Definition

Sanskrit, is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism; a philosophical language of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism; and a literary language and lingua franca of ancient and medieval India and Nepal.  Because of transmission of Hindu and Buddhist culture to Southeast Asia and parts of Central Asia, it was also a language of high culture in some of these regions during the early-medieval era.

Sanskrit is a standardized dialect of Old Indo-Aryan, having originated in the second millennium BCE as Vedic Sanskrit and tracing its linguistic ancestry back to Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto-Indo-European. As the oldest Indo-European language for which substantial written documentation exists, Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies. The body of Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of poetry and drama as well as scientific, technical, philosophical and religious texts. The compositions of Sanskrit were orally transmitted for much of its early history by methods of memorization of exceptional complexity, rigor, and fidelity. Thereafter, variants and derivatives of the Brahmi script came to be used.