Allegedly Society

The future is Sanskrit

The real mother tongue of the entire the whole  akhand universe is Sanskrit. | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

India is a religious country, and rightly so. Religion is important. It is more important, if you ask me, than decency, compassion or common sense. If you are religious, you are freed from any obligation to be decent or compassionate, or to respect common sense. The only thing that matters is your religious sentiment.

For the longest time, like most Hindus living in a constitutionally secular republic, I had assumed that religious sentiments are a personal matter, not meant to be advertised publicly, let alone imposed on other people in defiance of the law. It had been so long since I last exercised my religious sentiments that I couldn’t even locate them when I needed them. How did I end up like this — a person with no religious sentiments worth offending? The answer in one word: secularism.

Seema’s boyfriend

I’ll be frank: like most people of my ilk, I’ve only paid lip service to secularism for narrow cynical ends. I never took it seriously. How could I, except in a hypocritical way, and as someone said, “ Hypocrisy ki bhi seema hoti hai” [Hypocrisy also has girlfriend named Seema]. My biggest problem with the concept of secularism is that it is too rational. Rationality is to religion what Odomos is to mosquito — they are adversaries. This is why in India the life expectancy of rationalists tends to be unpredictable, as we saw with Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.

But now in the New India, I’ve finally rediscovered my religious sentiments. Having rediscovered them, I’ve started believing in them deeply — so deeply, in fact, it’s easy for me to take offence in their name. Keeping quiet when religious sentiments are getting hurt is a bad thing — it’s an outright sin — when you belong to the majority community. Condemn me or call me a majoritarian bigot or whatever but today I want to come right out and say this: the endless hikes in petrol prices are severely hurting my religious sentiments.

“In exchange for my unconditional love for the Supreme Being, I ask for nothing more than a measure of financial protection for savings against inflation”

My religious sentiments are also offended by the state of the economy. Like the majority in India, I also worship financial well-being and a steady growth in annual income. In exchange for my unconditional love for the Supreme Being, I ask for nothing more than a measure of financial protection for savings against inflation. Some of you may wonder where is it written in the  shastras that petrol prices cannot be ₹350 per litre if the government so decrees. But there are as many versions of Hinduism as there are Hindus, and in my personal version, it is a sin to pocket bigger and bigger slices of the common man’s meagre wages through taxes when his real income hasn’t risen in years.

Revered language

If incomes haven’t risen in the last five years but inflation and unemployment have, and SMEs have been knocked out by the one-two combination punches of demonetisation and GST, not to mention the extra kicks administered by COVID, doesn’t that mean the country’s largest majority — the wage-earning classes — really is ‘ khatre mein hai’? And how can that not hurt my majoritarian religious sentiment?

This column is a satirical take on life and society

But of late, the most offensive offence to my religious sentiments has been coming from people who insist Hindi should be India’s national language. I have nothing against language imposition — I mean, what is the use of being a majoritarian if you can’t even impose a language of your choice on people who don’t want it? A language, after all, is like a mother, and who doesn’t believe their mother is the best?

Personally, I have three mothers — a biological mother, a language mother and Bharat Mata — and I worship all of them. I have the utmost reverence for my language mother, Tamil. But I must admit — with apologies to my biological mother, who’s not too bad either — that I consider only Bharat Mata to be my real and ultimate super-deluxe mother. And pray, what is the language of Bharat Mata? Sanskrit! So, the real mother tongue, not just of me but of the entire  vasudhaiva kutumbakam of the whole  akhand universe — is Sanskrit.

This is the reason my religious sentiments are offended every time I hear majoritarian sloganeering in Hindi. If someone wants to give legally permitted hate speech, they should do so not in Hindi but in Sanskrit. Government propaganda — which I love, by the way — should also be strictly in Sanskrit, not Hindi. And speaking of hate speech, the solution to Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter free speech problem’ is also Sanskrit. Problematic tweets need not be censored any more — an algorithm will automatically translate them into Sanskrit before they pop up. No one will get triggered because the cosmo-phonics of Sanskrit are trigger-proof. Have you tried saying “Go to Pakistan, you fool!” in Sanskrit? I’m told it goes something like ‘ Thvam athaha Pakistanam poda madasambraniyam’. You may want to use it next time your religious sentiments are hurt. But get it vetted by a Sanskrit scholar before you do.

G. Sampath, author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

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Printable version | May 7, 2022 4:48:52 pm |