Sanskrit is considered a divine language by Hindus. I will give a step by step explanation of the reason why Sanskrit is considered as important in Hinduism.
What is the object of human life according to Hinduism?
The object is to be morally perfect and realize God or Self.
What does moral perfection do?
Moral perfection leads to direct experience of God.
Why does one have to experience God?
The only way to end of sorrow is to know God. When men shall roll up space as if it were a piece of leather, then will there be an end of sorrow, apart from knowing God.
Svetasvatara Upanishad VI.20
How does one attain moral perfection?
There are several methods like dhyana (meditation), Mantra Japa (repeatation of mantra) and puja (ritualistic worship). Both Mantra japa and puja use mantras in Sanskrit.
Why does one use Sanskrit mantras?
Sanskrit is special in some intrinsic way. The sounds of its alphabets are such that uttering them mentally causes resonant vibration with the Chakras of the human subtle body. In fact the subtle sounds of the Sanskrit alphabets are present in the human chakra system.
Muladhara Chakra – four petals – व श स ष (golden colored letters on red petals)
Swadhisthana Chakra – six petals – ब भ म य र ल (with bindu, white lightning color)
Manipura Chakra- ten petals – ड ढ ण त थ द ध न प फ (with chandra bindu, color of blue lotus)
Anahata Chakra – twelve petals – क ख ग घ ङ च छ ज झ ञ ट ठ (color of vermilion)
Vishuddhi Chakra- sixteen petals – अ आ इ ई उ ऊ ऋ ॠ ऌ ॡ ए ऐ ओ औ अं अः (red color letters)
Ajna Chakra – two petals – ह क्ष (white colored)
Sahasrara Chakra – thousand petals- all the 50 Sanskrit alphabets or Varnas from अ – क्ष (white colored )
Adapted from The Serpent Power the secrets of tantric and shaktic Yoga by Sir John Woodroffe
This idea is the very basis of Mantra Sastra.
The most famous example of a Sanskrit mantra is OM. The presence of the subtle sounds of the Sanskrit Varnas (alphabets) or Matrikas in the human chakra system is the reason why most mantras are in Sanskrit. Sanskrit alphabets (Varnamala) are actually worshipped by Saktas.
Next time you look at a Kali murthi please look at the garland of human skulls. This garland stands for the Sanskrit alphabets. Sound associated with Sanskrit alphabets is considered to be the source of all sounds in mantra sastra.
The entire Mantra Shastra depends on the idea that the sounds of Sanskrit alphabets are not derived by arbitrary human convention. The sounds of Sanskrit Mantras are supposed to vibrate in resonance with chakras in the human subtle body. A mantra may have no meaning but it must be pronounced correctly in order to take advantage of the resonance effect. Only yogis will know if this claim is true.
Is Sanskrit really different from other languages spoken and written by human beings?
Of course many spiritual texts and other texts of value have been written in other languages. No one disputes that. However, the sounds of Sanskrit alphabet have a special place in Hindu thought. Even Buddhists accept the importance of OM in spiritual sadhana. An accessible account of the role of Sanskrit alphabets can be found in the book ‘The Garland of letters’ by Sir John Woodruffe.
It is true that as we leave the era of Sanskrit behind there is a growing problem of understanding what is being done in a puja. The solution is for temples to publish small booklets in the local language that explain the mechanics of a puja.
Sanskrit mantras can be used to take Kundalini shakti to sahasrara chakra and attain moral perfection. The method depends crucially on the existence of the subtle sounds of Sanskrit varnas (matrikas) in the chakras of the subtle body.
What is the actual difference between Sanskrit and the usual human languages?
As the Hatha-yoga-pradipika says: “Whatever is heard in the form of sound [Sabda] is Sakti. The absorbed state (Laya) of the Tattvas (evolutes of prakrti) is that in which no form exists. So long as there is the notion of Ether, so long is sound heard. The soundless is called Para-brahman or Paramatma. Sabda-brahman thus projects itself for the purpose of creation into two sets of movement – namely, firstly the Sabda (with mental vibrations of cognition) which, passing through the vocal organs, becomes articulate sound; and secondly Artha movements denoted by Sabda in the form of all things constituting the content of mind and the objective world. These two are emanations from the same Conscious Activity (Sakti) which is the Word (Vak or Logos), and are in consequently the same. Hence the connection between the two is permanent. It is in the above sense that the universe is said to be composed of the letters. It is the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet which are denoted by the garland of severed human heads which the naked Mother, Kali, dark like a threatening rain cloud, wears as She stands between bones and carrion beasts and birds in the burning-ground on the white corpse-like body of Siva. For it is She who “slaughters” – that is, withdraws all speech and its objects into Herself at the time of the dissolution of all things (Maha-pralaya).
The Serpent Power by Sir John Woodroffe
The implication of the Sanskrit letters composing the entire universe is that Sanskrit survives the dissolution of the universe unlike other human languages which would all disappear when the Earth is burnt to a crisp by the Sun in its Red-giant phase.
More posts by this author:
- Do Mantras work?
- OM and its significance
- Is it possible for an ordinary person to become enlightened without raising Kundalini?
- Description of the various Lokas in Hindu scripture
- How does the prana-prathistha ritual convert a lifeless idol into a living murthi?
I did my school, college and parts of my University education in Kolkata. I got my M.Sc degree from Kolkata University. I went to USA in 1979 and got my M.S and Ph.D in Physics from University of Pittsburgh in 1984. I did my Post Doctorate in University of Southern California, Los Angeles and then worked as a Research Scientist in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Space Sciences Center of University of Southern California. My scientific work includes heavy ion-atom scattering, multiphoton ionization and heliosphere data analysis of Pioneer 10/111 and Voyager 1/2 deep space spacecaft and analysis of solar extreme ultraviolet data obtained from SOHO spacecraft. I have been a National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA) Principal Investigator from 2002 – 2007. I have been a member of a NASA awards committee to decide allocation of money to different scientists. I have also refereed scientific articles submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research and Astrophysical Journal.