1. - Sanskrit Language

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Sanskrit Language

Saṃskṛta is the thread on which the pearls of the necklace of Indian culture are strung; break the
thread and all the pearls will be scattered, even lost forever.

Saṃskṛta is one of the oldest languages of humanity and is the world's only non
spoken language. The beauty of

is that it is a spiritual language rooted in science.
Literally meaning "refined speech",
has been used to convey the

spirit of Sanatana
Dharma for thousands of years.
Since most Indian languages are either directly derived or
heavily influenced by Saṃskṛta, it is the only language that could bridge the language barrier in

Makarand Paranjape

makes a great case for


as India's National Language.

A Comedy of Er

What was the first character that you ever wrote ? These days it is in vogue to start children off with a
foreign alphabet

English in particular. Some argue that a language is merely a medium of
communication and with rapid globalization, English
will predominate as the language of future

Arguably it is India's large English
speaking population that facilitated her Information
Technology and outsourcing boom. But in reality English has dismantled the landscape of Indian
society, litera
ture, music and knowledge systems. As a language of India's slavery its
propagation is a direct consequence of academic imperialism by the British. Generations of
Indian students post
independence were indoctrinated into western thought due to perceived
ltural and scientific superiority of the colonial west

a shallow, misguided belief that still

India now has a society that fails to articulate even moderately complex ideas in any single
language. Thus have evolved unintelligent, bastardized fo
rms of speech such as Hinglish, which
have made their way into public dialogue, movies and even mainstream news. The educated elite
cannot get through a mundane conversation without diluting their mother tongues. They may be
versed in "The Wealth of N
ations", "A Brief History of Time" or "The Merchant of Venice"
but are hardly acquainted with Indian masterpieces such as

. Shakespeare

the overrated 17th century playwright, is still widely appreciated

albeit by


in the tragic Indian school system while several indigenous authors and poets

Aurobindo, Bhavabhuti, Naidu, Patanjali, Tagore, Tulsidas, Vyasa, to name a few, go

Some of India's lackluster English writers and newscasters would not b
e so popular had they not
been obnoxious mouthpieces of our infatuation with a foreign language. It is easy to forget that
English it is a lot more foreign than our very own Manipuri, Konkani or Kashmiri. For that
matter, many Indians would rather learn Fr
ench or Spanish for their perceived aesthetic appeal,
than anything that sounds remotely Indian. Even soaps and toothpaste don't sell if they have
Indian names. Non English speakers are ridiculed by elitists for their "desi" accent. Haven't we
all at some
point mocked people

sometimes our own parents


their lack of English fluency

2. Dharma

In a parallel universe, millions of Indian villagers and farmers cannot seek justice from courts in
their own local languages. Students from native language scho
ols are looked down upon and find
it challenging to compete for jobs and higher education. Tragically, English is one of the only
two official languages of the Indian Parliament.

English was not deliberately designed to be logical nor phonetically accurate
. Try and explain to
a child why "put" and "but" or "director" and "direction" do not sound similar; or why "The
bandage was wound around the wound". The pronunciation of each word has to be recalled from
memory due to the lack of consistent structural rul
es. This becomes a daunting task for children
trying to learn the language.

It is far easier to program text
speech or voice recognition software for languages with well
defined rules and a larger set of consonants such as Oriya or Marathi. The structur
e of Sanskrit
grammar makes it suitable for Natural Language Processing and other applications in Artificial
Intelligence. We owe this to ancient grammar pundits like Panini, who in the

elaborated in depth on the precision of linguistics. S
ankrit is known as the "Language of the
Gods" for its poetic beauty and rich vocabulary. Ironically, despite their phonetic simplicity,
there is a serious lack of professional software for Indian languages.

A language is much more than a tool of communicat
ion; it embodies beliefs, culture and
philosophy of a people; it transmits stories of past generations, their art, spirituality and
knowledge. There are no English equivalents for words such as

. The true meanings of these
words are often misinterpreted or simply lost in translation.

Furthermore, when relying explicitly on borrowed words and phrases, the Indian psyche is
bombarded with notions contrary to its philosophy. Sometimes these concepts are unintelligent,
y or outright unscientific. Following are a few examples: "bullshit", "devil in the
details", "go to hell", "cast the first stone", "secularism", "religion" etc.

With the decline of Indian languages, our true history is lost, our symbolism contorted, our
ythologies forgotten and our sciences cast aside as superstition. English, far from stimulating
India's prosperity, has in fact disrupted it. It has bruised national pride and precipitated the
fragmentation of contemporary Indian society in yet another dim

Admittedly, knowledge of foreign languages to some extent facilitates economic progress and
global participation. To that effect the Chinese have introduced English courses in their school
curriculum. But that English be made a mandatory medium of
education at the expense of our
mother tongues is a travesty; that schools should flaunt their "international syllabus" to enroll
students is self
deprecating. That Japan and Germany became economic giants without English
crutches, is a testimony to the po
wer of the mother tongue and the determination of a people.
Over generations, English must be pushed out of the mainstream and duly designated an optional
foreign language.

My apologizes for blogging in the very language I critique. To do otherwise demands

a degree of
proficiency in Hindi, Oriya or Tamil on both our parts. Also, support for Indic based dialogue is
fairly limited on the World Wide Web. I do however wish to make a sincere request

the next
time you are asked for a signature, choose any one o
f the dozen or so round and curvy Indic
scripts. This may not dissolve India's problems, but it just might connect you back in some
strange way to the earth beneath your feet.

3. Dharma


Sanātana, Sikh, Jain, Bauddha.

Hinduism.....gave itself no name,
because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal
adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it
was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the God ward endeavor
of the
human spirit. An immense many
sided and many staged provision for a spiritual self
and self
finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal
religion, Sanātana Dharma....



of the Indian civiliza

is old and

mysterious, but it lives on through its Dhārmic
traditions. Dharma in Samskrta

means one's highest innate duty

encoded into

one's being by the
eternal natural laws of existence. Since the word Dharma has no equivalent in English, it has
en been misinterpreted as "religion".

Sanātana Dharma embodies some of the world's oldest philosophies, sciences, technologies and
spiritual practices. It comprises of a large body of texts categorized into Sruti ("revealed") and
Smriti ("remembered"). It
has no single prophet, no single scripture, and not any one set of
religious rites.


sister Dharmic traditions viz. Sikh, Jain and Bauddha dharmas


the concepts of karma
and rebirth, mantras such as Om, emphasis on meditation or Dhyāna, love of
environment and

benefits of

a vegatarian diet,

and the spirit of universal co
existence. However they
differ in that they do not endorse Sanātana Dharma's Varna system of division

of labor or
elaborate Vedic rituals and sacrifices.

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Health is a state where in the three
doshas, digestive fire, all the body tissues, components and
physiological processes are in perfect harmony and the soul, the s
ense organs and the mind are

Āyurveda, meaning "the knowledge of life" in Samskrta, is the world's oldest system of

and m

that has been practiced in India for at least 5000 years. It's a system of healing that
examines physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the
universe. According to Samkhyā philosophy, universal life force ma
nifests as three different
energies, or doshas, known as vāta, pitta, and kapha. For optimal health, these energies must be
in a state of balance.

Charaka Saṃhitā, Suśruta Saṃhitā, and Ashtangā Hridayaṃ are three ancient classics of
Āyurveda and are still
referenced by Vaidyas around the world.


The Science of Life

Are you tired of contradictory "scientific" studies and health reports on food, diet and exercise ?
Overwhelmed with incessant

"expert" opinions about lifestyle and habits ? One day dairy is
good, another day not so much; high protein or carb
rich diet; cycling or running; raw food or
supplements. Ever wondered why there is still no cure in sight for arthritis, asthma, AIDS, canc
or diabetes; why bacterial illness such as TB or Malaria have re
emerged; why primary
healthcare has become unaffordable; why almost every synthetic drug comes with its long list of
side effects

some including death; why vaccines may be linked to auti
sm in children; why
medicines flushed down the drain lead to hormonal imbalances in fish populations; why
hospitals produce tonnes of toxic biomedical waste ?

The problem is that modern western medicine takes a narrow reductionist approach towards
health b
ased on an incomplete model of Nature. It views the body as a machine, organs as its
parts, emotions as chemical secretions and intelligence as an emergent property of the neurons.
Specialists are trained to treat body parts rather than a human being. Unti
l very recently modern
medicine had completely ignored the mind
body connection. It is this kind of materialistic
thinking that drives medics to rationalize isolated compounds, radiation, vitamin supplements,
transgenic organisms, animal trials etc. Such m
edical research is usually either inconclusive or
results in devastating long
term consequences.

Aryan languages



languages constitute a branc
h of the
Iranian languages
, itself a
branch of the
uropean language

family. Indo
Aryan speakers form about one half (approx
1.5 billion) of all Indo
European speakers (approx 3 billion), also Indo
Aryan has more than half
of all recognized Indo
European languages, according to

The largest in terms of native speakers being
Hindustani (Hindi

(about 240 million),

(about 230 million),

(about 90 million),

(about 70 million),

(about 45 million),

(about 30 million),

(about 20 million),

(about 18

(about 14 million),

(about 14 million),

(about 16 million),

(about 13 million) with a total number of native speakers of more than 900
ion. They form a subgroup of the
Iranian languages
, which consists of two other
language groups: the


Personal pronouns and determiners


are declined for
, and gender. The pronominal

to a few adjectives as well. Many pronouns have alternative


The first and second

pronouns are declined for the most part alike, having by

assimilated themselves with one
another. Where two forms are given, the second is

an alternative form.

in singular and plural may

be extended by the syllable
; thus


. Sanskrit does not have true third person pronouns, but its
demonstratives fulfill this function instead by standing independently without a modified

There are four different

in Sanskrit:
, and

greater proximity than
. W

is similar to

refers to objects that are more
remote than
, is declined almost identically to
. Its paradigm is obtained by prefixing

to all the forms of
. As a result of
, the masculine and feminine singular forms transform


The enclitic pronoun

is found only in a few oblique cases and numbers. Interrogative
pronouns all begin with
, and decline just as

does, with the initial

being replaced by
The only exception to this are the singular neuter


forms, which are

and not the expected
. For example, the singular feminine


pronoun, "of whom?", is
Indefinite pronouns

are formed by adding the participles
, or

after the appropriate

interrogative pronouns. All relative pronouns begin with
, and
decline just as

does. The correlative pronouns are identical to the


In addition to the pronouns described above, some

follow the pronominal declension.
Unless otherwise noted, their declension is identical to

5. Samskrita Bharati

Saṃskṛta Bhāratī

is a
profit organisation

working to

. Sanskrit was a pan
Indian language in Vedic time but lost its place to spoken dialects in modern India. Samskrita
Bharati has its headquarters in
New Delhi
, and

chapter headquarters in
San Jose, California
International centre, "Aksharam", is located in
, India, and houses a research wing,
a library, Publication division and an audio
visual Language lab for teaching spoken Sanskri
According to their own figures, repeated often in their promotional literature, by 1998, 2.9
million people had attended the conversation camps.

Mission and motivations

The basic mission of this organization is to democratize and popularize Sanskrit by

the use of what they call simple Sanskrit in everyday conversational contexts.

More rencently,
the organization has started to focus on the mainten
ance of the “mother
ness of Sanskrit
by means of Sanskrit households.


As its founder says, "Sanskrit is the best tool to remove the five types of social differences;
linguistic, class, caste, sect and the north vs south division."

A basic goal is to create a nation
of Sanskrit speakers, (re)creating a national unity for India through common linguistic practice.

Another one of the main prem
ises of the movement is to allow direct access to the vast
storehouse of the Sanskritic textual tradition.

Pedagogical principles

The organization's pedagogical

philosophy is based on the thought that listening and speaking
must precede reading and writing.

Rejecting both Western
style grammatical instruction (or

recent innovations) and Indian traditions of Sanskrit instruction emphasizing systematic
memorization, Samskrita Bharati instead has focused its energies on immersion through

A common aphorism used in their literature is: “Speak in Samskrit, not about

This follows a theory of linguistic practice w
hich imagines a progression from the capacity for
“general communication” (simple reference and predication), through the capacity for expressing
thought or reasoning (logical argumentation), culminating in the capacity for the outward
manifestation of emo

Simplification of Sanskrit

To provide a gentle introduction to Sanskrit, Samskrita Bharati has developed a simplified
variant of the language, which whil
e conforming to Panini's grammar, focuses on the use of very
regular forms for conversational purposes at initial stages. As Dr Hastings observes:

the "simple" of simple Sanskrit points to the fact that it is designed to act as a bridge between the
vernacular(s) a simple Sanskrit learner already knows and, ideally, acquisition of the

elaborated Classical Sanskrit grammar... "simple Sanskrit" is a variety of the language
which has been subjected to what we could call distributional simplificati
on. That is, almost all
of the differences between simple Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit are differences in the
distribution of forms rather than grammatical".


Samskrita Bharati is primarily a volunteer
driven organization, with volunteers from all walks of
life spending time educating people to speak Sanskrit. Their most popular offering is the 10 day
capsule of two hour classes designed to impart simple

Sanskrit conversational skills.

Besides this, the organization conducts the following programs:

A two week intense residential teaching program called Samvaada
shala is conducted in New
Delhi, India every summer.

Weekend camps and yearly residential camps as well in many parts of the US and India.

Development and publication of Simple Sanskrit books, tapes and CDs for learning practical
conversations in Samskrita
m at various levels are developed systematically to allow new
speakers to effectively use Sanskrit for conversations.

Publication of the magazine.

Distance learning programs or
duurastha shikShaNam

Sanskrit as a Foreign Language program for children in USA.

Competitions to encourage Sanskrit learning amongst children.


Even as he acknowledges that "end of the ten days, the participants have a reasonable command
of many basic features of (simple) Sanskrit and can formulate a wide variety of expressions."
Hastings notes

While the Sanskrit conversation camps have garnered a great degree of public visibility for the
Sanskrit revival
movement, they have not generated as large and dedicated a following as
Samskrita Bharati would hope. The organization has a host of follow
up activities for graduates
of the introductory ten
day camps, but there is a substantial attrition rate after initi
al exposure in
the camps.


Chamu Krishna Shastry
, a Sanskrit Scholar from Tirupati Sanskrit College along with 5 of his
friends, after graduating in Sanskr
it, came up with a methodology of teaching spoken Sanskrit
through "Speak Samskritam" course with 10 day capsule classes of 2 hour duration. Within a
short span of time this methodology became a trend blazer in the field of teaching Sanskritam

kritam is also sometimes referred to as Sanskrit or Samskrit). This "Speak
Samskritam" Movement took off in 1981 from Bangalore city, and later "Samskrita Bharati"

national level organization

was established in New Delhi in 1995.

This is one of the s
trongest endorsements of Sanskrit by anyone. Nehru’s words are quoted often,
especially in environs when Sanskrit needs to be defended by well
meaning, if misguided,
secularists. Nehru’s support for Sanskrit would have been important in those controversy

Nehru added later, in the Azad Memorial Address:

India built up a magnificent language, Sanskrit, and through this language, and
its art and architecture, it sent its vibrant message to far away countries. It
produced the
, the


and the Buddha. Hardly any language in the
world has probably played as vital a part in the history of a race as Sanskrit
has. It was not only the vehicle of the highest thought and some of the finest
literature, but it became the uniting bond for India,
even though there were
political divisions. The

and the

were woven into the
texture of millions of lives in every generation for a thousand years. I have
often wondered if our race forgot the Buddha, the

and the great

what then would it be like?

Moving from the Constituent Assembly to the actual Constitution itself, we
notice that at present it does not designate any language to be India’s national
language. Article 343 of the constitution considers Hindi in the Devanagari
script as the

anguage of India. It also allows for the continued use of
English for official purposes. Article 345 also allows for any of the ‘national
languages’ of the union to be adopted by the state legislature as the official
language of that state. Until 1967, bef
ore the 21st amendment to the
constitution, fourteen regional languages were recognized. Subsequently the
number has grown to twenty two. The Sahitya Academy gives away annual
awards in two additional languages. This means that currently twenty four
ges in India enjoy official recognition. This account suggests that as far
as the constitution is concerned all of India’s languages, especially the twenty
two recognized by the constitution thus far, are national languages. At its
weakest then, the case f
or Sanskrit as the national language in India does not
require any further elucidation if Sanskrit is considered only one amongst the
many national languages in India.

After the Constitution, the next and perhaps most important document to
examine would
be the Report of the Sanskrit Commission set up by the
Government of India in 1956 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Suniti Kumar
Chatterjee. An examination of the Report of this Commission shows that the
status of Sanskrit in contemporary India has a lot to d
o with both the politics

and policies of the State. It was this Commission’s report, along with
Report of
the Official Language Commission

of the Government of India that led to
Sanskrit being one of the languages taught in Indian schools all over the
try. According to the three
language formula, which still works at least up
to the 10th Standard in Indian secondary schools, each student has to learn
three languages, the mother tongue, Hindi or another Indian language, and
English. To this day, in many
school, Sanskrit is the third language, taken in
addition to English and Hindi. The Report of the Commission is probably the
most extensive and impressive argument in favour of Sanskrit education in
independent India. The Commission actually recommended th
at Sanskrit be
made “an additional official language” of India:

Though this recommendation was not accepted, many of the Report’s findings have shaped the
manner in which the Indian state treated Sanskrit.

One of the most remarkable chapters in the S
anskrit Commission Report is “Sanskrit and the
Aspirations of Independent India”

in which a defence and justification of Sanskrit is offered. The
authors point to the role of Sanskrit in the national awakening of India, especially in Bankim
Chandra Chatterjee’s song,
Vande Mataram
, which became the “Rashtra Gayatri.” This song is
rely in Sanskrit except for a few sentences in Bangla

Though English contributed to the growth of political consciousness in India, only an Indian
language coul
d help create political unity. This language would have been Sanskrit, but in 1921
Mahatma Gandhi accepted Hindi or Hindustani with the Devanagari script, because, according to
the Commission, Hindi in this case stood for Sanskrit:

“Sanskritised Hindi seemed to be the fitting
representative for all the modern languages of India, and was looked upon as the most suitable
national speech for a resurgent India…. Sanskri
tised Hindi alone can be easily understood in all
speaking areas. … The support of Hindi in a way meant laying stress on the unity of India
through Sanskrit, even if it were through the intermediacy of Hindi.”

In other words, the choice of
Hindi as India’s official language was, according to the Commission, itself an endorsement and
acknowledgement of the value of Sanskrit.

The Commission also refers to t
he adoption of the Upanishadic dictum “
” as the
national motto of India, the Sanskritized “
Jana Gana Mana
” as the national anthem, the motto of the
Lok Sabha “
,” of All India Radio (Akashvani), “
Bahujan hitaya bahujana
,” of the Life Insurance Corporation, “
” The practice of using Shri
and Shrimati instead of Mr. and Mrs, and so on, also show how important Sanskrit is in our national

Sir William Jones in 1786 called Sanskrit a language “more perfect than Greek, more copious than
Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either.”

The long and unbroken continuity of Sanskrit is
lauded. The Commission considers Sanskrit to be “in the broad sense of the term … the entire
linguistic development of the Aryan speech in India,”

from classical Sanskrit to the medieval
Prakrits. We may extend this to include the modern Indian languages too. Sanskrit is thus “the
linguistic and literary expression of that great Cultural Synthes
is which is identical with Bharata
Dharma, the Spirit of India, or Indianism, as it has been sometimes described.”

Sanskrit, moreover, is of our link with the lar
ger world we inhabit, both West and East:

The Case for Sanskrit

Phobic Arguments


There has been no connection
between Sanskrit and Prakrit
(and/or other South Asian
vernacular languages).

Linguistic evidence suggests that
Sanskrit is related to Prakrit languages
and that exchanges occurred in both

Sanskrit has been the instrument of
creating a civilization built on
Brahmanical hegemony and
domination of the subaltern.

This is missionary/colonial lens
imposing Western social models to a
very different Indian social structure
and denies the vital role of Sanskrit in
shaping and fulfilling, thriving and
vibrant culture that benefited many.

Sanskrit is only a language of rites
and rituals that are devoid of
philosophical merit.

The depth and breadth of Sanskrit
literature covers many non
disciplines. Besides, the rites and
rituals are often deeply poetic and
reflect a plurality of philosophies of

Sanskrit does not have the
expressive spirit and temper of
science and technology.

The depth and breadth of Sanskrit
thought encompasses many scientific
and technical fields such as
mathematics and metallurgy. Abstract

thought, open inquiry and logic are key
hallmarks of Sanskrit learning.

Sanskrit has no value to non
traditions. It would compromise

Numerous Jain and Buddhist
scriptures are composed in Sanskrit.
Sikh scholars went to Benares to learn

As a dead language, Sanskrit has no
use to world culture.

Sanskrit, just as it contributed to
Western thought, has the potential to
contribute towards a renaissance of
thought in Southeast Asia and India.

Malhotra also offers the following diagrammatic representation of the broader Western and
hating Indophobic’s strategy to suppress Sanskrit and Sanskriti: