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Difference Between Sanskrit and Prakrit

Sanskrit VS Prakrit

Have you heard someone speak of the oldest language in the world? Maybe you’ve heard it on television documentaries before. But in case you haven’t, the oldest language in the world is that of the Indo-Aryan language. Indo-Aryan has two ancient languages that reflect its richness in culture and tradition: the Sanskrit and the Prakrit. To even say that it reflects the richness of the culture and tradition of its people is an understatement because many people, both dead and alive, believed that this language is the language of the gods. These two languages are not used in a contemporary setting anymore, however. Though there are some classes in educational establishments that study these languages and others even try to revive it. These languages have the same fate with that of the Latin and Greek language.

Sanskrit is an historical Indo-Aryan language that has a meaning of ‘refined speech.’ It is also used for religious purposes. The Hindu and Buddhist religion use this as their main liturgical language. In contemporary times, Sanskrit is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. Sanskrit is also the main language of Uttarakhad. In India, the standard registered Sanskrit used its classical Sanskrit. This language has been laid out in the Panini grammar dating back to the 4th century BCE. The position it has on greater India can be compared to Latin and Greek in Europe. This language has greatly influenced the other modern languages in the Indian subcontinent, especially in Pakistan and Nepal. Another form of Sanskrit is the Vedic Sanskrit. The Rig-Veda language is the oldest language that dates back to 1500 BCE, making Rigvedic Sanskrit the oldest one of the Indo-Iranian language. This is also one of the youngest in the Indo-European languages. This language family includes English and European languages. Sanskrit is very rich in tradition and culture. This language is full of poetry and other literature. It is also filled with scientific, philosophical, technical, and religious Hindu texts. Up until now, it is still used in forms of hymns and mantras. Some educational establishments still use this language however ancient it is.

Another kind of ancient language is the Prakrit. It is named after a group of Middle Indic. Middle Indic is a group of languages from the Indo-Aryan; it was based on the old Indic dialects. The word ‘Prakrit’ is from the root word ‘Prakrit,’ which means ‘original, natural, ordinary, or usual.’ This language was used in literary aspects when kings of the Khatriya caste also used this language. However, this language was branded illegitimate by the Brahminorthodoxy. One of the former Emperors of India, Asoka, was one of the first who used this language. This language is usually related to a different patron dynasty. This language is practiced with much culture and tradition across the entire Indian Subcontinent.

SUMMARY:

1.

‘Sanskrit’ means ‘refined speech,’ while ‘Prakrit’ means ‘original, natural, ordinary.’
2.

Sanskrit is richer in tradition, culture, and literature compared to Prakrit.
3.

Sanskrit has great influence in the languages used in the Indian subcontinent, especially Nepal and Pakistan. Prakrit is not that influential.


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9 Comments

  1. Hi first thank you for your effort. It is very basic, making it principally ineffective.

    Prakrit, is a language used in Jainism and Buddhism and the chief difference that currently proclaimed is that Prakrit was the language of coolness and Sanskrit of the Brahim hegemony.

    There is a lot of research coming up especially at the Harappa and mohenjadaro sites that Jainism was existing at that time and widespread. The dating of these digs is 5000 to 7000 BCE. There is mention of Rishaba in the Vedas and Upanishads. The point here could be that initially it was Prakrit which was in common use, hence Prakrit which comes from natural as you have said. All of Jain literature and a lot of Buddhist literature is in Prakrit.

    Obviously one will never know but that is why one looks at date lines and tries to glean information about what could have been. Look up the I telnet there are plenty of resources, some authentic most not.

    ASI seems to say that a lot of temples in India were originally Jain temples but these are contentious and debatable issues purely because people identify themselves with a group and then assume and read a lot. The distinctive statues of Jainism make identification simple.

    Maybe Prakrit had a much larger following than is assumed, so don’t say it was not this or that. Even today like Sanskrit the basic sutras for a small group is in Prakrit.

    It could also be that in the evolution of languages, Sanskrit came out of Prakrit as happens in history. I am no scholar of either but I am a free thinker and a Jain and currently researching at the moment on the net and that is how I came to your article.

    Would be interesting to see other responses.

    • Also seem like your views are biased.

      For me it’s chicken and egg – one says chicken other says egg. I say whatever we got both to enjoy.

  2. In my comments autocorrect has changed things a bit

    Prakrit is the language of the common people is what I meant and it has been changed to coolness!

  3. “Prakrit is older than Sanskrit”.

    Aryans from Persia (Iran) developed new language (Sanskrit) for them and made it popular than its mother language by their Strategy with Kings.
    They might done this for their identity and need of dominant power.

    • There cannot be two global Language. It would though ‘just’,be irrational and scizopreniac May be Sanskrit was the global Language of the day.

      My comment is assuming that Prakrit is NOT a daughter of Sanskrit. Savarkar however thought Prakrit daughter of Sanskrit.

  4. Root language for all the modern Indo-European languges was Prakrit! Sanskrit was primarily developed to write religious texts!

  5. Modern day Pakistan (or India- Indo to be exact) is ancient territory which separated Bharati lands from Persia and Turkik realms. Bharatis are basically South East Asian Aboriginal, Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese lot of people whose ancestor tribes started to push into Bharat territory from the East around 1500 BC. These tribes spoke different dialects of Burmese-Vietnami languages which fused into the standardized Sanskirit around 500BC. The Sanskrit text and vocabulary bore remarakable similarity with these South East Asian languages. Just have a look at the current names of Kings, places, inscriptions on the walls of Temples in South East Asia and compare them with those in Bharat.
    Bharat was struck by another upheaval around 300BC from the west ie from its border Indic zone regions (comprising of lands 400 km to the East and West of Indus River which flows through modern day Pakistan). It was the invasion of Buddhist Chandra Gupt Muriya (who was a war lord from Peshawar regions of Modern day Pakistan (or India to be exact). In those days this region was called Gandhara-Taxila. Within 50 years this Buddjist Chandragupt Muriya and his successors conquered the entire Bharat territories upto Bengal and Deccan. These Murians brought a language we know as Parakrit to Bharat. Parakrit is basically Avestani (ancient Persian) dialect. The Buddhist and Jain temples walls in India have extensive inscriptions of this Parakrit texts. Parakrit and Sanskirit are two different language styles which locked their horns in Bharat for survival since then. By 500AD Parakrit and its successors edged out Sanskirit which remained as a language of small Brahmin-Khatri ruling elites. Average Bharatis spoke Prakrit.
    From 950AD a Muslim Indic warlord known as Mehmud of Ghazni set his sights upon Bharati territories lying to the East of India (ie modern day Pakistani realms). Like his predecessor Chandragupt Muriya he initiated the attacks on Bharat. Another Indic Warlord known as Shahabuddin Ghauri captured Dehli in 1025AD and laid the foundation of Muslim Slave Dynasty rule in Bharat. These Indic warlords once again brought the Persian language (which was modern Avestani, and a sister language to vernacular Prakirit) into Bharat. This Persian remained administrative language of Bhatat till 1800AD while Prakrit and its derivate evolved into the modern day Lingua fraca called Urdu or Hindustani (which is written in Arabic text), and its much later version called Hindi which is written in Devnagri text.
    From 1650 AD onwards the British East India company was compiling the grammatical, vocabulary syntax of various dialects of Persian-Prakrit dialects spoken across Bharat. This compilation is called Urdu. The British East India company declared it as Indian official language from 1835 onwards.
    This situation alarmed the Brahmin-Khatri Hindu elites whom have recently lost all their territorial gains since 1700AD from Muslims to the British East India company. After their final defeats around 1835, the Marhata, Jats, and Bengali Hindus in the payroll of British East India company replaced the Arabic Persian vocabulary from British Urdu and replaced it with the Sanskirit words. This fusion of vocabulary of a dead Sanskirit language into the modern Urdu language is called Hindi. Needless to say this experiment never took off and Hindi is spoken and understood by none in Bharat even today.
    The Bharati masses still speak Urdu which is spoken and written in Arabic and is an official language of Pakistan. Bharatis call it Hindi and write it in Devnagari script which is derived from Sanskirit and this text bore a striking resemblance with Burmese-Vietnamese texts. Official Hindi, laden with its Sanskirit vocabulary, just don’t make any sense to Pakistani ears (and to the Bharatis as well). However, nearly 100% of Pakistani and Bharatis can fully speak with each other in modern day Parakrit (aka Urdu).
    The modern Parakrit (aka Urdu) therefore lives and thrives. Sanskirit which was already dead from around 100BC is still a pipe dream called Hindi.

  6. It seems all comments are incorrect. Sanskrit is a Indo European language. In fact old Vedic Sanskrit and the Avesta were so close that the two speakers
    could communicate. Prakrit is derived from Sanskrit and is a dialect of Sanskrit. Prakrit varies from region to region which implies words of the place became part of a new language (by borrowing words into Sanskrit) called Prakrit. Prakrits being older than Sanskrit has been floated but non Aryan words in later Vedic texts does support this hypothesis.
    It is true Jains and Buddhists preferred Sanskrit – but later on all Buddhists writing were in Sanskrit. This happened as Sanskrit left its sacerdotal barriers. There a few Jain texts in Sanskrit – but very few.
    In India multiple languages were used at the same time across transregional boundaries.

  7. Prakrit is the local language ofIndic people,which has connections with Dravidian languages. Later around 1300 BCE Indo Aryan language mixed with the Prakrit and then a Code language was created to help the Kings to send communication among the ministers,Comanders and royals so as to maintain the secrecy. This became named as Sanskrit, which means artificially created language.
    So Prakrit is the naturally developed language whereas Sanskrit is artificially creared language of later version.

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