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Sanskrit: a Language Without Script

Updated on November 18, 2011
Sanskrit in Uchen script (Tibet)
Sanskrit in Uchen script (Tibet)

Sanskrit language was never a language of masses. It was an artificial language created to safeguard the interests of Vedics. They banned others not only from learning it, but even from listening the language. If Sanskrit words were listened by a Shudra, he was punished by pouring boiling lead in his ears.

If we look at the history of Sanskrit, one thing we clearly notice that Sanskritists avoided to use it in written form, and for centuries, it was just an oral language. The method of transforming the literature was to memorize, recite and handover orally to next generation. So they did not require any script as they did not require the language in written form.

But non-Vedic Indians used their languages in written forms also. This tradition of non-vedics goes back to Indus valley Civilization.

In Jain mythology, Rishabh, the fist ford maker of Jainism taught his daughter Bambhi to write. As Rikhabh was a pre-Vedic personality, this story indicates that pre-vedic Indians knew to write.

The oldest rock inscriptions in India are in Desi (i.e. Prakrit) languages, and not in Sanskrit language.

Vedics learned to write from non-vedics. Obviously, they used the scripts which were used for indigenous languages by indigenous people of India. That is why Sanskritists use different scripts in different regions of India for Sanskrit language. They also used different scripts for Sankrit language in different period.

The oldest written line in Sanskrit is a rock inscription at Junagarh in Gujarat, which belongs to 3rd century of Common Era. It is written in Bambhi (Brahmi) script. This script originally belongs to Prakrit languages, because all the oldest inscriptions in Prakrit languages are in this script, and all the oldest inscriptions in this script are in Prakrit languages.

A remarkable thing is that the oldest known Sanskrit inscription I have mentioned above was written at least five centuries after the oldest inscription in Prakrit inscriptions.

Later, Kharoshti and Gupt scripts were used for writing in Sanskrit language. Both the scripts were evolved from Bramhi script. Sharada, a script evolved from Gupt script was also used for Sanskrit for some period. In Eastern parts of India, Bengali and Udia scripts were used for Sanskrit, and in Southern India the Sanskritist used Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam scripts.

The use of Nagari script for Sanskrit language started after 11th Century C.E. But this script was being used for Desi languages long before 11th century. The oldest inscription of Marathi language is in Nagari script, which was written in 981 C.E.

In 18th century, European scholars started to use Nagari script for Sanskirt language in large scale. Simultaneously, they started to use Roman script also. Today also, scholars use Roman script for Sanskrit.

All this proves that Sanskrit language does not have it's own script. If any languages does not have it's own script, nothing is wrong in it. But Sanskrit lovers are doing one wrong thing by saying that Nagari script originally belongs to Sanskrit language. In fact, Sanskrit has been always written in scripts borrowed from other languages.

-Mahavir Sanglikar

Sanskrit in Roman Script
Sanskrit in Roman Script


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    Samraj19 4 years ago

    Jainismus does a great job to reveal the buried TRUTH, keep up your good work.

    Ancient Prakrit and Ancient Tamil shares Brahmi scripts whereas Sanskrit uses Devanagari scripts which was created much later around 3rd/4th century AD. Ancient Tamil language is comparable with Prakrit language and ancient Tamil Religion is comparable with Buddhism/Jainism.

    Unfortunately, Sanskrit has taken undue credit of Prakrit and Buddhism/Jainism due to medieval period rulers from 3rd century AD. The spread of Sanskrit and Vedic Religion has destroyed Prakrit and Buddhism out of India. Sanskrit is given with undue credit at the cost of Prakrit and Buddhism. The destruction of Prakrit by Sanskrit has created many language divides in India.

    Above reference will give insight about Ancient history, Tamil Brami scripts and Prakrit language in conjunction.

    In India, whenever there was a change in Religion and Language evidenced, it was always linked with an Invade ex: Islam or Christianity came with Urdu and English. The mix of Urdu has created a new language called Hindi at their central ruling region.

    In our Textbook History, The cause for the destruction of Prakrit and Buddhism is unstated or manipulated by stating that Prakrit is an impure form of Sanskrit which gives undue credit for Sanskrit and Vedic Hinduism. Sanskrit doesn't have its own grammar but borrowed from Prakrit and created by Panini around 3rd/4th century AD. Later, Sanskrit has grown at the cost of Prakrit. This can be evidenced from the carved script inscriptions into stone as written proof from Sanskrit could not be found prior to 3rd century AD.

    It is widely accepted and acknowledged that Buddhism/Jainism was practiced by common public and Prakrit/Tamil was spoken by the common public in the Ancient India.

    One could see that most of the Sanskrit Literary is translated one from Prakrit and it has taken/given undue credit from Prakrit. The fact is Prakrit is pre-dated Sanskrit but the later one got classical language status in India, which shows influence from the people at central ruling India in the modern day India

    Going by the historical evidences, destruction of a Language & Religion always happen through Invader / Political power changes. In India, destruction of Prakrit & Buddhism happens through Vedic Hinduism gaining Political power post 3rd AD

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