Samskrita Bharati – To Revive and Popularise Samskritam

via Praveen Shanker Pillai published on February 4, 2010

Samskrita Bharati is a non-Government, non-profit organisation working to revive and popularise the use of Sanskrit or Samskritam, the Language of our National Ethos in daily communication. Samskrita Bharati is committed to the exposition of the richness and beauty of Samskritam and its relevance to the modern world. Propagated and popularised by the itinerant Rishi-Munis, Samskritam was a pan-Indian language in Vedic time. Due to an efflux of time spanning several millennia it gave way to spoken dialects in various parts of Bharat. Samskrita Bharati seeks to revive our cultural heritage, the ancient Samskritam language by spearheading the ‘Spoken Samskritam’ movement in our country and abroad. The organisation teaches functional Samskritam language for day-to-day conversation. With a team of selfless and dedicated volunteers, Samskrita Bharati conducts various programmes aimed at enabling people from all sections of society to discover the joy of speaking Samskritam, providing a glimpse into the scientific heritage and spiritual wisdom embodied in Samskrit literature and highlighting the need to preserve this ancient cultural and spiritual heritage of our land.

Samskrita Bharati has its headquarters in New Delhi, and the U.S chapter is located at San Jose, California. The International centre, “Aksharam”, is located in Bangalore, India, and houses a research wing, a library, Publication division and an audio-visual Language lab for teaching spoken Sanskrit.

Speak SAMSKRITAM MOVEMENT is the brainwave of PUNDIT CHAMU KRISHNA SHASTRY, a Sanskrit Scholar from Tirupati Sanskrit College who along with his 5 friends after graduated in Sanskrit came up with a unique methodology of teaching spoken Sanskrit through ‘Speak Samskritam’ course with 10 day capsule classes of 2 hour duration. Within a short span of time this methodology became a trailblazer in the field of teaching people to speak Sanskritam within a very short duration. This Speak Samskritam Movement took off in 1981 from Bangalore city and the rapid spread of Spoken Samskritam classes all over the country paved the way to establish “SAMSKRITA BHARATI” – a national level organization in New Delhi in 1995. Samskrita Bharati has systematically developed lots of Simple Sanskrit books, tapes and CDs for learn practical conversations tools in Samskritam at various levels to allow new speakers to effectively use Samskritam for conversations in a span of mere ten days. Pundit Chamu Krishna Shastry is the General Secretary of Samskrita Bharati.

There is a persisting fear in the mind of the people that Samskritam is a very difficult language to learn and that only dedicated erudite Pundits can accomplish such a “feat”. Pundit Chamu Krishna Shastry says thus: “The Grammar-Translation Method (G-T Method) is a 2300 year old European method of teaching languages. This was introduced during the British colonial period to teach Sanskrit. In 1920, the English Education Council has discarded the G-T Method. This G-T Method is still being used to teach Sanskrit today whereas the whole world has discarded this method. Now throughout the world Communicative Methods or alternative methods of language teaching have been employed in teaching other languages. Only in case of Sanskrit teaching the old Grammar-Translation method is still being followed.  Any language should be learnt through speech and not through Grammar or Translation. That is the main purpose of these ‘Sambhashana Shibirams’. I am not saying that Grammar should not be taught. Yes, Grammar is very essential for a language. Translation skills are also needed. The question is whether you teach Language through Grammar or whether you teach Grammar through Language. Whether it is Rule to Example or Example to Rule. This is the only difference in the way we teach Sanskrit and that makes all the difference.”

So, now, we have it official, folks! The learned Pundit says we can learn Samskritam the hard way or the easy way! We prefer the easy way, Right? Hey! If there can be ‘HTLM for Dummies’ and ‘C Language for Dummies’ then why not a ‘SAMSKRITAM FOR DUMMIES”!!!

I would now, like to mention here, a Times of India report by Kushala, dated 13 August 2005:
This is regarding a quaint, sleepy hamlet named Mathoor Village in Karnataka, situated a little over 4 kms away from the hustle-bustle of the district headquarters, Shimoga,. Samskritam is the vernacular of a majority of the 5,000 residents of Mathoor.

Mathoor was known as a center of learning for Sanskritam and Vedic studies from time immemorial. Mathoor’s Sanskrit-speaking habit got a further boost when Pejawar mutt Pontiff Vishvesha Theertha visited the place in 1982, and christened it ‘the Sanskrit village’. Here, the study of the language begins from the Montessori level, where kids are taught rhymes and told stories in Sanskrit — even Chandamama comics are printed in Sanskrit. While Sanskrit is a compulsory subject in school, teachers and students even talk to each other in this language. At times, the whole village seems like a paathashala — with everybody, greeting each other with ‘Hari Om’ (hello) and ‘Katham asthi?’ (How are you?).

Sanskrit has been the language of India’s soul. A well-known western scholar has described it as the Mother of all languages. Our ancient Indian sages called it the Language of the gods, “Devabhasha”. While it is a Pracheena Bhaasha or ancient language, it is also the Saamskritaka Bhaasha, or the language of our culture. Nobody can truly understand and appreciate the spirit of Indian culture, if he does not know the Sanskrit language. Sri Aurobindo, the Maharishi of Modern India, while speaking of the importance of the Sanskrit language for India, says: “It is of the utmost value to a nation, a human group-soul to preserve its language and make it a strong and living cultural instrument. A nation, race or people that lose its language cannot live its whole life or real life.”

The versatile literary creations in the Sanskrit language have evoked a deep sense of awe and wonder among scholars of the world. All the profound spiritual wisdom of India embodied in our ancient scriptures like Vedas, Upanishadas, Bhagawat Gita, Puranas and Shastras are expressed in the Sanskrit language. No wonder great Indian sages like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda viewed Sanskrit language as the most perfect medium for expressing spiritual and philosophical ideas. But interestingly, even some of the modern scientists in the high-tech field of computers have discovered that Sanskrit is the best language for the latest generation of Artificial Intelligence machine-systems.

Now let us hear from the highly anglicised Jawaharlal Nehru: “The past has gone and the present is with us and we work for the future. But I have no doubt that whatever the shape the future may take, one of the biggest, the strongest, and the most powerful and the most valued of our legacies, will be the Sanskrit language.”

India’s contribution to various branches of knowledge and wisdom was denied in the past by the British as well as many “Secular” Indian historians working under the British Raj and British influence. But why has this attitude not changed even after independence? With the introduction of Macaulay system of education in 1835 the enslavement of the Indian mind began and it continues to be so even today — even after 63 years of our partitioned independence.

Macaulay’s offspring, the “convent-educated secular” Hindus who out of their deep-seated inferiority-complex try to deride anything to do with India’s hoary traditions, call Sanskrit a dead language. Let these slave-minded “secular” ignoramuses realise that the Jews, after Israel became independent, revived and popularized their ancient language Hebrew. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922) highly regarded as the “reviver of the Hebrew language” was the first to float the idea of reviving Hebrew. He published articles in newspapers on the topic and then initiated and participated in the project which came to be known as the Ben Yehuda Dictionary. He worked tirelessly to raise awareness about Hebrew revival while fighting against its opponents.

Dr Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), believed that we will never get the strength to build a great enduring nation by solely engaging in material pursuits. Dr Coomaraswamy, a scientist by training and outlook, emphatically stated thus: “The weakness of our national movement lay in the fact that WE DID NOT LOVE INDIA. We loved the suburban England of that time. We loved the bourgeois prosperity, which we hoped would be established when we had learned enough science and forgotten enough art to successfully compete with Europe in a commercial war conducted on its present lines. It is not thus that nations are made.”
In the India of 1910 we were under British Rule and culturally we were the slaves of England and the West. In the India of today though we may be politically free, yet we continue to be cultural slaves of the West.

Modern Hebrew, now revived and revitalized by Jewish patriots, is now widely spoken in Israel. Pundit Chamu Krishna Shastry says: “Popularising Sanskrit is far easier as it is the mother of almost all Bharateeya languages. I have travelled all over Bharat and have spoken in Samskritam. The common people could understand my speech without difficulty because up to 60 per cent of the words in the Bharateeya languages come from Sanskrit.”

Language revitalization is being carried for several languages abroad often without official support. But the Government of India came out with a notification in 2000 declaring Sravana Pournima day as “SAMSKRITA DINAM” throughout the country. RASHTRIYA SANSKRIT SANSTHAN is a (DEEMED UNIVERSITY) established under the Ministry of Human Resources Development administers the Scheme for the Development of Sanskrit Education.

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