Chennai: Former Supreme Court Judge and Press Council of India Chairman, Markandey Katju on Thursday said there was a misunderstanding that Sankrit tried to dominate other regional languages such as Tamil and claimed it was a predominantly `atheistic` one that promoted free thinking.
"People have a misunderstanding that it is the language of the Hindus, the chanting of mantras and so on. That is only five per cent of Sanskrit langauage... 95 per cent of Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion," he said.
The remarks during his inaugural address at 17th Y`s Men`s International Convention here came against the backdrop of regional parties, including ruling AIADMK, opposing the Centre`s proposal to celebrate Sanskrit week in CBSE schools.
He said Sanskrit dealt with subjects such as science and that it was an `anti-religious` language, "a language of free thinkers who thought on a wide spectrum of subjects."
He said Sanskrit promoted science and techology even as it had undergone changes with the passage of time.
Since science required things to be expressed precisely, Sanskrit was useful as grammarian Panini had set its rules making the language useful for this purpose.
For instance, Indians had come up with numeric terms in Sanskrit for `astronomical` values even as many of their contemporaries, including Romans, in the early days were not finding it easy in this regard.
Dwelling on the `tremendous diversity` in the country, he said secularism and tolerance alone will help India remain united.
He claimed about 90 per cent of the population including Dravidians were `immigrants` while native tribes like Todas and Santhals were the original inhabitors who `were pushed into the jungles by our ancestors."
Batting for a vibrant industrial sector, he said the country had a thriving industry prior to the arrival of the British who, he said, destroyed it during their rule to favour their business.
Post 1857 mutiny, often regarded as the first war of Indian independence in which Hindus and Muslims jointly participated, British adopted the `divide-and-rule` policy which was still being followed, Katju said.
One has to `look through this wicked` scheme and stay united, he said.
He said a `massive industry` will help in national development and cited the example of the US which was an industrial economy.
Industrialisation will help India come out of poverty and unemployment and only when a country was rich will it be respected in international arena, he said.
Since India was a poor country it was yet to get a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council whose other members such as France and the UK were smaller in size, he said.