115 Facts About Sanskrit


Sanskrit is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages.

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Sanskrit is the sacred language of Hinduism, the language of classical Hindu philosophy, and of historical texts of Buddhism and Jainism.

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The most archaic of these is the Vedic Sanskrit found in the Rig Veda, a collection of 1, 028 hymns composed between 1500 BCE and 1200 BCE by Indo-Aryan tribes migrating east from what today is Afghanistan across northern Pakistan and into northern India.

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Vedic Sanskrit interacted with the preexisting ancient languages of the subcontinent, absorbing names of newly encountered plants and animals; in addition, the ancient Dravidian languages influenced Sanskrit's phonology and syntax.

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In each of India's recent decennial censuses, several thousand citizens have reported Sanskrit to be their mother tongue, but the numbers are thought to signify a wish to be aligned with the prestige of the language.

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Sanskrit has been taught in traditional gurukulas since ancient times; it is widely taught today at the secondary school level.

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The oldest Sanskrit college is the Benares Sanskrit College founded in 1791 during East India Company rule.

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Sanskrit continues to be widely used as a ceremonial and ritual language in Hindu and Buddhist hymns and chants.

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In Sanskrit, the verbal adjective is a compound word consisting of and - ('made, formed, work').

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The relationship between Prakrit and Sanskrit is found in Indian texts dated to the 1st millennium CE.

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Namisadhu stated that the Prakrit language was the and that it came naturally to children, while Sanskrit was a refinement of Prakrit through "purification by grammar".

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Sanskrit belongs to the satem group of the Indo-European languages.

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Pre-history of Indo-Aryan languages which preceded Vedic Sanskrit is unclear and various hypotheses place it over a fairly wide limit.

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Beyond the Rg-veda, the ancient literature in Vedic Sanskrit that has survived into the modern age include the Samaveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, along with the embedded and layered Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and the early Upanishads.

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These Vedic documents reflect the dialects of Sanskrit found in the various parts of the northwestern, northern, and eastern Indian subcontinent.

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Vedic Sanskrit was both a spoken and literary language of ancient India.

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Vedic Sanskrit found in the Rg-veda is distinctly more archaic than other Vedic texts, and in many respects, the Rigvedic language is notably more similar to those found in the archaic texts of Old Avestan Zoroastrian Gathas and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.

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The Homerian Greek, like Rg-vedic Sanskrit, deploys simile extensively, but they are structurally very different.

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Early Vedic form of the Sanskrit language was far less homogenous compared to the Classical Sanskrit as defined by grammarians by about the mid-1st millennium BCE.

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Formalization of the Sanskrit language is credited to, along with Patanjali's and Katyayana's commentary that preceded Patanjali's work.

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Classical Sanskrit language formalized by Panini, states Renou, is "not an impoverished language", rather it is "a controlled and a restrained language from which archaisms and unnecessary formal alternatives were excluded".

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Sanskrit co-existed with numerous other Prakrit languages of ancient India.

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Colonial era scholars questioned whether Sanskrit was ever a spoken language, or just a literary language.

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Secondly, they state that the textual evidence in the works of Yaksa, Panini and Patanajali affirms that the Classical Sanskrit in their era was a language that is spoken by the cultured and educated.

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Many Sanskrit dramas indicate that the language coexisted with the vernacular Prakrits.

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The cities of Varanasi, Paithan, Pune and Kanchipuram were centers of classical Sanskrit learning and public debates until the arrival of the colonial era.

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Sanskrit was adopted voluntarily as a vehicle of high culture, arts, and profound ideas.

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Pollock disagrees with Lamotte, but concurs that Sanskrit's influence grew into what he terms a "Sanskrit Cosmopolis" over a region that included all of South Asia and much of southeast Asia.

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Hart compared Old Tamil and Classical Sanskrit to arrive at a conclusion that there was a common language from which these features both derived – "that both Tamil and Sanskrit derived their shared conventions, metres, and techniques from a common source, for it is clear that neither borrowed directly from the other.

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Main influence of Dravidian on Sanskrit is found to have been concentrated in the timespan between the late Vedic period and the crystallization of Classical Sanskrit.

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Sanskrit has been the predominant language of Hindu texts encompassing a rich tradition of philosophical and religious texts, as well as poetry, music, drama, scientific, technical and others.

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Sanskrit was the language of some of the oldest surviving, authoritative and much followed philosophical works of Jainism such as the Tattvartha Sutra by Umaswati.

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Sanskrit language has been one of the major means for the transmission of knowledge and ideas in Asian history.

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In Tibetan Buddhism, states the Dalai Lama, Sanskrit language has been a revered one and called legjar lhai-ka or "elegant language of the gods".

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Sanskrit language created a pan-Indo-Aryan accessibility to information and knowledge in the ancient and medieval times, in contrast to the Prakrit languages which were understood just regionally.

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The Sanskrit language brought Indo-Aryan speaking people together, particularly its elite scholars.

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Some of these scholars of Indian history regionally produced vernacularized Sanskrit to reach wider audiences, as evidenced by texts discovered in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

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Sanskrit has significantly influenced most modern languages of the Indian subcontinent, particularly the languages of the northern, western, central and eastern Indian subcontinent.

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Sanskrit dismisses the idea that Sanskrit declined due to "struggle with barbarous invaders", and emphasises factors such as the increasing attractiveness of vernacular language for literary expression.

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Pollock's notion of the "death of Sanskrit" remains in this unclear realm between academia and public opinion when he says that "most observers would agree that, in some crucial way, Sanskrit is dead.

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Sanskrit remains an integral part of Hindu journals, festivals, Ramlila plays, drama, rituals and the rites-of-passage.

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Similarly, Brian Hatcher states that the "metaphors of historical rupture" by Pollock are not valid, that there is ample proof that Sanskrit was very much alive in the narrow confines of surviving Hindu kingdoms between the 13th and 18th centuries, and its reverence and tradition continues.

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Vedic Sanskrit belongs to the early Old Indo-Aryan stage, while Classical Sanskrit to the later Old Indo-Aryan stage.

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Inscriptions and literary evidence suggests that Sanskrit language was already being adopted in Southeast Asia and Central Asia in the 1st millennium CE, through monks, religious pilgrims and merchants.

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For example, Sanskrit added a voiceless aspirated "t?", to the voiceless "t", voiced "d" and voiced aspirated "d?" found in PIE languages.

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For example, unlike the loss of the morphological clarity from vowel contraction that is found in early Greek and related southeast European languages, Sanskrit deployed *y, *w, and *s intervocalically to provide morphological clarity.

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The short a in Sanskrit is a closer vowel than a, equivalent to schwa.

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The mid vowels e and o (?) in Sanskrit are monophthongizations of the Indo-Iranian diphthongs *ai and *au.

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The Sanskrit vowels are inherently long, though often transcribed e and o without the diacritic.

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The vocalic liquid r in Sanskrit is a merger of PIE *r and *l.

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The northwestern, the central and the eastern Sanskrit dialects have had a historic confusion between "r" and "l".

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Sanskrit possesses a symmetric consonantal phoneme structure based on how the sound is articulated, though the actual usage of these sounds conceals the lack of parallelism in the apparent symmetry possibly from historical changes within the language.

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Sanskrit had a series of retroflex stops originating as conditioned alternants of dentals, albeit by Sanskrit they had become phonemic.

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The anusvara that Sanskrit deploys is a conditioned alternant of postvocalic nasals, under certain sandhi conditions.

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Voiceless aspirated series is an innovation in Sanskrit but is significantly rarer than the other three series.

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Sanskrit deploys extensive phonological alternations on different linguistic levels through sandhi rules, similar to the English alteration of "going to" as gonna.

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The Sanskrit language accepts such alterations within it, but offers formal rules for the sandhi of any two words next to each other in the same sentence or linking two sentences.

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Vedic Sanskrit has a pitch accent system which was acknowledged by Panini, states Jamison; but in his Classical Sanskrit the accents disappear.

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Sanskrit is not anyone's native language, it does not have a fixed pronunciation.

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When Sanskrit was a spoken language, its pronunciation varied regionally and over time.

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Basis of Sanskrit morphology is the root, states Jamison, "a morpheme bearing lexical meaning".

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The verbal and nominal stems of Sanskrit words are derived from this root through the phonological vowel-gradation processes, the addition of affixes, verbal and nominal stems.

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Sanskrit verbs describe an action or occurrence or state, its embedded morphology informs as to "who is doing it", "when it is done" (tense) and "how it is done" (mood, voice).

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The finite verbs of Classical Sanskrit have the following grammatical categories: person, number, voice, tense-aspect, and mood.

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Similarly, the Sanskrit language is flexible enough to not mandate inflection.

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Affixes in Sanskrit can be athematic as well as thematic, according to Jamison.

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Sanskrit deploys eight cases, namely nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative, vocative.

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Unlike some Indo-European languages such as Latin or Greek, according to Jamison, "Sanskrit has no closed set of conventionally denoted noun declensions".

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Sanskrit morphology is generally studied in two broad fundamental categories: the nominal forms and the verbal forms.

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Sanskrit language includes five tenses: present, future, past imperfect, past aorist and past perfect.

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Paradigm for the tense-aspect system in Sanskrit is the three-way contrast between the "present", the "aorist" and the "perfect" architecture.

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Vedic Sanskrit is more elaborate and had several additional tenses.

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The elliptical dual is notable in the Vedic Sanskrit, according to Jamison, where a noun in the dual signals a paired opposition.

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Sanskrit uses the 3×3 grid formed by the three numbers and the three persons parameters as the paradigm and the basic building block of its verbal system.

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Pronouns in Sanskrit include the personal pronouns of the first and second persons, unmarked for gender, and a larger number of gender-distinguishing pronouns and adjectives.

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The classical Sanskrit found in Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and many texts are so arranged that the light and heavy syllables in them follow a rhythm, though not necessarily a rhyme.

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Sanskrit metres include those based on a fixed number of syllables per verse, and those based on fixed number of morae per verse.

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The Vedic Sanskrit employs fifteen metres, of which seven are common, and the most frequent are three.

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The Classical Sanskrit deploys both linear and non-linear metres, many of which are based on syllables and others based on diligently crafted verses based on repeating numbers of morae.

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Early history of writing Sanskrit and other languages in ancient India is a problematic topic despite a century of scholarship, states Richard Salomon – an epigraphist and Indologist specializing in Sanskrit and Pali literature.

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Scholars generally accept that Sanskrit was spoken in an oral society, and that an oral tradition preserved the extensive Vedic and Classical Sanskrit literature.

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Oldest datable writing systems for Sanskrit are the Brahmi script, the related Kharosthi script and the Brahmi derivatives.

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Brahmi script for writing Sanskrit is a "modified consonant-syllabic" script.

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Brahmi script evolved into "a vast number of forms and derivatives", states Richard Salomon, and in theory, Sanskrit "can be represented in virtually any of the main Brahmi-based scripts and in practice it often is".

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However, Sanskrit does have special historical connection to the Nagari script as attested by the epigraphical evidence.

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Nagari script used for Classical Sanskrit has the fullest repertoire of characters consisting of fourteen vowels and thirty three consonants.

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The Sanskrit language written in some Indic scripts exaggerate angles or round shapes, but this serves only to mask the underlying similarities.

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In contrast, Sanskrit written in the Bangla script emphasizes the acute angles while the neighbouring Odia script emphasizes rounded shapes and uses cosmetically appealing "umbrella-like curves" above the script symbols.

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An earlier hybrid Sanskrit inscription found on Amaravati slab is dated to the late 2nd century, while a few later ones include Sanskrit inscriptions along with Prakrit inscriptions related to Hinduism and Buddhism.

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From about the 5th century, Sanskrit inscriptions become common in many parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia, with significant discoveries in Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia.

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Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the extensive liturgical works of the Vedic religion, which aside from the four Vedas, include the Brahmanas and the Sutras.

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Sanskrit has been written in various scripts on a variety of media such as palm leaves, cloth, paper, rock and metal sheets, from ancient times.

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Traditional Sanskrit scholars call such deviations arsa, meaning 'of the rsis', the traditional title for the ancient authors.

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Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit is a literary language heavily influenced by the Middle Indo-Aryan languages, based on early Buddhist Prakrit texts which subsequently assimilated to the Classical Sanskrit standard in varying degrees.

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Words originating in Sanskrit are estimated at roughly fifty percent of the vocabulary of modern Indo-Aryan languages, as well as the literary forms of Malayalam and Kannada.

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Sanskrit words are often preferred in the literary texts in Marathi over corresponding colloquial Marathi word.

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Krishnamurthi mentions that although it is not clear when the Sanskrit influence happened on the Dravidian languages, it might have been around the 5th century BCE at the time of separation of Tamil and Kannada from a common ancestral stage.

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Strazny mentions that "so massive has been the influence that it is hard to utter Sanskrit words have influenced Kannada from the early times".

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Aiyar has shown that in a class of tadbhavas in Telugu the first and second letters are often replaced by the third and fourth letters and fourth again replaced often by h Examples of the same are: Sanskrit artha becomes ardhama, vithi becomes vidhi, putra becomes bidda, mukham becomes muhamu.

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Sanskrit words have been Tamilized through the "Tamil phonematic grid".

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Sanskrit was a language for religious purposes and for the political elite in parts of medieval era Southeast Asia, Central Asia and East Asia, having been introduced in these regions mainly along with the spread of Buddhism.

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Buddhist Sanskrit has had a considerable influence on Sino-Tibetan languages such as Chinese, state William Wang and Chaofen Sun.

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Many Sanskrit texts survive only in Tibetan collections of commentaries to the Buddhist teachings, the Tengyur.

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Sanskrit has influenced the religious register of Japanese mostly through transliterations.

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Many Sanskrit loanwords are found in Austronesian languages, such as Javanese, particularly the older form in which nearly half the vocabulary is borrowed.

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Sanskrit loanword encountered in many Southeast Asian languages is the word bhasa, or spoken language, which is used to refer to the names of many languages.

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The name of the environmental award given to cities throughout Indonesia by the central government is taken from Sanskrit known as the "Adipura" award, namely from the words "Adi" and "Pura" (which means "city") literally "A role model city" or "a city worthy of being an example".

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Sanskrit terms are widely used in numerous government institutions such as the armed forces and national police, for example, the motto of the Indonesian National Police which reads "Rashtra Sevakottama", the motto of the Indonesian Military Academy which reads "Adhitakarya Mahatvavirya Nagarabhakti" and the motto of the Indonesian Naval Academy which reads "Hree Dharma Shanti" are one of the small examples.

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Sanskrit is the sacred language of various Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions.

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Sanskrit is used extensively in the Carnatic and Hindustani branches of classical music.

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Sanskrit news is broadcast on TV and on the internet through the DD National channel at 6:55 AM IST.

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Sanskrit has been taught in schools from time immemorial in India.

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In modern times, the first Sanskrit University was Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, established in 1791 in the Indian city of Varanasi.

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The Indophobes imagined the opposite, making the counterclaim that there is little of any value in Sanskrit, portraying it as "a language fabricated by artful [Brahmin] priests", with little original thought, possibly copied from the Greeks who came with Alexander or perhaps the Persians.

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In India, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia, Sanskrit phrases are widely used as mottoes for various national, educational and social organisations:.

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