Till the beginning of the 20th century, knowledge in Sanskrit was prerequisite for the admission to medical colleges. It was done away with by the Justice Party. Worse, to become a Tamil Pandit, knowledge of Sanskrit was mandatory.
Brahmins still argue that Sanskrit is ‘Deva Basha’, which means it is the language of the Gods.
It is the language of Brahmins, who constitute only 3 percent of the total population but do not speak Sanskrit. The remaining 97 percent of the population speak other languages. Yet the Brahmins have been attempting to impose Sanskrit on everyone since independence.
P.S.Sivaswamy Iyer, who was the vice-chancellor of Madras University, in his convocation address in 1914 itself, emphasized the importance of Sanskrit.
“As the language which enshrines the highest ideas of Indo-Aryan civilization, as the language in which the highest achievement of the Hindu mind in the region of philosophic speculation and religion have been recorded, as the language to which most of what is in the vernacular literature of India owes its inspiration, and as the language in which the ordinances that regulate our social life and institutions to this day have been written, a knowledge of it(Sanskrit) is an essential element of culture to every Hindu…”
Sanskrit scholars were given much respect than the Tamil scholars in educational institutions. For instance, in the 20th century, K.Namasivaya Mudhaliyar, who worked as Tamil professor in Presidency college, was paid only Rs.81 as salary when Kuppusamy Shasthri, the Sanskrit professor, received Rs.300 as salary. Justice party chief minister Raja of Panagal put an end to the disparity.
A language should be given importance only based on its utility. What utility value does Sanskrit have in the present day context other than enabling one to perform poojas?
Yes, the Brahmins have an agenda behind the promotion of Sanskrit. It is to sustain their superiority over non-Brahmins both in material and cultural domains.
If only Sanskrit is revived, Brahmins could enjoy religious and cultural supremacy. So a band of Brahmin retired judges and officers have been tasked with finding the ways to revive Sanskrit. They get Doordarshan running news bulletin in Sanskrit and so on.
Now, the task of non-Brahmins, who want to be free from all kinds of oppressions, is to fight Sanskrit imposition. They can draw inspiration from the past struggles.
During 1970s, DMK chief Kalaingar Karunanidhi faced opposition from the Brahmins when he attempted to implement archanas in Tamil in Hindu temples. As this was protested by Brahmins, Karunanidhi announced: “If the right to perform archanas in Tamil is denied, Sanskrit considered as devabasha and along with that god and religion also will be driven out from Tamil Nadu to North India.”
Dravidar Kazhagam is consistently opposing the attempts to impose Sanskrit and Hindi on Tamil people. It is a must for all Tamil scholars and people with self-respect, to oppose Sanskrit imposition.
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