World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) (17th : 2018)

The Voyage of Sanskrit from India to Mauritius Ramjatton, Kirthee Devi

Abstract

This Research paper provides a glimpse of the voyage of Sanskrit throughout different stages beginning with its introduction by indentured labourers till its teaching at the University level in Mauritius. In 1835, when the abolition of slavery took place, indentured labourers had to be brought to Mauritius from India in order to work in the sugarcane fields. These labourers brought with them their culture, religions, and languages. Although Sanskrit was not a mother tongue of any of them, it was still a source of their culture and religion. Hence, they brought with them texts like the Rāmāyaṇa, Bhagavadgītā, and other scriptures. In this way, the Sanskrit language was indirectly introduced by the indentured labourers, or “coolies” as they were called. Later in the 20th century, with the foundation of the Arya Samaj, the propagation of Sanskrit took a new shape. Parallel to the works of the Arya Samaj, which now falls under the aegis of Arya Sabha Mauritius, other remarkable institutions or NGOs like the Arya Ravived Pracharini Sabha, the Brahman Maha Sabha, the Hindu Maha Sabha, among others, were in their ways contributing to the promotion of Sanskrit in Mauritius. However, the credit for promoting and popularizing Sanskrit in a formal manner goes to the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. It offers courses in Sanskrit for adults and children at Beginners, Basic, Foundation, and Diploma levels. At a tertiary level, B.A, M.A, M.Phil, and PhD. programs are now being offered.

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