Living With Sanskrit

This rich, scientifically developed language can address modern needs.

Written by Taradatt | Updated: April 11, 2017 7:03 am
Sanskrit, sanskrit language, CBSE, CBSE curriculum, compulsory subject, sanskrit subject, Central Board of Secondary Education, India education, indian express columns, indian express Sanskrit is considered the most refined among languages. Representational Image.

The debate in relation to the inclusion of Sanskrit as a compulsory subject in the CBSE curriculum underlines the most obvious and egregious paradox, that an unusually rich and scientifically developed language has not able to retain its acceptance in the land of its origin. Another paradox, which has a more recent origin, is that its richness, importance and usability are better appreciated abroad than in India. It is an oxymoron that this language, commonly used by social elites and educated people in the past, has lost its relevance among educated persons today. Doubtless, multitudinous foreign invasions, coupled with the ignorance and vested interests of foreign rulers and westernised minds, ensured that the Sanskrit language got confined to an exclusive set of followers with the passage of time.

It’s time to allow the spirit of the Sanskrit language — the mother of many other languages which have found common usage — to soar once again and let the inherent strength and merits of the language in the communication of thoughts and ideas to gain its proper place in the family of languages worldwide. This may, perhaps, not happen unless in India, its place of birth, Sanskrit undergoes a cataclysmic change in how it is viewed and used in matters of human living, notably through gainful employment and careers rich with options. It’s time to recognise the users of this language in the proper context of merit and science rather than as something regressive and non-modern.

Sanskrit is considered the most refined among languages. Its usability, as in its heyday, would span the vast arena of academic disciplines — math, physical, natural and material sciences, astronomy, medicine, astrology, philosophy, political science, literature and arts, aside from serving as the philosophical language of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc., and even the liturgical language of Hinduism, enabling interpretations of ceremonies and rituals.

Many in India reject references to academic works in Sanskrit due to their uneducated perception that these are merely antiquated, unscientific academic concepts; they associate these with religious rituals. It is tragic that with time, treatises on astronomy and mathematical sciences written by luminaries like Varahmihir, Aryabhatt, Bhaskaracharya, etc., became simply instruments for making astrological predictions.

The most scientific language of all times in the world started becoming merely a means of livelihood through its use in religious purposes to propitiate gods and goddesses for material prosperity. With the increasing influence of Western thought, Sanskrit became obsolete, in fact virtually dead for many.

However, the paradigms of human development in society have changed. In a market-driven economy, “greed” is no dirty term. The saying, “knowledge for liberation” appears no more a valid motto; it has been overtaken in the ratings by “knowledge is power”. However, what is good or bad is a matter of debate as development itself remains a normative concept.

In the given circumstances, it is important to assess the relevance, versatility and usability of Sanskrit as a career option for aspiring generations. A scholar of Sanskrit, with an open and inquisitive mind, in addition to teaching Sanskrit, should be able to teach any other Indian or foreign language. This is because the literatures of almost all Indian languages borrow from the vast pool of Sanskrit; the influence of Sanskrit can be seen on major European languages too.

The ancient history, sociology, politics, culture, philosophy, etc., of India can be understood with some degree of authenticity only with the knowledge of Sanskrit. A misinterpretation of Indian history by scholars devoid of a knowledge of Sanskrit gets

compounded due to ideological biases. It is also easier for a Sanskrit scholar to migrate to related and relatable disciplines, whereas the converse is not so.

In the fields of musicology and other performing arts, a knowledge of Sanskrit is essential. Sanskrit grammar is mathematical, which makes this language scientific and computer-friendly. It is said reputed scientific organisations in both rich and emerging economies are working towards developing an artificial language and find Sanskrit immensely suitable for their work. For a student with a knowledge of Sanskrit grammar, mathematics and English, a good IT career can never be a problem.

The inherent strength of our country is that most of our people are multi-lingual. Including Sanskrit among their bouquet of learnt languages can exponentially enhance their degree of competence because it would make their understanding of so many other languages, rooted in Sanskrit, easier.

The ongoing efforts to encourage the learning of Sanskrit therefore need to be welcomed.

The author has been a member of the Indian Administrative Service and holds a PhD in Sanskrit

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  1. G
    G Venugopal
    Apr 13, 2017 at 7:58 pm
    I agree that Sanskrit should get more prominence. But, I do not think the goal can be achieved by making Sanskrit a compulsory language for studies at any level. It requires overall support by the society. Not necessarily by the Government. In fact, Indian languages require societal support too. Any extra support or subsidy by the Government will be seen as artificial. The beauty of Sanskrit literature and the gems in Indian languages should be translated to other Indian languages. Similarly, we should learn from University of Chicago in making the original do ents available to the public at large on line. More studies are required into the various st s of thought that is seen in Sanskrit cl ics and less known works of the past. At the same time, the myths that rocket science or modern science contained in ancient Sanskrit works should be debunked, along with a mindset that promotes communal hatred and kills human beings in the false claim of protecting cows.
    1. K
      Apr 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm
      Stop self boast always Sanskrit is scientific language.. useless there is no use your boasting always ... First create employment for Sanskrit scholars.. Know one doesn't Care and thought about sanskrit employment.. always Sanskrit is AHAA, OHOO, WHAT this?? very big PENTHOUSES ,. Nearly 15 years only didn't recruiting Sanskrit jobs in AP Gurukula schools. Know one doesn't Care about this.. We hoped MODI WILL COME MODI WILL Do something to Sanskrit nothing is happening all are same.. our fatality to learn Sanskrit in andhrapradesh.. stop self boasting please..
      1. S
        Sunil harit
        Apr 12, 2017 at 10:59 am
        Very nice idea for Sanskrit in modern day teaching
        1. S
          Sunil Kumar R D
          Apr 12, 2017 at 10:40 am
          Almost all the criticisms levelled against Sanskrit are evidently on political and religious grounds. And also the product of sheer ignorance. They better try to enter into Sanskrit before offhandedly criticising it.
          1. S
            Apr 12, 2017 at 9:06 am
            I don't understand why people attach Sanskrit to religion. In fact I read Sanskrit as a subject till 11th standard, but I am an atheist. Many western scholar have mastered the language and deciphered the ancient Indian book on knowledge and using them for latest invention. Because of our narrow minded at ude We have not been able to made any original discovery in the recent times. With our education we are producing clones who follow the westerners like slaves.
            1. B
              Bharat Hiteshi
              Apr 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm
              Totally agree with you Shrikant
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