The study of
Sanskrit both in terms of quanity and quality has suffered
immense deterioration during the 20th century. It is quite
likely that after the A.D. 2010 we will not be able to retain
or protect this vast heritage which was ours for thousands
of years. In our present population of about 100 crores we
can hardly find about 5 lakh people who have some working
knowledge of Sanskrit. Out of these most have proficiency
only in some Sanskrit recital e.g. stotra or mantra which
are employed in various rituals. A few others have proficiency
in the language. People who can be called expert in Sanskrit
are mostly in the age group of 60+. They will be lost to us
within a short period of 15-20 years. There may be only few
hundred of experts who are below the age group of 50 years
and they may be far too inadequate for promotion of Sanskrit
all by themselves. We cannot rely on them to take the study
of Sanskrit much farther. Hence all the efforts for protection
of Sanskrit must concentrate now for the coming 10-15 years.
Role of Modern Technology
of protection of Sanskrit must deal with the twin task of
preservation of the old knowledge and its propagation. The
preservation of traditional knowledge was done earlier by
word of mouth and later by printing the books. Now very strong
methods of retaintioin have become available in terms of audio
and video cassettes and CDs and other computer storages. However,
we have not yet made use of these strong techniques for the
promotion of Sanskrit. It is, therefore, necessary to see
how we can get together and adopt a project approach running
for a minimum of 10 years in order to create audio and video
material which will at least document the presently available
knowledge of Sanskrit. To give an example, it is estimated
that there will be about 500 people will who can very well
recite the Vedas in their true format. It would be a good
idea to use this expertise and make audio and video cassettes
of the Vedic recital. Similarly to print the Vedas, we have
to use many more symbols than our present set of alphabets.
For each such symbol there is typical rhythm and method of
pronunciation. Hence, the proper and accurate printing of
these texts and their true and honest rendering an audio cassettes
must also be undertaken as a continuous and frequently repeated
process. Then we come to the question of propagation. Merely
preserving the heritage in the form of archival knowledge
will not be sufficient and efforts must be made to also promote
the study of Sanskrit, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Lacunae in System of Education
education adopted during 20th century were not at all conducive
to propagation of Sanskrit. Along with Sanskrit knowledge
in other traditional subjects such as Ayurved, astrology,
astronomy and philosophy etc. have also suffered. Let us examine
the lacunae in the present education that has led to such
deterioration of our traditional knowledge.
We use any
language as means of communication to be used for the study
of subject. For example, I may be studying physics or economics
or botany and the aim of my study is to know these subjects.
The medium which I may adopt may be Hindi, English or French
etc. Thus language is only a means for the study of the subject
and while that subject is being studied not much by thinking
or effort should be needed into the study of a language. However,
in case of Sanskrit this is not so, because Sanskrit has to
be first studied as a subject before any other subject is
studied through its medium. The study of this subject is an
additional task which must be undertaken and at least a good
level of proficiency must be acquired before we can actually
reach out of the vast treasure of subject-wise knowledge from
various Sanskrit texts. Our present system of education is
NOT so designed as to fulfill this need of the extra effort.
The study of Sanskrit presently available in two forms:
(i) one is
general education of Sanskrit in which a nominal acquaintance
with the knowledge is given upto matriculation. Even further,
upto graduation students can offer Sanskrit as one of three
subjects of studies and may further opt for Sanskrit as the
subject for post graduation.
ii) The other
system of studying Sanskrit is through the traditional vidyapeeths,
at four levels. Prathama, Madhyama, Shastri and Acharya. Madhyama
level is equivalent to Matriculation and is expected to make
the student proficient enough so as to undertake the study
of other subjects through the medium of Sanskrit. However
this fact is not fully appreciated or utilized in the study
of Shastri or Acharya levels. The present syllabi at these
levels offer only the following subjects for higher study:
b) Dharamshastra which is a major canvas and accommodates
many other subjects like ethics, philosophy, economics, political
science etc. and also science in small amounts.
It is necessary
to change this approach of offering only three subjects and
that too such subjects which are considered as relics of past.
It is, quite obvious that this kind of higher study does not
really help anyone to promote Sanskrit or bring it at par
with other languages which are considered as storage of knowledge.
Since that does not happen, therefore, gradually the vast
knowledge of other subjects which is available in Sanskrit
will also be lost. It becomes a vicious circle where both
the language and the subjects will be lost to posterity.
Let us consider what were the subjects in which quite a great
deal of study has taken place in the past. These
subjects included astronomy, astrology zoology, economics,
political science, ethics, logic, philosophy architecture,
Ayurved, Botany, Physiology etc. It shall be appreciated that
these were subjects in themselves, which is quite different
from studying Sanskrit literature which comprises the study
of dramas, stories or poetry in that language. However, the
study of vast texts on these subjects has not been continued
in the present era, through Sanskrit, because it is more convenient
and up-to-date to study them through English. This preference
for English as the language of learning any subject is likely
to continue in future thus relegating Sanskrit further to
In order that
the study of Sanskrit is utilized to protect and expand the
knowledge of the different subject it will be necessary that
the many old Sanskrit texts on these subjects are supplemented
by bringing the present concepts to them. For example, the
study of archeology must be associated and supplemented by
a study of chemistry, whether in English language or in Hindi
study of Ayurved must be supplemented vastly from the new
innovations made in the field of basic sciences such as physics,
chemistry, botany, zoology etc. It should be recalled that
progress of Allopathic science did not occur only through
what can be called modern medicine. The innovations from basic
sciences have contributed tremendously to the allopathic practices.
For example, the concept of measuring pressure has helped
in devising the blood pressure instrument while technology
of measuring temperature has helped in measuring the fever
of a patient. The technology of producing X-rays has been
greatly used in the Orthopedics.
While the modern
medicine or allopathy has kept up with these new innovations
in basic sciences, Ayurved has not done so. The reason for
this can be solely attributed to the lack governmental support
during the 19th and 20th Century which also amounted to lack
of public support during the entire 20th century. Even today
the government policy on Ayurved prescribes that Ayurved is
only that knowledge which was written and documented in the
days of Sushrut and Charak which must be of at least 500 years
old. Therefore, the government policy itself does not allow
Ayurved to be dynamic and derive the benefits of latest innovations
in basic sciences. If Ayurved is to be understood as a science
of life and a science of healthy life free of diseases and
as a science of proper cures for the diseases then Ayurved
must be treated as applied technology which should be able
to draw upon the current scientific knowledge and match the
current demands. For this Ayurved has to take into account
and go hand in hand with the inventions of modern basic science.
Today no Ayurvedic
doctor seems to be capable of matching and comparing his knowledge
of Ayurved with the modern knowledge of basic science. The
Government has also not promoted this. In fact it can be stated
that the government has not promoted this even in case of
Allopaths, because, a student of MBBS does not generally attempt
to get expertise in say chemistry or physics. However, the
allopathic practitioner does not lose on account of this government
lacunae because allopathic practitioners from other countries
are encouraged for such simultaneous studies and they discover
methods of adoption and application of basic sciences, thus
additing on the available knowledge of modern allopathy. then
the allopaths of our country only have to borrow whatever
has come in practice in other countries. Unfortunately for
Ayurved no such mechanism exists whereby some student will
be able to combine Ayurved with the inventions of basic sciences
to take Ayurved further from where it was in the era of Sushrut
until government is able to provide for this gap the study
of Ayurved is going to remain a static study and will soon
be converted into dead data base. Here, therefore, comes the
role of Sanskrit scholars and institutions teaching Sanskrit.
Through the study of Sanskrit they have to explore the hidden
past knowledge of Ayurved but they also have to make the students
conscious and capable of simultaneously studying the modern
subjects. Then only the knowledge of Sanskrit can be widened
and be made relevant and useful to the present day situation.
of great importance but vastly ignored by our educationists
who design the syllabi of Sanskrit and Ayurved is the field
of research especially, numerical research including the skill
of handling statistical data base. Our Ayurved practitioners
do not have expertise to conduct any numerical study to really
find out the efficacy of their methods. It is not only their
fault. They have not been trained to undertake any study or
research or how to handle statistical data base. Therefore
along with study of Ayurved we have to introduce more such
studies. In short, we have look for more capable students
than the average and this will come through only with proper
Here I would
like to quote the example of Alberuni, the famous historian
who visited India with Mahmud Gaznavi during the 11th century.
It is stated that Mr. Alberuni after visiting India studied
Sanskrit language. Then he studied the Indian philosophy,
then he studied in depth, the concept of various rituals for
Sanskar. After all that, he visited several houses at different
localities and took actual tally of how and how much these
households or communities were actually conducting and participating
in such rituals. This kind of numerical study is quite unthinkable
for the present day students of Ayurved or students of traditional
Sanskrit Vidyapeeths. Hence it appears that whatever is taught
today in the Sanskrit Vidyapeeth is soon going to become irrelevant
and once that happens we would have completely lost this vast
heritage of ours.
What can the individuals contribute?
It is, therefore,
necessary now to sit up or stand up and do something for the
preservation and propagation of Sanskrit. I put forward the
following questions for the consideration of all those who
have any interest in the subject:
- Do you
wish that efforts should be made for the preservation and
propagation of Sanskrit?
- Do you
wish to contribute to such efforts?
- Are you
ready to go into some action for fulfilling your wish?
- Given only
the period of next 10 years or 3600 days, how much period
are you willing to contribute for this cause? Kindly answer
in terms of number of days per year and no. of hours per
- Can you
specify how many hours per day you will be in a position
to contribute for this cause?
- In addition
to time will you also be in a position to contribute in
terms of money or professional expertise or influence?
Your professional expertise in following areas will be necessary:-
of Sanskrit language including the knowledge of literature
available in Sanskrit dealing with various subjects.
expertise to undertake a project for protection and propagation
of modern science such as mathematics, astronomy, physics,
chemistry, Botany, economics, sociology, archaeology, astrology,
architecture engineering, etc.
- Your knowledge
and expertise of handling media either through writing or
through photographs or through audio and video cassettes.
- Your expertise
in handling advertising.
in printing methodology.
in fund collection.
in accounts, book keeping, library science and library management.
- Your expertise
in PR relations to identify and motivate personalities who
will be of use for the cause.
in computers and other techniques of data - storage.
in preparing Educational material.
In order to
support or encourage the propagation of Sanskrit some scholarship
arrangement will have to be made immediately. I would like
to suggest that very good scholarship involving lot of monetary
and other incentives should be given for the students for
simultaneously acquiring proficiencies in modern sciences
+ Sanskrit, or modern science + Ayurved, or modern subjects
+ corresponding literature available in Sanskrit. Historian
must be encouraged to do the dating of various books and text
written in different era. The language used in Sanskrit texts
has changed from period to period and therefore, we also need
to have scholar with expertise in understanding how the grammar
and usage in Sanskrit has changed from period to period. We
also have to prepare a catalogue of all the available literature
either in the form of printed or hand written material available
with a large number of household and institutions. We also
need expertise in the deciphering technique of all this material.
One major source
of literature and genetic or family heritages is the vast
record lying with large number of Pandas in various pilgrim
places. We may have to make efforts to get this material collected
and preserved in the form of prints, CD’s etc.
These are some
of the thoughts which I have put up as a draft paper to explain
the objectives of a project which will have to be worked out
by all those who feel concern for our language, knowledge
All are welcome
to join me in this endeavour.