Liturgical language in Hinduism
Hinduism is traditionally considered to have Old Tamil and Sanskrit as its principal liturgical languages. Hinduism finds its earliest literary mention in the ancient Tamil Sangam literature dated to the 5th - 10th century BCE. Tamil has huge volume of literature in Hinduism especially Saivism and Vainavism. Origin of Hinduism is based on Dravidian folk religion, an ancient non-vedic form of Hinduism.Shaivism developed based on pre-Vedic religions and traditions derived from the southern Tamil Dravidian Shaiva Siddhanta traditions and philosophies.
Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, Bhagavadgita, Puranas like Bhagavatam, the Upanishads, the Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata and various other liturgical texts such as the Sahasranama, Chamakam and Rudram. Agamas, the scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga are in Tamil and Sanskrit.
Most of the Inscriptions in ancient temples across the Indian subcontinent are in Tamil. Tamil archanas and prayers widely used in temples in South India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. The twelve Azhwars (saint poets of Vaishnavite tradition) and sixty-three Nayanars (saint poets of Shaivite tradition) are regarded as exponents of the bhakti tradition of Hinduism in South India. Tamil is also one of the oldest continuously used languages in the world.
Sanskrit is also the tongue of most Indian Hindu rituals. It is an Indo-Aryan language and therefore a member of the Indo-European language family. It therefore has some similarities with Greek and Latin, as well as with many vernacular languages of Europe and south Asia. Like Latin and Greek, it also has secular literature along with its religious canon. Most Hindu theologians of later centuries continued to prefer to write in Sanskrit even when it was no longer spoken as a day-to-day language.
While Sanskrit has often been associated with Brahmanism, it remains as the only liturgical link language which connects the different strains of Hinduism that are present across India. Apart from Sanskrit and Tamil, several Hindu spiritual works were composed in the various regional languages of India such as Hindi (incl. Awadhi and Braj Bhasha dialects), Assamese, Bengali, Odia, Maithili, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Old Javanese and Balinese.
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