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by PRAKASH KATOCH
Two news items linked to Sanskrit appeared in the media recently. First, a committee on revival of Sanskrit set up by Government of India made wide-ranging recommendations but made it clear that Sanskrit need not be made compulsory in schools, and that under the three language formula, schools and examination boards should ensure that Sanskrit is taught and available to those who are interested.
The committee has also said that if Sanskrit is to become popular, textbooks of all subjects should be available in Sanskrit.
The second news item is about an Indian American couple (Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan) who have donated $3.5 million to Chicago University for the revival of Sanskrit language, adding to the immense contribution by Indian Diaspora towards reviving and retaining our culture.
The Ramakrishnans’ gift is part of The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact, which will raise $4.5 billion and engage 125,000 alumni by 2019. To date, the campaign has raised $2.82 billion and engaged more than 59,000 alumni. Interestingly, last year in India Maryam, a Muslim girl won the contest of Bhagwat Gita, holy book for Hinduism followers. Maryam’s parents supported her idea of participating in the contest. She defeated all the contestants to win the contest.
According to American political scientist Joseph Nye, “The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority).”
In ancient times many civilization were formed that were confined to small regions but world’s first culture came up in India (Yajurveda 7/14: Sa Pratham Sansktiti Vishwara) which focused on inculcating human values in mankind and spread to vast areas of the globe; present day West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia.
Focus of Indian culture inculcating human values in mankind has been widely acknowledged abroad. British Historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) had stated, “It is already becoming clear that a chapter which has a western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in history the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way.”
Two issues are noteworthy in Toynbee’s statement; first, the world has become much more dangerous than when he spoke, and second, when he said “the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way”, he meant the human values and all inclusive nature of Indians.
The world acknowledges what India gave to them in terms of culture, civilization, Buddhism and Jainism, education, arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, science, astronomy, medicine, surgery, rocketry, navigation, etc.
India gave the world Zero without which no worthwhile scientific discovery would have been possible, as acknowledged by Albert Einstein. Using an astronomical model developed by Brahmagupta in the 7th century, Bhaskaracharya accurately defined many astronomical quantities, including the length of the sidereal year, the time that is required for the Earth to orbit the Sun as 365.258756484, hundreds of years before astronomer smart.
It is also intriguing how accurate and meaningful our ancient scriptures are though not interpreted accurately or realized by any presently. The Hanuman Chalisa reads, “Yug sahastra yojan per Bhanu, Leelyo taahi madhur phal janu.” One Yug denotes 12000 years, one Sahastra denotes 1000 and one Yojan denotes 8 miles, which brings the total distance to 96000000 miles (12000 x 1000 x 8 miles) or 1536000000 kms to Sun, which NASA confirms is the exact distance between Earth and Sun.
Sanskrit is acknowledged as the mother of most languages in the world including European languages. NASA acknowledges it is the best language for computer programming.
In India, Sanskrit is mostly used as hymns and chants by Hindus and Buddhists as ceremonial language and for rituals. CBSE, ICSE and some state education boards provide Sanskrit as second or third language in schools for classes 5 to 8. There are a number of Gurukuls also teaching Sanskrit.
Many would be unaware that Moin-ul-Islam madrassa, located on outskirts of Agra, teaches Sanskrit and Arabic to girls and boys of both Hindu and Muslim communities. Spoken Sanskrit has been revived in some villages and traditional institutions as well. Compare this to the proliferation of Chinese language in India.
In 2012, China offered to train 300 Indian teachers in Mandarin Chinese covering all expenses in China for six months and under an MoU signed with CBSE for more than 100 CBSE schools to introduce Chinese language. In April 2012, CBSE made Chinese a foreign language subject for middle school students in 500 schools, with plans to promote study of Chinese in 11,500 middle schools. China’s Confucius Institute has been introduced by Vellore Institute of Technology in Tamil Nadu and JNU, Delhi too has been designated to host Confucius Institute online.
The hesitation within India to learn Sanskrit is generally because of the patent question what is the use of learning it? Such question ignores to examine why educational institutions in countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Sweden, Thailand, USA and Russian Federation are teaching Sanskrit.
Interestingly an International Conference on “Sanskrit and Indological Studies in India, Russia and Neighbouring Countries: Past, Present and Future” held in Moscow last November saw 24 scholars from India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Belarus presenting papers. St James Schools in England teach Sanskrit because: being the root of European languages its study illuminates their grammar and etymology; its philosophical concepts provide a wealth of human thought; regarded classical language par excellence and considered positive while assessing university admissions.
St James School, London, has Sanskrit compulsory second language subject for its junior division because it helps students grasp math, science and other languages better. Warwick Jessup, head of Sanskrit department, says “This is the most perfect and logical language in the world, the only one that is not named after the people who speak it. Indeed the word ‘Sanskrit’ itself means perfected language.”
Paul Moss, Headmaster of the school, says: “The Devnagri script and spoken Sanskrit are two of the best ways for a child to overcome stiffness of fingers and the tongue. Today’s European languages do not use many parts of the tongue and mouth while speaking or many finger movements while writing, whereas Sanskrit helps immensely to develop cerebral dexterity through its phonetics.”
Students of St James chanted Vedic hymns in presence of Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace in 2010 to celebrate beginning of the Commonwealth Games. Significantly, the Gayatri Mantra was proved to be the most powerful hymn in the world through laboratory tests by American scientist Howard Steingeril; the Mantra produced 110,000 sound waves per second. Gayatri Mantra is known to be capable of developing specific spiritual potentialities.
The most significant reason to learn Sanskrit is to be able to draw upon the great knowledge lying hidden in our Vedas. The bane of India always has been lack of political consensus, which is exploited to the hilt by political parties for political gains despite adverse impact to national interests.
Therefore, an impression has been created that Sanskrit and Vedas are strictly synonymous to Hindu religion, which is not the case. Even the great teachings of Bhagwad Gita because of the time of Mahabharata are alluded mistakenly to Hinduism, but are applicable across the board to all religions and communities.
American Thinker Thoreau clarified, “In the great teachings of Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climes and nationalities and is the road for attainment of the Great Knowledge.” The misperception in India that Vedas are part of Hindu Religion needs to be corrected, even as foreigners acknowledge that Hinduism is a way of life.
German Indologist Max Muller who translated Vedas into English and who was recruited by the British to educate officers of the newly formed Indian Civil Service post the 1857 mutiny said, “If I am asked which nation had been advanced in the modern world in respect of education and culture then I would say it was India.”
At a time when our abundant youth power must join in the development of India, especially with inimical and divisive forces hell bent to lead them astray, we need to make a conscious effort to draw upon our rich heritage and culture through learning Sanskrit and Vedas – it is time to pull the wool out of our eyes.
Prakash Katoch is a third generation army officer hailing from Himachal Pradesh. He has published over 530 articles on international affairs, geopolitics, military, security, technical and topical issues besides authoring two books. The article was first published at Hillpost.in
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India