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Ambedkar wanted Sanskrit as official language’

SANSKRIT is one of the greatest languages of the world. Though many would think it to be dead language, it is very much alive because a large number of people use it for communication even today.

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 The resolution had to be withdrawn due to political pressure.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.


Anonymous said…

We love and respect all Indian languages equally. Including Hindi. We share the dream of India becoming a global superpower.

Here are 29 objections to India's language policy:

(a) Biased policy: Three language formula : Some states have two languages some states have three (The so-called third language in Hindi speaking states was never implemented and is in any case outside the economic equation).
Excepting for marxist countries, no country in the world can sustain national integration in the long run by promoting the
statistical language of the majority. People can check this with anybody they want. what do you mean by majority ?
Are all "dialects" of Hindi really Hindi ?

(b) While we want indians to intermingle with each other and settle in different parts of the country, Policies like this may
eventually lead the people of one community think they are superior to others. While we want languages to spread, they must spread natually. I have even as recently as 2006 seen Hindi fanatics who talk of destroying other Indian languages.

(c) This is opposed to the spirit of fedaralism; In a multi-ethnic society and in a federation like India. Politicians cannot select the language of a few states like that. without taking the permission of all states first since it affects their welfare. Some states need to study an extra subject which is not useful to them although Hindi as a written
language is dead ouside the hindi belt.

(d) Majoritiyism decreases the dynamic stability of a country. All parts of India have economic connections with other parts of the world and not with the Hindi heartland.

(e) Nehruvian language policies are based on unnatural and unsustainable paradigms.

For example. some states have two, some states have three languages. If English is removed (as some Hindi zealots may want to in the long run), some states will have two, some will have one. Those who have one, have it as their native language. (Second discriminating factor) Again, in Telegu medium schools (we can only have Hindi as a second language) third discriminating factor).
since this is opposed to the principles of fair play and justice. It will lead to a counter-reaction. Since Independence, India has been promoting English directly and indirectly is many places as a reaction to Hindi. Today, English is 10000 times more entrenched in India than it was during the British raj

(f) India's language policy is completely at odds with its own constitution. This has confused people and destroyed the
Hindi belt

(g) Centralization is antithetical to the very idea of India:

"Over-centralization (1947-1991) destroyed India. Now liberalization is reuniting India."

(h) Nehruvian India (1947-1991) and Post-Nehruvian India (>1991) are complelty different.

Our national integration strategies are horrendously outdated. India between 1947 to 1991 and after 1991 are two
completely different countries unrelated to each other. We must come to grips with this fact and revise our policies accordingly.
Making Hindi international languages are just last ditch attempts to save a failed national language.

(i) Just to give people an example. this strategy is incompatible with the 21st century and with Human rights.

Switzerland has a French speaking and a German speaking part. Suppose a politician
decided to "select" German. Some parts will have two languages, some will have one. The first half wants to destroy the second half. Then the second half comes up with
a strategy to destroy the first half. Then the first half gets destroyed. Then the first half
gets upset and comes up with a new strategy to destroy the second half. This is what is happening in India. This is not the way to promote national integration.

(j) Hindi is only spreading based on the law of convenience. As a written language it is already dead outside the Hindi belt

I have never seen any written usage of Hindi outside the hindi belt in my life outside a central government office. Don't take India back to the Nehruvian era! It is not possible.

(k) The language of a particular state as National language may unite superficially, but it unites only because it is
compensating for the weaknesses of English which is too elitist to spread as an entry level language. It divides beyond a point. Hence, it encourages English even more.

(l) India's National language policy was never formulated on the principles of federalism.
All states should get together and formulate national integration strategies.

(m) You will simply be horrified to hear the History of Hindi as a national language
Please see the track record of Hindi

On December 10, 1946, effectively the first day of business, R.V. Dhulekar of the United Provinces moved an amendment. When
he began speaking in Hindustani, the Chairman reminded him that many members did not know the language. This was Dhulekar's
reply: "People who do not know Hindustani have no right to stay in India. People who are present in this House to fashion a
Constitution for India and do not know Hindustani are not worthy to be members of this Assembly. They had better leave."
The remarks created a commotion in the House. "Order, order!" yelled the Chairman, but Dhulekar then moved that "the
Procedure Committee should frame rules in Hindustani and not in English. As an Indian I appeal that we, who are out to win
freedom for our country and are fighting for it should think and speak in our own language (SINGULAR!). We have all along
been talking of America, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and the House of Commons. It has given me a headache. I wonder why
Indians do not speak in their own language (SINGULAR!). As an Indian I feel that the proceedings of the House should be
conducted in Hindustani. We are not concerned with the history of the world. We have the history of our own country of
millions of past years."

The printed proceedings continue:

"The Chairman: Order, order!
Shri R.V. Dhulekar (speaking still in Hindustani): I request you to allow me to move my amendment.
The Chairman: Order, order! I do not permit you to proceed further. The House is with me that you are out of order(MAD)."

(o) No private sector will support the language of one community in a multiligual country. This is encouraging the govement
to ask the private sector to follow unnatural policies which go against the spirit of national integration.

Look at Google, Orkut. They start the services in all Indian languages and and always
respect the sentiments of all Indians. The Central government does not !

(p) Some Hindi zealots already have a track record of trying to destroying linguistic minorities.

(q) This is encouraging Hindi zealots to make Hindi an international language. How can you
make the language of one state or a group of states an intenational language when Indians themselves have not accepted it
as an National language ?

(r) What do you mean by acceptance? As a written language Hindi is dead outside the Hindi belt. Everywhere it is taught only
as a third language. (if at all)

(s) If India replaces English with Hindi thorough unnatural means, it is dangerous for the country's unity. Look at Kashmir.

Just because a person speaks to his friends in Hindi and watches Hindi movies. it means nothing. Why will he make himself
subservient to people of another state when Hindi as a written language is dead outside the Hindi belt? These people (1947-
1991) follow outdated models and do not have a concept of India and the dynamics of its economics. This is just like the
Pakistan / Bangladesh break up or the conflict in Sri Lanka.

(t) The central goverments plan is opposed to the principle of fedaralism. some people are genuinely concerned that the
people of one community will be encouraged take the upper hand. In a federation, the central government can go ahead only if
ALL Non-Hindi speaking state governments FORMALLY accept this in writing since they are concerned about the welfare of their
own citizens.(To begin with India's language policy is unnatural. Take any linguistic expert outside India through the
details, he will be horrified.)

(u) Hindi is the language of the worst part of India, a region known for its poverty, illiteracy and disease. Why
are these people so worried about making Hindi an international language when their region is the second most backward
region in the world after Sub-saharan Africa and is dragging India down economically? That too without taking the prior
written permission of other Indians ?
Given the horrendous track records of some Hindi zealots, we am alarmed.
(v) Why don't they develop the economies of their own states first? As Indians, we will be proud if Bihar becomes the most
advanced state in India ! We will be extremely proud of this fact and let this be known internationally.
(w) The language policy of India has often been synonymous with words such as Imposition, enforcement, demands for
Independance. what sort of a language policy is this? Even the British did not spread their language like this. Hindi worked
only as an entry-level link language and not as a national language. Please understand this fact. We cannot pass a petition to
make Hindi an international language until TAMILNADU signs in writing. It is not good for the unity and integrity of India.

(x) In Tamilnadu and to some extent in Andhra Pradesh, language is worshipped as a religion. India's language policies are
designed by people (1947-1991) who had no concept of India.

(y) A neutral language like Sanskrit or Prakrit can be selected. Those who object to this may opt for Urdu. Karnataka and Kerela were ready for this although it is a new language for them. Only some Hindi zealots opposed it. How can you judge patriotism like this? Please don't beleive Doordarshan propaganda. When many states objected (with reasons) Nehru should have stopped.

(z) There are a range of possible solutions for national integration. literally thousands !
The central government sets up a body to promote all Indian languages without bias or prejudice giving incentives to
scholars, setting up libraries in all states, setting up institutes for the study of Indian languages in all states,
translating books into all Indian languages, setting up virtual libraries in all Indian languages,
Making the study of ANY one Indian language for a specific number of years mandatory for all Indians.
This is just a small sample of possibilities. Check the models followed in Canada, Switzerland and Mauritius.
Except in Marxist countries, Nobody follows this kind of a national intergaration strategy. Spreading the language
of the "majority" may be a good short term strategy, but it can never be a good long term strategy. All marxist countries
have broken up.

(aa) Hindi is not even a National language according to the constitution.Please read the Indian constitution.

(ab) Even today many educated South Indians do not speak to educated North Indians in Hindi. Reason: Minority rights. Even if
they speak it just for fun and not in formal situations.

(ac) Bhojpuri, Mythili, Urdu, Angika and Santhali may not even technically be a part of Hindi. Discuss this with liguists.
So figures given by Hindi zealots are highly suspect. Making Hindi a language of the UN are just last-ditch attempt to save a failed national language.

What is natual is always good for India !
Let us update our national integration strategy and make India the greatest superpower in the world!

Sujay Rao Mandavilli

Mithun said…
Sanskrit is a language not confined to any religion or a region.She is beyond every diversity we have.She is the mother of all indian languages and has even been a fundamental framework of many foreign languages including English.She has the power to bridge the gaps between each of us(state,religion,language).She is the most ancient heritage of this great land and she rightly deserves her honour.Besides,most of the regional languages have their roots in Sanskrit.So it will not be a problem in learning the language.I wish Sanskrit is encouraged in every institution.The language always plays a major role in improving the character(a character which is of utmost purity) of a person and I feel Sanskrit can transform an individual towards a honest and an enlightened life.From my 8 year study of Sanskrit i personally feel that Sanskrit language if made India's national language can imbibe moral and ethical values in every individual and its study can make life a lot worthy and inspiring.I,myself have experienced its divinity and the beautiful words it has can never be found in any other language.I strongly feel that Sanskrit should be made India's national language,further it should be taught in every educational institution in the world.
Anonymous said…
Sanskrit is not the mother of all languages. It is not a mother tongue to any body. It is a code language for the Bhudevathas.It is derived from PRAKRIT the language of Indus-civilization. The single purpose of Sankrit is to destroy the common man language and to make them illiterate. Now it is a dead language. The Bhudevathas discarded it. No need of Sanskrit to the world.
Akshay said…
It is the best information i found on Sanskrit as national language. Comments are found more interesting here. I'v quoted some phrases of your posts in my blog risingindian with some more information.
I've also given the link your post.
padmesh said…
It is not of any practical use to teach Sanskrit to young ones. Sanskrit was never the lingua franca of any region of India. In the Sanskrit dramas of the past the lady chararacters and the people of lower vranas are shown to speak only the local language. It was only the upper class masculine elite which spoke Sanskrit. Since it was patronise by only the elite it was called DevBhasha. Had it been the language of the people then the Mahavira and the Budha would have given their sermons in Sanskrit and not in Prakrat or Pali. there is no point in wasting resources in for the teaching of Sanskrit.
Anal Kumar said…
सम्भाषण-सन्देश:, जून, 2003 ( e-mail: samskrit@

"भारतस्य राजभाषा संस्कृतं भवेत्" इति संविधानसभायां शोधप्रस्तावः आनीतः आसीत् यस्य प्रस्तावस्य कृते हस्ताक्षरकर्तृषु प्रस्तावमण्डयितॄषु च डा. अम्बेदकरः अपि अन्यतमः आसीत्। संविधानसभायां यदा राजभाषासम्बन्धे चर्चा प्रवर्तते स्म तदा डा. अम्बेदकरः किञ्च पण्डितलक्ष्मीकान्तमैत्रः व परस्परं संस्कृतेन वार्तालापः कृतवन्तौ। तत्सम्बन्धे "आज" इति हिन्दीदिनपत्रिकायां 15 सितम्बर 1949 तमे दिनाङ्के प्रकाशिते प्रकाशिता वार्ता - "डा. अम्बेदकर का संस्कृत में वार्तालाप" इति अस्ति। एषा एव वार्ता प्रयागतः प्रकाश्यायां THE LEADER इति आंग्लपत्रिकायां 13 सितम्बर 1949 तमे दिनाङ्के मुखपृष्‍ठे प्रकाशिता आसीत्। तस्याः शीर्षकम् आसीत् "THEY CONFER IN SANSKRIT" इति। देहल्यां राष्‍ट्रीये अभिलेखागारे शताधिकवर्षेभ्यः सर्वासां पत्रिकाणां समाचारपत्राणां च "मैक्रो फिल्म" कृत्वा संरक्षितवन्तः सन्ति। तानि सर्वाणि दृष्‍ट्वा अस्माभिः बहु अन्वेषणं,गवेषणं च कृत्वा एताः महत्त्वभूताः वार्ताः प्राप्‍ताः।

------ चमू कृष्ण शास्‍त्री ( संस्कृत भारती,माता मन्दिर गली,झण्डे वाला, नई दिल्ली - 55 )
Anal Kumar said…
Ambedker Among Signature

The Sunday Hindustan Standard ,September11,1949

New Delhi, Sept,10 - India's Law Minister, Dr. B.R.Ambedker, is among those who have sponsored Sanskrit as the official Language of the Indian Union. One of his supporters is Dr. B.V.Keshkar, India's Deputy Minister for External affairs, another Mr. Naziruddin Ahmed. Questioned about this move,Dr. Ambedkar asked a P.T.I. Correspondent this evening,
"What is wrong with Sanskrit?"
An amendment seeking Sanskrit to be India's official language will be taken up by the Constituent Assembly when the Question of official language is considered by the House. (अनल कुमार)
Unknown said…
I don't think any thinking person and particularly any Indian Nationalist would disagree that Sanskrit should be National Language of India. But how would it be?
Which way? just by saying on the internet? Have anyone of you thought about it? If yes, then how? please share it.
Dicky Febrianto said…
I am from Indonesia. I appreciate Indian people's efforts to revitalise Sanskrit as their national language.
vijay said…
this is dead dead dead languge
Miville said…
I am studying sanskrit and i really think it should be made the official language of India. It is so beautiful! It is true it has never been anybody's mother language, the very name sanskrit indicates it has been elaborated as a learned communication language, but it is not a dead language. It is not true it is a language reserved for brahmins, in order to keep the commoners illiterate. Quite the contrary, it was during thousands of years everybody's written and second language, for instance the artisans and tradesmen who used it to share their know-how : it had the ubiquitousness of today's English plus much more and India is now strong enough to impose Sanskrit instead of English. Most learned words of Indian languages are Sanskrit, so it would require less effort from high school pupils than English which is as foreign as Arabic. India was most illiterate when Sanskrit studies were most discouraged under the East India Company rule, and most literate when Chandragupta used it as his government language. It is true as most mystics agree that authentic peasant vernacular language is like fresh water from a running brook, and thus much more spiritual than a learned language which is more like water in bottles. But the problem is that there are dry seasons and dry expanses of land where water has to be brought in bottles, and Sanskrit is like purest Himmalayan water in bottles, whereas English is more like Coca-Cola and official Hindi like lower grade water in jerricans. Vernacular languages are nicest but they are by definition very limited in time and space, a few generations are enough to make Tagore's Bengali obsolete. Gautama Buddha wrote in Pali to be closer to the people of his times, but now Pali is really dead outside very specialized buddhist circles, whereas Sanskrit is not and makes buddhism more easily known than Pali. Sanskrit was right from the start designed as both nobody's and everybody's language.
Anonymous said…
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valmiki,vyasa are not brahmins by birth but by achievement. Sanskrit can erase superiority of born-brahmins as shown by valmiki and vyasa.
i have a plan. Make a translation software from sanskrit to other indian and english language. This will translate better than existing google translate due to alphabets,vowels,consonants. Grammar and 70%words same.
Second make sanskrit based programming language. because of the objectivity of sanskrit grammar as opposed to subjectivity of english a computer program will need less code for translating it to.machine level code. an efficient and shorter code works faster and.will win.

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