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Why Sanskrit Channel is a good idea for the language as well as for the country

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By Nithin Sridhar

India is about to get its first Sanskrit channel if the efforts of Uttrakhand fructifies. According to a report in The Times of India, the Uttrakhand University which is under the jurisdiction of the Uttrakhand state government, is getting ready to launch the first ever Sanskrit TV channel.

Photo Credit: http://anudinam.org
Photo Credit: http://anudinam.org

 

The channel will include news as well as programs based on Sanskrit literature. The report quotes Harish Gururani, research officer at Sanskrit Academy as saying: “There are channels beaming Urdu-only and Bhojpuri-only content, but there was not one channel airing Sanskrit programs. That is why we felt the need to start one. Once a Sanskrit channel starts functioning, Sanskrit will have its lost glory restored and will be popularized all over the world.”

Today, when Sanskrit is largely perceived as a dead language especially in the media and the academia, this move by the government will give big a boost to the propagation and revival of Sanskrit.

Is Sanskrit Dead?

According to Oxford dictionary a dead language is one which is no longer in everyday spoken use. But a language is truly dead only when there is none to use the language in any manner- spoken, written or liturgical.

There are numerous villages and many other families in urban centers who use Sanskrit as an everyday language. The villages like Matthur in Karnataka, Jhiri in Madhya Pradesh and few other villages still retain native speakers of the language. Following massive efforts by organizations like Samskrita Bharati, Sanskrit is becoming widespread in urban centers as well. Hundreds of people are at varying stages of learning Sanskrit. So, Sanskrit as a language is not dead even by the definition of Oxford.

Photo Credit: http://anudinam.org
Photo Credit: http://anudinam.org

 

Apart from this, there are people who learn Vedas and Sanskrit in traditional gurukulams (schools) and lead a Vedic lifestyle. Sanskrit as a language of Hindu philosophy and practices will never cease to exist. The rituals and practices of temples, marriages or puja’s (worship) conducted at home are all in Sanskrit.

Sanskrit in writing is not dead either. In 2009, Satyavati Shastri, a Sanskrit writer was awarded with Jnanapitha award. According to “Post-Independence Sanskrit Literature: A Critical Survey”, more than 3000 Sanskrit works have been composed after India’s Independence.

Therefore, Sanskrit fails to meet the criteria of a dead language on any of the counts verbal usage, written usage or liturgical usage.

The consequence of the decline of Sanskrit

But it is undeniable that Sanskrit as a language has declined enormously compared to its past glory and usage. But with this, the access to Indian knowledge systems and Indian world views have reduced as well.

People who are trained in current academics are completely unaware of Indian perspective of science, arts, music, or religion. Even the analysis of Indian scriptures and traditions are being produced from western perspectives using western methodologies.

The Indian system of nyaya (logic), rasa (Aesthetics), kala (art), shilpa (architecture), music, dance, polity, economics or sciences like astronomy and mathematics have completely declined. And what is surviving is fast declining as well.

Further, the masses are increasingly becoming disconnected from their roots and root values and these have in turn led to various problems related to human behavior and society. The corruptions and many other social evils can be directly linked to the decline of sense of dharma (righteousness) among people which can be in turn linked to disconnect between Indian values and everyday Indian life. Sanskrit can serve as a solution that addresses many of these issues.

Sanskrit TV will prove beneficial to the language as well as the nation

Photo Credit: http://anudinam.org
Photo Credit: http://anudinam.org

 

It may be argued that even if Sanskrit is accepted as not-dead, yet people who understand Sanskrit are very minuscule and hence a Sanskrit TV is a wastage of tax payers money. If Israel had thought along the same lines, they would never have achieved a revival of Hebrew language. According to this paper by Avigdor Ben-Asher, revival of Hebrew was preferred due to various factors, chief among them were: It was found necessary to have a common language as Jews from all over the world speaking different languages came and settled in Israel and Hebrew was a common liturgical language used during Jewish prayers; Hebrew was the language of Bible and Bible was the main historical and geographical reference to Jewish presence in Middle East as the life story of ancient Israelis, their struggles, their fights, their misgivings and their hopes have all been described in the Bible.

Therefore, a need for a common language, and a language that is associated with history, culture, and philosophical identity of a nation made Israel to revive Hebrew language. Similar arguments can be made regarding Sanskrit language as well.

Sanskrit language is related to almost all of Indian languages in one way or the other. Many languages have borrowed words from Sanskrit and many other have derived aspects of its grammar. But the reason Sanskrit is called the mother of other Indian languages is because it has nurtured other languages the way a mother nurtures her children. Sanskrit existed as a mainstream language for last many millenniums, but it never hindered the rise and progress of other languages. Instead it supplied into them whatever they were missing, enriched them with whatever was needed, and nursed them by being a foundation of Indian life and culture. On the other hand, few hundred years of being exposed to a language like English, the vernacular languages have been completely replaced in certain quarters of society.

Sanskrit has not only nurtured other Indian languages but also nurtured Indian people, their life, philosophy, and world-view. It is Sanskrit that has upheld the Sanskriti (culture and way of life) of Indian people. It was in Sanskrit that the Rishis (seer’s) of the old transmitted the Vedic knowledge, it was in Sanskrit that the Rishis of the Smritis imparted the knowledge of polity, law, duty and righteousness. It was in Sanskrit that the philosophers and scientists of yore discovered inner and the outer universe and it was in Sanskrit that the knowledge of all kind of arts be it painting, or dance or music was propagated from generation to generation.

Thus, Sanskrit forms a common denominator of not only all Indian languages but also of ideas, scientific or artistic, philosophical or mundane, expressed in all those Indian languages. Sanskrit is the very breath of Indian way of life, hence only by returning to it, people can discover their true self and their purpose in life.

Further, Sanskrit has served as a vehicle for imparting human values. The tenets of truth, righteousness, non-injury, charity, cleanliness are stressed again and again in Sanskrit literature. The value of spiritual values like faith, worship, and meditation have been stressed as well. It is these that had taken Indian society to zenith in terms of morality and spirituality. But, a slow decline of the language resulting in the decline of these values have created monstrous social evils that caused due to human weakness. A revival of Sanskrit with its lessons in overcoming these human weaknesses will put an end to various ethical and spiritual corruptions that has crept into the society.

Therefore a revival of Sanskrit is the need of the hour and this initiative of Sanskrit TV will add to the efforts that is already being made in promoting and reviving Sanskrit. The TV will serve as a medium to encourage and promote the efforts of scholars, pandits (traditional scholars) and academicians who have dedicated their lives to Sanskrit. It will further promote dissemination of knowledge and wisdom regarding various subjects present in Sanskrit literature to common people.

Sanskrit TV will also promote Sanskrit as a common man’s everyday language. It will help Sanskrit enthusiasts who are at various states of learning Sanskrit. By watching Sanskrit programs, one can familiarize with Sanskrit words and usage which will go a long way in learning Sanskrit.

Further, some of these Sanskrit programs are telecast along with English or other language subtitles, even non-Sanskrit people will slowly start understanding Sanskrit. Most importantly, this initiative by the government will give a big boost and confidence to people who are already working day and night towards propagating Sanskrit and TV will take their efforts to a next level.

Therefore, any effort in reviving Sanskrit, be it a TV channel or a Sanskrit newspaper or something else, however small it may appear, must be welcomed and appreciated.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Sanskrit is not a dead language, but it is the tool which will facilitate Bharat to acquire the position of Vishwaguru. Sanskrit is the Amrita which can revive the qualities which are dead in Indian psyche to lead the world. Thanks to Nitin Shridhar for his efforts to bring this piece.

  2. I fully endorse this idea:
    “Sanskrit TV will also promote Sanskrit as a common man’s everyday
    language. It will help Sanskrit enthusiasts who are at various states of
    learning Sanskrit. By watching Sanskrit programs, one can familiarize
    with Sanskrit words and usage which will go a long way in learning
    Sanskrit”.
    Because I know how kids take to Sanskrit as fish to water in a domestic ambience wherein the mom and dad converse in Sanskrit. Let Sanskrit enter every living room through the planned Sanskrit TV! Mahadevan, Chennai

  3. I used to listen to the radio news in Samskrit eagerly. I would similarly be waiting for Samskrit news if and programs if available.

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Holy Hindu Shrine Gangotri Closes for Six Months

Gangotri is part of the four shrines where the 'Chaar Dhaam' annual pilgrimage takes place in the hill state of Uttarakhand that draws millions every year.

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Gangotri
Gangotri temple. Wikimedia

Dehradun, October 20, 2017 : The gates of the Gangotri shrine in Uttarakhand were closed for a six-month winter break on Friday.

Amid fanfare and chanting of vedic hymns, locals shifted a statue of the Goddess Ganga to Mukhwa where, from Saturday, puja will be performed for the next six months. Jawans of the Mahal regiment of the Army played music during the ceremony.

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The Kedarnath and Yamunotri shrines will be closed for the winter break from Saturday. (IANS)

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya in Delhi is trying to keep the Cultural Roots Alive in Students through Sanskrit Language

What makes this Sanskrit School different from others?

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Chintamanni Vedpathi with students
Chintamanni Vedpathi with students. Youtube
  • Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya  is one of the oldest Sanskrit Institutions in Delhi
  • Students wear white dhoti and shirt, they greet their guru or teacher by clasping their hands together
  • The Sri Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram takes care of the student’s  food by providing them with free food and they also stay in hostel free of cost  

New Delhi, August 30, 2017: There is a school in Delhi away from the overdose of technology and westernization. This school is trying to strengthen the roots of Indian culture by giving the gyan (knowledge) of Sanskrit to their students.

Reporter Kritika Dua got in touch with the teachers of Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya– Jai Prakash Mishra and Rajendra Sharma to know what is so special about this Delhi-based School. To get the taste of the pattern that this school follows, she spoke with students- Virender Tiwari and Pushpendra Chaturvedi who shared some interesting anecdotes about the school.

This Sanskrit Vidyalaya is one of the oldest Sanskrit Institutions in Delhi, where classes begin at 11 am and end at 4.10 p.m. The school has produced many Sanskrit scholars in the past and it is run by Sri Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram, which is located just opposite to the school.

On entering the classroom, you can see students wearing white dhoti and shirt, students greet their guru or teacher by clasping their hands together and sit on the carpeted floor while learning at the Vidyalaya.

One of the teachers at this school, Jai Prakash Mishra said, “around 55-60 students stay in the hostel, rest of them come from other areas in Delhi to study here. The ones who stay in hostel come from different states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan.”

Entrance of Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Delhi.
Entrance of Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Delhi

Students having interest in learning the ancient language of India are welcome in this school, no matter which part of the country they belong to. The only requirement is to be a good shisya (pupil) – he should be serious towards education, ready to lead a disciplined life and should be hard-working.

Mishra added, “the Sri Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram takes care of the student’s  food by providing them with free food and they also stay in hostel free of cost.” There are 10 teachers currently in this school.

Volleyball Court in School Playground
Volleyball Court in School Playground

The students play Volleyball and Cricket in the school playground though there is no sports teacher in the school. Rajendra Sharma, Hindi teacher said, “The students here can get the education -9th class and 10th class called purva madhyama, 11th and 12th called uttar madhyama, till graduation called Shastri though they get a post-graduation degree from the school. The degree they get is from Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya (SSVV), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh as the school is affiliated with this university.”

The School teaches other subjects apart from Sanskrit like Hindi, history, science, English literature, English Grammar, law etc.  Sharma told about his expectations from the students, “Our students are preserving Indian Culture by learning Sanskrit. I wish that they have a bright future ahead.”

ALSO READ: Move to Make Sanskrit Classes Mandatory Raises Ruckus in Assam

The students of this all boy’s school have short cropped hair which is sometimes shaven heads with tufts of hair at the back. They are rooted in Indian culture which can be seen through their behavior, good manners, dressing and talking sense.

Rahul Shukla, a 9th class student said that he can recite shlokas perfectly and wants to be a Shastri when he grows up. Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya has branches in Haridwar, Varanasi, Shimla, Kolkata, Mount Abu, and Bikaner.

Virender Tiwari (19) is pursuing graduation from this school and here the B.A first year course is called Shastriya Pratham, and he will become a Shastri after he completes his graduation. Tiwari said, “my experience has been extremely enriching in this school so far, all the knowledge I have of Sanskrit is because of what I have been taught here.”

Pushpendra Chaturvedi completed his graduation last year, now he lives in Dilshad Garden and is a priest in a temple. Pushpendra said, “I came to this school in the 9th standard, this school did a lot for me and I have fond memories of this place. I want to pursue B.ED and become a Sanskrit teacher.”

He talked about the ex-principal of the school, Ram Sarmukh Dwivedi, 95 years old Mahatma. He was a Sanskrit  Scholar and had in depth knowledge of Sanskrit language, literature, and ‘Ved Puran’. The current Principal of this unique Sanskrit school is Dr. Brahmachari Balram.


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