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Vedic Sanskrit older than Avesta, Baudhayana mentions westward migrations from India: Dr N Kazanas

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An artistic reconstruction of the city of Harappa. Photo: www.sci-news.com

By Nithin Sridhar

The Aryan Question: Part 4

The Aryan question has been hanging for many decades without any definite conclusion, but with a lot of controversies and politics being played around it. In the quest to bring out the various facets of the Aryan issue, NewsGram decided to interview various scholars who have worked extensively towards unraveling the mystery of Aryan issue.

In this fourth instalment of ‘The Aryan Question’ series, NewsGram brings an exclusive interview with renowned Greek Indologist and author of many books on Aryan issue, Dr Nicholas Kazanas.

Interview with Dr Nicholas Kazanas

Nithin Sridhar: What is the role of linguistics in analyzing the history and movement of world languages? Is the linguistic approach enough to determine the history and culture of any particular group of people?

Dr. Nicholas Kazanas: The very first thing to say is that any interested party should read my recent publication ‘Vedic & Indo-European Studies’ (2015 Aditya Prakashan, N. Delhi) wherein I present all refutations of the AIT and all evidence for the Out of India thesis. A subtitle should read “All the linguistic evidence for Indigenism”.

The role of linguistics by itself is small since, of itself, it cannot give dates. Linguists do offer dates, but these are mere conjectures and of no value. Comparative linguists make enormous claims about their “science” but, in fact, this is not a science since it can make no truthful predictions the way Physics and Biology do. The so-called law of universal and homogeneous change in the same environment has no universal application and, therefore, no validity (as I show with many examples in my book, especially IE (Indo-European) original retroflex |ṛ| into Avestan).

Nicholas Kazanas
Dr Nicholas Kazanas

Linguistics depends on the documentation. When it enters an undocumented or poorly documented area and period, it makes conjectures which afterwards turn out to be blunder. It can tell us much about the culture of a people, but only if there is ample documentation and for antiquity, ample archaeological material.

NS: Can you please explain the process by which the linguists arrive at the homeland of a particular language or that of a proto-language? What are the factors that determine the fixing up of such homelands?

N Kazanas: Linguists arrive at homelands through conjecture and where the homelands exist, through literary evidence and archaeological materials. Every case involves comparisons. In the end, it is the historical approach and its discipline that determines the result.

The fact is that apart from very certain cases like China, Japan, and some African peoples, other homelands like that of the IEans or the Uralic people remain uncertain.

Frankly, I find the concern with homelands and the reconstruction of protolanguages of little value. Linguistics should be concerned with the four states of language as briefly stated in the Ṛigveda 1.164 and later in Bhartṛhari.

NS: In the case of fixing a homeland for Proto-Indo-European languages, several hypotheses have been put forward. Central Asia, Pontic Steppes, and even India have been considered as a contender. Mainstream scholars who have propounded AIT/AMT, have largely accepted the Pontic steppes as a homeland. What is your view on the issue? Can you shed more light on this?

N Kazanas: The IE Urheimat has been placed in many areas from the Baltic lands to Central Asia and, of course, India.

The Pontic Steppe is purely conjectural. It has gained large acceptance only through mechanical repetition. Neither linguistic nor paleontological and archaeological evidence supports this homeland. And for these reasons, seasoned archaeologists like Renfrew (of Cambr. Britain, now become linguist) opted for other regions like the south-of-Caucasus area (or North-eastern Turkey cum Armenia).

JV Day, a mainstreamer, has shown in two studies (1994, 2001) that this is not a very probable homeland. The people of the Kurgan culture (Pontic Steppe), he asserts, did not, according to cranioskeletal remains, proceed further south or west of Hungary!

Another mainstreamer, S Zimmer, admitted in 2002 in a debate with me, that the period we are dealing with and the matter of the IE homeland and migrations obscure and problematic.

Also Read: No evidence for warfare or invasion; Aryan migration too is a myth

NS: You have strongly argued against any invasion or migration of Aryan language speakers into India. Can you elaborate regarding the evidence that best establish a non-invasion, non-migration scenario?

N Kazanas: The AIT started as a sociological explanation of the caste system by French and then British writers in the second half of the 18th cent. Some said the Mesopotamians, others the Egyptians, had invaded and established the four castes. Some English scholars rejected this. But the idea of invasion stuck.

Max Müller introduced into this (comparative) linguistics and promulgated the dates of Ṛigveda composition c 1200 BCE, of Atharvaveda c 1000 and so on. So the invasion had to have occurred c 1500.

This is all nonsense. Müller’s evidence was only a ghost story in Kathāsaritsagara which had one Kātyāyana whom Müller identified with the sūtra-writer of the 3rd cent BCE and so concocted the chronology in neat 200-year periods. In this he no doubt had to consider the chronology of Greek history, which was a basic element for the European culture and Bishop Usher’s date for the beginning of creation c 4000 BCE.

Anyway, Müller himself rejected this his own early view later in life declaring that the Ṛg Veda could have been as early as 5000 BCE. This is not usually stated by invasionists.

Archaeology has not found any invasion or immigration. The culture in Saptasindhu is, according to it, native and continuous until c600 BCE when the Persians invaded.

But, proponents of the AIT proceeded to modify their pet theory constantly. What was invasion became in the 1990’s a peaceful immigration; then in the 2000’s a peaceful treacle of small waves that left no archaeological trace and more recently the date of entry was pushed back to 2000 BCE.

All post-2003 studies of DNA travels have shown a movement out of India, not into it. And this should have sufficed. However, there are other kinds of evidence, linguistic facts.

I have shown by comparing more than 400 lexemes (nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verbs) with a common stem in three IE languages (not two as is the usual, but wrong practice) that of these Sanskrit lack about 50 (and most of these are of doubtful IE descent as they are found only in Italic, Celtic and Germanic tongues and are of recent usage); Germanic and Greek lack about 150 and the others 200 and more. Thus, Sanskrit has more of the common stock of vocabulary than any other IE language. (Kazanas 2015, ch 1, 2, 3).

I have also demonstrated that Sanskrit is far older than Avestan and that Avestan broke away from the wider Saptasindhu, the land of the seven rivers, moving north-westwards. (2015, ch4).

I showed also that the isoglosses could have spread only from larger Saptasindhu, probably the Bactria area and not from the Pontic Steppe and the Kurgan culture (2015, ch5).

So much for linguistic evidence. Literary evidence also tells the same tale. The Ṛigveda hymn 6.61.9,12 says that goddess Sarasvatī has made the five Vedic tribes spread beyond the seven sister-rivers. Then hymn 4.1.3 says that the Vedic people have been “here” (in Saptasindhu) all the time; 5.10.6 and 10.65.11 that the Vedic sages and the Aryan customs should spread over the earth.

Baudhāyana’s Śrautasūtra 18.4 mentions two migrations of the Vedic people. One was eastward, the Āyava. The other was westward, the Āmāvasa, and this produced the Gāndāris (Gandhāra and Bactria), the Parśus Persians and the Arattas (of Urartu and/or Ararat on the Caucasus?).

Map showing the “seven rivers and Sarasvatī”; various sites with Harappan artefacts far from Saptasindhu; also the two movements eastward by Āyu and westward by Amāvasu.
Map showing the “seven rivers and Sarasvatī”; various sites with Harappan artefacts far from Saptasindhu; also the two movements eastward by Āyu and westward by Amāvasu.

NS: How would you explain the intimate relationships shared by various European languages with Sanskrit, in a non-invasion, non-migration scenario?

N Kazanas: I would not think of attempting to explain the affinities in the IE family of languages as anything but the result of migrations.

Some claim that there are random resemblances without any further implications. In other words, there is no real relationship. But this is an absurd position: for the verb |is| we have Sanskrit asti, Greek esti Latin est and so on; for the noun |mother| we have Sanskrit mātar, Greek mētēr, Latin māter and so on; for |family|kind|tribe| Sanskrit janas, Greek genos, Latin genus; for |serpent| we have Sanskrit sarpa, Greek herpe-ton, Latin serpens, and so on. And so on for hundreds of lexemes. The odds against a familial relationship for chance resemblances are trillions.

Others again claim vaguely that there were “waves of transmission”. But this too is impossible. The waves travel in a medium (water, air). What was the medium here and what was the transmitter? Only people speak a human language. Therefore, people must have travelled – if this involved only traders!

Also Read: Vedic and Harappan are respectively literary and material facets of same civilization

NS: Some scholars have pointed that, Rigvedic people were different from Harappan people. Some even identify Harappan people with Dravidian culture and Indus script with Dravidian language family. What is your view on this?

N Kazanas: There are many conjectures about the Indus script. Some see a form of Old Vedic; others Dravidian; others magic symbols.

The fact is we do not know what the Indus script signifies.

But the Indus (or Harappan) seals and many other artefacts suggest articles of the post-Vedic general Hindu culture. I would not say that it is Sanskritic or Dravidian. The yogic figure among animals is usually identified with Lord Śiva paśupati (lord of the animals). Surely Śiva is not exclusively Sanskritic nor exclusively Dravidian.

BB Lal, the famous archaeologist has published two studies on the continuity of the representations on the seals: 2002 The Sarasvatī flows on, Delhi, Books International, and 2009 How Deep Are the Roots of Indian Civilisation Delhi, Books International. If anything, the evidence herein adduced shows a Sanskritic continuity that we find in the whole of North India, including Bihar and Bengal.

NS: Some AMT scholars also argue that, migrating Aryan speakers spread their language and culture on the native Indians through a process of assimilation. What is your view on this?

N Kazanas: The proponents of the AIT have since the 1990’s changed their tune from plain invasion to immigration to small, peaceful waves that left no traces on the native culture other than the language!

This last view is, even more, absurd than the previous ones. Because it raises, even more, difficult questions.

Now, we all know that Vedic is not a simple language like modern Hindī or Spanish. So how and why would the Indian (or Harappan) natives adopt such a difficult, highly inflected language? Such an adoption could have come about only through coercion and coercion implies conquest, complete and total.

I might add, that by the end of the 15th cent CE, Greece was almost totally conquered by the Muslims (except for some islands). Yet the Greeks never adopted the language of the Muslims except for some words – which happens even when there is only a friendly relationship. The Hindus did not adopt wholly the Persian language in the Middle Ages after their submission. But Urdu remained in the North, a mixture of Persian and Hindī and Hindī absorbed much Arabic vocabulary.

The linguistic result is one that only coercion and conquest could have produced, not a peaceful entry of small successive waves.

Another paradox left unexplained by non-indigents is this. The Harappans had a script but left no literature. The incoming Vedic had no script, were illiterate but had an enormous literature in the Vedic Hymns and perhaps other pieces!

Note also that at the time of (supposed) entry c 1700 BCE, the Harappans had a much higher culture than the nomadic Aryans and were moving eastward to the Gangetic plain. Why would the immigrants stay in desiccated lands?

Also Read: Rigvedic people not Harappans, Naditama Saraswati is Helmand in Afghanistan

NS: Another argument proposed by AMT scholars is that Avestan was older than Vedic Sanskrit. They further point out that, neither do the Zoroastrians show any memory about the geography of India nor do the Avestan literature shows any familiarity with Indus River. Thus, it is argued that only a migration from Iran into India must have been possible and not otherwise. What is your view regarding this? How to reconcile this with a non-invasion scenario?

N Kazanas: Mainstreamers, of course, will propose emphatically that Avestan is older than Sanskrit. It is one of their props for claiming that the Indoaryans moved from ancient Persia into Saptasindhu. But I have yet to see one rational demonstration of this. All such claims are based not on actual evidence, but on reconstructions of proto-languages which are sheer conjectures and in any case, prove nothing and sheer assertions!.

It is not true at all that Avestan shows no memory of the geography of India. In the Gathas, there is mention of some 16 places the Avestan people travelled before settling in Persia and one of them is Hǝptahǝndu! This is a transliteration of Saptasindhu, land of the seven rivers. Now the name or this collocation sapta sindhavaḥ (plural) occurs in several Rigvedic hymns, but nowhere in the Avestan hymns.

Avestan has also the river name Haraxvaitī which again is a transliteration of Sarasvatī. This again is a singular occurrence in Avestan. The word hara- has no other cognates in the language. But the word saras ‘rapid-motion, pool’ has cognates not only in Vedic (verb √sṛ > si-sar-ti, sar-ati, lexemes sṛtvan ‘nimble’, sarit, saraṇa, etc. but also in other IE languages: Greek hallo-, Latin salio, Tocharian salate, all ‘leap’.

Now it would be utterly absurd – would it not?– to claim that the Indoaryans came from Persia, bringing the name Haraxvaitī and changing it to Saras-vaitī (one who has rapids, whirlpools) so that saras would engender other cognates with √sṛ ! On the other hand, it is quite rational to say that the Avestan people moved out of Saptasindhu taking with them the name Hǝptahǝndu and the river Haraxvaitī.

I present 42 pages of evidence showing that Vedic is much older than Avestan in chapter 4 of my 2015 publication. In these pages, I refute R Schmitt’s 2009 claim for Avestan anteriority point by point. I challenge anyone to disprove me in the same way!

Pottery from Indus Valley Civilization. Photo: http://selfstudyhistory.com
Pottery from Indus Valley Civilization. Photo: http://selfstudyhistory.com

NS: You have often argued for an older date for Rigveda than the conventional dating of 1200 BC. A recent seminar of Sanskrit scholars in India has also arrived at a much older date than presently accepted using astronomical and literary evidence. Can you shed light regarding evidence that point towards Rigveda being composed long before than currently believed? What according to you is a probable date for Rigvedic composition? And how an older dating affects the currently mainstream theory of Aryan migration?

N Kazanas: Earlier, I pointed out that the conventional dating of the RV c1200 is based on the mechanical repetition of Müller’s ridiculous early conjecture based on a ghost story and some Eurocentric ideas.

It is not only astronomical references, some of which have been disputed. There is much more, linguistic and literary evidence.

It would be foolhardy to assign a definite date(s) because there is no such definite evidence. What we can and should assert with certitude is that the RV was composed on the whole before the rise of the Indus-Sarasvatī (Harappan) culture c3000. Tradition wants the RV to have been completed by, say, 3100. And this is as far as one can go.

The archaeological evidence, and particularly expert archaeologists of the area, Possehl and Bridget Allchin, tell us that Sarasvatī stopped flowing down to the ocean at about 3800 BC. Consequently, the hymns that praise Sarasvatī as “best-river, best mother, best goddess” etc. must have been composed before that date. Otherwise, the Indus would have been the best river!

The Rigvedic hymn 6.61.9,12 saying that Sarasvatī (goddess and river) spread the 5 tribes beyond Saptasindhu must also have been composed at that date or before.

Then there are certain (more than 10) common items among the Harappan archaeological evidence that are not found mentioned in the RV but are found abundantly in post-Rigvedic texts, especially Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras.

iṣṭakā ‘brick’, not mentioned, but we find the stone, wood and mud.

Urbanisation, not mentioned; the word pur means ‘defense, protective construction’ and is rather super-natural (and sometimes metallic!).

No ruins – even though after 1900 BC many towns were abandoned.

No cotton – but skin, wool and tree-bark are mentioned.

Fixed altars or hearths are not found – but are plentiful in Brāhmaṇas.

Then, no allusions to iconography – painting, relief or statuary. And so on with several more items.

True, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But if we read a modern novel set in a big city and find no mention of Russia and unified Germany, no mobile telephones, no coloured television, no free Mandela, no Princess Diana and so on, then we know that it was written at about 1980 or before.

NS: Some scholars argue that if there was a migration, it was out of India and not into India. What is your assessment of it? Are there any pieces of evidence that point towards a migration out of India?

N. Kazanas: The evidence for the OIT (Out of India Theory) is chiefly linguistic and, of course, the reversal of the mainstream AIT.

Sanskrit is, on the Preservation Principle, the oldest of the IE sister-languages. And most scholars agree that it preserves most of the Proto-Indo-European features in phonetical, lexical, and syntactical areas, particularly the roots. It itself is a derivative showing change and attrition.

I have no archaeological training and cannot evaluate the evidence in this field encompassing Central Asia, Persia, Pontic Steppe and North Europe. But I would ask in all seriousness established IEan archaeologists like Kuzmina, Mallory et al, to re-examine the evidence amassed putting aside, if possible, their customary views about the correctness of the AIT. Look at the evidence afresh. I feel sure they shall find much to indicate an Out of India Movement.

A clarification here. The real spread in the OIM took place from Bactria, not Saptasindhu itself. First the Vedics moved there as Baudhāyana says, then spread north and north-west in small or large waves.

In 1997 Joanna Nichols also proposed on her reading of the linguistic evidence that the central area of dispersal was Bactria.

NS: Can you share any latest developments or discoveries regarding the Aryan issue? What are the implications of these discoveries?

N Kazanas: I am afraid I have retired for some years and no longer follow the latest publications- after 2012. So I can say very little about recent developments.

But in many publications, I detect a strong element of vanity and ambition to be original. A recent 2014 publication by an Indian has little linguistic evidence, much unreliable archaeology and cites only one of my works, an essay of 2002 (!!) ignoring more than 20 publications since then.

Again, I repeat that one who really cares about these issues should read my 2015 publication.

More in the Series:

Interview with B. B. Lal-1-No evidence for warfare or invasion; Aryan migration too is a myth

Interview with B. B. Lal-2- Vedic and Harappan are respectively literary and material facets of same civilization

Interview with Rajesh Kochhar: Rigvedic people not Harappans, Naditama Saraswati is Helmand in Afghanistan

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. N Kazanas says that avestan culture has references to a river in hapt hendu called Haraxvaitī and calls it a tranliteration of sarasvati. But Hara vaiti looks more like the Indian river Iravati(popularly called Ravi) which forms the border between Modern India and Pakistan.
    Does he have a clue about Iravati/Raavi ?

    • No, as you see, when ever ‘Sa’ comes, tthey replace it with ‘Ha’ as, they cannot pronouncee. like sapta > Hapta , and sindhu > Hindu , like so. considering all common practice, Harasvati is related to sarasvati.

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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.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

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)