This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Nishat Bhatotia. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

French and English May Be Cool, But What About Learning Sanskrit?

More from Nishat Bhatotia

Enchante, hors-d’oeuvre or beaucoup sound so chic and amazing, right? And how about suprabhat? Not feeling it, right? Well – that’s the current rut we are in when it comes to the mother of our languages – Sanskrit (notice how I said rut?)

I ain’t no Gaurinath Shastri or Carudeva Shastri (both well-coveted Sanskrit scholars), but I do love my country to death and the foundation it was laid upon. And when each and every country is trying to preserve their cultural heritage, I think it’s about time that we paid our dues.

Can I take you guys a little back into the past? It was during the time this movie called “Namastey London” (starring Akshay Kumar and Kaitrina Kaif) came out. In the movie, there’s this scene on a boat where the actor razzes on a bunch of Brit(s) about how so many words in English have been derived from Sanskrit . Full marks to the speech – but what’s more impressive was the effort made to woo Kaitrina.

They say Sanskrit is the mother of languages – and you will perhaps be shocked to know that it’s on the verge of extinction. Yep, you heard it – it’s about to go over the cliff.

Let’s look at why Sanskrit’s considered the mother of languages. The Spanish word cremsin meaning crimson was derived from the Sanskrit word, karmija. Smile was derived from the Sanskrit smi. Manouche in French was derived from manushya. These are just a few examples. This is a deja vu, right? Did I just go Akshay Kumar on you guys or what?

But you and I don’t go around chanting shlokas in the streets anymore,do we? The Sanskrit scholar Sheldon Pollock says that the dynamic Sanskrit pundits are not to be found anymore in India – and I couldn’t help but agree with him. Gone are the days when people used to go all pedagogical on you about ‘Pratyabhijna Shastra’ or ‘Tantra Shastra’.

So what happened there? Did we shoot them old scholars into the orbit? Enter ‘problematisation’ in the recipe, but that won’t be the answer you are looking for. Even though it is the closest thing to the solution, it’s not the one you are looking for.

Define ‘problematisation’, you say? Don’t sweat it, people. Even I didn’t get it at first – but after 10 minutes of sparring with it, I got the gist. It is a form of criticism – but instead of dealing with the pros and cons of the target per se, it re-evaluates the subject. It does not revolve around the original context. In fact, it draws back from it. Rather than accepting the situation, it tries to give a new viewpoint.

The reality is something like this: if you look around, you will notice that contemporary India has barely anything to do with the traditional, ancient India – for whose riches the British and all the rajas invaded us. Today, we are perhaps more westernised than some nations in the West – only to make that transition from developing to developed. I think that the authentic values and morals took the back seat. Similarly, we have also forgotten Sanskrit like an ex and just moved on.

Being a sportsperson, I know all that top-notch athletes hit a wall sometimes. You know you get sick of doing something repeatedly. That is why I go to the park and play with the kids – it brings out the innocent passion I had for games and athletics. I believe that the same thing happened with Sanskrit. People got sick of it, but no one gave it a twist or a stir. Ergo no more Sanskrit anywhere! Languages like Persian, Arabic and even regional ones like Tamil are all facing a similar danger – but in Sanskrit’s case, it’s much worse. Our education system should also be held responsible for this because we are miles away from classical studies. It’s all about the gadgets and gizmos these days.

Going to classes for learning French from class 5 to 8, I cherish every memory of them. What is more important? Being fancy or our traditional heritage? Take your pick. I think the key lies in the grassroots level where a 30-minute Sanskrit period daily in schools can be vital in bringing the language back from the dead. In this context, I take immense pride in states like Uttarakhand where Sanskrit is one of the official languages. Huge shout-out to the people of Uttarakhand!

Another issue I would like to address is that according to many people, Sanskrit is boring and is used in the regional books only. But you will perhaps be surprised to know that most of Sanskrit has nothing to do with the religion. In my opinion, it’s a spiritual language that also provides you the means of reaching your true, inner self. And in an era where foreigners are coming to India to go on their spiritual journey to find their true selves, don’t you think we should pave the path for them? Don’t you think it’s time to jump on the bandwagon? Don’t you think that it’s time to jump on the ‘Sanskrit express’?

I have no political agendas here – in fact, I tend to find humour in politics. But I will just take a step back to appreciate the ministers of BJP who took their oaths in Sanskrit. It sure does make a statement and help you be recognised by a few of us.

We reminisce so much about the old days – but hey, Sanskrit also counts among the old days too. Alas, one has to turn to the ‘greatest teacher’ (Google) to learn it today.

Imagine Mani Dravida Shastri (one of the most reputed scholars in Sanskrit) in Chennai sitting in his home right now pondering, “Man – who do I converse with? It’s almost as if I am alone.” Imagine being in his shoes for a moment – it’s similar to having a ‘rad’ Instagram profile but having no followers. Ain’t this relatable?

We just need to paint Sanskrit on a bigger canvas. Believe me when I say that it’s not an issue to be compromised with. Bring the language home already!

Finally, I would like to say ‘maya saha nartitumicchasi kim’. No, I am not going to tell you the meaning of this. Go figure it out for yourself; at least that way, you will learn a bit of Sanskrit. I think you will flip once you know the meaning of this.


Featured image used for representative purposes only.

You must be to comment.

More from Nishat Bhatotia

Similar Posts

By Navika Agrawal

By Survivors Against TB

By Amiya Bhaskara

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below