New Delhi (Fides Service) – It serves to understand and study ancient Indian poetry and prose : Sanskrit is a language which helps to probe the Hindu religion and culture. With this in mind the Jesuit Fathers who run St Francis Xavier High School in Nettiah in the Indian state of Bihar have included Sanskrit lessons as part of school activities.
Head master of the school, Jesuit Father Lawrence Paschal, says the inclusion of Sanskrit studies in the programme of extra-curriculum activities is “greatly appreciated by both pupils and parents. The pupils enjoy reading ancient stories and poems in Sanskrit and this discredited the mistaken idea that only the study of English language opens the door to a career. Sanskrit is a treasure of Indian culture, and Hindu religion and literature”. There was an immediate positive response to the offer of lessons in this ancient language. Over one hundred pupils enrolled for the course.
With the introduction of Sanskrit the Jesuits wish to show their appreciation for Indian culture and the Hindu religion and to promote interreligious dialogue at a time of tension when groups of Hindu extremists threaten the serenity of other religious communities in various states of the federation.
Sanskrit is the classical language of India. The name means, literary language perfectly built and organised, compared to common dialects. It belongs to the Indo-European family. The oldest literary period of Sanskrit is the Vedic (c.1500-c.200 BC). One of the oldest Indo-European texts are in Sanskrit. The comparison of Sanskrit with European languages at the end of the 18th century was the starting point of scientific language study.
One of 18 languages recognised by India’s Constitution, Sanskrit gave rise to languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati and Sinhalese, the latter spoken in Sri Lanka. PA (Fides Service 12/6/2003 EM lines 29 Words: 335)