Sanskrit is a favourite language to learn among Madhya Pradesh’s tribal youths who think it connects with their dialect well and does offer them good job opportunities.
That is the reason why Government Sanskrit College in Indore, situated bang opposite Rashtriya Swayam Sevak office in Rambagh, is getting a steady stream of tribal students from neighbouring Dhar, Barwani, Jhabua and Alirajpur districts since 1990.
Sources say the tribals form about 10%-15% of the college strength, which reflects Sanskrit popularity among tribals.
Antar Singh Solanki, a Bhil tribal from Dhar district, studying in BA final year with Sanskrit as a subject, finds the language easy to learn. He connects its words with those found in Bhili mixed Nimadi dialect, his mother tongue. "Kay karno bajari? (What are you doing?). In Sanskrit, you say kim karyam karoti?" he says and BA II year student Pratap Singh Mandloi nods. Showing a growing affinity with the divine language more, Solanki adds, "Sanskrit words, velan (rolling pin) and khalan, (place where harvested crops are kept) are Nimadi words for the same."
Ker Singh Bamne, a Sanskrit post-graduate Bhilala who is pursuinig Ph D now, says, "We get job as a Sanskrit, Hindi teacher in government schools and colleges in tribal belts as not many go to teach there." Another student Sajjan Singh Davar adds, “Non-Sanskrit teachers teach Sanskrit in tribal areas. We want to fill the vacuum after we pass out."
But, Sanskrit College assistant lecturer Gopal Bairagi takes the job opportunity angle a step further. He says Sanskrit is a scoring subject, like mathematics. It helps students score well in administrative examination.
College guest faculty Abhishek Pandey connects tribal festival Bhagoria to ancient sage Bhrigu and says Bhagor in Jhabua district is the place where the sage performed penance and accepted tribals as his disciples.
"It was him who produced disciples like sage Jamdagni whose son Parashuram excelled in war skills and shastras," Pandey says. Sage Jamdagni lived in Janapav near Mhow in Indore district.
But, there is an interesting RSS angle too.
About 10 out of 11 tribal college hostellers attend the morning RSS Shakha. "We learn about Indian culture in shakha. Being Sanskrit students, it helps," says Mohan Singh Dodve, a student.