Monday, June 16, 2008

If the Jews can revive Hebrew, why can't we revive Sanskrit?" -- Arvind Sharma

Certainly we must!

Sanskrit is not just needed for knowing the philosophical wealth of
human race,
a knowledge of sanskrit will also open up the secrets of science,
as many important theories of science have been written in Sanskrit only.

There are many mysteries that are needed to be solved
in the grand treatises of intellectuals of yore.
For instance Aryabhatta -I (476 AD) had used a unique way of expressing information
in the form of alphabets that are denoted by some numbers.
These are contained in sanskrit slokas.

From one such sloka in the first chapter of Aryabhatteya (Geetika pada),
we come to know that the sun's rotations are 43,20,000
which is equivalent to the duration of one Chathur yuga.

But in the 3rd chapter of Aryabhatteya (Kalakriya pada),
we come across the measurement of time,
according to which the duration of a yuga is 12 times the Chathur yuga.
In this chapter we see the measurement of time as follows :

12 olar months = 1 human year
30 human years = 1 pithru year
12 pithru years = deva year
12,000 deva years = 1 yuga.
This comes to 5,18,40,000 years

Unless we know sanskrit and read widely the texts and their commentaries,
we can not get the true picture of the information given - that is,
what they meant by Yuga or whether the current thinking of Chathur yuga is
what has been meant by them, when they talked about avatars in respective yugas.

Again we find classification of time in Surya siddhantha and Narada samhita.
The Surya siddhantha which we have now is said to be third version.
This version contains mind-boggling information on astronomy
which are very much true and 'discovered' by science today!
It can be then assumed that the earlier versions must have contained
crucial information on the 'sthithi' of planets and stars in a very ancient era.

In Narada samhita, we come across the classification of time
in terms of "Manushya yuga", having 60 years (Prabhava - to Akshya)
based on Panchavarshathmika yuga of Rig vedas (read my earlier posts on Yuga)
calculated for 12 times to make one Yuga of 60 years.
This calculation of Manushya yuga is important
because this puts the Ramayana in the acceptable past of 7000 years ago!

Not only these which help in dating our past,
there are many yantras of utility in space research
and many information of scientific value, that are found only in sanskrit.

It will be an yeomen service to Humanity,
if the learning of this language is revived
and ancient wisdom restored.



"...if the Jews can revive Hebrew, why can't we revive Sanskrit?" --

Arvind Sharma

1. A blog entry by Dr. Arvind Sharma

2. A report in Washington Post.

Sent by Dr S. Kalyanraman.


Hebrew – What Has That Got To Do With Sanskrit? –

Arvind Sharma

I was visiting my lawyer friend. As soon as he let me into the chamber
I remarked: "Have you decided to grow a beard?" It was an obvious
question for a man in his condition.

"You know," he began, after he had offered me a seat and settled into
one himself, "I am the member of a theatre group and my role requires
a person with a beard. So my director suggested that I grow one,
instead of wearing a made-up one."

I began to muse why I hadn't joined an elocution society, I am so
dissatisfied at the way I make conversation, when I do, that is. My
silent soliloquy ended as he resumed speaking.

"Have you heard of Yiddish?" he suddenly asked.

"A German dialect used by the Jews", I ventured and then bit my
tongue. Why didn't I say sociolect? See, I do need those lessons after

"Only it was spoken all over – in Germany, Poland, Ukraine – kind of
Jewish Lingua Franca", he ever so gently corrected me. "It started
along the Rhine around eleventh century. Has a vast literature."

"Have you ever heard of Salinger?"

My thoughts went to a news item about an affair of a famous author
with a younger girl – apparently dug out to show Clinton was not
reinventing the wheel with Monica…he used my silence to fill the gap

"He won a Nobel Prize"

I must have looked mildly surprised, for he added: "The only one
awarded in Yiddish."

If Yiddish was so well entrenched as a language among the Jews – why
Hebrew then?

He read my mind.

"Hebrew of course was there as the language of ritual, but everything
else was done in Yiddish. In 1908 a resolution was passed that Yiddish
should be the language of Israel."

Was Yiddish like Hindi? His talk flowed on regardless of my self-interrogation.

"Of course, for Theodore Herzl the language could only be German. But
history marches to its own drumbeat. It was Hebrew which ended up
being Israel's language. It's a miracle."

I had long thought so - reviving a dead language. I finally said: "the
first time I learnt of this was as a teenager. An Indian leader
returned from a visit to Israel and said: if the Jews can revive
Hebrew, why can't we revive Sanskrit?" Then I let out a soft laugh.

"They also laughed when attempts were made to revive the Hebrew
language. Then came the first family in which Hebrew was the mother
tongue. Now when I hear people make baby-talk in Hebrew – it's just

Ya – but in India people still laugh at the idea of Sanskrit.



ushma williams Says:

June 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm

as a recent student of Hinduism I have just started to learn Sanskrit.
what I have over the years having gone through a english colonial
education in India have just now realised, how much of the
intellectual culture of India was unaccessible to me, and how
regrettable that was.

All I know is that India does not even realise her big loss by losing
Sanskrit. All I know the language and its people are so completely interlinked
and the Indic world view cannot be put across in its entirety in

As i teach my own children and others Hinduism for their board exams
we have to learn the religion through its Sankrit words, and it is
wonderful to see British born childrens amazement at the language of
their ancestors ,how proud it makes me to be of this heritage with its
long intellectual and spiritual tradition and how easy Sanskrit makes
it for me to understand this.Each word opens up the Indic philosophy
so ably and precisely is amazing.


Summer Camps Revive India's Ancient Sanskrit

Effort Is Part of Bitter Debate Over the Role of Hindu Language

in a Diverse Society

By Rama Lakshmi

Washington Post Foreign Service

Sunday, June 15, 2008; A12

NEW DELHI -- Hemant Singh Yadav, a lean and sprightly 15-year-old, was
sent by his parents to a summer camp to learn to speak Sanskrit, or
what he calls the language of the gods.

He had studied the 4,000-year-old classical Indian language at school
for six years. He knew its grammar and could chant the ancient hymns.
But he could not converse in it. During a two-week course at the camp,
Sanskrit Samvad Shala, he had no choice: He was forbidden to speak any
other language.

"At first I thought it was impossible. The teachers and attendants
spoke to us only in Sanskrit, and I did not understand anything," said
Hemant, one of the 150 students gathered inside a Hindu temple on the
outskirts of New Delhi. "I knew big, heavy bookish words before, but
not the simple ones. But now Sanskrit feels like an everyday

Such camps, run by volunteers from Hindu nationalist groups, are
designed to promote a language long dismissed as dead, and to instill
in Hindus religious and cultural pride. Many Sanskrit speakers,
though, believe that the camps are a steppingstone to a higher goal:
turning back the clock and making Sanskrit modern India's spoken

Their endeavors are viewed with suspicion by many scholars here as
part of an increasingly acrimonious debate over the role of Sanskrit
in schools and society. The scholars warn against exploiting Indians'
reverence for Sanskrit to promote the supremacy of Hindu thought in a
country that, while predominantly Hindu, is also home to a large
Muslim population and other religious minorities.

"It is critical to understand Sanskrit in order to study ancient
Indian civilization and knowledge. But the language should not be used
to push Hindu political ideology into school textbooks," said Arjun
Dev, a historian and textbook author. "They want to say that all that
is great about India happened in the Hindu Sanskrit texts."

One of the oldest members of what is known as the Indo-European family
of languages, Sanskrit is a beleaguered language in India today,
caught in a web of widespread apathy and questions about its utility.

Mainstream Indian schools teach the 49-letter language unimaginatively
through tedious grammar lessons, and children learn by rote. Many
parents see little use in encouraging their children to pursue a
language that is not in any official use.

"Some people are constantly saying that Sanskrit is a dead language.
It cripples our psyche to hear that, because we are nothing without
Sanskrit," said Vijay Singh, 33, a teacher at Sanskrit Samvad Shala.
"In the name of so-called secularism, it has become fashionable to
attack any attempt to promote Sanskrit."

In January, government funding for a major Sanskrit program in schools
was abruptly cut, prompting the program's managers to allege that
officials were biased against the language.

The program, which encouraged immersive methods and developed
computer-aided teaching tools and games, had been set up in 2003 by a
Hindu nationalist government. One of the recommendations of the
project included translations of English nursery rhymes such as
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" into

When a new government was sworn in two years later, it ordered a
massive review of the program, as well as other initiatives that were
seen as being infused with Hindu supremacist rhetoric.

"The Sanskrit project was initiated by the previous government. They
had their own priorities. The project was so-so. How many people
really speak Sanskrit in India?" said Ramjanam Sharma, head of
languages at the National Council of Educational Research and
Training, a government body that designs school curriculums. Defending
the decision to cut the funding, he said it was not appropriate for
schools to teach children how to converse in Sanskrit. "We cannot
replicate the teaching methods of traditional religious schools in our
mainstream schools."

Although Sanskrit is one of the 22 official Indian languages, census
figures show that only about 14,100 people speak it fluently, in a
nation of more than a billion people. Still, it is prevalent in the
hymns and chants at Hindu temple rituals, as well as at birth,
marriage and death ceremonies. Not unlike Latin in the West, Sanskrit
was long the language of intellectual activity in ancient India.

"Some people oppose anything that promotes Sanskrit because of its
association with Hinduism. We were just trying to make the language a
fun experience for students," said Kamla Kant Mishra, a Sanksrit
professor and a member of the government project.

"To talk about Sanskrit is very political in India today," Mishra
added. "That is the plight of the language."

The Indian government funds many colleges and universities that teach
Sanskrit literature and scriptures, but it is not uncommon for even
PhD students in the language to be unable to speak it. State-run
schools offer a choice between a regional Indian language and
Sanskrit. Many private schools offer Sanskrit, French, German and

"I tell my students to opt for French, because it is useful if they
choose to work in the hotel industry, or fashion or legal field. But
there is no tangible use for Sanskrit except that they will learn an
important part of our culture," said Vishakha Sharma, 40, a French
teacher who teaches fifth- through eighth-graders in a private school.
She said her school begins each morning with a Sanskrit chant. "It
feels good to the ear, but students don't understand the meaning."

Meanwhile, some scholars are developing computer programs for Sanskrit
and translating its rich repository of children's stories online. Last
month, an alliance of international scholars from the United States,
France and Germany was formed for Sanskrit computing.

"Sanskrit is very suitable for computing, because its grammar is
complete with 4,000 rules and has a regular structure," said Girish
Nath Jha, assistant professor of computational linguistics at the
Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

At Sanskrit camp, a 19-year old undergraduate said that Sanskrit is in
her blood.

"When I learn any language, I learn about its history and its
literature," said Jaya Priyam. "But when I study Sanskrit, I learn who
I am. It is my identity."

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