Ramayana and Sanskrit

Dashartha, King of Ayodhya, has three wives and four sons of which Rama is the eldest. Ramas brothers are named Bharata, and the twins Lakshman and Shatrughna. Rama and Bharata are both blue skinned, perhaps indicating they were dark skinned or even originally south Indian deities. There is a sage that takes the boys out to train them in archery, and Rama proves his excellence by hitting an apple that was hanging on a string. In a neighboring city, the rulers daughter is named Sita. When it was time for Sita to choose her bridegroom, at a ceremony called a swayamvara, the princes were asked to string a giant bow.

No one can even lift the bow, but as Rama bends it, he not only strings it, but he breaks it in two. Sita chooses Rama as her husband by putting a garland around his neck while the rest of the suitors watch. King Disharatha, Ramas father, decides that it is time for him to retire to the forest to seek moksha, and to give the thrown to Rama. Everyone seems to be pleased by this because everyone loves Rama. This plan fulfills the rules of dharma because the eldest son should rule, and if the son can take over his fathers responsibilities, the father must spend his last years in search for moksha.

However, the kings second wife, and Ramas stepmother, is not pleased at all. She wants her son Bharata to rule. And because of an oath that Dasharatha had made to her years ago, she gets the king to agree to banish Rama for fourteen years and to crown Bharata, even though the king begs her not to make such requests. Broken hearted, the king can not face Rama with the news, and sends Kaikeyi to tell him. Rama, being always obedient, is content with his banishment. Sita convinces him that she belongs by his side, and his brother Lakshman also begs to accompany them.

So Rama, Sita and Lakshman all set out for the forest. Bharata, the new king, is very upset by this. He goes to Ramas forest retreat and begs him to return to rule, but Rama refuses. Bharata takes Ramas sandals back to the throne, and places them there, where he will place the fruits of his labor each and every day. Years pass by, and the three are very content in the forest. Rama and Lakshman destroy the rakshasas who disturb the sages in their meditations. One day, a rakshasa princess tries to seduce Rama, but Lakshman wounds her and drives her away.

She returns to her brother, Ravana, the then-headed ruler of Lanka, and tells her brother, who has a weakness for lovely women, about Sita. Ravana devises a plan to kidnap Sita. He sends a magical golden dear, which Sita desires. Rama and Lakshman go off to hunt the dear, and make a circle for Sita to stand in to be safe and protected. Ravana, who can change his appearance, changes into a holy man begging for food. And as soon as Sita steps out of the circle, Ravana grabs her and takes her to his palace in Lanka. Rama is broken hearted when he finds Sita missing.

However, a band of monkeys offer to assist him in finding Sita. At Ravanas palace, since he con not force her to marry him, he places he in a grove, and alternately sweet-talks her and threatens her in an attempt to get her to agree to marry him. Sita refuses to even look at him, and only thinks about her beloved Rama. Hanuman, the general of the band of monkeys, flies to the palace, finds Sita, and comforts her by telling her that Rama will soon be arriving to save her. Ravanas men capture Hanuman and her orders the to wrap his tail in cloth and set it on fire.

They do so, and Hanuman hops from house to house setting Lanka on fire. Then Hanuman flies back to Rama to tell him where Sita is. Rama, Lakshman, and the monkey army build a causeway to Lanka, and a battle takes place. Rama kills several of Ravanas brothers and then Rama confronts the ten-headed Ravana. Rama ultimately kills Ravana and frees Sita. And after Sita proves her purity, the return to Ayodhya, and Rama becomes king. Vedic and Classical Sanskrit The Sanskrit language and literature was developed in India.

Most scholars believe that Sanskrit is divide into two historical periods, Vedic Sanskrit and classical Sanskrit. Vedic Sanskrit refers to the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism. This period lasted roughly 15 hundred to 3 hundred BC Classical Sanskrit, 5 hundred BC to 1000 AD has not been credited with new creations as the great literature of the Vedic period. The Sanskrit language belongs to the Indo European language family, which include English, French etc. The Sanskrit language was derived from the early Indo European tongue of the Iranians, when after invading India the language developed into Vedic Sanskrit.

This then became the language of the Indian upper class. But from about 500 BC regional dialects began to replace this spoken language. He Indian grammarian Panani seeing the decline of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue created a standard form of the language, which became classical Sanskrit. Also written Sanskrit had been developed and introduced at this time. It is a highly structured language as for example five mouth positions are recognized: ? Kanta: in the throat ? Talu: soft palate at the back of the mouth ?

Murdha: cerebral position (roof of the mouth) Danta: the dental position ? Osthau the labial position Beginnings of Sanskrit We can trace back the beginnings of Sanskrit literature to the ancient Rigvedic Poetry (1500 – 1200 BC). These Vedic Books comprise of religious hymns. This literature concentrated more and more on philosophical issues and ritualistic teachings. The Upanishads and the Brahmans are both regarded for their beauty in meaning and language. After this period from the 5th century onwards books then started to involve the scientific, mathematics and astrology into their writings.

These writings were known as the Vedangas. During the period of Classical Sanskrit two of the greatest epic stories were created. The Mahabharata of Vayasa and the Ramayana of Valmiki stand out as the genius of poetic literature. And these two books take an important part in the life of Indian people. The Sanskrit poets have always been held in great regard for their use of language and the magnificence of their descriptions. Raghuvamsa, a famous poet who lived at the height of the poetic revival in Classical Sanskrit, was a Buddhist who wrote Mahakavayas.

Mahakavyas was descriptions of war, nature and political issues, are the pride of some Sanskrit literature. An example of this is shown by the Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa, a poem that deals about the marriage of Parvati and Siva. Its near perfect description of the Himalayas opens the book, into a stunning and powerful tale about the marriage. Sanskrit Language (from Sanskrit samskrta, adorned, cultivated, perfected), the classical sacred and literary language of the Hindus of India, belonging to the Indic branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages.

Since roughly the beginning of the Christian era, Sanskrit has been more or less artificially maintained as the literary language of the priestly, learned, and cultivated castes of India, and it retains this position in the 20th century. During its early centuries, and increasingly later, Sanskrit came to mean the language as perfected by the rules of the Indian grammarian Panini (flourished about 400 BC). His work forms the basis for modern Sanskrit grammars and is considered the most scientific grammar produced before the 19th century. Sanskrit is written in the Devanagari alphabet.

Characteristics and History Sanskrit is distinguishable from the oldest preserved forms of Indian speech, in the Vedic religious scriptures, the Brahmans, Vedas, and Upanishads. Collectively referred to as Vedic (or as Vedic Sanskrit in contrast to classical Sanskrit), these forms of speech show dialectical, stylistic, and chronological differences from one work to another. Vedic, however, like Sanskrit, was a more or less artificial high tongue based on popular idioms but handed down through generations of priestly singers. Vedic (flourished about 1500 BC-c. 00 BC) and Sanskrit (classically considered to begin with Panini’s grammar) are both dialects of the Old Indic speech, which also existed in many nonliterary vernacular dialects.

These vernaculars, over time, underwent modifications, some of which are observable in the differences between Vedic and Sanskrit. Other ancient vernaculars evolved into the Prakrits, or Middle Indic languages (the best known of which is Pali). In a loose sense, the Prakrits (flourished about 3rd century BC- c. AD 12th century) are related to Sanskrit somewhat as the Romance languages is related to Latin.

Vedic differs from classical Sanskrit about as much as the Greek of Homer differs from classical Greek. In grammatical forms, Vedic was richer and less settled than Sanskrit, which gave up much of the early grammar without, as a rule, supplying substitutes; in nouns, for example, separate case endings for each of the eight Sanskrit cases are found only in the singular of the most common noun declension. The Vedic subjunctives were lost, and about a dozen Vedic infinitives were reduced to a single one in Sanskrit.

By the Middle Ages, Sanskrit had also lost the Vedic system of pitch or tonal accent, which was still in full force in Panini’s time. Notwithstanding these losses, Sanskrit is a complex language, not only highly inflected but also subject to certain alternations of vowels and context-influenced modifications of sounds. It has three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and three numbers (singular, dual, and plural). Sanskrit has, on the whole, preserved the linguistic conditions of the supposed Indo-European speech better than any other Indo-European language, except possibly ancient Greek.


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