Sanskrit – 108 Facts about Our Mother Tongue

Have completed writing a book called “Sanskrit: 108 Facts about Our Mother Tongue”.

Have added some sections of the book as posts in this website.

A synopsis of the book (also available here. Also on YouTube here)

Sanskrit: 108 Facts about Our Mother Tongue

There is a great revival of interest in the Sanskrit language. In India, this revival is due to the realisation that our ancient heritage has come down to us through the medium of Sanskrit; that almost all our languages owe their being, either directly or indirectly, to Sanskrit; that there is a tremendous amount of literature available in Sanskrit for us to enjoy; and finally that we need a language other than English that we can call our own and take pride in.

Outside India, this revival is due to the realisation that Sanskrit, as the earliest of the Classical languages, has contributed immensely not only to the other Classical languages, but also to the current languages; and so a study of these languages and of the civilisations in the world will not be complete without a good understanding of Sanskrit.

However, there is no handy book that gives readers a simple but broad introduction to the language. Of course, there are many learned books on the grammar, on semantics, on reinterpreting our ancient books etc., but nothing simple that covers all these aspects in one book. This book hopefully addresses this concern.

Sanskrit is the Mother Tongue of India. I have tried to establish this through the sections and ‘facts’ of the book. By its contributions to the other languages of India, by being the bearer of Indian culture and by being the vehicle for carrying the religious liturgy of India, Sanskrit is truly our Mother Tongue.

This book, “Sanskrit: 108 Facts about Our Mother Tongue”, is an attempt to bring to Indians and others, the great treasure that is Sanskrit.

The objective of the book is to give readers an overall idea of what the Sanskrit language is: specifically,

  • how ancient the language is;
  • what its contributions to the world are;
  • what the origins of the language are and how it is related to the other languages of the world;
  • how it evolved into the currently spoken Indian languages but still continued to be India’s lingua franca;
  • the great amount of literature available in the language;
  • an idea about the structure of the language
  • Sanskrit during the Vedic period
  • how to analyse and appreciate the language; and
  • how we, in the modern era, can reclaim the language for ourselves.

Organisation of the book

The book is presented in 9 sections with the 108 “facts” spread unevenly across these sections. It is about 110K words long.

A list of the sections of the book and the 108 facts are given below.

Section 1: The History of our Mother Tongue

Fact 1 – Sanskrit is 6000 years old or older

Fact 2 – It is possible that the people of the Indus Valley civilisation spoke Sanskrit

Fact 3 – Sanskrit of the Vedas (Vedic Sanskrit) developed into Classical Sanskrit

Fact 4 – Sanskrit of the Vedas (Vedic Sanskrit) is not very different from Classical Sanskrit

Fact 5 – Sanskrit of the Vedas (Vedic Sanskrit) developed into the existing North Indian languages

Fact 6 – But, Sanskrit continued to be the lingua franca of ancient India

Fact 7 – Our mother tongue is one of the oldest languages in the world

Fact 8 – Sanskrit is an Indo-European Language

Fact 9 – Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit are very close to each other

Fact 10 – Sanskrit and South Indian languages have borrowed from each other and may be related to each other

Fact 11 – Sanskrit has deep influence all over Asia

Fact 12 – Sanskrit was used to express the most sublime and the most exalted ideas

Fact 13 – Sanskrit was used to express reverence to gods and the most mundane ideas

Section 2: The Basics of our Mother Tongue

Fact 14 – Sanskrit alphabet is scientifically arranged

Fact 15 – Our Mother Tongue employs an abugida script to represent sounds

Fact 16 – Every word in Sanskrit comes from a root

Fact 17 – Sanskrit has three types of roots

Fact 18 – The stem is the basic form of a word

Fact 19 – Nouns in Sanskrit are classified into three genders

Fact 20 – Nouns take different endings to indicate their function in a sentence

Fact 21 – Adjectives change according to the nouns they qualify

Fact 22 – Verbs take different endings to agree with the nouns they work with

Fact 23 – Pronouns and determiners too take different forms to indicate functions in a sentence

Fact 24 – Numerals also take different forms

Fact 25 – Prepositions, Conjunctions, Interjections and Adverbs are indeclinables

Section 3: The Greatness of our Mother Tongue

Fact 26 – There is an amazing amount of literature in Sanskrit

Fact 27 – The four Vedas were composed in the first sub-period of the Vedic period

Fact 28 – The Brāhmaṇas, the Āraṇyakas and the Upaniṣads were composed in the second sub-period of the Vedic period

Fact 29 – The Sūtras were composed in the third sub-period of the Vedic period

Fact 30 – The Prātiśākhyas are the oldest books on phonetics and pronunciation

Fact 31 – The third sub-period of the Vedic period saw the slow change in Sanskrit

Fact 32 – Kālidāsa was the greatest dramatist/poet in our Mother Tongue

Fact 33 – There are many more plays and poems in our Mother Tongue

Fact 34 – Fairy tales and fables made up a genre of literature in our Mother Tongue

Fact 35 – Philosophical works and law books abound in our Mother Tongue

Fact 36 – There are many technical works in our Mother Tongue

Fact 37 – Literature and other works in our Mother Tongue continued to be produced throughout the classical period

Fact 38 – Yāska was the greatest etymologist of our Mother Tongue

Fact 39 – Pāṇini was the greatest grammarian of our Mother Tongue

Fact 40 – The grammar described by Pāṇini is not context free

Fact 41 – Europeans were interested in Sanskrit from the 17th century

Section 4: Euphonics in our Mother Tongue

Fact 42 – Euphonics is important in Sanskrit

Fact 43 – Only certain sounds are permitted at the end of a free-standing word

Fact 44 – Normally, a hiatus is forbidden in our mother tongue

Fact 45 – Consonants show some interesting combinations

Fact 46 – You have to know your visarga (:)

Fact 47 – You have to watch for ambiguities while resolving Sandhis

Section 5: The Structure of our Mother Tongue

Fact 48 – Cases have various uses in our Mother Tongue

Fact 49 – There are a set of standard endings for declension

Fact 50 – Stems ending in vowels deviate from the standard endings in declension

Fact 51 – Stems ending in consonants are more regular

Fact 52 – There are many varieties of stems ending in consonants

Fact 53 – Pronouns take on a different set of endings in declension

Fact 54 – Some numbers are used as adjectives; some as nouns

Fact 55 – Conjugation is classified into four tense systems

Fact 56 – Roots/Verbs are divided into ten classes by Sanskrit grammarians

Fact 57 – The present system is the most commonly used tense system

Fact 58 – Reduplication of roots is common in Sanskrit

Fact 59 – There are two kinds of present participles in Sanskrit

Fact 60 – The past participle is very important in Classical Sanskrit

Fact 61 – The infinitive and the gerundive have important functions in Sanskrit

Fact 62 – The passive voice is very important in Classical Sanskrit

Fact 63 – The perfect system is for hidden action

Fact 64 – The aorist system includes seven varieties of aorists

Fact 65 – The future system includes the conditional

Fact 66 – The causative is the most common secondary conjugation

Fact 67 – The intensive, the desiderative and the denominative are the other secondary conjugations

Fact 68 – Verbal prefixes change the meaning of the verb

Fact 69 – The continuative is very important in Sanskrit

Fact 70 – There are four types of indeclinables in Sanskrit

Fact 71 – Stems are formed by adding primary suffixes to the root

Fact 72 – Stems are also formed by adding secondary suffixes to other stems

Fact 73 – Compound words are formed by fusing two or more stems together

Fact 74 – Copulative compounds join two or more words of equal importance

Fact 75 – In tatpuruṣa compounds the importance is on the latter member

Fact 76 – In Bahuvrīhi compounds the importance is outside the compound

Section 6: The Syntax of our Mother Tongue

Fact 77 – Sanskrit follows a subject-object-verb word order

Fact 78 – The cases have various uses in Sanskrit

Fact 79 – Absolute constructions are common in Sanskrit

Section 7: Our Mother Tongue during the Vedic Period

Fact 80 – Accents were very important in Vedic Sanskrit

Fact 81 – Accents behave differently in different situations

Fact 82 – Accents of compounds have their own rules

Fact 83 – Accents of verb forms have their own rules

Fact 84 – The importance of accent cannot be overstated

Fact 85 – Vedic Sanskrit had a vibrant conjugation system

Fact 86 – Vedic Sanskrit had a rich set of infinitives

Section 8: Appreciation and Analysis of our Mother Tongue

Fact 87 – The process of analysis is important in Sanskrit

Fact 88 – Analysis of classical prose is easy in Sanskrit

Fact 89 – Analysis of classical verse is also easy

Fact 90 – Vedic verses use active rather than passive constructions

Fact 91 – Brāhmaṇas represent the early prose style of Sanskrit

Fact 92 – Poems of classical literature are of a high level of beauty

Fact 93 – Sanskrit poets had a very deep understanding of prosody

Fact 94 – There was a school of Sanskrit analysis that was based on semantics

Fact 95 – You have to look for clues to recognise roots of Sanskrit

Fact 96 – English has many cognate words with Sanskrit

Fact 97 – Some fun with our Mother Tongue

Fact 98 – Some more fun with our Mother Tongue

Fact 99 – Ancient poets have played some interesting tricks with the language

Fact 100 – The sounds r and l are many a time interchangeable in our Mother Tongue

Fact 101 – There is an alphasyllabic numeral notation associated with our Mother Tongue

Fact 102 – There are some interesting words in our Mother Tongue

Section 9: Reclaiming our Mother Tongue

Fact 103 – The revival of Hebrew as the language of Israel can be used as a model for the revival of our Mother Tongue as a national language

Fact 104 – Sanskrit is a good candidate to be India’s national language

Fact 105 – Works in our Mother Tongue need to be reinterpreted to understand their true meanings

Fact 106 – The Vr̥ṣā́kapi hymn can be interpreted as a historical event

Fact 107 – There could be many such hymns that depict historical events

Fact 108 – You can even see the beginnings of mindfulness in the Veda

Appendix 1 – Solution to the crossword

Appendix 2 – Bibliography

Current Status

The book will be published soon by Garuda Prakashan.

Availability of the book – two months.


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