Sanskrit (/ˈsænskrɪt/; संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam [səmskr̩t̪əm], originally संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, "refined speech") is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, a philosophical language in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and a literary language that was in use as a lingua franca in the Indian cultural zone. It is a standardised dialect of Old Indo-Aryan language, originating as Vedic Sanskrit and tracing its linguistic ancestry back to Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto-Indo-European. Today it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand. Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - FEdit
- The Ancient and classical creations of the Sanskrit tongue both in quality and in body and abundance of excellence, in their potent originality and force and beauty, in their substance the height and width of the reach of their spirit stand very evidently in the front rank among the world's great literatures.
- A language, Sanskrit or another, should be acquired by whatever method is most natural, efficient and stimulating to the mind and we need not cling there to any past or present manner of teaching: but the vital question is how we are to learn and make use of Sanskrit and the indigenous languages so as to get to the heart and intimate sense of our own culture and establish a vivid continuity between the still living power of our past and the yet uncreated power of our future, and how we are to learn and use English or any other foreign tongue so as to know helpfully the life, ideas and culture of other countries and establish our right relations with the world around us. This is the aim and principle of a true national education, not, certainly, to ignore modern truth and knowledge, but to take our foundation on our own being, our own mind, our own spirit....
- Sri Aurobindo, November, 1920 (From an article entitled "A Preface on National Education."), quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). 
- There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century.
- Richard Briggs in: Purāṇam, Volume 28, All-India Kasiraja Trust., 1986, p. 221.
- The richness of Sanskrit language is almost beyond belief. Many centuries ago that language contained words to describe states of the conscious and the subconscious and the unconscious mind and a variety of other concepts which have been evolved by modern psychoanalysis and psyche-therapy. Further, it has many a word, of which there is no exact synonym even in the richest modern languages. That is why some modern writers have been driven occasionally to use Sanskrit words when writing in English.
- Richard Briggs in: Bhavan's Journal, Volume 33, Issues 1-12, 1986, p. 61.
- [Sanskrit is] the great spiritual language of the world.
- Sanskrit was a complete success and became the language of all cultured people in India and in countries under Indian influence. All scientific, philosophical, historical works were henceforth written in Sanskrit, and important texts existing in other languages were translated and adapted into Sanskrit. For this reason, very few ancient literary, religious, or philosophical documents exits in India in other languages. The sheer volume of Sanskrit literature is immense, and it remains largely unexplored. .... Sanskrit is constructed like geometry and follows a rigorous logic. It is theoretically possible to explain the meaning of the words according to the combined sense of the relative letters, syllables and roots. Sanskrit has no meanings by connotations and consequently does not age. Panini's language is in no way different from that of Hindu scholars conferring in Sanskrit today.
- Alain Danielou in: Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation: The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India, Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, 1 August 1993, p. 17.
- The creation of Sanskrit, the “refined” language, was a prodigious work on a grand scale. Grammarians and semanticists of genius undertook to create a perfect language, artificial and permanent, belonging to no one, that was to become the language of the entire culture. Sanskrit is built on a basis of Vedic and the Prakrits, but has a much more complex grammar, established according to a rigorous logic. It has an immense vocabulary and a very adaptable grammar, so that words can be grouped together to express any nuance of an idea, and verb forms can be found to cover any possibility of tense, such as future intentional in the past, present continuing into the future, and so on. Furthermore, Sanskrit possesses a wealth of abstract nouns, technical and philosophical terms unknown in any other language. Modern Indian scholars of Sanskrit culture have often remarked that many of the new concepts of nuclear physics or modern psychology are easy for them to grasp, since they correspond exactly to familiar notions of Sanskrit terminology.
- The majesty and grandeur of the Sanskrit language, the sonorousness of the word music, the rise and fall of the rhythm rolling in waves, the elasticity of meaning and the conventional atmosphere that appears in it have always made it charming to those for whom it was written. ...The wealth of imagery, the vividness of description of natural scenes, the underlying suggestiveness of higher ideals and the introduction of imposing personalities often lead great charm to Sanskrit poetry.
- The introduction of the use of Sanskrit as the lingu-franca is a turning point in the mental history of the Indian people. The causes that preceded it, the changes in the intellectual standpoint that went with it, the results that followed on both, are each of them of vital importance.
- Dr. T. W. Rhys Davids in: Sachindra Kumar Maity Cultural Heritage of Ancient India, Abhinav Publications, 1983 , p. 48.
- Macaulay's policy was implemented and became a resounding success. The pre-Macaulayan vernacular system of education was destroyed, even though British surveys had found it more effective and more democratic than the then-existing education system in Britain. The rivalling educationist party, the so-called Orientalists, had proposed a Sanskrit-based system of education, in which Indian graduates would not have been as estranged from their mother civilization as they became through English education, and in which they could have selectively adopted the useful elements of Western modernity, more or less the way Japan modernized itself.
- Koenraad Elst. Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001)
- Old India had a high rate of literacy, particularly because of its educational system, its Sanskrit and its gurukulams.
- David Frawley, Preface in Ram Swarup (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections.
G - LEdit
- The literature of the Sanskrit language incontestably belongs to a highly cultivated people, whom we may with great reason consider to have been the most informed of all the Epics. It is, at the same time, a scientific and a poetic literature. Hindu literature is one of the richest in prose and poetry.
- The fact is that Sanskrit is more deeply interwoven into the fabric of the collective world consciousness than anyone perhaps knows. After many thousands of years, Sanskrit still lives with a vitality that can breathe life, restore unity and inspire peace on our tired and troubled planet. It is a sacred gift, an opportunity. The future could be very bright. ... In ancient India the intention to discover truth was so consuming, that in the process, they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for fulfilling such a search that the world has ever known — the Sanskrit language. ... With the Muslim invasions from 1100 A.D. onwards, Sanskrit gradually became displaced by common languages patronized by the Muslim kings as a tactic to suppress Indian cultural and religious tradition and supplant it with their own beliefs. But they could not eliminate the literary and spiritual-ritual use of Sanskrit.
- Vyaas Houston in: Sanskrit and the Technological Age, American Sanskrit Institute.
- Sanskrit means “complete”, “perfect” and “definitive”. In fact, this language is extremely elaborate, almost artificial, and is capable of describing multiple levels of meditation, states of consciousness and psychic, spiritual and even intellectual processes. As for vocabulary, its richness is considerable and highly diversified. Sanskrit has for centuries lent itself admirably to the diverse rules of prosody and versification. Thus we can see why poetry has played such a preponderant role in all of Indian culture and Sanskrit literature.
- Georges Ifrah in: Sushama Londhe A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom Spanning Continents and Time about India and Her Culture, Pragun Publications, 2008, p. 306.
- Sanskrit, a language which belongs to the Indo-European group and has been the chief literary vehicle of Indian thought, is an instrument admirably adapted to give expression to every subtlety of human thought, every nuance of human feeling.
- Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad in: K. S. Ramaswami Sastri Hindu Culture and the Modern Age: Special Lectures Delivered at the Annamalai University, Annamalai Univ., 1956 , p. 179.
- The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either: yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all without believing them to have sprung from some common source which perhaps no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.
- There is a great misconception about Sanskrit that it is only a language to be recited as mantras in temples or in religious ceremonies. However, that is only 5% of the Sanskrit literature. The remaining 95% has nothing to do with religion. In particular, Sanskrit was the language in which all our great scientists in ancient India wrote their works. ... The word `Sanskrit' means “prepared, pure, refined or prefect”. It was not for nothing that it was called the `devavani' (language of the Gods). It has an outstanding place in our culture and indeed was recognized as a language of rare sublimity by the whole world. Sanskrit was the language of our philosophers, our scientists, our mathematicians, our poets and playwrights, our grammarians, our jurists, etc. In grammar, Panini and Patanjali (authors of Ashtadhyayi and the Mahabhashya) have no equals in the world; in astronomy and mathematics the works of Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta and Bhaskara opened up new frontiers for mankind, as did the works of Charaka and Sushruta in medicine. ... In philosophy Gautam (founder of the Nyaya system), Ashvaghosha (author of Buddha Charita), Kapila (founder of the Sankhya system), Shankaracharya, Brihaspati, etc., present the widest range of philosophical systems the world has ever seen, from deeply religious to strongly atheistic. Jaimini's Mimansa Sutras laid the foundation of a whole system of rational interpretation of texts which was used not only in religion but also in law, philosophy, grammar, etc. In literature, the contribution of Sanskrit is of the foremost order. The works of Kalidasa (Shakuntala, Meghdoot, Malavikagnimitra, etc.), Bhavabhuti (Malti Madhav, Uttar Ramcharit, etc.) and the epics of Valmiki, Vyasa, etc. are known all over the world. These and countless other Sanskrit works kept the light of learning ablaze in our country upto modern times.
M - REdit
- Since the Renaissance there has been no event of such worldwide significance in the history of culture as the discovery of Sanskrit literature in the latter part of the eighteenth century.
- Many similar views were also expressed in the Sanskrit Commission Report written under the Nehru government in the 1950s. That report declares: "The State in Ancient India, it must be specially pointed out, freely patronised education establishments, but left them to develop on their own lines, without any interference or control. It says that until the British disruption, the salient features of our traditional education included: 'oral instruction, insistence on moral discipline and character-building, freedom in the matter of the courses of study, absence of extraneous control...' ... We can never insist too strongly on this signal fact that Sanskrit has been the Great Unifying Force of India, and that India with its nearly 400 millions of people is One Country, and not half a dozen or more countries, only because of Sanskrit.'
- Rajiv Malhotra: The Battle for Sanskrit
- He (Pollock) sidesteps the rise in the funding of Persian and Arabic by the secular Indian government and by foreign sponsors, and the concurrent dramatic decline in Sanskrit funding. He does not expose the downsizing and dismantling of the institutions, both formal and informal, on which Sanskrit and sanskriti have traditionally thrived. Pollock is careful not to implicate the non-Hindu forces that have wreaked havoc against Sanskrit... Although he sees this process as politically driven, Pollock does acknowledge there were no conquering Sanskrit legions that caused Sanskritization, unlike the coercive Romanization which followed Roman military legions. Nor was there a central church-like religious institution and hence no evangelism that could have Sanskritized through religious conversion. He admits that the notion of the Sanskrit cosmopolis does not fit the Western notion of an empire. ... I wish to also point out that Dr Ambedkar, the pioneering Dalit leader, had worked zealously to promote Sanskrit. A dispatch of the Press Trust of India dated 10 September 1949 states that he was among those who sponsored an amendment making Sanskrit, instead of Hindi, the official language of the Indian Union.
- Rajiv Malhotra, The Battle for Sanskrit (2016)
- Besides the large number of schools at that time, there were also approximately a hundred institutions of higher learning in each district of Bengal and Bihar. Unfortunately, these numbers rapidly dwindled all across India during the nineteenth century under British rule. The British also noted that Sanskrit books were being widely used to teach grammar, lexicology, mathematics, medical science, logic, law and philosophy. ....Furthermore, in the early British period in India, British officials noted that education for the masses was more advanced and widespread in India than it was in England. ....According to Dharampal, the British later replaced this Sanskrit-based system with their own English-based one, the goal being to produce low-level clerks for the British administration.
- Rajiv Malhotra, The Battle for Sanskrit, citing Dharampal
- Sanskrit is the artificial language par excellence, patiently refined sound by sound...embracing all the levels of being physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. It is ideally suited to describe and govern the nature of phenomena from the spiritual level to the physical. This range of applicability in the realm of nature paradoxically makes this most artificial language the most natural language, the language of nature.
- Jean Le Mee in: S. Ramachandra Rao Studies in Indian Culture: A Volume of Essays Presented to Sāhitya Śiromaṇi Professor S. Ramachandra Rao, Retired Professor of Sanskrit, University of Mysore, Professor S. Ramachandra Rao Felicitation Committee, 1986, p. 1.
- Sanskrit is a beautiful, powerful, resonating language, with a structure and richness not found within most modern languages. The logic and beauty within Sanskrit reflect the two levels needed to appreciate Ayurveda fully; the outer knowledge passed on from teachers and books, and the inner knowledge or intuition gained through experience, by applying what we learn to our daily lives.
- Judith H. Morrison in: The Book of Ayurveda, Simon and Schuster, 1 July 1995, p. 17.
- There are many points of great interest to the student of language, in the long history of the speech [of India]; and it has been truly said that Sanskrit is to the science of language what mathematics is to astronomy.
- Friedrich Max Müller in: Lectures on the Science of Language Delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in April, May & June 1861, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1864, p. 207.
- Sanskrit has many virtues that attract. Its grammar has been rigorously analyzed, but not in a doctrinaire way – there is room for intellectual debate. The classical Indian culture in which Sanskrit first flourished offers an immense variety of material, from romantic comedy and sensual poetry to epic, massive-word play, political science and philosophy. It embodies a contradiction, that a language whose literature is so lithe, should be indigenously analyzed as a sort of architectural structure. And I suppose I like the fact that it is so difficult (coming from English, certainly), yet so familiar in another way (coming at it from Latin, Greek and Russian).
- Sanskrit (meaning "cultured or refined"), the classical language of Hinduism, is the oldest and the most systematic language in the world. The vastness and the versatility, and power of expression can be appreciated by the fact that this language has 65 words to describe various forms of earth, 67 words for water, and over 250 words to describe rainfall.
- Bansi Pandit in: The Hindu Mind: Fundamentals of Hindu Religion and Philosophy for All Ages, New Age Books, 01-Jan-2001, p. 344
- Proposals to include Sanskrit in the course offerings were rejected numerous times by scholars who wanted to protect JNU from what they considered to be a majoritarian or Hindu Nationalist agenda. When I questioned Romila Thapar, a well known historian from JNU, about this issue in July 2000, she explained that if students want to learn Sanskrit, “there are so many Maths and Piths around where they can go”. She added that “most of the regional colleges have some kind of Sanskrit program”.
- Rosser, Yvette Claire (2003). Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (Dissertation). University of Texas at Austin.
S - ZEdit
- The Sanskrit shall be our "devabhasha" (Deva Bhasha) our sacred language and the "Sanskrit Nishtha" Hindi, the Hindi which is derived from Sanskrit and draws its nourishment from the latter, is our rashtrabhasha (Rashtra Bhasha) our current national language—-besides being the richest and the most cultured of the ancient languages of the world, to us Hindus the Sanskrit is the holiest tongue of tongues. Our scriptures, history, philosophy and culture have their roots so deeply imbedded in the Sanskrit literature that it forms veritably the brain of our Race. Mother of the majority of our mother tongues, she has suckled the rest of them at her breast. All Hindu languages current today whether derived from Sanskrit or grafted on to it can only grow and flourish on the sap of life they imbibe from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit language therefore must ever be an indispensable constituent of the classical course for Hindu youths.
- V.D. Savarkar quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
- There is no language in the world, even Greek, which has the clarity and the philosophical precision of Sanskrit. India is not only at the origin of everything she is superior in everything, intellectually, religiously or politically and even the Greek heritage seems pale in comparison.
- Justly it is called Sanskrit, ie. perfected, finished. In its structure and grammar, it closely resembles the Greek, but is infinitely more regular and therefore more simple, though not less rich. It combines fullness, indicative of Greek development, the brevity and nice accuracy of Latin; whilst having a near affinity to the Persian and German roots, it is distinguished by expression as enthusiastic and forcible as theirs.
- ...a language, the parent of all those dialects that Europe has fondly called classical - the source alike of Greek flexibility and Roman strength. A philosophy, compared with which, in point of age, the lessons of Pythagoras are but of yesterday, and in point of daring speculation Plato's boldest efforts were tame and commonplace. A poetry more purely intellectual than any of those of which we had before any conception; and systems of science whose antiquity baffled all power of astronomical calculation. This literature, with all its colossal proportions, which can scarcely be described without the semblance of bombast and exaggeration claimed of course a place for itself - it stood alone, and it was able to stand alone.
- To acquire the mastery of this language is almost a labor of a life; its literature seems exhaustless. The utmost stretch of imagination can scarcely comprehend its boundless mythology. Its philosophy has touched upon every metaphysical difficulty; its legislation is as varied as the castes for which it was designed.
- W. C. Taylor in: Edward POCOCKE India in Greece; or, Truth in Mythology. Containing the sources of the Hellenic race, the colonisation of Egypt and Palestine, the wars of the Grand Lama, and the Bud'histic propaganda in Greece, etc ,The Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1852, p. 192.
- The consonantal division of the alphabet of the Sanskrit language was a more wonderful feat of human genius than any the world has yet seen.
- Sanskrit no doubt has an immense advantage over all other ancient languages of the East. It is so attractive and has been so widely admired, that it almost seems at times to excite a certain amount of feminine jealousy. We are ourselves Indo-Europeans. In a certain sense we are still speaking and thinking Sanskrit; or more correctly Sanskrit is like a dear aunt to us and she takes the place of a mother who is no more.
- Shrimat Upendramohan in: The Nineteenth Century, Volume 29, Henry S. King & Company, 1891, p. 805.
- God spoke once. He spoke in Sanskrit, and that is the divine language.
- Swami Vivekananda in: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ( Vol 1-9 ), Kartindo Classics, Kartindo.com, p. 227.
- Just look at Sanskrit. Look at the Sanskrit of the Brâhmanas, Shabara Swâmi's commentary on the Mimâmsâ philosophy, the Mahâbhâshya of Patanjali, and, finally, at the great Commentary of Achârya Shankara: and look also at the Sanskrit of comparatively recent times. You will at once understand that so long as a man is alive, he talks a living language, but when he is [[dead, he speaks a dead language.
- Sanskrit and prestige go together in India.
- Sanskrit is the divine language.
- Sanskrit is the language of God.
- The great difficulty in the way is the Sanskrit language — the glorious language of ours; and this difficulty cannot be removed until — if it is possible — the whole of our nation are good Sanskrit scholars. You will understand the difficulty when I tell you that I have been studying this language all my life, and yet every new book is new to me. How much more difficult would it then be for people who never had time to study the language thoroughly!
- The very sound of the Sanskrit is musical.
- The very sound of Sanskrit words gives a prestige and a power and a strength to the race.
- Swami Vivekananda in: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ( Vol 1-9 ) [ Kartindo Classics], Kartindo.com, p. 107.
- This Sanskrit language is so intricate, the Sanskrit of the Vedas is so ancient, and the Sanskrit philology so perfect, that any amount of discussion can be carried on for ages in regard to the meaning of one word. If a Pandit takes it into his head, he can render anybody's prattle into correct Sanskrit by force of argument and quotation of texts and rules.
- In philology, our Sanskrit language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all European languages, which, in fact, are nothing but jargonized Sanskrit.
- Swami Vivekananda in: [https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_2/Reports_in_American_Newspapers/India%27s_Gift_to_the_WorldThe Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 2/Reports in American Newspapers/India's Gift to the World],Wikisource.
- India though it has more than five hundred spoken dialects, has only one sacred language and only one sacred literature, accepted and revered by all adherence of Hinduism alike, however diverse in race, dialect, rank and creed. That language is Sanskrit and Sanskrit literature, the only repository of the Veda or knowledge in its widest sense, the only vehicle of Hindu mythology, philosophy, law, the mirror in which all the creeds, opinions, and customs and usages of the Hindus are faithfully reflected and the only quarry whence the requisite materials may be obtained for improving the vernaculars or for expressing important religious and scientific ideas.
- Sir Monier Monier-Williams in: The Literary World: Choice Readings from the Best New Books, with Critical Revisions, James Clarke & Company, 1877, p. 252.
- By Sanskrit is meant the learned language of India - the language of its cultured inhabitants, the language of its religion, its literature and science - not by any means a dead language, but one still spoken and written by educated men by all parts of the country, from Kashmir to Cape Comorin, from Bombay to Calcutta and Madras.