈʰə/; Aspirated /ʈ/
/ɖə/; American Eng: murder
/ɖʱə/; Aspirated /ɖ/
/ɳə/; American Eng: hunter
/t̪ə/; Spanish: tomate
/t̪ʰə/; Aspirated /t̪/
/d̪ə/; Spanish: donde
/d̪ʱə/; Aspirated /d̪/
/n̪ə/; English: name
/pə/; English: spin
/pʰə/; English: pit
/bə/; English: bone
/bʱə/; Aspirated /b/
/mə/; English: mine
/jə/; English: you
/rə/; American Eng: tearing
/l̪ə/; English: love
/ʋə/; English: vase
/ɕə/; English: ship
/ʂə/; Retroflex form of /ʃ/
/s̪ə/; English: same
/ɦə/; English behind
 Phonology and Sandhi
The Sanskrit vowels are as discussed in the section above. The long syllabic l (ḹ) is not attested, and is only discussed by grammarians for systematic reasons. Its short counterpart ḷ occurs in a single root only, kḷp "to order, array". Long syllabic r (ṝ) is also quite marginal, occurring in the genitive plural of r-stems (e.g. mātṛ "mother" and pitṛ "father" have gen.pl. mātṝṇām and pitṝṇām). i, u, ṛ, ḷ are vocalic allophones of consonantal y, v, r, l. There are thus only 5 invariably vocalic phonemes,
- a, ā, ī, ū, ṝ.
Visarga ḥ ः is an allophone of r and s, and anusvara ṃ, Devanagari ं of any nasal, both in pausa (ie, the nasalized vowel). The exact pronunciation of the three sibilants may vary, but they are distinct phonemes. An aspirated voiced sibilant /zʱ/ was inherited by Indo-Aryan from Proto-Indo-Iranian but lost shortly before the time of the Rigveda (note that aspirated sibilant are exceedingly rare in any language). The retroflex consonants are somewhat marginal phonemes, often being conditioned by their phonetic environment; they do not continue a PIE series and are often ascribed by some linguists to the substratal influence of Dravidian. The nasal ñ is a conditioned allophone of n (n and ṇ are distinct phonemes – one has to distinguish aṇu "minute, atomic" (nom. sg. neutr. of an adjective) from anu "after, along"; phonologically independent ṅ occurs only marginally, e.g. in prāṅ "directed forwards/towards" (nom. sg. masc. of an adjective) and can thus be omitted). There are thus 31 consonantal or semi-vocalic phonemes, consisting of four/five kinds of stops realized both with or without aspiration and both voiced and voiceless, three nasals, four semi-vowels or liquids, and four fricatives, written in IAST transliteration as follows:
- k, kh, g, gh; c, ch, j, jh; ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh; t, th, d, dh; p, ph, b, bh; m, n, ṇ; y, r, l, v; ś, ṣ, s, h
or a total of 36 unique Sanskrit phonemes altogether.
The phonological rules to be applied when combining morphemes to a word, and when combining words to a sentence are collectively called sandhi "composition". Texts are written phonetically, with sandhi applied (except for the so-called padapāṭha).
 Writing system
Historically, Sanskrit is not associated with any particular script. The emphasis on orality, not textuality, in the Vedic Sanskrit tradition was maintained through the development of early classical Sanskrit literature. When Sanskrit was written, the choice of writing system was influenced by the regional scripts of the scribes. As such, virtually all of the major writing systems of South Asia have been used for the production of Sanskrit manuscripts. Since the late 19th century, Devanagari has been considered as the de facto writing system for Sanskrit, quite possibly because of the European practice of printing Sanskrit texts in the script.
Writing was introduced relatively late to India, around the 5th century BC, according to a hypothesis by Rhys Davids introduced from the Middle East by traders. Even after the introduction of writing, oral tradition and memorization of texts remained a prominent feature of Sanskrit literature. In northern India, there are Brahmi inscriptions dating from the 3rd century BCE onwards, the oldest appearing on the famous Prakrit pillar inscriptions of king Ashoka. Roughly contemporary with the Brahmi, the Kharosthi script was used. Later (ca. 4th to 8th centuries AD) the Gupta script, derived from Brahmi, became prevalent. From ca. the 8th century, the Sharada script evolved out of the Gupta script, and was mostly displaced in its turn by Devanagari from ca. the 12th century, with intermediary stages such as the Siddham script. In Eastern India, the Bengali script and, later, the Oriya script, were used.
In the south where Dravidian languages predominate, scripts used for Sanskrit include Kannada in Kannada and Telugu speaking regions, Telugu in Telugu and Tamil speaking regions, Malayalam and Grantha in Tamil speaking regions.
Sanskrit in modern Indian scripts. May Śiva bless those who take delight in the language of the gods. (Kalidasa)
Since the late 18th century, Sanskrit has been transliterated using the Latin alphabet. The system most commonly used today is the IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration), which has been the academic standard since 1912, and which is used in this article. ASCII-based transliteration schemes have evolved due to difficulties representing Sanskrit characters in computer systems. These include Harvard-Kyoto and ITRANS, a lossless transliteration scheme that is used widely on the Internet, especially in Usenet and in email, for considerations of speed of entry as well as rendering issues. With the wide availability of Unicode aware web browsers, IAST has become common also for online articles.
For scholarly work, Devanagari in the 19th century was generally preferred for the transcription and reproduction of whole texts and lengthy excerpts also by European scholars; however, references to individual words and names in texts composed in European languages are usually represented using Roman transliteration, and from the mid 20th century, textual editions edited by Western scholars have also been mostly in romanized transliteration.
 Grammatical tradition
Sanskrit grammatical tradition (vyākaraṇa, one of the six Vedanga disciplines) begins in late Vedic India, and culminates in the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini (ca. 5th century BC). Patañjali, who lived several centuries after Panini, is the reputed author of the Mahābhāṣya, the "Great Commentary" on the Aṣṭādhyāyī. Recent work on Sanskrit grammar has been done by Dr. B.P.T. Vagish Shastri. He has developed a mnemonic method VAGYOGA, which proposes learning grammar in a mathematical way.
 Classification of verbs
Sanskrit has ten classes of verbs divided into in two broad groups: athematic and thematic. The thematic verbs are so called because an a, called the theme vowel, is inserted between the stem and the ending. This serves to make the thematic verbs generally more regular. Exponents used in verb conjugation include prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and reduplication. Every root has (not necessarily all distinct) zero, guṇa, and vṛddhi grades. If V is the vowel of the zero grade, the guṇa-grade vowel is traditionally thought of as a + V, and the vṛddhi-grade vowel as ā + V.
 Tense systems
The verbs tenses (a very inexact application of the word, since more distinctions than simply tense are expressed) are organized into four 'systems' (as well as gerunds and infinitives, and such creatures as intensives/frequentatives, desideratives, causatives, and benedictives derived from more basic forms) based on the different stem forms (derived from verbal roots) used in conjugation. There are four tense systems:
 Present system
The present system includes the present and imperfect tenses, the optative and imperative moods, as well as some of the remnant forms of the old subjunctive. The tense stem of the present system is formed in various ways. The numbers are the native grammarians' numbers for these classes.
For athematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:
- 2) No modification at all, for example ad from ad 'eat'.
- 3) Reduplication prefixed to the root, for example juhu from hu 'sacrifice'.
- 7) Infixion of na or n before the final root consonant (with appropriate sandhi changes), for example rundh or ruṇadh from rudh 'obstruct'.
- 5) Suffixation of nu (guṇa form no), for example sunu from su 'press out'.
- 8) Suffixation of u (guṇa form o), for example tanu from tan 'stretch'. For modern linguistic purposes it is better treated as a subclass of the 5th. tanu derives from tnnu, which is zero-grade for *tannu, because in the Proto-Indo-European language [m] and [n] could be vowels, which in Sanskrit (and Greek) change to [a]. Most members of the 8th class arose this way; kar = "make", "do" was 5th class in Vedic (krnoti = "he makes"), but shifted to the 8th class in Classical Sanskrit (karoti = "he makes")
- 9) Suffixation of nā (zero-grade nī or n), for example krīṇa or krīṇī from krī 'buy'.
For thematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:
- 1) Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with guṇa strengthening, for example, bháva from bhū 'be'.
- 6) Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with a shift of accent to this vowel, for example tudá from tud 'thrust'.
- 4) Suffixation of ya, for example dī́vya from div 'play'.
The tenth class described by native grammarians refers to a process which is derivational in nature, and thus not a true tense-stem formation. It is formed by suffixation of ya with guṇa strengthening and lengthening of the root's last vowel, for example bhāvaya from bhū 'be'.
 Perfect system
The perfect system includes only the perfect tense. The stem is formed with reduplication as with the present system.
The perfect system also produces separate "strong" and "weak" forms of the verb — the strong form is used with the singular active, and the weak form with the rest.
 Aorist system
The aorist system includes aorist proper (with past indicative meaning, e.g. abhūḥ "you were") and some of the forms of the ancient injunctive (used almost exclusively with mā in prohibitions, e.g. mā bhūḥ "don't be"). The principal distinction of the two is presence/absence of an augment – a- prefixed to the stem.
The aorist system stem actually has three different formations: the simple aorist, the reduplicating aorist (semantically related to the causative verb), and the sibilant aorist. The simple aorist is taken directly from the root stem (e.g. bhū-: a-bhū-t "he was"). The reduplicating aorist involves reduplication as well as vowel reduction of the stem. The sibilant aorist is formed with the suffixation of s to the stem.
 Future system
The future system is formed with the suffixation of sya or iṣya and guṇa.
 Verbs: Conjugation
Each verb has a grammatical voice, whether active, passive or middle. There is also an impersonal voice, which can be described as the passive voice of intransitive verbs. Sanskrit verbs have an indicative, an optative and an imperative mood. Older forms of the language had a subjunctive, though this had fallen out of use by the time of Classical Sanskrit.
 Basic conjugational endings
Conjugational endings in Sanskrit convey person, number, and voice. Different forms of the endings are used depending on what tense stem and mood they are attached to. Verb stems or the endings themselves may be changed or obscured by sandhi.
|Third Person||ti||tás||ánti, áti||té||ā́te||ánte, áte|
|Secondary||First Person||am||vá||má||í, á||váhi||máhi|
|Third Person||t||tā́m||án, ús||tá||ā́tām||ánta, áta, rán|
|Second Person||dhí, hí, —||tám||tá||svá||ā́thām||dhvám|
|Third Person||tu||tā́m||ántu, átu||tā́m||ā́tām||ántām, átām|
Primary endings are used with present indicative and future forms. Secondary endings are used with the imperfect, conditional, aorist, and optative. Perfect and imperative endings are used with the perfect and imperative respectively.
 Present system conjugation
Conjugation of the present system deals with all forms of the verb utilizing the present tense stem (explained under Tense Stems above). This includes the present tense of all moods, as well as the imperfect indicative.
 Athematic inflection
The present system differentiates strong and weak forms of the verb. The strong/weak opposition manifests itself differently depending on the class:
- The root and reduplicating classes (2 & 3) are not modified in the weak forms, and receive guṇa in the strong forms.
- The nasal class (7) is not modified in the weak form, extends the nasal to ná in the strong form.
- The nu-class (5) has nu in the weak form and nó in the strong form.
- The nā-class (9) has nī in the weak form and nā́ in the strong form. nī disappears before vocalic endings.
The present indicative takes primary endings, and the imperfect indicative takes secondary endings. Singular active forms have the accent on the stem and take strong forms, while the other forms have the accent on the endings and take weak forms.
The optative takes secondary endings. yā is added to the stem in the active, and ī in the passive.
The imperative takes imperative endings. Accent is variable and affects vowel quality. Forms which are end-accented trigger guṇa strengthening, and those with stem accent do not have the vowel affected.
 Nominal inflection
Sanskrit is a highly inflected language with three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and three numbers (singular, plural, dual). It has eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, and locative.
The number of actual declensions is debatable. Panini identifies six karakas corresponding to the nominative, accusative, dative, instrumental, locative, and ablative cases . Panini defines them as follows (Ashtadhyayi, I.4.24-54):
- Apadana (lit. 'take off'): "(that which is) firm when departure (takes place)." This is the equivalent of the ablative case, which signifies a stationary object from which movement proceeds.
- Sampradana ('bestowal'): "he whom one aims at with the object". This is equivalent to the dative case, which signifies a recipient in an act of giving or similar acts.
- Karana ("instrument") "that which effects most." This is equivalent to the instrumental case.
- Adhikarana ('location'): or "substratum." This is equivalent to the locative case.
- Karman ('deed'/'object'): "what the agent seeks most to attain". This is equivalent to the accusative case.
- Karta ('agent'): "he/that which is independent in action". This is equivalent to the nominative case. (On the basis of Scharfe, 1977: 94)
Possessive (Sambandha) and vocative are absent in Panini's grammar.
In this article they are divided into five declensions. The declension to which a noun belongs to is determined largely by form.
 The basic declension suffix scheme for nouns and adjectives
The basic scheme is given in the table below—valid for almost all nouns and adjectives. However, according to the gender and the ending consonant/vowel of the uninflected word-stem, there are predermined rules of compulsory sandhi which would then give the final inflected word. The parentheses give the case-terminations for the neuter gender, the rest are for masculine and feminine gender. Both devanagari script and IAST transliterations are given.
|Instrumental||-आ -ā||-भ्याम् -bhyām||-भिस् -bhis|
|Dative||-ए -e||-भ्याम् -bhyām||-भ्यस् -bhyas|
|Ablative||-अस् -as||-भ्याम् -bhyām||-भ्यस् -bhyas|
|Genitive||-अस् -as||-ओस् -os||-आम् -ām|
|Locative||-इ -i||-ओस् -os||-सु -su|
A-stems (/ə/ or /ɑː/) comprise the largest class of nouns. As a rule, nouns belonging to this class, with the uninflected stem ending in short-a (/ə/), are either masculine or neuter. Nouns ending in long-A (/ɑː/) are almost always feminine. A-stem adjectives take the masculine and neuter in short-a (/ə/), and feminine in long-A (/ɑː/) in their stems. This class is so big because it also comprises the Proto-Indo-European o-stems.
|Masculine (kā́ma- 'love')||Neuter (āsya- 'mouth')||Feminine (kānta- 'beloved')|
 i- and u-stems
|Masc. and Fem. (gáti- 'gait')||Neuter (vā́ri- 'water')|
|Masc. and Fem. (śátru- 'enemy')||Neuter (mádhu- 'honey')|
 Long Vowel-stems
|ā-stems (jā- 'prodigy')||ī-stems (dhī- 'thought')||ū-stems (bhū- 'earth')|
|Dative||jé||jā́bhyām||jā́bhyas||dhiyé, dhiyāí||dhībhyā́m||dhībhyás||bhuvé, bhuvāí||bhūbhyā́m||bhūbhyás|
|Ablative||jás||jā́bhyām||jā́bhyas||dhiyás, dhiyā́s||dhībhyā́m||dhībhyás||bhuvás, bhuvā́s||bhūbhyā́m||bhūbhyás|
|Genitive||jás||jós||jā́nām, jā́m||dhiyás, dhiyā́s||dhiyós||dhiyā́m, dhīnā́m||bhuvás, bhuvā́s||bhuvós||bhuvā́m, bhūnā́m|
|Locative||jí||jós||jā́su||dhiyí, dhiyā́m||dhiyós||dhīṣú||bhuví, bhuvā́m||bhuvós||bhūṣú|
ṛ-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like dātṛ 'giver', though also include kinship terms like pitṛ́ 'father', mātṛ́ 'mother', and svásṛ 'sister'.
 Personal Pronouns and Determiners
The first and second person pronouns are declined for the most part alike, having by analogy assimilated themselves with one another.
Note: Where two forms are given, the second is enclitic and an alternative form. Ablatives in singular and plural may be extended by the syllable -tas; thus mat or mattas, asmat or asmattas.
|First Person||Second Person|
|Accusative||mām, mā||āvām, nau||asmān, nas||tvām, tvā||yuvām, vām||yuṣmān, vas|
|Dative||mahyam, me||āvābhyām, nau||asmabhyam, nas||tubhyam, te||yuvābhyām, vām||yuṣmabhyam, vas|
|Genitive||mama, me||āvayos, nau||asmākam, nas||tava, te||yuvayos, vām||yuṣmākam, vas|
The demonstrative ta, declined below, also functions as the third person pronoun.
One other notable feature of the nominal system is the very common use of nominal compounds, which may be huge (10+ words) as in some modern languages such as German. Nominal compounds occur with various structures, however morphologically speaking they are essentially the same. Each noun (or adjective) is in its (weak) stem form, with only the final element receiving case inflection. Some examples of nominal compounds include:
- Dvandva (co-ordinative)
- These consist of two or more noun stems, connected in sense with 'and'. There are mainly two kinds of dvandva constructions in Sanskrit. The first is called itaretara dvandva, an enumerative compound word, the meaning of which refers to all its constituent members. The resultant compound word is in the dual or plural number and takes the gender of the final member in the compound construction. e.g. rāma-lakşmaņau – Rama and Lakshmana, or rāma-lakşmaņa-bharata-śatrughnāh – Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. The second kind is called samāhāra dvandva, a collective compound word, the meaning of which refers to the collection of its constituent members. The resultant compound word is in the singular number and is always neuter in gender. e.g. pāņipādam – limbs, literally hands and feet, from pāņi = hand and pāda = foot. According to some grammarians, there is a third kind of dvandva, called ekaśeşa dvandva or residual compound, which takes the dual (or plural) form of only its final constituent member, e.g. pitarau for mātā + pitā, mother + father, i.e. parents. According to other grammarians, however, the ekaśeşa is not properly a compound at all.
- Bahuvrīhi (possessive)
- Bahuvrīhi, or "much-rice", denotes a rich person—one who has much rice. Bahuvrīhi compounds refer (by example) to a compound noun with no head -- a compound noun that refers to a thing which is itself not part of the compound. For example, "low-life" and "block-head" are bahuvrihi compounds, since a low-life is not a kind of life, and a block-head is not a kind of head. (And a much-rice is not a kind of rice.) Compare with more common, headed, compound nouns like "fly-ball" (a kind of ball) or "alley cat" (a kind of cat). Bahurvrīhis can often be translated by "possessing..." or "-ed"; for example, "possessing much rice", or "much riced".
- Tatpuruṣa (determinative)
- There are many tatpuruṣas (one for each of the nominal cases, and a few others besides); in a tatpuruṣa, the first component is in a case relationship with another. For example, a doghouse is a dative compound, a house for a dog. It would be called a "caturtitatpuruṣa" (caturti refers to the fourth case—that is, the dative). Incidentally, "tatpuruṣa" is a tatpuruṣa ("this man"—meaning someone's agent), while "caturtitatpuruṣa" is a karmadhārya, being both dative, and a tatpuruṣa. An easy way to understand it is to look at English examples of tatpuruṣas: "battlefield", where there is a genitive relationship between "field" and "battle", "a field of battle"; other examples include instrumental relationships ("thunderstruck") and locative relationships ("towndwelling").
- Karmadhāraya (descriptive)
- The relation of the first member to the last is appositional, attributive or adverbial, e. g. uluka-yatu (owl+demon) is a demon in the shape of an owl.
- Amreḍita (iterative)
- Repetition of a word expresses repetitiveness, e. g. dive-dive 'day by day', 'daily'.
The numbers from one to ten are:
- saptá, sápta
- aṣṭá, áṣṭa
The numbers one through four are declined. Éka is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. Dvá appears only in the dual. Trí and catúr are declined irregularly:
 Modern-day India
 Influence on vernaculars
Sanskrit's greatest influence, presumably, is that which it exerted on languages that grew from its vocabulary and grammatical base. Especially among élite circles in India, Sanskrit is prized as a storehouse of scripture and the language of prayers in Hinduism. Like Latin's influence on European languages and Classical Chinese's influence on East Asian languages, Sanskrit has influenced most Indian languages. While vernacular prayer is common, Sanskrit mantras are recited by millions of Hindus and most temple functions are conducted entirely in Sanskrit, often Vedic in form. Of modern day Indian languages, while Hindi and Urdu tend to be more heavily weighted with Arabic and Persian influence, Bengali and Marathi still retain a largely Sanskrit vocabulary base. The national anthem, Jana Gana Mana, is written in a literary form of Bengali (known as shuddha bhasha), so Sanskritized as to be recognizable, but still archaic to the modern ear. The national song of India Vande Mataram was originally a poem composed by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and taken from his book called 'Anandamath', is in a similarly highly Sanskritized Bengali. Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada also combine a great deal of Sanskrit vocabulary.
 Revival attempts
The 1991 Indian census reported 49,736 fluent speakers of Sanskrit. Since the 1990s, efforts to revive spoken Sanskrit have been increasing. Many organizations like the Samskrta Bharati are conducting Speak Sanskrit workshops to popularize the language. The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) in India has made Sanskrit a third language (though it is an option for the school to adopt it or not, the other choice being the state's own official language) in the schools it governs. In such schools, learning Sanskrit is an option for grades 5 to 8 (Classes V to VIII). This is true of most schools, including but not limited to Christian missionary schools, affiliated to the ICSE board too, especially in those states where the official language is Hindi.
 Symbolic Usage
In the Republic of India, Sanskrit phrases are widely used as mottoes for various educational and social organizations. The motto of the Republic is also in Sanskrit.
- Republic of India
- Satyameva Jayate
- Janani Janmabhūmischa Svargādapi garīyasi "Mother and motherland are greater than heaven"
- Sarve Bhadrāni Paśyantu Mā Kaścid Dukkha Bhābhavet
- Life Insurance Corporation of India
- Yogakshemam Vahāmyaham
- Indian Navy
- Shanno Varuna
- Indian Air Force
- Nābha Sparsham Dīptam
- Indian Coast Guard
- Vayam Rakshāmaha
- All India Radio
- Bahujana-hitāya bahujana-sukhāya
Many of the post – Independence educational institutions of national importance in India and Sri Lanka have Sanskrit mottoes. For a fuller list of such educational institutions, see List of educational institutions which have Sanskrit phrases as their mottoes.
 Interactions with Eastern Asiatic languages
Sanskrit and related languages have also influenced their Sino-Tibetan-speaking neighbors to the north through the spread of Buddhist texts in translation. Buddhism was spread to China by Mahayanist missionaries mostly through translations of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit texts, and many terms were transliterated directly and added to the Chinese vocabulary. (Although Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit is not Sanskrit, properly speaking, its vocabulary is substantially the same, both because of genetic relationship, and because of conscious imitation on the part of composers. Buddhist texts composed in Sanskrit proper were primarily found in philosophical schools like the Madhyamaka.)
The Thai language contains many loan words from Sanskrit. For example, in Thai, the Rāvana – the emperor of Sri Lanka is called 'Thoskonth' which is a derivation of his Sanskrit name 'Dashakanth' ("of ten necks"). The influence extends as far as the Philippines, e.g., Tagalog 'gurò' from 'Guru', or 'teacher', with the Hindu seafarers who traded there. Many Sanskrit loanswords are also found in traditional Malay and Modern Indonesian, Old Javanese language (close to 50%) and Vietnamese.
 Sanskrit's usage in modern times
All of India's scientific discoveries and developments are named in Sanskrit, as a counterpart of the western practice of naming scientific developments in Latin or Greek. The Indian guided missile program that was commenced in 1983 by DRDO has named the five missiles (ballistic and others) that it has developed as Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Nag and Trishul. India's first modern fighter aircraft is named Tejas. The Indian Space Research Organization ISRO has named all of its propulsion rockets after mythological characters found in Sanskrit literature.
This practice is usually followed in scientific institutions in India also.
Recently, Sanskrit has also made an appearance in Western pop music in recent years, in two recordings by Madonna. One, "Shanti/Ashtangi," from the 1998 album "Ray of Light," is the traditional Ashtanga yoga chant referenced above set to music. The second, "Cyber-raga," released in 2000 as a B-side to Madonna's single "Music," is a Sanskrit-language ode of devotion to a higher power and a wish for peace on earth. The climactic battle theme of The Matrix Revolutions features a choir singing Sanskrit prayer in the closing titles of the movie.
- See also: Sanskrit in the West
 Computational linguistics
There have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a metalanguage for knowledge representation in e.g. machine translation, and other areas of natural language processing because of its highly regular structure. This is due to Classical Sanskrit being a regularized, prescriptivist form abstracted from the much more irregular and richer Vedic Sanskrit. This levelling of the grammar of Classical Sanskrit occurred during the Brahmana phase, after the language had fallen out of popular use, arguably qualifying Classical Sanskrit as an early engineered language.
 See also
- Sanskrit literature
- Indian numerals
- Sanskrit numerals
- Grantha Script
- Indo-European languages
-  The Panini-Backus Form in Syntax of Formal Languages
- Languages of India
- List of national languages of India
- List of Indian languages by total speakers
- ^ Sanskrit Grammar, William Dwight Whitney, 1889
- ^ "Siddham; an essay on the history of Sanskrit studies in China and Japan", Robert van Gulik, Nagpur, International Academy of Indian Culture, 1956.
- ^ See also this page or this for a list
- ^ According to P.J. Zoetmulder in the introduction of his Old Javanese - English dictionary (1982); "Of the more than 25,500 entries in this dictionary, over 12,600, that is almost half of the total number, go back, directly or indirectly, to a Sanskrit original." (page IX)
- ^ first suggested by Rick Briggs of the NASA Ames Research Center (Spring 1985). "Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence". AI Magazine 6 (1). Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
- The Sanskrit Language – T. Burrow – ISBN 81-208-1767-2
- Sanskrit Pronunciation – Bruce Cameron – ISBN 1-55700-021-2
- Teach Yourself Sanskrit – Prof. M. Coulson – ISBN 0-340-85990-3
- Devavāṇīpraveśikā: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language – Robert P. Goldman – ISBN 0-944613-40-3
- A Higher Sanskrit Grammar – M. R. Kale – ISBN 81-208-0178-4
- A Sanskrit Grammar for Students – A. A. Macdonell – ISBN 81-246-0094-5
- The Sanskrit Language: An Introductory Grammar and Reader – Walter Harding Maurer – ISBN 0-7007-1382-4
- Conversational Sanskrit – Dr. Vagish Shastri – ISBN 81-85570-12-4
- भाषा विज्ञान (Bhasha Vigyan) — Bholanath Tiwari —  2004 — ISBN 81-225-0007-2
- A Practical Grammar Of The Sanskrit Language Arranged With Reference To The Classical Languages Of Europe For The Use Of English Students - Monier Monier-Williams (1846) 
- W. D. Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar: Including both the Classical Language and the Older Dialects
- W. D. Whitney, The Roots, Verb-Forms and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language: (A Supplement to His Sanskrit Grammar)
- Wackernagel, Debrunner, Altindische Grammatik, Göttingen.
- B. Delbrück, Altindische Tempuslehre (1876) 
- Otto Böhtlingk, Rudolph Roth, Petersburger Wörterbuch, 7 vols., 1855-75
- Otto Böhtlingk, Sanskrit Wörterbuch in kürzerer Fassung 1883–86 (1998 reprint, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi)
- Monier Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionary (1898, 1899)
- Manfred Mayrhofer, Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen, 1956-76
- Manfred Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen, 3 vols., 2742 pages, 2001, ISBN 3-8253-1477-4
 External links
- Sanskrit Siddham (Bonji) Numbers
- Sanskrit Documents Documents in ITX format of Upanishads, Stotras etc. and a metasite with links to translations, dictionaries, tutorials, tools and other Sanskrit resources.
- Samskrita Bharati
- American Sanskrit Institute
- Sanskrit Scriptures in streaming realplayer
- Sanskrit at Ethnologue
- Sanskrit - The Language of Ancient India
- Transliterator from romanized to Unicode Sanskrit
- Sanskrit transliterator with font conversion to latin and other Indian Languages
- Sanskrit Alphabet in Devanagari, Gujarati, Thai scripts with an extensive list of Devanagari and Gujarati conjuncts
- Glossary of Sanskrit Terms
- Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon
- Clay Sanskrit Library publishes Sanskrit literature with facing-page text and translation. Also offers searchable corpus and numerous downloadable materials.
- GRETIL: Göttingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages a cumulative register of the numerous download sites for electronic texts in Indian languages.
- Sanskrit as a career option -- an article in The Statesman
- Monier-Williams Dictionary – Searchable
- Monier-Williams Dictionary – Printable
- Sanskrit Translation
- Online Hypertext Dictionary
- Sanskrit-French Dictionary by Gérard Huet
- Discover Sanskrit A concise study of the Sanskrit language
- Sanskrit Self Study An introduction to Sanskrit Language in 54 self study lessons by Chitrapur Math
- Harivenu Dâsa – An Introductory Course based on S'rîla Jîva Gosvâmî's Grammar a vaishnava version of Pânini's grammar: (pdf-file)
- A Sanskrit Tutor
- Sanskrit Audio Lessons from NCERT
- Samskrit Video Lessions
- Ancient Sanskrit Online from the University of Texas at Austin
- An Analytical Cross Referenced Sanskrit Grammar By Lennart Warnemyr. Phonology, morphology and syntax, written in a semiformal style with full paradigms.
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