(Last Updated on : 23/05/2011)
The development of Sanskrit literature
considerably declined due to the rise of derivative languages like Hindi, Bengali and other languages after the 11th century. Eleventh century witnessed a late bloom in literary production before declining after 1100 AD. Two streams of movement existed: the Sanskrit of the Brahmanical schools and the less formal language of the ruling class and the Brahmins. The literary works of Classical Sanskrit literature reveal that influence was prevalent in both directions.
The influence of the grammarians explains the free use of the aorist in elaborate prose. This may be due to the fact that prose was derived from a different tradition. Subandhu
ignores the rule as to the perfect, and the simple explanation of the accuracy of the other writers is the desire to display their skill in grammar, which was naturally facilitated by the absence of metrical restrictions. Again the verb is postponed to the end of the sentence.
The Classical poetry had a different effect of the epics. There was a tendency of uncultivated speech in order to ignore fine distinctions and through use of analogical formations to simplify grammar. Rules of euphonic combination are not always ignored; weak and strong case-forms are seen; confusion of stems in i and in; confusion in use of cases in the pronoun. In the verb primary and secondary endings are seldom confused, the feminine of present participle active is formed indifferently by anti or ati. The tendency to prefer a base is seen in the verb and the noun.
The epics of Mahabharata
deeply affected later poets. Occasional errors such as the confusion of anti and atl, of tvd and ya, as well as regular disregard of the specific sense of the past tenses are also seen. The poetasters, who turned out inscriptions, are responsible for the fundamental change which gradually inundated the Kavya style. This is the transformation from the verbal to the nominal style. In the main, Vedic and epic Sanskrit verbal forms are freely used, and relative clauses and clauses introduced by conjunctions are also employed. The new style substitutes the use of compounds for the older forms. Brevity is attained at a fatal cost in clarity.
The nominal forms of the verb are given a preference. At times an active past participle is created by adding vant to the passive participle. It is also seen that a periphrastic future is preferred to the finite verb. There is a tendency to lay stress on case relations as expressing meaning.
The desire for brevity is seen in the style of the Vedic Sutras and the grammarians used it excessively. Their works show instances of persistence on using cases in a pregnant sense and in affecting compounds; gerunds are frequently used in the ritual texts. The love for participial forms is a Dravidian influence. The auxiliary verb is used only in the first and second persons. The rule where the order of words in which the governed word precedes and the verb is placed at the end of the sentence is a Dravidian influence. The order of words in Sanskrit has similarity in many other languages other than Dravidian and rests on general rules of thought.
In technical and non-Brahmanical works there is abundant evidence of a popular Sanskrit or mixed Sanskrit in various forms. The early Buddhist writers made a successful attempt to adapt Sanskrit prose. The degree of cultivation of those who ventured to write in Sanskrit may vary. Deviation from Sanskrit is in case of Prakrit forms. However in many other texts influence reveals itself in Sanskrit which ignores delicate distinctions and confused forms.
Sanskrit existed with Prakrit dialect side by side. It was expected that there should be frequent borrowings on either side, despite objections raised from time to time for purity in the use of the sacred language in sacrificial matters. Classical Sanskrit lost many of the words and roots recorded in the lexical texts of Panini
Ganapatha and Dhatupatha.
At times though we do find that the process of Sanskritization applies to what was really Sanskrit. Sanskrit was used side by side with a native speech. Kumarila permits the amalgamation of Dravidian terms, provided that they are given Sanskrit terminations.
The Mahommedan invasion brought with it Arabic and Turkish terms. The Europeans have contributed occasional additions to the modern Sanskrit vocabulary. The scientific literature has shown its willingness to correct the terms used by those from whom knowledge has been acquired.
As time passed Sanskrit became a language of culture, it reveals a lack of delicate sensibility to idiomatic use of words. Poets of all times are apt through considerations of metre or desire for effect. The tendency was accentuated by the growing love for paronomasias as well as the propensity to study poetic dictionaries gave synonyms, ignoring the fact that in reality two terms are never really adjacent in sense. The grammatical knowledge also led them into inventing terms that are etymologically correct but are not used.