Chapter 5: The Very Foundation for One World
I have been thinking that there must be a language which can have all the beautiful qualities of all the languages without their problems, but it seems impossible. There have been efforts like Esperanto, but they don’t take root; they are artificial, man-made.
It would be a great thing if the whole world had one language. It would help immensely to bring humanity closer to each other. It would be one of the greatest steps against war - a basic groundwork for understanding - because most of the conflicts are of misunderstanding, and language plays a great role in understanding or misunderstanding.
So there have been people who have tried to create an artificial language accepted by the whole world, but no effort has succeeded for the simple reason that the language you have learned since you were born has gone so deeply into your bones, into your blood, into your marrow, that it is almost a part of you. Something can be transplanted over it, but it will not be a joy. And why should one carry a burden?
The mother language goes so deeply into your being.. One of my professors, S.K. Saxena, who lived almost all his life in the West studying, then lecturing, being a professor, came back to India only in his old age. But he confessed to me, “It is strange, but I have to confess to you that I have lived almost all my life in the West, but still, if I fall in love with a woman, I want to talk in my mother tongue. To talk with her in a language which is not my mother tongue seems to be superficial.”
Or in fighting you will forget the transplanted language. You would like to fight in your mother tongue.
There is a famous incident in the life of the famous emperor, Bhoj. He was well-known for respecting all kinds of talented people. His court was full of talented people. From all over the country, he had picked up the best - the cream - in every direction, in every dimension. He had the best scholars, the best philosophers, the best singers, the best poets.
One day a man appeared, and he challenged Bhoj: “You are too proud of your so-called scholars. I challenge your scholars to recognize my mother tongue. I speak thirty languages; I will speak in those thirty languages, and if anybody can recognize which one is my mother tongue, then there are one hundred thousand gold pieces for him. If he loses then he has to pay me the same amount - and all are challenged.”
The first day he spoke a few passages in one language, then in another, then in another. A few people tried and they lost. Just one man, a poet, Kalidas - he is the Shakespeare of India - remained silent, for the simple reason that the challenge was for the scholars, not for the poets. But he was watching the man very carefully. But after thirty languages - and at least fifteen persons had already lost - even Kalidas could not manage to find even a small way to distinguish which one was his mother tongue.