6 Benefits of a Sanskrit Based Indian Education System
Right now, there are two official languages in India, they are Hindi and English. Although Hindi is there as official language, for all practical purpose, one really needs to know English to succeed in life. India right now is at that inflection point where it is imperative for India to think about whether to continue with English as the language of the intellectuals or replace it with Sanskrit. In this article I present the benefits that India will reap if we moved away from English and embraced Sanskrit as the primary language for education.
Modern Indians have grown up in an environment where we have been encouraged to learn English. Knowing English is a symbol status in India, where someone who can speak fluently in English is considered a well-educated rich person. Now most of us do not realize this, but language is a very powerful tool in terms of influencing people and controlling the way they think. Language is a way of communicating ideas and different cultures have different ideas. As an example, think of the word Dharma in Sanskrit, there is no corresponding word for it in English, with this limitation you go with the word in English which is closest to it and you translate dharma into religion. If you stop speaking Sanskrit or Hindi and only speak in English, you have basically destroyed the India idea of Dharma and replaced it with the western idea of religion. This way the western ideas start dominating over the Indian ideas.
Therefore, if we want to preserve the ideas of our society then it is very important that we preserve our language. With the death of our language our ideas will also die and in fact it is already happening on wide scale. Dharma has become religion, Brahman has become God, Itihasa has become history, Murty puja has become idolatry, Varna has become caste, so on and so forth. All of this is happening because we Indians have absolutely no respect or love towards our language. Most Indian people would rather have their children learn French, German or Spanish instead of Sanskrit as the third language. Of course, learning French or German or Spanish is lucrative as you can make good money translating text from one language to the other for these languages. Widespread knowledge of English has also helped many Indians get back office and Tech support related jobs. However, while we are learning these languages, our own language Sanskrit is languishing in the corner and this is hurting our culture in a big way.
India as a nation has the ambitions of becoming a superpower. In order to attain it, India really needs to think long term about her language. A superpower is a nation which influences other cultures with her ideas. With the prominence of English and other western languages on Indian psyche, instead of influencing other cultures, right now, we are getting influenced by other cultures. And while knowing foreign languages have helped us till now, this benefit we enjoy might not go on forever. Global scene right now is shifting, world is becoming less global and more tribal. At the same time with the development of AI many of the service jobs that Indians do these days can be performed by computers. Both these developments basically mean that the jobs that Indians perform through their knowledge of Foreign Languages is going to decrease. We already see that change, in terms of growing unemployment rate in India. While the world is changing, we still think speaking English is cool and hip while Sanskrit is just an oppressive language of no use, which Brahmins used to keep the masses ignorant.
This sort of an attitude is very dangerous as I will present a few points on the benefits of encouraging Sanskrit scholarship in India.
Benefit 1: The rise of Europe from 1500 onwards happened because Europe rediscovered the classical works of Greece. India has a very rich knowledge tradition, which is beyond the grasp of most people because it is written in Sanskrit. Encouraging Sanskrit scholarship will unlock it to the masses and bring the reawakening of Indian tradition. Did you know there are millions of ancient Indian Manuscripts gathering dust and still waiting to be translated? Imagine the treasure of knowledge that might be hidden in those manuscripts.
Benefit 2: As people will get in touch with the brilliant knowledge presented in our ancient texts, people will develop more love for their culture. Their pride for their identity will increase their self-confidence to face the world.
Benefit 3: For those of us who already love reading Indian texts, reading them in original form means we do not have to depend on the translator’s interpretation of the text. This way we will get a deeper understanding of the text as the ideas are best conveyed in its original language.
Benefit 4: Sanskrit is standardized and has been preserved in its form over many-many centuries, while the spoken language has evolved over time. Writing our modern literature in Sanskrit will preserve the meaning of it for future. This will make it easier for future generations to read our ideas in future without needing a translator in between.
Benefit 5: As strong nation is built on a strong legacy of a civilizational base. Sanskrit texts can provide that base. Sanskrit language and texts are revered in all parts of India. British feel proud in reading Shakespeare in English and appreciate the beauty of language used, while we read Kalidasa in English and never get to appreciate its true beauty. No wonder most of us do not care much about our own texts. Imagine reading Meghadootam in Sanskrit, how exhilarating it will be to imagine Kalidasa himself speaking in our ears his poetry.
Benefit 6: A lot of people blame Sanskrit as an oppressive language which allowed Brahmins to dominate over the masses. While it is not completely true as discussed in our video on Shudra saints, even if we assume it to be true, the situation right now is not any better, instead of Sanskrit English has now taken place of that oppressive language. If I am a poor man who cannot teach my kids in an English medium school my kids have an uphill battle to succeed in life even if they work hard in the school. This is because in college and in job knowledge of English is mandatory. Despite this people blame Sanskrit as oppressive and think English is hip. If everybody is taught in Sanskrit then there is no issue. A poor man’s child gets taught in the same language as everyone else and so the field is equalized for everyone.
NOTE: I am not recommending that we have to completely neglect western ideas. Western ideas are very useful and must be taught to every Indian however all of them must be translated into Sanskrit and then provided to our students. This way we will create a legacy for our children as well.
As beautiful as all this might sound, we must understand that it is not as easy to implement as saying let’s do it and it will become an official language. But if we have the will, we can do it. Israelis have done it with Hebrew, I think in two or three generations we can also do it with Sanskrit. But that love for the language has to be cultivated. Government cannot and should not force Sanskrit on anybody. The change has to come from people itself. I think if we as a society start portraying Sanskrit and Hindi speakers to be cool and consider learning English as something we do just for the sake of employment, then change will happen by itself.
Originally published at https://stoicsadhu.com on July 4, 2020.