Indian State Says It’ll Require Study of Sanskrit, Raising Eyebrows

The government of the northeastern Indian state of Assam announced this week that Sanskrit, the ancient Hindu language of the Brahmin priesthood, would now be mandatory for students in the upper grades of all public high schools.

Wider teaching of Sanskrit has been championed by activists from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalists, who view it as a way to strengthen Indians’ knowledge of and respect for precolonial civilizations.

But the announcement was met with incredulity from groups representing students, who pointed out that some schools do not teach indigenous languages widely spoken in the area. Even in Sanskrit’s golden age, some 1,500 years ago, it was primarily used as a language of scholarly discourse. In census surveys since 2001, only 14,000 to 50,000 Indians list Sanskrit as their first language.

“We strongly oppose this decision because in our community, nobody normally uses Sanskrit,” said Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, general secretary of the All Assam Students’ Union.

Read more: NY Times

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