The Wonder that is Sanskrit|Oct 19, 2013 4:04 AM| by:

On the Importance of Sanskrit

For thousands of years, ancient traditions and knowledge were passed on from generation to generation through only one language – Sanskrit. Sanskrit thereof contained in itself the very essence of Indian culture. This was recognized by Macaulay, known as the father of the Modern Indian Education System. In his infamous ‘Minutes’ of 1835, he made a historical speech in the British Parliament which struck a blow at the centuries old system of Indian Education. He said:

 “I have traveled the length and breadth of India and have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Macaulay realized that he could achieve his goal by eliminating Sanskrit from being an essential part of the Indian Education System. The most important step that he adopted was to shut down several Sanskrit schools and to introduce English as a modern and civilized language. Sadly enough, even today, Indians take pride in speaking English while neglecting their own rich and invaluable language – Sanskrit.

Listed below are a few quotes on Sanskrit highlighting its different aspects –

Sanskrit is the greatest language in the world.

– Max Muller


Sanskrit language, has been universally recognized by those competent to form a judgement, as the most perfect, the most prominent and wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by the human mind.

– Sri Aurobindo


Sanskrit was at one time the only language of the world. It is more perfect and copious than Greek and Latin.

– Prof. Bopp


The Sanskrit language is the ‘Devabhasha’….It is the language of the Satya Yuga based on the true and perfect relation of vak and artha. Everyone of its vowels and consonants has a peculiar and inalienable force which exists by the nature of things and not by development or human choice.

– Sri Aurobindo ‘Hymns to the Mystic Fire’


Sanskrit has moulded the minds of our people to extent to which they themselves are not conscious. Sanskrit literature is national in one sense, but its purpose has been universal. That is why it commanded the attention of people who were not followers of a particular culture…

– Dr.Radhakrishnan


The intellectual debt of Europe on Sanskrit literature has been undeniably great. It may perhaps become greater still in the years that are to come. We (Europeans) are still behind in making even our alphabet a perfect one.

– Prof. Macdonell


Even Albert Einstein was well-versed in Sanskrit. One day he tried talking to an Indian Scientist Dr.B.N.Gupta in Sanskrit. When Dr.Gupta confessed that he did not speak the language, Dr.Einstein was amazed at the poor response of the young Indian Scientist and said, “you hail from India which is the home of Hindu Philosophy, yet you have not cared to learn that language. Come along and see my library which treasures classics from Sanskritam.”

– Quoted by Samskrita Bharati


Our whole culture, literature and life would remain incomplete so long as our scholars, our thinkers and our educationists remain ignorant of Sanskrit.

– Dr.Rajendra Prasad


If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly that it is the Sanskrit language and literature and all that it contains. This is the magnificent inheritance and so long as this endures and influences the life of our people, so long will the basic genius of India continue. If our race forgot the Buddha, the Upanishads and the great Epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata), India would cease to be India.

– Jawarharlal Nehru


There is no language in India, which can take the place of Sanskrit because no other language has the same intimate contact with the inner spirit of our lives. We may carry the dead weight of English as long as we choose but it is not and can never be an Indian language. It has no roots in our soil. Even Hindi, which is the language of a very large section of the Indian population, is after all only a regional language, although the region which it covers is by far the largest. Sanskrit and Sanskrit alone is associated with the life of the people over the whole country. It is heard in the family circle, in the, market place and in the temple. Let us not play with this great heritage. It can never be replaced but once we lose it, we shall cease to be Indians. Even our political independence will be of hardly much value either to ourselves or to the world at large.

– Sri Sampurnananda (Samskritavishvaparishat, Bangalore, May 1966, p.42)


Without the study of Sanskrit one cannot become a true Indian and a true learned man.

– Mahatma Gandhi


Indeed the role of Sanskrit in modern India is very great. In the words of Max Muller, “A people that can feel no pride in the past, in its history and literature, loses the mainstay of its national character. When Germany was in the very depth of its political degradation, it turned to its ancient literature and drew hope for the future from the study of the past.

– Sri Satyaranjan Banerjee; The Vedanta Keshari, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras, May 1962, p.12


In case of an Indian youth, he virtually ceases to be an Indian if he does not have the atmosphere of Sanskrit in his temperament, either directly or indirectly…it is exceedingly important, in order to preserve the sense of self-respect of an Indian educated person, that he should have an acquaintance with Sanskrit and its literature. Young men and women passing out of High Schools and the Universities without any knowledge of their national heritage as preserved in Sanskrit lack the very essential means to approach the outside world confidently and with a sense of self-respect. The main reason for this is that this Indian heritage has got the power to make those who possess it feel a spiritual and intellectual assurance and self-confidence.

– Report of the Sanskrit Commission, 1956-57, 1958, pp. 89-90


The reasons for studying Sanskrit today are the same as they were; that the vast array of Sanskrit texts preserves for us a valuable part of the cultural heritage of mankind, including much beautiful literature and many interesting, even fascinating ideas.

– Prof. Richard Gombrich (Held the Bolden Chair at Oxford)


The only safety, I tell you men who belong to the lower castes, the only way to raise your condition is to study Sanskrit. Why do you not become Sanskrit scholars? Why do you not spend millions to bring Sanskrit education to all castes of India? That is the question. The moment you do these things, you are equal to the Brahmin.

The very sound of Sanskrit words gives a prestige and a power and a strength to the race. Sanskrit and prestige go together in India. As soon as you have that, none dares say anything against you. That is the one secret; take that up.

– Swami Vivekananda


When the great philologists and scholars of computational linguistics whole-heartedly accept Sanskrit as the best and most scientific language of the world, on what basis can one say that Sanskrit is a dead language?…Sanskrit being a natural language, there is no question of its death. It is alive in the heart and mind of the people of India.” As Professor Sampurnananda has said, “Sanskrit is not merely alive, it is also a medicine to make the dead alive.”

– Prof Lakshmikanta Maitra; Samsara, 2 Nov.1948


If you have to adopt a language, why should you not have the world’s greatest language?

– Sri Najiruddin Ahmed (While discussing on the bill on the National Language of Bharat in the Constituent Assembly)


Sanskrit is the language of every man, to whatever race he may belong.

– Dr. Shaidullah


Sanskrit is not the language of any particular sect or creed. It is the language of every Indian.

– Fakruddin Ali Ahmed


When questioned as to why he was among those who sponsored Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian Union, Dr.Ambedkar said: “What is wrong with Sanskrit?”

– Dr.Ambedkar


Sanskrit is thus for India the symbol and substance of its national unity and as a connecting bond with Asia and the world…to study Sanskrit and disseminate Sanskrit among the people…would not only be a tribute to Kalidasa but a way of preparing ourselves for the future.

– K.R.Narayanan


Sanskrit flows through our blood. It is only Sanskrit that can establish the unity of the country.

– Dr.C.V.Raman; Nobel Laureate on the need for Sanskrit to be the national language


Sanskrit ought still to have a future as a language of the learned and it will not be a good day for India when the ancient tongue ceases entirely to be written or spoken.

– Sri Aurobindo

If Sanskrit would be divorced from the everyday life of the masses of this country, a light would be gone from the life of the people and the distinctive features of the Hindu culture which have won for it an honoured place in world-thought would soon be affected to the great disadvantage and loss both of India and of the world.”

– Sir Mirza Ismail


Not I, scholars say, even Western scholars opine that if Sanskrit is taught to our younger generation there will be a gradual disappearance of violence and disturbance from the social and national life. It will make people disciplined. The police budget of a State will get safely reduced by one-fourth of its annual provision, if emphasis is given on Sanskrit teaching.

– Sri Gopal Krishna Srichandan


The foundations of greater India were laid in Sanskrit. The role of Sanskrit through centuries has been to rejuvenate with its infinite resources local languages and cultures, to absorb local excellences, and to evolve a constructive and harmonious synthesis. And this role Sanskrit can still perform not only for all India but for the whole of South-East Asia.

Sri V. Raghavan

(The Mother gave a lot of importance to the use of simple Sanskrit. She believed that no one could claim to be a true Indian if he/she did not have any knowledge of Sanskrit. She was emphatic on this point, )“Every child born in India should know it just as every child born in France has to know French.

– The Mother; 11.11.1967

 The ideal would be in a few years, to have a rejuvenated Sanskrit as the representative language of India, that is a spoken Sanskrit. Sanskrit is behind all the languages of India and it should be that …

– The Mother; 11.11.1967


Summarizing it all, Shankar Dayal Sharma, the former president of Bharat said in “Legacy of Sanskrit,” The Indian Nation, 11. Jan.1988:


On the practical plane one must acknowledge that in terms of its grammar, phonetics, vocabulary and the Devanagari script, Sanskrit becomes a wonderfully efficient vehicle of communication. It is not surprising that recent empirical studies about the relative suitability of different languages and scripts for use in Computer programming and operation indicated that Sanskrit in devanagari script was not only the most suitable but also that it perfectly satisfied every requirement as an optimal medium for use…

The culture of Sanskrit and Sanskrit literature is actually the culture of synthesis and assimilation. The message of Sanskrit literature is one of humanism of unity of mankind, of values, of peace and mutual understanding and of harmonious development of the individual and the society. Acquaintance with such literature can only elevate and widen one’s outlook. Far from being obscurantist, the Sanskrit literature can be a positive force for progress and growth in the right direction…

It would help us to remain not too far behind those other countries that have surged far ahead of us in reaping the benefits of study of Sanskrit and Sanskrit literature…

It would help reviving the ethos of India because synthesis, harmony and reconciliation comprise the essence of the culture of Sanskrit.

It would help us to unlock the treasure house of scientific insights and research results concerning positive sciences in our ancient literature.

It would help us in using Sanskrit as a medium par excellence in Computer operations and as a language for the new technology.

It would help us to invigorate various languages of India. As Gandhi-ji said, “Sanskrit is like the river Ganga for all our languages. I always feel that if it were to dry up, the regional languages also would lose their vitality and power. It seems to me that an elementary knowledge of Sanskrit is essential.”

It is not sentiment on my part that makes me say so but practical consideration of the utility to our country of this great language and the vast knowledge held in it.

To quote Jawaharlal, “The past is gone an the present is with us and we work for the future. But I have no doubt that whatever shape that future may take, one of the biggest, the strongest and most powerful and most valued of our legacies will be the Sanskrit language.”