Will HRD Minister Revive Sanskrit?
Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world. When the art of speech was not invented and no language was spoken, Sanskrit was its high peak of development and it had its literature par excellence i.e. Rigveda. That is the reason it has been recognized by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage. It is beyond debate that almost all Indian languages born out of Sanskrit except the languages spoken in the South. However, those South Indian Languages are also indebted to Sanskrit as Sanskrit made their vocabulary rich and facilitated for their enrichment in many ways. Even the Linguists and Philologists affirm that Sanskrit is the oldest language and they maintain that some of the foreign languages might have been originated from Sanskrit and the others were facilitated. Sanskrit has a great history, heritage and culture besides a wonderful grammar - the world ever exposed to. The Paninian Grammar has been applauded even by the Computer Scientists those who work on Artificial Intelligence. John Buckus in 1969 authored an Artificial Language for the computers. The Computer Scientists say and recognize that Paninian Grammar has been written in such a systematic language that equals the Programming Language of computers authored by John Buckus of the modern days. As a result many programmes on Sanskrit Grammar have been developed by various institutions such as IIT, Kanpur, IIIT, Hyderabad, JNU, New Delhi, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, and of course with the encouragement and support of the Department of Electronics under Government of India. Sanskrit is being taught as a compulsory language in many States of India and as optional language in other states. Every state offers Sanskrit either as compulsory or optional language except Tamil Nadu and some North Eastern States. The increasing number of Sanskrit Universities established by the State Governments shows the prominence of the language. At present there are 12 Sanskrit Universities established by various State Governments and 3 Deemed to be Universities under Union Government. Even, one of the NE States, Assam has established a Sanskrit University 5 years back. Further opening of the Campus at Agartala in Tripura by Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan shows explicitly the growing importance of Sanskrit and its acceptability among the people. And Rajasthan is the first State to have a Cabinet Minister for Sanskrit Education and Uttara Khand is the first State to declare Sanskrit as the Second Official Language of the State. Increasing prominence of the language shows the parallel growth in the interest of the public.
In addition to this formal system of learning of Sanskrit, it is being taught in a Gurukula system and such Gurukulas are plenty in numbers spreading all over the Nation. They adopt the oral teaching method which stood as a foolproof system in teaching Shastras since the time immemorial. Moreover, the language is being used by Pandits from Himalayas to Kanyakumari to perform all Rituals (Samskaras) from Impregnation (Garbhadhana) to Funeral. It is the language used by Priests (Pujaris) all over India to perform worships (Pujas) and prayers (Archanas) of the Deity. In this way Sanskrit unites India to the extent beyond its identity as a language. This is the language in which the first literature of the world available. This provides slogans and mottos to the institutions and organizations such as Satyameva Jayate, Aharnisham Sevaamahe. These small pieces of captions convey the intended meaning in one word or phrase for which generally a number of words are required in other languages. For instance, if we take the word Achaaryavaan in Sanskrit, the meaning of this word cannot be conveyed in other languages in a single word. One has to go for a sentence or combination of words to convey the right meaning of the word such as in English one has to use ‘one who got the teacher’ to convey the meaning of the word. Eventually, the spiritual and ethical literature abundantly available in Sanskrit makes everyone to run after it. Everybody feels that Sanskrit is the language of the Soul in which piece of mind, spiritual satisfaction, philosophical ideas, ways of good and healthy life etc., are profusely available. These exceptional characters of this language augment its importance in society, in the field Linguistics, Philology, Philosophy, literature etc., and in an individual. Though there are scientific, technological, astronomical, geological and other principles and concepts, those are not quoted here as they may require verification in terms of modern faculties.
When Murali Manoihar Joshi was the Union Minister of HRD, he made a provision for appointing one Sanskrit scholar in the IITs to explore the potential of Sanskrit. He also introduced through the UGC a PG course in Jyotirvijnan almost in all the Universities besides establishing Spoken Sanskrit Centres through formal education set up. These steps were taken keeping in view the importance of the language. However, after some time the down fall of Sanskrit started where hitherto compulsory language Sanskrit was made optional language in Kendriya Vidyalayas and in Novodaya Vidyalayas there is no place in the curriculum for Sanskrit at all. How an Indian could get the glimpse of our culture, heritage and even history without studying Sanskrit? Whereas the NRIs are in large numbers admit their children in institutions in India and make them to learn Sanskrit. The biblical Hebrew was made the State language when there were only a few Hebrew speakers in the whole Israel. Now in Israel everybody speaks Hebrew. This impossible and unimaginable thing realized by the serious and sincere State efforts with the cooperation of the public. Only objection leveled against Sanskrit is that it is the language of the elite and the down trodden people were prevented from learning the language. In the changed context, in a democratic environment and when the Union and the State Governments adopted RTE policy, no one could prevent anybody from learning the language and could keep the language among the elite only.
Keeping all these in view, this is high time that the present HRD Minister initiate Sanskrit promotional programmes on persuasive and rapid phase.