Orthogonal adaptations of Sanskrit in Indian Languages and more

Sujatha R
4 min readMar 14, 2018

Etymological bonds with languages inside and outside the Indian Subcontinent. Glimpses of independent adaptation patterns !!

A few years back, I would have not imagined most of this. Time is insurmountable indeed.

kAlaH pachati bhUtAni, kAlaH saMharate prajAH
kAlaH supteShu jAgarti, kAlo hi durati kramaH

Time devours all things, Time kills all that is born.
Time is awake while all else sleeps, Time is insurmountable.
- Vidura in Mahabharata

Languages are like living fossils.. It is what remains pristine and growing. It has traversed space and time domains, of evolution and migration patterns !!

For an ancient language like Sanskrit, it is amazing to see how the different languages in India have adapted Sanskrit diction in orthogonal and independent ways. An interesting statistical time and space distribution.

Hindi and North Indian languages seem like direct offspring and have a lot of common structures. But with mills of time, Hindi was influenced by Persian, Arabian and today a lot of common words in spoken Hindi are not from direct Sanskrit inheritance.

Oriya & Bengali has aane (bring) & ne(take). Bengali has the Location case preserved-rabibare (on Sunday), sandhyakaale(in the evening), jonmodine(on the birthday). In present tense, Sanskrit like 3 person ending — Asanthi (come), jibanthi (go) Kandathi(crying), sangho(friend or with), jado(dumb)Like Sanskrit ‘ya’, future tense words have a ‘ba’. jiba (will go), koribo(will do).. ‘Agya’ preamble like Hindi ‘haan ji’.. ‘Oo’ suffix for calling out..Ramo Krishno

Kashmir is the marine lands of Kashyap Rishi. Though I have no clue about Kashmiri, it sounds like Russian may be due to the excessive ‘z’, ‘r’, ‘v’, ‘tsa’, ‘o’ and ‘sh’. A few words of interest that I read from an article. Read them like Russian..

krud (krodh -angry), par (paata -read), gatsh (gaccha -go), ma(no), maz (mamsa -flesh), vaal (vala -hair) , zuv (jeeva -life), vandur (vanar -monkey), tsandrivar (chandravaar -monday), shokrivar (shukravar -friday)

South Indian languages on the other hand seem to have their own baseline. May be at a much later point of time, they started to borrow Sanskrit diction for completeness in poetry, administration, ceremonies and education. Through Chantings, Bhajans, Carnatic music, Literature, Cinema to an extent they have safe guarded an element of Sanskrit diction in the spoken form even today.

Telugu/Kannada is incomplete without buddhi (intellect), nidra (sleep), annam (rice), kashtam (hard), nashtam (loss). Words like samaadhanam (answer), anumaanam (logical inference), aswaadanam (relish), aalochanam (thinking), baadha (misery) are uncommon in Hindi. I have detailed some adaptations of Telugu in this blog.

Tamil too has a words like saukhyama (wellness), bhadrama (safe), santosama (santosh -happy), praarambham (beginning).

Like the Telugu ‘am’ suffix, Malayaalam is full of it -bhojanam (food), bakshanam (snacks), pazham (phalam -fruit); samsaaram(talk- perhaps from worldly talk:); sankatam (problem), bhayankaram (scary), samaram (battle);

Recently, I noticed this quote on the Girnar kashmiri kahwa tea sachet and was startled. I assume it must be Arabic or Persian. It had quite a few ‘asti’ and ‘astu’ — The sanskrit terms for ‘is’ and ‘be’.

Gar firdaus ae baruhe zamin ast Hamin astu hamin astu hamin ast
If there is heaven on earth it is here, it is here it is here

On the same lines, one could decode the places which once were part of the sub-continent. Pakistan (pak sthan ie land of purity), Afghanisthan (upa ghana sthan ie lesser dense place), Baghdad (gift of Baghwan or God). All these places were connected to the Indian subcontinent and had the language ties.

A look into the modern communication medium— The English Alphabets and the Numerals.

In Europe, the Roman numerals were prevalent till a few hundred years back before the introduction of the Indian Decimal numbering scheme. It took around 200 years for the understanding and adoption apparently and was indirectly responsible for the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately the Vedic methods of compute did not reach Europe and rest of the world that time.

Even the ubiquitous A — Z alphabet that is ingrained in all of us seems to have arrived in an indirect route from the Indian Subcontinent. The consonant matrix is based on the generation of Sounds as a function of the movement in the throat, lips, tongue and teeth.

The Greek and Latin words too have been inspired by Sanskrit. ‘Paada’ meaning feet has centipede, pedestrian, pediatrician. ‘Madhyam’ is medium, trignometry is three(tri)-angle(kona)-measurement(matra).

European languages are a Black Box for most of us Indians. Who would have guessed that Lithuanian and Russian has so much similarities with Sanskrit? Seems like an early spin-off of Indian culture.. Are n’t these familiar to the Indian ear?

deva, agni, maatha, madhu, mansa, paada, jeevana, shastra, tamas, sapna, pakshi

Apparently a Native American tribe called Cheyanees has its girls names as Chameli, Asha, Kishori, Sunandita.. Sounds familiar right? There is a theory that Asia and Alaska was connected thousands of years back near the present Bering Strait.

And interestingly the manifestations of Sanskrit outside seems to return back in Hindi as Hindustaani..

The word ‘yuj’ in Sanskrit means ‘to unite’, ‘to yoke’, ‘to join’ from which comes ‘YOGA’.

The Sanskrit Yo becomes the European Jo. Surprisingly in Lithuanian, Judu & Judvi are words related to join or pair. In Khurdish language, Jimik (twins), Jut (double). In Hindi Judwa(twin), Joodi(pair) and Telugu jaatha(pair) seem to have words adopted from the Persian and European influence.

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns