Members of the BJP and the DMK engaged in a war of words in Lok Sabha on whether Sanskrit is a superior language or Tamil.
Moving the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 for consideration and passage, Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said Sanskrit is the greatest language and "soul of the country".
"Sanskrit is the oldest language. India was a world leader (vishwaguru) and Sanskrit was its important element," he said.
Taking strong exception to his statement, DMK member K Kanimozhi asked whether the minister was a linguist to make such a claim.
Participating in a discussion on the bill, BJP member Satyapal Singh said all languages in the world have their origins in Sanskrit, which he described as an "eternal" language.
He said Sanskrit is the mother of all languages, including Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
Responding to his comments, DMK member A Raja said they do not accept that Tamil came from Sanskrit.
Tamil is older than Sanskrit and there is record of 'Tamil Sangam' dating back 4,500 years, he said.
Raja also alleged there was a "hidden agenda" of the government behind reviving a "dying or a dead language".
The DMK member said he was not against Sanskrit language but was against imposing any language on people. Dravidian culture is not based on Sanskrit language, he asserted.
Intervening to calm the situation, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal appealed to members not to make this a langauge issue.
"It is not a clash between Sanskrit and Tamil," he said.
During the discussion on the bill, many members, including Saugata Roy of the TMC, raised the issue of Muslim Sanskrit scholar Feroze Khan resigning after his appointment as an assistant professor in the Literature Department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan (SVDV) of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) led to protests by a section of students.
On Tuesday, Khan resigned after a month-long protest against his selection and is slated to join the Arts faculty.
Congress member Benny Behanan said the government should not mix language wit religion. He also urged the government not to pursue it "hidden agenda" of saffronising education.
The House later passed the bill which seeks to set up central Sanskrit universities.
The Sanskrit Central Universities will be set up by converting three deemed Sanskrit universities, presently functioning in the country.
The three deemed universities are: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in New Delhi, and the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Tirupati.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)