of the "Easterns" and "Northerners," Kātyāyana refers to local divergences, and Patanjali specifies words occurring in single districts only. There is, indeed, no doubt that in the second century B.C. Sanskrit was actually spoken in the whole country called by Sanskrit writers Āryāvarta, or "Land of the Aryans," which lies between the Himālaya and the Vindhya range. But who spoke it there? Brahmans certainly did; for Patanjali speaks of them as the "instructed" (çishṭa), the employers of correct speech. Its use, however, extended beyond the Brahmans; for we read in Patanjali about a head-groom disputing with a grammarian as to the etymology of the Sanskrit word for "charioteer" (sūta). This agrees with the distribution of the dialects in the Indian drama, a distribution doubtless based on a tradition much older than the plays themselves. Here the king and those of superior rank speak Sanskrit, while the various forms of the popular dialect are assigned to women and to men of the people. The dramas also show that whoever did not speak Sanskrit at any rate understood it, for Sanskrit is there employed in conversation with speakers of Prākrit. The theatrical public, and that before which, as we know from frequent references in the literature, the epics were recited, must also have understood Sanskrit. Thus, though classical Sanskrit was from the beginning a literary and, in a sense, an artificial dialect, it would be erroneous to deny to it altogether the character of a colloquial language. It is indeed, as has already been mentioned, even now actually spoken in India by learned Brahmans, as well as written by them, for every-day purposes. The position of Sanskrit, in short, has all along been, and still is, much like that of
Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/35
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