Sanskrit India's ancient language and its European link

Sanskrit is the foremost sacred language of Hinduism as well as the philosophical language of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit,  which has  a prominent position in Indo-European studies, was once a lingua franca in many parts of ancient India. It is being widely used as a ceremonial language in Hindu religious functions and  rituals. The foundation of India culture is based on the Sanskrit language.  The  world’s oldest known literary work - the Vedas that form the foundation of   Hindu Philosophy and Spirituality – are written in Sanskrit. It is also a primary language in Buddhist  religious practices in the form of hymns and chants. As for the west, the language has close  association with Yoga practitioners and Gurus. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali written in Sanskrit is widely referred to by the Yoga teachers. It is common to see Sanskrit phrases as mottoes for various national, educational and social organizations in countries like India, Nepal and Thailand. Through out the length and breadth of  India a great preponderance of personal names - particularly  feminine names are   in Sanskrit, ex: Deepa, Padmini, Jaishree, Srinidhi, Priya, etc. That  Sanskrit is a  language  meant for only recitation of  mantras in  places of  worship or rituals is not true. Once upon a time  Sanskrit was the language in which all our great scientists in ancient India wrote their works. The religious literature, it is said, covers only less than 10% and as for the rest, it has nothing to do with religion.

Considered as an important Indo-European language, it was  William Jones , British Judge (1780) and Polyglot, who brought to light for the first time the existence of a potential, beautiful and well advanced ancient language that was once widely spoken across the Indian sub continent.


Sir William Jones (28 September 1746 – 27 April 1794),  one of the most influential Angelo-Welsh philologists of his time told The Asiatic Society in Calcutta on 2 February, 1786:

 ''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 have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologist could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists''.

 Sir William Jones  for the first time in 1786 suggested in his book '' The Sanskrit Language" that Greek and Latin were related to Sanskrit and perhaps even Gothic, Celtic and Persian languages were related to Sanskrit. His  detailed studies ultimately led to the theory called PIE - Proto-Indo-European  language, meaning  all Indo-European  languages including Sanskrit had their origin in an  unheard of language.  Max Muller, scholars like Voltaire, Immanuel Kant etc believed that Sanskrit was the root of all Indo-European languages. Voltaire said ,''I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of  the Ganges''.

 Max Muller aged 30.

The word `Sanskrit' means “prepared, pure, refined or prefect”. Sanskrit works cover almost every field - Astronomy, Maths, science,Philosophy, Law, etc., Sanskrit is a language for humanity and not merely a means for communication within a society. The oldest surviving literature of the world, viz. the Vedas, encompass knowledge in virtually every sphere of human activity.  Languages such as Latin or Greek, etc  possess a hoary antiquity, but among them,  Sanskrit is the only language which has retained its pristine purity. Its structure, verb patterns and vocabulary even today are as  they were in the past. 


Francois Gautier, correspondent in South Asia of Le Figaro, France's largest circulated newspaper says: 

"Sanskrit is the mother of all languages, and it could become  the unifying language of India, apart from English, which is  spoken only,  by  a  tiny minority.  "Sanskrit ought still  to  have  a future  as the language of the learned and it will not be a  good day  for  India  when the ancient tongues cease  entirely  to  be written  or  spoken",  admonished 50 years  ago  Sri Aurobindo, India's great Sage and Seer.

Below is a list of English words, most probably derived from Sanskrit or PIE (Proto Indo- European). Though the origins of certain English words is still a subject of debate, general consensus among Scholars is Sanskrit has close link with European languages with common origin.

 Sanskrit           Median word               Derived
 root                   Greek(G),Arabic(A)    English
                            Latin(L)                        word

-------------                 -------------------------         ---------------
Agni-fire                                                    Fire  igneous                                                                   

Gau                              Bous                     cow

Matr                            Mater (L)              Mother

Jan (Generation)         Genea                   Gene

(Navigation)               Navigationeum      Navigation                                       (L)                                       

Sarpa (Snake)            Serpentem(L)        Serpent

Naama- Name             Nomen                  Name

Ashta (Eight)              Octo (L)                 Eight

Danta (Teeth)              Dentis (L)              Dental

 Devas                         divus (divine)         god

Dwar ( Door)               Doru                      Door

Kri - do                       Creatus (L)            Create
Madhyam                   Medium (L)            Medium    Medium                  
Pithr                            Pater (L)               Father

Loka                            Locus (L)               Locale

Mala (Dirt/Bad)           Malus (L)              Malicious,       
Matra(Dead)                Mortis (L              Murder

Na (No)                       Nocturnalis (L)     Nocturnal   

Nava"                          Novem                 Nine                                        
Paad (Foot)                  Pedis (L                Pedestrian (Pada)   ,                                                            Peda   

Pancha                        Pente (G)              Penta 
Patha (Path)                Pathes (G             Path

Raja                            Regem                   King

Sama - Similar            Similis (L)            Similar

Sharkara -                   Succarum            Sucrose      Sugar                                                                                                                                                                                    

Vachas (Speech)         Vocem (L)             Voice

Vahaami-Carry           Vehere (L)           Vehicle

Vastr (cloth)                Vestire (L)           Vest

Narangi (orange)        Naranj                Orange               
Pippali-Pepper             Piperi (G)            Pepper

Nava (New)                 Novus (L)             Nova

Kafa (Mucus)              Coughen             Cough

Thrayas -Three (G)     Tres(L)                Three               
Samiti-Committee      committere          Committee
 Sama -Same              Samaz
                               (Proto Germanic)      Same

(Word tabulation based on  an article By Gurudev
Dec 29, 2009)

Additional words:

Aniline - German: Anilin, French: Aniline and Portuguese: Anil from Arabic al-nili and Persian  nila, ultimately from Sanskrit नीली nili.

Aryan - Latin Ariana, from Greek  Areia, ultimately from Sanskrit आर्य Arya-s "noble, honorable"

Asana - Maldivean probably ultimately from Sanskrit अन्तला antala.

Avatar - from Sanskrit avatāra, meaning "descent", an avatar refers to the human incarnation of God during times of distress on earth. Ex: Krishna and Rāma  avatars of Vishnu,
Beryl - Old French beryl, via Latin beryllus, Greek  and Prakrit  (veluriya) ultimately from Sanskrit वैडूर्य vaidūrya, of Dravidian origin, maybe from the name of Belur.

Brinjal - Persian badingān, probably from Sanskrit  bhaṇṭākī.

Cheetah  - Sanskrit chitra-s "uniquely marked".

Cot  from Hindi  khaat "a couch", which is from Sanskrit khatva.

Crimson - Old Spanish cremesin, via Medieval Latin cremesinus, from Arabic qirmiz "a kermes", which is ultimately from Sanskrit  krmi-ja literally: "red dye produced by a worm."

Interim - Latin interim, ultimately from Sanskrit  antarim, which means "intermediate".

Juggernaut from Odia  Jagannatha ultimately from Sanskrit जगन्नाथ jagat-nathas , which means "lord of the world

Jungle - Hindi  jangal "a desert, forest" ultimately from Sanskrit  jangala-, which means "arid".

Jute - Bengali jhuto ultimately from Sanskrit  juta-s, which means "twisted hair".

Loot - from Sanskrit  lota-m or luṇṭhati meaning "he steals" through Hindi लूट  which means "a booty, stolen thin

Saccharo- Latin Saccharon and Greek from Pali  sakkharā, ultimately from Sanskrit  sarkarā.