Sanskrit vs Prakrit
Sanskrit and Prakrit are two ancient languages that show differences between them in terms of grammar and linguistic structure. Although Sanskrit and Prakrit are syntactically similar they show differences in their morphology and semantics.
Morphology deals with word formation in a language. It is interesting to note that both the languages are genealogically classified to come under the Aryan group of languages. They both come under the Indo-European family of languages. Sanskrit language is often hailed as the ‘devabhasha’ or the ‘language of the gods’.
Sanskrit is said to have been derived from the parental or the primitive Indo-European language. On the other hand Prakrit is a dialect of the Sanskrit language. Since Prakrit is a dialect or an impure form of Sanskrit language it was used widely in literature as the language of the demons or the people of the lower class.
It is important to know that Sanskrit and Prakrit are written in the Devanagari script. Sage Panini is said to be the author of the standard text on Sanskrit grammar called the ‘Ashtadhyayi’. The dialect of Prakrit has its own grammar though it follows the Sanskrit grammar to some extent.
In Sanskrit dramaturgy both these languages were employed with some difference. The higher characters in a play such as the King, the Jester or the Vidushaka and the chief minister converse in the Sanskrit language. On the other hand the middle and the lower characters in a Sanskrit play such as the attendants, the charioteer, the chamberlain and others converse in the Prakrit language.
As a matter of fact all the women characters in the play including the queen has to use only the Prakrit language in their conversation. This was the rule followed in the composition of the Sanskrit drama until the recent times. Now the rule no longer exists. The use of the Prakrit language gradually is fading away.