Liturgical language in Hinduism

Hinduism is traditionally considered to have Old Tamil and Sanskrit as its principal liturgical languages.[1] Hinduism finds its earliest literary mention in the ancient Tamil Sangam literature dated to the 5th - 10th century BCE.[2][3] Tamil has huge volume of literature in Hinduism especially Saivism and Vainavism.[4][5].[6][6][7][8]Shaivism developed based on Vedas, Agamas, Tantra,Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta traditions and philosophies.[9][10]

Hindu texts


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.[11]

Most of the Inscriptions in ancient temples across the Indian subcontinent are in Tamil.[12][13] 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.[14] Tamil is also one of the oldest continuously used languages in the world.[15][16][17][18]

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. Sanskrit 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, Balinese[19] and Balinese.[20]


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  3. Santhanam, Kausalya (2012-07-05). "The cultural connection". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2021-10-19.
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  10. Varadarajan, M. (2020-06-17). The Treatment of Nature in Sangam Literature: (Ancient Tamil Literature). Independently Published. ISBN 979-8-6545-2425-6.
  11. Grimes, John A. (1996-10-17). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English (New and Revised ed.). State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3068-2.
  12. Mahadevan, Iravatham (2010-06-24). "An epigraphic perspective on the antiquity of Tamil". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  13. "Over 2,000-year-old Tamizhi inscriptions found near Usilampatti". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  14. "Sangam literature | Indian literature". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  15. "Tamil or Sanskrit, which is older?". Times of India Blog. 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2021-10-19.
  16. "Seven oldest languages in the world that are still in use". India Today. December 20, 2016. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  17. "Another Tamil Brahmi inscription stone found in a shambles". Times of India Blog. 2020-12-29. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  18. Tamil, University of Kerala Department of (1981). Research Papers - Department of Tamil, University of Kerala. Department of Tamil, University of Kerala.
  19. Raffles, Thomas Stamford (1817). "The History of Java: In Two Volumes".
  20. Acri, Andrea (2013). "Modern Hindu Intellectuals and Ancient Texts: Reforming Śaiva Yoga in Bali". Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 169: 68–103. doi:10.1163/22134379-12340023.