Left sees red over Sanskrit

via Sandeep B - Daily Pioneer published on July 16, 2009

The arguments against the setting up of a Sanskrit university in Karnataka are rooted in Marxist opposition to any effort to preserve and revive India’s cultural heritage

Ever since the Government announced the idea of forming a Sanskrit university in Karnataka, the forces of hell have been unleashed there. Normally, the two main Opposition parties who are always opposed to each other on every issue in the State are now united in their opposition to this proposal.

Sanskrit-bashing has been in vogue ever since it was institutionalised under the aegis of the Nehruvian secularist state. India’s first brown sahib wrote about Sanskrit in flowery English, but failed to grasp its fragrance. The result was the perpetuation of the missionary system of education that severed hundreds of thousands of Indians from their own roots. That kind of education apart from generating employment breeds a curious sense of audacious entitlement bred by ignorance. And so, these worthies call Sanskrit a “dead” language without learning it.

Ask them why, and you get a list of ‘evidences’ stained with colonial and Marxist hues of Indian history. The ‘dead’ tag has become political fodder for all opponents of Sanskrit. But fundamentally, it stems from a vituperative hatred of Brahmins.

According to this theory, Sanskrit is supposedly associated to Brahmins because it was the language of priests during the Vedic times. This language was kept ‘secret’ and deliberately not taught to the ‘oppressed classes’. The latest variation of this theory is that we need languages that generate employment and Sanskrit doesn’t qualify for this. By this logic, most if not all Indian regional languages qualify as ‘dead’ languages.

Realistically, how many regional languages are used in everyday business? Also, establishing a Sanskrit university is supposed to somehow endanger Kannada’s survival, another baseless argument as we shall see.

The whole hoopla over renaming cities, roads, and insistence on governmental transactions in a particular regional language shows the desperation to retain the ‘purity’ of these languages in face of the onslaught of English.

What these purity proponents don’t realise is that you cannot preserve Indian languages by severing their inextricable link with Sanskrit. The vocabulary and grammar of most Indian languages are derived from Sanskrit. From Telugu (which exhibits the maximum influence of Sanskrit), Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, and Oriya, the root of every Indian language is Sanskrit. Cut off this root and every language will need to find new words for common terms like marg, jan, mantri, parishad, sabha, baarish, sri, guru, and so on. Also, is it a mere coincidence that the script of most major Indian languages (barring all South Indian languages) is a variant of Devanagari, the script of Sanskrit?

There’s plentiful research that shows that Sanskrit was not the language of just the Vedic priests. The most readily available evidence is the Sanskrit idioms that have an echo in their regional counterparts like galli ka kutta, road romeo, eve-teaser, and so on. The obvious conclusion is that Sanskrit was a language of the lay man.

Sanskrit is what gives identity to the Indian civilisation as we know it. From Valmiki to Kalidas, every major Sanskrit literary work spoke of this identity in its own way. From the fourth canto of Raghuvamsham, which describes the length and breadth of India to Meghadootam, where the cloud-messenger describes in intense detail the beauty of the varying diversity of India. Both these exalted works contain the subtext of the cultural unity of the nation. And it is what our secularists want us to forget in their hollow trumpeting of ‘composite culture’ (sic), which actually means denying India its heritage to which Sanskrit contributes the lion’s share.

The real reason for opposing the founding of a Sanskrit university in Karnataka is starkly political than anything noble. It reeks of the tired old rhetoric of Brahmins-are-the-root-of-all-evil-in-India. Those opposing the move have exactly zero accomplishment in promoting the cause of Kannada. Besides, the other overarching factor is that there’s a BJP Government in Karnataka.

We only need to look at all the other Sanskrit universities in India to expose this woeful reasoning. How many of these Sanskrit universities have threatened the language of the State in which they are situated? Or is Kannada (or Telugu or Bengali) that fragile that it can’t withstand Sanskrit’s influence? History shows that Indian regional languages were actually enriched by close contact with Sanskrit and vice versa.

There’s a reason why regional languages are struggling for survival. The Nehruvian state’s removal of Sanskrit from the education system robbed these languages of their original richness. As a result, the Hindi or Tamil we get to hear in the cities contain more English than Hindi or Tamil.

The Karnataka Government’s move is more than welcome. If the Sanskrit university revives the defining language of India, it will create a generation of self-aware and proud Indians who will (hopefully) rediscover the genius of India and Sanskrit.


A TELLING COMMENT: By H Balakrishnan
The Belgian historian , Dr. Koenraad Elst, has studied ‘India’ in detail. He studied at the Banares Hindu University , and his doctoral thesis that he successfully defended at the Christian University in Leuven, Belgium in Nov. 2001, was aptly entitled “DECOLONISING THE HINDU MIND”, (Rupa & Co – 657 pages).
In his analysis of “Indian Marxism” , Dr. Elst wrote:

” While in other Third World countries, Marxists have supported cultural anti-colonialism and encouraged national pride, Indian Marxists are generally opposed to anti-colonial developments in the cultural sphere “.
Q.E.D.!! JAI HO!!

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