An old question

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 13 23:25:57 UTC 1998

>"The explanation is that both of these are, in a sense, living
>languages.... As for Sanskrit, it has consistently acted, and continues
>act, as an inexhaustible reservoir of living tissue for the new
>langauges, by supplying them with straight implants [*tatsam*a, 'just
as it
>was', scil. in Sanskrit] or its genetic progeny [*tadbhava* 'derived
>that', scil. from Sanskrit]."

For another aspect of this discussion, see "Atlas of the languages and
ethnic communities of South Asia" by Roland J.-L. Breton, Altamira
Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 1997. A small number of people have returned
Sanskrit as their first language in the most recent census in India.
Apparently, the highest numbers were in Chickamagalur district in
Karnataka and in almost every district of Kerala. Breton remarks that
even if this is a result of a conscious wish to make a (political)
statement, it is noteworthy that Varanasi did not return a single
Sanskrit speaker, in spite of the numbers of Skt pundits there.

Irrespective of the motivations of those who gave out Skt as their first
language in the census, doesn't this mean that it is indeed a living
language? Or perhaps a language which a few people are keeping alive?


ps. Is Mattur, where people have consciously started speaking in
Sanskrit, in the Chickamagalur district? I thought it was either in
Hassan or in Dakshin Kannada.

Get Your Private, Free Email at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list