Sanskrit and Bharat (संस्कृतं भारतञ्च)

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Sanskrit and Bharat (संस्कृतं भारतञ्च)

Sanskrit and Bharat (संस्कृतं भारतञ्च) elaborates on the integrity of Sanskrit language and Bharatavarsha, and the importance of Sanskrit learning in bringing about an all pervasive reawakening of Bharat. The article is extracted from a speech by Dr. Chamu Krishna Shastry during the inaugural session of the Non-formal Sanskrit Education Cell, IIT-Bombay (August, 2022).

बहुभाषाभाषित्वम् ॥ bahubhāṣābhāṣitvam

Sanskrit was not just the medium of communication, it was the language of science, knowledge, education and more in Ancient Bharat that was a multi-lingual civilization. All Indian languages co-existed, complemented and supplemented each other. Infact, there was a give and take, not just of words but even thoughts.

संस्कृतमूलम् ॥ saṁskr̥tamūlam

Many words in Indian languages have a Sanskrit origin. Their sentence construction, phonetics, arrangement of letters, are all similar. There was oneness amongst the languages that facilitated homogeneity in knowledge. Thus, from times immemorial, Sanskrit has been the thread binding the civilization of Bharat together.

ऐक्यतायाः आधारः ॥ aikyatāyāḥ ādhāraḥ

Sanskrit literature, Adhyatmik knowledge and Indian knowledge systems are the binding agents of Bharat. Sanskrit language and the common thoughts across Indian languages are foundational to the unity and integrity of Bharat. Though the languages are many, the sentiments are unified. And Sanskrit is instrumental in unifying Bharat. Therefore, Sanskrit is important to understand the nation of Bharat.

व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ vyutpattiḥ

The etymology of 'Bharat' emphasizes on its inherent relationship with knowledge.

’भा’ इत्युक्ते प्रकाशः ज्ञानम् वा । भायां नाम ज्ञाने रतः तल्लीनः वा इति भारतशब्दस्य व्युत्पत्तिः । 'bhā' ityukte prakāśaḥ jñānam vā । bhāyāṁ nāma jñāne rataḥ tallīnaḥ vā iti bhārataśabdasya vyutpattiḥ ।

Bharat is essentially a society immersed in knowledge. Therefore, the revival of Sanskrit language is the reawakening of the knowledge tradition.

What is the Indian Knowledge System ?

Different systems like Nyaya Vyavastha (Judiciary), Arthika Vyavastha (Finance), Prashasana Vyavastha (Governance), Shikshana Vyavastha (Education), Samajika Vyavastha (Social Order), Kutumba Vyavasta (Institution of family), etc. hold a civilization together. And the knowledge that stands as the atman within these systems is the knowledge of adhyatma (commonly translated as spirituality) or bharatiya darshana. This knowledge is the very 'Prana' (life force) of the various systems in a society.

There are various branches of Indian knowledge (shastras) such as Vedanta, Ayurveda, Yoga, Natya, Artha, etc. But the one amsha or characteristic common to these branches is adhyatma or darshana that deals with the knowledge of creation, relation between jivatma and paramatma, etc. Darshana pervades all branches of knowledge be it music, dance, yoga, ayurveda or vedanta itself. It brings about balance in the society.

धर्माधिष्ठानम् ॥ dharmādhiṣṭhānam

Like Adhyatma, Dharma also is very much indigenous to Bharat; it is rather the foundation of Bharat. Simply put, Dharma is the behaviour required for a well-run and happy society. It is that which is required for the peaceful and happy living of everyone in the society. It is said,

धारणात् धर्मः इत्याहुः ... ॥५८॥[1] dhaara.naat dharma.h ityaahu.h ... ||58||

Meaning: That which holds viz. the person, family, society, institution, country, science; That which enables the sustenance of all living beings, environment, the creation itself is Dharma. Accordingly, Dharma manifests in various forms such as personal, societal, special, national, etc.

The motto of the Parliament धर्मचक्रप्रवर्तनाय । dharmacakrapravartanāya, the slogan of the Supreme court यतो धर्मस्ततो जयः । yato dharmastato jayaḥ ।, all speak of Dharma that is to be protected and followed. But first, that Dharma is to be understood. It is a non-translatable with no synonym. Infact, many Sanskrit words do not have synonyms in other languages.

For eg. Papa is sometimes loosely translated as sin. But what is the english counterpart to Punya ? There is none. For, the concept itself is alien to the English culture.

Similarly, Naivedya, Prasada, Abhisheka, Tirtha etc are all concepts indigenous to Bharat. They are thoughts and principles stemming from Sanskrit and do not have english counterparts. Thousands of such concepts are unique to Sanskrit. And Dharma is one among them that is to be understood. And having understood the intricacies of Dharma, it is to be implemented in individual, familial and social life.

ज्ञानभाषा ॥ jñānabhāṣā

In chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita, when Krishna says, धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय ।[2] dharmasaṁsthāpanārthāya । it is reinstating Dharma in all shastras like science, education, governance, trade and commerce, etc. that is meant. And that can be achieved through studying Sanskrit. The Bharatiya Jnana Parampara can be understood and propogated through the medium of Sanskrit and by studying the sanskrit language.

As mentioned earlier, Sanskrit was not just the medium of communication, it was the language of science, knowledge, education and more in Ancient Bharat. With the emergence of Macaulay's minutes in 1835, Sanskrit was replaced by English. The multi-lingual heritage of India is proof that Bharat has never despised languages. Therefore, it is not about a resistance to English. All languages may co-exist. However, since Sanskrit-based learning system has fallen behind in the formal education system, there is a gap that has arisen between Sanskrit and modern learning. That needs to be filled. Therefore, there is a need for Sanskrit schools, colleges and universities to engage in the teaching of modern subjects while the modern educational institutes should teach Sanskrit.

What encompasses Sanskrit learning ?

It is the study of Language, Arthashastra, Arogyashastra, Nyaya, Vidhi, Shilpa, Sangeeta, Kala, etc. All branches of knowledge have Sanskrit texts of ancient times. They should be studied. The groupings of knowledge texts in the ancient times may be different as compared to today.

For eg. We think of Puranas as a collection of stories on deities. What goes amiss is the understanding that they were created to acquaint common people with the tattvas, darshanas, siddhantas and vicharas in the Vedas.

In a study of selected Puranas including the Agni Purana carried out in Shringeri, shlokas relating to 18 modern subjects like Mathematics, Geography, environment, psychology, vedanta, shilpa, medicine, etc. were found by the scholars. When scholars from various specifis fields like these study the Puranas carefully, many more such fields can be identified. The shlokas that seem to be an instance of adhyatma or vedanta in the first reading, when read in minute detailing reveal hidden meanings. Until now, veda mantras and shastra granthas have been studied from the perspective of adhyatma. There is a need for them to be re-studied through scientific lens with needs of the current times in mind.

Tools for knowledge exploration

The potential for knowledge exploration and the methods for the same provided in the Vedas can be useful even today.

For eg. Lakshana parishkara in Nyaya shastra.

Nyaya shastra states that the lakshana or definition of a padartha (entity) should be 'dosha rahita' or devoid of faults. The three possible defects in a definition enumerated are avyapti (non-comprehensiveness), ativyapti (excessive scope) and abhava (exclusion). One of the possibilities is to use this defining tool 'lakshana parishkara' given by Nyaya shastra to redefine modern definitions. Similarly, many such thoughts can be mined.

Dawn of the new awakened Bharat

The journey of learning should progress from Sambhashana to Shastra adhyayana. And through the study of Sanskrit language, the heart and atma of Bharat may be revived making it Samrddha (prosperous), Sashakta (powerful) and a Vishvaguru. That should be the aim. On the foundation of Sanskrit, Dharma, Adhyatma and language, we should bring one and all together and facilitate the unity of sentiments towards Bharat. That accomplished, reawakening of the language and culture will follow. There will be a multifaceted reawakening of Bharat from all sides viz. Social, cultural, financial, dharmik, adhyatmik and educational. That will be the dawn of the new awakened Bharat.


  1. Maharshi Vyasa, Mahabharata, Karna Parva (Adhyaya 72)
  2. Bhagavad Gita, Adhyaya 4 (Jnana Karma Sannyas Yoga)