By Ranjit K Sahu
The Times of India survey has brought forth some facts and figures about the acceptability of Sanskrit in the contemporary Indian society as a language. The survey however speaks more about the Indian psyche than the language or its relevance. The facts that parents were surveyed is itself amusing. In a country where parents think their children as a prestige issue and insurance for future would hardly comprise of impartial and unbiased people who will use reason to judge the issue. At best they would see what would possibly put their ward in the high income group in future. What however is pathetic is that not a single parent likely would have thought beyond the scope of German providing a possible future trip for their ward or ability to earn in Euros. And many of the present generation of parents would deem it a great reason to feel proud if their child speaks a foreign language or travels abroad. Do we need to borrow identities and cultures of foreigners to establish our identity in the world today? Do we want to replace German for English or in the future Chinese for German? The same logic stands true for advocates of Dravidian language. Why do they have problems with Hindi or Sanskrit when they gladly accepted the language of the other invaders like the British and the Arabs. (The Aryan invasion theory has fallen flat for decades).
And those who argue that in a world of vanishing boundaries it is good for professional mobility, there are two counter arguments. First of all German is spoken exclusively in Germany with a few other places and former German colonies. It is not even a language of the United Nations. And the world economy flux suggests that the future economic giants would arise in the Asian continent. So why don’t the parents insist the children learn Chinese and form a brigade to work to the dictum of future Chinese masters? The second less obvious one and which may seem surprising is that while countries like Germany and Japan are trying to learn Sanskrit, we want to switch Sanskrit for German. Is not this a paradox? It is nothing but reflection of the soap opera stories where the neighboring lady’s saree seems more charming compared to the more expensive and worthy saree in your possession.
The next question is the logistics of learning German. While the hardcore Dravidians would present it as another Aryan invasion into their culture and congressmen try to hard sell it as saffronization of the Indian education system, it is important to understand that though the language is not used in its entirety in present India, most language derive their vast resources from Sanskrit. Thus learning the language would help the people understand their own mother tongues better. Moreover this is the only language that can help reinvent the identity as a nation. To those who sing glory of the Japanese, Chinese, the Israelites or even the British, they need to understand that behind the rise of these nations was an important factor and that is a unifying mode for people. While in case of china the population is largely Han, in case of Germany it is Germans and in Israel it is the Jews. And the second factor apart from the culture factor and which indeed is more important is the language. These countries did not learn a foreign language to rise. They protected, preserved and promoted their language. In a country as diverse as India and where Hindi is being seen as an invader, Sanskrit maybe the unifying link in future. You can always argue about English as the unifying factor but it does not culturally unite people. We cannot afford to discard something that is ours and run after it when others have utilized it.
For the Indians to appreciate themselves and in turn get appreciated by others they need to understand their origin. Unfortunately for the advocates of English and other foreign languages, these are mostly available only from resources that use Sanskrit or its derivatives as the language. Thus, imparting a knowledge of Sanskrit will help students to appreciate, identify and feel proud of what they actually are and this is as important as knowing the language when they present themselves on the world stage as leaders and not slaves. In addition to these benefits making Sanskrit compulsory has another important effect. To those people who constantly claim that they are not allowed to access the holy Scriptures by the higher castes, it would open an avenue to learn the language and study all those scriptures which they claim they have been denied till date. Sanskrit is one language that has been used effectively for description of contents in as diverse fields as science, poetry, drama, philosophy and rituals. Thus students of all professions by mastering it would only enhance their professional efficiencies.
The rumble created by the congress and the voice of the parents is just a reflection of the thoughts of their former leader Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, who had a fascination for the west and wanted to think that being an anglophile gave him better reputation in the world stage. Since today being the stooge of Englishmen no more works for the identity of these people, they want to jump on the German bandwagon. These people should understand that if a student can grasp the essence of language by learning a near perfect language such as Sanskrit, learning any other language will be a cake walk. The way to learn German or Japanese is not by disowning or eradicating Sanskrit from the curricula but by inculcating it and perfecting it. The parents need to realize that they should work towards making their students capable and worthy of jobs not just impart in them a feeling of thinking that getting the job is the endpoint of their education. And Sanskrit would help them develop this ability. For now hats off to the people who still hold Sanskrit in high esteem and pass it on as their mother tongue. Their services to the nation and its identity is immeasurable.
About The Author: Ranjit Sahu, was born in India and is a doctorate in biotechnology. He has published two books in poetry ( 2005: A Year of Love and Drunk ) and his poems have appeared in the website of Poetry.com. Presently, he is working on several volumes of poems with different themes.