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Sanskrit as a link language for imparting scientific knowledge

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By Nithin Sridhar

A language is the backbone of a nation, its identity, heritage, and culture. This is so because, a language acts as a medium to sustain, express, and transmit the knowledge and wisdom of the particular society. Thus, languages are not only tools for communication, but are also abodes of knowledge systems developed by a society. They act as carriers that keep the knowledge systems alive and transmit them to future generation.

India has been made rich in its culture and heritage by numerous languages that have taken birth in this land. But, among all the Indian languages, there is one language- Sanskrit that has historically played a unique role of being a mother, a link between various regional language speakers, and an abode of scientific knowledge.

The role of Sanskrit as a mother is well recognized. She has been a nourishing mother who has always assisted various regional languages in evolving themselves. The role of Sanskrit in the past as a link language is also well recognized. But, it is often ignored that Sanskrit was not only the repository to religious and philosophical knowledge, but also to Math, Science, Astronomy, and other secular subjects.

In a 2009 lecture delivered at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Markandey Katju says: “There is a misconception about the Sanskrit language that it is only a language for chanting mantras in temples or religious ceremonies. However, that is less than 5% of the Sanskrit literature. More than 95% of the Sanskrit literature have nothing to do with religion, and instead it deals with philosophy, law, science, literature, grammar, phonetics, interpretation, etc. In fact, Sanskrit was the language of free thinkers, who questioned everything, and expressed the widest spectrum of thoughts on various subjects. In particular, Sanskrit was the language of our scientists in ancient India

The astronomical and mathematical achievements of Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, etc., the medical discoveries of Charaka, Sushruta, etc., the philosophical world-views of Darshanas, were all expressed and transmitted through Sanskrit. Despite having diverse regional languages, India of the past was well connected in terms of communication and there was a free flow of knowledge- religious, secular, and scientific, thanks to Sanskrit.

With the advent of the British, Sanskrit was slowly, but in a planned manner, rooted out of Indian education and academia and was replaced by English. The traditional gurukulas which were repositories of Indian knowledge systems were replaced by English schools and hence, through thorough planning and meticulous implementation, the Indian education system was completely colonized and westernized.

This colonization of education has today resulted in generations after generations of Indians who are not only disconnected to indigenous heritage, culture, and philosophy but are also largely unaware of Indian scientific traditions and knowledge systems.

The present education system and academia entertain a study, research, and imparting of scientific knowledge only in English. This has helped Indians to connect with the global scientific community and build upon western scientific research, but at the same time Indians have become alien to their own indigenous scientific knowledge.

There have been many calls for imparting education in schools in vernacular languages. There is a great merit in this as children who are largely taught in English, are imbibing values that are alien to India. The English education has further impressed upon youths that everything Indian is superstition and regressive and everything western is liberal and modern.

The result has been disastrous politically, socially, ecologically, spiritually, and even scientifically. Thus, in order to reclaim the Indian identity and create Indian narrative, many spiritualists, scholars, and nationalists have time and again given a call for imparting primary and secondary education in mother tongues.

There is a great merit in imparting education in native languages. But, using native languages to impart primary education in math and science is accompanied by various issues and complications for the students.

First, the education at graduate and post-graduate levels are imparted in English alone. Hence, a person who has studied in the regional language medium will find it very difficult to study during graduation. Thus, students who studied in regional language mediums will be at a great disadvantage.

Second, if regional languages are introduced as a medium to teach in graduation and post-graduation level, that will again give rise to a few complications. The regional languages are largely devoid of means for imparting higher scientific subjects, be it math, physics, medicine, or engineering subjects. Further, if people in different states study and do research in different languages, then there will no free flow of scientific knowledge within India. That will be a huge obstacle to scientific advancement.

Thus, imparting primary and secondary education in mother tongues has serious practical issues and may curtail scientific research and advancement. These practical issues can be easily overcome by introducing a link language that is not only suitable for scientific purposes, but also has a harmonious relationship with the regional languages. And among all Indian languages, only Sanskrit fits the requirement.

Sanskrit had successfully nourished various regional languages, preserved Indian world-views, and had ensured a free flow of scientific knowledge in the past. And Sanskrit alone is equipped to accomplish it again in the present.

Thus, the Sanskrit Commission set up by the Government of India in 1956 observes: “in course of time, the prospective All-India Language — Bharati Bhasa — at least in its written norm, which would be acceptable to all regions of India, especially in the higher reaches of education and literary activity, will be a form of simple and modernized Sanskrit.”

More stories on Sanskrit:

Only through Sanskrit, can India make a credible narrative about its Sanskriti

If you look carefully at English you will see Sanskrit hidden everywhere: Jeffrey Armstrong

Let’s revive Sanskrit in correct manner

All hail Sanskrit – the most perfect language ever

Why Sanskrit Channel is a good idea for the language as well as for the country

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  • govikannan

    //The traditional gurukulas which were repositories of Indian knowledge systems were replaced by English schools //
    only male higher cast people studied in those gurukulas, what about woman, poor lower cast and dalits ? is there any school for them before Christian machineries ?

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  • govikannan

    //The traditional gurukulas which were repositories of Indian knowledge systems were replaced by English schools //
    only male higher cast people studied in those gurukulas, what about woman, poor lower cast and dalits ? is there any school for them before Christian machineries ?

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Tips To Help In Decision-Making If You Wish To Study Abroad

We can learn every single day but only if we are open to it.

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Five tips to decision-making if you want to study abroad

Among the more important things we do in life is to take decisions. At a time of information overload, this can be particularly challenging. And yet, this is the time of year when students have to make up their minds on their future course of study abroad. It is one of the most difficult and important decisions they would need to take and would, most certainly, impact them for the rest of their lives.

Trends suggest that there would be an increasing number of Indian students who would be opting for higher studies, particularly in Australia.

What are some of the key things to keep in mind?

Abroad, study
Employability is not a quotient of how many books we have read or quotations we know by heart. Wikimedia Commons

Do your homework, but don’t get bogged down: Doing your homework and basic research are important, but too much information can make decision-making difficult and even confusing. It is important to decide what subject you would like to pursue, where you would like to study abroad, whether you meet the entry and eligibility criteria and, finally, do you have the required funds to pay for it. Given the Indian Rupee-Australian Dollar exchange rate, studying in Australia is significantly cheaper than opting for the US and the UK, which pose additional and new challenges.

Know how to apply: If you are going through an education agent, first find out which education agents have been empanelled by the university of choice. For instance, the internationally-ranked University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, has only 12 registered India-based education partners. No one else is authorised to process student applications. The list is available on the university’s website. Furthermore, empanelled agents are not authorised to charge students for services they render. Such payments, or commissions, are paid by the university.

Abroad, study
India needs a world-class higher educational system Pixabay

Know why you are pursuing higher studies: Simon Sinek, in his path-breaking book, “The Power of Why”, emphasised the misplaced emphasis that so many place on “what” and “how” without ever knowing “why”. If we know “why” we are planning on a particular course of action, other things fall in place. In terms of sequencing, “why” is where we first start. You can decide, for instance, to pursue an undergraduate course in Finance and Accounting if you are clear in your mind as to why you would like to do so. Once you know your “why”, the “where” is easy.

Embrace Change: Often our parents, in particular, and sometimes even we, fear the uncertain. Living abroad, especially if it is the first time, can be challenging. Is it safe? What is the culture like? Would my son or daughter make friends? Would the studying and living culture cause problems? These are all legitimate questions and anxieties. At the same time, if the decision is to study abroad, it is important to be open to change. Some things might be similar to what we are used to but there would be big differences in several other aspects. What is particularly fascinating is that “other cultures” open up the mind to new ways of seeing and thinking — and even behaving.

Also Read: The Critique Of The Indian Education System

Learn with Passion: We can learn every single day but only if we are open to it. “Smell the roses” we are told and yet, we rarely do. Employability is not a quotient of how many books we have read or quotations we know by heart but how we are able to relate with our external environment. This is what employers look for because what they want are persons who can work in a team, who can take decisions and, consequently, who anticipate and solve problems without compromising on integrity and values. Great educational institutions recognise this and embed it into their pedagogy. It is what makes them stand out. (IANS)