Poor Sanskrit

‘BJP MP Says Speaking Sanskrit Beats Diabetes, Boosts Nervous System’, The Wire, December 13, 2019:

In a debate in the Lok Sabha on December 12 about the Sanskrit University Bill, Ganesh Singh, the BJP MP from Satna, Madhya Pradesh, cited studies conducted by some American research institution to claim speaking Sanskrit every day “boosts the nervous system and keeps diabetes and cholesterol at bay”, PTI reported. He also said, “according to a [study] by US space research organisation NASA, if computer programming is done in Sanskrit, it will be flawless.”

It is ironic that a Bill mooted to improve the status of three educational institutions is accompanied by irrelevant, unsupported rhetoric, that too in the Lok Sabha.

Pratap Chandra Sarangi, the minister of state for animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries and micro, small and medium enterprises, also reportedly said during the same debate that “promotion of this ancient language will not impact any other language”, implying that there is no opportunity cost to valorising Sanskrit.

But misguided associations between Sanskrit, the Vedas and the claims therein, as well as other unfounded ideas, will only encourage low-quality scholarship that won’t preserve knowledge of Sanskrit in its proper historical context. So there is a very real, and very important, opportunity cost for Sanskrit itself.