By B.V. Rao
Organiser has opened a good forum for discussions. The first topic raised by Shri Mohan Gupta is quite relevant. The writer has blamed English language for affecting the culture of the country. His basic point is correct. But the corrective action does not lie in reducing the status of English or banishing it.
Ours is Sanatan Dharma which has withstood many testing times. Any other culture would have perished under such onslaughts on it. Thus with changing times, English has now occupied a place of wide use. It is true that France, Japan, Germany, China have flourished without English being their official language. But they are paying a heavy price on the question of translations and wrong communications. Presently our economy being inefficient, the use of any other official language will entail a heavy price. America is still working with the British system of measurements even though Britain itself has converted to metric. The reason is that America finds that it has to spend billions of dollars to convert to metric system. We are in such a situation as far as conversion from English language is concerned. Inventing equivalent words for the large number of technical and scientific words will be a daunting task. Think of writing advanced mathematics in Hindi! It may be possible after months or years of labour but it is not worthwhile.
Then what is the solution? Should our culture be allowed to die? Well, our culture should be preserved. The way is simple as Sri Kanchi Acharya suggested. He said that even in English medium we should insert all our national ideas. He said, “Alphabets should be A for Arjuna, B for Bhima, etc.” He is right. Just by teaching English our national spirit will not be lost. We can preserve it by various means.
Continuing our debate on the role of English in India, we present here more articles received in response to the open forum dated July 4, 2004.
Chinmaya Mission is conducting camps in English. It is conducting a Gita competition all over India. There are many centres preserving Indian culture this way. Only thing is that the effort should be wider. If our Doordarshan is still showing fashion shows and meaningless film dance scenes on the national channel, it is not because of English, but because we are not trained in a Hindu school, valuing respect for womanhood. It is necessary to teach basics of Vedanta in all schools. It is not saffronisation. It is humanisation.
In Lalitha Astottara, it is given “Bhaavanaa maatra santusta hridayayei namaha.” Sri Devi is also happy with only mental devotion. It is true of all gods. It is also true of all our actions. English plus Sankrit prayers will easily unite our country.
Autobiography of a Yogi is an excellent book in English translated in more than 13 world languages. The Yogi who wrote it studied in English medium against his wishes. Still his life caused a worldwide dissemination of Hindu culture just as Swami Vivekananda did. The Yogi who learnt English says in the autobiography that Sanskrit is a very good language and its words have potential powers. We have to teach the Sanskrit prayers to our children from young age. It will have a lasting effect.
Cow protection is a human agenda and not Hindu agenda. Are all humans not brought up on milk and milk products? Is it not humanitarian to respect it as a representative of animal world?
There are of course, language fanatics who say that I do not want a God who does not listen to prayers in vernacular languages. Good prayers can be said in any language. They are also effective in preserving our ethos. Tulsi'sRamayan in Hindi, Vaishnava janato in Gujarati, Vande Mataram in Bengali, Bhakti songs of Purandaradas in Kannada have very good spiritual values because all are born through the Indian music system. Learning another language for talking or singing is very easy and is not a burden on our children.
Thus, English should be a means for conveying our ethos to the world. But the basic requirement is that we ourselves should be proud of our culture. Unfortunately it is not happening. It is not due to convent schools but the lack of parental guidance on the matters of our culture. This spiritual fall can happen irrespective of language if a society does not organise itself.
From Bangalore, I was once travelling in a car to Delhi and was seated in the front. Ahead of our car, a truck carrying stone aggregates was travelling with about four workers on the back. I was observing one worker and smiling towards him. He returned the smile. Another minute later he pulled a beedi from his pocket and started lighting it. Then I silently nodded my head in “no, no” command. To my utter surprise he pocketed the beedi back without lighting. Then it struck me that if our younger generation has gone off the path, it is due to lack of parental guidance. Now the question is how to correct the situation and preserve our culture.
All our mutts and Hindu schools should be goaded to see the danger of loss of culture and do their bit in preserving it. I remember the statement of a Karnataka Congress Minister, who said, “It was good that British ruled our country and taught us English. That is why we are now number one in IT.” We should take advantage of our history without losing our self pride and go onwards in the Hindu way of life with some adjustments as may be deemed fit from time to time.
Shri Gupta’s article quotes Macaulay. The man was confident that India would be totally transformed in 30 years. Unfortunately for his tribe and fortunately for Bharat, his prediction did not come true even after more than one hundred years. We were fortunate in having many saints born here during the century and upholding the torch of Hinduism. Of course, this should not make us complacent. We should always be very alert. The fight between darkness and light is eternal as long as mankind lives.
Vedas prescribe agnihotra. It is no doubt good. But it is not the only way of spiritual life. Mata Amritanandamayee has risen to the level of Swami Vivekananda or Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa without it. Thus we have to recognise Hindu spirit in all walks of life and encourage it.
Hindu missionaries have to work like salesmen on business. The only objective is the Hindu spirit, whether it be in English or native language. The country is divided by the dirty politicians in the name of caste, language, backward-forward, etc. The mantra should be Hindu spirit and universal humanness. The spirit should be brave against attacks on Hinduism and be united in the fight. Universal Hinduism does not recognise caste or religion. The Hindu law is equal for all.
For example, I am propagating the idea that cow protection is a human agenda and not Hindu agenda. Are all humans not brought up with milk and milk products of cow? Is it not humanitarian to respect it as a representative of animal world? Many non-Hindus have agreed to the logic.
Swami Vivekananda and many saints after him have propagated Hinduism in the West in English. Thus English is not an obstacle for preservation of our culture but should be made as one of the wheels of the vehicle of culture to move it forward.
Current yoga therapy, ayurveda awareness, etc. are an effort in this direction. Vaastu is now respected by even an ordinary Hindu but was ignored by PM from BJP when he blindly accepted the position of the gate of his house. He also ignored astrology while selecting the day for dissolution of Lok Sabha, which is akin to the start of a war. I am aware of a non-Brahmin businessman who does not sign any contracts on days or time not believed by him. I salute him. He is more Hindu than me. Obviously the PM whose English speaking is poor has let the country down by his lack of strong Hinduism.
(The author can be contacted at purna_[email protected])