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SANSKRIT – The language that we killed

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By – M.R. Lalu 

Reminding the necessity of Linguistic diversity, the International Mother Language Day was observed on February 21 worldwide. Linguistic Diversity has the power to essentially strengthen the area of communication and education that people from different backgrounds can conveniently choose from. Civilizations continue to evolve with the evolution of languages. Existing in various forms, communication came to the collective consciousness of people and languages became the attire of thoughts and flourished across the globe. Traditions and practices are preserved in every society in their originality mostly encrypted in the language that they used for communication. Existence of ethnic societies was mainly based on the existence of their languages and with the death of the language, any society for that matter, falls into a state of oblivion, totally forgetful of their past. Many languages and dialects became extinct mainly due to their unjustifiably perceived notion of incompatibility in the eye of modern discourse. Colonial onslaughts on cultures dominated the spirit of cultural vitality of societies dismantling their ethnic   essence by invalidating and demonizing their power to fight and survive in a multilingual setup. On a multidimensional analysis, Sanskrit is one of the languages that lost its credit and stature beyond imaginations in its birthplace. Diversity being the essence of every society, multilingual and multicultural acceptance among societies strengthened them perceivably being articulative on every difference that came on their way of congenial coexistence. Languages played their role to stitch differences into acceptance while finding common cause for shared interests to flourish.
Sanskrit, the oldest language on the planet, is also known to be the mother of all languages. Despite its being the most communicated language of ancient times in India, it lost its glow as a language after the independence. When languages united people across the globe, Sanskrit for various reasons could not flourish in India.  With a large number of people choosing English as their spoken tongue, Indians have as much claim on it as any native speaker in America or England. The reach of Sanskrit as a medium of communication got limited among a handful of elite people in India, probably giving it the recognition of the language of the spiritual elite, the pundits. Away from the reach of the common man, Sanskrit is dying in India. There should not be boundaries in embracing languages as they are meant to break boundaries naturally and bring people closer. Most of the vernaculars grew from the linguistic expressions of Sanskrit and flourished gaining popularity, while Sanskrit depleted to the level of insignificance. Spirituality in India was defined and propagated in it but subsequently got sidelined as the essence of Bhakti or devotion got disseminated to the populace in local languages too. With its treasure of knowledge remained heavy and probably inaccessible to the common man, spiritual texts from Sanskrit got translated into vernaculars helping him to delve into them without being dependent on Sanskrit.
Research reveals the geographical influence of Sanskrit in various global languages. Most of the Asian languages are seen to be impacted by the influence of Sanskrit. Interestingly, countries like Germany have understood the intellectual and linguistic depth that Sanskrit holds and began to popularize the language in their universities. Iranians, Arabs and even the British found merit and power in Sanskrit and translated great classics from Sanskrit into their languages. Governments in India kept away from initiatives to strengthen the mother of all languages for the fear that such a decision might topple India’s secular social engineering and invite the wrath of some sections. Schools adopting a three-language formula in their curriculum can teach Hindi, English and an Indian language to the students and probably some schools might have preferred Sanskrit. Most of the students who chose Sanskrit in the secondary level under CBSE, experienced it as a better mark scoring language than Hindi. Many universities in the U.S teach Sanskrit as an Indo-European language. Interestingly, there is no language which has a vocabulary as abundant as that of Sanskrit. To present an example, the English word ‘sun’ has 12 equivalents in Sanskrit. But English does not possess this vocabulary power and to fix this lacuna, it borrows new words from other languages including Sanskrit.   An estimate says that of an approximate 6800 languages worldwide, about 200 languages in the world enjoy speakers more than a million each. Remaining languages have a meager number of speakers. With a huge number of people speaking it, Tamil enjoys a large acceptance in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.
With the National Education Policy coming into force, as part of its trilingual policy, states are authorized to take Sanskrit as a language through primary and secondary education. The policy is expected to bring a revamp in the education sector. India, a cultural diversity, despite its being a geographical unity, remained a single spiritual entity for ages as the language Sanskrit could bind the landscape through the spiritual aphorisms in texts that even today are monumental evidence for reference that the world is appreciative about. The laxity with which an independent India treated Sanskrit was brutal. To pursue Macaulayism, the idea of the English education system, we committed the biggest sin by burying the significance of the mother of all languages. It was also due to the secular track the country constitutionally decided to travel on, finding reasons to give Sanskrit a back seat. The fear of a probable backlash from the minority vote bank, if Sanskrit was favored, was the main reason for the denial.  
Societies with genetic, social and linguistic diversities survive and flourish to their fullest potential, making intercultural assimilation of humanity, proclaiming the essential Indian Vedic idea of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ‘’, which means world is one family. Indeed, Sanskrit is the only language in which we can find such thoughts of unparalleled ancient wisdom on universal brotherhood. Hypocrisy is what is the gesture of the Indian conscience these days. We carefully, in a surreptitious manner killed a language that our ancestors cherished, nourished and flourished with for generations. All credit as to why it is going to be extinct in this large subcontinent will come to us. Boundless knowledge is confined in books, unable to be perceived in its real sense as translations fail to give the real joy of reading the original texts. With technologies available to make the learning process faster, multilingual learning with Sanskrit on the board should be given priority. Cities like Haridwar and Rishikesh are known to be the seats of Sanskrit learning and research. Aspirants from across the globe flock to these cities to learn Sanskrit. Mattur village of Shimoga in Karnataka is famous for its Sanskrit speaking families. About 5000 residents of this village communicate in Sanskrit. More conscious efforts from various corners should follow the suit in pursuit of reviving Sanskrit.

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