There is no need to invoke higher spiritual incentives in order to justify learning Sanskrit as the language makes a case for itself, vice president Hamid Ansari said on Monday.
He said the transition from an oral to a written form saw the rapid spread of Sanskrit across southern and eastern Asia and added that Thai and other Southeast Asian languages have strong roots in Sanskrit.
Underscoring its importance , Ansari said the corpus of scientific, philosophical, sacral and poetic texts produced in Sanskrit is one of the richest contributions to global textual culture.
“Its grammar offers a clear structure as was recognised by Indian grammarians over 2,500 years ago. The script it is written in was designed especially for it and allows us to know with great certainty how it is pronounced,” he said.
The vice president was addressing a gathering after giving away the World Sanskrit Award 2015 and 2016, instituted by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), in New Delhi.
He also conferred the awards to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand and George Cardona, an American linguist and Indologist.
Stressing that Sanskrit is not just an Indian heritage, Ansari said, “Within three centuries Sanskrit became the sole medium by which ruling elites expressed their power from as far west as Purusùapura in Gandhara to Pândurãnga in Champa of central Vietnam and Prambanan on the plains of Java.”
“Thai and other Southeast Asian languages have strong roots in Sanskrit which reflect their remote past relationship with the language. It also has a deep influence on Thai literature and culture,” he said.
Leading institutions like Silpakorn University, Chulalongkorn University have included Sanskrit in their study programmes, he added.
Ansari said since the discovery of the Indo-European language connection in the late 18th century, Sanskrit played an important role in European comparative linguistics and was taught in major European universities and remains academically alive in Europe and increasingly in the United States.