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Old May 18th, 2017, 09:05 AM   #1
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Reason for Decline of Sanskrit as Language of common People in North India.


Sanskrit was Language of Common people in Vedic era and Late Puranic era. even in 475 CE Sanskrit was used by people in Gujarat ruled by Maitraka Empire.

Since Maitraka Empire was ruled by Former Governor of Gupta empire it's safe to say that even during Gujpa empire sanskrit was used widely as language of the people.

so why suddenly after decline of Gupta empire Sanskrit declined and become language of only Religious duties ?
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Old May 18th, 2017, 03:45 PM   #2
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Sanskrit was Language of Common people in Vedic era and Late Puranic era. even in 475 CE Sanskrit was used by people in Gujarat ruled by Maitraka Empire.

Since Maitraka Empire was ruled by Former Governor of Gupta empire it's safe to say that even during Gujpa empire sanskrit was used widely as language of the people.

so why suddenly after decline of Gupta empire Sanskrit declined and become language of only Religious duties ?
Even in Ashoka's time, Sanskrit had ceased to be a commonly spoken language, since few, if any, of his Edicts are in Sanskrit. Most are not in Sanskrit, arguing Sanskrit was not the language that was commonly spoken even in Ashoka's time.

The first written Sanskrit is later than other languages, the oldest writing in India we can read is not in Sanskrit. I think you have it backwards - the Gupta's started promoting Sanskrit as a secular language of learning, where previously it had been mostly a religious language. Professor Wendy Dozer, among others, argued that Sanskrit was never a "pass the butter" language, not a language of every day speech. The Gupta probably promoted Sanskrit as a language of secular learning to give their empire a more neutral academic language, than picking one of the everyday language. Kind of like what Latin did for medieval and early modern Europe - it was used for written records and international communication, but it was not a language people used in their everyday lives (unless you were a monk or priest). With all the languages India spoke, a common language that was no one's home tongue would have been useful

That a few people, just like today, made Sanskrit their everyday speech due to religious reasons doesn't show it was ever really a language of every day speech. The creation of Israel saw the recreation of Hebrew as an everyday speech aftet it had not been spoken for close to 2,000 years, and that was due entirely religious and nationalistic reasons. We aren't certain if modern Hebrew even sounds much like the original language, since the Hebrew script lacked vowel. The people who made Sanskrit their daily tongue may have been like modern Jews in Israel, and just took up the language for religious or nationalistic reasons.

Note, in general, Indo European languages with complex grammar tend to become simplier over time - we see that in all the daughter languages of Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and we see that with modern English to Old English. It seems a natural drift. Sanskrit, having a very complex grammar, would naturally evolve in the simplier modern Indian languages even it was a daily language.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 04:47 PM   #3

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Sanskrit was Language of Common people
I am sorry but this is false presumption. Sanskrit never was language of the common people but restricted, even more restricted then English is today in South Asia to a small elite.
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Old May 18th, 2017, 06:48 PM   #4

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I am sorry but this is false presumption. Sanskrit never was language of the common people but restricted, even more restricted then English is today in South Asia to a small elite.
English is spoken by barely 5% of India. Sanskrit on the other hand even by the most conservative estimate was spoken by 20% of India.
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Old May 19th, 2017, 01:53 AM   #5
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English is spoken by barely 5% of India. Sanskrit on the other hand even by the most conservative estimate was spoken by 20% of India.
Is it really a dead language I think some indians speak it?
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Old May 19th, 2017, 03:39 AM   #6
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For the same reason why Latin is no longer spoken.

Last edited by Vajraditya; May 19th, 2017 at 03:46 AM.
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Old May 19th, 2017, 08:26 AM   #7

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Is it really a dead language I think some indians speak it?
Like Latin, it is not dead. There are millions of people who study it (for religious purposes or to be able to read Hindu scriptures) and speak it. The Indian government broadcaster DoorDarshan, has news and programs in Sanskrit. There are thousands of Sanskrit schools and scores of Sanskrit universities.I too studied some Sanskrit when I was 40.
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Old May 19th, 2017, 08:26 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by Bart Dale View Post
Even in Ashoka's time, Sanskrit had ceased to be a commonly spoken language, since few, if any, of his Edicts are in Sanskrit. Most are not in Sanskrit, arguing Sanskrit was not the language that was commonly spoken even in Ashoka's time.

The first written Sanskrit is later than other languages, the oldest writing in India we can read is not in Sanskrit. I think you have it backwards - the Gupta's started promoting Sanskrit as a secular language of learning, where previously it had been mostly a religious language. Professor Wendy Dozer, among others, argued that Sanskrit was never a "pass the butter" language, not a language of every day speech. The Gupta probably promoted Sanskrit as a language of secular learning to give their empire a more neutral academic language, than picking one of the everyday language. Kind of like what Latin did for medieval and early modern Europe - it was used for written records and international communication, but it was not a language people used in their everyday lives (unless you were a monk or priest). With all the languages India spoke, a common language that was no one's home tongue would have been useful

That a few people, just like today, made Sanskrit their everyday speech due to religious reasons doesn't show it was ever really a language of every day speech. The creation of Israel saw the recreation of Hebrew as an everyday speech aftet it had not been spoken for close to 2,000 years, and that was due entirely religious and nationalistic reasons. We aren't certain if modern Hebrew even sounds much like the original language, since the Hebrew script lacked vowel. The people who made Sanskrit their daily tongue may have been like modern Jews in Israel, and just took up the language for religious or nationalistic reasons.

Note, in general, Indo European languages with complex grammar tend to become simplier over time - we see that in all the daughter languages of Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and we see that with modern English to Old English. It seems a natural drift. Sanskrit, having a very complex grammar, would naturally evolve in the simplier modern Indian languages even it was a daily language.
Ashoka's time was the period of Middle Indo-Aryan languages like Prakrit. Prakrit has its origin in Vedic Sanskrit. Pali from Magadh region was patronized as the language of Buddhist liturgy. Because of Sanskrit's importance as the language of religion and structured language, it was continued to be used by the ruling and Priest class.
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Old May 19th, 2017, 08:30 AM   #9

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I am sorry but this is false presumption. Sanskrit never was language of the common people but restricted, even more restricted then English is today in South Asia to a small elite.
Vedic Sanskrit was spoken language before the evolution of Prakrit from Vedic Sanskrit. Its the standardized Paninian Sanskrit that was not a spoken language because by that time various kinds of Prakrit dialects were popular across Indian subcontinent.
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Old May 19th, 2017, 08:33 AM   #10

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Is it really a dead language I think some indians speak it?
Sanskrit is more like Latin, their importance to religion and preferred language of literature.
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