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Sanskrit is still important: Amartya Sen

‘Distinction should be made between Sanskrit as a general vehicle of thoughts and specific religious ideas that may be expressed in the language.’

January 05, 2015 11:16 pm | Updated January 06, 2015 08:38 am IST - Kolkata

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen gives away the Infosys Prize 2014 to Shamnad Basheer for his contribution in the field of humanities in Kolkata on Monday. Atright is Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen gives away the Infosys Prize 2014 to Shamnad Basheer for his contribution in the field of humanities in Kolkata on Monday. Atright is Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Emphasising that Sanskrit as a language is important in India today, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said on Monday that a distinction should be made between Sanskrit as a great language and a general vehicle of thoughts on the one hand, and specific religious ideas that may be expressed in the language, on the other.

Speaking at an event where Infosys Prize, 2014 was awarded to six scientists, Professor Sen said the distinction was made clear to him from his early days as a student and that distinction is important even today.

“It is not only the language of priesthood and a language in which Hindu and many Buddhist texts came, it is also a vehicle among many other radical thoughts of comprehensive doubts about the supernatural… a medium in which questioning of class and legitimacy of power was expressed with profound eloquence by Sudraka in his play Mrichchhakatika,” he said.

Reflecting on the interconnections between different cultures and the ability to learn from one another in science, Prof. Sen cited the example of the three mathematical connections — Indian, Arabic and European mathematics, referring to Brahmagupta, Alberuni and Gherard.

“There is no shame in learning from others, and to put them to good use and then going on to create knowledge, new understanding and thrilling novel ideas and results,” he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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