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Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

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Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby scrambledeggs » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:13 pm

I was thinking of taking Sanskrit as my next language after Greek -- although due to the difficulty of mastering both Greek & Latin is enough for me, perhaps for years. Still, I wouldn't mind learning Sanskrit as a 'secondary' language, learning the alphabet, pronunciation, rough grammar overview, so I can have some appreciation without being overloaded on languages.

How difficult is Sanskrit compared to Attic Greek? I know asking how difficult a language is, is a sign you aren't ready to study it, but let me break those rules and ask anyway.

In particular, does knowing Attic give us a significant advantage on Sanskrit? How much?
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:14 pm

I've done very little with Sanskrit, but what I've read and heard is that Sanskrit is more difficult in terms of inflection but that its syntax in general is easier than Greek. Also, I personally find the Devanagari script difficult to learn for some reason and the orthography of the language causes me trouble, since words are written together and the orthography reflects all sorts of sandhi changes to the end of words that can obscure what the words are.

But I found Greek was a lot of help, both in that the two languages are structurally very similar but even in the details of the inflections I was surprised by how many things were very similar. I'd say that in terms of the inflection, Greek and Sanskrit are closer than Greek is to Latin.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby thesaurus » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:18 am

modus.irrealis wrote:But I found Greek was a lot of help, both in that the two languages are structurally very similar but even in the details of the inflections I was surprised by how many things were very similar. I'd say that in terms of the inflection, Greek and Sanskrit are closer than Greek is to Latin.


Very interesting. There isn't anything like a comparative Sanskrit/Greek(/Latin) grammar, is there? I'm sure there are some overview of Indo-European out there, but I have in mind something more specific.

Edit: Ah, I've found one, which is of course written in 1869 (when they were excited about this kind of thing).
A comparative grammar of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin: in two volumes, by William Hugh Ferrar. It doesn't look like he ever published the second volume... and the first is mostly concerned with "alphabets" and nouns.

"I have been delayed in the publication of this book for more than a year through a severe attack of illness. The second volume of this work will, I hope, be ready for publication in January, 1872." (Died 1871--looks like the illness came back!)
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:24 pm

I don't think Sanskrit is actually as hard as people say, once you have Greek under your belt. You can get comparative grammars though they are old school and tend to include other languages.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby NuclearWarhead » Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:54 pm

The major obstacle in my opinion is the script and its conjunct letters, or ligatures. You might also find the phonology hard, but it is manageable.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed May 05, 2010 4:02 pm

thesaurus wrote:Very interesting. There isn't anything like a comparative Sanskrit/Greek(/Latin) grammar, is there? I'm sure there are some overview of Indo-European out there, but I have in mind something more specific.

Sihler's book on Greek and Latin makes a lot of references to Sanskrit, which is natural as he traces everything back to PIE, but yeah, I don't know of anything that directly compares the two languages, although the older book you linked to is interesting.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Damoetas » Wed May 05, 2010 10:39 pm

Some of the relative ease or difficulty may depend on your motivation. If the main reason you want to learn Sanskrit is so you can see comparisons with Greek, it will be very exciting at first when you glance over paradigms and see, "Wow, that's really similar!" But when it comes to the hard business of actually memorizing everything and learning to read texts, you'll see how many things are NOT related to Greek or PIE. At this point, you may decide that your curiosity is satisfied, and you can learn more about Greek by actually reading Greek. If, on the other hand, you are interested in Sanskrit literature in its own right, and want to know about Indian culture through the ages, including the influence of Sanskrit on modern Indian languages, the development of vernacular literary traditions, the role of Sanskrit in current Hindu religious practices -- well, all of these things are extremely fascinating, and very worth studying!
Dic mihi, Damoeta, 'cuium pecus' anne Latinum?
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby swiftnicholas » Fri May 07, 2010 12:17 pm

You'll find fuller paradigms when studying Sanskrit, but I think it's comparable to Greek in difficulty. Knowing Greek however won't help you all too much, except that you'll have a good idea how a highly inflected language works. Like modus irrealis said, the Devanagari script slowed me down quite a bit, but it was a lot of fun in its own right. You could certainly choose to study Sanskrit without learning the Devanagari script and it would speed things up. Many English introductions don't even use it anymore, and there are full texts available in the Roman alphabet, like the Clay Sanskrit library, which is the equivalent of the Loeb Library for Sanskrit. Plus Whitney's grammar provides everything in Roman letters as well as Devanagari.

But even if you study it in the Roman script you'll have to deal with the sandhi changes. In certain contexts, a series of sounds will change and that will be represented in spelling. This is one of the more difficult aspects in my opinion. For instance, you'll have to know the important sandhi changes to recognize inflectional endings.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Black » Fri May 14, 2010 1:59 am

Sanskrit is extremely easy. Although at first it appears alien it is in fact such an ancient language your ancestors already know it. Many people found their way into sanskrit by practicing yoga or reading about meditation. Once you have a context the for a word you discover it used over and over and over again in multiple contexts. Unlike other languages where you keep having to learn a new word or learn a different word for the same thing sanskrit will use a concept and that word acts like a key to many other compound words or phrases.The more you discover the same word the more meaning the context gives to it and the more profound your understanding becomes of the subject matter. The sanskrit word is an unlocking of your understanding and your understanding of the subject matter correspondingly profound. Sanskrit unlocks ideas rather than paints over them the way the latin language does. Easy. Easy. Easy. Easiest language of them all.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Avitus » Wed May 19, 2010 6:25 pm

Avitus scrambledeggs optimo suo S·P·D

Out of my more than a dozen languages, Sanscrit is undoubtedly the hardest ever. Unless you have a direct line with nirvana, you need to brace yourself for a tremendous experience, although it is blooming worth every bit of it. In that respect, I really subscribe Damœtas' reflections.

Personally, I had always laughed (and still do) at people who indicate that the greatest problem with Greek or Arabic is that they have a different alphabet. Yet, the devanagari was the cause for my catastrophic failure the first time I tried with Sanscrit, more in particular because the method I used (Coulson's Teach Yourself) considered it advantageous to expose the learner to the full complexity of sandhi from chapter 2. Madness!

Stubborn as I am, and adopting some lateral thinking, I decided to try with Hindi. As I had experienced with Greek, learning the contemporary tongue helped me tremendously to feel much more at ease with the ancient version. It was only through Hindi (with much shorter words and no sandhi) that I finally got the devanagari confidently under my belt. I used the Teach Yourself method also for this. It is hard and dense, but does the job if you have the strength of character.

With a basic level of Hindi and complete familiarity with the devanagari, I went back to Sanscrit. By now I had found what must surely be the jewel in the crown of Sanscrit methods, namely Madhav M. Deshpande A Sanskrit Primer (Michigan, Centers for South and Southest Asian Studies, 2007), which comes with glorious recordings and introduces the subject matter in a much more progressive and humane way. I'd really recommend to follow this.

Still, Sanscrit is difficult, but you won't regret learning it.

Cura ut valeas optime!
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Thu May 20, 2010 7:57 pm

Interesting I too speak modern Greek and Hindi.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby bestmann » Fri May 21, 2010 7:48 pm

Naturally all their derivative languages are incomprehensible across language families, but I'm wondering what the difficulty may have been for a speaker of one to learn the others... Naturally, I'd assume Greek and Latin would be easier with similar pronouns, declensions, etc. but I know nothing about Sanskrit. Thanks.best education|what the best
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Singidunensis » Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:01 am

As someone said earlier, the grammar is more difficult than Greek in almost all aspects, but the syntax does not really make full use of the grammar, and as a result you may find it easier than Greek (I say "may" because the syntax is much different from Greek/Latin and you may actually find it more difficult). Devanagari seems like a life's work for some people but I learned it very quickly, so it all depends on you really. However, the Sanskrit's vocabulary is enormous for such an ancient language, comparable even to modern English, except you will only need parts of it for each work. Of course, Greek and Latin will help you along the way.

Now, it all depends on what you want from a language. Sanskrit is instructive because it preserves some older Indo-European features (ablaut and weak/strong roots) and reveals deeper and more analyzable structure, as opposed to Greek/Latin where some forms have become solidified and have to memorized. And you can also wonder how one Indo-European language can function so differently from all others that you are used to. But, if you are only interested in finding the similarities with Greek, you may grow bored after a while.

Finally, the best thing about Sanskrit is that the most well-known works written in it are also the easiest to read, that is, the epics and dramas of Kalidasa. The Vedas and Gita Govinda (although fascinating) should be left for more advanced levels.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:34 pm

Well if you want the Vedas surely just get a dedicated text book/grammar for them? Amazing poetry though.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Singidunensis » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:26 am

You have a nice intro to Sanskrit at Uni. of Texas website. It's for the Vedic era, which is the closest to Greek in syntax and grammar. Still, I think RgVedic is more advanced and less helpful than later language.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby beatus vir » Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:06 am

Thanks for the tip on approaching Sanskrit through modern Hindi.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Yonamah » Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:50 pm

Learning Greek really helps in learning Sanskrit, though the Sanskrit grammar is much harder. But Sanskrit and Greek are very similar it is now theorized that Greek and all indo european languages are all defended from Sanskrit.

In terms of difficulty it depends, what languages you can speak , speaking Greek or Hindi would make learning Sanskrit much easer. Furthermore you would have to decide which form of Sanskrit you want to learn : rig Vedic, Vedic/classical or post Vedic. Each is extremely different from the others for example rig Vedic's grammar is harder and lexis more archaic, while as time progresses verbs are used less in terms of tenses and nouns are used more frequently.

Hope this helps
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Taracandra » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:36 am

It should be interesting to reply here, as I am on the other side, being a Sanskritist with interests in Greek and Latin. First I would say Alexander, having arrived in Northwest India, upto the Sindu river, which he called, of course, the Hindu river, and so named the people there also the Hindus, most remarkably was able to converse with the local people, who would have spoken a form of late Vedic. In Vedic there is a most wonderfully descriptive word for an uncouth barbarian, 'mḷeccha', with the 'l' sounding like a trilled vowel. Well, it was duly noted by the 'Sindus' that the Greeks, or ´Yauvanas´, were, indeed, not 'mḷeccha', and that communciation was clearly possible. Thus ensued a most interesting, and peaceful, cultural exchange with a Greek city named ´Takṣaśilā´, established in possibly what is now Kashmir or nearby, becoming the great center of arts and theater, science etc.... not unlike the Paris of our last few centuries. Buddhist statues reflect this influence. Indian, or we say vedic, astrology was forever altered by Greek ideas. One can write vastly about this subject, but let me get back to Sanskrit.

The problems most people on this post are expressing are related to the script, which is called 'Brahmi'. This script presupposed some 'shortcuts': one being the non writing of the most common vowel, which is 'a', to shorten written text, presumably to save space on stone tablets and palm leaves. Mahabharata would be written thus, ´Mhbhrt´. Secondly, from that idea, consonants require a marker to stop the implied vowel, which allows consonants to cluster, making a horrible mess actually, and sheer madness for a computer. Well, our european predecessors, who were mostly Greek and Latin scholars, got rid of that problem rather quickly by moving over to ´Roman´ script.

The accents are simple. Sanskrit flows from guttarals to labials, so we have a guttaral ṅ, then a palatal ñ, followed by an aluvial ṇ, the dental is just ´n´, but the labial would be ´ṃ´, the ´s´ is three forms of palatal ´ś´, an aluvial ´ṣ´, and dental ´s´, h can be aspirated as ´ḥ´, finally the aluvial consonants are ´ṭ´ and ´ḍ´. Long vowels are importent: ´ā´,´ ī ´and ´ū´ being marked, ´e´ and ´o´ as also ´ai´ and ´au´ presumed to be long. Often ´r´ functions as a vowel and thus ´ṛ´, and a counterpart, but rare, ´l´ has an ´ḷ´ vowel form. That's it! ´mahābharata´, śiva, viṣṇu, rajaḥ, ..

Āstām, tāva danyat, salilena, abhibhūyate rajas amātram, api na avaśiṣṭam, iti arthas .
If we apply sandhi rules:
Āstāṃ tāvadanyat salilena abhibhūyate rajomātramapi na avaśiṣṭamityarthaḥ

Finally, I would say that Sanskrit is most directly founded on the ´roots´ or ´dhatus´ of the language, which should be a lot of interest for most of you: ´sṛp´ > ´sarpa´, serpent; ´und´ > ´unda´, undulate; ´ud´ > ´udaka´ (u>va) ´vad´> ´vada´ (v>w d>t wat + er)

Please forgive my poor English grammar, as I am rusty, and there is no spellchecker here.

Namaste,
Taracandra, Kathmandhu
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:57 pm

Just some historical points.

Actually Alexander wouldn't have referred to the Sindh as the Sindhus but as the Indos, as it is referred to in Greek. The natives certainly didn't refer to themselves as Hindus in this period.

Vedic wouldn't have been spoken any more (or rather, we use differing linguistic labels) but the common speech would have been somewhere between Panini's Sanskrit and the Prakrits.

Sometimes Yavanas are mleccha, barbaras etc sometimes not. This had nothing to do with communication so much as for dharmic reasons. Communication seems to have been via Aramaic actually judging by the trilingual Ashokan pillars. Trying to find consistency in ancient Indian ethnography is maddening.

Takṣaśilā was in the ancient Punjab (now in Pakistan) and predates the Greeks as a centre of learning I believe.

Welcome aboard btw, its always good to have more learners and anyone with Sanskrit should be able to pick up Greek relatively quickly.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby jdhomrighausen » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:03 am

I have not studied Sanskrit, but given my interest in Buddhism it'll be on the radar at some point. Is the Sanskrit of Indian Buddhist texts (aka "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit") much different from the Sanskrit of the Vedas or other ancient Hindu texts? Easier or harder?
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:40 am

jdhomrighausen wrote:I have not studied Sanskrit, but given my interest in Buddhism it'll be on the radar at some point. Is the Sanskrit of Indian Buddhist texts (aka "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit") much different from the Sanskrit of the Vedas or other ancient Hindu texts? Easier or harder?


It depends on how difficult you find linguistic differences to be honest. The material itself is certainly easier than the Vedas, but then to be fair there is very little poetry which comes near them. Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit (BHSkr) isn't that different from Classical all said and done, and when it differs it tends to do so along the same lines as Pali, which is the main language you're going to want to learn for Buddhist stuff anyway.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Taracandra » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:56 am

Thank you for the clarifications Scribo. It is always wonderful to have a critique.

The Vedic people actually referred to themselves as "the people of the sapta sindhu", or seven rivers. Sindhu being a generic term for 'river', rather than the Indus river specifically. But a great diasphora had occured by the time of Alexander, so it is doubtful that the people would have still used that reference to a river system.

In India, the label for Panini's language period is called "late Vedic", but one might better say "very late Vedic". That is to say; from rig veda through brahmanas and 'Upanishadic', up to including the sutras. Panini mentions his concern that the ancient forms of the language, Rig Veda, were no longer understandable by most people... people most likely not referring to the 'common folk' who always spoke, we presume, Prakṛts. That is his justification for attempting to 'freeze' the language, which was indeed accomplished, but created a stilted, artificial form of it now called 'classical'. Panini mentions the word 'yauvana', which we use to firm up a date for him, but it can mean also simply 'youthful' or 'youth'.

The Aśokan pillars use two scripts: 1) Kharoṣṭhi, a Greek-Aramaic hybrid, probably trade language, that was in use for about six hundred years in a vast area to the west and north of India, which shows every evidence of coming from Aramaic. 2) Brahmī, an indiginous script that is increasingly favored to be from the Indus Valley Ideograms. This is a hotly debated issue, but recent satellite imagery has located the ¨Sapta Sindu River System¨ between India and Pakistan flowing into the ocean at the ¨Ran of Kutch¨, which is mostly in Gujarat. The central river of this culture was the ´Sarasvatī´, which ceased to flow about five thousand years ago, and has been located by shorelines in satellite imagery. This is good science, and about 1200 habitation sites have been located along the dry river banks. The official Indian government position is that the Sarasvatī river has been located leaving the Himalaya just above Candigarh in the Punjab. The Goddess Sarasvatī, mythologically, was married to the creator aspect Brahma, thus her name in Sanskrit would have been Brahmī, to mean ´wife of´, but could have meant also ´daughter of´. My personal theory, since no one else agrees with me, is that ´Brahmī´ script refers to the Vedic culture of the Sarasvati river... the ´Sarasvatī Script´ if you will. This all has vast implications concerning the ¨Aryan Invasion¨ theory, which has stood now for a few centuries, but in India it is overwhelmingly rejected. I seriously doubt that there was no written language and every detail of the entire Vedic tradition was simply memorized, which is an established position amongst scholars in India, and left alone atleast by those of use on the outside.

Concerning the word ´mḷeccha´, it most directly defines ¨a language incomprehensible to the Arya¨, but of course includes the people along with it as ¨those who do not perform the Vedic rituals¨. One might presume that the common soldiers of Alexander´s army were indeed very ´mḷecch worthy´, if they were like most of the modern soldiers that we now experience. Of note: Many Greek soldiers deserted, being far from home, and ran off into the mountains to settle, making a life with local women, and leaving a generous contribution to the local genepool, as well as culture. One can see this even today in, for example, the costumes of Swat Valley people, or their very Greek appearance.

What I find most maddening about ancient India is the absolute lack of a sense of history. We must mostly use Greek, and later Chinese sources, and hope to glean out a date from that source. Any mention of an Indian person of note, allows us to establish a terminal date, which is like finding a ruby in the earth. The word in Sanskrit for history is ´itihasa´, which comes close to meaning ¨Once upon a time¨.

And thank you again, Scribo, for the kind welcome. I do hope to establish ´common ground´ between Sanskrit and Greek, as well as Latin, at the level of ´roots´, which I consider ¨not verb, nor noun, nor both, nor not both¨, and would hope to use the most abstract grammatical form in Indo-European to describe. More on that will surely come along. Hopefully, my proper use of Greek words will also improve.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Taracandra » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:57 pm

"jdhomrighausen wrote:
I have not studied Sanskrit, but given my interest in Buddhism it'll be on the radar at some point. Is the Sanskrit of Indian Buddhist texts (aka "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit") much different from the Sanskrit of the Vedas or other ancient Hindu texts? Easier or harder?"

Acārya Śāntarakṣita was an esteemed professor at Nalanda University, as also a minor prince from a small kingdom in what is now Bengal. His sister had married Padmasambhava ̧another professor at Nalanda, and a rather notorious character. The king of Tibet had a request of Śāntarakṣita, that he might introduce Buddhism into Tibet. At first attempt this was roundly defeated by the local shamans, called Bonpo, and Śantarakṣita retreated to Nepal for safety. A second plan ensued to send Padmasambhava to Tibet for the establishment of Buddhism on more esoteric foundations. With this being successful, Śantarakṣita returned, and Buddhism was established in Tibet. A variation called Vajrayana Mahayana Buddhism was introduced. The full teachings of Nalanda and other universities, in Sanskrit, were translated into Tibetan, and indeed are mostly the only sample of these texts to now exist, excluding a collection in nepalese Nevari Sanskrit. This monumental event took place in the year 748 and onward for a few generations. This is all terribly simplified, but the key point is to introduce a sample of Buddhist Sanskrit.

So, here is first a sample of a text from Śantarakṣita, transposed into Roman script, but keeping the full use of Brahmi, which serves no useful purpose but to make life difficult for the reader.

Tattvasiddhiḥ

etasmin vajramahāyāne ye kecid anupacita­kuśala­vāsanāsantānāḥ,samāropita bhāvabhāvanāḥ,svavikalpānilapreyamāṇa­matayaḥ,sakala­kalikālakalaṅkapaṅkapaṭala­ malīmasa­mānasāḥ,asamadhigata­ saṁsārasāgarataraṇopāyāḥ,svavikalpānalpasaṅkalpitadhiyaḥ,viṣamagranthisthānadainyapat itāḥ,durbodhagrahāveśavaśākulitacetaso'nupāsitācāryāḥ,paramārthabhāvanopadeśarahitāḥ,ś rīmanmahāsukhavajrasattvatvam,analpakalpāsaṁkhyenāpi mārgāntareṇādhigamyaṁ vajrayānopāyayuktānām ihaiva janmani anāyāsasādhyasthira­sarvabhāva [svabhāvam],anādinidha[na]m,anālayam,akhilasattvasantānaṁ,svasaṁvedyasvabhāvam,ma hāpuṇyahetum,adhigamalakṣaṇaṁ,tadupāyabhū(taṁ)ca mahāvajrayānaṁ samastayānottamamāgamaṁ lakṣaṇaṁ na pratipadyante,teṣām ajñānatimirapaṭalavinivṛttaye yuktyāgamābhyām abhidhīyate kiñcit ||

·

And again with full sandhi, but some seperation for clarity. Compound words marked but seperated, and consonants not clustered together, as happens in various Indic scripts.

Tattvasiddhiḥ

etasmin vajra.mahāyāne ye kecid anupacita.kuśala.vāsanā.santānāḥ, samāropita bhāva.bhāvanāḥ,svavikalpā.nila.preya.māṇa-matayaḥ,sakala-kalikāla.kalaṅka.paṅka.paṭala-malīmasa-mānasāḥ,asamadhigata-saṁsāra.sāgara.taraṇa.upāyāḥ,svavikalpān alpa.saṅkalpita.dhiyaḥ,viṣama.granthi.sthā.nadainya patitāḥ,durbodha.grahā.veśa.vaśā.kulita cetasas anupāsitācāryāḥ, paramārtha.bhāvana upadeśarahitāḥ, śrīman.mahāsukha.vajrasattva tvam, analpa.kalpā.saṁkhyena api mārga.antareṇa adhigamyaṁ vajrayāna.upāya.yuktānām iha eva janmani anāyāsa.sādhya.sthira-sarva.bhāva [svabhāvam], anādi.nidha[na]m, anālayam, akhila.sattva.santānaṁ, svasaṁvedya.svabhāvam, mahāpuṇyahetum, adhigama.lakṣaṇaṁ, tad upāyabhū(taṁ) ca mahāvajrayānaṁ samastaya.anuttamam āgamaṁ lakṣaṇaṁ na pratipadyante, teṣām ajñā.nati.mira.paṭala.vini.vṛttaye yuktya āgamābhyām abhidhīyate kiñcit ||

·

If we want to have full clarity, but take a larger amount of space, which is an irrelevant concept in the digital format, we have:

Tattvasiddhi:

etasmin vajramahāyāne ye kecit anupacita kuśala·vāsanā·santānās,

samāropita bhāva·bhāvanās,

svavikalpā·nila·preyamāṇa-matayas,

sakala·kalikālaka·laṅka·paṅka·paṭala-malīmasa-mānasās,

asamadhi·gata-saṁsāra·sāgara·taraṇa͡·upāyās,

svavikalpāt alpa·saṅkalpita dhiyas,

viṣama·granthi·sthā nadainya patitās,

durbodha·grahā·veśa·vaśā·kulita·cetasas anupāsita acāryās,

param·ārtha·bhāvanā ͡·upadeśa·rahitās,

śrīmat mahāsukha vajrasattva tvam,

analpa·kalpā·saṁkhyena api mārga͡ antareṇa adhigamyam vajrayāna͡·upāya·yuktānām iha iva janmani anāyāsa·sādhya·sthira-sarva·bhāva [svabhāvam],

anādinidha[na]m,

anālayam,

akhila·sattva·santānam,

svasamvedya·svabhāvam,

mahā·puṇya·hetum,

adhigama·lakṣaṇam,

tat upāya·bhū(taṁ) ca mahā vajrayānam samastayāna͡·uttamam āgamam lakṣaṇam na pratipadyante,

teṣām ajñānatimira·paṭala·vinivṛttaye yuktyā gamābhyām abhidhīyate kiñcit ||

What we see here is over a thousand years after Panini and his grammar. Please observe the extensive use of compound words. Something Panini did not anticipate, and which eventually will choke Sanskrit into incomprehensability. Śāntarakṣita was a logician and an excellent teacher of Sanskrit. Buddhism moved out of the Prakṛt languages over some centuries at an earlier stage than we see here. The process was slow and at first very prakṛtik, but that is not to say it was a unique form of Sanskrit. Our sample here is quite mature, showing only some double consonants, which was the style of Sanskrit in the 8th century.

My hope is that this will inspire you to pursue your Buddhistic studies. Vast amounts of old texts are already translated, by the way, and you can be quite busy with those for a long time. It is said that Pali can be learned in two weeks if one knows Sanskrit already, as it simply is learning rules of transposing letters. I can not attest to this fact, but it is also claimed of prehomeric Greek and Vedic. Lets see!
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Markos » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:35 pm

Taracandra wrote:

It is said that Pali can be learned in two weeks if one knows Sanskrit already, as it simply is learning rules of transposing letters. I can not attest to this fact, but it is also claimed of prehomeric Greek and Vedic.


χαῖρε τε καί Namaste!

Since the only extant pre-Homeric Greek is linear-B, I question this claim. It would take one more than two weeks, I would think, to learn the syllabary and the ideograms.

It's a nice thought, though.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:45 pm

Markos wrote:Taracandra wrote:

It is said that Pali can be learned in two weeks if one knows Sanskrit already, as it simply is learning rules of transposing letters. I can not attest to this fact, but it is also claimed of prehomeric Greek and Vedic.


χαῖρε τε καί Namaste!

Since the only extant pre-Homeric Greek is linear-B, I question this claim. It would take one more than two weeks, I would think, to learn the syllabary and the ideograms.

It's a nice thought, though.


Yep. Well, I mean there are reconstructable archaisms in Homer which are post Mycenaean but still old, but that's not the same. I don't know if it took me much longer than two weeks, but it was hardly easy to master the syllabary since they looked A LOT different on paper than in actual physical form. As to what degree we know Linear B Greek....well the corpus is studied increasing less by philologists and more by archaeologists. I'm not going to comment on their work. I'm going to smile, weep, and hug my Homer OCTs close...don't worry Homer...one day....one day the bad people will stop hurting you....one day...

And it certainly takes longer than two weeks to learn Pali. One can read bits straight away in places but hardly "read". The phonological contractions a lone are a bitch, at least the vocabulary is slightly easier in most places. The usual program is a term or so on grammar and phonology and the rest of the year on reading.

I'll answer the other stuff on Sanskrit later since it's so huge.
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby cristianovalois » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:51 pm

I think the best thing you can do for yourself before digging into Greek or Sanskrit is learning the sandhi looks. Greek laws for vocalic encounters are quite simple and they save enormous time and energy when you begin studying verbs or declensions: you will notice that the apparent irregularities and different paradigms can be easily be understood as application of those rules, therefore, instead of learning several tables of consonant or vowel rooted stemmed verbs and nouns, you will only have the trouble of "assimilating" one or two sets of endings (I don't even say memorizing, because you will simply get used to them with practice). As for Sanskrit, it may be putting-off taking a look at those unending and seemingly arbitrary rules but, unless you are willing to memorize at least three stems for each verb and noun, do yourself a favor and take the fast track of those ignoble sanddhi rules. It is, again, a matter of getting accustomed to them. Read them so you get the flair of the system, then go back every time you come across a sanddhied cluster, with time they will seem only too natural. Of course haste goes against perfection. You will not learn Sanskrit or Greek in a one-year time, set realistic goals and learn some minutes every day ir every other day. It really works.

The syllabary (in fact abugida) seems complicated, but only because you are not used to it. To memorize it I recommend flash cards. You don't need to buy one, make them yourself in scraps of paper and don't wait until you have mastered all to begin studying the language. Actually the contact with full-formed words will help you get ahead. Take a look at the whole set of ligatures, say, on Wikipedia, and you will notice that you can recognize most of them. Some lose their right vertical bar, others require the conjunct to go top to bottom instead left-to-right. The most confusing are those which seem serial, for example a tiny ball is a v, a tiny ball with an inside bar is a b and a tiny ball which prolongs with an open loop is a k. A straight line to the left ending in a rounded point is an n, if it is made to form a square it is an m and if that square is open on the top you got a bh. After this parsing of the distinctive traits of each consonant without the top vertical line you will be able to see into the whole system and in the end copy down four or five clusters which can't be deduced because they either look too similar (like nn and nr) or have autonomous forms (like tt, ru or and ksh) and put them in your set of cards so that you learn them as independent letters. Just take your time and don't focus on the scripture, begin with the texts straightaway.

Linguists thought Latin was closer to Greek than it is before the "discovery" of Indo-Iranian languages. Today most will put Greek and Italic in different branches. They divide those branches into two groups according to the way the word "hundred" is said in two characteristic languages: the "centum" languages (as in Latin) in which the labiovelars where reduced to velars (qu into k) and the "setam" (avestam), in which the labiovelars were palatized. The first group comprises the western-most tongues, between them Greek and Latin, and the second the eastern, like Slavic and Indian-Iranian languages. This would put Greek closer to Latin than to Sanskrit. Nevertheless it was further concluded that that divide was not sychonical: it first happened a "centumization" which was followed, in certain languages but not in others, by a "satemization". Indo-Arians arrived in northern India about 1.400 B.C., Greek Mycenian Civilization dates back to 1250 B.C., so you can roughly say that Sanskrit and Greek are nearly contemporary. The first inscriptions in Latin are from the 700 B.C., so it had more 700 years to evolve to become a "cultured" language before stabilizing into a solid oral and eventually written tradition. So it may be thar Greek and Italic branches may be closer geographically or from the point of view of their departure form the common stem, but as to their development over time, Greek is closer to Sanskrit than Latin. So is my impression and I am always surprised by unexpected similarities, like the thematic aorist or the sigmatic future, dual pronouns, the coincidental middle and passive voices, whereas in Latin you can find nothing of that genre.

Finally, in my humble opinion, one should start with Greek. Maybe I have a certain penchant, but I cannot help finding it far more interesting than any other classical tongue. Than I would take Latin only to perceive how easy the abundant Latin can be, as campared with Greek. Finally, I would study Sanskrit only to confirm how difficult super-abundant Sanskrit is and how unpractical as a consequence of such complexity. Than you understand why there are so many compounds in Sanskrit: large combined words are only a device to avoid the use of declensions and verb-endings, so subordinate clauses are rare to use. No wonder, it really takes much brain-power to parse through so many redundant inflections. Yet be sure that with patience you can tame the dragon and knowing Greek first spares you much work!
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Re: Classical Greek vs. Sanskrit

Postby Scribo » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:24 pm

Erm...thanks for that, what an odd thread to revive considering the lack of interest. Some interesting remarks but also, again, some oddities.

I doubt anyone would be brave enough to certainly date the Indo-Aryans, certainly at best we can argue post Sarasvati dry up, but this is not the place for that. Its odd to see the Mycenaean civilisation around 1250...several centuries after any sensible penetration of proto-Greek speakers into the peninsula, around 4 centuries after we can happily discern them archaeologically and around 2 after we have linear B. Likewise with Latin, about a century too early by even generous estimates.

As for the idea that so many forms are somehow redundant, or that compounds were used in order to avoid inflections I don't know how to respond since we're not in the 19th century...

Yes you're right that Greek is closer to Sanskrit than Latin, but only in the genetic sense (shared grammatical features in sigmatic futures, reduplicated perfects, augmented pasts etc; word building), the fact that Greek would exhibit such a strong influence over Latin is much more important in real terms.

Anyway...thanks for that and welcome to textkit.
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