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Sanskrit and its Relevance: Who said Sanskrit is a dead language?

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Dr Sampadananda Mishra

It is through Sanskrit that India has been expressing herself abundantly and incessantly for centuries, and its future rests much on this most dynamic language. But in the recent past, we have been cut off from this voluminous body of the highest wisdom, knowledge and genius through the alienation of Sanskrit from the mainstream curriculum of our schools and universities. This trend is only now beginning to change, and the resurgence of Sanskrit in all the fields of life would also mean a revival of the true spirit of India and its soul-force. It is through Sanskrit that we would be able to connect ourselves with all the puissance and the creative thrust which propelled our forefathers to form one of the greatest civilisations in the past.

Furthermore, Sanskrit has a great power to elevate human consciousness to sublime heights. The thought contents expressed through this language are capable of taking one to greater heights, widening and heightening the consciousness of the one who uses it consciously. It is a Force functioning in many levels of consciousness, ever purifying, ever formative and creative. And the rediscovery of Sanskrit therefore, means to grow conscious of the hidden forces in the sounds of Sanskrit.

  There have been many misconceptions about Sanskrit which float around like Sanskrit is dead language, a difficult language, a Hindu language, a language with no job opportunities etc. But, now the situation is changing. When we look at the present scenario of Sanskrit we learn that in India, there are 16 Sanskrit Universities where various subjects are taught through the medium of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is being taught from Standard I to XII. as one of the optional languages in various states. Most of the State Secondary Education Boards offer Sanskrit as part of the ‘Three Language Formula’ from Std VI to X and as second optional language in XI and XII. Uttarakhand is the state in India that has Sanskrit as second official language of the state. There are schools which even teach Sanskrit compulsorily right from the nursery level. Some states offer it as a composite course along with the mother tongue as well. It is estimated that altogether about five crore students study Sanskrit at school level. There are about 5000 traditional Sanskrit Pathashalas at school level and about 1000 Veda Pathashalas in the country. There are few States in India which have Sanskrit Secondary Education Board or Directorate of Sanskrit Education, though many a state doesn’t have any. About 120 general Universities offer Sanskrit at UG and PG level. There are 10 Sanskrit Academies, 16 Oriental Research Institutes, more than 60 periodicals and magazines in Sanskrit and about a hundred NGOs working for the popularisation of Sanskrit.   All India Radio broadcasts Sanskrit Bulletins twice a day. Delhi Doordarshan telecasts Sanskrit news twice a day and a special bulletin of half an hour weekly once. Divyavani Sanskrit radio is a 24/7 internet radio broadcasting varieties of programs purely in Sanskrit and is accessed globally in more than 165 countries. Hundreds of original writings in Sanskrit and research works in Sanskrit get published every year. National and state level Awards are given annually to the creative writers in Sanskrit. There are seven villages like Mattur in Karnataka, Jhiri in Madhya Pradesh where Sanskrit is the language of daily life. Many families nowadays come forward to learn Sanskrit to become Sanskrit families. The popularity of Sanskrit is highly increasing in foreign countries. Many online platforms are promoting various aspects of Sanskrit and keep updating the viewers. Sanskrit through electronic media and social media are increasing day by day. The tremendous amount of research works in the field of Sanskrit, and computational linguistics are taking place in a few universities and institutes. Samskrita Balasahitya Parishad is the only organisaiton in the world that is entirely dedicated for creating, evaluating and propagating qualitative children’s literature in Sanskrit. Around twenty-five thousand people in India have registered Sanskrit as their mother tongue. many people converse in Sanskrit, blog in Sanskrit, email in Sanskrit, tweet in Sanskrit, post to their WhatsApp groups in Sanskrit, etc. In Sanskrit conferences, most of the times the entire conversation, debates, presentations are in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is one of the official languages under the Indian Constitution. Even though spoken Sanskrit is not common, almost every Indian language/dialect has vocabulary derived from Sanskrit roots. With the development of many computational linguistic tools in Sanskrit, now there has been an increasing interest in this language. Language teaching through digital media, and social media is increasing day by day. Many people feel that learning this language helps in several ways in getting connected with the social, cultural, historical, religious and spiritual roots not just of India but of the whole world.   Sanskrit is not just a language, but a complete knowledge system that embodies the learning of ancient India. Apart from the greatest classics of world literature, Sanskrit is also a treasure house of immense scientific knowledge. We need to provide the missing links and encourage inter-disciplinary approaches, the wisdom treasured in Sanskrit has the potential of enriching the present day knowledge systems and most importantly, it contributes immensely toward the enrichment of all other Indian languages.  The most practical value of learning Sanskrit lies in the fact that it trains the mind to think logically, brings clarity of expression, develops intellectual strength, provides keen insight into the meanings of the words. The vibrational quality of Sanskrit has a direct impact on the functioning of the brain, and can help in enhancing memory and the ability to concentrate. Moreover, it helps in the growth of consciousness, has immense power in bringing a greater transformation. It leads to true happiness and fills the heart and mind with a perfect sense of immortality. Its purity draws us, inspires us, and constantly reminds us of the true aim of our life, makes us conscious of the Truth that exists within us. The rhythmic beauty and melody of this language, vibrational purity of its sounds, the richness of its phonetic quality, transparency of its root-sounds and their senses, richness of its vocabularies and thought contents, all these have made Sanskrit truly great.
 (The writer is Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry)

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