Sanskrit belongs to the easterly branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It sits alongside Latin and Greek from which most of the modern European languages are derived and is itself the parent of most of the modern Indian vernaculars in use today.
Traditionally it was the language used by the educated classes, a literary language as it forms the basis of the Vedic tradition upon which Indian culture is based. Sanskrit is the language of the oldest hymns and mantras contained in the Vedas.
The language of all Vedic prose and the great epics of the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavatam are all in Sanskrit. These teachings, stories and messages for mankind are still intact due to the grammatical structure of the language, the rules of which were largely set down by the great scholar Panini who is thought to have lived around the 4 th Century B.C.
The language, as it was spoken, was arranged into some 2000 grammatical sutras by Panini using a terse methodology (meta-language) not unlike the highly advanced computer programs of today do.
The sutras were arranged into four sections in a book called Ashtadyayi.
A thorough study of Panini’s grammar is considered indispensable for a proper understanding of the Sanskrit language. Panini’s is therefore the primary method of teaching Sanksrit grammar used by Swami Dayananda in his Vedanta courses conducted at Dayananda Ashram and at his Arsha Vidya Gurukulams throughout India and abroad.