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Eternal Relevance of Sanskrit
Dated March 28, 2006
The relevance of Sanskrit for modern times is significant and multifaceted. We will briefly explore here the eternal relevance of Sanskrit language and literature for now and forever. A study of these treasures bequeathed to us by Sages and scholars of ancient times are absolutely relevant to us, in all aspects of our lives.
All the modern languages of India are considered rightfully as the children of Sanskrit, which has evolved in a seamless manner from the earlier Vedic language.
At one end, Sanskrit is tied to the earliest literary and scientific record of the human race and at the other end is connected to the modern advances in esoteric areas of inquiry such as Theoretical Computer Science (TCS).
Sanskrit and Computer Science
The recent work in TCS has established that the concepts fundamental to TCS have their origin in the classical work of Sage PaaNini on Sanskrit grammar (AshtAdhyAyi ).
PaNini's comprehensive and soundly scientific theory of phonetics, phonology and morphology going back to 2500 years is opening many doors to the advances in software development. The power of PaNini's grammar has been identified with the power of the Turing Machine of modern times because of the sophistication and the farsightedness of PaNini's handling of meta-rules, transformations and recursions.
The ongoing work of Dr. P. Ramanuja of C-DAC, Dr. Laksmi TatachAr of Melkote Sanskrit Academy, Dr. John Backus of IBM and others on this topic point out the extraordinary relevance of Sanskrit, the language known for its Mathematical precision in the context of modern day software development.
Sanskrit and Mathematics
In the field of Mathematical sciences deeply influenced by algebra, the structure of Sanskrit language with links to the algebraic nature of Indian Mathematics has the potential to make additional innovative contributions in astronomy and architecture and bridge the gap between Sanskrit and the modern world.
Sanskrit and Life Sciences
In the field of Aayur Veda, the doors of the vast knowledge base relating to Medical Sciences ( herbal/mineral based drug development/Pharmacology, study of Human anatomy, performance of Surgical operations, treatment of infant diseases, management of Gerontology and Veterinary Sciences)is just about being opened. The Science and Technology of Aayur Veda is deeply embedded in Atharva Veda.
Many decades of work are needed to identify the herbs and flowers referred to in the different sections of Atharva Veda. Advances in the treatment of killer diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis (Kashaya rhOgam), Cholera, Diabetes and Small pox are very much possible from research on the relevant insights of Aayurvedic texts. Susruta's and Charaka's and evolving work on Aayurvedic Samhitas have enormous significance to modern times to treat the ills of the body and mind in a holistic manner.
Sanskrit and Astronomy
Significant insights to advance modern day astronomy are waiting to be gained from Sanskrit texts of Aryabhatta, VarAhamihira, Brahmagupta and BhaskarachArya. The SiddhAntha SiromaNi of BhaskarAchArya has the following four sections :
(1) LilAvathi : a treatise on pure Arithmetics, Number theory from One to trillions and positioning of digits.
(2) Bhija Ganitha ( Treatise on Algebra as an introduction to astronomy /Graha Ganitha ). Simple, Simultaneous, quadratic equations and those with a large number of unknowns (vargaprakruti)
are covered here.
(3) & (4) Graha GaNita and GoLAdhyAya deal directly wih astronomy. Astronomical instruments, geometry and geography are covered in these two chapters.
Humanities, Ethics and Philosohy
Although we have focused sofar on Science and Technology aspects and their links to Sanskrit in modern times, there is a whole realm of humanities like Dharma Sastras /Neethi Sastras (Manu Smrithi, Bartruhari's Nithi Sataka), Laws and Jurisprudence, Economical Sciences (arTa Saastra), the IthihAsAs and PurANAs, Historical tales and fables that have relevance to develop comity between the various communities of a nation and between the different nations.
Sanskrit and Management Sciences
The engine that propels modern business is based on the use of optimal Management tools and resources in a timely and efficient manner to get the tasks done. The Western management style puts key emphasis on the development of strategic thinking, motivation of workers and display of leadership for generating profit and not for the welfare of the human kind. This management approach and the fruits derived from there creates and sustains built-in tension between the Manager and the worker.
This style of managerial approach has been described as "Aasuri Sampath" or demonic approach in Bhagavath Gita. The opposite approach in achieving managerial effectiveness has been described by GitAchAryan as "Dhaivee Sampath" or Divine approach.
GitAchAryan defines the characterstrics of the Manager with Dhaivee Sampath in Gita XV1.2:
"causing Non-injury, dwelling on truth alone, displaying freedom from anger,renouncing fruits of action,demonstrating tranquility, avoiding fault-finding, displaying compassion to human beings, showing freedom from desire for sense objects, exercising gentleness, modesty and steadiness in dealing with others".
This type of Manager (adhikAri) has vigour, forgivenss, fortitude, purity, freedom from malice and excessive pride (Gita XVI.3).
The one with the Aasuri sampth demonstrates ostentation, arrogance, self-conceit, anger, rudenes and ignorance"(Gita XVI.4).
In summing up the qualities of one with the demonic disposition, GitAchAryan identifies a triad of guNAs (Passion, anger and greed) that lands him into darkness, unfulfilment in managing given tasks and unhappiness. The adhikAri, who is free from these three gates to darkness strives for the good of the Self and attains the highest goal. GitAchAryan defines thus the most optimal approach to work and managing others. This is indeed a message for all times.
In the third chapter dealing with Karma yoga, GitAchAryan advocates the performance of one's duties without attachment to them in a spirit of advancing the welfare of the world (loka samgraham).
GitAcharyan points out that all actions are done by the influence of guNas of Prakruthi and not by the individual self. Our AchAryan explains that the performance of one's duties with this understanding does not llead one to attachment to the actions and helps to overcome egoism. This message about the development of mental attitude in the performance of one's work is not a time bound message and is an eternal message for Management Sciences.
Using Sanskrit as His language of choice, GitAchAryan instructs us all with His eternal (modern) message of self-transcendence and approaching work with the renouncement of one's ego and avoid sole focus on the fruits thereof. It has been pointed out that GitAchAryan's approach to Management is at the grass roots level as opposed to the Western approach, which is at a superficial level. That grass roots level approach is linked to the development of attitude (equanimity) with respect to the success or failure of the action undertaken(Gita II.48).
By performing one's duties this way, one develops steadfast wisdom (Sthita praj~na )and realizes "karamsu kousalam "(adroitness in the execution of one's duties in this world).
The many meanings given to the word "Sanskrit" are: " refined, sanctified,complete, perfect, cultured and definitive". It has been said that "Sanskrit language is a marvel of marvels, an epitome of a people's genius ".
May the eternally fragrant blossoms of Sanskrit rooted in the genius of the people of BhAratha Varsham dealing with every aspect of human knowledge thrive and prosper to address the needs of the modern world.
May the fruits of the strivings of Educational institutions like the Sanskrit College at ThiruvayyARu reach out to the entire world!
By: V Sadagopan