Let our Children Learn Sanskrit

    31-Aug-2020
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The members of Indian intelligentsia, who oppose Sanskrit tooth and nail, are of the same wavelength of Lord Macaulay who are still carrying out Macaulay’s mission of depriving Indians of their Indianness, in full measure. We must let our children learn Sanskrit and let not our netas stand as a stumbling block in their way.
- G Nataraja Perumal
 
 
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In 2019, Uttarakhand government made Sanskrit mandatory for all schools in the state (HT Photo)
 
The National Education Policy of the union Govt at the centre has made it clear that Sanskrit would be introduced right from School Education up to university level and it would definitely find favor, with those who are interested in the cultural, spiritual and traditional integrity of the nation. But at the same time the choice has been left to the states revealing the flexibility of the policy.
 
Uttarakhand has announced Sanskrit as the second language in 2019 itself. Himachal Pradesh has announced the same a few days before.The union territory of Pondicherry has at least decided to express its stand on the third language option after due deliberations.There is a distinct possibility of many states opting for the ancient language as third option.
 
But Tamil Nadu is the one and the only exception where an aversion to both Sanskrit and Hindi has been systematically built up with a view to wean the people from the mainstream. Sanskrit is depicted as an enemy of Tamil. The purpose of this write up is to break the myth that shrouds Sanskrit due to false propaganda and indoctrination.
 
Sanskrit is the mother of all languages. It has the highest number of sounds (aksharas) or phonemes, as many as 51. An ancient language, it is the root of our rich religious culture and tradition. Invariably, all our scriptures, including Upanishads, Brahma sutra, Geetha Yoga sutra, Yoga vasistha, Ramayana, Mahabaratha, and Srimad Bagavatham are all in Sanskrit and so are our Ayurvedic treatises like Sarak Samhitha ,Sushruta samhita and Rasa Tantra. To know Sanskrit is to know our Sanathana Dharma in all its entirety, nothing more ,nothing less. Sanskrit is the epitome/repository of our indigenous knowledge system which includes Astronomy Astrology, Arithmetic and so on.
 
This majestic and benign language is at once ancient and modern. Many physicists have found this language quite suitable as a digital language for sophisticated computer operations notations and derivations associated with Artificial intelligence (AI). Many slokas of Sanskrit have been encoded with mathematical formulae by a peculiar system of notation known as Kattappa Yathi sankaya. The exact date, month and year of composition of Narayaneeyam is incorporated in the slokas by this method. Vedic Mathematics is a science in it self. Value of pi to its 31th place is to be found in another Krishna sloka.
 
It would be very much in order if I mention an interesting incident that occurred in the life of Albert Einstein. Once an Indian Scholar by name Dr. B.N Gupta visited the great scientist of Theory of Relativity fame. Einstein greeted the Scholar in Sanskrit. The Indian scholar pleaded his ignorance. Then Einstein said, 'you have come from India, the land of Sanskrit and yet you have not cared to learn the great language'. He then appealed to the scholar to visit his library, which treasured valuable gems of Sanskrit like Bagavad Gita and Upanishads. The noble scientist also added that these immortal scriptures form the basis of his research. It is needless to say the Indian scientist hung his head in utter shame and disgust. A prophet is not honored in his place of birth is quite true of Sanskrit.
 
To its credit, Sanskrit words are to be found in all great literary works all over the world. The immortal Tamil work Thirukural has at least 8% of Sanskrit words and the famous tantric literature Thirumanthiram, which forms the foundation for Saiva Siddhanta, though next only to Sivagnabotham, is not way behind with as high as 12% of Sanskrit terminology. Even in our day to day life we freely use such words as suriyan (sun), karunai (compassion), which are Sanskrit to the core.And the common people have no aversion to use them.Truth to be told, many a Krishnan won't like him to be addressed as 'kritinan', in chaste Tamil. Doing away with one or two Sanskrit phonemes robes the whole word of its musical and magical charm. 

The immortal Tamil work Thirukural has at least 8% of Sanskrit words and the famous tantric literature Thirumanthiram, which forms the foundation for Saiva Siddhanta, though next only to Sivagnabotham, is not way behind with as high as 12% of Sanskrit terminology. 
 
The saints of the yore, in all their wisdom, make a good compromise between these two ancient languages by a beautiful analogy. When Lord Siva turned His drum Tamil issued forth from one side of it and Sanskrit from the reverse. What an attempt at reconciliation, unification, synthesis and harmony. Both the languages have many lofty concepts in common. The oft repeated Tamilian idea of universal brotherhood, ‘onrae kulam, oruvanae devan’ sourced in Thirumanthiram is the same as the vedic concept of ‘Vasudeivaha kudubaham’ (the whole universe is one family). Kanian Poonkunranar of Purananuru fame had the same cosmic stand even at an earlier age, when he versed thus: 'yaathum oore yavarum kalzeer' meaning, every place is verily ours and every one our own kith and kin.
 
It is not without reason that Max Muller translated Upanishads into English. Oppenheimer, the Atomic scientist, drew a parallel between the Bhagavad Gita and the first atomic explosion, especially its effulgence born of split, quoting verses from the Githa. Mahatma Gandhi observed that every Hindu boy and Girl should posses a sound knowledge of Sanskrit and that without the study of Sanskrit one can't become a true Indian and a true learned man. Asked as to why he is one among those who sponsored Sanskrit as the official language of the union, Dr. Ambedkar retorted: what is wrong with Sanskrit?
 
Many may not know that a village in Karnataka by name Mattur in Shimoga district uses Sanskrit as a spoken language. While the influence of Hindi is restricted to Hindi heartland, the influence of Sanskrit is far and wide and felt in all Indo-European languages, not to speak of Hindi.
 
The members of Indian intelligentsia, who oppose Sanskrit tooth and nail, are of the same wavelength of Lord Macaulay who are still carrying out Macaulay’s mission of depriving Indians of their Indianness, in full measure. Moreover it is for parents and children to decide the choice of language. Let the vernacular be the medium of instruction and it must be. Nowadays one could find children especially the elite ones hailing from the families of politicians and bureaucrats learn not only Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit Spanish and what not. Cosmopolitanism, in view of better prospects, for their own children and ‘frog in the well’ policy for the man on the road. The state has already lost rural oriented Navodaya Schools in the past due to shortsightedness.
 
Let our children learn a new language (Sanskrit) and let not our netas stand as a stumbling block in their way.
 
(The author is MSc,MEd and a retired Post Graduate Teacher)