Full text of the speech delivered by Justice Markandey Katju, Judge,Supreme Court of India on 13.10.2009 in the Indian Institute of ScienceBangalore
It is a great honour for me to be invited to speak in the Indian Institute of Science,Bangalore, which is renowned as one of the foremost scientific institutes in India, and whichindeed is recognized as a great centre of science throughout the world. Your institute hasproduced great scientists of international repute. The topic which I have chosen to speak on today is
`Sanskrit as a language of Science'
. Ihave chosen this topic for two reasons:1. You are yourselves scientists, and hence would naturally like to know about your scientificheritage and the great scientific achievements of your ancestors.2. Today India is facing huge problems, and, in my opinion, these can only be solved byscience.
We have to spread the scientific outlook to every nook and corner of our country,if we are to progress. And by science I mean not just physics, chemistry andbiology but the entire scientific outlook.
We must develop the rational andquestioning attitude in our people, and abolish superstitions and empty rituals.
The foundation of India culture is based on the Sanskrit language. There is a misconceptionabout the Sanskrit language that it is only a language for chanting mantras in temples orreligious ceremonies. However, that is less than 5% of the Sanskrit literature. More than95% of the Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion, and instead it deals withphilosophy, law, science, literature, grammar, phonetics, interpretation etc. In fact, Sanskritwas the language of free thinkers, who questioned everything, and expressed the widestspectrum of thoughts on various subjects. In particular, Sanskrit was the language of ourscientists in ancient India. Today, no doubt, we are behind the Western countries in science,but there was a time when India was leading the whole world in science. Knowledge of thegreat scientific achievements of our ancestors and our scientific heritage will give us theencouragement and moral strength to once again take India to the forefront of science inthe modern world.
The word `Sanskrit' means “prepared, pure, refined or prefect”.
It was not fornothing that it was called the `devavani' (language of the Gods). It has an outstanding placein our culture and indeed was recognized as a language of rare sublimity by the wholeworld. Sanskrit was the language of our philosophers, our scientists, our mathematicians,our poets and playwrights, our grammarians, our jurists, etc. In grammar, Panini andPatanjali (authors of
) have no equals in the world; inastronomy and mathematics the works of Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta and Bhaskar opened upnew frontiers for mankind, as did the works of Charak and Sushrut in medicine.In philosophy Gautam (founder of the Nyaya system), Ashvaghosha (author of
), Kapila (founder of the Sankhya system), Shankaracharya, Brihaspati, etc., presentthe widest range of philosophical systems the world has ever seen, from deeply religious tostrongly atheistic. Jaimini's
laid the foundation of a whole system of rationalinterpretation of texts which was used not only in religion but also in law, philosophy,grammar, etc. In literature, the contribution of Sanskrit is of the foremost order. The worksof Kalidas (
, etc.), Bhavabhuti (
, etc.) and the epics of Valmiki, Vyas, etc. are known all over the world. These and