Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Attitude towards Sanskrit

This does sum up the attitude, doesn't it?

And the plight of the unsuspecting Indian who picks up a book at an airport translated/interpreted by one of these indologists/Sanskritists.

He has been 'educated' by our own textbook writers that our texts are just relics of the past, to be discarded or 'critically analyzed' for their sociological value. All else is just superstition. His parents did not bother teaching him any of our traditions because again, "we need to be scientific". He has forgotten his cultural inheritance. He then picks up a book by one of these "trained indologists" and says "oh, what dedication to our culture", brags about reading this book at a party. And if he becomes rich, donates his money to exactly one of these people. And thinks he's done a great job. The pity.

The solution:
1) Learn Sanskrit and read our texts on your own. Yes, it will take time. Be ready to invest in about two years, half an hour a day for fairly good working knowledge. You'll be thrilled when you can read the Ramayana on your own. You will recognize metaphors which these indologists/Sanskritists will fail to parse.

2) Pass on traditions, however small, to your kids. Encourage learning at least one Indian language as well so as to read the literature in that language. Get them to learn at least basic Sanskrit. 

3) If you have to read translations, choose those written by traditionally-trained scholars in Indian languages. This is not a jingoistic statement; there are excellent Western Sanskrit scholars too but if you don't know how to select, avoid them all because you will end up coming away with very wrong concepts and disturbed with what you read.

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