Urdu-Sanskrit Culture in India

Posted on 23. May, 2013 by in Uncategorized

India is broadly a country of immigrants, which explains its tremendous diversity.  The question now arises is whether these immigrants who came into India have all preserved their original different identities, or a common culture has emerged by their intermingling? Despite all our diversities, a common culture has emerged in India which may broadly be called the Sanskrit-Urdu culture, which is the common culture of India.  This culture revolves around great two languages which the country has produced, namely Sanskrit and Urdu.

I do not mean to denigrate or disparage the other languages of India.  Great literature has been written in several of our languages.  For example, in my opinion, the best prose in modern India is in Bengali (particularly the works of the great Bengali writer Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyaya).  There has been also great literature in Tamil (the ‘Tiruppavai’ of Andal is reminiscent of the poetry of Surdas and Mirabai), Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Assamese, Punjabi, Telugu, Malayalam, Kashmiri (see the verses of Habba Khatoon), etc.  All languages in any country deserve equal respect.

However, having said that, we must understand that Sanskrit and Urdu stand on a different footing from these other languages.  Sanskrit and Urdu are our two great national cultural languages (while other languages are regional).  There is a great misunderstanding about both Sanskrit and Urdu. Sanskrit is often regarded as a language of rituals and Pooja Paath among Hindus, Sanskrit as a Language of Science’ delivered in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore as well as in Banaras Hindu University that 95% of Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion or religious rituals, and instead deals with philosophy, science, mathematics, medicine, literature, grammar, interpretation, etc.

Similarly, there have been a lot of misconceptions about Urdu e.g. that it is a foreign language or it is a language of Muslims alone.

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