Research topic: Sanskrit

Sanskrit is the most important of India’s classical languages. It is one of the world’s oldest literary languages and has, in somewhat changing forms, been continuously in use for approximately 3000 years.

The earliest period in Sanskrit literature is called Vedic. This comprises the four major text collections: Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda og Atharvaveda. In addition to these there is a large volume of ritual texts, the so-called Brahmanas, and speculative philosophical texts, Upanishads.

Classical Sanskrit was widespread in the period from about 400 BC to about1200 AD. Buddhists and Jainas also gradually used Sanskrit as a literary language, and have left behind very substantial literature in this language.

Sanskrit is still in use in some Indian communities, and a small number of Indians consider that they have Sanskrit as their mother tongue. The language has always had great prestige and symbolic meaning for Hindus. Hindu versions of New Indic languages often have loanwords from Sanskrit.

The language thus has a great influence on the vocabulary of a language like Hindi. Sanskrit is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the language family and is related to Western languages such as Greek, Latin, Russian and Old Norse.

Sanskrit is the key to much of India’s classical culture and has a central place in the historical exploration of Hinduism.

Research networks

Nordic Forum for South Asia

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Published Feb. 5, 2013 1:58 PM - Last modified June 28, 2017 11:26 AM