One of the strengths of Sanatana Dharma is its Oral tradition of transmitting texts, both Philosophical and Scientific.
But the sheer volume defies imagination.
“With Thirty Million Manuscripts existing even today,Sanskrit is the oldest Language of the world and the Rig Veda which is in Sanskrit is the oldest literature of the world”
Is it possible for any race to transmit such a large volume only by Oral tradition?
Could the people of Ancient India, of Sanatana Dharma, Bharatvarsha Read and Write?
Western Scholars think it s possible and declare that the ancient Indians had Super Memories!
For this is convenient to deny at a later stage and declare that such a feat is impossible and hence the such oral traditions are a myth and hence can be dismissed as interpolations and a latest date may be assigned to them
The fact that one finds Sanskrit Brahmi, and Tamil Brahmi were found in Indus Valley civilizations..
This at the latest is dated at 3000 to 5000 BC
And the finding of Kannada Brahmi in Karnataka.
And Tamil Sangam Literature speaks of the Vedas, its texts.
Consider the Mathematical , Biological, Astronomy,Genetics, texts which involve writing of the highest order.
Imagine building, for example,The Thanjavur Big Temple or any other Temples and structures which could not have been built with ot written calculations and drawings
‘western scholars of Indology said:
“Entire absense of writing, reading, paper, or pen in vedas, or during Brahamana period and complete silence in Sutra period(When art of writing was beginning to be known), the whole Literature of India was preserved in oral tradition only”
Weber who wants to bring all history to later than Biblical period admits:
“Europe has 10,000 sanskrit texts and considering that we have tens of thousands which the parsimony of karma has hithherto withheld form Museums and libraries of Europe, what a memory must have been their!.”
Indian super Memory
The Immemorial practice with students of sanskrit literature has been to commit to memory the various subjects of their study and this practice of oral tradition has preserved the ancient Vedic texts. This fact has led Western Indology scholars to surmise that writing was unknown in the earliest period of Indian Civilization and that the later forms of the alphabet were not of pure Indian growth.
So According to these Western Indology Scholars, Indians have Super Human Memory. By Which they can not only memorize scores of documents, but they can also transmit through generations. Wow!, Who said science fiction is 20th century Stuff.
We are looking at this question. Did writing existed prior to Mauryas?
Panini is best known grammarian of India. Muller says that there is no single term in the panini terminology which presupposes the existence of writing. So we go to find out.
Panini almost singlehandendly brought together the classical sanskrit grammer. He mentions Grantha the equivalent for written or bound book in the later days in India. For Max Muller Granta mean simply a composition, which is handed down the generation by oral tradition. In short Panini is illiterate and somehow he produced one of the most eloborate and scientific set grammer ever known to mankind till today.Remember Panini has given 3996 rules for Classical Sanskrit Grammar.
Writing in Literature
Classical Sanskrit Literature
The direct reference to writing classical sanskrit according to Indologists in literature are found to be in the Dharmasutra of Vasistha, which Dr.Buhler thinks, was composed around 8th century BC. Some scholars will assign this work 4th century BC as well.Astadhyayi of panini contains such compounds as Lipikara and Libikara, which evidently mean writer. The date of panini is not fixed, prof.Goldstucker puts him 8th century BC, others put him in 4 the century BC. The Vedic works contain technical terms like aksara, kanda, patala, grantha and the like, which is clear indication of writing. Of course Indology scholars wont accept them.
There are quite a large number of passages in the SriLanka’s Tipitaka, which bear witness to an acquaintance with writing and to its extensive use.
At the time when Buddhist cannons were composed. Lekha and Lekhaka are mentioned in the Bhikkhu pacittiya and Bhikkhuni pacittiya.
In the Jatakaas, constant meniton is made of letters being written. The Jatakas know of proclamations.
Epics contains archaic expressions such as likh, Lekha, Lakhaka, Lekhana but not lipi, which some scholars think is foriegn orgin. So Writing was known in Epic Age.
We find clear evidence in wide spread use of writing in the vedic period. Written documents are mentioned as legal documents.
The earliest surviving written record other than Indus script is Piprawa vase inscription discovered by Colonel Claxton peppe. This Inscription is a prakrit before the prakrits of magadhi or sourasheni developed, so differently interpreted. This is dated to early part of 5th century BC.
Next comes Sohaura Copper plate , which Dr.Smith puts before Ashoka by 50 years.
The Inscriptions of Ashoka is all over India. This shows that Writing was well used in Royal courts and the writting was well understood by common people.
Dr.Weber came with view that Brahmi is borrowed from South Arab tribe. But this has been dismissed by Dr. Buhler.
Buhler Identified certain Brahmi letters were identical to 9th-7th BC century Inscriptions found in Assyria. One third of 23 Alphabets are identical to Brahmi letters. This Indologists suggestions that the Brahmi letters were derived from these letters from all Indology scholars including Buhler. But we have to note that the tribes in question are belonging belonging to Indian Tribe. This script traveled from India to Middle east.
Jain Stupa unearthed at the Kankali Tila site of Mathura regarded by Vincent Simith as the oldest known stupa then (Before Indus valley sites were discovered). Smith dated it to be 600 BC for erection. Dr.Fuhrer who supervised the excavation found out that it contained a inscription Deva Stupa in a script, so old that it was forgotten.
Indus Script has 250-500 characters. Some of the Seals seems to be Bilingual with Indus script next to the symbols. Seeming symbols to be for traders from other languages. So Indus valley is literate culture.”
So the Ancient Indians knew Reading and writing and transmitted Vedic Texts orally to ensure that they are not destroyed.
Citation and reference..
Image of ancient scripts Credit.