Tankari Scholar Resents Government, University Apathy Towards Old Hill Language, Script

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Kullu: In the race to catch up with modernity many local traditions, cultural aspects, dialects and rare scripts have been forgotten and lost for all practical purposes.

The district administration in collaboration with language, art and culture department here at Dhalpur today organised a function to apprise the younger generation about the rich cultural heritage of hills and hill societies.

On the occasion district magistrate Hans Raj Chauhan also released a documentary film Tankari, based on story of a old script that was used for centuries to document and communicate in the older hill societies of Himachal Pradesh.

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The film aroused a lot of interest among the viewers, many of whom were school children. Tankari has been produced by the joint efforts of district cultural council and Himaldas Nachiket, founder of Blue Bird Society.

On the screening of the film, the district administration also honoured Khoobram Khushdil, a 90 year old native from Karadasu village, who happens to one of the rare survivors who can read and write in Tankari.

Expressing deep concern over the apathy Tankari was going through and struggling for  survival, Khoobram said, ”most of people think Tankari is just a local lingua but if we look at it from religious and Ayurveda point of view, it is of most important scripts because our saints, sages (Rishi-Muni’s) have abundantly used it to describe their experiences and attaining of powers through ‘mantra sadhana’ and documenting knowledge about Ayurvedic medicines in detail. If we want to conserve old traditions and knowledge pertaining to ‘mantras and their benefits’ and Ayurveda therapy for mankind, keeping Tankari alive is a must, otherwise it is going to be an irreparable loss for our future generations.

The Tankari scholar with tearful eyes said, ”I’ve dedicated 60 years of my life to protect and conserve this language but the government has taken no serious steps to revive it.”

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The film documents the plight of the script, which once was very popular and was used by  people and himalayan sages during from very early times till the advent of the Britishers in the 19th century, who discouraged its usage. As a result nowadays it is on the verge of extinction.

Speaking on the occasion, district magistrate Chauhan said, “our rich cultural heritage was a treasure that needed to be conserved.”

Promila Guleria, district language officer disclosed, “after we realised the value of Tankari language and it’s script, we have taken the initiative to conserve and popularise it.

She said, “all old books collected by scholar Khoobram Khushdil have been digitalised and about 5000 of these pages have been made public that can be accessed by anybody over the internet.”

The documentary also reveals that among the younger generations, there was only one Tankari scholar. Styandra Nath Yogi, head of Kulantak Peeth, a native of Kullu, was well versed with the language, the script and much of the vocabulary used.

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Himaldas Nachiket, director and script writer of documentary said, ” initially I did not have much knowledge about this rare language but the more I research about it, the more aware I became about its timeless value. I feel it became a victim of Britisher’s apathy to native languages but the time has come to revive our centuries old knowledge.”

At the function, a quiz contest about Himachal Pradesh and Himachal culture was also organised for school children.

Photos by Renuka Gautam

A theater artist, a script writer and a TV anchor, news is something that grips Renuka. She lives in Kullu.

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