SANSKRIT STAGES LINGUISTIC REVIVAL
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Sanskrit language and literature are ancient and yet modern. Sanskrit has been spoken and written in Devnagari script from time immemorial. The language as known to us today is indeed different from the Sanskrit language of the holy book of Aryans, read Hindus, and intellectuals of other faiths. The Vedic Sanskrit has its own grammar and differs from the present day Laukik Sanskrit. Presently the intellectual world is seeing a major revival of the Laukik Sanskrit all over the world and linguists see it as a silver lining of the cloud of religious and sectarian conflict engulfing humanity.
GERMANS LEAD THE WAY
Germans are leaders in the domain of linguistic revival of Sanskrit today. Indeed Bharat has all along been the epicenter of learning of Sanskrit language and literature from the dawn of civilization until foreign invasions from the Arabian peninsula and Central Asia eclipsed the sun of Sanskrit. The foreign invaders came as marauders and after conquering large chunks of territory burnt libraries containing the wealth of wisdom of many a millennium. The learning and writing process in the Sanskrit language received a major setback when foreign languages like Arabic and Persian occupied the centre stage. When the British became rulers of India, English became the official language of administration as well as education. The Sanskrit language received a step-motherly treatment by rulers of Bharat for over a thousand years. With the dawn of independence on 15th August 1947, lovers of Sanskrit language had hoped for a fair retreatment being meted out to the Sanskrit language. But that was not to be. The Nehruvian philosophy of administration did not cast a benign eye on the ancient culture, religion, language and way of life.
It was the inner strength of the Sanskrit language that saved it from extinction. The traditional system of learning Vedic language in an unwritten form helped the Vedic Thought survive onslaughts of foreigners and westernized Indian intelligentsia. The survival of the Sanskrit language is a miracle and the German men and women too made a contribution to the Sanskrit Renaissance.
SWAMI DAYANAND SARASWATI
The world stands beholden to Swami Dayanand Saraswati for his Herculean effort to revive the learning of the Vedas and also Sanskrit plus Hindi languages. “ Back to Vedas” was the clarion call of the great Swami, later addressed as Rishivar, and that generated an intense desire among Indians to learn the Ved mantras and the laukik Sanskrit too. Indeed it saved the day for the ancient language of Bharat from extinction and encouraged common man to be a part of the revival of the Sanskrit language and Vedic Thought.
Max Mueller is another bright star on the firmament of revival of Vedas and common man’s Sanskrit language. His insatiable desire to learn the Sanskrit language and the Vedas encouraged him as a young man to move from Berlin in Germany to Paris in France for attaining greater heights in the study and enunciation of Ved mantras. When the source of Vedic knowledge in France was almost exhausted, Max Mueller moved to Oxford in the United Kingdom and reached the phenomenal height as a Professor of Sanskrit and Vedas in the Oxford University. Unfortunately he could not be designated as Head of the Department because he was a German and not a British citizen.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Max Mueller had never met face to face but they were aware of each other’s works in the Vedic realm and appreciated each other’s erudition in the Sanskrit language. However, Max Mueller’s gigantic efforts to popularize the study of Vedas were dwarfed by his intense wish to use the Vedic knowledge as an Evangelist for propagation of Christianity and convert the Hindus. Max Mueller had written to Acharya Keshav Chandra Sen, a Brahmo Samaj leader of eminence, to find something in the Ved mantras to popularize Christianity in India. Sadly for him, Sen failed to find even a single mantra to eulogize Christ or Christianity. Nevertheless, Max Mueller will always be remembered in history as the famous German who devoted his life to the study of the Vedas.
MODERN GERMANS FOR SANSKRIT
The German men and women of the 21st century are more enthusistic in learning the Sanskrit language than any other national of Europe or Americas. As of now, in the year 2015, there are 14 German universities teaching the Sanskrit language. In Heidelberg summer school is run to teach spoken Sanskrit to students who hail from many countries of the world. Since the number of applicants to take advantage of learning spoken Sanskrit language is growing by leaps and bounds, a number of branch schools have been opened in Switzerland and Italy, not forgetting Bharat. In fact some commentators give full marks to German people for their enthusiasm in contributing to the teaching-learning process of spoken Sanskrit.
An important side effect is that Vegetarianism is on the rise among Germans and students of Sanskrit language are leading the Veg Brigade. Devnagari script has naturally got an impetus from the enthusiastic learners of the Sanskrit language.
In contrast the Kendriya Vidyalayas in India had almost eliminated the Sanskrit language from the syllabus and replaced it with the German language. Young students of impressionable minds opted for learning of the German language in the hope of going abroad and getting admission in German Institutes for further studies. The wrong has now been righted by the Modi government with Smriti Irani, the Union HRD Minister leading the assault on unpatriotic education managers selling German language as a replacement for the home grown Sanskrit language.
It is pertinent to quote Justice Kuldip Singh of the Supreme Court who chastised the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan for equating Sanskrit with Arabic and Persian pointing to problems in teaching only Sanskrit language as the third language in the three language formula. Justice Kuldip Singh, a non-Hindu, emphasized the great importance of Sanskrit as the life blood giving sustenance to our culture.
Professor Hans Harder of Germany buttressed the importance of the Sanskrit language in these words: “ A significant part of the global cultural heritage will become extinct if major languages, read Sanskrit, fall prey to Indian English” Professor Ramesh Bharadwaj, Delhi University, expressed his opinion thus: “Sanskrit is an essential part of every Indian soul. Without the language, the Indian society loses its identity”
There is not even an iota of truth in the false propaganda that the learning of Sanskrit may make life regressive. The westernized Indian intelligentsia is of lop sided opinion in its criticism of the Sanskrit language. Even in the British Empire, many officers of the Indian Civil Service –the steel frame of the Empire, were good scholars of the Sanskrit language. Indeed when those who were Indians by appearance but more English than the Englishmen came to rule the independent India, the downward trend in the teaching of Sanskrit commenced.
Every cloud has a silver lining. The Sun has risen in the East and now supporters of the Bhartiy Sanskriri and Sanskrit language are at the helm of affairs. The ACHCHE DIN will be back and the story of the Karnataka village where even a washerman speaks the Sanskrit language will become the story of Sampoorna Bharat.
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