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Speech by External Affairs Minister in the Inaugural Function of 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok

June 28, 2015

Om sahanAvavatu, sahanau Bunaktu, saha vIryaM karavAvahai. tEjaswinAvaDItamastu mA vidviShAvahai. Om SAntiH! SAntiH! SAntiH!

Let it guard both of us; let it protect both of us; let us both work together; let our study be well illumined; let us not dislike each other. Om Peace! Peace! Peace!

Your Excellency Sayam-Barom Princess Mahachakri Sirindhon, Respected Chairman of the Conference Sri Kutumba Shastry, Honourable Deputy Minister of Education Thailand, Dr. Krissanapong Kirtikara, Chairman of the Organizing Committee Sri Chirapath Prapandavidya, Organizing Secretary Sri Jayandra Soni, General Secretary of the Organizing Committee Dr.Samaniyanga Lamasai, Organizing Secretary of the Conference Sri Amarajeevan Lochana, Scholars, Researchers, Sanskritists, from several countries all over the world -

My greetings (pranAms) to you all. I heartily pass on good wishes to you all on this occasion of the inauguration of the Sixteenth World Sanskrit Conference. It is heartening that six hundred delegates from sixty countries are participating in this conference. The motto of the International Association for Sanskrit Studies is "The universe is a Family”. To recall the stanza from the Panchatantra,

Ayam nijah parO vEti gaNanA laGucEtsAM |
udAracaritAnAM tu vasuDaivakuTumbakaM ||
Narrow minded people discriminate among people considering some as theirs and some as alien, while the broad minded consider the whole universe as theirs. I am confident that such broadminded scholars gathered here will make this message of universal fraternity meaningful.

The language of Vedanta is Sanskrit. The language of Yoga is Sanskrit. The language of Ayurveda is Sanskrit. The language of Indian Mathematics is Sanskrit. The language of Dramaturgy (NATyaSAstra) is Sanskrit. The language of the Bhagavad Gita is Sanskrit. The language of ancient Indian Architecture, Sculpture, Agriculture, Chemistry, Astronomy, Veterinary, Economics, Political Science, and other fields of knowledge is Sanskrit. Sans Sanskrit it is impossible to know ancient India at all. In this conference thirty one sessions are being organised of which twenty four are main sessions and seven auxiliary sessions. This itself indicates the range and variety of knowledge in Sanskrit. Maharshi Patanjali declares in Vyakarana Mahabhashya,

"bRuhaspatih indrAya divyaM varShasahasraM pratipadOktAnAM SabdAnAM SabdapArAyaNaM prOvAca, nAntaM jagAma”

‘Bruhaspati, the Guru of the gods, instructed Indra to chant the words formed through word-roots, but he could not complete it.’

You are going to delve deep into various topics on the Sanskrit lore that includes eighteen seats of knowledge, sixty four arts, four Vedas, more than hundred Upanishads, six ancillary Vedas (Upavedas), six adjuncts of Vedas (Vedangas), eighteen Epics, the ten systems of Philosophy, Heroic history (Itihasa), literature, Dramaturgy etc. By these deliberations, I am sure, useful results would emerge.

Sanskrit is not mere a language. It is a world view. It is the world view that proclaims "EkaM sat viprAbahuDA vadanti” – ‘it is the one that the wise declare as many’; "A nO BadrAH kratavO yantu viSvataH” – ‘ let noble thoughts come unto us from all directions’; "kRuNvntO viSvamAryaM” – ‘making the world refined’; "svadESO BuvanatrayaM” – ‘ the three worlds are my land’; "sangacChaDvaM saMvadaDvaM saMvO manAMsi jANatAM” – ‘let us move together, speak in one voice, think alike and understand one another’. This system of philosophy teaches, "Atmavat sarvaBUtEShu” – ‘considering all living beings as one’s oneself’. This precept of Universality, characterised by harmony, common welfare, and inclusiveness can only bring together the warring factions in the universe by friendly overtures. This concept of inclusiveness is unique to Sanskrit, it is its culture. Just as mutual trust, love, harmony, cooperation and other inclusive features are essential for an individual family, so are harmony, trust and cooperation are necessary among different nations, different societies, and different sects and traditions in the family of universe. To achieve this there is the vital necessity of the only excellent device, Sanskrit.

We had called a meeting of the Vice Chancellors of Sanskrit Universities and activists in connection with the preparations to be made for conducting this conference. There I was astonished to learn that in graduate and post graduate courses, Sanskrit is not taught through Sanskrit medium and in the examinations the answers are written in languages other than Sanskrit. The container is as important as the water it holds. Of the two, both are equally vital. Similarly, Sanskrit language and the subjects in Sanskrit are both vital alike. However, in the present Sanskrit scholars pay more attention to the subjects in Sanskrit rather than the language. This is not appropriate. Even the language is to be learnt so that all the teachers in and students of Sanskrit can speak and write in Sanskrit. Who have deserted Sanskrit? The common people or the Sanskritists? At the least, Sanskrit should be the medium for teaching and learning Sanskrit; it should be in Sanskrit educational institutions and Sanskrit departments and in conferences. Sanskrit should be the language of communication among Sanskritists. I wish there would be more papers in Sanskrit in the coming International and other conferences.

Sanskrit is not only ancient language; it is also a modern language. There is an unbroken tradition from time immemorial of the use of Sanskrit as the medium in literature, philosophy, medicine, science, education etc. In the present days you are aware that scientists hold the view that Sanskrit can play an important role in developing software for language recognition, translations, cyber security and other fields of artificial intelligence.

It is not sufficient to praise Sanskrit and detail its forte. All Sanskritists should deliberate upon what is to be done for the development of the language. Teaching of Sanskrit should be attractive, its quality should improve, and research in Sanskrit should be more functional. Linking Sanskrit with modern subjects, developing literature on contemporary issues, a scientific study of the available texts, and such assignments are to be taken up by Sanskritists. These tasks have to be prioritised. If you focus your discussions in this direction, it would greatly benefit the cause of Sanskrit.

The tradition of Sanskrit is comparable to the river Ganga. The Ganga remains sacred from Gomukh, its source, to Ganga sagar where it enters the ocean. It sanctifies the tributaries, which attain the very nature of Ganga. Similar is Sanskrit; sacred by itself, it sanctifies all that come into its contact. Therefore, Sanskrit should be propagated so that it purifies the minds of the people and thus sanctifies the whole world. You Sanskritists do bathe in the sacred Sanskrit Ganga and are blessed.

Sanskrit is a universal language. The followers of yoga are spread over 177 countries. Among them many have begun the study of Sanskrit. Thus it is spreading fast. Samskrita Bharati is propagating Sanskrit by conducting conversation courses not only in India, but also in several countries world over. Particularly it has pioneered in introducing Sanskrit as a foreign language for students in United States of America. Its efforts are commendable.

I take pleasure in announcing that ICCR, Indian Council for Cultural Relations has decided to grant International Sanskrit Award to the scholar who has made significant contribution for Sanskrit. The award would carry with it a certificate and 20,000 American dollars.

Apart from this ICCR would also grant fellowships to two deserving foreign scholars for conducting research in India in Sanskrit language or literature. It would also provide opportunity for young new learners to visit India to study in graduate or post graduate classes or do research in Sanskrit.

I am also pleased to announce that a post of Joint Secretary for Sanskrit has been created in the Ministry of External Affairs.

The subject that addresses contemporary concerns will be accepted by people, studied and followed and then only it will be popular and relevant. Knowledge in Sanskrit will go a long way in finding solutions to the contemporary problems like global warming, unsustainable consumption, civilizational clash, poverty, terrorism etc. A new direction and vision is needed in the field of research in Sanskrit to accomplish this task.

For new inventions in science and technology fresh inputs are required. These inputs are available in Sanskrit, but inter-disciplinary research is necessary for achieving this goal. Groups of scholars in modern and ancient subjects have to work together and study Sanskrit texts scientifically. There should be coordinated programmes by institutions like Indian Institute of Science, IITs in collaboration with Sanskrit universities. Workshops on Sciences and Shastras and special lecture sessions have to be organized. New paths will open up by such efforts.

Today’s need is a healthy amalgamation of the ancient and modern, a meeting of the best in orient and occident. Our efforts are to be directed towards narrowing the gap between the study of Shastras and Science. New perspectives are to originate in the areas of the study and research in Sanskrit and a new chapter to open in the teaching of Sanskrit.

The scholars who have assembled here are lovers of Sanskrit, ever studious, involved in learning and teaching, serving the cause of Sanskrit. You are the worshippers of Sharada, the goddess of learning. I salute you all.

I congratulate the office bearers of International Association for Sanskrit Studies, the organizers, all members of the University faculty on organizing meticulously this conference. I greet you all again.

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