“Sanskrit is dead, Hindi has no literature”

Shiban Khaibri
At the outset, it would be in the fitness of things to define ignorance through the words of Shakespeare, “Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” Metaphorically, ‘curse’ would denote darkness and ‘heaven’ to light. This writer was shocked , as must have been many , to hear from Vaiko, or V. Gopalsamy founder and General Secretary of the Marumalrachi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) an honourable MP of Rajya Sabha , courtesy the DMK party in Tamil Nadu, in recently attacking the mother of most of the living languages Sanskrit as being “dead” and the loving, sweet, omnifarious and enviably rich Hindi language as being without any literature. He argued all in favour of an alien language English , a few poets of which Vaiko could count in support of his literary genius as being rich in literature, hence deserving to be used in Parliament as “the standard of debate and discussions in Parliament had considerably deteriorated due to use of Hindi…”
English we love , we learn most of the things and subjects through English only and we ‘attempt’ to write and speak it very frequently even in our day to day life , no qualms about it. ‘Attempt’, however, is knowingly used for obvious reasons. Vaiko is entitled to love and use any language, that being his choice but how can he use disparaging and uncouth rhetoric against the mother of all living languages, Sanskrit which apart from its historical background of scores of centuries together, say of more than 4000 years, is the Holy and divine language known for its foolproof clarity , precision and beauty . It is a scientific , complete and universal language and once it used to be the main language of India. How could anyone disgrace it to be called as ‘dead’ to score petty regional political points. This writer is not a linguist to speak more authoritatively on the subject but is adequately bruised over the attack on Sanskrit and Hindi. When such motivated attack is analysed on elementary knowledge of the subject, the contention is nothing but a ruse.
May Vaiko be reminded that many European luminaries who studied hard our classical Sanskrit scriptures, papers, documents and literature, were highly impressed to the extent of bewilderment and astonishingly wondered if any language , religion and civilization could be so great .One of such philosophers Hegal wrote, “India was the starting point for the whole world.” Voltaire, Goethe and many others had the same high views only after reading our Sanskrit texts and literature. Max Muller writes eloquently among others, to his wife about the great treasure, Sanskrit had and that he felt jealous of the greatness of this country and its classical ancient religion to the extent that he would have deliberate distortions in translations of original texts for accomplishment of his ‘mission’. Lord Macaulay in his famous speech on Feb19, 1835 in British Parliament about India must have been read by Vaiko who said, “I have travelled across length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar or a thief. Literature and spiritualism is at its peak , we cannot enslave this country like this.” It may be noted that it was Macaulay who brought English language and British education to India. Our literature survived despite
A) Continuous foreign invasions and devastation of our culture , traditions , language and treasure of knowledge which continued till setting of the footprints of the East India Company;
B) We learnt foreign languages though under pressures and threats but attained mastery to teach the ones’ progenies who had thrust the same on us. For example , Persian, English etc.
C) During the most powerful and glorious Hindu kingdoms, Sanatan Hindu Dharma never ever was made as the official religion, nor
D) Did we attack other countries to spread our culture , rites and traditions after finishing their own.
As regards Hindi , our ‘Raj Basha’ or our official language, it is spoken by nearly 76 per cent of people in India while another 10 per cent can understand it and it is strange that the language should not be given preference in Parliament and even in other official work . Though Hindi is in our DNA, yet it is a tragedy that it is not made the national language simply because of the diehard opposition from persons like Vaiko. However, the day is not far when Hindi shall have to be made the national language as has Urdu been made in Pakistan though there are 75 languages spoken, prominent ones being Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Uyghur etc. China made Mundarin its only official and hence national language and fought for claiming its position among six official languages spoken in the UN. France, Germany and other European countries attach much importance to their respective languages . About Russia, less said the better. It is a pity and shamefacedness that in India, on the issue of National Language , cheap and contemptible politics is still continuing even after 72 years, as if on (pseudo) secularism and appeasement there was any less.
Insulting Hindi and spreading canards against it and that too through English is tantamount to insulting the vast majority of the Indian people. That cannot be acceptable. There is, however, no bar for an MP choosing to speak in any Indian language in Parliament , raise questions , reply and participate in debates , then how Vaiko is so obsessed with “thrusting Hindi” which unfortunately has been a political plank to arouse regional feelings in Tamil Nadu by some politicians for political ends. It may be recalled that while taking oath, the elected new MPs used Hindi, Sanskrit, English, Urdu, Tamil , Bangla , Kashmiri, Dogri, Punjabi and other languages and there was no bar on it ,that is the beauty of India but how come Vaiko is so disturbed ? It appears using Hindi , he had to give purge to anti Modi feelings and while speaking about Hindi , he called Modi as “Picnic Prime Minister” and the fear haunting him in respect of what he said, Hindi, Hindu , Hindu Rashtra” . He said that the PM speaks in Hindi. Which language other than the one spoken by 76% of Indians would the PM speak in , Vaiko should clarify . His saying that Hindi had no literature , let him be reminded that the august house of Parliament was no educational institution where the Honourable MPs had to discuss literature but politics, legislation etc. A one man Party , that too not directly elected by the people, Vaiko had no jurisdiction to speak on a subject like Hindi literature. The space of these columns cannot throw any light, even for name sake, to describe how vast, rich, varied, interesting and of variety the literature of Hindi was which if starting even from the early 12th century from Chand Bardai, court poet of Prithviraj Chouhan , would need reams to write and describe. Just names of literary luminaries who contributed very richly to Hindi in poetry, essay writing, fiction, epic poems, religious and travel literature, playwriting , satire and criticism would be too voluminous to be precisely described in these lines. However, Vaiko must be knowing the rich contribution to Hindi by Amir Khusroo, Malik Mohammed Jaisi, Russ Khan etc.
If Hindus really wanted to make India a Hindu Rashtra, no one could have stopped them even in 1947 itself but in the highest traditions of believing in the “Vasudeva Kutumbukum” or the entire world is one family, Hindus opted for India to be a secular country . When all these 70 years , Hindu Rashtra could not be carved out despite seeing open decimation of Hindus in Pakistan and even in Bangladesh, how is that now becoming so much imminent for Vaiko or many of his ilk? Yes, one thing which cannot be stopped now is the renaissance of ancient Indian ethos and culture as India is not only all about the last four or five hundred years only but much earlier . It is not all about only the Taj, Qutub Minar, Lal Qila and Humanyu’s tomb but much more and richer as also older than the ones erected by invaders and unfortunately, our history books were written by the conquerors. Does it not sound strange that English, an alien language is preferred to Hindi , our own language? It depicts nothing but a mindset , nothing short of mental slavery to a foreign language which has a history of barely 250 years in this country. An unknown writer has aptly said, “There is one way to handle the ignorant and malicious critic, just ignore him.”


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