Children, Sanskrit has for times immemorial made forays in English lexicon. Here'sa compilation of such English words that hardly appear to have Sanskrit etymology. The list is by no means exhaustible and certain entries remain subject of debate.
Sant Tukaram, an early 17th century Marathi poet in one of his abhanga of Marathi poems says-
Words are the only Jewels I possess
Words are the only Clothes I wear
Words are the only Food that sustains my life
Words are the only Wealth I distribute among people
Says Tuka, witness the Word He is God
I worship Him with my Words
(Translated from Marathi by Dilip Chitre)
To lend credence to Sanskrit'spermeation into other languages , F.Max Mueller asserted during his lecture, India, What it can teach us in1882 ??I believe, by certain Sanskrit words which occur in the Bible as names of articles of export from Ophir, articles such as ivory, apes, peacocks and sandalwood, which taken together, could not have been exported from any other country but India. Nor is there any reason to suppose that the commercial intercourse between India, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean was ever completely interrupted, even at the time when the Book of Kings is supposed to have been written.? This bears testimony to the fact that many of these words were borrowed from languages other than English but they have their initial roots in Sanskrit. Often such words bear a slightly different meaning than its original Sanskrit root meaning.
In 1786 Justice William Jones at The Asiatic Society of Bengal had remarked? ?The Sanskrit language, whatever may be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the root of verbs and in the forms of grammar than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed that no philosopher could examine all the three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists; there is similar reason, though not quite forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and old Persian might be added to the same family.?
Will Durant, the noted American philosopher, historian had once bellied out??India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe'slanguages.?
Thus Wilfred Funk may have been prompted to declare, ?Words are little windows through which we can look into the past.?
Some of the words which have indeed sprung from Sanskrit are:-
Aniline is a colourless basic oily liquid present in coal tar and was originally prepared by distilling indigo with alkali. It happened to be the basis of the earliest synthetic dyes. And quite so, this word has traversed a long path in its inception. Its been borrowed from German, French and Portuguese from Arabic al-nili, ultimately from Sanskrit nili.
Atoll is a coral island consisting of a ring-shaped reef encompassing a lagoon. It comes through Maldivean atolu thought to spring from Sanskrit antala variant of antara (or maybe from Malayalam adal)
Aubergine is the fruit of the eggplant; arises from Catalan alberginera, via Arabical-badinjan and Persian badin-gan ultimately from Sanskrit v?tinganah.
Brinjal comes from Persian bading?n, supposed to be from Sanskrit v?tingana.
Banyan is the Indian fig tree, so called in allusion to a tree on the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf under which the Hindu merchants had built a pagoda like structure. Hence, it arises from Sanskrit vanija meaning ?a merchant?.
Candy comes from Old French sucre candi, via Arabic and Persian probably ultimately from Sanskrit khanda ?sugar?.
Carmine is a dye that comes from crushed cochineal insects. The word arises from French carmin, via Middle Latin from Arabic qirmiz ?crimson?, which is from Sanskrit krimiga ?insect-produced,? from krmi?worm, insect.?
Cash from Portugese caixa, from Tamil kAcuI, which is from Sanskrit karsha, a weight of gold or silver. This is the proper noun related with the miscellaneous coins of small value, common noun ?cash? does not come out of Sanskrit origin.
(To be continued)
(The writer is a freelance journalist and can be contacted at [email protected])