FEW years ago, Pakistan celebrated the 2,500th anniversary of Panini, the great Sanskrit grammarian. At that time, the Islamic state of Pakistan boasted that they were the ones to gift the world, the science of grammar as well as Rig Veda, the earliest literature produced by man! Thus, they have tacitly owned a common culture and a common heritage with the rest of Hindustan. On this score, neither Pakistan nor any of their protégés be apologetic or ashamed of historical truths. No wonder, history repeats itself in articulating its aspirations from time to time. It is clear, that Sanskrit is the soul of Indian culture and, indeed this soul is indestructible!
Inspite of the fact that foreign marauders have been systematically resorting to murder, rape, loot, arson, forced conversions and destruction of values cherished and nourished by the native Indians, the Indian ethos survived the onslaughts of barbarians with a remarkable tenacity. When the British arrived in India as traders, India was a country where gold was flowing into the Indian coffers! While the British were amazed at the opulence of Indians, this wonder expressed itself in their textbooks as a nursery rhyme which in later years was incorporated in the Indian textbooks. The nursery rhyme reads as under:
Where are you going?
I am off to Hindustan!
What have you got?
I have a pot of honey
And a pot of gold!
If the India of yesteryears was a rich and prosperous country, it was because of the then prevailing system of education that provided not merely the skill required for the various trades but also the required high moral and spiritual values that contributed to cohesion and harmony in society. It is needless to point out here that the native pattern of education through Sanskrit in Patashalas was mainly responsible for such a stable society, nurtured by self esteem and native culture of the native Indians.
The cohesion and harmony in Indian society that contributed to its stability, despite its perplexing diversities and made possible because of its spiritual and cultural ethos was sought to be destroyed by Lord Thomas Bobbington Macaulay (during the period 1800 AD-1859 AD) by fostering the English system of education to Indians in general, and particularly to Brahmins who were considered the root of Hindu society and win them over to Christian faith! In this regard, it is worth quoting Navarathna S Rajaram, as under:
“In effect his (Lord Macaulay’s) plan was to turn the strength of the Brahmins against them, by using their commitment to scholarship in uprooting their own tradition.” Though this British conspiracy has produced the desired effect to a certain extent, it is our fortune that the Indian ethos continues to assert itself in defeating the nefarious designs of anti-national elements. As a sequel to the efforts of such defenders and protectors of Indian ethos, Sanskrit, the backbone of our spiritual and cultural heritage, is emerging once again as the language of day to day transactions.
The story of how we are coming out of the rut caused to Sanskrit, due to the efforts of Sanskrit Bharati, and their dedicated workers endowed with a vision and mission in their life, may serve as an eye opener to many who are still under the spell of English education.