The recent remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that even after decades of Independence Dr B R Ambedkar remains neglected deserve serious attention. In fact, one of the lesser known aspects about Babasaheb are his views on Sanskrit. During my tenure as HRD minister, I had a chance to look at the Sanskrit commission report on Sanskrit as an official language. It stated that… “during the few stormy days of the Constituent Assembly’s discussion of this question, the impasse was sought to be solved by proposing Sanskrit as the Rashtrabhasa; and the late Dr Ambedkar, was also reported to have favoured that proposal. ….”
The late LK Maitra, who moved amendment 310 A (1) in the assembly, stated that if Sanskrit was accepted, “all the jealousies, all this bitterness will vanish ……. There will not be the least feeling of domination or suppression of this or that”.
A news item from ‘The Sunday Hindustan Standard’ dated 11 September, 1949, reported “India’s law minister, Dr Ambedkar, is among those who have sponsored Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian Union.” Questioned about this move, Dr Ambedkar told a PTI correspondent that evening, “What is wrong with Sanskrit?
The news item further says that “an amendment seeking Sanskrit to be India’s official language will be taken up by the Constituent Assembly when the question of official language is considered by the House….”
In fact, Babasaheb wanted the resolution to be passed but he had to withdraw it due to opposition from members like Sri BP Maurya, who later regretted his opposition in a letter dated 14 February, 2001, addressed to the director of NCERT: “Because of my inexperience, I opposed the resolution. Ultimately the idea of the resolution was dropped.” The amendment tabled by Shri Maitra was unfortunately lost after an acrimonious debate and thus the efforts of Babasaheb to keep India linguistically united were frustrated.
Dr Ambedkar’s engagement with Sanskrit was inspired by his keen desire to find out the truth about Aryan invasion. For this, he studied sources like the Vedas and Zend-Avesta with an open and critical mind. Wrote Babasaheb, “This evidence from the Zend-Avesta as to the meaning of the word Varna leaves no doubt that it originally meant a class holding to a particular faith and it had nothing to do with colour or complexion. The conclusions that follow from the examination of the Western theory may now be summarised. They are:
The Vedas do not know any such race as the Aryan race. There is no evidence in the Vedas of any invasion of India by the Aryan race and its having conquered the Dasas and Dasyus supposed to be natives of India.
There is no evidence to show that the distinction between Aryans, Dasas and Dasyus was a racial distinction. The Vedas do not support the contention that the Aryans were different in colour from the Dasas and Dasyus.
“If anthropometry is a science which can be depended upon to determine the race of a people, then…the measurements establish that the Brahmin and the untouchables belong to the same race.”
Dr Ambedkar’s conclusions are unambiguous, though unfortunately, these are ignored by those who profess to follow his ideas and more often than not are quite strident in using the racial theory he sought to demolish.
It does not mean that Babasaheb’s efforts to reform Hindu society should be ignored. If he had the courage to propose Sanskrit as official language, he also had the courage to oppose the rotten caste system and other evil practices of Hindu society which in his opinion were serious hindrances in establishing a truly democratic India.
In this backdrop, the PM’s efforts to create a nationwide network for transmitting Dr Ambedkar’s teachings in totality to the young generation are praiseworthy. In my opinion the institutions of higher learning should evolve an appropriate strategy for the same.
Source: Times Of India
Murli Manohar Joshi