In India, Sanskrit is one of the 22 official languages and it shares a lot of its vocabulary with Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, and Tamil. It’s also the only Indian language that has a rich tradition of written literature spanning more than 2,000 years. People have been commenting on how it’s very important for India to keep Sanskrit alive because it helps preserve our culture and heritage which will soon be lost if we don’t make any efforts.
A few thousand years ago people in India were divided into various castes and sub-castes. Today these distinctions have disappeared. The credit for this goes to Buddha who considered all men equal, irrespective of the caste they belonged to, by emphasizing on “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family). Today, the mantra is still relevant. Those who are working for social upheaval are not aware of this but those who are creating history go by this dictum even today. Sanskrit has always played a significant role in bringing about harmony among human beings and nations alike.
One of the reasons Sanskrit is limited to a small group of people is the narrow representation of dissidents who never let the language reach the common people, which is why Indian stars today do not have Sanskrit as their mother tongue like French in francophone countries and Arabic in Western Asia. When a language is not used by ordinary people, it dies naturally. If Sanskrit does not catch up with the Indians, it may become an endangered language in their country of birth.
The replacement of Sanskrit by English in higher education was another reason why the language lost ground. Even when Sanskrit was popular, its popularity was confined to the elite class. Its influence on the masses remained limited. Although hundreds of thousands of manuscripts were written in Sanskrit, it could not compete with the popularity of Persian and Arabic during medieval times. It is true that Sanskrit was India's most important language for thousands of years, but it could not hold its own against Persian and Arabic during medieval times.
Arabic is widely used in Indian Muslim society because of its religious significance. More than 30 lakh (3 million) Muslims speak Urdu in India because of the Islamic tradition. With the spread of Islam, Persian became an important literary language in South Asia during medieval times. Soon, this language came to replace Arabic and, later on, Sanskrit. The reason for this was that while Arabic is a Semitic language and Sanskrit a Dravidian one, Persian belongs to the Indo-European family and has close affinity with Sanskrit.
The modern era saw a drastic change in usage of languages from an elite trend to a common phenomenon. Not only did Indian languages witness a revival under British rule but they also became part of national identity.
"It is our collective duty to cherish our heritage, preserve it, and pass it on to the new generation, because our future generations have a right to it. Now is the time to increase everyone's efforts for these works as well. Friends, if you know of any such person engaged in this kind of effort, if you have any such information, then please share the information related to them on social media with #CelebratingSanskrit," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged in one of his speeches. He said that he got to know about many people who are engaged in the 'inspirational' work of teaching Sanskrit in foreign lands.
"Sanskrit language also plays an important role in the strengthening of cultural relations between India and Ireland and between India and Thailand here in the east. Dr. Chirapat Prapandavidya and Dr Kusuma Rakshamani are playing a very important role in the promotion of the Sanskrit language in Thailand. They have also carried out comparative studies in the literature of Thai and Sanskrit languages. Another such professor is Shriman Boris Zakharin, who teaches Sanskrit at Moscow State University in Russia. He has published many research papers and books. He has also translated many books from Sanskrit to Russian. Also, not to forget Sydney Sanskrit School in Australia, where the Sanskrit language is taught to the students. For children, these schools also organize programs like Sanskrit Grammar Camp, Sanskrit Plays, and Sanskrit Day,” stated Prime Minister Modi.
Nothing can be as inclusive as Sanskrit. It can be the modern Indian language because it is not a modern language. All over the world, there is a growing trend to learn European languages like French and German, but no one seems to know Sanskrit.
India can play a major role in bringing about peace and prosperity to the world by being an instrument of understanding, dialogue and debate among diverse cultures, religions, traditions, and civilizations. With its unique position in the world, India must have its own language that can reach out beyond its borders into other countries to promote mutual understanding. It has been the case with Persian that reached out from Persia into other regions getting absorbed in local cultures wherever it went.
India has only one language that can promote the inclusive Indian ethos. That language is Sanskrit.