Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sanskrit for India.


If Hebrew for Israel, Why not Sanskrit for India?



(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

e-mail the writer at

Madras Sanskrit College is celebrating the SANSKRIT WEEK from 24 August, 2009 to 29 August, 2009 at the college premises. As a part of this programme, essay writing, elocution and extempore public speaking, Sastric oratorical contest, thematic oratory, music contest and drama contest and other related competitions have been organized for the students of Sanskrit language.

Undeterred by the pseudo-secular criticism against using scarce resources to set up 'Simple Sanskrit Speaking Centres' under the aegis of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the NDA Government of Vajpayee ordered the celebration of Sanskrit Week in 2001 in the first week of August every year as part of its ongoing effort to use the classical Sanskrit language as a tool for national integration. Though the decision to celebrate 'Shravani Purnima' as Sanskrit Day was taken way back in 1969, the decision to celebrate the Sanskrit Week every year in the month of August became the order of the day only in 2001.

Highlighting the importance of Sanskrit as a potent factor in national integration, the Union HRD Ministry under Dr Murali Manohar Joshi wrote to the Education Secretaries of all States and Union Territories, and the Vice-Chancellors of Universities with Sanskrit Departments informing them about the decision and suggesting measures to popularize SANSKRIT, the 'mother' of most Indian languages.

Sanskrit has been hailed as a divine language—-DEVA BHASHA. Sanskrit is rich in every way—rich in vocabulary, rich in literature, rich in thoughts and ideas, rich in meaning and values. The greatness, magnificence and beauty, glory and grandeur of Sanskrit has perhaps not been described better than by Sri Aurobindo, the great Rishi and Yogi of Modern India: "The ancient and classical creations of the Sanskrit tongue, both in quality and in body and in abundance of excellence, in their potent originality and force and beauty, in their substance and art and structure, in grandeur and justice and charm of speech, and in the height and width of the reach of their spirit stand very evidently in the first rank among the world's great literatures. The language itself, as has been universally recognized by those competent to form a judgement, is one of the most magnificent, the most perfect and wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by the human mind; at once majestic and sweet and flexible, strong and clearly formed and full and vibrant and subtle."

I am no scholar in Sanskrit though I have boundless enthusiasm for this great and ancient language. I am passionately of the view that if one truly wants to understand Bharat Varsha, its culture and ethos, a sound knowledge of Sanskrit is not only essential but also indispensable.

In these days of science and technology, we tend to underestimate the sacred power of language. When the power of language to create and discover life is recognized, language becomes sacred. In ancient times, language was held in sacred regard. Nowhere was this more so than in ancient
India. Language in ancient India was viewed as a master tool which man had shaped for himself and which in its turn shaped the human mind. It is evident that the ancient scientists of language in Vedic India were acutely aware of the function of language as a tool for exploring and understanding life., they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for fulfilling such a search that the world has ever known — the Sanskrit Language.

The very name 'Sanskrit' means language brought to formal perfection, in contrast to the common languages or 'natural' languages (Prakrita). Prof Friderich Schlegel (1772-1829), the great German writer and critic, who established the first Chair of Indology in Germany at Hanmoben paid his tribute to the beauty and glory of Sanskrit language in these words: 'Justly it is called Sanskrit, that is, 'perfect, finished'. Sanskrit combines these various qualities possessed separately by other tongues: Grecian copiousness, deep-tone Roman force, the divine afflatus characterizing the Hebrew tongues. Judged by an organic standard of the elements of language, Sanskrit excels in grammatical structure and is indeed the most perfectly developed of all idioms, not excepting Greek and Latin.'

Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages of the world. Sanskrit is the oldest most continually used language in the world. Even according to the most conservative scholars, Sanskrit has been continuously used since 1500 BC. According to more liberal scholars, it has been in use even before 6000 BC. Classical Sanskrit follows the same basic patterns since the time of Panini, who probably lived around the time of the Gautama Buddha. It has the largest literature of any language, together with the sacred literature of two of the world's greatest religions — Hinduism and Buddhism. Today Sanskrit has come to be identified very closely with Indian spirituality, religion and philosophy.
So much so that not many seem to be aware of the vast amount of literature available in Sanskrit on practically every field — yoga, philosophy, psychology, music, dance, drama, poetry, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, architecture, sculpture, painting, education, polity, warfare — in fact on every aspect of work and daily life. What little is known is primarily through a few translations. But there are several books that are available only in Sanskrit and the majority of the literature is in the form of unpublished manuscripts. Moreover the sad fact is that several thousands of valuable Sanskrit manuscripts and documents have been lost for ever — either lost in time or savagely destroyed by the hordes of Islamic invaders starting from 8th century AD.

Whether we look at the simple unsophisticated folk style found in fable-books like the 'Panchatantra ' and the 'Hitopadesa', or the practical and scientific writings in the various Sastras like the 'Artha Sastra', 'Natya Sastra', 'Ayur Veda' and 'Jyotisha Sastra'; whether we delve into the rich, highly developed literary style that expressed itself through the poetry, the dramas and prose romances of Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti and Magha; whether we turn to the thousands of Subhasitas (reflective and didactic stanzas), as in the 'Neetisatakas' of Bhartrihari; whether we study the great philosophies of Kapila or Panini; whether we read the well-known epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which constitute an entire world in themselves; whether we seek the principles of yoga in the 'Yogasutras' of Patanjali; whether we endeavour to scale the highest mountain peaks of spiritual poetry through the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagawat Gita — there is no end or limit to the great and sublime treasures that await us at every turn.

Against this background, it will be clear that the Sanskrit language has indeed been the soul of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma, Hindu Society, Hindu Culture and Hindu Civilization from the dawn of History. In this context, I cannot resist quoting the truly sublime words of Sampad and Vijay:
'Much like the sacred river Ganga, Sanskrit has flowed across India for thousands of years, embracing and nourishing, but also uplifting and purifying an entire country and its people and creating a unique civilization and culture. It has been the most perfect instrument for expressing the thoughts, feelings, aspirations, knowledge and experiences of this ancient culture called Sanatana Dharma.'

What will give a rude cultural shock to the evangelical, openly Islamic and anti-Hindu Government of India and the equally pseudo-secular politicians of India is the solid fact that NASA Research Centre in USA has recently discovered that "
Sanskrit is the most appropriate and powerful language for promoting ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) through computers." They have discovered that Sanskrit, the world's oldest spiritual language, is the only unambiguous spoken language on the planet.

Rick Briggs, an eminent American scientist has written a brilliant article titled, 'Sanskrit—An Artificial Intelligence'. He has said: "Among the accomplishments of the great Sanskrit grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence (AI)." The discovery by NASA about the multiple uses of Sanskrit language for computer processing in the realm of AI is of monumental significance.

India became independent on August 15, 1947, Sanskrit should have been adopted as the official language of India. Even today it is not too late to make Sanskrit the Official Language of India. Let us learn our lessons from Israel. Hebrew was the language of the Jews for thousands of years. But, it fell into disuse because the Jews did not have a homeland of their own for a long time and were persecuted in several countries for more than two thousand years. But in 1948 when the State of Israel came into existence and Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister of Israel, he saw to it that HEBREW, and not any other language was adopted as the Official Language — medium of education, administration and daily communication — in Israel.

Arabs constitute nearly 17.2% of the total population in
Israel. And yet, the Government of Israel never felt constrained by this factor when it took a decision to make Hebrew their national language. They never said that Arabic language will also be given equal status with Hebrew. Fortunately for the blessed people of Israel, the Government of Israel, quite unlike the Government of India, never strangulated itself by an artificial doctrine of pseudo-secularism guaranteeing minority rights at the expense of the nation. If only India had chosen Sanskrit instead of Hindi as the Official Language of India (in addition to English till such time as Sanskrit was in a position to fully replace it as a functional language), we would have achieved the same spectacular success as Israel has achieved during the last 62 years. Government of India considers Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Turki as more sacred and relevant than Sanskrit.


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