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“Sanskrit Bharat ki aatma hai. Iss liye mujhe aaj iss sammelan mein shaamil hote huey bahut khushi praapt ho rahi hai.
I compliment my colleague Shri Kapil Sibal, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the International Association of Sanskrit Studies (IASS) for organizing this truly unique event. I also extend my very warm greetings to all the scholars who are participating in this Conference and have come to Delhi from far corners of the world.
The IASS owes its origin to an International Sanskrit Conference that was held in Delhi way back in 1972 and was sponsored by the Government of India in collaboration with UNESCO. Since its inception, the IASS has been organizing the World Sanskrit Conference every three years, with three previous Conferences having been held in India. I learn that the IASS is not concerned with Sanskrit in the narrow sense but more broadly with research work based on solid knowledge of one or more Indian languages and on fundamental textual sources from South and South-East Asia. This is indeed a most worthy cause.
Sanskrit, which is recognized as one of the oldest living languages of the world, is often misunderstood as only a language of religious hymns and rituals. Such an understanding does injustice to the great genius of this language and betrays ignorance of the work of great writers, thinkers, sages and scientists like Kautilya, Charaka, Sushruta, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya and many others. Indeed, Sanskrit, is much more than a language. It is a complete knowledge system that embodies the great learning traditions of ancient India. Jawaharlal Nehru, once described Sanskrit language and literature as the “the greatest treasure that India possesses”. He went on to say “this is a magnificent inheritance; so long as this endures and influences the life of our people, so long will the basic genius of India continue to flourish.”
Sanskrit has not only some of the greatest classics of world literature, but also a treasure of knowledge in Mathematics, Medicine, Botany, Chemistry, Arts and Humanities. If we provide the missing links and establish the required inter-disciplinary approaches, the wisdom of Sanskrit has the potential of enriching the present day knowledge systems and Indian languages immensely.
The Sanskrit language has also been the source of values and ideals that have sustained India through the ages. Like the great civilization of India, Sanskrit does not belong to any particular race, sect or religion. It represents a culture that is not narrow and sectarian but open, tolerant and all-embracing. The open-minded seers and thinkers who spelt out their vision and philosophy in the sacred Vedas and the Upanishads were able to balance the opposites in their life and in philosophy. It is this spirit of liberalism and tolerance imbedded in Sanskrit that we must inculcate in our present-day life. The message of the ancient sages of India, who gave us the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the world as one family, continues to be of great significance to the world even today.
The Government of India is committed to the promotion and development of Sanskrit. Three institutions established by the government - Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth - are actively engaged in this task. These institutions offer flexible and non-formal Sanskrit courses in order to popularize the language. They also facilitate the conduct of vocational courses for the students of traditional Sanskrit pathshalas, so that their employability is increased. The Maharishi Sandipani Rashtriya Ved Vidya Pratishthan is engaged in the task of preserving, developing and propagating the oral tradition of Vedic studies.
There are a number of other measures that are being taken to encourage the study of Sanskrit. These include financial assistance to modern schools offering Sanskrit as a subject and traditional Sanskrit schools offering modern subjects, and to voluntary organizations that are maintaining traditional Sanskrit institutions. In addition, Sanskrit departments of the universities are funded by the University Grants Commission under its various schemes. Financial assistance is also provided for the production of Sanskrit literature including newspapers and journals, and reprinting of rare books. Scholars who have excelled in the study of Sanskrit are honoured every year.
In the course of time, we will further strengthen our efforts for the promotion, development and enrichment of Sanskrit.
I understand that over the next six days the scholars participating in this Conference will deliberate on a diverse range of topics. They include poetry, drama and aesthetics; scientific literature; Buddhist studies, Jain studies, Sanskrit and regional languages and literatures, and Vedas. I am sure that the deliberations of this Conference will not only lead to a better understanding of the various areas of Sanskrit Studies, but will also result in a better appreciation of India’s culture, our values, our ideals and our world-view.
Many of the modern Indian languages depend upon Sanskrit for their vocabulary. The Commission for Technical and Scientific Terms established by the Government of India has also depended on Sanskrit sources for developing the technical terms in science and technology for Indian languages. I expect that this Conference will also contribute to better learning tools for Indian languages, and better translation software and other computer programs in Indian languages.
Let me end by wishing all of you very productive deliberations over the next few days. It is my sincere hope that each one of you will return from the Conference with a much deeper understanding of your particular area of interest. I also hope that this Conference will enrich Sanskrit Studies even more than what the preceding ones have done. May God bless your path.”