Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, M.S.

Contact no. 09404955338


Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages of the world. It is an Indi-Aryan language. All epics are written in it.  So it is a language of Dharma. Every Indian people must learn it. Without its knowledge he can able to know about his dharma and its traditions. Mahatma Gandhi learnt it in his school time. He knew its impotents. So he suggested his son and other children of family to learn Sanskrit language.

 “I have sent Manilal the Sanskrit book he wanted.”1. “The original Ramayana is in Sanskrit. Few people read it. It has been translated into many languages of the world. The work also exists in all the prakrits of India. If we examine all these translations, none can equal the Hindi Ramayana by Tulsidasa.”2

 “All confirm the view that education does not mean knowledge of letters but it means character building, it means knowledge of duty. Our own word literally means ‘training’. If this be the true view and it is to my mind the only true view, you are receiving the best education training possible. What can be better than that you should have the opportunity of nursing mother and cheerfully bearing her ill temper, or than looking after Chanchi and anticipating her wants and behaving to her so as not to make her feel they want of Harilal or, again, than being guardian to Ramdas and Devdas? If you succeed in doing this well, you have received more than half your education. In your lessons you should give a great deal of attention to mathematics and Sanskrit. The latter is absolutely necessary for you. Both these studies are difficult in after life. You will not neglect your music. You should make a selection of all the good passages, hymns and verses, whether in English, Gujarati or Hindi and write them out in your best hand in a book. The collection at the end of a year will be most valuable. All these things you can do easily it you are methodical, never get agitated and think you have too much to do and then worry over what to do first. This you will find out in practice if you are patient and take care of your minutes. I hope you are keeping an accurate account, as it should be kept, of every penny spent for the household. Remind Anandlalbhai of his promise.”3

 “The books in Gujarati, Hindi and Sanskrit which I read were Veda-Shabda-Sangna, sent by Swamiji, the Upanishads received from Bhatt Keshavram, the Manusmriti received from Mr. Motilal Diwan, the Ramayana printed in Phoenix, Patanjal-Yoga-Darshan, Ahnika-Prakasha prepared by Nathuramji, and Sandhyani Gutika, Given by Professor Parmanand, the Gita and the writings of the late worthy poet Raychand1. All of them gave me much food for thought. The Upanishads proved a great source of peace to me. One statement in them has made a deep impression on my mind; in substance, it means that everything one does must be done for the welfare of the soul. The thought is expressed in words of great beauty. There is much else in it worthy of attention.”4

 “It would be nice if a Sanskrit class is started for the elders there. As I go deeper into the subject, I see the necessity for every Hindu to have knowledge of that language. I am aware that the suggestions I make one after another increase your burden. But there is no other way. We have lost so much in the past that it will take some time and also a good deal of effort to regain and consolidate it. It has to be done sooner or later. If not in this life, then in the next. So long as the desires are there, we should better have altruistic ones only.”5

 “It is just as well that Harilal has left. He was much unsettled in mind. He has assured me that he does not in the least resent the the arrangement I had made regarding Phoenix. He bears no ill will towards any of you. He was angry with me; really, He gave vent to all his pent-up feelings on Monday evening. He feels that I have kept all the four boys very much suppressed, that I did not respect their wishes at any time, that I have treated them as of no account, and that I have often been hard-hearted. He made this charge against me with the utmost courtesy and seemed very hesitant as he did so. In this, he had no thought of money at all in his mind. It was all about my general behavior. Unlike other fathers, I have not admired my sons or done anything especially for them, but always put them and Ba last; such was the charge. He seemed to me to have calmed down after this outburst. I pointed out his error in believing what he did. He saw it partly. What remains, he will correct only when he thinks further. He has now left with a calm mind. He is resolved to lean more about those things on account of which I was displeased [with him]. He is strongly inclined to study Sanskrit. Thinking that, since Gujarati is our language, his education should for the most part be in Gujarat, I have advised Harilal to stay in Ahmedabad.”6

“Whenever you come across a Sanskrit verse, you should immediately try to understand its meaning in Gujarati.”7

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a comment, “These may include the Arabic and the Sanskrit languages. Even so the clause is severe. The Transvaal [Indians], however, cannot protest against it; but Natal and the Cape should protest. Also, we cannot hope that this clause will be amended. But an arrangement can be made to ensure the entry of a specified number of educated Indians to meet our needs.”8

 “Bali has done well in taking up the study of Sanskrit. If ever it is my good fortune to go to India and I have to take up my work there, I intend to use Bali’s services fully.”9

“Mr. Kotwal and I also live on one meal a day. After hearing from Chanchi about your one-meal practice, I, too, felt strongly inclined to adopt it. Mr. Kotwal offering to join me, the idea was immediately put into practice. Follow any course that you like, so long as you are mindful of your health. I shall not forgive you if you ruin your health. I cannot help feeling that the time and money spent on French are being wasted. I can give you no idea of how much better it would have been if you had spent this valuable time on Sanskrit. The atmosphere, however, in which you move nowadays being corrupt, you thought of French. What a good thing it would have been if you had taken up Sanskrit! Though that might have delayed your passing the examination by a year. Knowledge of Sanskrit opens the doors to all the Indian languages. These doors, you

went out of your way to shut. I make these observations, since you opened the subject of French again. I should be happier if you would reconsider the matter even now and start on Sanskrit, sacrificing a year and spending Rs.8 instead of Rs.7 on private coaching. Do as you will, however; I do not wish to stand in the way of your joining any standard you choose. Treat my advice as no more than that of a close friend.”10

“The morning hours should be devoted to the most important activities. It will do if you make it a rule to do a large number of sums in arithmetic. I shall be able to tell you more later. I am sending some books for you. Learn Sanskrit also very well.”11

 “It is the belief of the Controllers that no nation or any group thereof can make real progress by abandoning its own language, they will, therefore, use their own language. As they desire to be on terms of intimacy with their brethren from all parts of India, they will also learn the chief Indian languages; as Sanskrit is a key to Indian languages, they will learn that too. 6 Instruction in letters will be through the students’ own languages and will include History, Geography, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Economics, etc., the learning of Sanskrit, Hindi and at least one Dravidian language being obligatory.”12

“Do you know any teacher, a man of character, who can teach Sanskrit and Gujarati? We may pay him. We shall be satisfied if we get one for a short period.”13 “Maganlal and Manilal are kept fully occupied with the teaching of Sanskrit and they are quite engrossed in it. This being so, we are short of teachers. On myself also, I have placed an excessive burden, with the result that I have to leave undone some other things which require my attention. Hence, if Narandas joins me, I will be saved from many difficulties.”14  “All are learning Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Gujarati and Arithmetic. They have 4 hours of study, apart from their morning study.”15 “Your reading for M.A. seems to me, personally, so much unnecessary drain on your health. If you don’t need to work for a living, study Sanskrit and learn other Indian languages; this is necessary.”16

“The Ashram activities are in full swing. It has at present 33 inmates in all, three of whom are Dheds. These latter have become a serious issue. Ahmadabad is considered to be a stronghold of sanatana dharma. Hence the issue of the Dheds has led to a storm. At first we thought the entire Ashram would be outcast, and that may yet happen. The boys have made much progress in their study of Sanskrit, Hindi and Tamil. They are being taught carpentry and hand-weaving. Two carpenters are engaged in the Ashram. In a few days, we shall send you some cloth woven on looms by our own hands. The boys have made tables, etc. They are now working at book-cases for holding books.17  “For intellectual training, they will study Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and Sanskrit as compulsory subjects. Urdu, Tamil and Bengali will also be taught.”18

  “For Maharashtrians, Gujaratis, Sindhis and Bengalis, the thing is very easy. In a few months they can acquire enough command of Hindi to be able to use it for all-India intercourse. It is not so easy for Tamil friends. Tamil and other languages of the South belong to the Dravidian group. The structure and the grammar of these languages are different from those of Sanskrit. There is nothing in common between these two groups except certain words. But the difficulty in learning Hindi is confined to the present educated classes only. We are entitled to trust to their patriotic spirit and hope that they will make a special effort to learn Hindi. As for the future, if Hindi attains its due status, it will be introduced in every school in Madras and there will be increased possibilities of contact between Madras and other provinces. English has failed to reach the Dravidian masses, but Hindi will do so in no time. The Telugu people have already started moving in this direction. If this Conference reaches a decision on the question of the national language, we shall have to think of ways and means of implementing the decision. The measures suggested for the promotion of the mother tongue could, with suitable modifications, be applied to the national language as well. The difference is that the responsibility for making Gujarati the medium of instruction in our province will have to be shouldered mainly by us, whereas, in the movement to popularize the national language, the whole country will play its part.”19

 “As for prayers, I place this before you for consideration. We should not take the plea of inability so far that, in the end, we find ourselves incapable of doing anything at all. We should do the teaching as well as we can and overcome our shortcomings by gradual effort. Do you think I would use the plea of inability if I was myself required to teach Sanskrit? I know that my Sanskrit is no Sanskrit. But I would certainly teach it if no other person was available and I would get over my deficiency day by day. It was in this way that Parnell topped them all in his knowledge of the rules of business in the House of Commons. You always think of your weakness and are afraid of doing anything. Would you not be happier if, using all your strength, you disposed of every task that fell to you?”20

 “You must recite some hymn, Sanskrit or Telugu, to send you to sleep. You must be ashamed to own a weak  body.”21  “We come across very few Indians who combine learning and dharma in the measure in which Prof. Dhruva does. He has not taken to the profession of teaching with a mercenary motive. I believe he became a professor because he thought that thereby he would be able to serve the country better. As an author, he has maintained his integrity with the utmost conscientiousness. It is no ordinary responsibility which rests on an author, and that of one who would dive into the sea of ancient literature to bring up pearls is all the greater. Sanskrit literature is like a sea, difficult to fathom. Very few possess even a cursory knowledge of this literature. It offers much scope for laziness and dishonesty. We see at every step instances of this in our modern literature. How many translations of the Bhagavad Gita do we have! It is difficult to be pleased with any of them. The translations of Manusmriti at the disposal of the people of Gujarat are not entirely reliable. Thanks to laziness, ignorance and sometimes deliberate mischief, people get faulty and incomplete translations of Sanskrit works. At a time like this, everything which Anandshankarbhai has given stands like a beacon. With regard to his interpretations, it is impossible to suspect dishonesty, ignorance, haste or laziness. He has written whatever he has in a liberal and objective spirit believing in all good faith that it is true. And, therefore, people need have no fear in accepting it.”22

“Pay attention to his instruction in Sanskrit and Bengali. If Manindra takes charge of his Bengali, the boy will easily make progress in it. Wouldn’t he like to write to Sarladevi in good Bengali? Or, if he prefers, he may write sometimes in Bengali and sometimes in English.”23

 “I do hope, therefore, that instead of making a vain effort to attain eloquence in the English language we shall strive earnestly to become eloquent in our own vernaculars and in the national language. In these days of unbelief it is a rare thing for one to hear the beautiful music of the Sanskrit language.”24

“They will have to master the Hindi language as defined by Indore Sahitya Sammelan, i.e., the language spoken by the Hindus and Mussalmans of North India and written in Devanagari or Persian script. Mastery of this language will mean mastery not only of the easy Hindi-Hindustani spoken by the masses but also of the high flown Hindi full of Sanskrit words and the high-flown Urdu full of Persian and Arabic words. Without knowledge of these, mastery of the language would be incomplete, even as one could not claim to be master of the English language without knowledge of the English of Chaucer, Swift and Johnson, or mastery of the Sanskrit language without knowledge of the Sanskrit of Valmiki and Kalidas.”25



  1. 1.    LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI; January 29, 1907

2. TULSIDASA’S “RAMAYANA;” [Before October 14, 1908]


4.Indian Opinion, 5-6-1909




8. Indian Opinion , 3-2-1912

9. LETTER TO BALEBEHN VORA; After August 3, 1912

10. LETTER TO HARILAL GANDHI; September 5, 1912







17. Prajabandhu, 26-12-1915

18. NATIONAL GUJARATI SCHOOL; After January 18, 1917


BROACH, October 20, I917


21. LETTER TO V.S. SUNDARAM; August 17, 1919

22.Navajivan, 19-10-1919

23. LETTER TO NARAHARI PARIKH; After January 23, 1920
























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