(News) Petition to Prime Minister to save the ancient classical language

Removal of Pali as UPSC subject draws criticism

The decision to remove Pali as a subject from the Civil Services Examination (main), conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), prompted a teacher of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to send a petition to the Prime Minister, urging him to save the ancient classical language.

"The removal of Pali by UPSC from the subject list of the main examination and non-recognition of Pali as an Indian classical language calls for a protest, not only by those who are related with Pali and Buddhist studies but also those who study, respect or relate themselves with Indology or Buddhism in whatever ways," said Siddharth Singh, associate professor, Pali and Buddhist studies, BHU.

Singh raised this issue by opposing this step of the Central government on various forums and social media. He has created a Facebook group 'Save Pali and Buddhist studies in India' and also filed an online petition by the title 'Save Pali, ancient classical Indian language of Buddhism in India' on a petition site addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "I have also raised this issue before International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABU), German Theravada Buddhist Network, Buddhist Publication Society and many others," he said.

The presence of Pali in this competitive examination was a major reason to attract youngsters to study Pali and Buddhist studies and at least this was playing a role to make this declining rich discipline survive in India, he said. It is unfortunate that Pali, the language of Buddha's teachings, is not recognized as an official classical language by the Union government, he added.

He further stated that scholars, researchers and Buddhist from across the world have vehemently reacted on this and criticized the step of the government. "Bhikkhu Bodhi, one of the American Buddhist scholar and monk wrote in a letter to me. 'Such a rash course of action would be a terrible blight on India's record. The Pali literature of India is one of India's outstanding contributions to world spirituality and literature. The whole world regards the Buddha as the foremost religious founder, philosopher and spiritual guide that India has given to humanity. The most extensive collection of his teachings preserved in any Indian language is the Pali Tipitaka. If India were to remove Pali from its official list of recognized classical languages, that would be almost equivalent to rejecting its greatest spiritual teacher, the one who shed the light of India's spiritual wisdom over the whole world,' Singh said.

Craig Johnston from Australia wrote on Singh's Petition site: "I studied Pali for 1 year at Sydney University, Australia. This University has the biggest Buddhist studies and Pali language program in Australia. One year was the maximum amount available. It would be ironic if this language, the surviving classical language closest to that spoken by the Buddha and to the inscriptions of the great Asoka, were to lose status in its homeland, yet preserved in countries (like mine) so far away."

Professor Bimalendra Kumar, head, department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, BHU, says, "Pali has also become a cultural link between India and South-east Asian countries. The government should not ignore it."

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Courtesy : Times of India