गुरुवार, 11 अक्तूबर 2007

**************** REVIVAL OF SANSKRIT

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Smt Rohini Kulkarni, Haripur, Sangli

sanskrit is not just a language but an inexhaustible treasure of knowledge. If we allow this to be lost we will be swept backward in the pursuit of knowledge. Click here to know how YOU can contribute to the revival.

Leena Mehendale
1. Time Constraint

The study of Sanskrit both in terms of quanity and quality has suffered immense deterioration during the 20th century. It is quite likely that after the A.D. 2010 we will not be able to retain or protect this vast heritage which was ours for thousands of years. In our present population of about 100 crores we can hardly find about 5 lakh people who have some working knowledge of Sanskrit. Out of these most have proficiency only in some Sanskrit recital e.g. stotra or mantra which are employed in various rituals. A few others have proficiency in the language. People who can be called expert in Sanskrit are mostly in the age group of 60+. They will be lost to us within a short period of 15-20 years. There may be only few hundred of experts who are below the age group of 50 years and they may be far too inadequate for promotion of Sanskrit all by themselves. We cannot rely on them to take the study of Sanskrit much farther. Hence all the efforts for protection of Sanskrit must concentrate now for the coming 10-15 years.

2. Role of Modern Technology

The problem of protection of Sanskrit must deal with the twin task of preservation of the old knowledge and its propagation. The preservation of traditional knowledge was done earlier by word of mouth and later by printing the books. Now very strong methods of retaintioin have become available in terms of audio and video cassettes and CDs and other computer storages. However, we have not yet made use of these strong techniques for the promotion of Sanskrit. It is, therefore, necessary to see how we can get together and adopt a project approach running for a minimum of 10 years in order to create audio and video material which will at least document the presently available knowledge of Sanskrit. To give an example, it is estimated that there will be about 500 people will who can very well recite the Vedas in their true format. It would be a good idea to use this expertise and make audio and video cassettes of the Vedic recital. Similarly to print the Vedas, we have to use many more symbols than our present set of alphabets. For each such symbol there is typical rhythm and method of pronunciation. Hence, the proper and accurate printing of these texts and their true and honest rendering an audio cassettes must also be undertaken as a continuous and frequently repeated process. Then we come to the question of propagation. Merely preserving the heritage in the form of archival knowledge will not be sufficient and efforts must be made to also promote the study of Sanskrit, both in terms of quality and quantity.

3. Lacunae in System of Education

Methods of education adopted during 20th century were not at all conducive to propagation of Sanskrit. Along with Sanskrit knowledge in other traditional subjects such as Ayurved, astrology, astronomy and philosophy etc. have also suffered. Let us examine the lacunae in the present education that has led to such deterioration of our traditional knowledge.

We use any language as means of communication to be used for the study of subject. For example, I may be studying physics or economics or botany and the aim of my study is to know these subjects. The medium which I may adopt may be Hindi, English or French etc. Thus language is only a means for the study of the subject and while that subject is being studied not much by thinking or effort should be needed into the study of a language. However, in case of Sanskrit this is not so, because Sanskrit has to be first studied as a subject before any other subject is studied through its medium. The study of this subject is an additional task which must be undertaken and at least a good level of proficiency must be acquired before we can actually reach out of the vast treasure of subject-wise knowledge from various Sanskrit texts. Our present system of education is NOT so designed as to fulfill this need of the extra effort.

4. The study of Sanskrit presently available in two forms:
(i) one is general education of Sanskrit in which a nominal acquaintance with the knowledge is given upto matriculation. Even further, upto graduation students can offer Sanskrit as one of three subjects of studies and may further opt for Sanskrit as the subject for post graduation.

ii) The other system of studying Sanskrit is through the traditional vidyapeeths, at four levels. Prathama, Madhyama, Shastri and Acharya. Madhyama level is equivalent to Matriculation and is expected to make the student proficient enough so as to undertake the study of other subjects through the medium of Sanskrit. However this fact is not fully appreciated or utilized in the study of Shastri or Acharya levels. The present syllabi at these levels offer only the following subjects for higher study:

a) Sanskrit itself
b) Dharamshastra which is a major canvas and accommodates many other subjects like ethics, philosophy, economics, political science etc. and also science in small amounts.
c) Jyotish:

It is necessary to change this approach of offering only three subjects and that too such subjects which are considered as relics of past. It is, quite obvious that this kind of higher study does not really help anyone to promote Sanskrit or bring it at par with other languages which are considered as storage of knowledge. Since that does not happen, therefore, gradually the vast knowledge of other subjects which is available in Sanskrit will also be lost. It becomes a vicious circle where both the language and the subjects will be lost to posterity.
5. Let us consider what were the subjects in which quite a great deal of study has taken place in the past. These subjects included astronomy, astrology zoology, economics, political science, ethics, logic, philosophy architecture, Ayurved, Botany, Physiology etc. It shall be appreciated that these were subjects in themselves, which is quite different from studying Sanskrit literature which comprises the study of dramas, stories or poetry in that language. However, the study of vast texts on these subjects has not been continued in the present era, through Sanskrit, because it is more convenient and up-to-date to study them through English. This preference for English as the language of learning any subject is likely to continue in future thus relegating Sanskrit further to past.

In order that the study of Sanskrit is utilized to protect and expand the knowledge of the different subject it will be necessary that the many old Sanskrit texts on these subjects are supplemented by bringing the present concepts to them. For example, the study of archeology must be associated and supplemented by a study of chemistry, whether in English language or in Hindi language.

Similarly the study of Ayurved must be supplemented vastly from the new innovations made in the field of basic sciences such as physics, chemistry, botany, zoology etc. It should be recalled that progress of Allopathic science did not occur only through what can be called modern medicine. The innovations from basic sciences have contributed tremendously to the allopathic practices. For example, the concept of measuring pressure has helped in devising the blood pressure instrument while technology of measuring temperature has helped in measuring the fever of a patient. The technology of producing X-rays has been greatly used in the Orthopedics.

While the modern medicine or allopathy has kept up with these new innovations in basic sciences, Ayurved has not done so. The reason for this can be solely attributed to the lack governmental support during the 19th and 20th Century which also amounted to lack of public support during the entire 20th century. Even today the government policy on Ayurved prescribes that Ayurved is only that knowledge which was written and documented in the days of Sushrut and Charak which must be of at least 500 years old. Therefore, the government policy itself does not allow Ayurved to be dynamic and derive the benefits of latest innovations in basic sciences. If Ayurved is to be understood as a science of life and a science of healthy life free of diseases and as a science of proper cures for the diseases then Ayurved must be treated as applied technology which should be able to draw upon the current scientific knowledge and match the current demands. For this Ayurved has to take into account and go hand in hand with the inventions of modern basic science.

Today no Ayurvedic doctor seems to be capable of matching and comparing his knowledge of Ayurved with the modern knowledge of basic science. The Government has also not promoted this. In fact it can be stated that the government has not promoted this even in case of Allopaths, because, a student of MBBS does not generally attempt to get expertise in say chemistry or physics. However, the allopathic practitioner does not lose on account of this government lacunae because allopathic practitioners from other countries are encouraged for such simultaneous studies and they discover methods of adoption and application of basic sciences, thus additing on the available knowledge of modern allopathy. then the allopaths of our country only have to borrow whatever has come in practice in other countries. Unfortunately for Ayurved no such mechanism exists whereby some student will be able to combine Ayurved with the inventions of basic sciences to take Ayurved further from where it was in the era of Sushrut and Charak.

Unless and until government is able to provide for this gap the study of Ayurved is going to remain a static study and will soon be converted into dead data base. Here, therefore, comes the role of Sanskrit scholars and institutions teaching Sanskrit. Through the study of Sanskrit they have to explore the hidden past knowledge of Ayurved but they also have to make the students conscious and capable of simultaneously studying the modern subjects. Then only the knowledge of Sanskrit can be widened and be made relevant and useful to the present day situation.

Other subject of great importance but vastly ignored by our educationists who design the syllabi of Sanskrit and Ayurved is the field of research especially, numerical research including the skill of handling statistical data base. Our Ayurved practitioners do not have expertise to conduct any numerical study to really find out the efficacy of their methods. It is not only their fault. They have not been trained to undertake any study or research or how to handle statistical data base. Therefore along with study of Ayurved we have to introduce more such studies. In short, we have look for more capable students than the average and this will come through only with proper strategies.

Here I would like to quote the example of Alberuni, the famous historian who visited India with Mahmud Gaznavi during the 11th century. It is stated that Mr. Alberuni after visiting India studied Sanskrit language. Then he studied the Indian philosophy, then he studied in depth, the concept of various rituals for Sanskar. After all that, he visited several houses at different localities and took actual tally of how and how much these households or communities were actually conducting and participating in such rituals. This kind of numerical study is quite unthinkable for the present day students of Ayurved or students of traditional Sanskrit Vidyapeeths. Hence it appears that whatever is taught today in the Sanskrit Vidyapeeth is soon going to become irrelevant and once that happens we would have completely lost this vast heritage of ours.

6. What can the individuals contribute?

It is, therefore, necessary now to sit up or stand up and do something for the preservation and propagation of Sanskrit. I put forward the following questions for the consideration of all those who have any interest in the subject:

1) Do you wish that efforts should be made for the preservation and propagation of Sanskrit?

2) Do you wish to contribute to such efforts?

3) Are you ready to go into some action for fulfilling your wish?

4) Given only the period of next 10 years or 3600 days, how much period are you willing to contribute for this cause? Kindly answer in terms of number of days per year and no. of hours per week.

5) Can you specify how many hours per day you will be in a position to contribute for this cause?

6) In addition to time will you also be in a position to contribute in terms of money or professional expertise or influence?

7) Your professional expertise in following areas will be necessary:-
a) Knowledge of Sanskrit language including the knowledge of literature available in Sanskrit dealing with various subjects.
b) Managerial expertise to undertake a project for protection and propagation of Sanskrit.
c) Knowledge of modern science such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, Botany, economics, sociology, archaeology, astrology, architecture engineering, etc.
d) Your knowledge and expertise of handling media either through writing or through photographs or through audio and video cassettes.
e) Your expertise in handling advertising.
f) Expertise in printing methodology.
g) Expertise in fund collection.
h) Expertise in accounts, book keeping, library science and library management.
i) Your expertise in PR relations to identify and motivate personalities who will be of use for the cause.
j) Expertise in computers and other techniques of data - storage.
k) Expertise in preparing Educational material.

In order to support or encourage the propagation of Sanskrit some scholarship arrangement will have to be made immediately. I would like to suggest that very good scholarship involving lot of monetary and other incentives should be given for the students for simultaneously acquiring proficiencies in modern sciences + Sanskrit, or modern science + Ayurved, or modern subjects + corresponding literature available in Sanskrit. Historian must be encouraged to do the dating of various books and text written in different era. The language used in Sanskrit texts has changed from period to period and therefore, we also need to have scholar with expertise in understanding how the grammar and usage in Sanskrit has changed from period to period. We also have to prepare a catalogue of all the available literature either in the form of printed or hand written material available with a large number of household and institutions. We also need expertise in the deciphering technique of all this material.

One major source of literature and genetic or family heritages is the vast record lying with large number of Pandas in various pilgrim places. We may have to make efforts to get this material collected and preserved in the form of prints, CD’s etc.

These are some of the thoughts which I have put up as a draft paper to explain the objectives of a project which will have to be worked out by all those who feel concern for our language, knowledge and heritage.

All are welcome to join me in this endeavour.

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