Popularity of Sanskrit on rise in Western World.

Sanskrit fever grips Germany: 14 universities teaching India's ancient language struggle to meet demand as students clamour for courses. - DailyMail,2015

According to a list of institutes offering Sanskrit made available at the University of Iowa in the US, many institutions in the US and Europe offer Sanskrit studies.

Will Germans be the eventual custodians of Sanskrit, its rich heritage and culture? If the demand for Sanskrit and Indology courses in Germany is any indication, that’s what the future looks like.

Unable to cope with the flood of applications from around the world, the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, had to start a summer school in spoken Sanskrit in Switzerland, Italy, and - believe it or not - India too.

“When we started it 15 years ago, we were almost ready to shut it after a couple of years. Instead, we had to increase strength and take the course to other European countries,” said Professor Dr. Axel Michaels, head of Classical Indology at the university.

Dr. Michaels feels that instead of indulging in a political and religious debate, Indians should try to preserve their heritage.

“Don’t we conserve a rare, old painting or sculpture? This is a live language…and rich cultural heritage which might become the casualty of neglect just as great civilizations like Hampi, the art of Ajanta, and temples of Konark got buried in oblivion. It was up to the British to discover them later. Sanskrit, along with its culture, philosophy and science might become similarly extinct,” he claimed, adding: “On the other hand, there is so much yet to discover through Sanskrit…details of Indus Valley civilization, for example.”

Germany has already been a storehouse of Sanskrit scholars to the world.

“The majority of Sanskrit scholars, including those at Harvard, California Berkeley and the UK, are Germans,” he said.

But why?

“Probably because we never colonised India and maintained a romantic view about it,” quipped Dr. Michaels.

“Sanskrit is an essential part of every Indian soul. Without the language, society loses its identity. From Raja Ram Mohan Roy to Mahatma Gandhi, everyone was inspired by the language. The whole Renaissance period was based on Sanskrit literature,” Professor Ramesh Bharadwaj, head of the Sanskrit department at Delhi University, told Mail

“The central and state governments, which came to power after Independence, have not extended their support to the language. Our country is known for its culture, religion, and philosophical ideas. One cannot treat religious sentiments and Sanskrit separately,” Bharadwaj added.

Professor Dr. Axel Michaels, Head of Classical Indology
at the University of Heidelberg, 
says students from 34 countries have taken the course