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Tale of Two Tongues
|by J. Ajithkumar|
Languages (tongues) are the most visible symbols of regional civilizations and religious culture. No civilization in any part of the world can be considered significant unless it has generated some outstanding literary works at some point of time during its existence. Many of the glorious civilizations are no more, but the differences between Inca and Greek civilizations provide a striking example about the importance of language and literature. While the former exists only in the books of History students, the latter is still a matter of delight merely because of Iliad and Odyssey. Whatever be their achievements in terms of monuments and territorial vastness, the literary content of a civilization far outweighs everything else when it comes to counting its greatness. In the eternal comparison of significance between physical and mental achievements, it is always the mental achievements that matters. The meaning of Akshara (letters) in Sanskrit is ‘that which does not perish’ and literature is its popular form. People of letters are far more respected than those who build monuments.
Language and literature are activities of the mind and it calls for far greater knowledge and capabilities to excel in them than in physical activities like annexing territories and building monuments. A casual comparison between two individuals trying to build up their body and brain respectively in a gym and library is enough to prove this point at micro level. Within an year or two the whole body can be built up to competitive levels, whereas it will take years and years of effort for anyone to reach the level of even attempting a literary work. And if such works are to be of outstanding nature, the amount of calibre and hard work required can be easily guessed. It will take generations of accumulated knowledge, skills and environmental encouragement to generate classical literary works. Perhaps no other civilization till date in the face of earth has produced more such outstanding classical literary works than Hindu Sanatana Dharma (HSD) and its associated Sanskrit literature. An update about its present condition vis-à-vis some richer tongues reveals a shocking picture for the entire human civilization.
Arabic is the language of Arabs and their population is not significant. But Arabic language has become so much identified with Islam because of the simple reason that Koran, the Islamic holy book, is in that language. Muslim population in the world has increased significantly in the last few centuries and the importance of Arabic language is also increasing. Their disciplined uniformity throughout the world makes it obligatory on the part of all Muslims to learn Arabic in order to practice the religion properly. Without a significant knowledge of Arabic language it is almost impossible to offer the daily prayers, refer the holy book and perform their other rituals. Though spoken dialects vary from country to country the written Arabic language remains uniform. Classical literary works in Arabic language are few, but its religious association makes it one of the most prominent languages in today’s world.
The new found richness of Arabs has also raised the importance of their language. Millions of dollars are spent on its propagation and development. Muslim children are memorizing the entire holy book in their young age and the level of encouragement offered for such efforts is unprecedented. Just like the religion, the language has also become a convenient tool for realization of Arabian dreams for international domination. The British and their English provide a very good example of what a language can achieve for imperial dreams. Original speakers of any language remain the ultimate authorities in any language and such an eternal domination provides the psychological upper hand to rule over the new speakers. The goal posts for correctness in the language can always be shifted by its original owners. And it becomes inevitable and unquestioned, if the language owners happen to be rich, powerful and ambitious.
In stark contrast to the continuing victory lap of Arabic language, the story of Sanskrit presents one of awful degeneration. The number of classic literature works in Sanskrit language far outweighs all other languages put together, both in terms of quantity and quality. If Islam is cent percent identified with Arabic language, the association of Sanskrit with Hindu Sanatana Dharma is also of very high significance. Almost all its original religious scriptures are in Sanskrit language, though commentaries and interpretations (which are freely allowed in HSD, unlike Islam) are available in many other languages. Sanskrit is considered the mother of almost all Indian languages, yet the efforts for its encouragement and development continues to be abysmally low. India is rich and millions of Indians are more than rich. But the condition of India’s most significant cultural symbol is pathetic with no turn around in sight.
One of the surprising reasons for the current state of Sanskrit language in India is the skewed secularism of Indian state. When India got partitioned in 1947 into a religious Pakistan and secular India, the ruling elite in India took extra efforts in segregating religions from state affairs. In this laudable attempt, they made the fatal error of associating Sanskrit language entirely with Hindu religion. The neglect has now gone to the extent of hatred for the language. Schemers and anti-nationals in the Indian state also used this opportunity to whip up caste feelings among the Hindus by their false propagation about Sanskrit being the language of only high caste Brahmins. The clever among them knew very well that killing Sanskrit language will be best way to conquer India again.
The future of Sanskrit is not at all bright, except for the knowledge explosion taking place over the electronic media and internet. Stray efforts are ongoing in different parts of the world for digitization of all the Sanskrit manuscripts available. There are also attempts to promote learning of the language in various pockets of the world, some of which unbelievably astonishing. Indian efforts in this direction continue to be apathetic, thanks to the overdose of vote bank politics and political correctness in the ‘clanocracy’ of India. Greatest symbol of Indian civilization is being destroyed by planned negligence and official antipathy in a systematic manner. But we should always bear in mind that a Dharmic Republic of India can become a world leader only on the strength of its own Sanatana Dharma and Sanskrit. There is absolutely no other way to reach the top by becoming a Ramrajya once again.
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