A chapter (Part 6 – Chapter 3) from the Book “Hindu Dharma – The universal way of Life”. The book is an English translation of various lectures by Shri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, better known as the Kanchi Acharya on Sanskrit.
Root Language – Sanskrit
In speaking about the Vedas I stated that the sound of the word was more important than its meaning. That reminds me. In the Vedic language called “Chandas” and in Sanskrit which is based on it, there are words the very sound of which denotes its meaning. Take the word “danta’. You know that it means a tooth. We have to use our teeth to produce the sound of the word “danta” – the tongue has to make an impact on the teeth. You will note this phenomenon when you ask a toothless person to say “danta”. He will not be able to vocalise the word clearly.
From such small observations comparative philology can discover an important fact: which word has come first in what language. Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, German, French, etc, have been jointly referred to as belonging to the Indo-European group and derived from one mother language. Western philologists do not accept Sanskrit as the original language, the mother of all Indo-European tongues. But words like “danta” point to the fact that Sanskrit is the root language.
Consider the English word “dental”. There is so much similarity between “dant” and “dent”. In languages like French and Latin also the word for tooth is akin to “dent”, though it is “ďa-kāra” and not the “da- kāra” of Sanskrit. “Why shouldn’t you derive the Sanskrit word ‘danta’ from ‘dental’?” it might be asked. But you must consider the fact that to say “danta” you have to make use of your teeth. Not to say “dental”. You get the sound “dental” as a result of the tip of your tongue touching your upper palate. It is only in Sanskrit that the sound of the word itself signifies its meaning. So that must be the root form of the word. Hence languages like English, French, Latin, etc, must have been derived from Sanskrit.
By interchanging the letters of some words you get other words which are related in meaning to the original. What is the nature of the animal called lion, the quality you associate with it most? It is violence. “Himsā” is violence and the word turns into “simha” to denote the lion. Kaśyapa was the first among the sages. Celestials, non-celestials, human beings, all may be traced back to him. He knew the truth or, rather saw the Truth. Jňăna is also called “dŗśya”. Kaśyapa is thus a seer, “Paśyaka”: “Paśyaka” becomes “Kaśyapa”.
In Tamil one who sees, the seer, is “pārppān”. It is in this sense, as men who know the Truth or Reality that Brahmins in Tamil land came to be called “pārppāns”. But now the word is used in a pejorative sense.