The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, August 27, 2000

Sanskrit: Gods’ own language
By Sansar Chandra

THE government has dedicated the year 2000 to Sanskrit. Being a student of Sanskrit from my childhood, Sanskrit has always remained close to my heart. It’s grandeur, I feel, is immeasureable. It is also a difficult exercise to find adjectives that can match it. To my mind, gigantic like the Himalayas and sacred like the Ganges, Sanskrit has another big asset which every Indian can rightly feel proud of. It is the oldest, richest, highly sophisticated, soft and sweet language.

The first rays of knowledge and wisdom touched the holy land of ours through Sanskrit. The claim that it is a true reflection of India’s soul and mind is no exaggeration. With spirituality as its backbone and the message of universal brotherhood — Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — as its watchword, it is relevant to all times.

It is a matter of great repugnance that despite its unique contribution spread over an exceedingly long span of more than 5000 years, the Government did not bother to accord to Sanskrit the place of honour it deserved. With the installation of Hindi as the national language and the provision for the celebration of Hindi Day on September 14, the demand for the introduction of Sanskrit Day gained momentum. The struggle, however, continued unabated and it was during the brief stint of Karan Singh, as the Union Education Minister that it received the official nod. Shrawani Poornima which is also the birth anniversary of Gayatri Maha Mantra — the intellect-purifying vedic maha mantra — was fixed as Sanskrit Day.


Although it was a welcome step on the part of the government to bring Sanskrit into the limelight and make it an integral part of our socio-cultural perceptions but there is sometimes a vacuum between theory and practice because of the inefficiency of the officialdom which makes the going slow and tardy. The enthusiasm with which the new directive was received could not be taken to its logical end. The Sanskrit Day celebrations could not earn the credibility worthy of its status and the high ideals, it stood for. Barring a few government or semi-government institutions, it failed to have any tangible impact on the public mind. The debt we owe to this devabhasha — the language of Gods and the mother of all Indian languages — is still weighing heavily on the minds of all those who have a special affinity for it.

Sanskrit is a treasure-house of knowledge and wisdom discovered by our ancient sages who sacrificed their entire lives for its growth and development. Western scholars also did not lag behind and made rich contributions for the enrichment of this great language. With universal acceptability as its hall-mark, it is a matter of shame for us that the Sanskrit Day celebrations are a lacklustre affair. It is imperative on our part to rejuvenate these celebrations and bring them on a par with the Hindi Day celebrations.

Sanskrit Day which coincides with many sacred days fell on August 15, the Independence Day, this time.

The year 2000 has been chosen by the government for the promotion of Sanskrit and its literature. Although it is now the month of August and more than half the year has elapsed, nothing concrete and substantial has come to light as yet. The government, no doubt, has put Sanskrit on its priority list but it is surprising that the pace of progress so far has been disappointing. Let us hope something encouraging is in the pipeline.

To make the entire educational structure English-oriented is not a simple matter. How can free India afford to accord weightage to English at the cost of its own languages?

Sanskrit year perhaps is the right occasion to deliberate upon issues that crop up in this context. We should face the reality that Sanskrit and Sanskriti (our culture) are synonymous. Sanskrit rules supreme over all the rituals that we follow from cradle to grave. The only medium that has brought down to us our inheritance, knowledge, and wisdom from times immemorial is Sanskrit. Sanskrit alone can preserve our identities as Indians.