Sanskrit

Language--Sanskrit

                             There is a general feeling that Sanskrit came along with Indo Europeans of Southern Russia, but there is a possibility that this language existed along with common colloquial language as the language of the elites and priests. The elite groups had many tactics to maintain their identity and exclusiveness. Some strategies are like dress style, (like modern day designer clothes), hair style (head bun style for elite and normal crew cut for ordinary class), head bun style was the sign of elite class in Egypt, Mesopotamia and India, similarly the Indus priest statue also depicts hair bun style, but the ultimate instrument of exclusiveness was language. In modern day example, if a province wants to separate out from an existing nation, language is the first ideology used in creating division and separating out people. In Similar way, language is a potential weapon in creating a separate, exclusive identity to the elite class. It is possible that Sanskrit existed side by side along with Dravidian language in Indus valley culture.

                                 In a way, the language differentiation is helpful in identifying the foreigners. See the case of migration of people from Bangladesh and infiltration from Pakistan into India. The migration from Bangladesh is rampant and migration from Pakistan is negligible, because any Urdu or Sindhi speaking foreigner can be easily identified but a Bangala speaking foreigner could not be identified because it is a common language in both countries. The point is that the language helps in creating identity to a section of people, and that distinctiveness brings in prosperity to that section of people, and they have the vested interest in maintaining the exclusivity of that language, and that is reason for creation and survival of Sanskrit language. Palaeolithic continuity theory and Anatolian hypothesis is in concurrence with Sumerian origin of Sanskrit. Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis also coincides with this view because the origin of PIE was somewhere in the heart of Anatolia, which is much nearer to Sumeria than southern Ukraine.

Sanskritization

                              Sanskritisation is a particular form of cultural assimilation found in India. The term was popularized by Indian sociologist M N Srinivas, to denote the process by which castes placed lower level in the caste hierarchy seek upward mobility by emulating the rituals and practices of the upper or dominant castes. Srinivas defined sanskritisation as a process by which a 'low' or middle Hindu caste, or tribal or other group, changes its customs, ritual ideology, and way of life in the direction of a high and frequently 'twice-born' caste. Generally such changes are followed by a claim to a higher position in the caste hierarchy than that traditionally conceded to the claimant class by the local community. One clear example of sanskritisation is the adoption, in emulation of the practice of twice-born castes, of vegetarianism by people belonging to the so-called "low castes" who are traditionally not averse to non-vegetarian food. According to M.N. Srinivas, Sanskritisation is not just the adoption of new customs and habits, but also includes exposure to new religious ideas, rituals and values appearing in Sanskrit literature. In culmination of this process, Sanskrit language itself is adopted as a sign of advancement. (Srinivas.M.N., 1952)

Srinivas


                            Srinivas first propounded this theory in his D.Phil. thesis at Oxford University. The thesis was later brought out as a book titled "Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India." Published in 1952, the book was an ethnographical study of the Coorg community of Karnataka, India. Srinivas writes in his book that the caste system is far from a rigid system in which the position of each component caste is fixed for all time. Movement has always been possible, and especially in the middle regions of the hierarchy. A caste was able, in a generation or two, to rise to a higher position in the hierarchy by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, and by Sanskritising its ritual and pantheon. In short, it took over, as far as possible, the customs, rites, and beliefs of the Brahmins, and adoption of the Brahminic way of life by a low caste seems to have been frequent, though theoretically forbidden. This process has been called 'Sanskritisation' in this book, in preference to 'Brahminisation', as certain Vedic rites are confined to the Brahmins and the two other 'twice-born' castes. The book challenged the then prevalent idea that caste was a rigid and unchanging institution. The concept of sanskritisation addressed the actual complexity and fluidity of caste relations. It brought into academic focus the dynamics of the renegotiation of status by individuals from various castes and communities in India.


                              The relevance of this concept in this book is that this process of sanskritisation shows the process through which the Indo European languages had spread throughout the world. It was not a violent process as imagined by Gimbutas; it was a peaceful diffusion process and cultural assimilation. Some time there would have been violence in spread of any language. That is part and parcel of any armed conflict and invasion resulting in subjugations, which were plenty in the history of world. But the general rule is that language and culture had spread by peaceful diffusion process. This cultural and language spread was carried out by Anatolian elites, into Ukraine, Southern Russia and other places where Indo European languages are being spoken today. The same phenomenon can also be seen in later day invaders of India. Huns adopted Buddhism and became champions of that religion (Kanishka).The descendents of Genghis khan adopted Islam. These examples of Huns and Mongols show that language and religion were adopted in peaceful way, not violence. The reason for their success and spread is due to the fact that religion offers some kind of security and language offers “utility” value. Language is used in commerce, religion as well as Court language, which offers gainful employment and tool of survival.
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