Why Samskritam?

A brilliant essay by Dr. Chaitanya Gulvady - Chief Coordinator of Shri Chitrapur Math’s Girvanapratishtha

( March 2020 )


“ The ancient classical creations of the Samskrit tongue, both in quality, body, and abundance of excellence, in their potent originality and force and beauty, in their substance, art and structure, in grandeur and justice of charm and speech and in height and width of the reach of their spirit, stand evidently in the front rank, among the world’s greatest literatures. The language itself, as has been universally recognized by those competent to form a judgment, is one of the most magnificent, the most perfect,and wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by the human mind,  at once majestic and sweet and flexible, strong and clearly formed and full,and vibrant and subtle.” 

- Maharishi Aurobindo

 “If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly – it is the Samskrit language and literature and all that it contains.”

- Jawaharlal Nehru

“ The Samskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more copious than Latin, more perfect than Greek and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could have been produced by accident; so strong indeed that no philologer could examine all three, without believing that they have sprung from a common source, which perhaps no longer exists”.

-  Sir William Jones, eminent philologist and Judge, Bengal 1786

It was sometime in the mid ’90s that Parama Pujya Swamiji’s clarion call for Samskritam, led to the organizing of Samskrit Sambhashana Shibirs in various Sabhas in Mumbai and Bengaluru. A dedicated group of sadhaka-s led by Savnal Archanapachi, formulated teaching modules and thus blessed by Parama Pujya Swamiji, the Samskritam wing of Shri Chitrapur Math – “Girvana Pratishtha” was born.. Today, a huge band of teachers conduct the carefully-graded Aradhana, Sadhana and Dharana classes at various locations across India and guide a large number of students through the intricacies of learning the divine language- Samskritam. The easy- to- learn modules of the net -based Samskritam course of Shri Chitrapur Math have inspired many to take up learning Samskritam and it has won accolades world over. Learning the ancient language has opened up a huge treasure of spiritual knowledge for the sadhaka -s in our Samaj. They can now grasp the deeper meanings of the shloka-s  and stotra-s from the wide range of ancient Samskrit religious texts available. Parama Pujya Swamiji has led the way with Pravachana-s in Samskritam and by constantly conversing in the language with sadhaka-s.

However, the question “Why Samskritam” and its utility in the technologically advanced world of the 21st century, continues to plague many a sceptic.

Samskritam has been the most evolving and developed languages unlike any other language in the world since the time when it is supposed to have originated from the sounds of the “damaru” of Lord Shiva Himself. Its unique emphasis on phonetics ensures perfect congruence between the written (ancient Brahmi and present Devanagari scripts)  and the spoken language. The ancient seer Panini in his “Ashtadhyayi”, systematically recorded the grammar of the language and this work is referred to as the most composite and systematic treatises. The alphabets or “Swara-s” and “Vyanjana-s” of the language have been so composed that their sequence confirms to the anatomical structure of the vocal apparatus of the human body, hence making it a live, life- giving - breathing language. In the spiritual discourse, every Swara and Vyanjana assumes the form of a Bijakshari Mantra for sadhana. Samskritam has the unique ability to compose new words and this has enabled composition of words such as “Unnayani” for an elevator, “Sanganakam” for computer and so on.. It has also been acknowledged by technologists to be a very suitable language for computers.

It is universal knowledge that almost all Indian languages owe their origin to Samskritam ,wherein 70 to 80% of their vocabulary is composed of Samskrit words. Learning of Samskritam thus enriches the regional languages. A majority of words in European languages also display a marked similarity to Samskritam. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that Samskrit is not just the mother of Indian languages but also of Indo- European languages. Teaching and learning Samskritam from childhood has been found to increase the ease of learning other languages as well as improve the learning of Mathematics and Science in European schools, where a large number have taken up Samskritam in kindergarten and primary sections.

The entire literature of Sanatana Dharma such as the four Veda-s- Rig, Sama,Yajur and Atharva have been composed and  scripted by the ancient Rishi-s in Samskritam. The Vedanga-s, which includes the Shiksha, Chhandas, Vyakaranam, Nirukta, Kalpa and Jyotisha are also in Samskritam. The phenomenal epics of Ramayana by Rishi Valmiki and Mahabharata by Rishi Vyasa are entirely in Samskritam, of which the most famous- the “Bhagawad Geeta” is considered the most sacred teaching by Hindus all over the world. The vast literature of the Bauddha and Jaina religions is also composed in the same language. Compositions by renowned poets such as Mahakavi Kalidasa who wrote the “Shakuntalam”, “Shishupalavadham” by Magha  and  “Naishadha Charitam” by Sriharsha are well-known and are referred to by scholars frequently for their brilliance in poetry.

Samskrit subhashita-s are a compendium of short stanzas which carry a wealth of knowledge and philosophical messages “Subhashita  Ratna Bhandagara” is a collection of 10,000 subhashita-s. These could well be incorporated in our elementary school education to inculcate and enrich moral values among children, a need felt sorely by society in present times.

“Hebrew”- the divine language of Judaism, was considered by the masses to be the language of the Gods and was considered to be too holy to be spoken by the masses. However, a consistent and coordinated effort by Yahuda Ben Elizier and his band of teachers in the early part of the nineteenth century, encouraged the Jews to learn and speak the language. Hebrew today, is the mother tongue of the all Israeli Jews and reigns gloriously as the national language of the proud nation of Israel. 

Samskritam was the court language of all kingdoms in India and even abroad in countries such as Nepal, Burma,Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia since ancient times, until the advent of Islamic monarchies. Samskrit was part of the elementary education in all pathashalas across the country. But neglect and apathy during the rule of the British, who actively encouraged the learning of English, led to the decline of Samskritam. Post- independence, Samskritam was considered for the position of “Rashtra- bhasha”, by the Constituent Assembly led by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Hindi was subsequently chosen to be the official language given its preponderance in the Indian population. However, the Constituent assembly recommended that recourse be taken to Samskritam to increase Hindi vocabulary for official usage. “Satyameva Jayate” is the national motto below the Ashoka Chakra which is considered the national emblem.The mottos and logos of  Governmental bodies have been extracted from our Samskrit scripture and are proudly displayed all over today.

Post- independence Samskritam continued to be taught in a few pathashalas and secondary schools in some States as a third language. Due to the inefficacy of Samskritam teaching techniques,children soon forgot the language when they left school. The early ’70s witnessed the birth of “Samskrita Bharati” by a band of dedicated Samskritam lovers who focused on the need to not just learn but also speak the language. Their efforts earned fruition with success in reviving the language among the  masses to a great extent.It is truly a matter of pride that quite a few  significant members of the newly elected Indian Parliament took their oaths in Samskritam.  Indeed, amidst the language controversy between regional languages, the day is not far when Samskritam can become the national language of Bharatam.

Many a western scholar has lamented the fact that the revival of Samskrit has not taken place in modern India,whilst it is increasingly being taught in Western Universities. Taking a myopic view of secularism, the political masters in the past, ignored the humungous treasure of Samskritam and did not incorporate the same in school and college education, thus depriving generations of Indians from this great cultural heritage bestowed by our ancestors. It is time for all of us to wake up and ensure that Samskritam once again regains its pride of place as the premier language in the world.

(For online lessons in Samskrit please visit our website:
www.chitrapurmath.net and click on ‘Girvanapratishtha