Regular BA, MA and PhD courses are being taught at more than 17 Sanskrit Universities in the country. In addition, part-time sessions are also being organised, both in India and abroad, for those interested in exploring the science of Sanskrit.
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The Sanskrit Department of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) launched an inter-disciplinary open elective course.
Mahavir Agarwal, pro vice-chancellor, Patanjali University, Haridwar, says that pre-conceived notions about the difficulty of Sanskrit language hampered its popularity. “Three decades ago, several organisations realized the hidden information in Sanskrit texts. More people are convinced that the Sanskrit language is just a means to perform Hindu rituals,” reveals Agarwal, who is the former VC of Uttarakhand Sanskrit University, Haridwar.
Every mainstream subject in the field of education is mentioned within the plethora of ancient Sanskrit texts, attracting students and elders towards the language, adds Agarwal.
JSR Prasad, head of department (HoD), Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad, adds that contrary to belief about Sanskrit texts being religion-centric, over 90% of Sanskrit literature is secular and has relevance across fields.
Link to Ayurveda
Prasad says that in addition to solutions for physical and psychological ailments in humans, Upanishads and Vedas provides details about Vriksha (plant) Ayurveda as well. “Sanskrit is a scientific language, and is considered to be the root of the 6000-years-old philosophy of Ayurveda. I feel that even modern medical science lacks the depth that Ayurveda offers,” he says.
Grammar is everything
“A system needs to be built where the grammar used in Sanskrit (Panini grammar), to work as the medium between the source language and goal language on a computer,” adds Agarwal. The advantage of the Sanskrit language is that there is no difference between reading, writing, and speaking Sanskrit language. Thus, it is not as difficult as often believed,” he adds.
Besides its use in computers, Sanskrit grammar is also the base for millions of words across Indian and global languages, adds Prasad. “Pick up any root Sanskrit word, and you can form multiple words that are used in languages across the globe,” he says.
Rise in popularity
National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has emphasised interdisciplinary courses. “Whether a student wants to specialise in Science, Mathematics, Management, or Human Rights, fluency in Sanskrit will open doors to the knowledge trapped within the Sanskrit texts. This will help the student become an expert in the chosen field,” says Agarwal.
“Rise in awareness regarding widespread usage of Sanskrit, such as Mattur village in Karnataka, where only Sanskrit is conversational language, is also breaking myths about its popularity,” adds Prasad. He says that the central government’s efforts, in the form of junior research scholarships by University Grants Commission (UGC) and few overseas scholarships, are also increasing the popularity of the Sanskrit language.
There was a time when Sanskrit was considered a forgotten language, but no more. Hare Ram Tripathi, vice-chancellor, Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Varanasi, says that students take up Sanskrit courses with various objectives in mind. “Many of my students go for Civil Services exam, choosing Sanskrit as their specialised subject,” he says.
Apart from academia, Sanskrit scholars have the freedom to become experts in any field of their choice. “Few of my students have gone as news anchors in Doordarshan, or have become ‘dharam gurus’ in the army, among other professions,” says the VC of the 230-years-old Sanskrit University of the country.
About increasing the number of students taking up Sanskrit today, Tripathi reveals that the current batch of his University has around 1800 students in total. “Rather than make efforts to increase the quantity of the number of Sanskrit scholars, we should focus on the quality. Anyone who claims to be a Sanskrit scholar should be able to live up to this statement and make the nation proud, wherever he or she goes,” says Tripathi.