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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Edenic Tongue

Digest: Stirred up by the culture shock and the lingual barriers in South India, the writer delves into the philosophical aspect of a language and transits the account of Indian linguistic diaspora and then ends the post with political treatment and the constitutional provisions of the official languages of India. The title- ' The Edenic Tongue' refers to some hypothetical universal tongue or language which is understood and spoken by entire worldly population and so would be the language of a child brought up in utter silence. (wiki ref.)


And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gen 1:3). So blessed was that vocalization of The Edenic Tongue that the universe was glorified. And thenceforth the universal soul was so enraptured by the divinity of this tongue that nature’s euphony was eternalized in it. The rustling leaves, the chirping birds, the twiddling rivers, whispering nights, humming bees, beating hearts, the blowing winds, chattering magpies, clanging bells, jingling coins, rumbling thunder, roaring clouds, twanging strings, screaming silence, laughing smiles and every rolling stone whistled its tone.


Cursed is the moment, Adam devoured the fruit of knowledge from the Garden of Eden that he became slave of words as silence couldn’t be written down. The infinite utterances of the developed vocal tract and mental faculties got materialized and arbitrary symbols and signs got related to the world & human thought which facilitated the parceling of fertile human imagination, creativity, art and ideas down the generations. The language, thereafter, has transcended itself much more than just a business of conveyance or expression to the acts of knavery, concerns of superbia, matters of oppression, regional identity, communal integrity, symbolism, territorial disputes, linguistic discrimination, political chaos and the like. To name some, Pakistan and Bangladesh had language as one of the issues, India has seen lots of anti-Hindi agitations since Independence, Muslims across the world are integrated by their holy language, Hindi-Urdu conflicts have seen the birth of Hindustani for Muslim appeasement, States have seen mapping of borders on socio-linguistic basis – Belgaum border dispute between states of Karnataka and Maharashtra is on linguistic grounds, Bible Quran or any other religious text was never written in The Edenic Tongue but in languages developed by humans and so have been the teachings ever mutilated and interpreted every which way, the linguistic discrimination is so usual in some states like Tamilnadu and Punjab, regional languages have served as regional identities and so have fueled various sort of political chaos as is a case of Marathi manoos, Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi making political stunts every now and then searches some 20 odd words of Tamil in entire literature of Sanskrit and makes hulla over giving Tamil a status of ‘mother of all languages’. And the list never ends.


Whenever we wonder the development and manifestation of human spirit and human mind relating to anything of manly concern be it philosophy, mathematics, science, engineering, medicine, art, logic, architecture, literature, legend and to add human speech which is no exception to it, from the earliest times history is not known to, the one great place which presents itself so strikingly every time is BHARATA (INDIA). As the time has evolved and witnessed the evolution of Bharata as ancient India, the Vedic India, the classical India, the Moghul India, the British India, the union of India, it has travelled so much to rediscover itself into an entirely different entity, so have its inhabitants, traditions, culture, languages and politics. Lamentably, the new India doesn’t reflect the same virility, concordance, temperament, spirit, sapience and plume it originally had. Centuries of foreign loot, intermingling coupled with inherent resilience and softness, oppression of Indians has crushed their very self-esteem, pride & confidence in their true potent, values, traditions, knowledge and languages. British Raj alone was enough to impose its political, cultural and linguistic supremacy over the natives to the extent that even today anything under white-skin appears much fancier and rated relative to actual handed-down legacy. Languages are no exception to it.


Sanskrit, a historical Indo-European language, a classical Vedic tongue, a sacred language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism lost its way much earlier to its much influenced vernacular languages spoken over the entire Indian subcontinent - Indo-Aryan languages and literary Dravidian languages. The beautiful language, a storehouse of knowledge treasure of Hindus (not just in sense of religion but region) was ever at a deadly decline. Decline of the language was not just due to vested dignity it had over the native tongues but also because of numerous translations of rich texts into other native vernacular languages and drain of inherent knowledge to the foreign elements. So pronounced was the effect that the disrobed and derided language of the reserved authoritative class could neither woo the general masses nor escape the clutches of haughty Brahmins. And the legacy was victimized by the secondhand interpretations and mutilations. Attempts should be made to make Indians well versed with the language at the school level itself so as to assist them read, interpret and understand Indian literature at firsthand and get the verity of their roots, scriptures, knowledge, values, religion, politics and above all their homeland itself which will help propagate harmony, a sense of belongingness, a sense of commitment, a sense of pride and integrity among Indians as Indians first.


English which once was introduced as foreign language for the official administration in India is no more just a language but has acquired the status of knowledge, the tongue of elite & polished. Surely, the change hasn’t crept in naturally but was perfectly orchestrated. The kind of scornful disdain the native languages, literature, culture and Indian civilizations as a whole were offered is evident from Macaulay’s words, a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia” and to add further, “all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England.” The great British loot of India’s physical wealth was not accomplished by British hands only but also through the elite Indian class created then and descending further as Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect’. The Anglicized India which basks in the glory of goras is a product of premeditated Macaulayism as he put- “No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. It is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respected classes 30 years hence.” With the progress over 60 years of independence, a country with several hundred native mother tongues and classical languages like Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil claims second largest number of English speakers in the world with 5% fluent speakers and 12% total speakers (including those who use it as second and third language). English enjoys the status of second official language of union of India and many other states, the only official language for the state of Nagaland, and the language of judiciary. Thanks to the southern states particularly, Tamilnadu as while the central government was posed with a need to pick one official language for the nation and for the communication among all regions across the land, these proposed English to be chosen over Hindi which though was an obvious for being the sole language of majority of Indian population, but not unanimous.


What exactly deters them to accept the language?? Well there are many reasons. With pregnant reason being political, majority of junta has nothing to do with language supremacy or anti-Hindi or anti anything for that sake but are just inadvertently marred by cheap politics and are ignorant of the language at first hand and don’t even feel the need to. Wonder why there is no Navodaya school in Tamilnadu? "If Hindi were to become the official language of India, Hindi-speaking people will govern us. We will be treated like third rate citizens". - Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai (April 29, 1963). Influential reap at the cost of m-asses.

A class of irrational charged idiots is stuck into Aryan-Dravidian conflict and considers learning any Aryan language or being in harmony with Aryans or non-Dravidians (consider northies) on any issue as harm to their pride. These Idiots are graveled by 3000 years back mythological conflict but are comfortable with modern India British invasion. God save them.

A flag-waving section feels proud of its native culture & language and is of opinion that their language feeds them with enough of rich literature that they hardly need any other language to intervene.

Next, come the educated rational citizenry with more plausible reasons as they feel learning a language like Hindi which doesn’t carry much scientific stuff of modern world puts them at extra burden over and above their mother tongue which they learn naturally and the English which they need to learn to compete globally.

Rests are curious to learn Hindi but are sorry for attitude of northies who adamantly want to impose the language rather than allowing free flow of it.

Moreover, Hindi is not a national language neither by Indian constitution nor by Indian law as is a common misconception among majority of Indians. Rather there is no national language of India. Hindi and English are two official languages of Union of India with the states granted freedom to choose their official languages.


Still, I suppose Hindi to enjoy the status of The Lingua Franca – the bridge language.

Relying on a foreign language for internal communication that too when we have such a large base of population for one common tongue doesn’t look so fancy. Fluent English is not everyone’s cup of tea. Leave the laborer and illiterate junta who can’t even make out simple words in English, the overwhelming majority among the educated ones finds it unmanageable to employ it as the sole language. Case is worsened when Indian English dons regional vocab and accent like that of Punjabi or southern languages. Times of India reported recently that CWG staff even after formal English training couldn’t frame simple correct sentences. Hindi, as it belongs to the class of languages influenced by Sanskrit to more or less extant, is much easily and quickly acquainted by Indians.

Indian Muslims irrespective of the Indian corner they inhabit are well versed in Hindi. Being a Muslim in itself presents the community enough reasons to embrace the language which again increases the base of language beyond borders.

Learning English surely puts us at a better edge over countries like China to compete globally and its importance surely can’t be undermined but Hindi serves a national symbol to the world’s eye. Not acknowledging it makes us present ridiculous lack of integrity. Most of Chinese machinery used across borders has their native printed on it which straightway admits them the due credit. Google maps assign them their language as an identity. We surely miss the same. China and India are also making efforts to introduce their citizens to Hindi and Mandarin languages respectively to understand the neighboring nations in a better way. If Mandarin can be learnt, why can’t Hindi?

Moreover learning languages is in itself a fun activity, helps develop mental faculties and puts one at ease with others. Embracing harmony and unity in diversity is probably the most utile success mantra for the 21st century India.

Above all, let’s at least learn to greet with smile. For smile is The Edenic Tongue. Everyone smiles in the same language. :)