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Literary treasures from the oldest language to ever exist in the world, Sanskrit

Before the world wide web came into existence, it was exclusively in India where an excess of knowledge and information existed, so much that it would inspire wonder. Indeed, even today, an overview of the ancient literature of India can make our heads reel. If simply the Sanskrit language is considered, which was the most widely used language of ancient India, a human lifetime is inadequate to read all of the literature written in the language, even if a human being devoted their entire life doing solely that. To taste the flavors of the finest Sanskrit literature, here are the top 4 books everyone should read-

  1. Panchatantra: The stories in Panchatantra are moral lessons, a piece like Aesop's Fables. The Sanskrit is straightforward and through these purposeful anecdotes, one finds out about the human way of behaving and strategy, not just for rulers. Large numbers of these accounts are popular/familiar, through well-known renderings. The five moral principles imparted by Panchatantra are 'Mitra Bhedha' (Loss of Friends), 'Mitra Laabha' (Gaining Friends), and 'Suhrudbheda' (Causing dissension between Friends), 'Vigraha' (Separation) and 'Sandhi' (Union). Panchatantra shows the worth of equity and gives significant life examples while being interesting and engaging. Never does it become horrid and captures the interest of the child reading it through its rich illustrations and creative usage of the animal world.

  1. Panini’s Ashtadhyayi: Ashtadhyayi is the Sanskrit text on language written between the sixth to fifth-century BCE by the Indian grammarian Panini. This work set the etymological principles for Classical Sanskrit. It summarizes in 4,000 sutras the study of phonetics and sentence structure that had developed in the Vedic religion.

  1. Nalacharitham: Nalacharitham is a Kathakali play composed by Unnayi Warrier. Given the Mahabharatha, it recounts the narrative of King Nalan and his partner Damayanthi. The play comprises four sections - called First, Second, Third, and Fourth Day - each part being sufficiently long to be performed over an entire evening.

  1. The rich Sanskrit literary story can't end without Jayadeva and Gitagovindam, who carried something else altogether to Sanskrit verse, like rhyming, notwithstanding the custom of meters (Chanda).

  1. Arthashastra: Kautilya/Chanakya's Arthashastra is a surprising text on statecraft and administration and is a deep dive into the subject of international relations, economic/ military strategies, tax assessment, and law. The Arthashastra investigates issues of social welfare, the aggregate morals that keep a general public intact, exhorting the ruler that in times and regions crushed by starvation, pandemic, and such demonstrations of nature, or by war, he ought to start public tasks, for example, making water irrigation systems, amending economic regulations.   

Q1. Why is it beneficial to use Sanskrit?

Through Sanskrit, children can comprehend spiritual ideas that aren't promptly accessible in English. No other language can interpret the mysterious, otherworldly, and heavenly as successfully as Sanskrit. Learning Sanskrit improves our perspectives by enacting specific parts of our cerebrum. The language is very well shaped and empowers us to learn numerous different dialects easily. Reciting Sanskrit texts ushers serenity and relaxation into our inner selves. 

Q2. What is the most well-known Sanskrit literary work?

Among the most popular show stoppers of Sanskrit writing are the sonnets and plays of Kalidasa, the extraordinary sagas Ramayana and Mahabharata, including the Bhagavad-gita, and the Upanishads. The old Sanskrit legends the Ramayana and Mahabharata include the Itihāsa ("Writer has himself seen the story") or Mahākāvya ("Great Compositions"), a canonical feature of Hindu sacred text.

Q3. What is great about Sanskrit literature?


Sanskrit is the oldest, purest, and most versatile language in the world. By studying Sanskrit, other languages can be learned more easily. Sanskrit has an extremely rich and complex grammatical structure and an enormous vocabulary - 102 arab 78 crores 50 lakh words. There are over a hundred 100 synonyms for the word ‘elephant’, 70 for ‘water’, and 96 for ‘love’. Sanskrit is a treasure trove of synonyms.


It is closely related to Greek and Latin and most distantly to English and other modern European languages. Sanskrit is also the parent of the modern Indo-Aryan languages of north and central India, including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and many others. Classical Sanskrit is defined by the fifth century B.C.E Sanskrit grammar, Paini's Aṣṭadhyayi ("Eight-Chapter Grammar").

Q4. What works of literature are written in Sanskrit?


Starting from the great Vedas and Puranas, the literature of Sanskrit embraces a vast number of books on important genres of Sutras, poetry, drama, tantras, religion and ritual, philosophy, law, grammar and linguistics, medicine, astronomy, and astrology. Among the best-known masterworks of Sanskrit literature are the poems and plays of Kalidasa, the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, including the Bhagavad-gita, and the Upanishads.


Several Middle Indo-Aryans produced important literature. The best known of these is Pali, which still serves as the canonical language of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Other Prakrit languages such as Sauraseni, Maharashtra, Magadhi, and Gandhari embody various facets of the kinds of literature of both the Brahmanical/Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Q5. Which is the oldest literature of Sanskrit?


The oldest literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of the golden age (the third to seventh centuries C.E.).  Amazingly, Rigvedic Sanskrit inscriptions were first found not on the plains of India, but in northern Syria. Sanskrit began the transition from a primary language to a second language of religion and learning, used by the educated elite. Literary production in Sanskrit saw a late bloom in the eleventh century before declining after 1100 C.E.

The Panchatantra (Sanskrit: पञ्चतन्त्र, "Five Treatises") is an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables in Sanskrit verse and prose, arranged within a frame story. The surviving work is dated to about 200 BCE, but the fables are likely much more ancient.

Q6. Why is Sanskrit literature important?


Sanskrit is vital to Indian culture because of its extensive use as a ceremonial and ritual language in Hindu and Buddhist hymns and chants. Sanskrit is recognized as a storehouse of scripture and as the language of prayers in Hinduism. Most modern Indian languages have been directly derived from, or strongly influenced by Sanskrit; in other words, it is known as the mother of Indian languages.


Thus numerous words derived from the languages like English, French, Spanish, etc. also demonstrate parallels with Sanskrit. According to many scholars, an expert in Sanskrit can understand and master every other language like Greek and Latin. This is because these Western classical languages share not only the grammatical structure but also numerous cognate words with Sanskrit.

Q7. Which is the first literary work in Sanskrit?


The first literary work in Sanskrit is the Rigveda, a Hindu scripture of 1,028 hymns composed between 1500 BCE and 1200 BCE by Indo-Aryan tribes migrating east from what is today Afghanistan across northern Pakistan and into northwestern India. The hymns of the Rigveda are notably similar to the most archaic poems of the Iranian and Greek language families, the Gathas of old Avestan, and the Iliad of Homer. The Rigveda was orally transmitted by methods of memorization of exceptional complexity, rigor and fidelity as a single text without variant readings.


Classical Sanskrit, a refined and standardized grammatical form emerged in the mid-1st millennium BCE and was codified in the most comprehensive of ancient grammars, the Aṣṭādhyāyī ('Eight chapters') of Pāṇini.

Q8. What are the literature works of Sanskrit?

The great four Vedas and Puranas. The greatest dramatist in Sanskrit, Kālidāsa, wrote in classical Sanskrit, The Panchatantra (Five Treatises) is an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables in Sanskrit verse and prose. Sanskrit embraces a vast number of books on important genres of Sutras, poetry, drama, tantras, religion and ritual, philosophy, law, grammar and linguistics, medicine, astronomy, and astrology. The foundations of modern arithmetic were first described in classical Sanskrit.

The two major Sanskrit epics, the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaa, however, were composed in a range of oral storytelling registers called Epic Sanskrit between 400 BCE and 300 CE, and roughly contemporary with classical Sanskrit. The Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads