Wednesday November 22, 2017

5 happenings of 2015 that indicate revival of Sanskrit

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Sanskrit

By Harshmeet Singh

The sacred language, the mother of all Indian languages, the most complete language, the most scientific language, and lots more. There is no dearth of phrases to define the Sanskrit language. Though no one doubted its holistic nature, the number of native speakers of the language has been on a constant decline for the past several decades.

Albeit a number of measures have been taken in the past to revive the language, most of them have failed to bring in any change. However, the year 2015 saw a number of encouraging happenings that point towards a possible revival of the holy language in the times to come. NewsGram brings forth the five stories of 2015 that indicate a better future for the language in the times to come.

  1. Sanskrit finding many takers in German Universities (April 2015)

A total of 14 German Universities offer Sanskrit courses at present. Most of them were on the verge of shutting down these courses a decade ago since they couldn’t find any takers. But a recent interest in the language has meant that these Universities are now finding it hard to fulfill the demand of Sanskrit learners.

Interestingly, it is not just the German students who are taking up these courses. These universities have inducted students from over 30 countries from across the world.

 2.  250 Sanskrit scholars from India participate in the World Sanskrit Conference in Thailand (June 2015)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj accompanied 250 Indian scholars to take part in the World Sanskrit Conference. Mrs. Swaraj was the guest of honor at the event and delivered a stunning speech in Sanskrit, setting the tone for the Conference.

Though this event has been a regular affair after its initial edition in 1972 in Delhi, it was the first time that India took this event seriously. India also presented a couple of plays at the opening and closing ceremonies of the event.

 3.  Weekly news programme in Sanskrit on Doordarshan (June 2015)

Starting 28th June, the day when the World Sanskrit Conference began, Doordarshan launched a half an hour weekly Sanskrit-news programme. The channel was already airing a five-minute Sanskrit-news bulletin called ‘Varta’. Accepting that 5 minutes aren’t enough, the 30 minutes program was launched.

 4.  Panel set up for the promotion of Sanskrit (Nov 2015)

In November, the HRD ministry appointed a 13-member committee to come up with ways to revive people’s interest in Sanskrit. The committee is headed by N Gopalaswami, the former chief election commissioner and the present chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth.

The committee has been directed to suggest ways to integrate the language with other disciplines such as Mathematics, Physics and Law. It also needs to put together an action plan for the next decade to ensure the development of the language.

  1. ‘Paschim Banga Sanskrito Vidyalaya’ all set to come into being in 2016 (Dec 2015)

Kolkata’s Sanskrit college, which came into being in 1824, is one of Asia’s oldest educational institutes. In 1851, under the principalship of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the college took a major leap when it admitted students from non-Brahmin castes as well.

The West Bengal government has now decided to revive the ‘almost irrelevant’ College and turn it into a University. A bill regarding this was recently passed in the state assembly. The University will also focus on Prakrit, Pali philosophy, linguistics, world history and ancient history.

 

 

 

Such measures have ensured that Sanskrit ends the year 2015 on a much better note than it had entered 2015. The year 2016 may very well be the year when the language takes that one giant leap that it needs to regain its lost glory.

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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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Tamil Nadu Schools make Singing Vande Mataram Mandatory

The Madras court has announced that all schools throughout Tamil Nadu must make the singing of Vande Mataram mandatory

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Vande Mataram Mandatory
Students are to sing the national song twice as per the Madras High Court ruling. Wikimedia
  • Singing Vande Mataram is now mandatory in every school of Tamil Nadu after Madras high court announced its ruling
  • The students are to sing the national song twice every week
  • Given a valid reason, an individual or group may be exempted from the decision

July 29, 2017: Tamil Nadu school students are now compelled to sing Vande Mataram as per the Madras High Court’s recent ruling. The national song is to be sung twice a week.

Private as well as government schools have been instructed to comply with the ruling and confirm that it is implemented in their schools.

ALSO READ: First Clap: Short Film Fest to Unearth Budding Filmmakers from Tamil Nadu

The Madras Court’s ruling was the result of a petition filed by K Veeramani. Mr. Veeramani, interestingly, was unsuccessful in clearing the written test in the process of recruiting teachers because of a question related to the National song, mentioned PTI.

In an objective type question, K Veeramani selected Bengali as the original language in which national song was written. This answer was considered wrong by the board. Veeramani scored 89 while the cut off was 90. For this one mark and “wrongfully” missing the opportunity to work, he petitioned to the High Court.

And he was right. Advocate General R Muthukumarswamy agreed to K Veeramani’s claim. The National Song was originally penned in the Bengali Language.

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PTI reports Justice M V Muralidharan gave no actual reasons behind this verdict. The Justice also said that Monday and Friday should be the ideal days.

Justice M V Muralidharan’s ruling is backed by Article 226 of the constitution; The High court posses the power to pass orders within their juridicial territory upon any individual or group. The Judge also stated, “If people feel it is difficult to sing the song in Bengali or in Sanskrit, steps can be taken to translate the song in Tamil. The youth of this country are the future of tomorrow and the court hopes and trusts that this order shall be taken in the right spirit and also implemented in letter and spirit by the citizenry of this great nation.”

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Teaching Sanskrit in an Interesting Manner can make the Language Popular in India, says Britain-based Teacher-Author Rohini Bakshi

Since music, dance and poetry are so deeply ingrained among all Indians, they can be used much more to teach Sanskrit, says Bakshi

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Sanskrit Text, Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 19, 2016: The only way to make Sanskrit popular in India is to teach it in an interesting way, says a Britain-based Sanskrit teacher.

Co-author of “Learn Sanskrit Through Your Favourite Prayers” (Juggernaut), Rohini Bakshi once almost failed in Sanskrit but is now actively persuading others to learn the ancient language which is often termed the mother of Indian languages.

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Bakshi feels that since music, dance and poetry are so deeply ingrained among all Indians, they can be used much more to teach Sanskrit. She herself does that in City Lit, an adult education college in London.

Rohini Bakshi, Twitter
Rohini Bakshi, Twitter

Bakshi was asked why Sanskrit is virtually dead in India as a popular language and how it can be popularized.

She says government initiatives can help spread the appeal of Sanskrit but not by making it compulsory in schools.

“Children hate anything they are forced to do, even if it is good for them,” Bakshi said in an email interview.

“The government should focus on the way teachers teach rather than taking the choice away from children.

“In general, improvements in teacher training are required, particularly so for a language like Sanskrit,” she added.

Bakshi and Narayanan Namboodiri’s 507-page book presents 11 of the more important Hindu prayers dedicated primarily to gods Vishnu and Shiva.

These include Ganesa Pancaratnam, Bhaja Govindam, Sri Hari Stotram, Rudrashtakam and Aditya Hridayam.

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The reader-friendly book has the Sanskrit ‘stotras’ in verse with the translation. In addition, there is an English transliteration, translation and grammatical analysis. There is also a Hindi translation of the verses.

Bakshit admits that the best way to learn Sanskrit is in a classroom with a good teacher.

“However, everybody does not have the luxury or the luck to find the right course or teacher,” she says. “For such people, a book like this one is an excellent support tool.”

Unless Sanskrit teaching becomes engaging and interesting, she feels that most people will either avoid or drop out of the class.

“Right now, in most Indian schools, a teacher stands up and talks at the children, rather than letting them take responsibility and ownership of the process,” she says.

“Engaging them, I feel, will have a revolutionary impact on Sanskrit learning.”

But can Sanskrit learning lead to economic betterment?

Bakshi admits that currently Sanskrit related jobs in India seem to be limited to teaching, astrology and being a pundit. She hopes things would change for the better.

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“In the short run, I hope soon we will have authors, TV presenters, musicians, actors, singers – and many other such opportunities for ‘Sankritists’.

“But it all depends on demand – the bigger the speech community, the more the opportunities.”

Bakshi is also the brain behind the unique way to learn Sanskrit through Twitter #SanskritAppreciationHour (#SAH). It now has a dedicated following across the world. (IANS)