Sanskrit and Varanasi
Sanskrit is the mother of invention of all languages. It is the most ancient language based on which several languages are developed. It is timeless and one of the beautiful languages of the world. It is a gift not only to India, but also to the world because of its philanthropic nature, sweetness, and dialect. If one master Sanskrit, then no language of the world is difficult to learn, speak and write. Whenever the history of Indian culture and tradition is written or talked about, Sanskrit will always be mentioned in the topic.
Sanskrit has flourished in Varanasi more than in any other parts of the country. It has beautifully expressed several literary works, be it for medicine, education, arts, culture, music, etc. Many philosophers, saints, and scholars have contributed their knowledge in keeping alive this oldest language of the world. Even the British were not behind in understanding the importance and beauty of this language. To preserve and help in the development of Sanskrit, they chose Varanasi as a centre for development since they knew the Sanskrit and Varanasi cannot be separated.
No matter what the motive of the British had been in aiding in the development of Sanskrit, a proposal to build a Sanskrit college was passed in 1791 by the East India Company’s representative, Jonathan Duncan. Perhaps, the step behind taking interest in an Indian language could have been to express their interest in Indian culture. Nevertheless, the proposal was passed by Governor General Lord Cornwallis. And the first Sanskrit College in Varanasi was finally built. The land for the construction of the college was donated by Kashi Naresh Mahip Narayan Singh. The name given to the college was Varnaseva Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya.
The college started offering post-graduation course in 1857. Degrees to the graduates were provided from 1880. To provide better facility and encourage learning among students, a library was built in 1894. This library was called as ‘Saraswati Bhavan Granthalay,’ and is a reservoir of several ancient Sanskrit literatures. A proposal to change the name of the college and its status to university were started in 1937. However, the change both the in the name and status didn’t occur until 1958 when Dr. Sampurnanand and Pandit Kamlapati Tripathi, the former was Chief Minister and the latter was Education Minister relentlessly pursued the matter. It was in use throughout the country during the ancient times. However, with the progress of times, its use gradually declined.