Saturday 12 December 2009

Revive Sanskrit and save Hinduism

Revive Sanskrit and save Hinduism
By J.G. Arora
--Author's e-mail:
Central Chronicle, Bhopal: March 3, 2006

There is a Sanskrit aphorism, "prithivyam trini ratnani / jalam annam subhashitam" (there are three precious treasures on earth: water, foodgrains, and apt quotations). To these three riches can be added the fourth one known as Sanskrit: the vast ocean of wisdom and knowledge.

Sanskrit is the symbol and heart of India. It is the most precious possession of India. As per Sir Monier Monier-Williams (1819-1899), famous for his Sanskrit-English dictionary, "India's national character is cast in a Sanskrit mould and in Sanskrit language. Its literature is a key to its vast religious system. Sanskrit is one medium of approach to the hearts of Indians."

Till a few centuries ago, glorious Hindu religion, culture and philosophy used to stretch from Gandhar (modern day Afghanistan) to Indonesia. And Sanskrit language was the instrument for this prominence. But repeated Muslim invasions of Indian subcontinent brought destruction of many prestigious centres of learning leading to decline of Sanskrit. 

Sanskrit and Macaulayan education
Literally meaning "refined and sanctified", and priding itself as cultured, Sanskrit is acclaimed as the best, sweetest and divine language (bhashasu mukhya madhura divya geervaan bharati). Sanskrit is the divine language revealed through the sages (Sanskritam naam daivi vaak anavyakhyata maharshibhihi). But though excepting Tirukkural which is in Tamil, almost all Hindu scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana and Mahabharata are written in Sanskrit, Sanskrit has been driven out of Indian schools and colleges by Macaulay's education introduced in India in 1835.

Macaulayan education downgraded Indian languages including Sanskrit and replaced them with English. This education was introduced to de-Hinduize Hindus as is evident in Macaulay's following letter dated October 12, 1836 to his evangelist father,  "Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully; we find it difficult to provide instruction to all. The effect of this education on Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. It is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respected classes 30 years hence. And this will be effected without our efforts to proselytize; I heartily rejoice in the prospect."

De-Hinduized by Macaulayan education, and brain washed by Macaulayan media, most of Hindu intellectuals, MBAs, business persons, doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, engineers, teachers and the rest are self-alienated and do not know Sanskrit, and do not know much about Hindu religion or heritage, or about Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata or Tirukkural.

India was expected to discard Macaulayism after the British left in 1947. On September 10, 1949, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar even sponsored an amendment making Sanskrit as the official language of India. But the said amendment was defeated in the Constituent Assembly. However, Sanskrit was included in the Eighth Schedule of Indian Constitution.

But shockingly, Macaulay's missionary-oriented colonial education and neglect of Sanskrit is still gripping Independent India. After banishing Sanskrit from Indian schools and colleges, Macaulayists call Sanskrit 'the dead language'.

Sublime thoughts in sublime language
Sanskrit contains sublime thoughts in sublime words. All the Vedas, Upanishads, Aadi Kavi Maharishi Valamiki's Aadi kavyam Ramayana with 24,000 stanzas, Mahabharata, the longest poem in the world with over 1,00,000 stanzas, eighteen Puranas and several other holy books are all written in Sanskrit. Mahabharata also contains Bhagavad Gita. A verse of Mahabharata proclaims that what is found in Mahabharata may appear elsewhere but what is not in Mahabharata would be found nowhere.

To understand and appreciate beauty of Vedas, Sanskrit provides six Vedangs: Shikhsha (phonetics), Vyakarna (grammar), Chhanda (metre), Nirukta (etymology), Kalpa (religious practice) and Jyotish (astronomy).

Mention is made here of a few Vedic gems;
Mata bhumih putro aham prithivyaha (earth is our mother and we are its children); kevalagho kevalaadi (one who eats alone, eats sin); apritito jayati sama dhanani (only the forward march achieves success); tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati (His radiance pervades entire universe); satyam vad dharmam char (speak the truth, be righteous); sarve janah sukhino bhavantu (may every one be happy). And the list is endless.

Immortal Sanskrit literature;
Sanskrit has the oldest and richest literature in the world.

First Mantra of Rig Veda (1.1.1) is the first known poem in the world. English language prides having just one Shakespeare. Sanskrit has got thousands of Shakespeares. It is pitiable that the educated Indian knows nothing about them or about Sanskrit.

Sanskrit contains both sacred and temporal writings. After Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana and Mahabharata, Sanskrit magnificence continued through Bhasa, Kalidas, Bharavi, Magh, Bana, Kalhana, Adi Shankracharya, Chanakya and many others like Bhartirihari and his famous Shatkas. Bharat's Natyashastra and timeless Sanskrit dramas also adorn Sanskrit firmament. Vishnu Prabhakar's didactic fable Panch Tantra guides humans to this day. Panini's Ashtadhyayi is a timeless treatise of Sanskrit Grammar.

Sanskrit contains vast knowledge also about astronomy, astrology and mathematics. And Aryabhatt's Aryabhattiyam can be cited in this regard. Sanskrit also has Ayurveda (medical science) and Dhanur Veda.

And philosophy begins with the hymns of Rig Veda. Sanskrit explains all the six traditional systems of philosophy viz. Nyayah, Vaisheshikam, Sankhyam, Yogah, Mimansa and Vedant. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are still acting as the lodestar for many travellers of life. These Yoga Sutras describe eight steps to achieve victory of mind over matter. And they are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi.

Sanskrit also describes modern scientific tools discovered by Indian scholars thousands of years ago. Concept of shoonya (zero), concept of earth revolving around the sun, concepts of gravity, gyaamiti (geometry), triknomiti (trignometry), infinity, concept of time ranging from Krati (one 34,000th of a second) to kalpa (1000 maha yugas i.e. billions of years), decimal system: All this knowledge, and much more, is written in Sanskrit.

An impeccable language;
Sanskrit is a scientific and systematic language with a perfect grammar. It is computer compatible.

As per Sir William Jones (1746-1794), Sanskrit is "more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either". Sanskrit is independent, and is not derived from any other language. Sanskrit easily explains complex thoughts in a simple manner. The single theme of 'sublime' permeates Sanskrit literature.

Besides being rich in words (for instance, Sanskrit has got over a hundred synonyms for the word 'water'), Sanskrit is the language of the heart. It has got exact words to describe various human emotions. As per NASA, Sanskrit is "the only unambiguous language on earth". Even translated Sanskrit works have won admiration of scholars all over the world.

Sanskrit will revive Bharat's glory;
Macaulayan education has banished Sanskrit from schools and colleges dubbing it as a dead language. But death of Sanskrit means death of Hindu religion, Hindu Sanskriti (culture), Hindu heritage and Hindu identity.

The language which has all along sustained us cannot be allowed to fade away. Sanskrit must be revived and taught in schools and colleges since its survival is a must for survival of Hinduism and for rediscovery of hidden treasures of Bharat Varsha.

As per eminent historian Will Durant (1885-1981), "Civilization is not something inborn or imperishable; it must be acquired anew by every generation, and any serious interruption in its financing or its transmission may bring it to an end."

Mere ritual celebration of 'Sanskrit Day' on Shravani Poornima every year cannot revive lost Sanskrit glory. Only concrete action can restore Sanskrit and enable the present and future generations to know their rich legacy. Mere pious platitudes will not help since even Gods do not help inactive people. As per Rig Veda: 4.33.11, "Na ruteh shrantasya sakhayay devaha" (Gods do not help inactive people).


  1. Do you know about these Sanskrit books?

  2. It is really good to see so many websites promoting the cause of Sanskrit. Keep up the good work.