Sanskrit has survived all the attacks because it is the soul of Bharat. As a mother forgives thousands of offences of her children, the mother Sanskrit has also pardoned thousands of violations towards her. One more offence has been added to the list by filing a PIL in the Supreme Court questioning Sanskrit Prayer in Kendriya Vidyalayas
A book, ‘The Battle for Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred?’ was released two years ago. Written by noted thinker Dr Rajiv Malhotra, colossal work shows how the Western thinkers (and also those influenced by them) misinterpret the Bharatiya Sanskrit treatises and deliberately distort the truth. According to Dr Malhotra, Sanskrit is the soul of Indian culture.
Based on the concept of emic and etic in the academics, Dr Malhotra has divides Sanskrit scholars into ‘own’ and ‘outsiders’. This division was done not according to race or ethnicity but on the outlook of the researchers towards Sanskrit texts. The ‘own’ among these regard Sanskrit as sacred, but the ‘outsiders’ look at it as a means of atrocities.
The latest controversy regarding Sanskrit prayer in Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) brought to mind the relevance of this book. In the last week of January, Supreme Court of India appointed a five-judge Constitutional Bench to determine whether the students of KVs across the country should sing ‘Asato ma sadgamaya....’ and ‘Om sah naavavatu...’ in their morning prayers or not. A dust storm of debate and discussion followed the decision, not to speak of the righteous outrage in those loving their motherland and mother tongues as well.
- The resistance to sanskrit is nestled in the minds and brains of ‘seculars’. And it is not for the language's sake but more for its inherent power to build, hold and expand the real Bharat!
- Everything that is in Sanskrit cannot be said to be religious. Tomorrow someone would say that the proverb ‘honesty is the best policy’ is in English and therefore it should be considered a Christian one
The PIL in the SC has been filed by one Veenayak Shah from Madhya Pradesh. The PIL argues that these prayers should be stopped in government-run KVs because these shlokas violate the religious rights of minorities as well as atheists, skeptics, rationalists and rights of non- believers in prayers.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued on behalf of the Central Government that those verses pointed to ‘eternal truth’ and could not be deemed sectarian. “Everything that is in Sanskrit cannot be said to be religious. Tomorrow someone would say that the proverb ‘honesty is the best policy’ is in English and therefore it should be considered a Christian one,” he said. That was a perfect point.
Can Kalidasa’s poetry, some plays and other literature be placed in the communal category simply because they are in Sanskrit? As per Resolution No F34-1/56-A-1 on October 1, 1956, of the Sanskrit Commission appointed by the Government of India, Sanskrit was never a religious language at all.
We see an etic class in our country that sees ‘Sanskrit versus Secularism’ rather than ‘Sanskrit and secularism’. Many self-professed intellectuals have made a travesty of truth and helped in contriving the truth. These people have identified Sanskrit with Hindus. They are ready to put a stamp on the language as ‘only for Hindus’. Not stopping at this, they are ready to give it an oppressive tone as Dr Malhotra has established.
Nothing can be far from the truth. Actually, Sanskrit was never a language of a class or faith. It was the language of knowledge. Buddhist and Jain faiths have abundant scriptures in this language. The Sanskrit language has enamoured even hardcore Communist leaders such as Shripad Dange.
In fact, the Hindus were never dependent on written books. Even though all scriptures from Vedas to Bhagwad Geeta are venerable to Hindus, they have never been driving force of their 'secular' life. 'Shastrat rudhirbaliyasi' has been the mantra of communal life here. This is why unlike the Quran or the Bible, which have propelled people’s behaviour and forced them to profess their faith in Arabic or Latin, a Hindu can communicate with his god in any language. The common conventions and practices have formed the basis of people here. Therefore, to say that prayer belongs to a particular faith falls flat on face. Even so when one considers that these prayers came into existence when no sectarian faith existed at all!
In the middle ages, a large chunk of Indian society was away from Sanskrit texts and Puranas. Yet this society remained Hindu and this proves that Sanskrit is not the language of Hindus—it is of Bharat as a whole. Buddhist Jataka tales are read in as much measure as Panchatantra and Hitopadesh. Allopanishad, an Upanishad (sic!) dedicated to Allah, was written in 18th Century in Sanskrit. The Bible has more than one Sanskrit version. Apart from this, P.C. Devasia has written an epic Jesus Christ for which he received the Sahitya Akademi Award. If Sanskrit was so much confined to Hindus (or Brahmins, as liberals love to claim), how come these works came and flourished?
Sanskrit may have been confined in scriptures and manuscripts for some time, but that situation is not true any more. An example of this is growing literature being produced in Sanskrit on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. At least three of these epics are considered important. First is ‘Ambedkar Darshanam’ of Baldev Mehra, ‘Bhimayanam’ by Prabhakar Joshi and ‘Bhimambedakarshatakam’ of Buddhist scholar Sugatkaviratna Shanti Bhikshu Shastri.
None other than Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had sponsored a proposal to make Sanskrit the national language during the Constituent Assembly debates. A leader like Naziruddin Ahmad supported it. According to Babasaheb, “Any language adopted as the national language in this country where such a variety of languages are spoken should be non-partisan, it should not be the mother tongue of any region, it should be shared by all provinces and accepting it should not give an advantage to any province over other. All these qualities are found in Sanskrit.”
Sanskrit, on one or another pretext, has always been subjected to the onslaughts and attacks by the ‘sickulars’. And the ‘prayer in KVs PIL’ is the latest episode in this long battle. The reason for this is that Sanskrit is the Lowest Common Multiple of all Indian languages. The forces antagonistic to the idea of Bharat, as enshrined in its combined heritage and continued for ages till today, know this fact precisely. And this is why they are at war with this language. Bharat is standing on the solid foundation of this example of the zenith of human intellect and they are trying to strike at this foundation.
In the words of the great exponent of the language, Dr Shridhar Bhaskar Varnekar, “Sanskrit has given us the power to see unity in the diversity of the Bharatiya languages. It is a fact that no power other than Sanskrit can give us the same vision of linguistic oneness. A special need to look after this language of Gods perhaps would not have arisen had the ‘commercial politicians’ not emphasized the linguistic differences and bring out the disastrous poison of language-hating. Scholars would have propounded its need as the useful vehicle to study the ancient Bharatiya knowledge and those who were sincere about those cherished knowledge would have looked at her. This utility of Sanskrit language is incontrovertible and this is why the scholars in western world are learning it since last 150 years (This proportion is increasing today)."
Courts Thwart 'Secular' Attack
This fight of secularism against Sanskrit is very old. In recent times, there have been umpteen attempts to dislodge Sanskrit from its rightful place. Thankfully, the courts have till now thwarted these attempts. During the 1980s, one Santosh Kumar and others had petitioned to the court opposing to make Sanskrit one of the elective subjects in the curriculum. The SC gave its verdict on the petition in 1994 in which the Court completely refuted the claims that teaching Sanskrit was against secularism because Arabic or Persian were not accorded a similar status in the educational system.
Another petition was filed by Aruna Roy and others (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 98 of 2002), during the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, again objecting to the inclusion of Sanskrit in the education system. Moreover, they asked for inclusion of Persian and Arabic among the options which exposed the real colour of their secularism. The Court thwarted that attempt also and upheld the verdict of the petition in 1994.
When Karnataka Government proposed to set up Sanskrit University, the secularists sprang up to oppose it. When the bill on Sanskrit University came up for debate in the state Legislative Council in 2009, the opposition moved a bill asking for the setting up of an Urdu University alongside it. Congress member VS Ugrappa and Janata Dal (Secular) leader MC Nanaiah argued that if Sanskrit University could be set up then ‘there should be nothing in the way’ to set up Urdu one.
Clearly, intelligentsia’s idea of secularism was that Urdu, Arabic and Persian should be placed along with and in equal proportion to Sanskrit. This also makes clear who is trying to associate a language to a faith. The great contribution made to the Sanskrit scholar like Pandit Ghulam Dastgir Birajdar in Maharashtra does not count for them. He never felt his rights trampled by Sanskrit, but seculars do! What an irony!
Opposition to Sanskrit university was not limited to Karnataka alone. When the proposal to establish a university at Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, in Kerala came up, Marxist Communist Party opposed it vehemently. This is why the setting up of this university got delayed. It was only after Shankaracharya of Sringeri Mutt donated Rs one crore towards it, that then Chief Minister K Karunakaran took some steps in this direction. Even after the university was established, the Marxist lobby usurped it by appointing Prof. KN Panicker as its Vice-Chancellor. He established a Chair in the name of EMS Namboodiripad in the university, who had opposed its idea since the start, and brought the university to such a pass that an expert study group sent by the UGC recommended urgent and drastic measures to mend it.
A Mother that Forgives All
Sanskrit has survived all these attacks because it is the soul of Bharat. As they say, a mother forgives thousands of offences of her children. Thus, the mother Sanskrit has also pardoned thousands of our violations towards her. One more offence has been added to the list.
If Bharat wants to be a nation, then Vedic literature gives us the definition of a nation. It is not a question of this religion or that. Sanskrit does not oppose any religion nor does any religion despise it. It is only the liberals and seculars that bare their fangs time and again. The resistance is nestled in the minds and brains of ‘seculars’. And it is not for the language's sake but more for its inherent power to build, hold and expand the real Bharat!