Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sanskrit and Classical Languages

One more Indian language viz. Malayalam has been accorded the status of a Classical language which means that it is at least 1500 years old. Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and of course Sanskrit have attained this status earlier. Many more are in the offing and as expected the decision will be more on political reasons than facts. It is interesting to note the richness of India even in terms of its languages. No other country or civilization in the entire world can boast of such a set of more than two dozen classical languages which have independent vocabulary and scripts. But Indian rulers are making a big mistake by continuing to neglect the mother of all such languages viz. Sanskrit.

One thousand years ago, when India was the richest country in the world with a GDP share of more than 40%, the glory of Sanskrit was also at its peak. No one would have imagined that reluctance of then rulers to universalize the study of Sanskrit would one day result in its decay. Lower sections of the society were kept away from the so called noble language to prevent them from learning the sacred literature which the Brahmins, especially the pseudo variety, wanted to monopolise for themselves. Sanatana Dharma stipulated Brahminhood to be attained by ones own efforts, but a few clever and cunning achievers made it a monopoly for their own progeny. The death and decay of Sanskrit language started from those days. Europeans saw a great opportunity in this scenario and made full use of it by smuggling out most of our literature.

I am sure there is not even a single Indian who would not have felt bad at least on one occasion in their life that he or she is doing a great blunder by not mastering Sanskrit. The mother of all languages has not only a vast repertoire of ancient literature but has also been declared as the most compatible one with modern computers. The simple fact that the mother tongues of all Indians contain at least 50% words of Sanskrit origin makes the mistake of not learning Sanskrit more glaring. It is one of the greatest tragedy of modern India that Sanskrit was not declared our national language when we got liberated from British and Pakistan got separated from India.

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