Flaws in Sanskrit

What does the word Sanskrit mean? Not even the most erudite of scholars has been able to answer that question yet the literal meaning of the word sanskrit is “refined” or “cultured”. The question hence remains unanswered; what was it refined from or what was cultured to become “sanskrit”? Sanskrit was yet in a formative stage and being consolidated in India when the mighty sword of Islam overwhelmed that process which has caused it to bear scars visible today as inaccuracies in spelling and pronunciation.

It is spelled by Western students as Sanskrit which is only partially true. In Northern India, it is pronounced as Sangskrit while the Western Indians pronounce it as Samskrut. The South Indians pronounce it as Sumskrit or Sumskritam and none has been able to resolve this flaw.

A conspicuously notable difference in pronunciation is about the name of Hindu god Krishna. Again, the Western Indians pronounce it as Krusna while the rest of the Indians pronounce it as Krishna. Considering it involves the very name of a Hindu god, the Pundits have agreed to spell it as Krsn and give it an aura of sacred spelling.

There is a vowel which the Western Indian pronounce as “ru” while the rest of the Indians pronounce it as “ri”, and consequently, Krusna in the Western India becomes Krishna in the rest of the country. Or, Amrut, Rushi, Krupa in the Western India and Amrit, Rishi, Kripa in the rest of the country, and so on.

All Sanskrit consonants end with a vowel sound of “aw” in North India while in peninsular India they end with “u”. However, the word Rama although ends with “aw” it is pronounced in the North as Ram but becomes Ramu in the South. For this reason, these place names end with “u”, e.g. Telugu, Tamilnadu, Bengluru and so on. Students from the Western World likewise err on the plus side and pronounce all words ending with “aw” as Rama, Ramayana, Mahabharata ending with “aw” which the North Indians pronounce without as Ram, Ramayan and Mahabharat.

Yet all of these flaws appear minor oversight when we face the last alphabet of Sanskrit which is pronounced in the Northern India as “gya” whereas the Western and Southern Indians pronounce it as “dna” resulting in the word spelt and pronounced in Northern India as “Gyan”, meaning knowledge, is found to be as “Dnana” in Western and Southern India.

There are far too numerous examples to mention here of unresolved pronunciations in Sanskit such as Biman or Vimana, Bisnu or Visnu, Bikram or Vikram or Wickrama, Debi or Devi or Dewi, Jog or Yog and Yoga and so on. Unfortunately, Sanskrit as the language of gods is destined to live with these flaws and under the guise of being sacred, no one dares to question the wisdom behind perpetuating a plain and simple wrong.

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