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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

On Sanskrit Diwas, a look at what govts did for the ancient language | Opinion

From Jawahar Lal Nehru to Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi, all major decisions for the development and promotion of Sanskrit language in India came about during prime ministers from the Congress party.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2019 10:52 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindusatan Times, New Delhi
India’s first Sanskrit institution, the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, was established in Tirupati , Andhra Pradesh in 1961.
India’s first Sanskrit institution, the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, was established in Tirupati , Andhra Pradesh in 1961.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
         

Sanskrit Diwas is observed on Purnima of Shrawana month of the Hindu calendar every year since 1969 to promote the ancient language and the Indian shastra traditions. There was a Congress government in India in 1969 when the then education minister VKRV Rao started the tradition of celebrating the day not on a particular calendar day but according to a tithi, to underline the importance of Hindu traditions.

From Nehru to Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi, all major decisions for the development and promotion of Sanskrit language in India came about during prime ministers from the Congress party.

India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru set up the first Sanskrit Commission in 1957 with renowned linguist and educationist Dr Suniti Kumar Chatterji. On the basis of report of this commission, country’s first Sanskrit institution, the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, was established in Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh) in 1961 as a premier institution of traditional shastras and pedagogy.

India’s second PM Lal Bahadur Shastri set up the second institution, Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, in 1965. The institution was later renamed Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth and is deemed to be a university. In 1970, the Indira Gandhi government established the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan as a nodal agency for Sanskrit education. This has 15 campuses across the country.

Sanskrit news bulletin was started on All India Radio during Indira Gandhi’s government on June 30, 1974. Sanskrit bulletins on Doordarshan started on Sanskrit Diwas in 1994 when PV Narsimha Rao was the prime minister.

When Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, he started the Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Ved Vidya Pratishthan in Ujjain in 1987 for the preservation, conservation and development of Vedic Studies by setting up Ved Pathshalas.

The UPA government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up the Second Sanskrit Commission led by Prof Satya Vrat Shastri in 2013. This Commission was asked to submit its recommendations within one year but it could not submit its report within that period and its term expired on in 2015 when NDA government was in power.

Sanskrit scholar Shastri Kosalendradas says Congress’ contribution to the promotion and development of Sanskrit language is unparalleled. The NDA government under Narendra Modi started the department of Sanskrit at Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi in 2017. “The government under Narendra Modi should have done more for Sanskrit because the BJP claims to be a custodian of Hindu traditions,” he said.

First Published: Aug 15, 2019 10:52 IST