Sanskrit is the classical language of Indian and the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is also one of the 22 official languages of India. The name Sanskrit means "refined", "consecrated" and "sanctified". It has always been regarded as the 'high' language and used mainly for religious and scientific discourse.
Vedic Sanskrit, the pre-Classical form of the language and the liturgical language of the Vedic religion, is one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family. The oldest known text in Sanskrit, the Rigveda, a collection of over a thousand Hindu hymns, composed during the 2nd millenium BC.
Today Sanskrit is used mainly in Hindu religious rituals as a ceremonial language for hymns and mantras. Efforts are also being made to revive Sanskrit as an everyday spoken language in the village of Mattur near Shimoga in Karnataka. A modern form of Sanskrit is one of the 17 official home languages in India.
Since the late 19th century, Sanskrit has been written mostly with the Devanāgarī alphabet. However it has also been written with all the other alphabets of India, except Gurmukhi and Tamil, and with other alphabets such as Thai and Tibetan. The Grantha, Sharda and Siddham alphabets are used only for Sanskrit.
Since the late 18th century, Sanskrit has also been written with the Latin alphabet. The most commonly used system is the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST), which was been the standard for academic work since 1912.
There are about a thousand conjunct consonants, most of which combine two or three consonants. There are also some with four-consonant conjuncts and at least one well-known conjunct with five consonants. Here's a selection of commonly-used conjuncts:
Translated into Sanskrit by Arvind Iyengar
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu.
Transliteration (by Stefán Steinsson)
Sarvē mānavāḥ janmanā svatantrāḥ vaiyaktikagauravēṇa adhikārēṇa ca tulyāḥ ēva, sarvēṣāṃ vivēkaḥ ātmasākṣī ca vartatē, sarvē parasparaṃ bhrātṛbhāvēna vyavaharēyuḥ.
Translation and recording by Shriramana Sharma
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason
and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Sanskrit language
Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon
Sanskrit Library - contains digitized Sanskrit texts and various tools to analyse them
Samskrita Bharati - an organisation established as an experiment in 1981 in Bangalore to bring Sanskrit back into daily life: http://www.samskrita-bharati.org/
Sanskrit Voice - a community of Sanskrit lovers
An archive of Sanskrit dictionaries, readers & grammars in German, English & Russian. (circa 4000 Mb Book Scans, devanagari fonts): http://groups.google.com/group/Nagari
ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform: http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/~jmag0042/alphabet.html
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