“That’s not an Assembly where there are no eldermen, Those are not elders, who do not speak with righteousness, That’s no righteousness where there is no truth, That’s not the truth which leads one to deceit.” –(Inscription on the dome near Lift no 1 of Parliament of Bharat, from Mahabharat 5/35/58)
A speck in the beard of a thief is the popular saying in English. One statement by Prime Minister Modi after Sanskrit shloka recitation by Irish kids in a function organised by the Bharateeya community there that such instance would have created uproar in Bharat in the name of secularism has exhibited what does that proverb mean. The secularists in Bharat did not disappoint him and they made a controversy over it. The jibe on foreign land might have hurt some people but their response reflects our general mindset towards Sanskrit and it is definitely rooted in the import of a foreign term, ‘secularism’. We should not forget that he was talking to the Bharateeya community and not the foreign audience.
It is a well known fact that whenever there is a discussion on reciting Saraswati Vandana or Omkar we faced questions on the basis of secularism. The attempts to introduce Sanskrit week in CBSE schools were opposed. It was argued in the Parliament that “Sanskrit is a very Hindu language; it is not used by Christians or Muslims. So why do you want to impose it on everyone? We want an inclusive India, a secular India, India that belongs to everybody.” The recent mention of Bhagwat-Geeta as part of curriculum by a minister stirred a controversy over saffronisation. Surya Namaskar and Yog were opposed by certain sections as religious and ‘secular’ section of political class defended them in the name of freedom. We always denied the fact that Sanskrit and other Dharmic scriptures are not merely sacred books like in the tradition of Semitic religions but representatives of vocabulary of our thought process, culture and knowledge system.
It is widely recognised world over that ancient Bharateeya knowledge system has lot to offer to the world. The values and insights about life offered by this knowledge are not meant for any sect but entire humanity. That is the reason many European countries have promoted Sanskrit and Indic studies in their Universities, Islamic countries like Malaysia and Thailand have Sanskrit study centres and Universities like Harvard and Columbia consider Geeta as important constituent in Management Studies.
In Bharat, after the end of British rule, we continued the Macaulian policy of linking English to the Employment. By terming Sanskrit as a classical language, we have shelved it into temples without touching it in day to day life. So the inscriptions on the walls of the Parliament are from ancient Sanskrit texts and all important emblems and mottos of the government departments are inscribed in Sanskrit, but it was not allowed to be a Lingua Franca of Bharat.
From the colonial period itself some opposed Sanskrit for being a Brahminical language, while other considered it as a religious language of Hindus. Ironically, it was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Prof Naziruddin Ahmed in the Constituent Assembly of Bharat who moved a resolution in favour of making Sanskrit a National Language on September 10, 1949, which was rejected by the Congress leadership, again in the name of secularism. All in all, we have given a step-motherly treatment to the mother of all languages since the word go.
The time has come that we recognise Sanskrit as the soul of Bharat. It does not mean discarding English or any other Bharateeya languages but to accept Sanskrit as the source of our vision of life and promoting it accordingly. Hope that this discussion takes us beyond the distorted secularism practiced in Bharat and paves the way for reinstating the rightful position to the mother of all languages.