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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Context and contextual priorities matter more than anything else

         Context and contextual priorities matter more than anything else.

1.    Please note that wherever I have used the word compulsion in this write up it refers ‘to externally imposed force or coercion’.

2.    I have nothing against Sanskrit nor am I insensitive to its beauty, but, we all must remember a few things that are dynamic and they develop and decide the events, characteristics, behavior patterns of human life in each age or period and also determine the importance and impact of certain things predominantly based on primarily the survival value aspect of life.

3.    In this process or for that matter in the evaluation of many things two factors that are of vital importance, which we cannot afford to ignore, one the context because life does not function in vacuous inanity nor on past templates, and two because of the context the prioritization of things in terms of its contextual utility for each individual and the society at large.

4.    The present context for the individual, the nation and the whole of humanity must prioritize, as rightly repeated and reinforced  by our Prime Minister Shri, Narendara Modi, economic development, technological advancement, empowerment of all, more scientific researches, encouraging youth to develop skill sets and contribute to these activities, create an atmosphere of peace, harmony and happiness etc and all other concomitant aspects, of course not necessarily in the order in which they have been indicated here but all of these must be prioritized over whether what language our youth must be proficient in. Once again I repeat let us not forget facts of nature, I mean evolution, as one the greatest scholar Guy Murchie in his magnum opus 'THE SEVEN MYSTERIES OF LIFE'[ ] in the Chapter on 'Human Languages' writes that," curiously enough, unlike the rest of proliferating evolution, languages and dialects seem to be getting fewer".

5.    Make in India is a great motivating slogan while ‘speak in Sanskrit’ or ‘should study Sanskrit’ will be irrelevant to the vital aspects of growth needed for every youth and the nation as whole.

6.    Homogenization is the psychological disease of the West [a] and why should we so avidly adopt a disease which is not likely to deliver any great dividends in the spheres of priority indicated above.

7.    For your information my love for Sanskrit has made me publish all these links indicated below in my blogs, years before the new found craze for Sanskrit made its landing in our educational system and unnecessarily providing more TRP for all TV channels in many languages other than Sanskrit.

8.    Let us remember one thing while all of us feel the need for unity, what unity needs is feeling for all by all .Let us remember what the great seer Bahaullah has said: “If language can help create a sense of nationalism, it can equally well help create a sense of internationalism.”   

9.    We must all remember that language, I mean every language in general, by itself has got so many facets and functions starting from being a mere tool of communication to representation to being a fulcrum to push out thoughts to expounding philosophies to entertaining in excellent literary styles to enlightening with wisdom [incidentally wisdom has never been partial towards any language]. People and institutions interested in any particular language must do in depth study and research in bringing out the great treasures in that language to the public domain, if necessary even trough translation so that people are motivated to migrate towards learning that language. There are several magnets to attract people to learn a language but not force or compulsion to learn it. Let us remember what the great Plato has said in his ‘The Republic’, “Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.”   

10. Let us all remember that the great Hindu scriptures are much admired, researched and relished primarily because a great Saint called Swami Vivekananda , a soul chosen to reveal the broad minded and open outlook of Vedas, expressed them in a language which others could understand what he initiated is a great boon to the whole of humanity. Imagine the loss to humanity if the entire gamut of great words or works of wisdom were struck in a language that people living in a particular place alone had accessibility to.

11.Let us make an unbiased approach without any unloving criticism or uncritical love towards or for any language in particular. There are multiple factors which made or make languages evolve [b]. If anyone pursuing  the study of languages will know that each language has certain predominant factor attached to it, though any language can be  or may be used to delve into any realm, and this predominant factor with which it is associated promotes the greater usage [ I mean more number of people using it for specific purpose] . When this predominant factor recedes even relatively or slightly or marginally in its impact or influence or significance or importance then along with it the usage of the language also moves away. It is just a matter of evolutionary trend that we have to accept and live with rather than getting sentimentally glued to it and fanatically push it forward which can actually hamper growth [c]   Paper and writing with a pen have not lost their role totally but the keyboard and touch screens have taken over a vast area of their usage.

12. Latin and Greek gave way to English, French, German etc in the course of evolution of human activities and the changing political milieu and because of that none of the wisdom that was in Latin or Greek language was lost.

That’s why according to expert linguist like David Crystal, “Indo-European ‘skei’ with the meaning of ‘cutting or separating one thing from the other’ has been the root for a wide range of  words starting from scythe, scissors to schism, skill, science, conscience, shit etc” But the language and its users move on without bothering too much about these issues with syntactic flexibility. [d]

13.  My blog postings on the greatness of Sanskrit

1.    Well, here I would like to quote a wonderful and worthy observation from a wonderful blog maintained by my friend Mike Magee [don’t miss to see his page] about some aspect of Sanskrit language “One of the unique but mysterious features of the Sanskrit language is how many words can be used at three separate and distinct levels of thought. Even whole verses have this remarkable feature. It is one of the factors which have made translation into other languages so difficult. The difference presupposes three groups of people. First there is the literal meaning intended for the householder or worldly man, and a guide to better thought and action. The second is the meaning on a higher level intended for the mumukshi or hungry seeker for God. Here the same words take the reader from the mundane level to the higher level, and the implications. The third is the meaning intended for the soul who has attained or is nearly ready to attain liberation”. This literally leads to both correct, crystal clear meanings and also gives room to those who pander to chaotic and callous interpretations, more so in spiritual texts, I stress spiritual texts, not religious ones, wherein there are always many esoteric intrinsic meanings which unravel only to the enlightened souls and not necessarily to a linguistic scholars or academic thinkers or even intellectual giants 

I have mentioned this in my blog link







[a] Sick obsession of the western psyche, namely, homogenization. If we glimpse through the annals of history, we can observe this and the several ways in which this has been carried out: by indoctrination, by force, by cultural invasions, by wars etc. Throughout history it has failed miserably. Be it the Roman Empire’s greed to spread its tentacles , be it the attempt to homogenize religion which failed with Spanish Inquisition, be it Nazism or Colonialism, all have failed. Once these attempts at homogenizing cultures, beliefs, political ideologies have failed, now, the West is trying it in Trade and Economy. As before, it is bound to fail. But what we must learn from history and guard ourselves against is the heavy price that humanity may have to pay for facing and overcoming these attempts emanating from a few individuals charged with fanatical obsession in terms of Religious wars, Nazism, Colonialism etc with all their destructive manifestations.
The impact of the previous obsessions were restricted to specific geographical area as they collapsed before they could successfully spread everywhere. But the manifestations of the present obsession, read Globalization of trade and economy affects the lives of everyone on the globe, either directly or otherwise, and can cause irreparable environmental damage which can even render life miserable for future generations.

[b] Every language has evolved imbued with beauty and utility with marvelous manipulations to make meanings conveyable and meaningful communication.
Language in my opinion has been the most important tool in the growth and development of human evolution in all aspects.
However, it still remains a great puzzle with many of its interesting nuances well explained by great scholars, linguists,scientists, attempted to be studied by many psychologists and neurologists but awaiting a very convincing scientific explanation in terms of evolutionary biology or perhaps it could as Dr.V.S. Ramachandran himself says somewhere, "I’m arguing that what happened is more like your jaw bones: there are different adaptations which evolved for different purposes. For example, bones of the ear that evolved for amplifying sound were exapted from reptilian jaw bones used for chewing. There is a fortuitous emergence of different sets of neurosystems that evolved for completely unrelated reasons—and the equally fortuitous interactions between them resulted in early language, which then became an elaborate system. So, it’s not wrong to say that there was natural selection. But there were multiple exaptations with fortuitous interactions which resulted in language.".

[c] On 29th May,2014 Times of India newspaper carried a central page article titled  ‘HAPPY TO BE UNHAPPY’ BY Suman Chattopadhyay how insisting and enforcing for some decades Bengali medium has caused economic and cultural disadvantage for the Bengali youth.

[d] As per the great linguistic scholar Steven Pinker in his wonderful book one of the trio logy ‘THE STUFF OF THOUGHT-LANGUAGE AS A WINDOW INTO THE HUMAN NATURE’ writes “language itself is not a single system but a contraption with many components…….syntax itself encompasses several mechanisms, which are tapped to different extents by different languages……one of the key phenomenon of syntax is the way that sentences are built around their verbs. The phenomenon goes by many technical names [including subcategorization, diathesis, predicate argument structure, valence, adicity [roots thus mark points of interface between the language faculty and the wider cognitive makeup of a person], arity [the number of arguments that a function can take] , case structure, and theta-role assignment], but I’ll refer to it using traditional term verb constructions.”

He also goes on to write , “For example, pour, fill and load are all ways of moving something somewhere, and they all have the same cast of characters: a mover, some contents that move, and a container that is the goal of the movement. Yet pourallows only the content -locative [pour water], fill allows only the container –locative [fill the glass], and load goes both ways [load the hay, load the wagon]”

J.Krishnamurthy very clearly puts this across “force, compulsion, determination, a compulsive urge to bring about the change will not bring about a change at all; it brings about only greater disorder - which is obvious to anybody who has observed.

Osho puts it, “Compulsion is sure to provoke resistance from the mind contrary to your expectation. Your inhibitions become invitation and your taboos attraction.

Mahatma Gandhi  says, “ Force, violence, pressure or compulsion with a view to conformity are both uncivilized and undemocratic”.

The dominance and disuse of any language or even certain expression and words within a language undergo various mutations. As with life, with language also many changes happen some rational and logical and some just happen and which defies all logic as the great linguist David Crystal used to say both the words impedeand expede were introduced during the same period, as well as disabuse and disadorn , but in each of these pairs only the first word stayed in the language for no logical or linguistic reasons.
Every language is an art and science of very vast dimension carrying within it several years of civilization with all its splendor, the experiences of many souls, expressions of many lives and as such each language is a vast store house of both art and science. In short each language on earth is a divine tool or probably the best medium to express our thoughts and experiences. 

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