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Rediff.com  » News » 'Sanskrit must be janbhasha; it's not a language of Brahmins alone'

'Sanskrit must be janbhasha; it's not a language of Brahmins alone'

October 17, 2013 14:56 IST

Many feel that Indian languages are in a mess and what one witnesses is a mixture of English, Persian and Arabic in our regional languages. The question is, how do we purify Indian languages and remove the mix of various foreign languages? 

New Delhi-based Samskrita Bharati has decided to take upon itself the task of cleaning up Indian languages and to introduce Sanskrit as the mainstream language. Dinesh Kamath, the organisation’s all-Bharat organising secretary, speaks to Vicky Nanjappa about the cause.

“Our organisation aims at the revival of Sanskrit as a mass communication language (janbhasha) and facilitation of common man’s access to its vast knowledge treasure. We aim to engender cultural renaissance of Bharat by bringing Sanskrit back to the mainstream,” Kamath says.

“We also aim to attain social harmony and national integration by taking Sanskrit to the masses regardless of caste and creed, to promote study and research of original texts in lakhs of manuscripts that are yet unexplored,” he says.

Kamath adds that Samskrita Bharati wants to inspire people to study our traditional sciences (shaastras) like yoga, Vedanta, linguistics, dance and drama, among other things.

“We have started work in this regard on a very large scale across the country. We have been conducting spoken Sanskrit camps and have taught even illiterates how to speak the language. We have been conducting such camps across the country and even gone into slums and tribal areas and taught them the language. We have had a great response and the tribals in the North East too came in very large numbers to learn Sanskrit. What one must understand is that this is not aimed at imposing any sort of religious message on anyone. We have had a great response in Muslim-dominated areas such as Meerut (in Uttar Pradesh) and also Karimnagar (in Andhra Pradesh), where we also have Muslim volunteers.

“I said this at the beginning, that Sanskrit is not a language of the Brahmins. We have conducted 1.5 lakh camps in all and have taught 80 lakh people the language and over 70 per cent of them were non-Brahmins,” Kamath points out.

“The people have a misconception that Sanskrit is a very difficult language to speak. We use Sanskrit in the languages that we speak everyday. There are many words from Sanskrit in each of the languages that we speak. People think it is difficult, but then our job is to ensure that they learn the language and get over the mental block.

“While our first goal is to ensure that everyone learns how to speak the language, the next aim would be to teach them how to read and write. Once you learn how to speak the language it becomes easy to read and write,” Kamath notes.

“We have also introduced distance education courses through which people can learn the language. We have courses in various languages such as Kannada and Gujarati among other languages,” he says.

Kamath says there is a need to have Sanskrit as a learning subject right from primary education.

“Today it is all about learning the bread-giving language of English and there is more emphasis on the same. I am not even trying to say that English should not be part of education. In fact it is very important, but then it is equally important to learn Sanskrit as well. It is important that everyone, apart from learning the bread-giving language, should also learn the character-building language -- which is Sanskrit. Character-building education is the need of the hour and from nursery level on it should be made compulsory. Trust me, if everyone learns Sanskrit the culture among the people will change and it would only be a matter of time before crimes such as corruption and rape stop completely. This is the advantage of learning a character and culture-building language,” Kamath argues.

“Once Sanskrit is learnt one gets the feeling of being a Bharatiya. In this context we have also introduced Bhagwad Gita learning programmes all over the country. The Gita is being taught through simple language and we believe that this will go a long way in helping people shape their character and culture,” he says.

“There is a lot of government apathy regarding the introduction of Sanskrit. In fact, the founding fathers of our nation were in favour of making Sanksrit the official language. Great men such as Subhas Chandra Bose and B R Ambedkar supported this, but then the opposition was too much and it never materialized,” he says.

“At no point in time am I trying to say that people should stop speaking their regional language or mother tongue. I am only saying that each one should learn Sanskrit in a bid to protect their own mother tongue. Take a closer look and you will find that our mother tongues have become a mix of English, Arabic and Persian,” he adds.

These issues will be discussed further at the National Convention of Samskrita Bharati to be held from October 18 to 20 at the Art of Living campus at Bangalore, Kamath says.

Image: Hindu priests perform a yagna in Hyderabad (image used for representational purpose only)

Photograph: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

Vicky Nanjappa