There has been a pattern of activism in recent-times that has sought to target Hindu politicians in the West for their religion and brand all Hindu religious symbolism and festivals as beacons for Hindutva. Apart from politicians, efforts have also been made to tarnish the reputation of Hindu organisations and ordinary citizens to rake up polarising issues such as caste.
Consistent with this pattern, a journalist in New Zealand targeted newly elected New Zealand MP Gaurav Sharma for taking his oath in Sanskrit. Michael Field, the journalist, claimed that Sanskrit is a language of “religious oppression” and “caste superiority”. He also claimed Sanskrit is a “mark of Hindutva”, a “mark of fundamentalism”.
Gaurav Sharma responded to the slander by Field in a sensible manner. He said, “I speak multiple Indian languages and wanted to choose a language that would represent the wide range of current languages spoken in India. At over 3500 years old, Sanskrit is the oldest and considered the mother language of many Indian languages that originated from it.”
“I studied Sanskrit at a small school in a rural part of India where it is a compulsory part of education curriculum for every student, not just one class or culture,” he added. Taking a jibe at the journalist, he remarked, “If you do want to talk about oppression and class divide, a bit ironical that your mother tongue and your tweet is in English. Colonialism…”
2) I studied Sanskrit at a small school in a rural part of India where it is a compulsory part of education curriculum for every student, not just one class or culture— Dr Gaurav Sharma MP (@gmsharmanz) November 25, 2020
Michael Field did not leave it at that, however. Even after the sound explanation, he wanted to know ‘why not Hindi?’. Again, Gaurav Sharma patiently explained to him the reasons for his actions.
To be honest I did think of that, but then there was the question of doing it in Pahari (my first language) or Punjabi. Hard to keep everyone happy. Sanskrit made sense as it pays homage to all the Indian languages (including the many I can’t speak) https://t.co/q1A3eb27z3— Dr Gaurav Sharma MP (@gmsharmanz) November 25, 2020
The point of the matter, however, is that Gaurav Sharma should not be put in a position where he has to explain why he took his oath in Sanskrit amidst ridiculous charges of bigotry. Sanskrit is one of the classical languages of the world. It is the language of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is verily the language of the Gods.
However, there has been an organised campaign by the Left to brand Sanskrit a ‘mark of Hindutva’. It further reveals that when they claim to be against ‘Hindutva’, what they really mean is that they are against any public demonstration of Hindu identity or the celebration of it. That is why any person in public limelight who takes pride in his or her Hindu culture is subjected to slander.
US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard faced similar Hinduphobia when she announced her presidential run. She was accused of being sympathetic and having ties to ‘Hindutva Nazis’. She was subjected to such bizarre allegations throughout her campaign. And now, the slander being peddled against Sharma in New Zealand for taking his oath in Sanskrit only further demonstrates the pattern that is emerging.
Amusingly enough, the newly elected NZ MP also took oath in the indigenous Maori language. But that appears to have been summarily ignored by his detractors. Gaurav Sharma was congratulated by the Indian High Commission to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi as well. He said, “Dr Gaurav Sharma, one of the youngest, newly elected MP in NZ Parliament took oath today, first in NZ’s indigenous Maori language, followed by India’s classical language- Sanskrit, showing deep respect for cultural traditions of both India and New Zealand.”