The All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP) terms the culture of India as the first supreme culture of the world. While that statement is arguably audacious, research and a significant body of evidence show that the culture is in fact over 4,500 years old making it one of the world’s oldest civilizations.
India was one out of the very few if any places on earth that was able to make significant advances in mathematics, architecture, and medicine. All of which contributed to a thriving and vibrant culture encompassing people from across the sub-continent and even beyond. Today it is home to 1.2 billion people and the second most populous country behind China. The Indian culture at present is an amalgamation of various regions, people of different colors and external influences. But it still manages to stay true to its origins in many aspects, one of those being through the diversity of languages.
The cultural effect on language
India consists of 28 states in 7 territories. The country has no officially recognized language, but all official communication takes place in Hindi. However, the constitution recognizes around 23 languages. A fair number of people write in what’s called a “Devanagari” script. Contrary to the perception that the majority of people speak Hindi it is estimated that 59% of the population speak languages that are not Hindi. Some of the largest spoken languages are Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, and Marathi.
Languages in India can be distinguished covering over three significant periods, i.e., old, middle and then modern which is the Indo-Aryan period. Sanskrit belongs to the classical form, and the word literally means “polished, correct and cultivated.” Sanskrit started out as Prakrita and then became Pali, a language spoken mostly by Ashoka era Buddhists around 200-300 BCE. Then came Prakrit and soon Apabhramasa. Apabhramsa according to experts is the mother language of Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Bengali, etc.
Sanskrit is credited for being one of the root languages of many others spoken. It has Indo-European origins and is said to have come from North India. However, linguists argue over how it was started. Though upon closer inspection Sanskrit shares similarities to Russian, French, English, and Persian. Recent DNA findings lead some experts to conclude that the language was introduced by an Aryan invasion.
Development of Comparative Philology
Early European explorers who visited India were surprised to find Sanskrit as one of the spoken languages which then lead to the creation of comparative philology. 18th-century European scholars found surprising similarities between Sanskrit and classical European languages in terms of vocabulary and grammar to be uncanny. Since then intensive study into this has found that in fact Sanskrit and all of its derivative languages stem from early European languages.
India has over three thousand years of continuously evolving linguistic history which has been recorded and preserved in thousands of documents. These documents have helped scholars follow how the language evolved and observe the current changes from one generation to the next which goes hardly unnoticed. Though these languages it’s not hard to conclude that Indian culture is that of evolution and adoption.