History of Sanskrit

Struggle for Freedom  1905 to 1947    

With the dawn of the 20th century, S studies may be said to have become settled in their comparatively modern setting. While Pandits who continued on the traditional lines went on composing commentaries on different traditional Sastras or original plays, there was also the growth of a new literature from Sanskritists who had come into contact with modern knowledge and English literature. The latter produced translations of English poems into S while a considerable number of them turned their creative gifts in S to native themes, with love of the ancient heritage and a national feeling animated their writing.

A notable historical work in S is the account of the First World War Angla-Jarmaniyuddhavarnana by T S Srinivasacharya. In 1913, there appeared from Leipzig, the Jarmanikavya by R S Tagore. From this the Sanskritists turned to writing histories of India in S. S  Hasurkar of Indore wrote on individual rulers who had proved especially inspiring by their character and achievements – Prithviraj, Rana Pratap and Shivaji.

The opposition of some Pandits across the country to new social customs and way of life led to the production of a class of polemical S writings on subjects like the age of marriage, sea-travel, widow-remarriage etc. The Pandits of Bengal brought out a number of S texts in grammar, in different sastras, in poetry and drama with their own commentaries. Many of the scholars cooperated in the edition of S texts in the edition of S texts for the Bibliotheca Indica Series started by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1898.
In Puri Mm Damodara Sastra wrote the Bharatagaurava on India’s greatness?

In South India different branches of S learning had been strong during the 19th century due to the patronage of the Courts of Mysore, Travancore etc and religious heads of the three main schools of Vedanta. MV Narasimhacharya wrote 114 works in poetry, poetics, hymnology etc. South India was at one time dominated by Mm Tyagaraja Sastri. No less then 75 pandits from different parts of South India who later attained celebrity, sat at his feet, and he himself produced 33 works in Advaita, Siva-bhakti etc. There were some ladies too who were interested in S studies like Kamakshyammal of mayuvaram.

Poetry and drama showed in the Tamil region as rich an output as the Sastras. In addition there were pandits whose contribution was primarily in the field of belles lettres. At the turn of the century S was strong in Kerala, with the Nambudri houses and other upper castes devoted to S studies with support from several Kerala royal families. Works were produced by scholars in the Sringeri Sankara Math too.

There are contributions from Maharashtra too, Vishnu Ramakrishna Athavale wrote Purusharthachintamani. Among the modern S writers in Gujarat was V Kanji Pattani who left a considerable volume of Vedantic writings in prose called Anuchintana. Centering around the palace in Jaipur were some gifted writes like Krishnarama wrote the Jayapuravilasa.

In the fields of sociology, Dharma were produced several types of works – compilations putting forth the duties of Hindus at the time of the first impact of Western ideas and habits, hand books on Hinduism and Hindu practices, and new compositions incorporating modern ideas. The new religious movements like the Arya Samaj movement gave an impetus to the study of the Vedas and S. Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo inspired some S writings.

Of the ancient sciences Ayurveda and Jyotisha continued to flourish. S periodicals like Samskritachandrika and Sahridaya published a series of articles on modern sciences. The editor of the former Appa Sastri wrote on ancient Indian astronomy. On the scientific knowledge of ancient Indians, C Venkataramanayya wrote the short Sanatana-bhautika-vijana.

A modern development was that of S journalism. Although started in the 19th century there was a spate of journals during this period. Contact with the outside world gave a need breed of English educated Sanskritists who translated into S poems – plays from western languages. Histories of S literature tracing the chronological development of works in different branches were also produced. The freedom struggle motivated a number of S writers who depicted India’s ancient glory and lamented her present plight in poems and dramas.

After reading all about these great works I wonder whether convent educated types like me and many others would ever get to read them. Such a treasure house of literature is lost to most of the younger generation forever. No wonder eminent scientists Dr Raja Ramanna when asked in a recent interview whether he had any regrets in life said, “Yes I did not learn Sanskrit”.

Receive Site Updates