Sanskrit is not a Hindu language: Dr Ahmed
By Prabal Kr Das
GUWAHATI, Dec 22 – The study of Sanskrit literature could lead to a life of serene happiness. Such a statement might appear irrational when made by a layperson. But what if a scholar of repute nods in accord, and even cites some compelling reasons?
Dr S Ahmed, the director-in-charge of the Asom State Museum, asserts that Sanskrit literature, and especially its classic canon offers more than casual delight to the reader. “It is an experience that is unparalleled, said the scholar who is fluent in five languages, including Sanskrit and Urdu.
Dr Ahmed, a PhD in Sanskrit from Gauhati University, believes that proper study of Sanskrit acquaints a reader with enduring values and ideals expressed in a wide range of style. “It is a literature created by men and women of keen insights on life. Moreover, the canon was created during very different cultural scenes, and came to reflect varied facets of reality.”
In his view, Sanskrit literature contains myriad instances from where the reader could gather solace, gain strength, derive courage, draw inspiration, and have faith in humanity.
The winner of this year’s Makhan Prasad Duarah Award for promoting Sanskrit, Ahmed says, “ There are few literatures, which could match the attainments of Sanskrit, whether it is in the area of culture, philosophy, mathematic, medicine or even warfare.” What is more, the language possesses its own charm.
A unique blend of thoughts, ideals and language ultimately gives Sanskrit literature its distinct identity that for Dr Ahmed is “inseparable from the profound cultural and spiritual ethos of India.”
He is one of those who favour making Sanskrit compulsory in schools, and has his reasons. “Sanskrit, could be a tool to instill moral strength among students, a quality the youth of today need.”
Referring to the numerous moral allegories and parables in Sanskrit, he says that those alone could help young learners to believe in virtuous living. After all, few literatures, if any, have a repertoire as vast as Sanskrit when it comes to dealing with morality and ethics.
Another reason, he cites is Sanskrit could provide students with better grasp of history as almost all the ancient texts and inscriptions in India are written in that language. Even to know the Assamese language better, or learn the roots of many words, Sanskrit is the language of choice, he claims.
Underlining his enriching experiences with Sanskrit he has penned a series of articles in the Assamese journal Prantik, ‘Sanskrit Samudrat Avagahan’ (Bathing in the ocean of Sanskrit), one of the reasons for being chosen for the MP Duarah award.
The Award itself celebrates the life and contributions of Makhan Prasad Duarah, a man of taste and culture who had an abiding interest in Sanskrit studies. Previously, the award was bestowed on Narayan Chandra Goswami, the Sattradhikar of Natun Kamalabari Sattra.
Asked for his comment on the present status and future of Sanskrit language and literature, Dr Ahmed said, “The language would definitely survive and grow, even though many people believe otherwise. It is highly adaptive and is capable of expressing the gamut of experience, a basic requirement for survivability.”
In his view, Sanskrit literature would continue to impress a varied section of people from different backgrounds. Its timeless qualities would never fail to find a discerning audience, he believes.
“After all a poet and critic like TS Eliot had started learning Sanskrit late in his life and revealed that he found the Bhagavad Geeta written in Sanskrit one of the most inspiring works of literature,” Dr Ahmed noted.
On the issue that some sections perceive Sanskrit as an extension of Hindu culture, Dr Ahmed called it an unfortunate misconception. “Sanskrit language and literature have an audience in Indonesia, they attract students in Japan, and research continues in countries like Germany and the US. All because it is a body of precious knowledge that is much more than being a medium of religious instructions.”