Decolonise Indian Minds with Sanskrit

Published: 30th November 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th November 2014 09:59 PM   |  A+A-

The HRD ministry’s decision to replace German with Sanskrit met unique logic by the same forces and people who possess unique contempt for the Soul of India. They see India from prism of the West. Their colonised minds find teaching of Sanskrit anti-global, and they are quick to catogrise it as RSS agenda of ‘saffronisation’. Is it so? The question is not new. Hybrid of Macaulayites, Marxists and Nehruvians left no stone unturned to denigrate Sanskrit to a ‘Brahminical’, ‘priestly’ language and of no face value.

For the first time in the 18th century, William Jones, a judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort Williams in Bengal, resurrected the prestige of Sanskrit. Three centuries later, the same task has fallen on the judges of the Supreme Court of independent India. In 1994, when the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) opposed the inclusion of Sanskrit as an elective subject, the Bench of Justices B L Hasaria and Kuldip Singh assertively told the nation the importance of Sanskrit. The judgment began with a story of World War II: A professor of Cambridge university is deeply engrossed in his studies in his chamber. An agitated English soldier accuses him of not sharing the trauma of war which he is facing while fighting with Germans. The professor calmly asks the soldier for whom he is fighting. Quick comes the reply: to defend the country. The professor asks what is that country to defend. The soldier replies, it is the territory and its people. On further questioning, the soldier says it is not only this but the culture of the country as well which he wants to defend. The professor quietly states that he is contributing to that culture. The soldier bows in respect to the professor and vows to defend with more vigour the cultural heritage of his country. The judges observed: “The above shows the concern for culture  evinced even by the Westerners. So far  ‘We, the people of India’ are concerned, they have always held in high esteem  the cultural heritage of this ancient land. And to foretell our views, the learning of Sanskrit is undoubtedly necessary for protection of this heritage. The stream of our culture would get dried if we were to discourage the study of Sanskrit, and that too on the most untenable ground that if the CBSE were to do so it would have to make facilities available for learning of Arabic and Persian.” The UPA regime found Arabic and Persian no less important than Sanskrit, a social philosophy which is bound to omit our identity in the cultural map of the world. The court further questioned the stand taken by the CBSE, which felt teaching of German and French was at par with Sanskrit. The judges said, “We fail to appreciate the stand taken by a responsible body like the board, which has been entrusted with the onerous duty of educating the youth of the country ‘in which hands quiver destinies of the future’ as the same is wholly untenable. Without learning of Sanskrit, it is not possible to decipher the Indian philosophy on which our culture and heritage are based.” Besides, Sanskrit being the mother of all Indo-Aryan languages; it is this language in which our Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads have been written and in which Kalidas, Bhavbhuti, Banbhatt and Dandi wrote their classics. Teachings of Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Nimbak and Vallabhacharya would not have been woven into the fabric of Indian culture had Sanskrit not been available as medium of expressing their thoughts.

Arabic or German may be useful for other purposes, but equating them with Sanskrit is the greatest folly. The judgment quoted the Sanskrit Commission Report (1957) which says the Indian people and Indian Civilisation were born in the lap of Sanskrit and it went “hand in hand with the historical development of the Indian people and gave the noblest expression of their mind and culture which has come down to our day  as an inheritance of priceless order for India, nay, for the entire world”.

It is a part of the larger project of decolonisation of Indian mind and has no aversion for any other language. Interestingly, decolonisation and saffronisation are synonyms due to common objective and intention.


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