Published On: Mon, Feb 15th, 2016

To ‘unravel’ scientific knowledge hidden in Sanskrit literature

…Human resource development min wants IITs, IISc to teach students in ancient languageIn a move that questions its own feasibility and success, the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) plans to establish Sanskrit cells in the prestigious institutions of science and technology across the country. The aim is to facilitate studying science and technology in the Sanskrit medium, besides inter-disciplinary study of various modern subjects and their corresponding subjects in Sanskrit literature; and is a part of the Centre’s 10-year road map to promote Sanskrit.

The institutions targeted by the MHRD for this ambitious programme are the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Central universities and 16 All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)-approved technical colleges.

As part of the plan, the MHRD wants to integrate Sanskrit studies with other disciplines like physics, chemistry, mathematics, medical science and law.

The MHRD is also planning a project to be taken up for students of IITs, NITs, IISERs, IIITs, IISc and AICTE approved technical colleges to opt for internship programmes in Sanskrit institutions under the guidance of Sanskrit professors during the course of their study, through which they would also get credits.

“If financial support is provided to such students their talent could be utilised in unravelling the scientific knowledge hidden in Sanskrit literature through small but focused projects with Sanskrit scholars in Sanskrit institutions,” states the report.

The MHRD report points at the rationale behind this move: “Atharavaveda, Vaisheshika Darshana etc, are acknowledged as the treasure house of scientific concepts which are hitherto studied from the science point of view. There are hundreds of works like Siddhanta Shiromani, Vriksha Ayurveda, Upavana Vinoda, Mayamatam, etc, to name a few, which are of great relevance in the context of research and innovation. The proposed cell should also offer various types of Sanskrit courses for the students in the campus for credits,” the report states. “Indian knowledge component available in Sanskrit works in corresponding modern subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, life sciences, engineering and technical subjects may be included in the respective subjects.”

The report recommends provision of facilities for research to students with the background of Vedic knowledge to equip them with sufficient grounding in scientific and analytical methodology so that scientific information contained in the Vedas – particularly in the disciplines like mathematics, astronomy, meteorology, chemistry and hydraulics – could be linked with modern sciences and technology, and a rapport is established between them and modern scholars.

“For this purpose, existing Veda pathashalas and research institutions engaging in Vedic research will require to be supported,” the report states.

An IISc students, who mirrored the thoughts of most of the students from the premier scientific research institute in India, told Bangalore Mirror: “I don’t know why the Union government is trying to push Sanskrit so much. It is time we don’t want to study Sanskrit; instead we want to go for foreign languages which can get us jobs. In fact, IISc students had protested during the visit of the prime minister Narendra Modi stating that his government was trying to undermine the scientific temper in the research institutions. The proposal to introduce Sanskrit cells seems to be a futile effort.”

The students also questioned how many students in these institutions would actually opt for Sanskrit internship even though these promise additional credits to those who take those up.

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