Chamu Krishana Shastry, 47, is among the distinguished scholars who have devoted their life to promote the language. Shastry heads Sanskrit Bharati which he set up in 1981 in Delhi to teach Sanskrit to students of all ages. He spoke to RC Ganjoo about his love for the language and his mission. Excerpts:
What made you take up promotion of Sanskrit among the young?
It is an admitted fact that Sanskrit is the most scientific language. It promotes scientific temper.
It is said that Sanskrit is the language of a particular religion`85
Sanskrit was appreciated by some of the Muslim rulers of India who patronised it, and, in some cases (as in Bengal and Gujarat), had their epigraphic records inscribed in Sanskrit. It was the scientific and secular aspect of Sanskrit that made the Arabs welcome Indian scholars to Baghdad to discourse on sciences and to translate books in these subjects into Arabic.
In the days of Buddhists studies in China, when Indian Sanskrit scholars were translating Buddhist texts into Chinese with the help of boards of local scholars, there existed a school of Sanskrit studies in China.
A large mass of literature in Sanskrit was not produced by any particular community.Several instances can be quoted of non-Brahmin and non-Hindu authors who have made significant contribution to Sanskrit literature. In Karnataka, 300 Sanskrit schools are being run by non-Brahmins.
What is to be done to promote this language?
It is necessary that there should be a full and free study of Sanskrit in India to enable us to understand its net contribution to general philosophical thought and science.
Interestingly, Dr Ambedkar himself wanted to sponsor Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian union along with his supporters Dr BV Keskar, deputy minister for external affairs, and Naziruddin Ahmed. He moved an amendment draft on September 10, 1949. The resolution had to be withdrawn due to political pressure. Our demand is Sanskrit should be treated at par with modern Indian languages of the Eighth Schedule and not as a classical language.
What is the contribution of Sanskrit Bharti ?
Sanskrit Bharati has taught 40 lakh people to speak in Sanskrit. We have applied new and simple methods in our Sanskrit-speaking courses. Three villages, two in Karnataka and one in MP, speak Sanskrit.We have also launched an awareness campaign to preserve 45 lakh manuscripts written in Sanskrit and other languages.