Jammu and Kashmir has a rich cultural heritage that includes beautiful handicrafts, which are a part of its identity; dance and music that have their own distinct style; attire that is unique to the region; festivities that get people of different religions together; Kashmiri food that has a flavour of its own; and literary and poetic works created by Kashmiris that span different languages and a wide range of subjects. Here, we will look at the roots of Sanskrit language in the literature of Jammu and Kashmir.
An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language
Sanskrit originated in 1700-1200 BCE as Vedic Sanskrit, and was preserved through oral tradition in the form of chanting of the Vedas. It was standardized around 500 BCE by the scholar Panini. In its standardized form, Vedic Sanskrit was called Classical Sanskrit. The Sanskrit language can be traced back to the people who spoke Indo-Iranian and Indo-European languages.
Sanskrit is the scared language of Hinduism and has been used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, wherein, its presence is prominent in Hindu religious rituals, Buddhist hymns and Jain writings. Sanskrit literature in the Vedas is as old as 1500 BCE. Ancient scholar Panini standardized the grammar of Vedic Sanskrit. His work Astadhyayi is an important text of Vyakarana, the linguistic analysis of Sanskrit. Panini has played a major role in creating Classical Sanskrit, as it is known today.
Classical Sanskrit flourished from 3rd to 8th centuries CE, in which Hindu Puranas were created. Some important works in Sanskrit, which have been translated into Arabic and Persian, include Yoga-Sutras by Patanjali and many Sanskrit fairy tales and fables. Among the icons in Classical Sanskrit poetry is Kalidasa.
Many modern Indian languages have been derived from or bear influences of the Sanskrit language. Since 1947, over 3000 literary works have been created in Sanskrit, over 90 publications are published in this language and Sudharma, a daily newspaper is being published in Sanskrit since 1970. Sanskrit is used in Indian classical music and during worship and religious rituals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
Importance of Sanskrit in the Literature of Jammu and Kashmir
There is a strong link between Sanskrit and Jammu and Kashmir in terms of the several works in literature and poetry created in this language by Kashmiri authors and poets. Some ancient Sanskrit literature scholars, such as Kalidasa, were born in Kashmir. Kashmiri, one of the main languages used in Jammu and Kashmir, is derived from Sanskrit. Some of the oldest texts in the literature of Kashmir have been written in Sanskrit.
- Abdul Azad Zargar, born in 1908 in Srinagar, was a Sufi writer who created literary works in Sanskrit language, along with Arabic, Persian and Kashmiri.
- Lagadha, the writer of Vedanga Jyotisha was a Sanskrit writer.
- Charaka, the author of the very famous text Charaka Samhita, is another ancient Sanskrit writer.
- Kalhana, the author of the famed work Rajatarangini, was an ancient Sanskrit writer.
- Kalidasa regarded as the greatest dramatist and poet in Sanskrit, was born in Kashmir.
- Nagasena, a famous name in Buddhism and Ravigupta, among the earliest philosophers of Kashmir, were Sanskrit writers.
- Titasa and Jaijjata were two medical writers from Kashmir, who wrote in Sanskrit.
- Sarangadeva, the author of Sangita Ratnakara, an important text related to Indian music, was born in a Kashmiri Brahmin family.
- Vagbhata, a famous writer, scientist and doctor of Ayurveda, is said to have been a native of Kashmir.
- Vishnu Sharma, the author of the very famous Panchatantra, was a Kashmiri, as many scholars have said that he was born in Kashmir.
With so many notable Sanskrit authors and poets born in Kashmir, with Sanskrit having a great influence on Kashmiri, it can be said that Sanskrit language is deep-rooted in the literature of Jammu and Kashmir, and has indeed played a role in enriching its heritage.