Four great canonical languages

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The general belief is that ancient India had 340 different languages. Among them were four great canonical languages (Tib. སྐད་རིགས་ཆེན་པོ་མི་འདྲ་བ་བཞི་, ké rik chenpo midrawa shyi, Wyl. skad rigs chen po mi 'dra ba bzhi) in the sense that sutras and shastras were composed in them: Sanskrit, Prākrit, Apabhraṃśa and Piśāci. Sutras and treatises were written in all of these languages. Sanskrit is considered the most important among them and is known as the divine language (Tib. ལྷའི་སྐད་, Wyl. lha'i skad), the language that all buddhas of the three times spoke in the past, are speaking in the present and will speak in the future. The Tibetan translators have translated the term Sanskrit with ‘well composed’ (Tib. ལེགས་སྦྱར་, Wyl. legs sbyar).[1]


  1. Khenpo Chöga’s oral explanation, Andreas Kretschmar, Drops of Nectar, Ch.1 p.392.

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