Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sanskrit as the language of science: Scholars to bring out Sanskrit technical lexicon

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 29: A group of Sanskrit scholars from the city has launched a novel project to prepare a lexicon of ancient Indian scientific and technical terms using Sanskrit as the base. The idea is to ultimately replace Latin nomenclature and introduce Sanskrit terminology for Indian technical terms to popularise ancient Indian sciences.

All technical terms referred to in ancient Indian texts of medicine, botany, zoology, agriculture, meteorology, mathematics, veterinary, astronomy, geology, metullurgy, chemistry and physics will be decodified for uniform usage in educational textbooks throughout the country.

If the city Sanskrit scholars have their way, then "gaja" will be a uniform word in all Indian languages for elephant, "amlaki" for emblica, "nilakanta" for copper sulphate, "tuttunaga" for zinc, "yaana suchi" for railway signal, "loha" for iron, "bhantaki" for brinjal and "pradana upadyaya" for prinicpal, "padma" for lotus and "mallika" for jasmine.

The mega project is being taken up jointly by the Sanskrit Academy (Osmania University) and the Institute of Scientific Research in Vedas (ISERVE). With primary and secondary education being increasingly taught in mother tongue in the country, students of one State find it difficult to understand even common names of fruits, vegetables and animals when they enter other States.

Common Sanskrit names will help students recognise objects easily despite the language barrier in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural country like India. Modern science has overcome this problem globally after technical names were adopted in Latin.

"We want to experiment the Latin example in India using Sanskrit, the mother of all Indian languages. In fact most of the modern scientific terms are derived from Latin. As a result, their translations with a reasonable uniformity into various European languages has become easier," said Prof KV Krishna Murty, senior Vedic researcher and chairman of ISERVE.

Senior Sanskrit scholars plan to utilise the same principle in India. The experts team will translate English technical terms first into Sanskrit. Then they will utilise the base to give the flavour of a local Indian language to it. This helps in achieving uniformity in scientific and technical terms in various States.

The project will ensure that technical terms in all Indian languages bear maximum uniformity so as to facilitate inter-lingual communication and exchange of scientific information in education, research and sciences. In the case of non-popular botanical and zoological terms, there can be some more problems in  picking up a term from a wide set of “Paryaaya Padaas”, Prof Murty said adding that this can be solved by comparing Sanskrit root meaning with that of the Latin.

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