Saturday 7 June 2014

Constituent Assembly debate on Sanskrit

Some comments have been made on my previous post about Sanskrit. So I would like to quote from the Constituent Assembly debate which took place on 12.9.1949 in our Constituent Assembly on the question as to which language should be made the national language.

The Hon'ble Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta : "We want to hear your views on Sanskrit".

Mr. Naziruddin Ahmed : " I am extremely thankful to the Hon'ble Member Mr. Gupta. If you have to adopt any language, why should you not have the world's greatest language ? It is a matter of great regret that we do not know with what reveration Sanskrit is held in the outside world. I shall only quote a few remarks made about Sanskrit to show how this language is held in the civilized world. Mr. W.C. Taylor says : 'Sanskrit is a language of unrivalled richness and purity'.

Mr. President : " I would suggest you may leave that question alone, because I propose to call representatives who have given notice of amendments of a fundamental character, and I will call upon a gentleman who has given notice about Sanskrit to speak about it".

Mr. Naziruddin Ahmed : " Yes, Sir, I shall not stand in between. I will only give a few quotations. Prof. Max Muller says that "Sanskrit is the greatest language in the world, the most wonderful and the most perfect'. Sir William Jones says :' Whenever we direct our attention to the Sanskrit literature the notion of infinity presents itself. Surely the longest life would not suffice for a perusal of works that rise and swell protuberant like the Himalayas above the bulkiest composition of every land beyond the confines of India'. Then Sir W. Hunter says : 'The grammar of Panini stands supreme among the grammars of the world. It stands forth as one of the most splendid achievements of human invention and industry'. Prof. Whitney says :' Its unequalled transparency of structure give Sanskrit the undisputable right to the first place amongst the tongues of the Indo-European family'. M.Dukois says :' Sanskrit is the origin of the modern languages of Europe'. Prof. Weber says :' Panini's grammar is universally admitted to be the shortest and fullest grammar in the world'. Prof. Wilson says :' No nation but the Hindu has yet been able to discover such a perfect system of phonetics'. Prof. Thompson says :' The arrangement of consonants in Sanskrit is a unique example of human genius'. Dr. Shahidullah, Professor of Dacca University, says :' Sanskrit is the language of every man to whatever race he may belong'.

An Hon'ble Member : "What is your own view ?'.

Mr. Naziruddin Ahmed : "My own view is that Sanskrit is one of the greatest languages, and...."

An Hon'ble Member : "And should it be adopted as the National language or not ? It is not spoken by anyone now."

Mr. Naziruddin Ahmed : "Yes, and for the simple reason that it is impartially difficult to all. Hindi is easy for the Hindi speaking ares, but it is difficult for other areas. I offer you a language which is grandest and the greatest, and it is impartially difficult, equally difficult for all to learn. There should be some impartiality in the selection. If we have to adopt a language it must be grand, great and the best. Then why should we discard the claim of Sanskrit ?".

Pandit Lakshmi Kant Maitra : " If today India has got an opportunity to shape her own destiny I ask in all seriousness if she is going to feel ashamed to recognize the Sanskrit language---the revered grandmother of languages of the world, still alive with full vigour, full vitality ? Are we going to deny her rightful place in Free India ? That is a question I solemnly ask ? I know it will be said that it is a dead language. Yes. Dead to whom ? Dead to you because you have become dead to all which is great and noble in your own culture and civilization. You have been chasing the shadow and have never tried to grasp the substance which is contained in your great literature. If Sanskrit is dead may I say that Sanskrit is ruling us from her grave ? Nobody can get away from Sanskrit in India."

Though Sanskrit was not accepted as the national language of India, it has been placed in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution, and is also referred to in Article 351.


  1. My vote for Sanskrit. The logic put by Mr. Naziruddin Ahmed, of it being "impartially equally difficult for all as compared to Hindi" speaks of justice for all Indians and the language itself.

  2. Pranipat to all concerned people here.

    Sir, after reading alot of sanskrit literature, still i find myself incapable of understanding that why, Sanskrit was not taken as Indian National Language.!! Was it the difficulty level of the language.!! Was this the sole criteria..!! There are many words in our local languages which could not be explained if we separate sanskrit from them. For instance, in Punjabi, Bairagi could not be explained without understanding Vairagya from sanskrit, patanjali's rajyoga.!!

    I still wonder why Sanskrit is not the national language. The difficulty could not be the sole reason. !! WHY..