Sanskrit dying? These techies speak it 30 min a day

via published on July 11, 2010

Pune:   Every working day, Hemant Gadgil (42) — an associate software consultant with the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) — eagerly awaits that half an hour before lunch time, when he and 18 of his colleagues come together to learn to converse in Sanskrit.

Gadgil is part of the Sanskrit Sambhashan Shibir (Sanskrit conversation workshop), organised by Maitree — a TCS unit for cultural and social activities — and Sanskrit Bharati that works for promoting Sanskrit as a spoken language.

The seeds of the workshop were sown during Pride of India, an exhibition organised in April highlighting the contribution of Sanskrit to science. ” During the exhibition, Aashish Majramkar (co-ordinator and instructor of the workshop) showed his willingness to conduct a conversation workshop for those interested in learning Sanskrit. Not having learnt the language in school, I was really keen to learn Sanskrit. The workshop is a great opportunity.” says Gadgil. ” Everyone who visited the exhibition was in some or other way keen to get involved in this activity. Learning Sanskrit together was the outcome.”

Manjarmkar, an assistant systems engineer with TCS, is a fluent Sanskrit speaker and had been associated with Sanskrit Bharati in the past. ” To learn any language, we must follow the steps of listening, speaking, reading and then writing. At the workshop, we cover the first two steps. For example, participants are shown a glass of water and are then introduced to the word chashakaha (Sanskrit word for a glass used for drinking water). So it is exactly the way an infant learns a language,” he says.

He adds that all the participants have started making attempts to converse in Sanskrit even when they are in the office. ” When they meet me in the office, they ask ‘Bhavan, Katham Asti?’ (how are you?) and get a reply, ‘Samyakaha Asmi!’ (I am fine).”

Apart from the novelty of learning an ancient language, the participants are also keen to have access to the vast knowledge base in the language, says Manjarmkar. ” They all want to reach that stage when they will be able to read and grasp shlokas in the ancient science texts available even today.”

Gadgil says learning to converse in Sanskrit is real fun. ” In the initial stages we were never bombarded with the heavy grammatical stuff. But we are made to understand words, actions and phrases through enactment.”

Sayali Thite, an information analyst with TCS, says the emphasis is on speaking the tongue. ” I had learnt Sanskrit in classes X and XII, but it was bookish. Being able to converse in Sanskrit is a great feeling.”

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