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by PRAKASH KATOCH
Two news items linked to Sanskrit appeared in the media recently. First, a committee on revival of Sanskrit set up by Government of India made wide-ranging recommendations but made it clear that Sanskrit need not be made compulsory in schools, and that under the three language formula, schools and examination boards should ensure that Sanskrit is taught and available to those who are interested.
The committee has also said that if Sanskrit is to become popular, textbooks of all subjects should be available in Sanskrit.
The second news item is about an Indian American couple (Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan) who have donated $3.5 million to Chicago University for the revival of Sanskrit language, adding to the immense contribution by Indian Diaspora towards reviving and retaining our culture.
The Ramakrishnans’ gift is part of The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact, which will raise $4.5 billion and engage 125,000 alumni by 2019. To date, the campaign has raised $2.82 billion and engaged more than 59,000 alumni. Interestingly, last year in India Maryam, a Muslim girl won the contest of Bhagwat Gita, holy book for Hinduism followers. Maryam’s parents supported her idea of participating in the contest. She defeated all the contestants to win the contest.
According to American political scientist Joseph Nye, “The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority).”
In ancient times many civilization were formed that were confined to small regions but world’s first culture came up in India (Yajurveda 7/14: Sa Pratham Sansktiti Vishwara) which focused on inculcating human values in mankind and spread to vast areas of the globe; present day West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia.
Focus of Indian culture inculcating human values in mankind has been widely acknowledged abroad. British Historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) had stated, “It is already becoming clear that a chapter which has a western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in history the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way.”
Two issues are noteworthy in Toynbee’s statement; first, the world has become much more dangerous than when he spoke, and second, when he said “the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way”, he meant the human values and all inclusive nature of Indians.
The world acknowledges what India gave to them in terms of culture, civilization, Buddhism and Jainism, education, arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, science, astronomy, medicine, surgery, rocketry, navigation, etc.
India gave the world Zero without which no worthwhile scientific discovery would have been possible, as acknowledged by Albert Einstein. Using an astronomical model developed by Brahmagupta in the 7th century, Bhaskaracharya accurately defined many astronomical quantities, including the length of the sidereal year, the time that is required for the Earth to orbit the Sun as 365.258756484, hundreds of years before astronomer smart.
It is also intriguing how accurate and meaningful our ancient scriptures are though not interpreted accurately or realized by any presently. The Hanuman Chalisa reads, “Yug sahastra yojan per Bhanu, Leelyo taahi madhur phal janu.” One Yug denotes 12000 years, one Sahastra denotes 1000 and one Yojan denotes 8 miles, which brings the total distance to 96000000 miles (12000 x 1000 x 8 miles) or 1536000000 kms to Sun, which NASA confirms is the exact distance between Earth and Sun.
Sanskrit is acknowledged as the mother of most languages in the world including European languages. NASA acknowledges it is the best language for computer programming.
In India, Sanskrit is mostly used as hymns and chants by Hindus and Buddhists as ceremonial language and for rituals. CBSE, ICSE and some state education boards provide Sanskrit as second or third language in schools for classes 5 to 8. There are a number of Gurukuls also teaching Sanskrit.
Many would be unaware that Moin-ul-Islam madrassa, located on outskirts of Agra, teaches Sanskrit and Arabic to girls and boys of both Hindu and Muslim communities. Spoken Sanskrit has been revived in some villages and traditional institutions as well. Compare this to the proliferation of Chinese language in India.
In 2012, China offered to train 300 Indian teachers in Mandarin Chinese covering all expenses in China for six months and under an MoU signed with CBSE for more than 100 CBSE schools to introduce Chinese language. In April 2012, CBSE made Chinese a foreign language subject for middle school students in 500 schools, with plans to promote study of Chinese in 11,500 middle schools. China’s Confucius Institute has been introduced by Vellore Institute of Technology in Tamil Nadu and JNU, Delhi too has been designated to host Confucius Institute online.
The hesitation within India to learn Sanskrit is generally because of the patent question what is the use of learning it? Such question ignores to examine why educational institutions in countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Sweden, Thailand, USA and Russian Federation are teaching Sanskrit.
Interestingly an International Conference on “Sanskrit and Indological Studies in India, Russia and Neighbouring Countries: Past, Present and Future” held in Moscow last November saw 24 scholars from India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Belarus presenting papers. St James Schools in England teach Sanskrit because: being the root of European languages its study illuminates their grammar and etymology; its philosophical concepts provide a wealth of human thought; regarded classical language par excellence and considered positive while assessing university admissions.
St James School, London, has Sanskrit compulsory second language subject for its junior division because it helps students grasp math, science and other languages better. Warwick Jessup, head of Sanskrit department, says “This is the most perfect and logical language in the world, the only one that is not named after the people who speak it. Indeed the word ‘Sanskrit’ itself means perfected language.”
Paul Moss, Headmaster of the school, says: “The Devnagri script and spoken Sanskrit are two of the best ways for a child to overcome stiffness of fingers and the tongue. Today’s European languages do not use many parts of the tongue and mouth while speaking or many finger movements while writing, whereas Sanskrit helps immensely to develop cerebral dexterity through its phonetics.”
Students of St James chanted Vedic hymns in presence of Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace in 2010 to celebrate beginning of the Commonwealth Games. Significantly, the Gayatri Mantra was proved to be the most powerful hymn in the world through laboratory tests by American scientist Howard Steingeril; the Mantra produced 110,000 sound waves per second. Gayatri Mantra is known to be capable of developing specific spiritual potentialities.
The most significant reason to learn Sanskrit is to be able to draw upon the great knowledge lying hidden in our Vedas. The bane of India always has been lack of political consensus, which is exploited to the hilt by political parties for political gains despite adverse impact to national interests.
Therefore, an impression has been created that Sanskrit and Vedas are strictly synonymous to Hindu religion, which is not the case. Even the great teachings of Bhagwad Gita because of the time of Mahabharata are alluded mistakenly to Hinduism, but are applicable across the board to all religions and communities.
American Thinker Thoreau clarified, “In the great teachings of Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climes and nationalities and is the road for attainment of the Great Knowledge.” The misperception in India that Vedas are part of Hindu Religion needs to be corrected, even as foreigners acknowledge that Hinduism is a way of life.
German Indologist Max Muller who translated Vedas into English and who was recruited by the British to educate officers of the newly formed Indian Civil Service post the 1857 mutiny said, “If I am asked which nation had been advanced in the modern world in respect of education and culture then I would say it was India.”
At a time when our abundant youth power must join in the development of India, especially with inimical and divisive forces hell bent to lead them astray, we need to make a conscious effort to draw upon our rich heritage and culture through learning Sanskrit and Vedas – it is time to pull the wool out of our eyes.
Prakash Katoch is a third generation army officer hailing from Himachal Pradesh. He has published over 530 articles on international affairs, geopolitics, military, security, technical and topical issues besides authoring two books. The article was first published at Hillpost.in
Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon on Thursday said that the Pegasus snooping issue is India's internal matter.
The NSO is a private company and it has a license to sell its software to the government entities only, he added.
Gilon said: "This is an internal issue of India and I can't speak beyond this point. This is the only main requirement that... under the requirements, they cannot sell it to non-governmental actors".
Responding to a query if the Indian government will contact them, he said that he has no idea whether the Indian government has contacted them or not.
Referring to the explosion that took place last year near the Israeli embassy in Delhi, he said that the perpetrators are yet to be nabbed; however, the investigating agencies of both countries are cooperating with each other.
"We are thankful to the government of India for providing security to all embassy personnel," Gilon said.
Talking about the newly-formed quad with Israel, India, the US, and UAE, the Ambassador said it is totally an economic forum based on mutual cooperation among the participant countries.
"It has nothing to do with the military component as of now," he added.
Talking about Afghanistan, Gilon said that the country should not be used for extremism.
"There should not be any human rights violation and women and children should not suffer there", he commented.
Saying that Israel is a technologically sound country but it cannot go for industrial manufacturing, the partnership between India and Israel can work better for industrial productions.
Sharing the details of the recently-concluded visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, he said that the visit was most successful in terms of bilateral relations.
Jaishankar met all important Ministers of the Israeli government and also met the Indian Diaspora, the Indian Jews who have recently settled there.
"It was a very warm visit, very friendly which I think emphasized the strategic partnership declared during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel. I think that the visit was in the spotlight of 30 years of diplomatic relations which we are going to celebrate on January 29 next year," Gilon added. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Israel Politics, Indian Diaspora, Pegasus issues, Pegasus snooping issue, a partnership between India and Israel.
The Sher Bahadur Deuba government on Thursday recommended veteran diplomat Shanker Sharma as the next ambassador to India.
Sharma earlier served as Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission and Nepal's Ambassador to the United States of America from 2009 to 2013.
The post in the New Delhi embassy of Nepal fell vacant recently after Deuba recalled the ambassadors from 12 countries including India. The outgoing ambassador, Nilamber Acharya has already returned to Kathmandu.
Sharma has extensive experience in government, international institutions, and economic research. Before joining the National Planning Commission as a member in 1997, he worked as a Senior Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Nepal; a Senior Economist in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore; and a Fellow in the East-West Center, Hawaii. He also served as a Professor of Economics in the Centre for Economic Development and Administration, Tribhuvan University.
He worked regionally and globally for many organizations, such as the UNESCAP, World Bank, and ASEAN. Sharma is close confident of Prime Minister Deuba. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India-Nepal relations, Nepal Ambassador, economic research.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced that 2022 will be celebrated as the friendship year for India and ASEAN countries as both have completed 30 years of partnership.
The event will coincide with India's celebrations of the 75th year of Independence from the colonial regime, he added.
While participating in the 18th edition of the India-ASEAN Summit, Modi said, "India is committed to deepening its relations with the next presidency, Cambodia and country-coordinator Singapore."
"History is witness to the fact that India and ASEAN have had relations for thousands of years. India-ASEAN relations are reflected in everything, including in our shared values, traditions, languages, scriptures, architecture, culture, food," the Prime Minister noted.
Speaking about the Covid pandemic which engulfed the whole world, he further said that the Covid period was also a test of India-ASEAN friendship. "Our mutual ties in the Covid time will keep strengthening our corporations in future and form a base for goodwill between our people," Modi added.
He further said that the unity and centrality of ASEAN have always been a priority for India and history has witnessed the fact that "we have had ties since thousands of years," he said.
The Prime Minister also said that India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN's Outlook for the Indo-Pacific are the framework for their shared vision and mutual cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
During the Summit, the head of the member states will review the progress of India and ASEAN Strategic Partnerships which was signed in 2012. They will also review the progress achieved in the sectors like Covid-19, health, trade and investment, connectivity, education among others, the officials of India's Ministry of External Affairs said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, and ASEAN partnership, COVID-19, India, and ASEAN, India, and history, Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative.