Sanskrit for the nation
This essay raises the language question in its relationship to the wider problematic of the nationalization of pasts by focusing on the curious and puzzling status accorded to Sanskrit in the nationalization of the Indian past in this century. I use the words 'curious' and 'puzzling' deliberately, for the Sanskrit issue unsettles many well-entrenched assumptions about language and nationalism that circulate in scholarly circles and popular imagination. Just as crucially, Sankrist's (mis)adventures in the past century or so, draw our attention to the troubling linguistic turns taken by the nationalization process in India with its disquieting complicity with colonial categories and certitudes. The concerns of this paper have thus been shaped by three related issues pertaining to language, nationalism, and modernity.