Is Sanskrit really the simplest language to learn?
A magnanimous language that has affected each living language of the world in some or the other manner is Sanskrit, It is also known as the Devebhasha meaning the language of Gods! Sanksrit is a very logical language with the best possible grammar existing as on date. A village called Mattur. Mattur is an agrarian village that primarily cultivates areca nuts and paddy. People who are interested can come and get information regarding agriculture here. It is a picturesque hamlet in Karnataka. It is located on the banks of the Tunga River, approximately 8 kilometres from Shimoga (Shivamogga). Mattur is known as India’s “Sanskrit Village.” It is the only hamlet in India where the majority of inhabitants communicate in Sanskrit. Even though Kannada is the official and native language of the state, the inhabitants of Mattur have managed to preserve the old language alive via their day-to-day communication in Sanskrit. Mattur is mostly populated by the Sankethis, a Brahmin group that moved from Kerala and settled in Mattur around 600 years ago. Mattur’s people communicated in Kannada and Tamil till the early 1980s. The language of the upper caste Brahmins was regarded to be Sanskrit. The priest of the local religious centre then requested that the inhabitants adopt Sanskrit as their native tongue. The entire community responded to the summons and began speaking in the old tongue. Since then, not just members of the Sankethis group, but residents of other communities in the village, regardless of social or economic position, have been speaking in Sanskrit.
In my opinion, NO, Sanskrit is definitely not an easy language to learn but what’s more important to know is it’s not impossible to learn either. It is as easy or difficult as Japanese Chinese, Arabic! So if you are someone who enjoys challenges it’s certainly meant for you!
Let’s discuss the difficulty first!
We know from the live account of several students who after several years of learning and knowing Hindi well also don’t feel confident with! Sanskrit unlike any other language is a journey; there is no language learning involved, but it’s a very heartwarming, informative, spiritual, ancient language that takes you through a heavenly journey!
So why is Sanskrit difficult?
Well, to begin with, Sanskrit is a highly inflected language and its grammar is completely different compared to Hindi, another Indian language also called as a simpler derivative of the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit has:
- Three gender nouns (Masc (pullinga), Fem(strilinga), Neuter(napunsakalinga)),
- Three persons (1st (prathama purusha), 2nd (madhyamapurusha), 3rd(uttamapurusha)),
- Three grammatical numbers (Singular (ekavachana), dual (dwivachana), plural (bahuvachanana).
- Eight noun cases: Nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative, vocative!
Now coming to the fact if it’s impossible to learn. Well, for those who are under the impression that learning Sanskrit is very difficult. I have the following to add:
- If Sanskrit appears difficult to you, it might be because it’s probably not been effectively taught to you, which has something to do with the incorrect belief that it is not a spoken language!
- Learning Sanskrit, from our perspective and experience, does not have to be difficult; on the contrary, it may be simple and enjoyable. Of fact, some people may find it challenging to acquire a language that is not their native tongue. It all relies on a variety of things such as individual learning capacity, age, and so on.
- I can state with certainty that everyone who can learn any other language can learn Sanskrit and that learning Sanskrit does not have to be more difficult than learning any other language – provided you study Sanskrit in a natural fashion that allows us to internalise the language’s living flow.
So how should one learn Sanskrit?
- My first suggestion will be to invest time learning the Devanagari script first. An advantage of learning Hindi before Sanskrit is the Devanagari script. Although “Formal Hindi” borrows words from Sanskrit, you will rarely encounter them while talking colloquially. Hindi news channels do use Formal Hindi.
- To learn Sanskrit I suggest omitting the grammar in the absolute beginning and stressing to speak Sanskrit before diving into the vast knowledge of Sanskrit Grammar. I am not saying that mastering grammar is unimportant. Grammar is highly essential, but it must be taught in the appropriate dosages, at the right time, and in the right way. The most crucial point is that improving one’s capacity to deal with the live flow of language should be the foundation for studying grammar, not the other way around. As previously stated, this is true not only for Sanskrit but also for all languages.
- Remember, the world’s most successful language-learning systems are built on such concepts because experience has shown that language should be acquired in a natural fashion — through frequent exposure to the live flow of the language in all possible ways: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
- Take a step back and go in your childhood; how did you learn your mother tongue? Did you begin by learning and remembering grammatical rules? Were you given lengthy lists of words to memorise? Did anyone ever explain the notion of linguistic roots and the derivation of words to us? No; we just heard the language and then attempted to speak it. You listened and repeated the language. You were corrected occasionally, but most of the time you corrected yourself, and when did you start studying grammar? When you had already grasped the language to a great level. So, all we have to do to make Sanskrit learning easy and enjoyable is to change our approach by paying attention to the natural way our minds learn new things. Various components of learning should be highlighted and prioritised at the appropriate time and in the correct order.
Sanskrit is a very old language, yet it is not extinct. It’s really current and vibrant. Sanskrit is a language that can be spoken and used in everyday life, and it can be taught in a fun and engaging way. The study of Sanskrit may become challenging if the learning process is focused solely on comprehending and retaining dry grammatical principles and applying them in translation exercises — an approach known as the “grammar-translation-method.” This technique makes it impossible to acquire any language, and it is becoming increasingly unpopular throughout the world. If, on the other hand, the learning process is based on exposure to the live flow of the language, and if the absorbed language becomes the ground and the foundation of the learning process, and the criteria for learning the relevant aspects of grammar – then learning Sanskrit can become easy and fun.
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