Sanskritam at IIT


IITs has been asked to teach Samskritam … read all about it !

…..screamed our electronic media. The reaction has been mostly negative. Occasional person voicing some positive comments. Twitter has been abuzz, specifically with people and blogs quoting Deputy CM of Delhi, Mr. Manish Sisodia to the effect that whether the nex-gen JS version is really worth the upgrade over Samskritam. What better could one expect from a party whose leader is a self-confessed anarchist.

Armed with my usual salt ( a pinch is too small a dose. I take spoonfuls ) considering the state of our media I searched for the full press release of Ministry of HRD to find out what it actually said. Unfortunately there is no press release so far in public domain from Ministry of HRD on this. What was projected and decided without a debate was from her statements in Loksabha.

The most acceptable version seems to be …

Accordingly, IITs have been requested to teach Sanskrit language especially with reference to study of works which contain scientific knowledge,” Irani said

This is based on the report submitted by N. Gopalaswami, who headed a committee formed by Ministry of HRD in Nov. 2015 for promotion of Sanskritam as a language. This was set up to look into and recommend measures to integrate its  study with disciplines such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, medical science and law. It will suggest changes in Sanskrit education in schools and universities and modern ways to impart Sanskrit education.
Eventhough Ms. Smriti Irani has clarified that it would be an elective, the media is still abuzz with people commenting on this, each looking at it with their lenses.

I cannot understand…

How a language which has given birth to most of the Indian Languages we speak today in many states or influenced the rest heavily could be such a politically fought tool.
How Sanskrit the language cannot be decoupled from opression, cateism, exclusivity, hindutva, brahminism and aryan-dravidian politics. If it is because it brings back bad memories to some, why dosent the language English bring back memories of British Oppression, Elitism, Exclusivity, Divide and rule politics and Missionary work ? Why dosent Arabic/Persian raise questions about Islamic suppression and atrocities ?
You hate the oppressor, not the language that he/she speaks.

What’s in a name ?

The language is a language. The time when Sanskrit was widely used – nobody seems to know when this was – but lets assume a safe year of 1000 BC, there still seems to have other languages that drew from it and thrived. It was a pan-indic-religious languages. Lets face it.  Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism have large volumes of works written in it. Its not this only-Brahmin heritage.
The so called Dravidian ( which itself is a Sanskrit word ) languages are all heavily drawing from Sanskrit. Being a native speaker of both Malayalam and Tamil and student of Sanskritam I can say that both these languages draw heavily from it. Its a myth that Tamil just grew alone and is untouched by Sanskrit. The poster boy of Tamil Literature, Thiruvalluvar and his Thirukkural itself has many Samskritam words in it.All the Thevarams praise the Vedic Gods and include plentiful Samskritam to convey  untranslatable concepts.
It is my regular question set to my tamilian friend when it comes to opposing anything Hindi/Samskritam:
If Thiruvalluvar himself did not want to cleanse non-Tamil words from Thirukkural, why do the tamil politicians bother to clean tamil of sanskrit/ north-indian influence ? Do the modern tamilians claim to be better tamil lovers than Thiruvalluvar ?
If tamil is really an independent language, how come tamil legends talk about Agasthiyar ( a vedic Rishi) as the one who created Tamil ?
How a vedic God Shiva become the first Tamil Sangam Leader ? 

 

Why .. Why … Why do people love to hate it ?

The answer is that Sanskritam hatred is convenient and beneficial.
Let see how many birds one can kill with one stone – just by opposing Sanskritam.
  • 1  : Hindutva lovers / Sanghis / BJP
  • 2 : Hail Dravidian Identity and Tamil nationalism
  • 3 : Project modernity and upwardly mobile culture
  • 4 : Hey, its not as if I dont get a job if i dont study it.
  • 5 : Brahmin:  you oppressor, take that

In short ..

It’s a soft target. It has ‘X’ marked on it for any passer-by’s convenience. A quick punch. The vent. The pleasure. Un matched for the number of political/philosophical schools it pleases at the same time – commies, aaptards, congis,dravidians, upwardly mobile…


So do we need to protect, revive and reinstate Samskritam ?

If India has to go back to the glory days when it attracted people from distant lands to come and learn at its Universities at Takshashila and Nalanda,  when its riches were stuff of lore told in other lands, when we were living in a different century than the rest of the planet, we need to first find out what worked for us. We need then to find out what went wrong. Then we can understand whether we can go back. If we already have it there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but to look at ourselves we need the lingua-franca of the golden ages to understand its literature.

I am not talking of searching for lost technology for building airplanes, of doing genetic works, but I am sure all those wise men who trooped to our famous universities did so for a very good reason. We’d be fools to not look into our own culture and history to get us back where we were, for that’d be the most natural step to take. We have already been there, done that. We can do it again.
Lets hope good sense dawns, once the dust settles and India can get back to where it was.

A gentle yet clear brushing off of the cobwebs of the so-called Aryan theory and all its vicious corollaries is therefore absolutely necessary, especially for the South, and a proper self-respect created by a knowledge of the past grandeur of one of the great ancestors of the Aryan race — the great Tamilians.

We stick, in spite of Western theories, to that definition of the word “Arya” which we find in our sacred books, and which includes only the multitude we now call Hindus. This Aryan race, itself a mixture of two great races, Sanskrit-speaking and Tamil-speaking, applies to all Hindus alike.

-Swami Vivekananda, Aryans and Tamilians
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