Death of a Language

Let’s face two facts: one, most if not all regional languages are dying and two, for good or bad, Westernization has made, and continues to make deep and perhaps irreversible inroads into Indian society.

A language, any language is an inextricable part of its cultural evolution and environment and as such it evolves until such time that culture exists. Although language and culture are inextricable, culture is the trough that nurtures and preserves language. You need language to express culture and you need culture to preserve and perpetuate that expression across generations. From this, it becomes clear in the Indian context that the continuing decline of almost all Indian languages owes to the decline in Indian culture, which is predominantly Hindu. This decline is visible in almost all areas–the way puja is conducted in most of our temples, the total lack of any producing mythological films in almost all Indian languages, a similar lack of using classical (raga-based) tunes in film music, the way Yoga has been divorced from its Hindu roots, and the abysmal quality of regional language literature year after year.

To this, we must add another crucial loss: the sheer inability of a native speaker of an Indian language to avoid using English words and phrases even when he/she is speaking her mother tongue; even worse, most young urban Indians cannot read or write in their own mother tongue and rely on English translations of their own literature. Just two generations of this dilution, and we’ll have a large pool of Indians who can speak, read or write no Indian language. With it, this successive march of incremental cultural deaths takes one step closer to total extinction. Now, this aforementioned urban phenomenon is slowly but surely infecting small towns and even villages.

So how did we get here? Sure, it feels good to blame Macualay who expressly set this decay in motion but then what about our own people? For all his all-pervasive cluelessness, Nehru voted for Sanskrit to be made the national language of India but the proposal was dropped because of the one decisive but deadly vote by Rajendra Prasad. After that, Nehru had a free run. He systemmatically dismantled Sanskrit from the Universities. If that wasn’t enough, he sought to impose Hindi as the national language without realizing how unrealistic this bizarre scheme was to even conceive of–it is yet another illustration of the doltish understanding of India that Nehru possessed. And then, he had appointed an Islamic bigot, Maulana Azad as the Education Minister. It also goes without saying that this true-blue Communist had given a free run to the Communist parties whose goal of a Communist India included the mandatory cleansing of Hinduism. Nirad C Chaudhuri very presciently, excellently and devastatingly sums up Nehru in this context:

In its cultural aspect, [Uttar Pradesh] was dominantly Muslim. There the Muslims were looked upon as the cultural elite and the Hindus as rustic boors. This transformation of the cultural elite gave a very peculiar character to the educational and cultural policy of the Government of India after Independence because of the personality of Jawaharlal Nehru. So far as he was an Indian and not an Englishman, he was a U.P. Muslim. It was not only that he did not understand higher Hindu culture, he actually despised the Hindus of the U.P. So, all the first ministers of culture and education in his Government were Muslims. Also, the cultural institutions created by the Government got Muslim chiefs. This pro-Muslim bias even resulted in a grostesque name for the literary institution created by Nehru’s Government. Instead of being given a Sanskrit or English name, it got the Arabic word for the Greek word, “academy,” viz, “AKADEMI.” I only wonder why on this principle, philosophy is not called falsafa, music mausiki, Plato aflatoon, and Aristotle aristu. That would have given the cultural policy….a consistency which it never had.

(The East is East and the West is West, pp 169. Emphasis added)

Perhaps the best example of an Indian language that is only Indian in name is Tamil. Okay I’m exaggerating but only slightly. Nehru’s imposition of Hindi as the national language was precisely the kind of excuse that the so-called Dravidian champions were looking for. They had sown the vicious seeds of divisiveness earlier on by pitting the “Dravidians” against the “Aryans,” which in effect was a direct attack on Hinduism and Hindu society. This attack only intensified in the garb of a violent demand for asserting an identity based on linguistic grounds. Today, only a corpse-like semblance of Hinduism survives in Tamil Nadu. And the sucessive and alternating Dravidian Governments of the state continue to scavenge on even this corpse-like remnant of its Hindu heritage–the Hindu Temples Act is being amended quite frequently to loot whatever is still remaining. The result? There are only a handful of Tamil linguistic scholars today in Tamil Nadu who can even read classical Tamil. This is because the experiment of de-Sanskritizing Tamil has been enormously successful. The de-Sanskritization in turn has its roots in the “Victimized Dravidian” versus the “Evil Oppressing Aryan” agitation. Sanskrit was identified as the language of these Aryans and therefore had to be destroyed–including weeding out all its evil influences in Tamil so that Tamil could be purified once again. And so to that extent, the classical culture of Tamil Nadu is dead.

And as we’re witnessing, this same rot has spread to Kannada too but you get the gist.

Fortunately, this rot hasn’t been all that pervasive in North India but the threat North Indian languages–and there’s no one all-encompassing “Hindi” as the common myth goes–comes in a different form. Thanks to the kind of politics that has been played out in almost every North Indian state, they have remained abysmally backward, and with the advent of TV and whatever little has trickled down to these states after liberalization, English is now seen as the Deliverer. One stroll down the lanes of any third rated city or town in UP and Bihar, you will witness an astonishing number of English training institutes, which promise to help you to “be confident by learning English” to landing Call Centre jobs. The abandonment of their native tongues has been swift and in increasing numbers. Economics murdering culture and language, in this case.

And so the obvious question that will arise–how does a person who’s not learnt English make a living? The answer to that lies in countries like Japan, Germany, China and others who’ve done quite well without trying to thoughtlessly substitute their language with English. To which the other obvious question arises–those are pretty much homogeneous cultures having a single national language. To which we need to go back to the same thing: make Sanskrit the national language. It is the language that still is that trough which continues to preserve whatever is still left of India’s culture. Indeed, it is the language, and perhaps one of the best ways one can achieve an Indian renaissance. It is the mother and the root language of all Indian languages.

So is English bad? Errr…I’m writing this blog in English. Calling English bad or evil or harmful to Indian culture is akin to saying that money is the root of all evil. It isn’t. It is what value we give it that makes all the difference, that determines the outcome. It is a language like any other. And for good or bad, it is pretty much like the lingua franca of the world today. It is this same English language that made India such a huge success story in the IT space. It is the same English language that made hundreds of thousands of middle and lower-middle class Indians become what’s known as “computer literate.” In a way, this one language played a significant part in making India wealthy on a scale it has never witnessed for about 50 years since its Independence. Evidently, this is not an argument against learning English but for opening our eyes to a very simple fact, in fact to just one word: unlearning. It is perhaps only in India that possessing good English language skills is seen as a sign of superior accomplishment, high culture, and is associated with what’s known as modernity. Needless, this is an outcome of mental and cultural colonialism, which we are (sadly) yet to break free from. But more dangerously, it has also given rise to a class of Indians who know no other Indian language apart from English yet find no embarassment or shame in deriding their own mother tongue based absolutely on no other ground than absolute ignorance.

Here is DVG’s insightful observation as early as 1944:

What we are now witnessing in India is the side of the British as the power who holds the reins of authority. This is not the true nature or reflection of their culture. The hubris of the British in India that we witness originates from a relationship of the Ruler and the Ruled, of the Master and the Subordinate. However, the literature of Britain was not created for Indians, or keeping India in mind. It was created for the British people–meaning it wasn’t a fake or artificial literature; it was created so that the British would benefit from it or find it useful and enriching. The best talent and accomplishments of British writers and scientists have been accurately reflected in the literature of that country.

Think about it.


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39 comments for “Death of a Language

  1. September 21, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Not English

    An education is a means to earn money today, the English speakers have it, so you dropped your culture and language, to learn English in order to gain money.Today many Gujarati villages are emptying into the US, none will quote Dickens or Shakespeare for the move, only more money as the reason. My hope is once they have the money they will give something back to their motherland, as the Jews do.
    We are the children of Empire not of our choosing. So Algerians are considered sophisticated only when they converse in French and have attended a Grande L’ecoles in France, to speak Arabic is considered not so good(the French will agree!). Speaking of French, one of the best things the French language produced is Airbus the plane maker, Gaelic pride made them create Airbus Industries, the whole project uses French as the primary language, so next time you board an Airbus remember it was built in French in France. Other countries who have avoided the colonial mind set, China Japan and Korea all successful economies where nobody speaks English except in diplomatic circles. I meet Chinese businessmen in Kolkata who brought a English translator with them to deal with the Indians!
    What language do you need to speak in order to 1. Grow food 2. Dig oil or gold, both these are basic to wealth formation.
    ANS. Any language as long as you have the LAND, the British Empire did just that, in the name of all sorts to Christianise Colonise Civilise the Black peoples and heathens ( that’s me) it acquired vast tracts of it. RESULT. Australia double size of India with population of Mumbai (that makes them rich but not right or clever) Canada, New Zealand, USA, South Africa etc. and that is why we speak English for MONEY
    The Europeans had Roman numerals which where superseded by the far superior Hindu Numerals, for me there is a same difference between English (Roman numbers) and Gujarati and Sanskrit ( Hindu numbers) ie it is a step back in the development of a human to speak English, let me give a simple example, its difficult if you do not have knowledge of Sanskrit, and that where I will lose most if not all English speakers, to make my point.
    Concept of MAN originates from the Hindu pagan God MANU and is written about in the MANU sasthras where all concepts of MAN MINE MIND ME MANU are connected and defined. Since English has no logical foundation and has lost its Sanskrit roots the words MAN and MIND are not considered related nor even the purpose of the word MAN known , apart from as a NAME for a male human.
    NAME: from Sanskrit root Na-mahama, NA =NO, MAHMA= ME, means “NOT-ME” only God, in English this true meaning is lost, a truly retrograde step. The list is endless
    Point is only you can promote “your” language and culture nobody else will so now is the time to start learning GUJARATI SANSKRIT AND HINDI and not Dickens nor Shakespeare surprise yourself.
    My blog

  2. September 21, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Not English

    An education is a means to earn money today, the English speakers have it, so you dropped your culture and language, to learn English in order to gain money.Today many Gujarati villages are emptying into the US, none will quote Dickens or Shakespeare for the move, only more money as the reason. My hope is once they have the money they will give something back to their motherland, as the Jews do.
    We are the children of Empire not of our choosing. So Algerians are considered sophisticated only when they converse in French and have attended a Grande L’ecoles in France, to speak Arabic is considered not so good(the French will agree!). Speaking of French, one of the best things the French language produced is Airbus the plane maker, Gaelic pride made them create Airbus Industries, the whole project uses French as the primary language, so next time you board an Airbus remember it was built in French in France. Other countries who have avoided the colonial mind set, China Japan and Korea all successful economies where nobody speaks English except in diplomatic circles. I meet Chinese businessmen in Kolkata who brought a English translator with them to deal with the Indians!
    What language do you need to speak in order to 1. Grow food 2. Dig oil or gold, both these are basic to wealth formation.
    ANS. Any language as long as you have the LAND, the British Empire did just that, in the name of all sorts to Christianise Colonise Civilise the Black peoples and heathens ( that’s me) it acquired vast tracts of it. RESULT. Australia double size of India with population of Mumbai (that makes them rich but not right or clever) Canada, New Zealand, USA, South Africa etc. and that is why we speak English for MONEY
    The Europeans had Roman numerals which where superseded by the far superior Hindu Numerals, for me there is a same difference between English (Roman numbers) and Gujarati and Sanskrit ( Hindu numbers) ie it is a step back in the development of a human to speak English, let me give a simple example, its difficult if you do not have knowledge of Sanskrit, and that where I will lose most if not all English speakers, to make my point.
    Concept of MAN originates from the Hindu pagan God MANU and is written about in the MANU sasthras where all concepts of MAN MINE MIND ME MANU are connected and defined. Since English has no logical foundation and has lost its Sanskrit roots the words MAN and MIND are not considered related nor even the purpose of the word MAN known , apart from as a NAME for a male human.
    NAME: from Sanskrit root Na-mahama, NA =NO, MAHMA= ME, means “NOT-ME” only God, in English this true meaning is lost, a truly retrograde step. The list is endless
    Point is only you can promote “your” language and culture nobody else will so now is the time to start learning GUJARATI SANSKRIT AND HINDI and not Dickens nor Shakespeare surprise yourself.
    My blog

  3. desi
    September 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Sir, ur beautiful writing in english is making macauly hard.

  4. SS
    September 11, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Just before what I said (‘you are absolutely right’) was to the comment of G (7 August)

  5. SS
    September 11, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    You are absolutely right!

  6. Raj
    August 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    Oh Hrishi…Bechara (for your edification, that’s hindi), clearly in the futile attempt to mask your ignorance and the host of missteps below, you take on the mantle of the many macaulayite poseurs who have come before you.

    First, your agenda was plainly clear below when you said this:

    “I’d say that for any Indian language to flourish in the modern age – it would be the one that’s adaptable to modernity, and speaks the language of Reason. Reason trumps convention and the ‘old’ where they exist for their own sake and cause suffering. Not sure which ‘Indian’ language will rise up to this…” make the cardinal and elementary mistake of acting as though there are no conventions that exist for their own sake in the native english speaking world–the entire british system of government is based on “convention”. don’t properly explain how english is uniquely qualified to “speak the language of Reason” and how sanskrit (or hindi for that matter) is not qualified to speak it.–I pointed out that there is an entire hindu school of logic that utilizes sanskrit vocabulary, so clearly it’s not disadvantaged.
    c.You asked which Indian language could rise up–as though english were somehow the superior. English has added new words over the years due to british imperialism and its own bastard roots (William the bastard–rechristened “the conqueror” was the founder of the norman british dynasty btw). The french recognized the need for keeping up with changing technical vocabulary and set up a council, the chinese do it too–why can’t India’s national and regional languages do the same so they all stay relevant? You don’t answer that, but merely flub about clumsily talking of lack of adaptability…

    This is seen here: “The fact that several Indian languages become more or less incomprehensible or unusable to non-native speakers is sign of their ‘exclusiveness’, narrow bandwidth and lack of adaptability. ”

    “This may probably also explain why we never had a ‘Mandarin’ equivalent ”

    a.if you knew anything at all, you’d realize mandarin is the official language, despite china having a myriad of mutually-incomprehensible languages (i.e. cantonese) like India does, because it was imposed. That’s china’s top down model. I am not advocating imposition of hindi–but over time, the requisite support will be there–in fact sanskrit revival will only make this more likely
    b. You don’t explain how several indian languages have become “unusable”.

    Second, for someone whining about painting with broad brush strokes, it’s ironic in the extreme that you refer to me as a blind follower of Sandeep ( I actually disagree with him on a number of issues such as reservations–I support it only for SC/ST, like Ambedkar intended).

    Third, you also seem to be having difficulty understanding the difference between regional and national languages–so let me help you out. Regional languages are exemplified by gujarati, tamil, kannada, and odia. They are languages primarily restricted to a region of India. Hindi did start off as regional, but has become national over time. Sanskrit has historically been the lingua franca of India, used in all the four corners–frequently exchanging places with prakrit as the administrative language for various hindu kingdoms as well. Was it the language of the elite?–Sure, but so were latin, greek, and avestan persian. But they were also made available to lower classes in later periods so that they may rise up economically and politically. In advocating sanskrit, Sandeep is doing the same for underprivileged Indians (ambedkar actually proposed sanskrit as the national language).

    Now I actually disagree with Sandeep that sanskrit as the official national language is–at this time–viable, given the asinine votebank politics in India, but also due to the more practical matter that, rightly or wrongly, hindi has become India’s lingua franca not just through bollywood, but through institutions such as the army. While it’s true this unfairly benefits 300-400 million people, this can be rectified by insisting on a three language formula: Regional language for state politics, Hindi for national politics, and English for international politics/commerce. Where a dialect of hindi is the regional language, the student should learn a southern or north eastern language.

    His general point about sanskrit is nevertheless salient, for the simple reason that India’s civilizational culture is rooted in sanskrit (sanskrit was even used by tamil kings, further enriching tamil). Persian and Arabic (along with english) are foreign languages. If certain votebanks don’t like sanskrit–that’s their problem–they have an entire country (split it into two now) to roll around in all the guttural arabic and harsh persian they want, it is sanskrit that is our classical language of not only liturgy but also of literature. While there is no problem appreciating new layers added on to India–neither hinduism nor India is amorphous like nehru ignorantly brayed–sanskritic culture is at the core and what gives india its identity, like greek and latin give identity to the west, chinese to the prc, arabic to islamic civ, and high persian to iranians.

    Why only this “secular” double standard for Indians? Sanskrit is not invasive–english, persian, and arabic are. Sanskrit is restorative. Minorities are a part of India–but they don’t have a veto over India. They have become a part of our culture–but they don’t have the right or authority to replace it.

    Finally, your entire encounter below was meant to posit English as some uniquely qualified language of rationality–as though only it were capable of imparting reason to Indians using “honest observation” (you even chickened out against Samit). You conveniently skip over the need for explaining how a particular language is suitable for that purpose (you ridiculously posited that dawkins (as though he were somehow aksapada gautama–can you even tell me who that is without google?) could only be accurately quoted in english, as flailing defense)? Then you ran a bait-and-switch by using Hindi, and then posturing as though the onus were on me to explicate what hindi’s credentials were–even though we were originally talking about sanskrit!

    You also said this: “Please show me the proof that Nyaya system is part of the genetic constitution of Hindi and then I will be won over to Hindi (or for that matter any other regional language that reflects the essence of Nyaya logic):

    -First show me how logic has historically been a part of english’s genetic constitution and is its “unique” contribution to world civilization…

    Most laughably, you wrote this: “And if indeed it [sanskrit] existed as a pan-national ‘Indian’ language – versatile in its inclusion and depth – why did it all but disappear? “.

    OMG, did you not read any history in school? You do realize we’ve had an intervening history of jehad and euro colonialism inflicted on India, replete with imposition of persian (tipu is exhibit A of this) and english in place of sanskrit. It was not sanskrit that went out of style, it was foreign rule that marginalized it in favor of foreign languages.

    English is the language of commerce today because of power (American) not due to the inherent greatness of english (french was the euro elite language in the age of imperialism). So you can dance all you want about reason and commerce, but your little p-sec pas de deux doesn’t fool anyone. It’s quite clear that you are not only intellectually ill-equipped to argue here (for all your advocacy of it, “Critical Thinking” clearly isn’t your cup of tea), you are also operating on bad faith.

    Now run along to “madam” (since you mentioned her)–I’m sure she has a ready supply for you of fairever and “flesh of christ” (the very height of reason!).

  7. August 17, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Whoaa Whooa (that’s English)…you’re angry which could mean you’ve got something to say or that I’ve just disturbed your false beliefs?
    To answer your points please see below:

    You quote the Nyaya system of logic in Sanskrit – a language we wish to revive, which is hardly a regional language. Wikipedia says it is the ‘second’ language of Uttarakhand and recently there’s a move to declare it a ‘minority language’ so that it gets special treatment for its revival. Ever wondered why it was not the preferred First Language? My comment was more specifically on Hindi and other popularly used regional languages. Please show me the proof that Nyaya system is part of the genetic constitution of Hindi and then I will be won over to Hindi (or for that matter any other regional language that reflects the essence of Nyaya logic)

    English is bastardised – Raj, maybe we could move on and be more pragmatic. The essence of ‘Hindu’ to me is working with what we have and reflecting our finest sensibilities and culture through what we have – not ‘invading’ the current state with ‘let’s throw out what we have and bring back the old’. You seem to be criticizing English for being the language of the invasions and yet seem comfortable with preaching destructive revolutions when there are so many more sustainable and less-invasive options left

    You speak of French revivalism through a council of ‘fresh-word givers’ and suggest that let’s do the same for our main regional language…what’s the point? What’s ‘the main regional language’? Does that meet the criteria of adaptability to the modern, ease of flexibility to reflect the present sensibility and spirit, and use of Reason? And more importantly, can we have a regional language that is usable across the length and breadth of India? Or do you propose triggering anti-Hindi type agitations across India all over again by imposing one such ‘main language’?

    Thanks for the quote from Goethe… but tell me – is it easier today to learn Sanskrit and get most Indians ‘thinking’ in the language or alternatively ‘Sankritising’ and ‘Bharathising’ English (terrible word but I’m worried that ‘Hinduising’ will be seen as sectarian in today’s ‘secular’ climate) or even ‘Indianising’ English.

    And finally, what makes you think I am criticising Sanskrit? I simply asked whether Sanskrit can rise to the occasion to take the place of English and that includes you and I learning to speak and think in it – only then can we use it in place of English …maybe I’ll let that pass. For the record I am most willing to concede that Sandeep (or for that matter many more people in India writing in English) know the language better than me – I’m happy to keep learning and improving at it – but that’s hardly relevant to the argument

    And finally, finally, allow me to give you little tip – to truly be a standard bearer for the Hindu traditions (like Nyaya logic for example) you Raj should try some Critical Thinking…don’t swallow – even a great man’s words – without challenging them enough till you understand them or maybe add to the insight…that was indeed the vibrancy of the Hindu thought and intellectual and spiritual tradition. A true Leader may see your blind following more of a liability than a boon unless he/she is someone like Sonia Gandhi :)

  8. Raj
    August 16, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Hrishi, I just wanted to say, thank you for posting. You have provided exhibit A on precisely what Sandeep wrote on in this article.

    First and foremost, you keep talking about how english is the language of reason, and ask derisively whether there is any Indian language that can do the same–but you don’t explain how english does this. You also don’t seem to understand reason–which is rooted in logic. Did you know that there is an entire hindu school of logic (Nyaya)? You probably didn’t, otherwise you would realize that hindus had perfected logic when the british were still painting their faces blue and speaking celtic.

    Second, english itself is a bastardized language that emerged from successive waves of invasions. English culture is itself the product of invasion (roman, germanic, norman), so we can see why they were so keen to impose the false “land of invasions” label on India (which had a better record of defeating invasions than the brits, or persians for that matter)–ironically, it was their sense of cultural inferiority that drove them to develop their current superiority complex.

    Third, the french have long contested english’ dominance and have made it a point to ensure that new words are developed to keep up with every change technical vocabularly. They have an entire council for this purpose. There is no reason why India’s main regional languages can’t do the same.

    Finally, Sandeep has knowledge of both english (better than yours) and sanskrit (definitely better than yours), so it’s clear who is speaking out of ignorance. First learn sanskrit properly, then challenge it.

    Since you praise german, here’s what one of the most famous germans had to say about the Sanskrit classic Shakuntala:

    “Wouldst thou the young year’s blossoms and the fruits of its decline
    And all by which the soul is charmed, enraptured, feasted, fed,
    Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole name combine?
    I name thee, O Sakuntala! and all at once is said.”

    “Here the poet seems to be in the height of his talent in representation of the natural order, of the finest mode of life, of the purest moral endeavor, of the most worthy sovereign, and of the most sober divine meditation; still he remains in such a manner the lord and master of his creation.”

    If you don’t know where you are from, you don’t know where you are going…

  9. AD
    August 16, 2013 at 7:04 AM


    I deeply respect your views. I agree that english and westernization is increasing in India, but how do we explain the increasing viewership of regional channels and regional newspapers. In the latest tv ratings regional news channels viewership is in multiples of english news. I’ve seen regional channels that are using better and better language with minimum english words. I’ve learned many words that I did not know in my mother tongue by listening to regional news. Also regarding sanskrit the best way to preserve sanskrit is to speak, read and write in sanskrit. Sanskrit Bharati is an excellent institution to learn sanskrit at any age and from any location.

  10. hari
    August 14, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Barely seven years after Prof. B B Lal penned “The Sarasvati Flows On: The Continuity of Indian Culture” (2002)[ also at Nausharo in pre-partition India (now Pakistan), French excavator Jean-Francois Jarrige], the defiantly-in-denial UPA has been forced to admit the existence of the Pre Harappan civilization- the Vaidic Saraswati Civilisation-the oldest civilisation of India, supporting this bold hypothesis is powerful evidence from hydrology, geology, literature, archaeology and radiocarbon dating, in response to a parliamentary question, the government revealed that a study by scientists of ISRO, Jodhpur, and the Rajasthan Government’s Ground Water Department has found irrefutable evidence of palaeo-channels and archaeological sites of pre-Harappan, Harappan and post-Harappan ages, indicating the existence of a mighty river matching descriptions of the Saraswati in Vedic literature.
    But who were these Vedic people ?
    Were they Aryan invaders as we were taught in school, or indigenous ancestors whose achievements were ‘stolen’ by ascribing them to so-called Aryans, a people who have left no traces of like achievements in any of the lands from where they supposedly descended upon the Indian plains?
    This era also created the ploughshare and spoked wheel, the tandoor and roti, chulha and chapatti, and pots and pans and other vessels of daily use.
    But, who were these Vedic people ?
    There was a rich industry in bead-making, shell, ivory-working, mainly copper and bronze, though gold and silver ornaments had also arrived.
    Truly a Golden Age. The only thing missing is the inscrutable script, surely a precursor to Brahmi, the language that developed later!
    This is augmented by the famous limestone statuette of the Mohenjo-daro priest-king, with his eyes introvert and eyelids half-closed, a meditative form later associated with Buddhist tradition, especially in Tibet and China.
    Yet this form of dhyana is mentioned in the Bhagvadgita (ch. 6, verse 13) which states that the gaze should be fixed on the tip of the nose!
    Town planning, especially given the chaos in our cities today, will remain ancient India’s greatest contribution to civilisation. Be it Kalibangan, or Sisupalgarh near Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, the grid pattern with streets running north-south and east-west was the rage. This, it is pertinent, was an era in which Egypt or Mesopotamia (the West’s favourite ‘cradle’ of civilisation) had no notion of such town planning – which must be conceded was original to India. To cap it all, there were covered drains and manholes for discharge of sullage.
    Bricks were kiln-fired, and there was bonding, with bricks laid out in alternate courses – length-wise and breadth-wise – for strong walls, way back in the third millennium BCE. And clay floors were soled with fragments of terracotta nodules and large pieces of charcoal – to absorb moisture, prevent dampness travelling up the walls, and inhibiting termites!
    But, who were these Vedic people ?
    It is now conclusively established that there was no Aryan Invasion, or even Migration (the current theory). What does remain, however, is a West-led mental resistance to accepting the indigenous origins of the Vedic (Hindu) religion, culture, and civilisation.

  11. karan
    August 14, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    • An Indian tragedy: Aryan invasion theory:
    Scientists had long ago dismissed the idea of the Aryan race .
    All this makes abundantly clear that theories based on the Aryan myth are modern European creations that have little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air— in Europe, not India.
    • An African tragedy: Tutsi invasion theory:
    When we look at the map of middle Africa, we see two little countries named Rwanda and Burundi, bordering on Zaire (or the Democratic Republic of Congo). As reported in the Western media, these countries are inhabited by two supposedly different ethnic groups, the so-called Hutus and Tutsis. The ethnic composition of these two countries is as follows.
    Rwanda: Hutu 84%, Tutsi 15%, Twa (Pygmies) 1%
    Burundi: Hutu 85%, Tutsi 14%, Twa 1%
    In other words, their compositions hardly differ at all. But according to Western anthropologists, mainly colonial bureaucrats and missionaries, the Tutsi are supposed to be a Hamitic people, a race that was often intermixed with the whiter races of the North, notably from Ethiopia and Egypt, which in their turn were intermixed with some West Asiatic people, mainly the Hittites, by repeated invasions from the North. These people, the Tutsis, are supposed to have arrived from the North and not native to Rwanda.
    This in essence is the Tutsi invasion theory, the African version of the Aryan invasion theory. The similarities are startling, even to the extent of the Dravidians in India being preceded by earlier inhabitants, the aborigines (the so-called adi-vasis), who have their African counterpart in the Pygmies. So we have the African Pygmy-Hutu-Tutsi sequence corresponding to the Indian aborigines-Dravidian-Aryan scheme.
    As with the Aryan theories and their various offshoots, this Tutsi-Hutu division has no factual basis. They speak the same language, have a long history of intermarriage and have many cultural characteristics in common. Differences are regional rather than racial, which they were not aware of until the Europeans made it part of their politics and propaganda.
    The explosion came following independence form colonial rule. Repeated violence after independence fueled this hatred driven by this supposed ethnic difference and the concocted history of the Tutsi invasion and oppression. Some 2.5 million people were massacred in this fratricidal horror of wars and genocides.
    Why did India not go the way of Rwanda-Burundi? Not for lack of trying but because the cultural foundation of Hinduism proved too strong. It defeated the designs of politicians and propagandists masquerading as scholars. It is no coincidence that Rwanda and Burundi had been converted to Christianity, preparing the ground for sectarian conflict. Several church figures, including priests and nuns have been found guilty of complicity in the Tutsi massacres. As in India, Christianity was a colonial tool and missionaries little more than imperial agents.

  12. karan
    August 14, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    A scientific paper by two reserchers-David W. Davenport and Ettore Vincenti-recorded the scholars belief’ that an archeological site they investigated in Mohanjodaro was destroyed in ancient times by a nuclear blast,’explained
    to IIT man,”When archeologists reached steet level during excavations of Harappa and Mohanjodaro ,quite often ,skeleton that had a redioactive level fity times greatet than normal (almost equal to Hiroshima and Nagasaki ) were found laying or seated in
    position indicating that an event had instantaneously wiped out civilization there.”This has been approved by CNR(the national reserch counsil) a public

    ,it duty to carry out ,provide ,spread,tranfer and improve recerch activities in the main sector of knowledge growth and its application for scientific ,technological economical and social development of the country.
    For Devid Devanport an English of Indian origin ,experts of sanskrit a thermonuclear explosion isn’t a far hypothesis at all.
    The description of such a weapon were contained in Mahabharata section Drona Parva describing the weapon called Agneya.
    All the skeleton found (total number 44) were flatterened to the ground ,for example a father ,mother and child were found flatterened ,face down and still holding hands.
    Based on David Devenport study of many manuscript ,belives in text that 30000 inhabitant of the city were given 7 days to get out.
    Vedic texts like ‘Shatapatha Brahmana’ and ‘Aitereya Brahmana’ that mention these astronomical references list a group of 11 Vedic Kings, including a number of figures of the ‘Rig Veda’, said to have conquered the region of India from ‘sea to sea’. Lands of the Aryans are mentioned in them from Gandhara (Afganistan) in the west to Videha (Nepal) in the east, and south to Vidarbha (Maharashtra). Hence the Vedic people were in these regions by the Krittika equinox or before 2400 BC. These passages were also ignored by Western scholars and it was said by them that the ‘Vedas’ had no evidence of large empires in India in Vedic times. Hence a pattern of ignoring literary evidence or misinterpreting them to suit the Aryan invasion idea became prevalent, even to the point of changing the meaning of Vedic words to suit this theoryVedic and late Vedic texts also contain interesting astronomical lore. The Vedic calender was based upon astronomical sightings of the equinoxes and solstices. Such texts as ‘Vedanga Jyotish’ speak of a time when the vernal equinox was in the middle of the Nakshtra Aslesha (or about 23 degrees 20 minutes Cancer). This gives a date of 1300 BC. The ‘Yajur Veda’ and ‘Atharva Veda’ speak of the vernal equinox in the Krittikas (Pleiades; early Taurus) and the summer solstice (ayana) in Magha (early Leo). This gives a date about 2400 BC. Yet earlier eras are mentioned but these two have numerous references to substantiate them. They prove that the Vedic culture existed at these periods and already had a sophisticated system of astronomy. Such references were merely ignored or pronounced unintelligible by Western scholars because they yielded too early a date for the ‘Vedas’ than what they presumed, not because such references did not exist.
    The Saraswati, as modern land studies now reveal, was indeed one of the largest, if not the largest river in India. In early ancient and pre-historic times, it once drained the Sutlej, Yamuna and the Ganges, whose courses were much different than they are today. However, the Saraswati river went dry at the end of the Indus Valley culture and before the so-called Aryan invasion or before 1500 BC. In fact this may have caused the ending of the Indus culture. How could the Vedic Aryans know of this river and establish their culture on its banks if it dried up before they arrived? Indeed the Saraswati as described in the ‘Rig Veda’ appears to more accurately show it as it was prior to the Indus Valley culture as in the Indus era it was already in decline.

    There are many points in fact that prove the Vedic nature of the Indus Valley culture. Further excavation has shown that the great majority of the sites of the Indus Valley culture were east, not west of Indus. In fact, the largest concentration of sites appears in an area of Punjab and Rajsthan near the dry banks of ancient Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Vedic culture was said to have been founded by the sage Manu between the banks of Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Saraswati is lauded as the main river (naditama) in the ‘Rig Veda’ & is the most frequently mentioned in the text. It is said to be a great flood and to be wide, even endless in size. Saraswati is said to be “pure in course from the mountains to the sea”. Hence the Vedic people were well acquainted with this river and regarded it as their immemorial hoemland.
    Max Muller, like many of the Christian scholars of his era, believed in Biblical chronology. This placed the beginning of the world at 4000 BC and the flood around 2500 BC. Assuming to those two dates, it became difficult to get the Aryans in India before 1500 BC.
    Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that in the middle of the second millennium BC, a number of Indo-European invasions apparently occured in the Middle East, wherein Indo-European peoples the Hittites, Mit tani and Kassites conquered and ruled Mesopotamia for some centuries.
    An Aryan invasion of India would have been another version of this same movement of Indo-European peoples. On top of this, excavators of the Indus valley culture, like Wheeler, thought they found evidence of destruction of the culture by an outside invasion confirming this.
    Further excavations discovered horses not only in Indus Valley sites but also in pre-Indus sites. The use of the horse has thus been proven for the whole range of ancient Indian history. Evidence of the wheel, and an Indus seal showing a spoked wheel as used in chariots, has also been found, suggesting the usage of chariots
    Moreover, the whole idea of nomads with chariots has been challenged. Chariots are not the vehicles of nomads. Their usage occured only in ancient urban cultures with much flat land, of which the river plain of north India was the most suitable. Chariots are totally unsuitable for crossing mountains and deserts, as the so-called Aryan invasion required.
    That the Vedic culture used iron & must hence date later than the introduction of iron around 1500 BC revolves around the meaning of the Vedic term “ayas”, interpreted as iron. ‘Ayas’ in other Indo- European languages like Latin or German usually means copper, bronze or ore generally, not specially iron.

    “War between light and dark skinned peoples” ,this idea totally foreign to the history of India, whether north or south has become almost an unquestioned truth in the interpretation of ancient history Today, after nearly all the reasons for its supposed validity have been refuted, even major Western scholars are at last beginning to call it in question.

    There is no reason to insist that in such earlier Vedic times, ‘ayas’ meant iron, particularly since other metals are not mentioned in the ‘Rig Veda’ (except gold that is much more commonly referred to than ayas). Moreover, the ‘Atharva Veda’ and ‘Yajur Veda’ speak of different colors of ‘ayas’(such as red & black), showing that it was a generic term. Hence it is clear that ‘ayas’ generally meant metal and not specifically iron.

    Moreover, the enemies of the Vedic people in the ‘Rig Veda’ also use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people themselves. Hence there is nothing in Vedic literture to show that either the Vedic culture was an ironbased culture or that there enemies were not.

    The ‘Rig Veda’ describes its Gods as ‘destroyers of cities’. This was used also to regard the Vedic as a primitive non-urban culture that destroys cities and urban civilization. However, there are also many verses in the ‘Rig Veda’ that speak of the Aryans as having having cities of their own and being protected by cities upto a hundred in number. Aryan Gods like Indra, Agni, Saraswati and the Adityas are praised as being like a city.

    Further excavation revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not des- troyed by outside invasion, but according to internal causes and, most likely, floods. Most recently a new set of cities has been found in India (like the Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka sites by S.R. Rao and the National Institute of Oceanography in India) which are intermidiate between those of the Indus culture and later ancient India as visited by the Greeks. This may eliminate the so-called dark age following the presumed Aryan invasion and shows a continuous urban occupation in India back to the beginning of the Indus culture.

    In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans.


    According to this theory, the Vedic people were nomads in the Punjab, comming down from Central Asia. However, the ‘Rig Veda’ itself has nearly 100 references to ocean (samudra), as well as dozens of references to ships, and to rivers flowing in to the sea. Vedic ancestors like Manu, Turvasha, Yadu and Bhujyu are flood figures, saved from across the sea. The Vedic God of the sea, Varuna, is the father of many Vedic seers and seer families like Vasishta, Agastya and the Bhrigu seers. To preserve the Aryan invasion idea it was assumed that the Vedic (and later sanskrit) term for ocean, samudra, originally did not mean the ocean but any large body of water, especially the Indus river in Punjab.

    Here the clear meaning of a term in ‘Rig Veda’ and later times verified by rivers like Saraswati mentioned by name as flowing into the sea was altered to make the Aryan invasion theory fit. Yet if we look at the index to translation of the ‘Rig Veda’ by Griffith for example, who held to this idea that samudra didn’t really mean the ocean, we find over 70 references to ocean or sea. If samudra does noe mean ocean why was it traslated as such? It is therefore without basis to locate Vedic kings in Central Asia far from any ocean or from the massive Saraswati river, which form the background of their land and the symbolism of their hymns.

    One of the latest archeological ideas is that the Vedic culture is evidenced by Painted Grey Ware pottery in north India, which apears to date around 1000 BC and comes from the same region between the Ganges and Yamuna as later Vedic culture is related to. It is thought to be an inferior grade of pottery and to be associated with the use of iron that the ‘Vedas’ are thought to mention. However it is associated with a pig and rice culture, not the cow and barley culture of the ‘Vedas’. Moreover it is now found to be an organic development of indegenous pottery, not an introduction of invaders.

    Painted Grey Ware culture represents an indigenous cultural development and does not reflect any cultural intrusion from the West i.e. an Indo-Aryan invasion. Therefore, there is no archeological evidence corroborating the fact of an Indo-Aryan invasion.

    In addition, the Aryans in the Middle East, most notably the Hittites, have now been found to have been in that region atleast as early as 2200 BC, wherein they are already mentioned. Hence the idea of an Aryan invasion into the Middle East has been pushed back some centuries, though the evidence so far is that the people of the mountain regions of the Middle East were Indo-Europeans as far as recorded history can prove.

    The Aryan Kassites of the ancient Middle East worshipped Vedic Gods like Surya and the Maruts, as well as one named Himalaya. The Aryan Hittites and Mittani signed a treaty with the name of the Vedic Gods Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatyas around 1400 BC. The Hittites have a treatise on chariot racing written in almost pure Sanskrit. The IndoEuropeans of the ancient Middle East thus spoke Indo-Aryan, not Indo-Iranian languages and thereby show a Vedic culture in that region of the world as well.

    The Indus Valley culture had a form of writing, as evidenced by numerous seals found in the ruins. It was also assumed to be non-Vedic and probably Dravidian, though this was never proved. Now it has been shown that the majority of the late Indus signs are identical with those of later Hindu Brahmi and that there is an organic development between the two scripts. Prevalent models now suggest an Indo-European base for that language.

    It was also assumed that the Indus Valley culture derived its civilization from the Middle East, probably Sumeria, as antecedents for it were not found in India. Recent French excavations at Mehrgarh have shown that all the antecedents of the Indus Valley culture can be found within the subcontinent and going back before 6000 BC.

    In short, some Western scholars are beginning to reject the Aryan invasion or any outside origin for Hindu civilization.

    Current archeological data do not support the existence of an Indo Aryan or European invasion into South Asia at any time in the preor protohistoric periods. Instead, it is possible to document archeologically a series of cultural changes reflecting indigenous cultural development from prehistoric to historic periods. The early Vedic literature describes not a human invasion into the area, but a fundamental restructuring of indigenous society. The Indo-Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data.

    In other words, Vedic literature was interpreted on the assumption that there was an Aryan invasion. Then archeological evidence was interpreted by the same assumption. And both interpretations were then used to justify each other. It is nothing but a tautology, an exercise in circular thinking that only proves that if assuming something is true, it is found to be true!

    Another modern Western scholar, Colin Renfrew, places the IndoEuropeans in Greece as early as 6000 BC. He also suggests such a possible early date for their entry into India.

    As far as I can see there is nothing in the Hymns of the ‘Rig Veda’ which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking population was intrusive to the area: this comes rather from a historical assumption of the ‘comming of the Indo-Europeans.

    When Wheeler speaks of ‘the Aryan invasion of the land of the 7 rivers, the Punjab’, he has no warrenty at all, so far as I can see. If one checks the dozen references in the ‘Rig Veda’ to the 7 rivers, there is nothing in them that to me implies invasion: the land of the 7 rivers is the land of the ‘Rig Veda’, the scene of action. Nor is it implied that the inhabitants of the walled cities (including the Dasyus) were any more aboriginal than the Aryans themselves.

    Despite Wheeler’s comments, it is difficult to see what is particularly non-Aryan about the Indus Valley civilization. Hence Renfrew suggests that the Indus Valley civilization was in fact Indo-Aryan even prior to the Indus Valley era:

    This hypothesis that early Indo-European languages were spoken in North India with Pakistan and on the Iranian plateau at the 6th millennium BC has the merit of harmonizing symmetrically with the theory for the origin of the IndoEuropean languages in Europe. It also emphasizes the continuity in the Indus Valley and adjacent areas from the early neolithic through to the floruit of the Indus Valley civilization.

    This is not to say that such scholars appreciate or understand the ‘Vedas’ their work leaves much to be desired in this respect but that it is clear that the whole edifice built around the Aryan invasion is beginning to tumble on all sides. In addition, it does not mean that the ‘Rig Veda’ dates from the Indus Valley era. The Indus Valley culture resembles that of the ‘Yajur Veda’ and the reflect the pre-Indus period in India, when the Saraswati river was more prominent.

    The acceptance of such views would create a revolution in our view of history as shattering as that in science caused by Einstein’s theory of relativity. It would make ancient India perhaps the oldest, largest and most central of ancient cultures. It would mean that the Vedic literary record already the largest and oldest of the ancient world even at a 1500 BC date would be the record of teachings some centuries or thousands of years before that. It would mean that the ‘Vedas’ are our most authentic record of the ancient world. It would also tend to validate the Vedic view that the Indo-Europeans and other Aryan peoples were migrants from India, not that the Indo-Aryans were invaders into India. Moreover, it would affirm the Hindu tradition that the Dravidians were early offshoots of the Vedic people through the seer Agastya, and not unaryan peoples.

    In closing, it is important to examine the social and political implications of the Aryan invasion idea:

    This discredited not only the ‘Vedas’ but the genealogies of the ‘Puranas’ and their long list of the kings before the Buddha or Krishna were left without any historical basis. The ‘Mahabharata’, instead of a civil war in which all the main kings of India participated as it is described, became a local skirmish among petty princes that was later exaggerated by poets. In short, it discredited the most of the Hindu tradition and almost all its ancient literature. It turned its scriptures and sages into fantacies and exaggerations.

    This served a social, political and economical purpose of domination, proving the superiority of Western culture and religion. It made the Hindus feel that their culture was not the great thing that their sages and ancestors had said it was. It made Hindus feel ashamed of their culture that its basis was neither historical nor scientific. It made them feel that the main line of civilization was developed first in the Middle East and then in Europe and that the culture of India was peripheral and secondary to the real development of world culture.

    Such a view is not good scholarship or archeology but merely cultural imperialism. The Western Vedic scholars did in the intellectual spehere what the British army did in the political realm discredit, divide and conquer the Hindus. In short, the compelling reasons for the Aryan invasion theory were neither literary nor archeological but political and religious that is to say, not scholarship but prejudice. Such prejudice may not have been intentional but deep-seated political and religious views easily cloud and blur our thinking.

    The modern Western academic world is sensitive to critisms of cultural and social biases. For scholars to take a stand against this biased interpretation of the ‘Vedas’ would indeed cause a reexamination of many of these historical ideas that can not stand objective scrutiny.

    But if Hindu scholars are silent or passively accept the misinterpretation of their own culture, it will undoubtly continue, but they will have no one to blame but themselves. It is not an issue to be taken lightly, because how a culture is defined historically creates the perspective from which it is viewed in the modern social and intellectual context. Tolerance is not in allowing a false view of one’s own culture and religion to be propagated without question. That is merely self-betrayal.
    According to British account, India was invaded and conquered by nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes from Central Asia around 1500-100 BC, who overthrew an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Hindu culture. This so-called pre-Aryan civilization is said to be evidenced by the large urban ruins of what has been called the “Indus valley culture”
    This was how the Aryan invasion theory formed and has remained since then.
    It is unfortunate that this this approach has not been questioned more, particularly by Hindus. Even though Indian Vedic scholars like Dayananda saraswati, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Arobindo rejected it, most Hindus today passively accept it. They allow Western, generally Christian, scholars to interpret their history for them and quite naturally Hinduism is kept in a reduced role. Many Hindus still accept, read or even honor the translations of the ‘Vedas’ done by such Christian missionary scholars as Max Muller, Griffith, MonierWilliams and H. H. Wilson. Would modern Christians accept an interpretation of the Bible or Biblical history done by Hindus aimed at converting them to Hinduism? Universities in India also use the Western history books and Western Vedic translations that propound such views that denigrate their own culture and country.
    First, it served to divide India into a northern Aryan and southern Dravidian culture which were made hostile to each other. This kept the Hindus divided and is still a source of social tension.

    Second, it gave the British an excuse in their conquest of India. They could claim to be doing only what the Aryan ancestors of the Hindus had previously done millennia ago.

    Third, it served to make Vedic culture later than and possibly derived from Middle Eastern cultures. With the proximity and relationship of the latter with the Bible and Christianity, this kept the Hindu religion as a sidelight to the development of religion and civilization to the West.

    Fourth, it allowed the sciences of India to be given a Greek basis, as any Vedic basis was largely disqualified by the primitive nature of the Vedic culture.

  13. ravi
    August 14, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Saraswati which was wider than Amezon started drying up due to tectonic
    shifts , which blocked the glaciers , gradually the whole river was burried
    under the Thar desert.
    Due to that reason the whole elite migrated to fertile land , toward south west of India, Goa to Kerela, some went to Mesopotamia and Sumeria.
    Emperor Vikramaditya , the Vaidic ruler in 7000B.C.ruled from Jerusalem to
    Ural to Vietnam.
    The black stones at Jerusalem, Petra, Mecca all were endorsed in this era.
    A few Vaidic hymns which mention Saraswati appended below:
    ambitame naditame devitame Saraswati (11.41.16)
    (the best mother , the best river, the best Goddess Saraswati)
    maho arnah saraswati pra cetayati ketuna dhiyo visha virajati (1.3.12)
    (Saraswati like a great ocean appears with her ray, she rules all aspirations)
    Borewell have been dug along the length of hidden and and extinct Saraswati river to obtain sweet water , and extract riverbed shell molluscs.
    Our Indian satellites have done underground mapping of Saraswati river.
    Rig veda was written in 5000B.C.on the B.C.
    Mahabharata war happened in 5000B.C. at Kurushetra.
    On Indus valley civilization Mohanjodaro, teblets of 3000 B.C.images of
    Lord Krishna (in baby form) seen.
    The rig veda was written on the banks of Saraswati River.
    Interestingly , The Archological survey of India’s National museum says:
    “It is now clear , that the Harappan civilization was the gift of two rivers-the Indus and the Saraswati -not the Indus alone.
    ‘Dravidian’ tribes and upper castes have common genes
    Impact of Vedic culture and Sanskrit over Tamil
    Sanskrit’s influence on Tamil

    Indus Valley civilization by Shrikant Talageri

  14. Gunda
    August 13, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    It (Sanskrit) is the mother and the root language of all Indian languages.

    : Good Joke. get your basic right first!

    • Anoop
      August 14, 2013 at 2:28 AM

      why don’t you correct the basic and tell what you know if you really know at all. You can also share your thought who the mother is. Ortherwise your comment is not more than trash.

      Being cynical is good but not proving it equally bad.

  15. August 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    A very learned post; I would say I completely agree with all the points.

    I think we have come too far with English and it is one of our strengths now. I don’t think Indian languages will die. We shall keep speaking them in society, in families and our culture will be better expressed in them. Certainly the situation where an English speaking person thinks of oneself superior only by virtue of one’s language, is depressing condition and we should come out of this situation. For that we should strive for 100% literacy in India and when education is spread around everywhere, such notions would vanish hopefully.

    Thanks for putting out such thoughtful posts.

  16. reason
    August 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    sandeep, your observations about ‘corpse like state of Hinduism in TN’, and ‘de-sanskritisation of Tamil’ are not factual. There is ever more increasing participation in temple festivals in TN. I do not live in TN anymore but every time I go, I can witness that the current levels of participation in temple events is much more than what I had seen as a kid way back. Even some temples in a remote village I know of, that rarely opened some 30 years back have atleast one Kala Puja now.

    De-sanskritisation claim is also not backed by facts. As a quick check I browsed through an online tamil news report on ex-US president Bush Junior’s heart surgery just now, and that report used ‘poorna’ and ‘arogya’ to describe his health after surgery – Tamil equilvalent words for these are ‘Muzhu’ and ‘Nalam’. Infact, if I wrote that report I would have used the tamil words. If you are in the habit of reading Tamil news or magazines, you can easily spot this. I do not deny that there were attempts at de-sanskritisation, but those who made this attempt were clueless about either language to even do a good job at it. Remember that these are the same dimwits who appropriated Ravan without knowing that Ravan was a Brahmin.

    Looting temples or screwing with language research are prevalent anywhere and not just TN. But even with that amount of looting and screwing, you will need to see if TN people are any worse off in maintaining their temple or language compared to others. One recent change i noticed in TN temples is that, in most temples there is a board displaying defaulters on temple lease or those misusing temple properties, with their names and amounts due/how long etc.

  17. G
    August 7, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    Two places where English needs to be curtailed (in India): 1. Primary schools 2. Social studies.

  18. August 7, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    good writeup. deep thinking though agreeing with it is not precondition. Any lang which does not march with growing public thought is bound to become dead. Sansakrit, latin, urdu are few example

  19. Chunnu
    August 7, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    ???? ?? ??? ???????? ??? ????? ???? ?? ???? ? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ?

  20. Abhijit Gosavi
    August 7, 2013 at 2:24 AM

    Good analysis! I will add though that English is the language in which engineering/science happens! Why throw away that advantage?

    I speak Marathi, Bengali, and Hindi in addition to English fluently. I can speak/write/read Hindi well; speak/read Marathi (mother tongue) well (get confused in the grammar at times though when writing); and speak (but can’t read/write) Bangla fluently (grew up in Cal). But it is English that has helped me build my career. So, I don’t see why governments should invest in other languages. Governments have responsibility towards the economic development of a nation, I feel.

    People in some states — on their own, via cultural activities — have kept their vernaculars alive: there is tons of great literature in Marathi even today (e.g., Marathi plays) and Bengal still produces great movies (e.g., Rituporno Ghosh who died recently). Those who are allowing their languages to die, e.g., Tamil (maybe?), are themselves to be blamed… but, oh wait, the South is actually more developed in economic measures… so even there, I’m not sure what the incentives are to keep their vernaculars alive.

    Anyway, do want to say that I did like your article and the in-depth analysis :)

  21. August 6, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    Of interest to this post is an essay written by Amal Kiran (K.D.Sethna) titled “The Significance of the English Language in India”. I’ve put it up online here :

  22. August 6, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    I read some reports some years ago that many traditional Vedic, Sanskrit pundits have been starving. Our governments don’t take any action even to uplift them. A learned scholar I know tells me that he finds most Sanskrit scholars are in US now and the standards in India are only falling.

    Let’s be realistic. Nothing of the sort Sandeep desires will happen in India because Indians are losing themselves.
    If Sanskrit survives and thrives, it would be so owing to the genuine efforts of those who love it and passionately disseminate it. Governments are not agents of transformation.

    Reading Sanskrit is good for the soul, as they always say.

  23. August 6, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Sanskrit lost its vibrancy because of invasions and Hindus lost freedom, control of their own language, discourse and became colonized first by Islamists and then Britishers.

    It is very unfortunate that post Independent India did nothing to encourage Sanskrit unlike Hebrew.

  24. August 6, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Sanskrit was the lingua franca for over a millennium not just in present day India but also in South Asia. Huge treatises encompassing several different subjects have been written in Sanskrit not just in India. But also in parts of Vietnam and Thailand. Several European thinkers learnt Sanskrit and incorporated it in a big way into their own languages.

    “for those who believe that this knowledge is now archaic would do well to recall that the contemporary western theories, though essentially interpretive, have evolved from Europe’s 19th century interaction with Sanskrit philosophy, grammar and poetics; they would care to remember that Roman Jakobson, Trubetzkoy and de Saussure were Sanskritists, that Saussure was in fact a professor of Sanskrit at Geneva and that his published papers include work on Sanskrit poetics. The structural, formalist thinking and the linguistic turn of contemporary theory have their pedigree in Sanskrit thought. In this, Europe’s highly fruitful interaction with the Indian thought over practically the same time-span contrasts sharply with 150 years of sterile Indian interaction with the western thought. After the founding of Sanskrit chairs in the first decade of the nineteenth century, Europe interacted with the Indian thought, particularly in philosophy, grammar, literary theory and literature, in a big way without abandoning its own powerful tradition. In the process, it created, as we have said a new discipline, Historical-Comparative Linguistics, produced a galaxy of thinkers – Schiller, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietszche, Jakobson, Trubetzkoy and above all Saussure – and founded a revolutionary conceptual framework which was to influence the European thought for the next century, Structuralism.”

  25. August 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    samit – you raise two points – that are purely judgmental (and not Reason :))
    One – that I say that Reason is applied Science as in what’s used by Nasa – I never said so… The use of Reason in a language is quite simply that which promotes (through its usage) honest observation, reason and logic based on facts rather than opinions with an absence of the arrogance of saying ‘I’m right because I say so/my not-to-be-questioned beliefs tell me so’.
    Two – you draw a conclusion that an argument given in a comment on a blog is ‘shallow’ because there’s no evidence to show that English uses Reason better than say, Hindi or any other regional Indian language. Here’s a bit of evidence – would you be able to cite adequate Bertrand Russels, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harrises (or for that matter Shantanu Bhagwats and often enough Sandeep :)) writing and speaking to a reasonably wide audience in say – Hindi? If there are – I’ll be happy to be surprised – their work could easily enough be translated to stay relevant and bring sanity to the current lower order ‘judgmentalism’ of popular Indian discourse

    Sanskrit (if indeed that was the language used) in significantly large parts of the ancient Indian subcontinent may very well have given expression to rich discourse along the lines of an honest, rational discussion with the humility to accept the limitations of its approach and resources – truly scientific in its essence. But today? Can we create something like that? And if indeed it existed as a pan-national ‘Indian’ language – versatile in its inclusion and depth – why did it all but disappear? I’m not conversant in Sanskrit except learning it for few years as a third language where we didn’t progress beyond making a few sentences – but my point is – if we have a ready-made language that has the already evolved its versatility to include and express Reason effectively – we could find a purpose, and mission in life!

  26. desicontrarian
    August 6, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I write with the same predicament as Sandeep. I write and think mostly in English, though I could do it equally well in my “native” language.

    However, there is hope for the deracinated. Manasa TaramgiNi is outstanding for its sanskritized thought forms. Venetia Ansell writes exclusively on Sanskrit literature and traditions. Lots of Sanskrit (and other language) resources on the web, for people who want and need a change.

    The well-regarded thinker Madhu Kishwar laments our collective deterioration in language skills, along with false pride and status-seeking with English as the criterion.

    This is not a superficial issue. Language shapes thinking.

    We could also benefit with an army of authors and translators adding content on Indian language wikipedias.

  27. Anoop
    August 6, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    Rajendra Prashad cast deadly and decided vote against Sanskrit. I never heard that. Do you have more info about this why he was against it?

  28. August 5, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    hrishi,How do you mean ‘language of reason’?If you mean whether its scientific;then you better ask NASA why they have chosen Sanskrit as their choice of the language that supports computers and robotics and space exploration the best.Also,the fact that you have provided any evidence of English being the language of ‘reason’ shows shallowness of your arguement.

  29. August 5, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    The problem is that English is given a privileged position in the administrative process of the State,local and central. The court proceedings are done in English even though the litigants do not understand it properly. Some of the Judges and Advocates do not either. It would have been far better to have bilingual courts rather than English, when the cross examination needs to be done in local language.

    This deliberately creates an inferiority complex in people who do not speak English. And superiority complex in people who can speak English, even if not fluent.

    Another problem is the central syllabus, CBSE, ICSE. These are good for families that move state to state, however with the proliferation of CBSE schools local students who will not have to move schools also are joining these schools and taking French as a Second Language. One reason being it is easier to score and other is that Telugu even though a ‘Second Language’ has the same First Language text book as that of the State Board. So, for kids it is much more of a struggle and many give up. By doing so these kids lose their culture, identity.

    Sometimes I wonder if conducting NEET, Common entrance test for Medicine, JEE mains a common entrance test for Engg is a bid to privilege CBSE over State SSC boards. It appears like they want to make sure a Telugu/Vernacular kid knows about mini Akbar, Akbar, Maha Akbar only and not local heroes like Rudrama Devi, Srikrihna Devaraya etc.

  30. August 5, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I’d say that for any Indian language to flourish in the modern age – it would be the one that’s adaptable to modernity, and speaks the language of Reason. Reason trumps convention and the ‘old’ where they exist for their own sake and cause suffering. Not sure which ‘Indian’ language will rise up to this…

    The fact that several Indian languages become more or less incomprehensible or unusable to non-native speakers is sign of their ‘exclusiveness’, narrow bandwidth and lack of adaptability. Cultural isolation over time with little interaction made for such regional differences? This may probably also explain why we never had a ‘Mandarin’ equivalent – Post-1947 ref the experiment with Hindi – it is too backward and regionally focused culturally to compete with English – it also has fallen short of articulating Reason effectively. That regional languages don’t speak the language of Reason, Discernment, and higher-order thinking that easily only makes their learning less attractive unless one is interested in ‘tribal’ cultures as an outsider ‘going in’.

    English scores (so far) on its adaptability to commerce, science and Reason in addition to its ‘Hinglish’ or ‘Inglish’ adaptation that picks up cultural reflectors – that ‘great to stick out even as I belong’ type of need.

    So ease of adaptability, cultural reflection and voicing Reason – can Sanskrit stand up to the challenge?

    German for example, has had the some of best European thinking expressed in that language – Nietzsche, Kant, Habermas… it stands on its own… What about Indian regional languages? I’m sure there are exceptions but does one have the critical mass speaking Reason, writing Reason, thinking Reason – in the language?

    I’d be happy to be corrected on the above :)

  31. Sigh Baboo
    August 5, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    sorry, in my previous comment, the smiley should have been the other way around.

  32. Sigh Baboo
    August 5, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Namaskara! I have enjoyed reading and learning from your posts. This one too is a wonderful effort, although reading it on a Monday morning makes one even more depressive :-)

    I would like to hear your thoughts on one aspect though. The Hindu society was monetarily poor in the recent past (100-300 years) than it is now. With advancements in Science & Technology and through “modern” education, the top 10-20% of this society is getting relatively richer. Thus, it equates (wrongly, imho) modernity with loss of its traditional culture. Is it possible to live a modern life without losing traditional culture? Of course yes, in my opinion. But what are the reasons for our society to not think so?

    Speaking of Tamil/Thamizh society, it is impossible to imagine that someone as Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer existed 70-80 years ago. Such a commitment to scholarship in the face of immense hardship is hard to find these days.

    Dhanyavadhaagalu! Keep writing!
    Sigh Baboo

  33. August 5, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    The dravidian-vs-aryan divide in Tamilnadu is not, strictly speaking, the work of locals. 19th century Brit missionaries were not only playing divide-and-rule, but they also seriously believed in the bigoted race theories of the time. They sowed the seeds of a “language conflict” that probably was unknown in classical India. The Nayaka and Maratha rulers of Tanjore were great patrons, in addition to Tamil, of both Sanskrit and Telugu. Saraswati Mahal in Tanjavur is said to have the best collection of classical Telugu manuscripts anywhere in India. By the time the Brits left though, the fictional Aryan-Dravidian divide became real. “Democratic” Tamil politicians in search of conflict and votebanks enthusiastically embraced and exploited it. Note that although all south Indian languages are said to be “dravidian” languages, the so-called dravidian “self-consciousness” failed to take root outside of Tamilnadu. Native rulers of Mysore and Travancore did not definitely buy it. Sad fact is that only the “dravidians” of Tamilnadu made the unfounded, unscientific (and essentially skin-color-based) race theories of semi-ignorant Christian missionaries their own.

  34. Murthy
    August 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Usage of “regional language(s)” suggests the existence of “national language” and there is none in India. Instead, we could use “Indian languages”. Also, as I understand, Samskrutha is not root of all Indian languages. Dravidian languages are a parallel family of languages.

  35. Aparna
    August 5, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Ur bang on in ur analysis. It’s we who have created and fed this ‘English’ monster for years – that’s now threatening to eat us all up. Unless we act in time and stem the rot. It’s why regional language papers, literature, media should survive. That’s one way of ensuring it does. In fact, if there’s one good thing about satellite TV it’s the fact that regional channels have come up…which have helped languages survive to a certain degree..

  36. August 5, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Well,any language does go through its pahse of changes and at times even destructions.
    Sanskrit is the language wihch tecnically gave birth to so many other languages.
    Our regional languages are dying e because most of our official work is carried out in English and gradually we all are creating HINGL:ISH in India

  37. August 5, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Nice write up Sandeep! In fact, I had even seen a video of Dr. Zakir Naik also highlighting this fact that sanskrit need to be taught to Indian people. Sadly, the likes of Dr. Romila Thapar etc. have ensured that Indian’s can learn about their past without knowing sanskrit :( A lot of the comments/write-up’s that I see these days talk about the fact that “Sanskrit was used only by the upper castes – specifically Brahmins”. So, this deters others who would otherwise be interested in learning it.

  38. Siva Bhaskaran
    August 5, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Was Maulana a Islamic bigot? Perhaps the author could shed more light about Maulana’s bigotry?

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