The Story of Sanskrit
By Ratnavathy Sivalingam-Chandrasegaran, Malaysia
Guess how many of these english words are rooted in the Sanskrit language: “Seven royal cows voice sweet myths, creating anonymous, loving smiles.”
The answer: all of them! Surprised? It is understandable if you are. Indeed, words traced to Sanskrit can be identified in the lexical collection of approximately 1,700 languages, including those of the Indian subcontinent, Greek, Latin, Persian, Lithuanian, Baltic and English. Most individuals simply recognize Sanskrit as an ancient language commonly used in Vedic Hindu rituals and Indian scriptures. But did you know that Sanskrit—translated as “the well-perfected” language—has within its grammatical complexities a foundation in mathematics, and that it even holds parallels to modern-day computer science?
The “Untold Story of Sanskrit” is a succinct and finely-crafted documentary produced by the Project Shivoham YouTube channel. This micro-documentary channel is centered on contributing to the preservation of the glorious yet forgotten heritage of India, busting common myths and bringing this heritage as authentically as possible to viewers. The channel places paramount importance on extensive research of ancient scriptures to provide evidence for their claims.
I have always known Sanskrit is an archaic language and that it contributed immensely to the vocabulary of other languages. But I was oblivious to the extent to which Sanskrit applies to other fields. Through an engaging visual chronology, an uplifting background score and good narration, we are taken on a journey through the origins of Sanskrit and its global contributions.
The documentary, opening with a powerful image of Lord Nataraja, is in three sections: the history of the language, its relationship to the world of computing and the reasons for learning Sanskrit.
The documentary then takes us back in time to the origins of Sanskrit and how it diverged and evolved across continents in the world. Drawing references from modern history, academic articles and print publications, the narration tells of Sanskrit’s influence on both the linguistic and cultural aspects of other ancient traditions. We also gain insight into the brilliance of the early authorities of Sanskrit, beginning with Panini Maharishi. His grammatical treatise Astadhyayi, is recognized as the oldest and the most comprehensive work on linguistics ever known. The basis for Astadhyayi is the Siva Sutras—Rishi Nandinatha’s 14 principles forming the foundation of human speech which, the narrators explain, proceeded all known Indian languages. We are also introduced to other Sanskrit scholars who further researched and elaborated upon Panini’s work: They include:
• Pingala—author of Chandahshastra, a framework for constructing Sanskrit poems, which includes the first known instance of the binary number system and Combinatorics (The Fibonacci Series).
• Katyayana—author of Varttikakara, an elaboration of Panini’s work and the founder of mensuration and other geometrical principals.
• Patanjali—author of Yoga Sutras and of Mahabhasya, an explanation of Panini’s Astadhyayi
I applaud the production team on this work. The simple, yet detailed narration and accompanying visuals help viewers easily comprehend how Sanskrit’s astonishing grammatical structures relate to the fields of mathematics, computer science and technology. “The Untold Story of Sanskrit” can be found here: youtu.be/eQqJkm_q93k
Ratnavathy Sivalingam-Chandrasegaran is a mother and entrepreneur in Malaysia who builds children’s confidence via storytelling, presentation skills and creative writing. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.