What, instead, is the purpose of teaching and studying Sanskrit? I am not referring to one's personal study of Sanskrit (everyone has secret passions and hobbies one does not need to justify), but rather its academic purpose. On the one hand, Sanskrit may be extremely useful for whomsoever will keep on having to do with India. This claim might be disputed, but I will take it now for granted, in order to focus on the next group of students, namely the ones who –in the future– will have nothing to do with India. Is the study of Sanskrit nonetheless useful to them? Yes, in my opinion, since:
- unless one faces a different culture, one does not realise what one's background is; hence
- confrontation with another culture enhances critical thinking
- cultures which are temporally or geographically distant are more likely to be "different" and to, hence, implement point 1
- in the global world, geographically distant cultures are often either too "primitive" or too similar to ours (due to what Heidegger called the "Europeization of the Earth")
- hence, "dead" languages offer us an almost unique chance to face a theoretically mature culture (one we cannot dismiss as a defeated option, like we would do with, say, tribal cultures) which is at the same time different from ours.