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The Significance of Sanskrit

Sanskrit : the Key  to Indian Religious History

 

Though Sanskrit is claimed to be the oldest language in the universe, the sanskrit as we know today is of very recent origin.

“The first epigraphic evidence of Sanskrit is seen in 150 AD and this inscription is in the Brahmi script.”  (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1982).

From the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions.

Earlier documents used Pali and Prakrit.    Asoka who took every care to make his messages intelligible to the common man used all existing scripts and languages.  These 3rd Century inscriptions do not include Sanskrit.  It included Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic.  But no Sanskrit is found because it was not in existence at that time.

Sanskrit was developed out of Prakrit and other existing languages during the interval of 100 AD to 150 AD  “The first evidence of classical Sanskrit is found as an inscription dating around A.D.150 in the Brahmi script. It records the repair of a dam originally built by Chandragupta Maurya, and also contains a panegyric in verse, which can be regarded as the first literary composition in classical Sanskrit. It is at Girnar in Kathiawar and was inscribed by Rudradamana, the Saka Satrap of Ujjayini, on the same rock on which the Fourteen Rock Edicts of Asoka were also found.

It is significant that Rudradamana employed classical Sanskrit in a region where about four hundred years before him Asoka had used only Prakrit. This definitely proves that in the second century AD Sanskrit was replacing the dialects. Even so the language did not replace Prakrit everywhere, but it continued to be used in inscriptions for something like one hundred years or even more after this date. However, from the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions.”  ( Hinduism, by Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, USA, 1979.)

If that is the case in what language was the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads  transmitted since Sanskrit did not exist?  Except for most part of Rig Veda all others are written in Sanskrit.  What that tells us that they were written only after the first century AD.

This evidently puts new and sharp change in the way we look at Hinduism.  In fact Hinduism did not come to exist before first century.  Hinduism is totally different from the Vedic religion.  The mistake early indologists who came from Europe was to assume the continuity of Vedic religion and Hindu religion.  Hindu religion itself was a convenient artificial definition of the British.

Thus apart from portions of the Veda which were not written in Sanskrit, all other Vedas, Upanishads, Brahmanas and Puranas etc were written down later than 100 AD at liberal estimate.  They must have been written down much later in actual fact. A more realistic estimate will be around 6th Centaury AD.  “The pious view is that the Vedas are eternal and uncreated and exist essentially as sound. More conventional, but still pious, scholarship may still exaggerate the antiquity of the Vedas, sometimes claiming they go back to 10,000 BC or earlier. Now, however, it looks like even the oldest parts of the Rg Veda do not antedate the arrival of the Arya in India, although the gods and elements of the stories are older, since they are attested with Iranian peoples and the Mitanni, with parallels in Greek and Latin mythology.” (Kelly Ross)

“Thus for instance the vast amalgamation of Puranic tradition known as the Skandapurana, as far as we can speak of it as a single work at all, cannot be older than the 16th century, as has been shown in the Groningen Skandapurana project (see Adriaensen et al 1994). Many scientific manuals and commentaries were composed during the 17th and 18th centuries, and a 19th century compilation, the Sukraniti, passed for a long time as a genuine ancient work. And of course Indian scholars of traditional learning are all the time producing new Sanskrit literature.” Klaus Karttunen  http://folklore.ee/folklore/vol8/veda.htm

 “  Mahabaharatha as given to us could not have been written before A.D fourth Centaury.  Panini, who is the famous grammarian, has mentioned several important personalities of the epics of that period.  While the reprints published later have made several errors, variations and exaggerations, the main characters and the imports of the stories remain in tact.  There is no doubt that Geetha came into existence only during the period of Gupta Empire.” 
K.M.Panicker ( A Survey of Indian History p.67)

“It is certain that Manu did not know anything about the Trinity or their functions as Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer.  Yet by A.D 6th Centaury this concept was popular as is clear from the works of Kalidasa” Ramesh Chandra Dutt, History of Civilizations in India   Vol II   P.191

All Hindu myths are developed over a long period of times, where each myth was built over some older historical fact or person.  This is often due to confusion of names and times.  Most of them were local stories, which got incorporated, in the bigger picture.  So when a purana was presented in a codified form it was normally done in a third person method where this person sees the act being carried out in some distant places at distant time.  This was indeed the normal style of story telling of the period.  In the present day art forms of Katha Kala Shepam and Thullal this is clearly visible. 

In A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th century  Upinder Singh says:

“In the Deccan and South India, Sanskrit inscriptions appeared along with Prakrit ones in the late 3rd/early 4th century CE, for instance Nagarjunkonda in Andhra Pradesh.  The Sanskrit element gradually increased.  In the transitional phase of the 4th and 5th centuries, there were bilingual sanskrit-Prakrit inscriptions, as well as those in a mixture of two languages.  Thereafter, Prakrit fell into disuse.

 

Between the 4th and 6th centuries, Sanskrit emerged as a premier language of royal inscriptions all over India.  There after, it attained the status of a language associated with high culture, religious authority, and political power not only in the subvontinent but also in certain other areas such as Southeast Asia.  However, in the post-Gupta period, there was also an important parallel trend towards the evolution of regional languages and scripts.  Even Sanskrit inscriptions show the influence of local dialects in spellings and words of non-Snsrit origin.

 

In South India, inscriptions in the old tamil language (and the Tamil-Brahmi script) appeared in the 2nd century BCE and the early centuries CE…….There are examples of bilingual Tamil-Sanskrit Pallava inscriptions from the 7th century onwards. …..

 

“The earliest Kannada inscriptions belong to the late 6th/early 7th cemury CE. ……….There are some bilingual Sanskrit Kannada inscriptions and a 12th century inscription found at Kurgod (in Bellary districtm Karnataka) is in three languages – Sanskrit, Prakrit and Kannada. ……

Late 6th century epigraphs of the  of the early Telugu Chola kings mark the beginnings of Telugu as a language…….Malayalam inscriptions appear in about 15th century.”

 

Significance of  Sanskrit

Dr. Alexander Harris

The earliest epigraphic evidence on languages employed in India comes from the inscriptions of Asoka inscribed in third century B.C. Asoka took care that his messages were intelligible to all and he used a particular kind of Prakrit. ……So, the absence of Sanskrit in his inscriptions indicates that it did not exist at that time, as otherwise he would have certainly used it.

In India, before the Christian era, there were many foreign invasions which introduced many foreign languages. These mixing with the early Indian languages led to what is often called a Prakrit which was diverse in nature.  The first evidence of classical Sanskrit is attested by an inscription dating around A.D.150 in the Brahmi script. It records the repair of a dam originally built by Chandragupta Maurya, and also contains a panegyric in verse which can be regarded as the first literary composition in classical Sanskrit. It is at Girnar in Kathiawar and was inscribed by Rudradamana, the Saka Satrap of Ujjayini, on the same rock on which the Fourteen Rock Edicts of Asoka were also found. It is significant that Rudradamana employed classical Sanskrit in a region where about four hundred years before him Asoka had used only Prakrit.

A key evidence often presented in the dating of Sanskrit is Patanjali’s Vyakarana - Mahabhasya (Great Commentary). The Mahabhasya is both a defense of the grammarian Panini against his chief critic and detractor Katyayana and a refutation of some of Panini’s aphorisms. Patanjali is dated anywhere from 2nd c BC to 5th c AD.


    On Patanjali’s date, the composition of the Mahabhasya and its early tradition, Joshi and Roodbergen write ,

 

It is nearly unanimously agreed that Patanjali has lived around 140 BC. But as stated by Winternitz, we are not in a position to confirm that this is the correct date. The question largely depends on the other question, namely, whether Patanjali was the author of the examples he quotes. According to Tarn, there is nothing conclusive in Patanajli’s assumed date, precisely because his grammatical examples are, or in any particular case may be, not necessarily his own composition but traditional examples. Nor are the dates assigned to Panini and Katyayana in the fourth and third century BC more than a working hypothesis, that is, ornate guesswork.

 ……..

The stone pillar inscription of Samudra Gupta (AD 330 to 380) written in Sanskrit and a late Brahmi script called the Gupta script is an undated inscription incised on an Asokan pillar at Allahabad. Composed by Harisena, a commander-in-chief of the king it describes elaborately the moral, intellectual and military achievements of this king. This inscription possibly dates 350 AD…………

Another interesting fact is that the Allahabad inscription of Samudra Gupta mentions King Vishnugopa of Kanchi (Pallavas 4th to 9th c AD) who was defeated by Samudra Gupta and then liberated about the middle of the 4th c AD. The southern Pallavas are often linked with the North Western Pahlavas, however, this is not conclusive. Through these invasions, the Gupta language and culture spread south.

The spread of Sanskrit South is first evidenced by the Talagunda stone pillar inscription of Kadamba Kakusthavarman in the Shimoga District, Karnataka dated between 455 and 470 AD. It is written in late southern Brahmi inscribed in the reign of Santivarman (450 to 470 AD). It is a postthumous record of Kakusthavarman.

Sanskrit then spreads in the South evidenced by the inscriptions in Early Grantha, dating from the 5th to 6th c. AD on copper plates and stone monuments from the kingdom of the Pallavas near Chennai (Madras). The Grantha alphabet, which belongs to the writing system of southern India, was developed in the 5th c. AD to mainly write Sanskrit. From the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions which indicates that Sanskrit was replacing the dialects.

Further more research on the development of writing scripts in India certainly puts a rather late date on these Sanskrit writings. …….

The Grantha alphabet, which belongs to the writing system of southern India, developed in the 5th c. AD and was mainly used to write Sanskrit. Inscriptions in Early Grantha, dating from the 5th to 6th c. AD are on copper plates and stone monuments from the kingdom of the Pallavas near Chennai (Madras).

A key area of error is linguistic research, and in India it is based on the erroneous Aryan theory projecting civilization in India as uncivilized until the entry of the so called Aryans. Today, groups like the RSS and VHP will vehemently deny this theory realizing the implication of the Indus Valley discovery in 1920. Scholars write…………

The scriptures of Hinduism are written in Sanskrit, and epigraphic evidence clearly shows that they could not have been written before the second century A.D. The Christian thought is seen in the Hindu scriptures and this influence traces back to Christian Gospel preached by the Apostle Thomas first to the Pahlavas.

The bibliographical evidences indicate that the Vedas are written in the Grantha and Nagari scripts, and according to tradition Veda Vyasa, a Dravidian, compiled and wrote the Vedas. The Grantha script belongs to the southern group of scripts and Veda Vyasa being a Dravidian would certainly have used it. Since the earliest evidence for Grantha is only in the 5th c. AD, the Vedas were written rather late.” 
Dr. Alexander Harris
http://appiusforum.net/sanskrit.html

What does it mean?

 

The analysis shows that the claims of Sanskrit developed during the Pre-Christian era is a Brahminic attempt to rewrite history.  Seriously it also would simply mean that Brahmanas and Upanishads were written well after Second Century AD.  The early determinations of Upanishadic period as 5th C BC was in total error. The early Students of Sanskrit among the westerners swallowed the opinions of the opinions of the pundits who guided and interpreted for them/  Here for example is the official stand on Sanskrit by the Hindu Religious adherents.

“The origin of Sanskrit can be accredited to the Vedic society. Vedic Sanskrit is believed to date back to the 2nd millennium BC, when knowledge was handed down through the generations verbally.

Mystic traditions of India ascribe a wholly sacred origin to the language, describing it as the language of the gods.


  By 400BC a Hindu Indian grammarian by the name of Pā
ini had formally recorded rules of Sanskrit grammar. This is known as the Ashtadhyayi (Aṣṭādhyāyī).

The Ashtadhyayi consists of eight chapters, each divided into four sections, or ‘padas’. It characterises the difference between the language of the sacred texts and that of common street language. 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology have been set out, much in the way of a mathematical function, to define the basic elements of the language including sentence structure, vowels, consonants, nouns, and verbs. Pāini’s work is still used in the teaching of Sanskrit today.

The Sanskrit verbal adjective saṃskṛta- may be translated as "put together", "well or completely formed", "refined", "highly elaborated".[7] It is derived from the root saṃ(s)kar- "to put together, compose, arrange, prepare",[8] where saṃ- "together" (as English same) and (s)kar- "do, make". The language referred to as saṃskṛta "the cultured language" has by definition always been a "sacred" and "sophisticated" language, used for religious and learned discourse in ancient India, and contrasted with the languages spoken by the people, prākṛta- "natural, artless, normal, ordinary". It is also called dēva-bhāṣā meaning the "divine language" or the "language of devas or demigods".

It is essentially a prescriptive grammar, i.e., an authority that defines (rather than describes) correct Sanskrit……The term "Sanskrit" was not thought of as a specific language set apart from other languages.

“It is significant that Rudradamana employed classical Sanskrit in a region where about four hundred years before him Asoka had used only Prakrit. This definitely proves that in the second century AD Sanskrit was replacing the dialects. Even so the language did not replace Prakrit everywhere, but it continued to be used in inscriptions for something like one hundred years or even more after this date. However, from the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions.”  ( Hinduism, by Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, USA, 1979.)

If that is the case in what language was the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads  transmitted since Sanskrit did not exist?  Except for most part of Rig Veda all others are written in Sanskrit.  What that tells us that they were written only after the first century AD.

This evidently puts new and sharp change in the way we look at Hinduism.  In fact Hinduism did not come to exist before first century.  Hinduism is totally different from the Vedic religion.  The mistake early indologists who came from Europe was to assume the continuity of Vedic religion and Hindu religion.  Hindu religion itself was a convenient artificial definition of the British.

Thus apart from portions of the Veda which were not written in Sanskrit, all other Vedas, Upanishads, Brahmanas and Puranas etc were written down later than 100 AD at liberal estimate.  They must have been written down much later in actual fact. A more realistic estimate will be around 6th Centaury AD.

 “The pious view is that the Vedas are eternal and uncreated and exist essentially as sound. More conventional, but still pious, scholarship may still exaggerate the antiquity of the Vedas, sometimes claiming they go back to 10,000 BC or earlier. Now, however, it looks like even the oldest parts of the Rg Veda do not antedate the arrival of the Arya in India, although the gods and elements of the stories are older, since they are attested with Iranian peoples and the Mitanni, with parallels in Greek and Latin mythology.” (Kelly Ross)

“Thus for instance the vast amalgamation of Puranic tradition known as the Skandapurana, as far as we can speak of it as a single work at all, cannot be older than the 16th century, as has been shown in the Groningen Skandapurana project (see Adriaensen et al 1994). Many scientific manuals and commentaries were composed during the 17th and 18th centuries, and a 19th century compilation, the Sukraniti, passed for a long time as a genuine ancient work. And of course Indian scholars of traditional learning are all the time producing new Sanskrit literature.” Klaus Karttunen  http://folklore.ee/folklore/vol8/veda.htm

 “  Mahabaharatha as given to us could not have been written before A.D fourth Centaury.  Panini, who is the famous grammarian, has mentioned several important personalities of the epics of that period.  While the reprints published later have made several errors, variations and exaggerations, the main characters and the imports of the stories remain in tact.  There is no doubt that Geetha came into existence only during the period of Gupta Empire.” 
K.M.Panicker ( A Survey of Indian History p.67)

“It is certain that Manu did not know anything about the Trinity or their functions as Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer.  Yet by A.D 6th Centaury this concept was popular as is clear from the works of Kalidasa” Ramesh Chandra Dutt, History of Civilizations in India   Vol II   P.191

All Hindu myths are developed over a long period of times, where each myth was built over some older historical fact or person.  This is often due to confusion of names and times.  Most of them were local stories, which got incorporated, in the bigger picture.  So when a purana was presented in a codified form it was normally done in a third person method where this person sees the act being carried out in some distant places at distant time.  This was indeed the normal style of story telling of the period.  In the present day art forms of Katha Kala Shepam and Thullal this is clearly visible. 

In A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th century  Upinder Singh says:

“In the Deccan and South India, Sanskrit inscriptions appeared along with Prakrit ones in the late 3rd/early 4th century CE, for instance Nagarjunkonda in Andhra Pradesh.  The Sanskrit element gradually increased.  In the transitional phase of the 4th and 5th centuries, there were bilingual sanskrit-Prakrit inscriptions, as well as those in a mixture of two languages.  Thereafter, Prakrit fell into disuse.

 

Between the 4th and 6th centuries, Sanskrit emerged as a premier language of royal inscriptions all over India.  There after, it attained the status of a language associated with high culture, religious authority, and political power not only in the subvontinent but also in certain other areas such as Southeast Asia.  However, in the post-Gupta period, there was also an important parallel trend towards the evolution of regional languages and scripts.  Even Sanskrit inscriptions show the influence of local dialects in spellings and words of non-Snsrit origin.

 

In South India, inscriptions in the old tamil language (and the Tamil-Brahmi script) appeared in the 2nd century BCE and the early centuries CE…….There are examples of bilingual Tamil-Sanskrit Pallava inscriptions from the 7th century onwards. …..

“The earliest Kannada inscriptions belong to the late 6th/early 7th cemury CE. ……….There are some bilingual Sanskrit Kannada inscriptions and a 12th century inscription found at Kurgod (in Bellary districtm Karnataka) is in three languages – Sanskrit, Prakrit and Kannada. ……

Late 6th century epigraphs of the  of the early Telugu Chola kings mark the beginnings of Telugu as a language…….Malayalam inscriptions appear in about 15th century.”

In a way the name Sanskrit had given way to large misuse by the religion. Sanskrit when is used for both the Vedic and the Puranic languages differ considerably. It bears the relation as between Latin and English.

"By Ancient Sanskrit we mean the oldest known form of Sanskrit. The simple name 'Sanskrit' generally refers to Classical Sanskrit, which is a later, fixed form that follows rules laid down by a grammarian around 400 BC. Like Latin in the Middle Ages, Classical Sanskrit was a scholarly lingua franca which had to be studied and mastered.

Ancient Sanskrit was very different.

It was a natural, vernacular language, and has come down to us in a remarkable and extensive body of poetry."

http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/eieol/vedol-0-X.html

the Ancient Sanskrit is referred to here is now called Vedic which is a direct recognition under pressure to recognize it as different from Sanskrit language by the Hindus. This is same as the Persian Indo- European language of the Zorostrians which is the language used in Zend Avesta or very close to it. In sharp contrast Sanskrit is of recent origin. Archealogical and Linguistic studies indicates that the language of Sanskrit came into existence only by the second century AD. Ujjayini (Ujjain) became a center of Sanskrit learning and was taken as meridian by Indian astronomers.

The word Sanskrit means completed, refined, perfected. Sam (together) + krtam (created). The Vedic form of Sanskrit is a close descendant of Proto-Indo-European, the reconstructed root of all later Indo-European languages. Vedic Sanskrit is the oldest attested language of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. It is very closely related to Avestan, the language of Zoroastrianism. The genetic relationship of Sanskrit to modern European languages and classical Greek and Latin can be seen in cognates like mother and matr or father and pitr. Other interesting links are to be found between Sanskritic roots and Persian, present in such a striking example as the generic term for 'land' which in Sanskrit is sthaan and in Persian staan.


European scholarship in Sanskrit, initiated by Heinrich Roth and Johann Ernest Hanxleden, led to the proposal of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones, and thus played an important role in the development of Western linguistics. Indeed, linguistics (along with phonology, etc.) first arose among Indian grammarians who were attempting to catalog and codify Sanskrit's rules. Modern linguistics owes a great deal to these grammarians, and to this day, key terms for compound analysis are taken from Sanskrit. The oldest surviving Sanskrit grammar is Pānini's c. 500 BC Aòsòtādhyāyī ("8 ChapterGrammar"). http://www.haryana-online.com/History/ sanskrit.htm

The Indian Scripts are originated from two early sources – one from the Semitic Languages and the other from the Aryan (Indo-European) Languages. The early scripts of Brahmi originated from the Semitic Languages from the 7th centaury BC while the Kharosti originated from the Indo-European Languages about the same time. It is interesting to note the Sanskrit Script as used today was actually an offshoot of the Semitic influence rather than Aryan. Certainly there must have been mutual influence and interaction during the development. This interaction between the two major ethnic languages can be traced back to the Persian invasion of Israel. Ahasaures, also known as Artexerxes was probably the husband of Queen Esther. From then on the relation between the Aryan and the Semitic people were very cordial. This led to the mutual influence that we see in the script and languages.

 

                      

Sites of Asokan Rock and pillar edicts covers most of the North and Central India and were written in the regional languages.

Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by king Ashoka,
from Kandahar - Afghan National Museum.

Vedas were originally written using the Grantha and Nagiri Scripts. Since the earliest evidence of Grantha Scripts are found only around 5th c AD, the Vedas in Sanskrit could not have been written anytime earlier. It may be argued that Vedas could have been in oral form. This is a conjecture. People certainly have been philosophical even without a written document. But they are not crystallized until they are written down.

The first epigraphic evidence of Sanskrit is seen in 150 AD and this inscription is in the Brahmi script. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1982).

From the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions.

The use of Sanskrit as a language was first observed in the ramayana (Sundarakanda, 30/17-18). 

Shyam Rao makes the following clear statements in regards to Sanskrit in his Anti-Sanskrit Scripture' by Shyam Rao, published by Sudrastan Books, Jabalpur, 1999 (free from any Copyright). It was thence reprinted in Dalitstan Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2 (Oct. 1999)

Vedas - The word `Sanskrit' does not occur anywhere in the Vedas. Not a single verse mentions this word as denoting a language.

Chandasa - The Vedic language was referred to as Chandasa even by Panini himself [`Indo-Aryan and Hindi', S. K. Chatterji, Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta-12, p. 63 ], and not as `Sanskrit'.

Buddha - The Buddha was advised to translate his teachings into the learned man's tongue - the `Chandasa' standard [ Chatterji., p. 64 ], there is no mention of any `Sanskrit'. The Buddha refused, preferring the Prakrits. There is not even a single reference in any contemporary Buddhist texts to the word `Sanskrit'. This shows that Sanskrit did not even exist at the time of the Buddha and that the people at that period, even the Brahmins themselves, were not aware of themselves as speaking `Sanskrit'; they referred to their language as `Chandasa'.

Ramayana - The word `Sanskrit' occurs for the first time as referring to a language in the Ramayana : "In the latter [Ramayana] the term `samskrta' "formal, polished", is encountered, probably for the first time with reference to the language" [ Encyclopaedia Brittanica 22 `Langs', p. 616 ] It is to be noted that extant versions of the Ramayana date only to the centuries AD.

Asokan Script - The first inscriptions in Indian history are in Prakrit and not in Sanskrit. These are by the Mauryan King Ashoka (c. 273 BC - 232 BC ), and number over 30. They date to the 4th century BC. The script utilised is not `sacred' Devanagari, and the language is not `Mother' Sanskrit. They are mostly in the Brahmi script, while 2 inscriptions are in Kharoshtri. They are in various Prakrits and some in Afghanistan are in Greek and Aramaic [`Inscriptions: Their Literary Value I', R. Basak, `Cultural Heritage of India' vol. 5, p. 390-406,. p. 390-1 ]. In fact all inscriptions in India were in Prakrit till the early centuries AD : "The earlier inscriptions up to the 1st century AD, were all in Prakrit" -- [`Prakrit Language and Literature', Cultural Heritage of India vol. 5, 164-183, A. N. Upadhye., p. 164 ]

Satavahana Inscriptions - The Satavahanas, the first historical dynasty of the Deccan, also used a Prakrit language. There is no usage of Sanskrit. The Nagarjunikonda insrciptions are by the Satvahana king Vijaya Satakarni in the early 3rd cetnruy AD & end with the Ikshvaku Rudrapurusadatta who ruled for 11 years in the second quarter of the 4th century. Most of the large number of inscriptions are in Prakrit and only a few belonging to Ehuvulu Santamula are in Sanskrit (he ruled during the last 24 years of the 3rd to the early 4th century AD ) but even most of his inscriptions are in Prakrit and those which are in Sasnkrit are heavily influenced by Prakrit [ Bhatt., p. 408 ftn. 46 ].

The Nanaghat cave inscriptions in Poona distt. are in Prakrit and are the work of the Satavahana Satakarni I. They have been dated to the first half of the 1st century BC. The contemporary relgiion of this region was Vedic. Indra and Vasudev are mentioned as the Vedic gods then worshipped [ Basak, p. 395 ]. The later cave inscriptions of Nasik in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD are in the local Prakrit [ Basak, p. 395 ]. Thus, although the Vedic religion was followed in the Satavahana regions, Sanksrit was not in use.

Gandhari - Even Gandhari existed prior to Sanskrit. The Pali Dhammapada in Gandhari was discovered at Khotan in Kharoshtri script. It dates to the 1st or 2nd century AD. A Gandhari insrcription was discovered on a copper casket containing relics of the Lord Sakyamuni [ Basak, p. 393 ].

Kharavela's Kalinga Inscription - Kharavela's Kalingan inscription of the 1st century BC were in a Prakrit of the east indian type. Interseting is the first mention of the word Bharatavarsha in an inscription. Kharavela is described as invading Bharatavarsha, which then evidently denoted only North India [ Basak, p. 393 ].

First Sanskrit Inscription : 150 AD - The earliest inscription in Sanskrit is by the Saka Mahakshatrapa Rudradaman at Junagarh in Gujarat dated to AD 150. However, even here several of the words are wrong according to Sanskrit grammatical rules, some words show Prakrit influence and a few are un-Paninian [ Basak 397-8 ]. This inscription is several centuries later than the earliest Prakrit inscriptions, and are the creation of Sakas, not Arya kings.


In fact all inscriptions in India were in Prakrit (vernacular languages) till the early centuries AD .

It is evident that there was no Sanskrit before 150 AD. Chandasa was renamed as Sanskrit inorder to claim predating Sanskrit writings.

Alexander Harris explains it as follows: http://www.appiusforum.com/sanskrit.html

"The stone pillar inscription of Samudra Gupta (AD 330 to 380) written in Sanskrit and a late Brahmi script called the Gupta script is an undated inscription incised on an Asokan pillar at Allahabad. Composed by Harisena, a commander-in-chief of the king it describes elaborately the moral, intellectual and military achievements of this king. This inscription possibly dates 350 AD.

A key evidence often presented in the dating of Sanskrit is Patanjali’s Vyakarana - Mahabhasya (Great Commentary). The Mahabhasya is both a defense of the grammarian Panini against his chief critic and detractor Katyayana and a refutation of some of Panini’s aphorisms. Patanjali is dated anywhere from 2nd c BC to 5th c AD.

On Patanjali’s date, the composition of the Mahabhasya and its early tradition, Joshi and Roodbergen write,

It is nearly unanimously agreed that Patanjali has lived around 140 BC. But as stated by Winternitz, we are not in a position to confirm that this is the correct date. The question largely depends on the other question, namely, whether Patanjali was the author of the examples he quotes. According to Tarn, there is nothing conclusive in Patanajli’s assumed date, precisely because his grammatical examples are, or in any particular case may be, not necessarily his own composition but traditional examples. Nor are the dates assigned to Panini and Katyayana in the fourth and third century BC more than a working hypothesis, that is, ornate guesswork.

The spread of Sanskrit South is first evidenced by the Talagunda stone pillar inscription of Kadamba Kakusthavarman13 in the Shimoga District, Karnataka dated between 455 and 470 AD. It is written in late southern Brahmi inscribed in the reign of Santivarman (450 to 470 AD). It is a postthumous record of Kakusthavarman.

Sanskrit then spreads in the South evidenced by the inscriptions in Early Grantha, dating from the 5th to 6th c. AD on copper plates and stone monuments from the kingdom of the Pallavas near Chennai (Madras). The Grantha alphabet, which belongs to the writing system of southern India, was developed in the 5th c. AD to mainly write Sanskrit. From the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions which indicates that Sanskrit was replacing the dialects.

Further more research on the development of writing scripts in India certainly puts a rather late date on these Sanskrit writings."

Earlier documents used Pali and Prakrit. Asoka who took every care to make his messages intelligible to the common man used all existing scripts and languages. These 3rd Centaury inscriptions do not include Sanskrit. It included Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic. But no Sanskrit is found because it was not in existence at that time.

Asoka’s Edict in Prakrit

Sanskrit was developed out of Prakrit and other existing languages during the interval of 100 AD to 150 AD "The first evidence of classical Sanskrit is found as an inscription dating around A.D.150 in the Brahmi script. It records the repair of a dam originally built by Chandragupta Maurya, and also contains a panegyric in verse, which can be regarded as the first literary composition in classical Sanskrit. It is at Girnar in Kathiawar and was inscribed by Rudradamana, the Saka Satrap of Ujjayini, on the same rock on which the Fourteen Rock Edicts of Asoka were also found.

It is significant that Rudradamana employed classical Sanskrit in a region where about four hundred years before him Asoka had used only Prakrit. This definitely proves that in the second century AD Sanskrit was replacing the dialects. Even so the language did not replace Prakrit everywhere, but it continued to be used in inscriptions for something like one hundred years or even more after this date. However, from the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions. ( Hinduism, by Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, USA, 1979.)

"The earliest epigraphic evidence on languages employed in India comes from the inscriptions of Asoka inscribed in third century B.C. Asoka took care that his messages were intelligible to all and he used a particular kind of Prakrit. Even more remarkable is the fact, which has been recently discovered, that for those people who at the time lived in Afghanistan, his message was given in Greek as well as Aramaic. One of the Greek inscriptions is a translation of the Kalinga Edict, and the Greek of the inscriptions is not inferior in style to the classical Greek of Greek literature. In such circumstances neglect of Sanskrit by Asoka, if the language was in use, would be contrary to all his practice.1 So, the absence of Sanskrit in his inscriptions indicates that it did not exist at that time, as otherwise he would have certainly used it." Dr. Alexander Harris: Significance of Sanskrit.

Thus apart from portions of the Veda which were not written in Sanskrit, all other Vedas, Upanishads, Brahmanas and Puranas etc were written down later than 100 AD at liberal estimate. They must have been written down much later in actual fact. A more realistic estimate will be around 6th Centaury AD.

"The pious view is that the Vedas are eternal and uncreated and exist essentially as sound. More conventional, but still pious, scholarship may still exaggerate the antiquity of the Vedas, sometimes claiming they go back to 10,000 BC or earlier. Now, however, it looks like even the oldest parts of the Rg Veda do not antedate the arrival of the Arya in India, although the gods and elements of the stories are older, since they are attested with Iranian peoples and the Mitanni, with parallels in Greek and Latin mythology." (Kelly Ross) 

Panini

Panini's Astadhyayi is the main Sanskrit grammar book. The name Panini came to stand for the unknown author who started the grammar writing process. In a later period, Astadhyayi became even more authoritative through the contributions of Vartikakara Vararuchi (or Katyayana) and Bhasyakara (the commentator) Patanjali. So the complete Astadhyayi is called Trimunivyakarana (contribution of three grammarians). The rules, which have been compiled in Astadhyai, are considered to be essential for Sanskrit language and literature. Besides Astadhyai there are many other famous grammars in Sanskrit.

Panini was born in Shalatula, a town near to Attock on the Indus river in present day Pakistan. The dates given for Panini are pure guesses. Experts give various dates in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th century BC and there is also no agreement among historians about his date or to the extent of the work with which he is honored.

Panini was a grammarian trying to refine existing languages (to make a "Sanskrit" language), who gave a comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics, phonology, and morphology. Sanskrit was the classical literary language of the Indian Hindus and Panini is considered the founder of the language and literature. The word "Sanskrit" means "refined" – it is refined from some raw material language. A treatise called Astadhyayi (or Astaka ) is Panini's major work. It consists of eight chapters, each subdivided into quarter chapters. In this work Panini distinguishes between the language of sacred texts and the usual language of communication. Panini gives formal production rules and definitions to describe Sanskrit grammar. Starting with about 1700 basic elements like nouns, verbs, vowels, consonants he put them into classes. The construction of sentences, compound nouns etc. is explained as ordered rules operating on underlying structures in a manner similar to modern theory. In many ways Panini's constructions are similar to the way that a mathematical function is defined today.

There is no means of knowing the date of Panini. The references to existing authors (there are ten of them) does not give any indication since we don’t know about those authors, that Panini per definition lived at the end of the Vedic period: he notes a few special rules, marked chandasi ("in the hymns") to account for forms in the Vedic scriptures that had fallen out of use in the spoken language of his time, indicating that Vedic Sanskrit was already archaic, but still a comprehensible dialect. An important hint for the dating of Panini is the occurrence of the word yavanānī (in 4.1.49, either "Greek woman", or "Greek script") There would have been no first-hand knowledge of Greeks in Gandhara before the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 330s BC. Aside from the more abstract considerations of long-distance artistic or philosophical influence, the concrete evidence we have for direct contact between Greeks and Indians is largely limited to the period between the third century BCE and first century CE.", ('Hellenistic India' by Rachel R. Mairs, University of Cambridge) He mentions documents which he has referred as Greek (Yavanani). These would place him after the invasion of Alexander the great when India came in direct contact with the Greek. He certainly lived after Buddha because of his referece to Dharma. How long after that is still a problem. In general the any attempt to date Panini is just pure conjecture. He could have lived well after the first century AD. Panini’s dating and the complete grammatical structure is important in the Sanskrit history since Classical Sanskrit is normally dated from Panini.

It is not certain whether Panini used writing for the composition of his work, though it is generally agreed that he did use a form of writing, based on references to words such as "script" and "scribe" in his Ashtadhyayi. No one with any clear understanding of the complexity of his system could conceive that he worked without written notes using human notepads. That is exactly what we are asked to do by those who want to date back Panini. (It is proposed that he composed it with the help of a group of students whose memories served him as 'notepads'. Writing first reappears in India (since the Indus script) in the form of the Brāhmī script from ca. the 6th century BC, though these early instances of the Brāhmī script are from Tamil Nadu in southern India, quite distant from Gandhara in northwestern India. Since Gandhara was under Persian rule in the 6th century BC, it would also be possible that he used the Aramaic alphabet (from a variant of which the Brāhmī script is likely a descendant). Along with the understanding that the first sanskrit documentation is only from the second century AD we are forced to date panini in the first or second century AD rather than at the time of Buddha nor Alexander. One of the Aryan deity was still Vasudeva as Panini refers and so it was long before the appearance of the name Krishna which appears only after the third century AD. Kushan kings took their Indian name from Vasudeva until third century AD.

Based on the Archeological, linguistics and geographical reasons, the most probable date of Panini is soon after the first century. The Classical Sanskrit starts from there. At any rate we do not have any Sanskrit documents of work of earlier dates in existence.

While Panini’s date is unknown we have other Grammarians whose dates are well established.
Katantravyakarana by Sharvavarman (100 AD),
Chandravyakarana by Chandragomin (c 700 AD),
Vakyapadiya by Bhartrhari (700 AD),
Katantrasutravrtti by Durgasingha (900 AD),
Siddhahemachandranushasana by Hemachandra (1050-1100 AD), Mugdhavodhavyakarana by Vopadeva (1200-1250 AD),
Jaumaravyakarana by Kramadishvara (1200-1250),
Saupadmavyakarana by Padmanabha Datta (1300-1350),
Harinamamrta by Rupagosvami, (c 1470-1559), and
Siddhantakaumudi by Bhattojidiksita (1700 AD)

Thus in among the known authors the dates starts from 100 AD. Thus we can guess that Panini must have lived sometime in the later half of the first century which was the time when Sanskrit began to appear as a language archealogically.

In a similar manner we can look at the Time Line of Sanskrit Literature which will again give some clue to the beginning of the Sanskrit as a language.

We leave aside the legendary authors like Valmiki and Vedavyasa whose dates are really not fixed by any scientific method.

Classical Sanskrit Literature:

Poems

1.      Asvaghosha (2nd C AD): Buddha charita

2.      Kalidasa (C. 400 A.d.): Raghuvamsa, Kumara Sambhava

3.      Vishnusharma (c.300-500?): Panchatantra Stories

4.      Pravarasena (550-600 A.D.): Ravanavaho or Setubandha

5.      Bhatti : (500-650 A.D.) : Ravanavadha

6.      Vishakadatta (6th century AD): Mudrarakshasa( The Demon and the Signet Ring). Devichandragupta and Abhisarikavancitaka

7.      Kumaradasa : (c: 800 A.D.) : Janakiharana

8.      Abhinanda (9th cent.) Ramacarita

9.      Ksemendra (11th cent.)Ramayanamanjari, Dasavatara-carita

10.   Soacakalyamalla (12th cent.) : Udararaghava

11.   Cakra Kavi (17th cent.) : Janakiparinaya

12.   Advaita kavi (17th cent.) Ramalingamrta

13.   Mohana svami : (1608 A.d.  Roac(a,)marahasya or Roac(a,)ma Carita (India Office MS.  of 1970 A.D.)

Drama

(1) Bhasa, (2nd cent.  A.d.) (a) Pratima (b) Abhiseka
(2) Bhavabhuti (8th cent.) (a) mahaviracarita (b) Uttararamacarita
(3) Dinnaga (9th cent.) Kundamala
(4) Murari (900 A.D.) Anargharaghava
(5) Rajesekhara : (10th cent.) Balaramayana
(6) Hanuman: Hanumannataka or Mahanataka
(7) Saktibhadra (9th cent.) Ascaryacudamani
(8) Yasovarman (8th cent.) : Ramabhudaya
(9) Mayuraja : Udattaraghava
(10) Anonymous : (a) Chalit RM (b) Krtya RM (c) Mayapuspaka (d) Svapnadarsana
(11) Ksirasvami : Abhinavaraghava
(12) Ramachandra (12 cent AD) (a) Raghuvilasa (b) Raghavabhyudaya
(13)Jayadeva : Prasanna-Raghava (12 cent.)
(14) Hastimalla : Maithikalyana (1290 A.D.)
(15) Subhata : Dutangada (13 cent.)
(16) Bhaskara Bhatta : Unmattaraghava (14 cent.)
(17) Tryasamisradeva : Ramabhyudaya (15 cent.)
(18) Mahadeva : Adbhutaramayana (17 cent.)
(19) Ramabhadra Diksita : Janakiparinaya

Miscellaneous Poems

(i) Slesakavyas

(1) Dharnanjaya : Raghavapandaviya (12 cent.)
(2) Madhava Bhatta : Raghavapandaviya
(3) haradatta Suri : Radhava-Naisadhiya
(4) Cidambara : Radhavapandaviya-Yadaviya (1600 A.D.)
(5) Gangadhara Mahadevakavi : (18 cent.) Sankatanasanastotra 
(6) Tulsidas. (17th century AD) : Sri Ramacharita Manasa (Poetry)

(ii) Vilomakavyas:

1.      Suryadevi : Ramakrshna-viloma-Kavya (1540 A.D.) 

(iii) Citrakavyas:

1.      Krsna Mohana: Ramalilamrta

2.      Venkatesa : Citrabandha RM 

(iv) Amorous Khandakavyas:

(1) Venkatadesika : Hamsasandesa or Hamsaduta
(2) Rudra Vacaspati : Bhramaraaduta
(3) Vasudeva : Bhramara-sandesa
(4) Anonymous : Kapiduta
(5) Venkatacarya : Kokilasandesa
(6) Jayadeva Ramagita-Govinda
(7) Krsnacandra : Candraduta
(8) Harisankara : Gitaraghava
(9) Prabhakara : Gitaraghava
(10) Haryacarya : Janakigita
(11) Harinatha : Ramavilasa
(12) Visvanathasimha Sangita Raghunandana
(13) Visvanatha : Raghavavilasa
(14) Somesvara : Ramasataka

Prose Romance and Campus

1.      Banabhatta. (7th century AD)Kadambari and Harsha Charita (Ornate prose)

2.      Ksemendra : Brhatkathamanjari

3.      Somadeva : Kathasaritasagara

4.      Bhoja : Campu RM (Many other campus such as Uttararamayana Campu, etc.  based on Uttarakhanda of RM)

5.      Vasudeva : Ramakatha

Others

Dandin. (7th century AD): Kavyadarsa

Somadeva Bhatta. (12th century AD) :Katha Sarit Sagara (collection of stories)

Again well established writers of Sanskrit all fall after the first century AD which fits the archealogical time frame.

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Yet we have the Hindu scholars fooling the public with such statements as the one that follows:

www.hinduwisdom.info/Hindu_Scriptures.htm
Sanskrit, the language of Hindu scriptures, is the oldest and the most systematic language in the world. It originated several thousand years ago, yet is still used in India.

Here are some other extraordinary claims:

http://www.encyclopediaofauthentichinduism.org/articles/13_the_origin_of.htm
Swami Prakashanand Saraswati

If you look to the history of the languages of the world you will find that they went through a number of stages of their development. But the Sanskrit language was absolutely perfect by all means from the very beginning. Is it not enough evidence to understand that it is not man-made and it is a Divine gift?

   Because. Its root system of forming a word and its detailed grammar have no comparison with any of the languages of the world, and because it is the original language, so it is very likely that some of its daily spoken words could have been adopted by the other languages which itself is the evidence that Sanskrit is the mother language of the world.

 http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/Articles/vyasa.html
   Vedavyasa Reveals the Vedic Chronology of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita
Showing great compassion for all living entities Lord Krishna’s lila avatar and literary incarnation Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa composed the authentic historical treatise known throughout creation as the Mahabharata. The eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad-Gita are found in the Bhisma-parva, chapters 25 to 42 of the Mahabharata and they are the exact words that Lord Krishna spoke in Sanskrit on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, India over five thousand years ago in 3137 B.C. The proof that the Mahabharata is definitely an authentic historical treatise and not allegorical or mythological is verified in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 1, chapter 4, verse 25

 But Bhagvata Purana was written in 6/7th C. AD Bhagavat gita is written in Sanskrit which came into existence only by 150 AD.  So if Krishna lived in 3137 BC he could not have delivered it in Sanskrit.

 http://www.thevedicfoundation.org/valuable_resources/Sanskrit The_Mother_of_All_Languages_partIII.htm


    The perfection of the pronunciation (of the consonants and the vowels) and the uniqueness of the grammar that stays the same in all the ages from the very beginning of human civilization and up till today are such features which prove that Sanskrit is not manmade; it is a Divine gift to the people of this world

This will bring us to the subject of the date of the Upanishads. All Hindu Scriptures other than the Rig Veda are written in Sanskrit. Essentially therefore they were written down after the second century AD. The backdating of Sanskrit Upanishads is a common form of deceit and is taken by many historians without asking questions and is repeated as though it is a truth. Here are some examples:

http://www.usao.edu/~usao-ids3313/ids/html/hinduism.html

     "The Upanishads (basic scriptures of Hinduism proper)--records of teachings and discussions of forest hermits, holy men who accomplished the task of transforming Vedism into Hinduism during and after the 6th century B.C.E. The earliest Upanishads date from 900 to 600 B.C.E., and represent the first development of philosophical reflections in Sanskrit literature. According to a widespread tradition the oldest Upanishads are the Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna,
Mundaka
, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka,  Svetasvatara, Kaushitaki, and Maitri Upanishads."

http://www.enotes.com/classical-medieval criticism/upanishads
     

"Upanishads Vedic texts, circa seventh-fifth century B.C.
       INTRODUCTION

     The Upanishads are ancient texts written in Sanskrit, representing the religious and philosophical tradition of Hinduism and India. Together with the Aranyakas  the Upanishads are found at the end of the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism, and thus called Vedantas."

 http://www.answers.com/topic/upanishads
     Upanishads (ūpăn'ĭshădz) , speculative and mystical scriptures of Hinduism, regarded as the wellspring of Hindu religious and speculative thought. The Upanishads, which form the last section of the literature of the Veda, were composed beginning c.900 B.C. Of the 112 extant Upanishads, about 13 date from the Vedic period and the remainder are later, sectarian works.

    http://www.dlshq.org/religions/upanishads.htm

   "Some Western scholars have fixed the age of the Upanishads as B.C. 600, or  so. They regard that all of them belong to the pre-Buddhistic period. This is a sad mistake indeed. The Upanishads are the knowledge portion, or Jnana-Kanda, of the Vedas. They are eternal. They came out of the mouth of Hiranyagarbha, or Brahman. How can one fix the date of the Upanishads? They  existed even before the creation of this world." Sri Swami Sivananda

   http://www.sanskrit.nic.in/ABOUTSANSKRIT1.htm

   "As per the Indian tradition Sanskrit Language has no beginning and no ending. It is eternal. Self-born God has created it. It is divine. It is everlasting. It was first used in Vedas and thereafter it has been the means of expression in other fields."

Here is the last straw:


The True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encyclopedia of ... 
By Swami Prakashanand Saraswati

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Thus every literature that we have in Sanskrit must invariably fall after the first century.

We cannot refute the claims that there were literature in India long before that time. But no body can substantiate any existence of Sanskrit literature before 150 AD. This is therefore definitely applicable to all Upanishads wherein we have the new concept of Brahman, Atman and Iswara

None of the Upanishads could have been written in Sanskrit any time before the first century AD is certain. The concepts themselves are embedded in the vocabulary of Sanskrit.