object:5.2.01 - Word-Formation
book class:Vedic and Philological Studies
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
The language of man is not framed on earth, but in heaven, as indeed are all things that the soul uses in this mortal journey. By the threefold energy of eternal truth, manifesting force and sustaining delight everything is created as a type in the world of , the mahat of the ancients, in the principle of self-manifest and perfectly arranged knowledge, it is diversely developed by the more discursive but less surefooted agencies of intellectual mind. Imagination hunts after new variations, memory and association corrupt, analogy perverts, sensation, emotion, pleasure seize violent and partial satisfaction. Hence, change, decay, death, rebirth,the law of the world. All this takes place in the descent into the worlds of mind and the worlds of matter. Therefore mankind has one original language based on certain eternal types of sound, developed by certain laws of rhythmic variation, perfectly harmonious and symmetrical in its structure and evolution. This is the devabhasha and is spoken in the Satya yuga. Then it suffers change, detrition, collapse. Innumerable languages, dialects, vernaculars are born. The guardians of the sacred language attempt always to bring back the early purity, but even they cannot do it; they reconstruct it from time to time, compromise with the new tendencies, preserve something of the skeleton, lose the flesh, blood, sinew, much of the force & spirit. This reconstructed language they call Sanskrit; all else Prakrit.
The backbone of the skeleton is composed of the roots of the original language that survive; the rest is the various principles of word-formation. Accordingly in the languages of the world which are nearest to the old sacred language, the ancient Aryan languages, there is one common element,the roots, the elemental word-formations from the roots and so much of the original significance as survives variety of mental development playing on different lines and to different purposes. The object of this treatise is to provide a reasoned basis, built up on the facts of the old languages, Sanscrit, Greek, Latin, German, Celtic, Tamil, Persian, Arabic, for a partial reconstruction, not of the original devabhasha, but of the latest forms commonly original to the variations in these languages. I shall take the four languages, Sanscrit, Greek, Latin and Tamil first, to build up my scheme and then support it by the four other tongues. I omit all argument and handling of possible objections, because the object of this work is suggestive and constructive only, not apologetic. When the whole scheme is stated and has been worked out on a more comprehensive scale than is possible in the limits I have here set myself, the time will come for debate. Over an uncompleted exegesis, it would be premature.
I shall first indicate the principle on which the roots of the devabhasha were formed. All shabda (vak) as it manifests out of the akasha by the force of Matariswan, the great active and creative energy, and is put in its place in the flux of formed things (apas) carries with it certain definite significances (artha). These are determined by the elements through which it has passed. Shabda appears in the akasha, travels through vayu, the second element in which sparsha is the vibration; by the vibrations of sparsha, it creates in tejas, the third element, certain forms, and so arrives into being with these three characteristics, first, certain contactual vibrations, secondly, a particular kind of tejas or force, thirdly, a particular form. These determine the bhava or general sensation it creates in the mind and from that sensation develop its various precise meanings according to the form which it is used to create.
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