New Delhi: Sanskrit would have survived had it become language of commoners, Union Minister Najma Heptulla noted on Tuesday while asking people to shun their "colonised" mindset to conserve the country's oldest language.
"Sanskrit would have survived had it been the language of commoners and not only elites. Colonisation here (in India) also contributed (to the present condition of Sanskrit). We became colonised in our minds. We need to throw colonisation out of our mind," she said.
The minister for minority affairs made the remarks during the launch of author Rajiv Malhotra's book The Battle for Sanskrit at Delhi University.
Heptulla rued that Sanskrit, despite being the oldest Indian language, was not taken care of in the country, while other nations "distorted" it.
She said presently only around 40,000 persons speak Sanskrit in the country.
The minister recalled that the country's first education minister Maulana Azad had got Mahabharat and Ramayan translated from Sanskrit to Arabic and Persian to spread Indian knowledge internationally.
"Had the tradition set in by Azad continued, this would not be the condition of Sanskrit," she said, adding the NDA government will take efforts to conserve Sanskrit.
The event was also attended by Ashok Vohra, former philosophy department head of Delhi University; Ramesh Bharadwaj, head of the varsity's Sanskrit department; Koenraad Elst, Belgian Orientalist and Indologist; and retired Kannada professor TS Satyanath.