Letter 47

Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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Devnagari Script-2


23rd December, 1990

My dear Pranav,

In my previous letter I wrote to you about Vinoba's idea of a common alternative script. In practice, it means Gujarati would be written in its present script as wee as it can be written in Devanagari. So would Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and other languages to be written.

All North Indian languages from Kashmiri, Assamese, to Marathi have developed from Sanskrit. Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit have a common Devanagari script. It involves almost 30 crores of people. Bengali, Oriya, Assamese and Gujarati, could easily adopt Devanagari.

Languages will continue to be separate, but once they are expressed in a common script you will start realising that there are many common words, constructions and proverbs in the Indian languages than one has imagined.

"Maitri" a journal brought out by Brahmavidya Mandir at Pavnar, publishes its Kannada edition in Devanagari script. Bhoomiputra, a Gujarati journal published from Baroda devotes a few pages to Gujarati articles in the Devanagari script.

I have also made some efforts in this direction. I am the Editor of the House Magazine published by the company for which I work. We include articles in Bengali, Kannada and Gujarati in the Devanagari script. Most of them are easily understood by people who do not know these languages. Since they can read the script they can understand the contents to a large extent. Often the same root word sounds different because it is pronounced differently. Script poses no such problem.

This should not really surprise people. In Europe, the Roman script with some small adaptations is used for all printed materials, road signs, and so on. Languages are very different, but the script used is more or less the same.

Devanagari as an alternative script for all Indian languages was advocated by Vinoba. Once people start reading each others language they will see many common factors in them. Culturally, India is one nation. It is an Ancient Hindu culture where most of the rituals and practices are common. This commonality is very essential to our culture.

Vinoba was advocating this idea of a common script when there was a clamour for reorganisation of the country on the basis of languages. In his own way, he had an important dream. He said that since China and Japan still use a pictographic script, they also need to adopt an additional script. If India uses a common script, China and Japan may also find that Devanagari is a more standardised script, suitable for modern machine languages with only one sign for one alphabet. Computer users are already finding Sanskrit an easier language for computing than others.

Vinoba said, "If the Roman is the script of the West, Devanagari will be the script of the East tomorrow."

With love,


L. N. Godbole

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