Since, the victory of BJP led NDA in the loksabha elections, secular pundits (Self attached tag!) have been fear mongering about the saffronisation of education. Certainly, their expostulates motivated me to ruminate.
Why are they afraid… ? There are many reasons (As they claim!). But, officially (Keeping presentiments aside.) it’s MoHRD. They are reportedly said to have formed a committee for studying the Vedas and Upanishads in order to choose the appropriate texts emphasizing India’s contribution to Science, Mathematics and Philosophy. They see this move as an attempt to bring Vedas, Upanishads and other relevant ancient texts in the syllabus of class 8th, 9th and 10th. She also declared the celebration of ‘Sanskrit week’. Moving one step forward, Sanskrit started to be taught as third language almost compulsorily replacing German in KV’s (German would still continue to be offered as hobby).
Are their fears coming true?… How to know?? Let’s counter argument their questions of disapprobation on one of the official moves of MoHRD ( There’s hardly any need to entertain the assumptions! Wait and watch for the new edition of History books to arrive.) to endorse Sanskrit as the third language :
Make Sanskrit mandatory, prioritize it above all foreign languages even Arabic and Persian ( German can be taught almost compulsorily in a way in KV’s instead of French or Spanish which is spoken more globally but Sanskrit? No!) Why? Surely there must be more important things to learn?…
- Well! There are many. But not at the cost of Sanskrit as it provides advantages to its learner like no other language.
- One of the major purposes of education in a state is to nurture citizenship ( Education provided by state need not always be associated with employment!). It is Sanskrit that can play the role of unifying India: “This great inheritance of Sanskrit is the golden link joining up all the various regional languages and literature and cultures”. Whatever difference Indians may have in their cuisine, language, as dress, they are all descendants of the same scholars, saints and emperors. The element of unity in this country’s cultural diversity is to a large extent provided by Sanskrit. Let’s not forget that Chinese system of writing and modern Hebrew served to unify the newly formed nations of China and Israel respectively.
- Also, Sanskrit in contemporary India has something to do with both the politics and policies of the State. Sanskrit, moreover, can be our link with the larger world we inhabit, both West and East ( At least to some extent.).
Sanskrit does not have the expressive spirit and temper of science and technology. Of what use could it possibly be in this globalized world of informatics?
Do we really want to be lodged down in the past when a brave new world beckons…?
- The depth and breadth of Sanskrit thought encompasses many scientific and technical fields such as Mathematics and Metallurgy. Abstract thought, open inquiry and logic are key hallmarks of Sanskrit learning. . Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam once interacting with the students of the Sree Gurusarvabhouma Sanskrit Vidyapeetam, Mantralayam, on 1st February 2007, said: “Though I am not an expert in Sanskrit, I have many friends who are proficient in Sanskrit. It has enriched our society from time immemorial. Today many nations are trying to research Sanskrit writings which are there in our ancient scriptures. I understand that there is a wealth of knowledge available in Sanskrit which scientists and technologists are finding today”.
- Compellability of generating words for every human endeavor and aspiration is Sanskrit’s greatest strength. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about ability of Sanskrit to cater to the needs of modern scientific and technological age. As early as the 1940’s the great Sanskrit Scholar, linguistic and nationalist Acharya Raghuvira single-handedly compiled a dictionary which he called “A grater English-Hindi dictionary in this dictionary he had coined 1,50,000 Sanskrit words for more than thirty-two area of administration and law and for scores of scientific discipline.
- Worthless to mention: Sanskrit, is the source of our identity. To destroy or deny the source of one’s cultural potency would be tantamount to a self-emasculation.
Sanskrit has no career prospects…?
- If someone does not know Sanskrit, he is obviously missing something. He cannot get the true (Translation hardly works!) perspective of Vedas, Geeta, Upnishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Arthshastra and many other books, which are still regarded as the finest piece. Sanskrit is an essential tool for research in Indology, the Humanities and Social Sciences (as per ancient texts) and relates it to contemporary reality.
- To be a master of subject like Ayurvedic Medicine, Yoga, Indian Philosophy, Vedic Mathematics and astrology, one needs to learn Sanskrit to some extent.
- The precise and extremely well defined structure of Sanskrit, coupled with its antiquity offers a number of areas in linguistic research including computation linguistics.
Sanskrit is the language of the invading Aryans…?
Oh really! Although I thought Aryan Invasion theory is leaky enough to be thrown on the scrap heap, AIT is brought in to rescue the so called seculars, only to divide India into Aryans and Dravidians! However, keeping these divide and rule policies apart, I can say Sanskrit is the forgotten mother of most Indian tongues. Having said that, I would like to suggest that not only is Sanskrit the root of many north Indian languages but it has also undeniably influenced south. All our languages, including what are known as the Dravidian languages; have through all the centuries habitually drafted, in a great as less degree to meet every new situation and need for expression of a new idea as shade of meaning, upon the vast and inexhaustible free house of vocabulary, phrase, idioms and concept comprised by Sanskrit language and literature. It is estimated that almost 70% of the words of most modern Indian languages come from Sanskrit. That is why it is possible for people in different parts of India to understand each other even if they speak different languages. Sanskrit is need of the hour for the proper development of modern Indian languages, the intellectual registers of which would be derived from it.
Firm grasp over Sanskrit helps improve cognition of words and ideas in several other Indian languages and foreign languages too (German and Arabic are no exception!).
Sanskrit has no value to non-Hindu traditions. Isn’t teaching Sanskrit against secularism?
Certainly not! Except Islam, numerous Buddhist, Panjabi and Jain texts are composed in Sanskrit. None but Muslims are opposed to Sanskrit (So what?). A judgment of the Supreme Court of India says that “a secular state is not hostile to religion but holds itself neutral in matters of religion”. Though, this abuse and philistine view! Real irony! None other than India where Hindus are in majority, prioritizing Sanskrit over German (a foreign language) is termed communalizing attempt of school curriculum.
Sanskrit is a language only of Brahmins…?
Whatever it may have been in the past, certainly in today’s India, this is no longer the case. Access to Sanskrit is open to all.
There are umpteen reasons that may be produced for Sanskrit should not just be taught but be the core of the school curricula alongside Math and Science, and most of these reason are accepted broadly about classical languages worldwide as Latin and Greek are offered in Europe and classical Chinese in China. Why should Sanskrit not be promoted and asserted in the same or even much better way? Does anyone think learning Sanskrit produce Indian supremacist? No, it doesn’t. The real question ought to be why Sanskrit was not emphasized more all these years? Was Sanskrit not excluded and marginalized?
Am I suggesting that Saffron is the only colour to admire? Certainly, not! Every colour is holy to us (Green is no exception!). It is the justice that matters (No different will be the case with History Books. Truth must prevail!). But for now, if a government is trying to revive a near extinct language, isn’t it indecorous to judge these decisions on archaic secular dimensions? Are these not the most
pitiful moments of the recent times that a language is being stripped of its importance as it is linked to the majority people of this country? Why should one not conclude that Sanskrit, India’s Classical language has fallen prey to the policy of “appeasement of minority ”.? On that note, Why shouldn’t one conclude that there is no attempt to saffronise Indian education and rather term ‘Saffronisation of education’ debate as tenuous?… THINK AND JUDGE