languages are closely related in grammar and vocabulary. They share certain
distinctive characteristics that set them apart as a subgroup of the
Indo-European language family. The grammar of the language Sanskrit is
similar to that of Latin, Greek and other older Indo-European languages.
There are three genders – masculine, feminine and neuter and three
numbers – singular, dual and plural. There are eight cases and adjectives
are inflected to be in agreement with the nouns that they describe.
Using a verb is a complex affair, for it is inflected for tense,
person, number, mode and voice.
oldest form of Sanskrit is Vedic Sanskrit. It appears in the text of the
Rigveda, the oldest of the four vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Vedas.)
It is said to be based on a dialect of northwestern India.
distinctive feature of Vedic Sanskrit is its accentual system, in which
vowels have low, high, or circumflex pitch. As the Vedic language developed,
vowel accent and other features slowly fell into disuse.
as a literary language or Classical Sanskrit flourished between sixth
century BC and eleventh century AD. However, the language is consciously
studied by many and there are many who use the language for writing too. It
was around sixth century BC that Panini, the well-known grammarian,
presented a treatise on Sanskrit, which later became the standardized form.
major forms of literature in Sanskrit are poetry known as kavya,
drama that was called nataka,
prose and other technical treatises. Among the literary giants are Kalidasa
and Bana Bhatta.
was a fifth century poet and dramatist. He is considered one of the greatest
Indian writers of any epoch. Some
historians say that he was one of the nine gems in the court of King
Vikramaditya of Ujjain. His major works include the epic poems Raghuvamsha
and Kumarasambhava; the dramas Abhijnanshakuntala,
Malavikagnimitra and Vikramorvashi;
and, the lyric Meghdoota.
Bhatta, on the other hand was one of the greatest masters of Sanskrit prose.
He was a seventh century literary classicist. His most famous work is the
chronicle Harshacharita, which
depicts the court and times of the Buddhist emperor Harsha. It has proved to
be an invaluable insight into the period. The chronicle has been written in
the kavya or poetic style. His
other major work was the prose romance Kadambari.
Neither work was completed by Bana. His son Bhushana completed the work Kadambari.