The Unnecessary Sanskrit Controversy

Sanskrit is again in the news in the mainstream media as the Ministry of Human Resource and Development has asked IITs to teach students Sanskrit. This news triggered a sort of controversy which shows the ignorance of people as well as the juvenile attitude of media in handling any news. In the reality, the MHRD had asked IITs to add Sanskrit in their curriculum as an elective subject. In any sane country, this would have been appreciated by the intelligentsia because it’s increasing the options for the students. However, the response of media, intelligentsia, and liberals of India were different.

Media started reported in the wrong way and they made it look like as if government had directed IITs to teach Sanskrit as a compulsory subject. In the curriculum of engineering, in the every semester, there is one elective. The students have the freedom to choose the electives according to their choice. In the electives, subjects from various disciplines such as Humanities, Language, Management etc are offered. In the language section of electives, many languages such as German, Chinese, French etc are offered so far. However, none of the IITs were offering Sanskrit as an elective course so far. The decision from the MHRD made sure that students have wide range of options. In my college, I had options of German and Industrial Psychology in 3rd semester of engineering. I had wished that there should be Sanskrit too as I wanted to continue the Sanskrit which I had left three years ago. From the academic point of view, this was a welcome move which shouldn’t have attracted any unnecessary attention.

The events which followed after this decision, only showed that how Indian elites hate anything which is remotely associated with Hinduism and ancient tradition of India. Seculars started asking that how will someone say ‘Thermodynamics’ in Sanskrit? The new leftist mouthpiece “scroll.in” published an article with this title too. The writer of that article couldn’t comprehend that Smriti Irani hadn’t asked IITs to teach engineering courses in Sanskrit so that people will need to say ‘Thermodynamics’ in Sanskrit. It was neither a case when all the engineering subjects will be translated in Sanskrit. When someone decides to study German as elective, they don’t start wondering about how will they say “Kinematics and Dynamics of Machines” in German, beacuse it’s a language course. The language doesn’t mean translation only.

As the Sanskrit contains the vast body of texts in the field of Philosophy, Medicine, Law, Ethics, Mathematics, Astrology, Linguistics etc; someone won’t need to find the translation of ‘Thermodynamics’ in elective course which spans for the one semester only. The other criticisms were similar to the rhetoric of leftists where they associate every move of putting emphasis on Indic system of knowledge as ‘Saffronisation’ of education. If the leftists had studied the Nyaya darshana of Hinduism, they won’t have made such idiotic statement. In the Nyaya sutra, upma(analogy) is a way to establish a truth. If teaching German is not the ‘Germanisation’ of education, if teaching Chinese is not equivalent to forcing Chinese culture then how does teaching Sanskrit becomes ‘Saffronisation’ of education? As I earlier said, they’ve neither studied the Aristotle’s theory of logic nor nyaya darshana.

The deputy CM of Delhi, Manish Sisodiya, tweeted “One should understand Sanskrit is the only language which can compete with C++, Java, Python, JavaScript.” In the next tweet, he wrote, “All computers in India using languages like C+, Java, SOL, Python should be declared antinational once IITians learn working in Sanskrit.” The tweets of Manish Sisodiya reflect his flawed logic, lack of knowledge, and hate for Sanskrit. When the analytical philosophers such as Russell and Wittgenstein were looking for development of artificial languages, which would provide them a more logical grammar, which won’t be ambiguous; they became inspired with Sanskrit. The grammar of Sanskrit language is unambiguous and context free. A context free grammar means that you don’t need a context to know the literal meaning of a sentence. These qualities of Sanskrit had considerable role in development of modern computer programming language which Sisodiya mentioned. He didn’t know this fact out of ignorance. Noam Chomsky, who is one of the most prominent linguist, had referred Panini’s grammar as most famous and important case of generative grammar.

Besides the linguistic beauty of Sanskrit, the vast treatise in Sanskrit can be an important tool in refining the philosophy of science and drawing the inspiration from the ancient literature which would result in new development. One of the most prominent physicist of previous century, Neils Bohr, was highly influenced with philosophy of Sanskrit and had credited Upanishad as a major source of inspiration for him in development of Quantum Physics. We can’t predict what lies in the future ahead. What if someone finds a new interpretation of Vaishesika darshan which will lead to a new direction of development of atomistic theory? What if someone finds new interpretation of Nyaya darshana to develop a new theory of logic? Let people explore and excel. What’s the point in criticising a decision which is just being implemented which has the potential to find some new perspective?  

Published by Satish Verma

Read. Contemplate. Write.

One thought on “The Unnecessary Sanskrit Controversy

  1. Tricky politicians in India has nothing to do with the welfare of the public residing in the nation rather than fulfilling their personal ratifications. People here who are reigning over the nation do not seem to have any amiable corners to it’s versatile growth. Their focus is only hovering around following the traditional way of ruling over the country rather than giving it elevated angle.

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