The Language Issue

By P.R. Sarkar

Every living being has its own inherent tendency to express and symbolise. In the evolutionary process of creation, where higher species have evolved, living beings try to express their feelings by gesture, posture or by some sound. In a general sense, this acoustic expression of ideas is called language. The chirping sound of a bird is its language. Zoologists and ornithologists have established this fact. Even monkeys have their own language which consists of about 850 sounds. In the case of human beings, who are the highest creations of this cosmological order, acoustic expression has developed into a well-knit and well-integrated linguistic system. Language is a powerful medium for the expression of the inner thoughts of human beings – it is a vital inner asset which is inseparably linked with their Práná Dharma or fundamental characteristics.

Either from the psycho-physical or theoretical viewpoint, all the people of the world have the same language. This is because the essence of language, that is idea, is one and the same for all languages. Phonetics may differ amongst languages because of differences in geographical environment, which causes differences in racial and ethnic factors and results in variations in the biological structure of the vocal cord. Thus when the idea to drink water appears in the mind, then human beings may express this idea differently. Some say, Ámi jal khába while others say, Mu jala pivu. Behind these different expressions is the same idea.

About 300 languages have evolved in the world today through this process. Culture is the same for all humanity though there are differences in cultural expressions due to time, space and person. These differences are not evidence of many different cultures as all languages of the world are fundamentally one and the same. Consequently, all languages should carry equal importance and equal respect. Keeping all these points in mind, we should look deeply into the question of language problems.

According to PROUT there are eight constituent factors of a full-fledged language – case endings, verb endings, pronouns, vocabulary, pronunciation, written or unwritten literature including folk literature, psycho-acoustic notes and inferential acoustic notes, and syntax.

If either pronunciation or literature or unwritten literature is missing, then the language is called “Upabháś” or “dialect”, or “Khańd́ Upabháśa” or part of a dialect. On this earth there are many such dialects. For example, in Bhojpuri there are three dialects, in Oriya there are two dialects and in Chatisgarhii there are three dialects.

In India, almost all prevailing languages are born from Prákrta Saḿskrta. Prákrta means familiar to the common people. In the course of time Prákrta Saḿskrta was transformed into seven languages and many dialects from which the present Indian languages were born. Those seven languages are:

  1. East Indian Mogadh Prakrta which gave rise to Bangla, Oriya, Maithili, Angika, Bhojpuri, Maghahi, Nagpuria, (Sadami), Chatisgarhi etc.
  2. Central and North Indian Shaurescenu Prakrta which gave rise to Avadhi, Bundela Khandu, Bogheli Khandu etc.
  3. Northwest Indian Paeshi Prakrta which gave rise to Punjabi, Dogari and Pahadi etc.
  4. Extreme Northwest Indian Pashcatya Prakrta which gave rise to Pushtu and Kashmirii.
  5. Sindhi area Sandhavi Prakrta which gave rise to Sindhi and Baluci.
  6. West and central Indian Máari Prakrta which gave rise to Gujrati, Saurastri etc. and
  7. Southwest Indian Maharashtra Prakrta which gave rise to Marathi etc.

All the languages mentioned above are rich with the eight constituent factors of a full-fledged language. Not only this, these languages are more than 1000 years old. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh it has been wrongly considered that all these languages are mere dialects of Hindi. This interpretation is not only wrong but deliberately propagated with the intention of misguiding people. From the viewpoint of correct philology, Hindi is not even a real language in comparison to Angika, Magahii, Bojpuri, Maethillii, Nagpuri, Avadhi, and Braja. The reason why this is so is as follows. Hindi is a language which is not even a hundred years old. The British rules developed this language during their regime by mixing together different languages and dialects from some places in and around Delhi. Among the above eight factors Hindi has no folk literature or folk songs, but Angika, Bhojpuri etc. have folk literature as well as all other seven factors necessary for a full-fledged language. To speak frankly, Hindi is not the mother tongue of any person.

What does “mother tongue” mean? That language in which we can freely, smoothly and spontaneously express our ideas in an unobstructed environment, just as we feel loving closeness with our own mother while in conversation, is our mother tongue. For example, a man in Purnia will talk to some of his close friends only in Angika language, not in any other language.

Now, let us observe if there is a close relationship between language and socioeconomic progress and cultural development. I have already said that language is the vehicle of inner thoughts and ideas. Naturally it is inseparably linked with the Práná Dharma or fundamental characteristics of human beings. The way people can express their thoughts and ideas in their own mother tongue cannot be done in any other language. People feel uneasy when they speak in a language other than their mother tongue. If they constantly feel such uneasiness, their Práńa Shakta or vital energy will be disturbed. Consequently their vital force will be weakened. In such circumstance a sort of psychological crisis will occur in the collective mental body as well as in the individual mind. This will result in the emergence of inferiority complexes which will cause debility in the human mind. Those people whose language is suppressed loose their moral courage, initiative and power to protest. Ultimately a defeatist psychology develops in them, and as a group such people face the pros pect of total annihilation.

Thus, the suppression of language has a very dangerous effect on the human mind. As a result of this unrelenting suppression, people will never be able to raise their heads and they will die a premature and unnatural death. The most important point in this regard is that such a linguistically suppressed group of people will always remain economically backward due to continuous psycho-economic exploitation. It is a matter of great regret that this tragedy is going on all over the world, including India.

The meaning of the word Samaj is to move together – Samánam ejate. People should make every effort to carry those who are lagging behind with them. This is the spirit of society. PROUT clearly advocates that in every progressive and dynamic social system, all languages should enjoy equal rights, equal opportunity and equal recognition. One should also remember that this recognition should not remain confined to theory or to reading and writing only. Languages should be utilized in day to day life and in all related activities. In all spheres of life – offices, courts, railways, airports, trade, commerce, and private concerns – the medium of expression should be the mother tongue. In the educational sphere there should be no bar in learning languages other than one’s mother tongue to expand the horizon and depth of one’s knowledge. However in the practical field, where there is some special or technical necessity, whether in public or private life, the compulsory use of one’s mother tongue may create confusion. In such circumstances an appropriate common language may be used.

Concerning the spirit of society, it should be remembered that there is no conflict in propagating and popularizing a particular language as a national or international link language or lingua franca, providing all other languages get equal scope for their development. Such an approach depends upon the goodwill and benevolent attitudes of humanity. In reality many countries of the world are multilingual, but they are managing their affairs very smoothly, like Switzerland, for example. If a man from Allahabad comes to Calcutta to live he may feel difficulty in seeing or reading the signboards, name plates, advertisements, cash memos, official papers, etc., which are written in Bengali. He may think that if he were in France for business purposes he would have encountered the same sort of difficulties. Under such circumstances one should develop and urge to learn the local language, as this is helpful in developing love and respect for everything in that local area. If such a practice is encouraged, there will be true communication of thoughts and feelings between people and the rapid mutual exchange of ideas and cultural expressions between social groups.

Governments should not be in a hurry in dealing with a knotty problem like language. In a country like India, which has numerous languages and varied cultural expressions arising from constant clash and cohesion, to introduce new language policies quickly without proper consideration would be foolish. While all languages should have compulsory constitutional recognition and all languages should enjoy equal importance, the language chosen as the lingua franca should not suppress any other language. In a multi-lingual country like India, either a common language which is the basis of all languages should be used, like Saḿskrta, or some link language should be used which will not give preference or suppress any of the local languages. In due course, with the development of various languages, a national language will gradually emerge and be accepted by all. Until this stage is reached through natural evolution, English should continue as a link language even after the establishment and proper recognition of local mother tongues.

We should not forget that today, because of historical and many other practical reasons, English is not only the language of England, but has become a world language. All the people of the world should have equal rights to this language. In the future some other language may occupy the status of the lingua franca, but today English should be accepted as the link language of the world. Without introducing and adopting a policy based on the natural process of language selection, if someone tries to forcibly impose any particular language on others, it will lead to clash, dissension and disintegration amongst different interest groups in a country. Such a situation will encourage linguist fanaticism amongst the people and poison the environment of the whole society.

To solve the language problem and to adopt the right course of action in this regard, we need foresight, tolerance, practical knowledge, universal love, a proper ideology, earnestness and intelligence. If we move along the stormy path of our lives with a constant source of inspiration then not only language problems but all problems, no matter how difficult they seem, can be easily solved, and human existence will become glorified with the radiance of victory.

Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012

One thought on “The Language Issue”

  1. This was perfectly said – "To speak frankly, Hindi is not the mother tongue of any person." Bad policy of Delhi had done much damaged to Angika, Magahii, Bojpuri, Maethillii, Nagpuri, Avadhi, and Braja…Now even they are trying to 'eat' rajasthani, hariyanvi etc…Marathi had already been 'digested' in terms of removal of their own script(lipi)-replaced by Devnagari!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *