Vedic, Hindu or yogic linguistics or science of language is quite
detailed from Vedic texts that emphasize mantra and akshara, to late Vedic
texts like Aitareya Aranyaka which refer to 360 different types of consonants,
360 vowels and 360 sibilants, to Panini and other great grammarians, to such
great yogis of the Yoga of Sound like Bhartrihari, Abhinavagupta and the Kashmiri
Shaivite school, up to the great modern poet Sri Aurobindo and also Ram
Swarup. The literature is enormous and would fill several libraries.
Of the six Vedangas or ways of viewing the Vedas, four relate to
pronunciation (Siksha) and
The Vedic language itself was called meter or Chandas.
The Vedic view traces language back to primary roots to the ultimate
root OM and the great silence beyond (Brahman). It views these roots as
mantras, as sacred sounds, as defining consciousness and as creating the entire
Each of these mantras is connected to a Devata or divine power of
creation, particularly different forms of the Goddess who herself is Vak or the
To understand these roots requires the practice of mantra yoga in
which the Devata and Shakti of the mantra is revealed in a state of samadhi or
Modern linguistics, by contrast, is a mundane thing which tries to
reduce words to their outward and literal meaning. It relies on the outer
oriented intellect and does not revere speech as such a sacred power. It is
very different than the Vedic language which echoes
'paroksha priya hi devah, pratyaksha dvishah',
meaning the Devas or divine powers prefer what is symbolic or cryptic (paroksha) and dislike the obvious or literal
This issue of language is but one of many philosophical differences
between the Vedic/Hindu school of thought and that of modern western
civilization. It is quite a gap and naturally those coming from the two different
backgrounds are unlikely to arrive at similar conclusions about how languages
developed historically or even what certain texts may mean.
The tendency in the West is to ignore the Indic school of thought and
try to interpret Indian civilization according to its own disciplines and
standards that Indian civilization did not usually share. For a study of Indian civilization, it is important to examine such Indic studies of language and not simply look at language in terms of western linguistics.