Friday, June 12, 2015

Sanskrit Immortal

After explaining some chitrakaavya, the author Suhas Mahesh writes:

The Rāmāyaṇa is atleast 2500 years old. The hanumannāṭaka came more than 1500 years after it. And more than a millennium later came Rāma Śāstrī. And half a century later came Bacchu Subbarāyagupta. This literary chain may not seem unusual at first glance, yet it is an extraordinary thing to happen in a language. Languages come with lifetimes of less than a millennium. Old English is as intelligible to me as Hebrew. Reading Geoffrey Chaucer is like wading through quicksand. Time will ensure libraries move Shakespeare from the literature section to history section. But frozen in time by the spell of Pāṇini, only Classical Sanskrit will remain untouched. A few hundred years from now, a young boy (or girl), having taught himself Sanskrit, may decide to write a work to top Rāma Śāstrī. The poet to top Kālidasa may well be born a thousand years from now. My own descendants may spend a sunday afternoon, sipping soylent, and laughing at their ancestor’s metrical misadventures. How absurd it is to label such a language dead! Immortal is more like it.