Saturday November 18, 2017

Sanskrit Cinema: A creative way to revive Sanskrit

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Nithin Sridhar

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“Priyamanasam”, a Sanskrit movie is all set to release this September. It is a 90 minutes movie based on the life of 17th century Keralite poet Unnayi Warrier. The movie is being directed by award winning director, Vinod Mankara.

The movie will depict the hardships and mental turmoil that Warrier faced while he had penned his magnum opus “Nalacharitham“, a Kathakali play.

A movie in Sanskrit may not create ripples in theatres, may not excite box offices, there may also be difficulty in getting theatres for its release. Still, I have been cherishing an intense desire to do a movie in Sanskrit all these years since I watched G V Iyer’s filmsVinod Mankara told PTI.

Priyamanasam is going to be the first Sanskrit movie in almost two decades and only the third one till date. Previous two movies were made by the legendary director, G.V.Iyer who was known as “Kannada Bheeshma” (Bheeshma of Kannada).

The first Sanskrit movie, released in 1983, was “Adi Shankaracharya” and it won four national awards at the 31st National Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Audiography.

The movie revolves around the life of Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century Hindu philosopher, reformer and yogi* who consolidated Advaita Vedanta** and reformed Hindu society. The citation of the award says that the award is being given for “its dedication, depth and power and the impressive skill with which it captures the Indian philosophical tradition.”

The second Sanskrit movie, released in 1993, was “Bhagavad Gita.” It premiered at International Film Festival of India, and it also won National Film Award for Best Feature Film.

Meanwhile, a crowd-sourced animation movie is being made in Sanskrit by V. Ravi Shankar, a techie from Bangalore and A.V. Girish, an animator.

The movie will be based on “Punyakoti”, a Kannada folk song that tells the story of a truthful cow named Punyakoti. The movie aims to explore the theme of man-animal conflicts.

These upcoming movies have raised interest among Sanskrit enthusiasts and may well prove to be a blessing for the revival of Sanskrit.

According to 2001 census, only 14,135 people reported Sanskrit as their native language. It is a spoken language only in few villages like Mattur in Karnataka, Kaladi in Kerala, Jhiri in Madhya Pradesh, Ganoda in Rajasthan, and Shyamsundarpur in Odisha.

But, all is not lost yet.

Many organizations like Samskrita Bharati, and Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan are working to teach spoken Sanskrit to common people. Apart from traditional pathshalas (schools), there are many modern universities dedicated to Sanskrit. Post-Independence, around 3000 Sanskrit works have been created.

There is a growing interest among the Indian Diaspora abroad.

In 2010, Uttarakhand had declared Sanskrit as the second official language of the state. It has been reported that a USA committee is providing assistance to various Sanskrit theatre groups in Dehradun. Further, a department dedicated to Sanskrit is present in the state secretariat at Dehradun and many officials are working out various ways in which Sanskrit can be linked to the job market.

Nowadays, urban people are also showing an increased interest in learning Sanskrit. This can be witnessed in the rapidly growing followers of “Sanskrit Appreciation Hour” conducted by UK based Rohini Bakshi on Twitter (#SanskritAppreciationHour).

Therefore, this decade may prove to be a turnaround period for Sanskrit and finally enable it to make a comeback. Only thing that was missing till now was creative interaction between Sanskrit and people.

Initiatives like Priyamanasam and Punyakoti will go a long way in filling this vacuum. They will provide a platform for common people, especially in urban areas, to interact with Sanskrit language and its creative side through audio and video.

These initiatives will further inspire others to produce music and movies in Sanskrit and to sponsor various creative activities like poetry, plays, and books in the language.

In near future, these creative platforms may turn out to be the driving forces behind Sanskrit’s revival.

Glossary:

*Yogi– an accomplished practitioner of Raja Yoga.

** Advaita Vedanta– A non-dualist philosophical school within Hinduism.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Movies are a Great Way in revitalizing our samskritam. Let us together strive to have samskritam conversation in daily lives. Because the understanding of bhaarat’s greatness is by speaking samskritam, and unity in bhaarat is also foreseen by speaking samskritam. Going to foreign countries we know it is all empty even though riches and wealth is abundant. ‘saare jahaan se acchaa bhaarat’, is all because of our samskruti. Let us revitalize our samskruti, let us unite, let us speak samskritam. Let us bring bhaarat’s past glory. If we get attracted to shining something foreign while forgetting revitalizing bhaarat’s greatness, we might fail together, because many foreign countries rely on bhaarat’s direction e.g., yoga & other shaastras, bhaarat has. Bhaarat’s shaastras are still very modern, state of the art. Please keep up good work by all who are uplifting samskritam. Thanks & Regards, Chandra Shaker, Columbus, Ohio, USA

  2. its interesting.movies in samskritam.natural way to attract people if it is utilised properly.vayam pratheeksham kurma:

  3. interesting idea…..not sure if the time is ripe for it yet….but it is the bold and brave who think ahead of their time and change the course…..best wishes…..arun kankani, Houston, TX, USA

  4. Namo Namaha,

    Great!

    In fact the journey through Sanskrit started of intention to Study Ayurvedic earlier, thought am still end up on Computer Science stuff, and its really help out on my PhD on Medical Imaging in China, while use of Sanskrit.

    The Movie has really great impact, to language understanding especially for non Sanskrit Speaker like, myself. The Movie of Adi Sankaracharya has a lot of great memory for me, traveled to Kaladi, Mattur, and participated on Sanskrit Camp by Samskrit Bharati had met such inspired people all over India, with their Sanskrit passion has more worth breed me inside to revive Sanskrit in Indonesia, since 2011. Its slow, and its keep moving.

    By then we do on our Facebook Page: Sanskrit for Indonesia. We do hope, one day either our Government of Indonesia will support of not, Sanskrit will back to Indonesia, at least Bali to started point with. Its may slow, in fact we have dream to build Tri Hita Karana Sanskrit University here in Bali, Indonesia.

    Dhanyavadaha.

  5. I am happy to find more movies in Sanskrit. While watching, it fill the heart with peace. aham Adi Shankaracharya calaccitram drShTavaan. Putra Gus Satya, Bali, Indonesia.

  6. Great to know this. Let’s do something out of sheer emotion as against for fame and money that we do all the time.

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The major Challenge is to make the Youth of the Country Entrepreneurial and not Job Seekers : Venkaiah Naidu

"The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers," Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government's various initiatives.

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Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu. Wikimedia Commons
  • At a time of tepid job growth and continuing income disparities, the major challenge is to make the youth of the country entrepreneurial and not job seekers, Vice President  Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

“Disparities continue to remain in India and so there is a need for inclusive growth… there is the need to take care of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust’s (BYST) silver jubilee celebrations here with Britain’s Prince Charles as the chief guest.

“The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers,” Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government’s various initiatives to encourage youth enterprises like Startup India, Standup India and the Mudra financing scheme for underprivileged sections.

Modelled on Prince Charles’ Trust for business startups, BYST, founded by Lakshmi Venkatesan, daughter of former President R. Venkatraman, is engaged in building rural entrepreneurship — “grampreneurs” — as also enterprise among under-privileged sections, which includes business mentoring. The current BYST chairman is Bajaj Group chief, Rahul Bajaj.

“Without mentoring, it would be very difficult to set up startups, with all the business, marketing and other vital issues involved in the first two-three years,” Prince Charles said in his address at the International Mentoring Summit organized by BYST to mark its 25 years.

“What amazes me are the sheer number of jobs these young entrepreneurs had created. The aim of such a project should be to create a virtual cycle of creating entrepreneurs who can then invest in the future of business,” Charles said referring to his trust.

BYST was officially launched in 1992 by Prince Charles and expanded its operations to six major regions of India.

Out of these six regions, four — Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad — run the urban programme while two regions — Haryana and Maharashtra — run the rural programme.(IANS)

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India sends Emergency Fuel Supplies to Sri Lanka

According to Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi assured all assistance from India to Sri Lanka following Siriena's request for emergency fuel supplies and petrol shipments.

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emergency fuel supplies
India is sending additional fuel to Sri Lanka, confirmed PMO onTwitter (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 9, 2017 : Following reports of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) rejecting a shipment of petrol from Lanka IOC (LIOC), the Sri Lankan subsidiary of Indian Oil, India on Wednesday made emergency fuel supplies to Sri Lanka following a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

“In the telephone conversation with Sri Lankan President @MaithripalaS, PM @narendramodi conveyed that India is sending additional fuel to Sri Lanka and assured India’s continued support for development cooperation,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted.

According to Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi assured all assistance from India to Sri Lanka following Siriena’s request for emergency fuel supplies and petrol shipments.

LIOC has made available 3,500 kilo litres of its own stock to CPC, Doordarshan said in a shared tweet.

A ship with an additional 21,000 kilo litres of petrol also left for Sri Lanka and additional petrol is being made available from Kochi refinery in Kerala.

Citing CPC sources, the Sunday Times said an emergency fuel supplies’ shipment that arrived at the Colombo harbour on October 17 had been tested for a second time and rejected on a quality test.

However, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he did not agree that LIOC was responsible for the current fuel shortage in the country and said two oil shipments would be arriving in the country within two day, acording to a report in the Colombo Page.

“Apart from petrol shipment arriving on November 8, another shipment is due from India on November 9, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe informed the parliament on Tuesday responding to a question raised in the parliament regarding the fuel crisis,” the statement said.

It said that Wikremesinghe said a discussion was held with the Indian High Commissioner in this regard and the Indian ship would arrive either November 9 or 10. (IANS)

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Rape Survivors in India Still Face Humiliation with Two-Finger tests and Barriers to Justice says Human Rights Watch

Indian Rape survivors still face barriers in justice and humiliation with two-finger tests, reported the Human Rights Watch

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Rape Survivors
Rape survivors face humiliation during investigation. Pixabay.

New Delhi, Nov 9: Five years after the Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi, rape survivors are still facing barriers to getting justice in India, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Rape survivors in India face significant barriers to obtaining justice and critical support services despite legal and other reforms adopted since the December 16, 2012 gang rape-murder of a 19-year-old physiotherapy intern in the national capital, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’, said the international human rights NGO in an 82-page report “Everyone Blames Me: Barriers to Justice and Support Services for Sexual Assault Survivors in India” released on Wednesday.

The report said women and girls who survived rape and other sexual violence often suffered humiliation at police stations and hospitals.

“Police are frequently unwilling to register complaints, victims and witnesses receive little protection, and medical professionals still compel degrading two finger tests. These obstacles to justice and dignity are compounded by inadequate healthcare, counselling, and legal support for victims during criminal trials of the accused,” an HRW statement said.

“Five years ago, Indians shocked by the brutality of the gang rape in Delhi, called for an end to the silence around sexual violence and demanded criminal justice reforms,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of HRW.

“Today, there are stronger laws and policies, but much remains to be done to ensure that police, doctors, and courts treat survivors with dignity,” she said.

The HRW said it conducted field research and interviews in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan — selected because of their large number of reported rape cases — as well as Delhi and Mumbai.

The report details 21 cases — 10 cases involving girls under the age of 18.

Rape survivors
Rape survivors feel harassed at police stations and hospitals. Pixabay.

The findings are drawn from more than 65 interviews with victims, their family members, lawyers, human rights activists, doctors, forensic experts, and government and police officials, as well as research by Indian organisations.

“Under the Indian law, police officers who fail to register a complaint of sexual assault face up to two years in prison. However, Human Rights Watch found that police did not always file a First Information Report (FIR), the first step to initiating a police investigation, especially if the victim was from an economically or socially marginalised community.

“In several cases, the police resisted filing the FIR or pressured the victim’s family to ‘settle’ or ‘compromise’, particularly if the accused was from a powerful family or community,” the statement said.

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It said that lack of witness protection law in India makes rape survivors and witnesses vulnerable to pressure that undermines prosecutions.

The human rights body said that some defence lawyers and judges still use language in courtrooms that is “biased and derogatory” toward sexual assault survivors.

“The attempt at shaming the victim is still very much prevalent in the courts,” Rebecca Mammen John, a senior criminal lawyer in Delhi, was quoted in the statement. (IANS)