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Joseph Skulj, Jagdish C. Sharda

Hindu Institute of Learning, 11 Westacres Drive, Toronto Ontario, Canada, M6M-2B7



The most important of the linguistic families of India, Pakistan and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is the Indo-Aryan, of which the ancient and classical form is Sanskrit. The word samskrta-means 'perfected', 'polished' and is strictly applied to the language as regulated and established by the Indian grammarians. In a wider sense Sanskrit is applied both to the earlier form called Vedic Sanskrit which appears in the Vedic texts and to the later form stereotyped by the grammarians (Panini) called Classical Sanskrit. From Sanskrit are descended Pali and the various dialects of Prakrit, which are collectively styled 'Middle Indo-Aryan'. Out of the Middle Indo-Aryan, the various modern Indo-Aryan languages of the Indian area have evolved: Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi etc. Outside, Sanskrit is closely connected with the languages of the Iranian family of which the earliest representatives are Avestan and Old Persian (Encyclopaedia Americana).

The discovery of Sanskrit by European scholars towards the close of the 18th century was the starting point of the scientific study of language. It was observed that in both vocabulary and grammar Sanskrit was remarkably similar to the majority of the languages in Europe and particularly in grammar, to the classical languages. The only theory that could explain these fundamental similarities was that all the languages in question were derived from a common parent language (Encyclopaedia Americana).

Most scholars are cognizant of the similarities between Sanskrit and classical languages such as Greek and Latin, but relatively few are aware that equal similarities still exist in modern, living Slavic languages in particular Slovenian. Slovenian still preserves some grammatical forms that are no longer present in other European or Indian languages.


Vedic and Classical Sanskrit

The language and literature of the Aryan invaders of India falls into two periods, the Vedic and Sanskrit. Vedic is the English adjective formed from the noun veda, the native for the literature. The word means "knowledge", (Slovenian "veda ") in the sense of sacred knowledge comparable to the Bible. It is a religious literature, composed to meet the various needs of a complex religious system. The four books of sacred writings are: Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Atharva-Veda and Yajur-Veda. The oldest of these is Rig-Veda. The age estimates of Rig-Veda vary considerably between competent scholars. They estimate the age anywhere from 3000 to 6000 years (Encyclopaedia Americana).

The spoken dialect on which the language of the Rig-Veda is based lay to the northwest of the area where the later classical language developed. The most important difference in the dialect between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit lies in the treatment of Indo-European "r" and "l". In the Rig-Veda, Indo-European "l" nearly always appears as "r", e.g. ruc 'light', (Slo. 'luč). In Classical Sanskrit, on the other hand, "l" is frequently preserved, e.g. laghu 'light', (Slo. 'lahko'). Vedic, the earliest literary language, was based on a dialect spoken in Punjab; the home of the Classical Sanskrit was the ancient Madhyadesa or 'Middle Country', which corresponds roughly to the modern Uttar Pradesh. Classical Sanskrit, which was eventually polished and fixed by Panini about 300 B.C., is essentially a later form of the language that appears in the Vedas. The literary Sanskrit as the heir of the Vedic religious tradition has remained down to the most recent times, the language of the traditional Hinduism of India. The situation is similar to the position of Latin, which was the vehicle of the classical and medieval culture of Europe and lived until recently in the writings and the liturgy of the Catholic Church. With the aid of Panini's systematic grammar, an English judge in India Sir William Jones announced in Calcutta-that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin "have sprung from some common source which, perhaps, no longer exists." This was the seed from which sprang Indo-European comparative grammar, the branch of linguistics that sets forth in all detail the relationship posited by Jones (Emeneau M).




Linguistic Comparisons

Reindl (1999) gives an excellent short comparison between Sanskrit and Slovenian. Sanskrit and Slovenian (and other Slavic languages) are related at the Indo-European level; that is, if you were to think of the Slavic languages as being "sister" languages, Sanskrit would be a "cousin" language to them.

Thus, there are certain similarities that can be observed in the areas of phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon because of their historical connection.

The phonological similarities are heightened by the fact that Slavic and Indic languages are both part of the "satem" group of Indo-European languages; thus, they will often share an /s/, whereas other languages will have a /k/, such as Germanic /h/. For example, Sanskrit satam 'hundred' and Slovenian sto 'hundred', but Latin centum 'hundred' and German hundert 'hundred'.

Slavic is, very generally speaking, phonologically conservative in many ways, thus allowing us to recognize cognates with Sanskrit because of its own archaic nature. For example, Sanskrit vranam 'wound' and Slovenian rana 'wound', Sanskrit maksha 'fly' and Slovenian muha 'fly', Sanskrit ish, icchati 'to look for' and Slovenian iskati 'to look for'. (To Reindl's examples, it is possible to add many others, such as Sanskrit mushka 'muscular person' and Slovenian moški 'manly', Sanskrit mush 'mouse' and Slovenian miš 'mouse', Sanskrit i, eti 'to go' and Slovenian iti 'to go'.)

In the realm of morphology, Slovenian preserves the dual number (as does Sorbian, a Slavic language spoken in eastern Germany). The verbal endings in the present tense are strikingly similar between Slovenian and Sanskrit:


                        Singular                        Dual                                        Plural

Skt       patami  patasi   patati    patava  patathah  patatah          patamah   patatha   patanti

Slo       padam  padaš   pada     padava  padasta   padata           padamo    padate    padajo

Eng      I fall   you fall  he falls                                                 we fall    you fall   they fall


                        Singular                                   Dual                            Plural

Skt       asmi     asi        asti                   svah     sthah     stah     smah         stha       santi

Slo       sem      si          je                     sva       sta         sta      smo           ste         so

Hindi    maim hum  tu hai  vah hai                                             ham haim  tum ho   ve haim

Eng      I am     you are he is                                                    we are       you are   they are


Nouns also show similarities between Sanskrit and Slovenian. Both have dual. The vocative is not preserved in Slovenian, but is found in Czech, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Bulgarian. The full 8-case system of Sanskrit has evolved in most Slavic languages to 7 or 6 cases (Slovenian and Latin 6; in Greek 5).



ENGLISH        SANSKRIT     SLOVENIAN              HINDI             PUNJABI

one                  eka                  eden, neki 'someone'     ek                    ek

two                  dva, f.dve         dva, f.dve                     do                    do

three                tri                     tri                                ti:n                   tinn

four                  catur                štiri                              cha:r                cha:r

five                  panca               pet                               pa:nch              panj

six                    shash, shat-      šest                              chhe                 chhe

seven               sapta                sedem                          sa:t                   satt

eight                 ashta:               osem                            a:th                  atth

nine                  nava                 devet                           nau                  nau

ten                   das'a                deset                            das                   das


decade             das'at               desetka                        dasshak

(Skt., peta 'open hand with fingers expanded' Slo., pedpet)



ENGLISH        SANSKRIT     SLOVENIAN              HINDI             PUNJABI

first               prathama(purva)  prvi                              pehla                pehla

second             dvitiya              drugi                            dusra                duja

third                 tritiya               tretji                             tisra                 tija

fourth               caturtha                       četrti                            chautha                        chautha

fifth                  pancatha          peti                              pachva             pannava

sixth                 shashtha           šesti                             chhatha                        chhatha

seventh            saptama           sedmi                           satwa               satma

eight                 ashtama           osmi                             ath                   ath

ninth                 navama                        deveti                           navam              nauvan

tenth                das'ama                       deseti                           daswa              daswa


twofold             dvaya               dvoje                            duguna             duguna

threefold           traya                troje                             triguna              triguna

tenfold              dasa kritvas      deset krat                     dasguna            dasguna



Syntactically, most Slavic languages have adopted a basic SVO pattern, in distinction to the (usual) SOV pattern in Sanskrit. Consideration that Sorbian is underlyingly OVS is questionable (Reindl). Although Sanskrit SOV pattern is most frequent, the verb can occur anywhere in the sentence (Venkatacharya).

In addition to noun declensions, Sanskrit grammar and Slovenian grammar have additional other similarities. Both are highly inflected and have three genders - masculine, feminine and neuter. Both have three numbers - singular, dual and plural; also adjectives are inflected to agree with the nouns. Verbs are inflected for tense, mode, voice, number and person.

In Sanskrit only the first four numerals are declined in three genders. The numerals 1, 2, 3 and 4 agree in gender and case with the following noun. (This is similar to Slovenian.) The numerals from 5 to 19 are declined alike in the three genders. They agree with the nouns they qualify in gender, number and case. (In Slo., they agree in number and case, but not in gender.)

In Sanskrit and Slovenian, the ordinals, being all adjectives, are all declined in masculine, feminine and neuter. They agree in gender, number and case with the following nouns. Korenine

Additional Vocabulary Comparisons

 The Sanskrit vocabulary can be found in Sir Monier Monier-Williams A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, and SED column indicates the page numbers, where additional meanings can be found. Nouns and adjectives are presented as roots without nominative endings. Verbs are also rendered in a root form plus 3rd person singular or 3rd person singular ending.


SANSKRIT     SED     ENGLISH                    SLO.                HINDI            PUNJABI

ad                    17       eating                           jed                   adna:                adna:

agni                     5       fire                              ogenj                a:g, agni            agg

ajijivat, cf. jiv    422       restore to life                oživeti

agnishtha             5       fire-pan                                    ognjišče

apuplavat,cf.plu715       to inundate, submerge   poplaviti            aplavit              karana:

akarna                 1       without ears                 okrnjen

aru, arauti         150       to shout, cry towards     rjuti                  rona:                rona:

aruj, arujati       150       to tear out, demolish      rušiti, ruvati

askand, -ati       161       to invade, assault          naskočiti

asku, askauti     161       to pluck, tear, pull          oskubiti

asu, asuvati       160       send off towards           suvati

aushta              240       lip-shaped                     usta                  oth                   hoth

aruna                 88      redish brown, red          rujno                arun                 arun

badisa, vadisa   719      hook, fish-hook             bodica

bal, balate         722      to hurt, to mention         boleti

bala                  722      young shoot                  bil                    bel                   vel

bala                  722      sick                              bolan

bhaga               743      gracious lord (gods)      bog                  bhagwa:n

bhagavat          743      prosperous                   bogat                bhagavat

bhara               747      gain, prize, booty           bera                 bha:r                bharr

bhara, bharat    747      shout                            barati               bha:r 'force'    bha:r force'

bharts, -ayati     748      to abuse, menace          brcati

bhiyas              758      fear, apprehension        bojazen             bhaya               bhaya

bhiyasana         758      fearful, timid                 bojazen,-ljiv       bhi:shan            bhi:shan

bhlas', -ate        771      to shine, glitter              bleščati

bhratri               770      brother                         brat                  bhra:ta:             ?

bhru                 770      the brow                      obrv                 bhru:

bhu, bhavati      760      to exist, live, abide         bivati

bhuta                761      being, existing               biti                   bhav

bhugna             750      bent, curved, cowed      upognjen           jhukna:             jhukna:

bhur, bhurati     760      to stir, palpitate             buriti

bhurloka           763      world, earth                  brlog 'den'         bhu:lol              bhuin

bija/vija 732      origin of poem              viža                  bi:j                    bi:

bil/vil, bilati        732      to split, cleave               vile 'forks'

bis', bes'ati        732      to go                            bežati 'flee'

bis, bisyati         732      to urge on, incite           bezati

brinh, -ayati       735      to further, promote        brigati se

bru, braviti        742      to speak, say, tell          praviti

budh, bodhati    733      to wake, wake up         buditi                bodha mem rahna:

buddha             733      awakened                    buden

budhna             735      bottom, ground              poden




In addition to grammatical and linguistic affinities between Indo-Aryan languages and Slavic languages in particular Slovenian, there are also some similarities in the Slovenian family names and names found on the Indian sub-continent.


HINDU  NAMES                   MEANING                                         SLO.  NAMES

A:pi                             friend, ally, acquaintance                                  Apih

Apa:ra:                         boundless, with no rival, unequalled                   Opara

Archana:                      respected                                                        Arčan, Arčon

Archin                         shining, devout                                                  Arčin

Arha                            deserving                                                         Arh

Ariha                           killing enemies                                                 Arih

Arjuna                         white, clear, fair in visage and mind                   Eržen

Arka                            ray, learned man, (Skt. singer)                          Arko

As'mana                      stone, gem, thunderbolt                                     Ažman

As'na:                          eating a lot, voracious                                       Ažnik

avasanika (Skt)             being at the end                                                           Avsenek

Bahula                         broad, ample, large, abundant                            Pahulje

Bachil (Skt vacana)      one who speaks much, orator                            Bačnik

Bahuvata                     strong-armed                                                   Bahovec

baida/vaida(Skt)            wise man, learned                                            Bajda/Vajda

Bhanu                          light, glory, king, master                        Ban

bharaga(Skt)                going under load                                               Baraga

Bharu                          bearing a load, lord, master                               Barič

bhasaya(Skt)                to resemble a bird                                            Basaj

bhela(Skt)                    timid, ignorant, foolish                                       Belej

balihara(Skt)                 paying tribute, taxes                                         Belihar

Bhanga                        to break, destroy, destroyer                               Benko

Bharanyu                     striving to fulfil, protector, master, friend            Beranek

bhruna(Skt)                  child, boy                                                         Brunčič

Bukka:                         the heart, loving, sincere                                   Buko-vec


(Gandhi)                                                                                             (T. I. S.)


Note: For Sanskrit transliteration, Monier-Williams' A Sanskrit-English Dictionary convention, where possible, was followed, but long and short vowels are not indicated. The pronunciation is similar to English, but C is pronounced as CH and S' as SH. For Hindi and Punjabi, Chaturvedi and Tiwari's A Practical Hindi-English transliteration was followed. The pronunciation is similar to English and : denotes a long vowel. For Slovenian Č is pronounced as CH, J as Y, Š as SH and Ž as J in French.


Numerical Comparisons

An attempt was made to determine, on a percentage basis, how many cognate words Vedic Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit share with Slovenian. To compare Vedic Sanskrit with Slovenian, the vocabulary of Macdonell's A Vedic Reader for Students was used. All entries were compared, except names and derivatives for a total of 1612. Out of 1612, some 330 were similar to Slovenian in sound and meaning. This is 20.5%. For Classical Sanskrit comparison, Sanskrita Jnana-Jyotih textbooks 1 and 2 were used. The vocabulary consists of 735 words, where 74 were similar to Slovenian for a 10% similarity.


Some additional NUMERICAL COMPARISONS of similarities (%) with Slovenian:







Vedic Sanskrit



Classical Sanskrit








Half of these are technical terms such as anode, seminar, selenium, etc.

Irish Gaelic


A third of these are technical and trade names, e.g. doctor, captain, etc.








Divergence of Sanskrit and Slovenian

Despite of numerous similarities in the two languages, there is no common recognizable terminology for metals. The discovery and dating of the 'Ice Man' in the South Tyrol with his copper axe, indicates that metals were known 5,200 years ago. This could be construed that the two languages separated before metallurgy became known.


Genetic Affinities

Barbujani (1997) agrees with other authors such as Renfrew and Guglielmino who see linguistic affinities as clues to population history. He cites Sokal who wrote, that a common language frequently reflects a common origin, and a related language indicates a common origin too, but farther back in time. He also makes an observation, that the partial correlations with language are stronger for Y chromosomes than for mtDNA. This suggests that when women were incorporated into a group speaking a different language, they passed to the future generations, along with their own genes, their husbands' language.

Kivisild et al. (1999) in their analyses of Indian and western-Eurasian mtDNA lineages (Czechs, Slovaks and Russians included), found an extensive deep late Pleistocene (51,000-67,000 BP) link between contemporary Europeans and Indians provided by the mtDNA haplogroup U. This probably predates their spread to Europe. Only a small fraction of the 'Caucasoid-specific' mtDNA lineages found in Indian populations can be ascribed to a relatively recent admixture, which they date at 9,300+- 3,000 BP and also conclude that this does not support a recent massive Indo-Aryan invasion, at least as far as far as maternally inherited genetic-lineages are concerned.

Malaspina et al. (2000) have analyzed the Y chromosome in various populations and have broken it down into networks such as 1.1, 1.2, 1.3,  2.1, 3.1G, 3.1A, 1.4 and others. They conclude that 1.1, 2.1, and 3.1G coalesce in the Paleolithic. Underhill et al. (2000) date the expansion of humans out of Africa a ~45,000 BP. The following is the indicated presence in some Indo-Aryan, Dravidic and Slavic populations:


Y chrom. network.









































Two networks 1.2 and 3.1A coalesce in a window of time post-dating Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 20,000 BP):


Y chrom. network.

































Network 3.1A clearly discriminates between Western and Eastern European (and Indian) populations (Malaspina et al.). In Portugal and Central Spain it is not found; in Southern Spain it is present at .02 level. On the Italian peninsula, it is present at .10 in Apulia and Venetia. East of Italian peninsula, the presence increases and is present at higher levels (~.45) in Central and Eastern Europe and also on the Indian sub-continent (~.38) level.

Network 1.3, which dates back to the last 3,000-4,000 BP, is common in Sardinians, but is not present in Indians or Slavs.

Dating of Migrations

Based on mt DNA sequences in ancient Australians, Adcock et al. (2001) see evidence that, there is morphological evidence for the survival of Neanderthal genes in Europe after the arrival of Cro Magnon people. Underhill et al. (2001), suggest that modern humans dispersed across Africa and into Western Asia, Asia and Melasia and then into Northern Eurasia. Overlain on these events are the contractions with the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and subsequent post-glacial expansion of both hunter-gatherers and agriculturists.  Underhill et al. (2000) sees evidence that small sub-group of humans separated into several fairly isolated groups. These groups remained small throughout the last glaciation before they underwent roughly simultaneous expansion in size.

Richards et al. (2000) used founder analysis method for analysis of nonrecombining DNA sequence data, with the aim of identification and dating of migrations into new territory. They conclude that:

(i)         There has been substantial back-migration into the Near East,

(ii)        The majority of extant mt DNA lineages entered Europe in several waves during the Upper Paleolithic (ca. 45,000 BP),

(iii)       There was a founder effect or bottleneck associated with the Last Glacial Maximum, 20,000 years ago, from which derives the largest fraction of surviving lineages, and

(iv)       The immigrant Neolithic (ca. 9,000 BP) component is likely to comprise less than one-quarter of the mtDNA pool of modern Europeans.

Richards et al. (2000) using mtDNA trace lineages back into prehistory, through the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), to the first settlement of Europe by anatomically modern humans, almost 50,000 BP. They have found that, the first four migrations from 45,000- 9,000 BP brought over 90% of the genes to Europe and that, less than 10% of the population came to the present regions in the last 3,000 years - Alps 6.9%, South-eastern Europe 8.2%, and North-eastern Europe 5.5%.

Based on linguistic and genetic information, Štih (2000) appears to be correct in his assertion that all those presentations and assertions bespeaking the settlement of the Slovenes in the eastern Alpine region at the end of 6th century are a historical myth.



Antoine R, A Sanskrit Manual 13th ed., Xavier Publications, Calcutta, India 1991, pp.117-121.

Barbujani G, (1997) DNA Variation and Language Affinities. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 61:1011-1014.

Emeneau MB, "Sanskrit". Encyclopaedia Americana, 2000, 24:232-233.

Gandhi M, Book of Hindu Names. Penguin Books, New Delhi, India 1993, pp.1-79.

Lakshminarayana S, Sanskrita Jnana-Jotih, Book 1 and 2, Arya Buk Dipo, New Delhi, India 1997.

Malaspina P, et al. (2000) Patterns of male-specific inter-population divergence in Europe, West Asia and North Africa. Ann. Hum. Genet. 64:395-412.

Macdonell AA, A Vedic Grammar for Students, 2nd ed. Motilal Barnasidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, India 1995, pp.96-103.

Macdonell AA, A Vedic Reader for Students, 2nd ed. Low Price Publications, Delhi, India 1995, pp. 221-263

Monier-Williams M, A Sanskrit Dictionary, 12th ed. Motilal Barnasidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, India 1993.

Reindl DF, (Information in an e-mail from Professor Donald F. Reindl, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Indiana University, 09/04/99).

Štih Peter, "Autochthonal Theories Among The Slovenes" (Paper presented at annual gathering of American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Nov. 12, 2000, Denver, Colorado, U. of Ljubljana, Slovenia).

T.I.S., Telefonski Imenik Slovenije

Underhill PA, et al.(2000) Y chromosome sequence variation and the history of human populations. Nature Genetics 26:358-361.

Undehill PA et al. (2001) The phylogeography of Y chromosome binary haplotypes and the origins of modern humans. Ann. Hum. Genet. 65:43-62.

Venkatacharya HA, (Personal communication from Professor H .A.Venkatacharya, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit, University of Toronto).

Williams M, A Dictionary English & Sanskrit, 4th ed. Motilal Barnasidass, Delhi, India 1982, pp. 1-859.




Languages have a great evolutionary significance, because linguistic affinities are also clues to population history. A common language frequently reflects a common origin, and a related language indicates a common origin too, but further back in time (Barbujani 1997). Comparison of Sanskrit and modern Indian languages Hindi and Punjabi with Slovenian belonging to a Slavic language family shows that there is a linguistic similarity and the older the language the greater is the resemblance. Sanskrit, especially Vedic Sanskrit, which is the oldest, exhibits more similarities to Slovenian than Hindi or Punjabi. A statistical comparison shows that~20% of Vedic words are same or similar to Slovenian in sound and meaning. Similar comparison with the Classical Sanskrit, shows ~10% similarity. This resemblance is not limited to linguistics, but can be further seen in some family and also some topographical names. This can be taken as indication that Slovenian language has changed relatively slowly over the millennia. Within this context, it would be reasonable to expect, that a modern Slovenian, familiar with the dialects and other Slavic languages, should be able to recognize words and meanings of the Venetic language, if it belongs to the same language family. In addition to linguistics, there are also genetic similarities between Slavs of Europe and the peoples of the Indian sub-continent.



Jeziki imajo velik pomen pri ugotavljanju razvoja, saj so jezikovne podobnosti lahko ključ do zgodovine ljudstev. Podoben jezik pogosto kaže na skupen izvor in sorodni jeziki tudi kažejo na skupen izvor, vendar dlje v preteklosti (Barbujani 1997). Primerjava sanskrta in sedanjih indijskih jezikov hindija in pandžabija s slovenskim, ki pripada slovanski skupini, kaže podobnosti in čim starejši je jezik, tem več jih je. Sanskrt, posebno vedski sanskrt, ki je najstarejši, kaže več podobnosti s slovenskim jezikom kot hindi ali pandžabi. Statistična primerjava kaže, da je okoli 20% vedskih besed enakih ali podobnih slovenskim v zvenu in pomenu. Za klasični sanskrt je podobnosti okoli 10%. Ta podobnost ni omejena na jezikoslovje, temveč je opazna tudi pri nekaterih družinskih in topografskih imenih. To nam nakazuje, da se je slovenščina v zadnjih tisočletjih le počasi spreminjala. Glede na to bi lahko pričakovali, da bi sedanji Slovenec, ki pozna narečja in druge slovanske jezike, lahko prepoznal besede in pomene venetskega jezika, če ta spada v isto jezikovno skupino. Poleg jezikovnih obstajajo tudi genetske podobnosti med Slovani v Evropi in ljudmi v Indiji.