|Picture credit :mariaparaffina|
I had an interesting discussion with a few people this week. One of the question which I came across was if God only understands Sanskrit.
You can actually pray in any language including English. You can even pray by heart without any sound. How do you think the deaf and mute pray? God is beyond linguistic boundaries.
Sanskrit is a formulated language used mainly for mantric purpose. Although it can also be structured for daily conversation, it is not used as a mother tongue even by the Tamil Brahmins at home. They speak Tamil at home and many Brahmins can speak better Tamil than most of us.
Because of its mantric values, Sanskrit is considered as a more suitable language for chanting. Tamil prayers are poetic and not mantric. You can sing Tamil prayers but you can't chant Tamil prayers. Tirumurai is sung in Pann Isai and not chanted in metres like the Sanskrit mantras from Vedas or Agamas.
Singing prayers creates devotional attachment which is good. But chanting mantras repeatedly helps to condition the mind. Such conditioning is helpful for those who wish to elevate themselves spiritually especially those who are into meditation.
Even the Tamil Othuvars chant the Sanskrit panchakshra NaMaSiVaYa. If prayers can be done in Tamil alone, why are the Othuvars still using Sanskrit mantras like this? Why not make it exclusively Tamil without a single Sanskrit word?
Sanskrit is classified as an Indo-European language by the linguists. It is used in certain villages such as in Mattur but nobody claimed Sanskrit as their mother tongue. Not even the Brahmins of India.
To think of it, it is actually good to use Sanskrit in Hindu temples because it is a language common to all Hindus. Whether your mother tongue is Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Gujerati, Thai, Balinese, Javanese, English, German etc etc, using Sanskrit makes it neutral in all Hindu temples.
Unlike Islam which emphasise on Arabic, mother tongue of the Arab people, Hinduism does not emphasise on a particular tribe's mother tongue. Devotional songs or poems can be in any language but the mantras are only in Sanskrit.
God is not human. God has no ethnic identity. God is not a property of the Tamil people alone. Hinduism gives an opportunity for both Tamils and non-Tamils to use Sanskrit as a neutral language.
Today there are many opportunity for Hindus to learn Sanskrit or at least learn the meaning of the mantras which they recite. There are many reliable sources available. It is not an impossible thing.
So why complain about it?
Be happy that we have Sanskrit as it creates a sense of unity among Hindus when everyone use the same neutral language to recite the mantras instead of another person's mother tongue.