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By Gaurav Sharma

There was a time, when Sanskrit usage spanned the entire Indian subcontinent. At its zenith, the language of the Gods became the lingua franca of the Indian cultural zone.

Reminiscent of its mass expansion, the ancient medium of communication has now ebbed to its nadir.

Sanskrit in contemporary India

The last census of 2011 revealed a shocking reality with a pitiable 14,000 people stating Sanskrit as their primary language. Almost no speaker was to be found in Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the north-eastern states.

Given that a miniscule 1 per cent of the entire Indian population speaks Sanskrit, it is commendable that Doordarshan has launched a weekly program in that language.

Telecasting a five-minute news bulletin–Varta–was hardly doing justice to a language which had mothered several hundred dialects during its heyday.

Can Sanskrit be bracketed into the Hindutva agenda?

The recent invitation of External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj as guest of honor at the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok is a significant reminder of the special place India and more specifically, Sanskrit holds in the academic circles of the world.

In spite of its deep scholarly appreciation, the language continues to be taught as an optional subject. This is mainly due to the increase in the relevance of other contemporary languages in the globalized world vis-a-vis Sanskrit.

To amplify its declining popularity, the language is given false religious connotations, viz Hindu credentials.

The liberal secularist of India keeps blowing the communal trumpet against measures to revitalize the glory of Sanskrit as a scientific dialect, a fact which can be corroborated by its astounding suitability as a computer language.

In this regard, it would be pertinent to note that apart from being serving liturgical purposes, Sanskrit was a philosophical language encompassing a rich mixture of poetry, drama and music.

Is Sanskrit literature only religious?

“People have a misunderstanding that it is the language of the Hindus. Ninety-five per cent of Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion”, says retired Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju.

This is not to say that the language cannot be used to indoctrinate young minds.

But if re-introducing Sanskrit in the school curriculum is termed as Hindutva propaganda, isn’t flooding of English literature in our school textbooks a classic case of Anglicization?

In the end it is not a question of whether Sanskrit is a holy language worthy of reverence but rather about providing an equal opportunity for an ancient language to re-live itself.


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A Jain monk offering ablution to Bahubali in Shravanabelagola

Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.

Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.

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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Clean and maintained hands boost confidence in daily life activities.

If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.

Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:

* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.

Soap bars organic You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash

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