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संस्कृत दिवस

संस्कृत दिवस

Mahatma Gandhi Institute

  23 August 2019

High Commissioner Tanmaya Lal

महात्मा गाँधी संस्थान के अध्यक्ष, श्री जय नारायण मीतू जी,

महानिदेशिका श्रीमती गयान,

निदेशिका डॉ कुंजल,

अन्य गणमान्य अतिथि,

संस्कृत के विद्वान, अध्यापक और छात्र, छात्राएँ जो आज यहाँ उपस्थित हैं,

आप सबको नमस्कार ।

सबसे पहले मैं महात्मा गाँधी इंस्टिट्यूट को आज का यह संस्कृत दिवस का समारोह आयोजित करने के लिए बधाई देना चाहता हूँ ।

मुझे यहाँ निमंत्रित करने के लिए मैं आपका बहुत आभारी हूँ । मेरे लिए यह अत्यंत प्रसन्नता और सौभाग्य का विषय है कि इस अवसर पर मुझे यहाँ उपस्थित होने का अवसर मिला ।

I understand that many of you are Sanskrit students. I too learned Sanskrit in school. We were very happy with learning Sanskrit because we found that it was easy to learn; and also easy to score! As compared to some other subjects.

You may also be aware broadly that it is a very scientific language with clear and precise rules and not much scope for confusion. You perhaps also know that Sanskrit is related to many of the European languages also. Many of you would know that several ancient religious texts were written down in Sanskrit. Some of you may wonder about why it is still useful to learn Sanskrit when it is no longer in mainstream use. These are valid questions.

To understand some of these things it may be useful to know something about how the Sanskrit language evolve and spread in India and beyond.

All of you are aware of the very ancient origins of the Sanskrit language. It is estimated that the language has been in use in the Indian subcontinent for at least three thousand years. This is a very long time.

Tamil, for instance, is another Indian language that has been in use for thousands of years. Both these languages have been the basis for a large part of India’s civilization and culture through these millennia.

Sanskrit is not only among the oldest surviving languages in India, but in the whole world.

Sanskrit is understood to have begun as one of the early Indo-European languages in northwest India. It first spread as a vernacular language across the Gangetic plains. Then as an elite language it spread to the rest of the subcontinent.

It also moved east of India across the sea through trade and served as a cultural inspiration.

As you would be aware, Sanskrit in its current form, was formalized almost two and half thousand years ago by the great scholar Panini, who was perhaps working in Taxila in northwest India at the time. The language had been used since much earlier and the Vedas were composed in an earlier form of the language.

Panini’s worked meticulously to produce the world’s first scientific grammar for any language. Panini was followed by other Sanskrit scholars such as Patanjali and Katyayana. The order of alphabet, and the detailed rules for composition all made the Sanskrit language very precise and scientific.

Sanskrit provided a natural forum for intellectual debate and exercise at the time.

These days many of us associate Sanskrit merely with the Hindu religious shlokas and rituals. India’s great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed in Sanskrit.

But this has been only one of the various aspects of Sanskrit’s role in the Indian civilization.

Sanskrit was the language also for composition of great Indian literature, poetry and drama. Great philosophical works treaties on music and dance; on economics, law and governance; and science and astronomy and medicine were all composed in Sanskrit. Not many other languages have had that capacity and legacy.

Arthashastra of Kautilya written two thousand years ago, Meghaduta written by Kalidasa a little later, the works of Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta and Bhaskar; Charaka and Sushruta in medicine; Gautam, Ashvaghosha, Kapila, Shankaracharya, are among the world’s lasting heritage.

Many of the primary texts for Buddhism and Jainism were also written in Sanskrit. Therefore, Sanskrit, as a vehicle for Buddhism and Hinduism, traveled with traders and missionaries to India’s neighbourhood.

Chinese scholars traveled to India and learnt Sanskrit at Nalanda University to understand religious and other philosophical texts of Buddhism and carried its knowledge back with them. Chinese language experts have written about the influence of Sanskrit on Chinese phonetics.

The Japanese order of symbols in its syllabary is based on the order of letters in the Indian alphabet, which is based on phonetic properties of the sounds represented.

Sanskrit is also understood to have influenced the Tibetan script.

The influence of Sanskrit in Southeast Asia is well documented. Many of the inscriptions found in those countries are also in Sanskrit.

Sanskrit co-existed with several other Prakrit languages, which were spoken by common people, and other classical languages in different regions of India. Many of the languages in India today trace their origin to Sanskrit.

Beginning around 800 years ago, the advent of languages by rulers from outside India first Persian and the English undermined the supremacy of Sanskrit among the elite in India, as a language of governance and learning, although it continued to be the language of religious rituals.

When the British and other western scholars discovered Sanskrit in late 18th century, they realized its sophistication, its deep history and also its linkages with many European languages. This led to extensive international studies that compare languages of different regions.

Based on such studies, Sanskrit is now categorized as one of the early Indo-European languages.

Sanskrit is one of the 22 official languages listed in its Indian constitution. The Government of India has taken several measures to promote and preserve the Sanskrit heritage.

The year 1999 was designated as the year of Sanskrit language in India.

Contemporary Sanskrit authors have been recognized for their contribution and awarded the highest Indian literature awards.

There are Sanskrit news programmes on TV and radio channels.

Some of you may know that the 5,000 people in Mattur village in Karnataka in South India retain Sanskrit as their main speaking language.

Sanskrit continues to be offered as a language in schools. I myself studied the language till eighth grade and I loved its mathematical precision, which as I said made it a highly scoring subject!

Today, many western universities offer courses in Sanskrit. It is estimated that nearly 80 universities around the world offer Sanskrit courses.

Let us come to the question of why should one study Sanskrit today in a practical sense.

Knowledge and expertise in Sanskrit helps scholars to study and understand the various ancient texts such as Vedas and Upanishads that contain our civilzational wisdom and philosophy.

Knowledge of Sanskrit helps us in understanding many of our other foundational texts in a number of scientific and other fields. These include art, music, dance, literature, medicine, architecture, martial arts, agriculture, political science, law, astronomy, astrology, mathematics, and Ayurveda.

Besides teaching, for people who want to work in the fields such as Indology, history, archaeology, linguists, literature, yoga and wellness, traditional medicines, astrology, architecture, it is a useful skill to have.

It is commendable that here in Mauritius serious efforts are underway to preserve the language, for instance here at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute and through the recently established Sanskrit Speaking Union.

I congratulate everyone who is associated with these efforts and hope that these will help raise curiosity among the younger generation to learn about this great language that opens the door to our collective longstanding heritage.

अन्त में आप सब को फिर एक बार बहुत बहुत बधाई और शुभकामनाएँ ।


Thank you.


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