Importance of Sanskrit (Seminar on Philosophy of Value-Oriented Education - 26 September 2004, Lucknow) - Audio

Students and teachers of this very famous school and friends. When we invite 800 people and a few turn up one feels the experience of the Indian parliament. There are more than 500 members of the parliament and if you visit parliament anytime during the day, you find not more than 20 or 30 people in the parliament. What does it indicate? Not necessarily that members of parliament are not interested, it also indicates that they are in agreement with whatever is happening that they are not there to controvert, there's nothing to argue about, what is happening is justified and let it be. I do not know if this is the conclusion that I should derive in regard to the introduction of Sanskrit in this school? As a professor, the principal of the school at the beginning said that there are all the three shades of opinion, agreement, disagreement, indifference. Whenever you start a new activity, particularly in the field of education, we have all the three attitudes, everywhere in the world, it is not new.

In the first place everybody believes that he or she is an educationist; whether this belief is right or wrong is a different question, may be debatable but everybody in this world believes that he knows what education is. Once I went to a village, I was advocating universal literacy at that time: I said everybody should be educated in our country. And I went to meet a farmer who had seven children. He himself was illiterate, his two daughters were in a high school, two next children were in the primary school and the rest he decided not to send them to school at all. And I debated with him and he believed that he was a good educationist, he believed based upon experience that education contributes nothing, nothing to the children's development. He argued with me, he said I have two other daughters, they have become averse to homework, they do not know anything about farming. His conclusion was children should not be sent to school.

So if anybody says in this school my child should not be taught Sanskrit; I will say my dear friend you are a good educationist as everybody in the world is. The child is yours, if I am here as a teacher, I derive my trust from you. I am looking after your child. I think that your child shall be the best child in the world. You also feel the same way that your child should be the best in the world. If you believe that your child should not learn Sanskrit and there are many arguments why you should not learn Sanskrit at all. As I said, even that farmer had every reason to conclude that education itself is wrong. Where is the question of Sanskrit at all? No argument at all. If education is used as irrelevant, why Sanskrit at all? How should I argue with anybody who says I don't want my child to learn Sanskrit? My argument starts only when you have some argument, if you have an understanding of what I aim at. If you are convinced that the children's interests are utmost in my heart as much as in your heart. Unless I start with this assumption, debate itself is irrelevant.

Now I take it, to start with that the parents have come here, their presence here I welcome so much. They were free not to come at all as many others have not come and yet have come. It is this value which I appreciate with all my heart. Even if 40 parents have come, I can be sure that these 40 people are deeply interested, and are very well committed to the development of children. They feel that what they are doing in school is of utmost importance in their own life and therefore, I want to congratulate all of you who have come. Number is not very important anywhere in the world. What is important is the substance for which you have come and I will not take long to make a statement that I feel extremely proud, extremely happy, that this school has taken the innovative step of introducing Sanskrit right from the earliest stages of education.

I speak these words with the authority of someone who has worked for education, worked for children and the country, for decades and decades and decades. I have come to the conclusion that if I had to live my life again, I am already 73 now; but if I have to come back again, my friend always says: mrityu jeevan ka ant nahi, and I agree with him entirely. I will surely come again and I would know that I want to avoid the regret that I regret very much that I am not able to speak Sanskrit and that I am not truly Indian, although born in India. I cannot lead the world because I do not know Sanskrit. This is my conclusion. If I want to be a world leader, if I want to be a true leader of India, if I want to breathe as an Indian; I’m not qualified. And I don't want your children to have that regret in their life and I would like to convey this message to those parents who are not here today. Please all the parents, this is my appeal to you. This school is bearing a great responsibility in bestowing Indian hood on your children. Today when I was hearing these young children speaking on Sanskrit and in Sanskrit, one felt that there is continuity of Indian culture.

India is alive, the Vedic Rishi is alive, he is vibrating: Sahana Vavatu Sahanau Bhunaktu Saha Viryam Karavavahai. The Rishi of the Taittiriya Upanishad was speaking again after thousands of years through these children awakening unto us those vibrations of Sanskrit language by which we can live truly as Indians but why to be Indians at all? And this is a question which I get from many Indian youths today.

We are global, we are universal, why do you waste time in learning languages? The world is one today and English is the language known to everybody, let us learn English and no other language at all. Be universal, global; move forward, don't waste your time in learning so many languages. What's the use of it? It's a very strong argument, why not, why not, and I would like all parents to think over this question. We want to decide the question scientifically not because it is so good. We should learn Sanskrit not because it is so good, very fine, it's not because of that reason, no, not at all. There are many arguments of Sanskrit and I find many parents, many young people who do not buy those arguments at all; neither they are scientific in their approach, nor we who advocate Sanskrit are scientific in our approach. We discuss as villagers, rustic illiterate villagers, on both sides, those who don't want Sanskrit they are also rustic illiterate villagers, those who want Sanskrit they are also rustic villagers.

We want at a very high level, if you want to decide for Sanskrit, the decision must be taken very seriously, fundamentally not because Sanskrit is a good decoration; no, not at all. It is like having lipstick or no lipstick. If Sanskrit is to be like lipstick, why should you bother about it at all? Not at all. Why Sanskrit at all? Why do I regret myself in my life today that I do not know Sanskrit, why do I regret? I shall give you my strongest argument in favour of Sanskrit. I have only one argument. You cannot avoid the fact that you are born Indian, whether you like it or not, you are born Indian. You may not like Sanskrit, you may not like Hindi, you may not like anything. How will you avoid the fact that you are born Indian, it is inevitable that you are Indian. Fine, nobody in the world also can avoid being what he is born, whether he is American, or British, or German, or French or anything. Why does not my French friend say: I will not learn French, I learn only English, why does he not say that? You as an Indian, you want to be global, does not a French man want also to be global? Why should he not say, we shall have only one language in the whole world.

Let us try it. Make an experiment scientifically; make an experiment that you declare that there will be only one language in the world. What has become one, now global. If you learn English, you can advance in your career everywhere, stop all languages. Scientifically it is provable that language is not something that can be planted artificially in the genes of human beings, this is the scientific fact. You try anywhere, the sounds that you utter are conditioned by the air, atmosphere, by the sounds which are heard, which are repeated, years after years, decades after decades, centuries after centuries, thousands of thousands, you delude yourself from there. You can earn money but you do not live, you can't live this is the basic fact. This is a scientific fact. You try your best to live without your language and you will find sooner rather than later, you will die, you will cease to exist. You try, make a scientific experiment.

If I look at Sanskrit, it is not because Sanskrit is a wonderful language, − it is. For India, it is the vibration of life itself that is why Sanskrit. Today we are not living at all because we don't know Sanskrit therefore our life-force is so limited. I’m not creative, I cannot write in any language of the world including my own language because we have neglected linguistic studies in our country. We are thrown away at the hands of Macaulay. Macaulay came to India and he said down, down with Sanskrit. If you learn Sanskrit, you will not be English babus therefore he said his Sanskrit should be banished from this country, he decided. And today how many parents believe that Macaulay was right; look, we have become global and the English language is becoming so powerful. We have English with us now; we don't need Sanskrit at all. Macaulay has won but India has been defeated. You and I are defeated because we have ceased to have the life-force. I do not live, I’m living almost dead. It's a fact of my life. I cannot speak Gujarati, which is my mother-tongue. I cannot speak Hindi, which is my national language. I cannot speak Sanskrit, which is the language of my own soul, which is my life. English, I cannot speak because I learned it after 15 years of my life. I hardly know English, where do I stand if I want to express myself. How shall I express myself?

My only argument for Sanskrit is, if you want to live, you cannot avoid being Indian and India cannot be India if it is not Sanskrit. This is a very simple argument for me, no other argument. I cannot but be an Indian and Indian-ness is tied up with Sanskrit. This is the only argument I want to give and I would like to invite my friends now to speak. And I would like to invite you who have come here. Please put forward your arguments, one in favour or against as you like and I would like to have a very intense dialogue on this subject. You know when a dialogue takes place in an assembly, even if the assembly may be small, it has a great impact upon the people who do not come to a meeting. They hear what has happened in a meeting, it incites, stimulates a great deal. Maybe after one year we shall have another meeting here. We shared a further argument; I will only advise the school, please do not stop the experiment that you have started, this is my very strong urge. You've done a marvellous thing. Please do it, continue it and look at these children who are benefited so much by the very fact that they are now the true inheritors of the Rishis of the Taittiriya Upanishad.

Thank you