Sanskrit made compulsory language: A strategy
When the entire corporate media fraternity, the hindutwa and pro hindutwa forces made arrangements, ensured and conspired for the BJP government to come to the power. The democratic forces and the progressive political organization still tried their best to make people understand the real agenda of imposing corporate capitalism and Brahminical Hinduism, in a rapidly fascist manner, in the guise of “development”. The most vulnerable middle class voters were attracted by the organized pro Facist media and believed him to be the harbinger of “development”. After coming into the power at the center, Modi’s government has taken up the burden of disproving the excessive trust placed on it by the pitiful Indian middle class – through an array of anti-people activities like cutting of the gas subsidy, privatization of the public sector and substantial hike in train-fare, not to mention the red-carpet rolled out to FDI investments in defense and railway sectors. The Modi government has also been quite manipulative, and has tried to distract people’s attention from these vicious schemes, by working out cultural and social programs with attractive sounding slogans.
The imposition of Sanskrit week, Hindi usage for official purposes, Guru Utsav and more recently the Svach Bharat Abhiyan are only some of those programs which rely purely upon empty rhetoric, hardly having any logic or working mechanism. Invoking people’s imagination towards the “national” symbols is a constant resort of the rulers for political mobilization. More often than not in the Indian context, Sanskrit has been used for this political end in order to sustain the eternal hegemony of Brahminical forces. The present politics behind imposing Sanskrit as the symbol of national heritage and culture by the BJP government certainly demands a much broader understanding of the historical role played by Sanskrit and other languages in shaping the societal structure and cultures. The language which was once denied to the people is now promoted to be the language of all Indians. Let’s attempt to unearth this irony of imposing Sanskrit as the language of “ALL” so as to reveal the ridiculousness of these announcements and the urgent need to oppose them.
Let’s come to the core of our discussion: how this language, which was mother tongue only to Brahmins, kept away from the common mass, always represented the Brahminical Hinduism, was never alive as a spoken language and linguistically distinct from the Dravidian and North Eastern languages, assumed to take the pan-Indian identity, motherly status and unquestionable authority in the modern secular state of present India? This story of Sanskrit’s imposition as the “national language” is inextricably linked to the reincarnation of Brahminical Hinduism during the colonial and postcolonial times. The British colonizers were the first to bring the vast territory of the subcontinent into a single empire of British India. The colonial government was most pragmatic in its approach to the native culture and religions, with no other motive but to sustain their rule with minimum or no resistance erupting from within. They were prepared to align themselves with anyone towards this end. Brahmins being the unquestioned superiors among the natives, their version of religion, language, culture and tradition were taken to represent the whole of subcontinent. By its policy of “non-interference”, in fact the colonial government made the Brahminical values spread uniformly across the nation and allowed the conversion of the caste system into more rigid and oppressive structure. With this was spread the sanctity of Sanskrit in its modern version using scientific tools. Orientalist scholars like William Jones, H. H.Williams and Max Muller accorded Sanskrit the parental position in the Indo-European family of languages. It was primarily through Sanskrit that the Brahmins established their remote connection with the European race and thereby positioned themselves above the rest of the natives. we are a happy nation; but nineteen crores are without education!” thus, the resistance to Brahminism, and monopoly of Brahmins and their Language erupted in various parts of India in the nineteenth century. The Hindu ideologues realized that they could not sustain the monopoly of their religion retaining the older practices advocating discriminatory treatment to the lower castes. In the modern age, the barbaric aspects had to be eliminated or given new meaning to suit the changing circumstances, and that’s exactly what the neo-Hinduistic philosophers like Vivekananda, Arabindo, Gandhi and others did. With this phase of appropriating Hinduism and Brahminical hegemony were shaped Sanskrit and Hindi as representative/national languages of modern India.
In modern India, ironically of course, Sanskrit was projected as the common language just because it was no one’s language. Likewise, Hinduism was told to be the religion because it was no one’s religion, and India was declared to be the nationality of all just because it was no one’s nationality! This was the modern incarnation of Sanskrit and Brahminical Hinduism within the modern (so- called) secular India. Curiously, Dalits, Shudhras, women, and all those sections, who were once disallowed even to listen to it This language alone enjoyed the privilege of central government funding and promotion, while developing other languages remains the responsibility of the respective state governments. The present imposition of Sanskrit week and preference to Hindi for official usage is nothing but a more fascist face of imposing Brahminical Hindutva ideologies through these linguistic rocket-launchers.
Understanding this language politics and opposing the supreme status accorded to Sanskrit and Hindi, which are enforced in multiple ways with an aim to enslave the huge proportion of Indian population, is the first formidable step in the long and strenuous path of abolishing Brahminical hegemony and liberating the lower castes, Adivasis and women from the clutches of fascist Hindutva forces.