Prior to the establishment of the Hindi Shiksha Sangh (HSS), the promotion and nurturing of the Hindi language in South Africa was largely the responsibility of community-based organizations. Since the arrival of the first group of indentured labourers in this country in 1860, religious and other cultural events provided useful but informal forums for this purpose. Although these settlers spoke Bhojpuri, there was always the desire among them and their descendants to learn the standard Hindi (Kadi Boli). Thus, concerted efforts were made by religious and cultural organizations, as well as individuals, to promote the Hindi language so that they might preserve their religion, traditions and culture.

Among the pioneers who made notable contributions to promote Hindi at the turn of the century was Swami Shankaranandji, a visiting missionary from India. He was followed by the son of an indentured labourer, Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi who mobilized the support of local organization in various parts of KZN and Gauteng and exhorted them to propagate the Hindi language in this country in the early part of this century. In 1947, Pandit Nardev Vedalankar came to South Africa. He was born in 1915 in Gujarat, India. After his arrival in South Africa Panditji discovered that the Hindi language was not being systematically promoted. On 25 April 1948, with the help of two national organizations serving the religious needs of the Hindi community, viz. the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of South Africa and the Sanathan Dharma Sabha of South Africa, Panditji called a meeting of the Hindi speaking people to discuss the plight of their native language and to find possible solutions to promote the language.

The Hindi Shiksha Sangh was launched at this meeting and he became its first President, nurturing the organisation for twenty-seven years. On October 17, 1948, this newly formed body organized a Hindi conference to generate interest in the community for the learning of Hindi. 35 Hindi Patshalas joined the Sangh at that function. When the Sangh realized that many Hindi teachers in the schools were not adequately qualified it started Teacher Training classes with Panditji as the facilitator. Thereafter, the Sangh took on the challenge as a non-governmental organization in the country to promote and teach Hindi on an organized basis. The Hindi Shiksha Sangh is the legacy that Pandit Nardevji Vedalankar has left behind.

Aims of the Sangh

The main purpose of establishing the Hindi Shiksha Sangh was to provide an umbrella body that would co-ordinate the teaching of Hindi and to provide guidance and direction to institutions that were engaged in the promotion Hindi as a language. The principal aims and objectives of the Sangh as enshrined in its constitution are threefold:

  1. To promote and encourage the learning of the HINDI language in all its aspects, more especially in the written and oral traditions.
  2. To promote the academic study of Hindi literature and Hindi religious scriptures.
  3. To create an awareness of, promote and propagate the rich traditions of North Indian Culture with special reference to North Indian music, dance, drama and the arts.