Sanskrit: The language of dialogue between God and humans
By Shreesh Deopujari
Though many of the Bharatiyas have deep faith in God, they seem to be atheists by nature! It is widely known that Sanskrit is identified as dev bhasha or a language of the Gods. While many in our country cannot read, write or speak Sanskrit, they have the urge to speak Sanskrit with perfect pronunciation. According to our traditions, Sanskrit is said to have originated from the fourteen Maheswara Sutras or pithy sayings, produced from the damaru of Lord Shiva. Hence, it is respected as dev bhasha.
But how the foreigners look at it is very interesting. One day, I was watching some clippings on the YouTube and came across a VDO, which showed students of St James Independent School, London, reciting Vedic verses with precision. Though, the Britishers are not accustomed with Devnagari script and the pronunciation of joint words profoundly used in Sanskrit, they were reciting the hymens with remarkable precision. The students must have done a hard work to overpower the difficulties. That is why they could recite Sangachha-ddhwam samvadaddhwam samvo manansi janatam… a Vedic mantra. The occasion was the handing over of the baton of Commonwealth Games by the Queen Elizabeth to President of Bharat Smt Pratibha Patil. The venue was a stage erected in the open space before the queen’s palace in London. The recitation of Vedic verses followed by a group dance based on the Upanishada’s theme. The dancers were Britishers and the audience was a mixed one consisting of the Britishers and Bharatiyas. Like me, Bharatiyas were wonderstruck with both performances.
The second clipping on the YouTube was a discourse by a Christian preacher from America, black in colour, preaching namaste. He laid emphasis on greeting one another by saying namaste and told them the meaning of the word. According to him, it is way to bow before a divine soul incarnated in another person. This is a way to treat others with utmost respect. This is the need of the hour in America as many crazy students and youngsters grab guns and fire, killing the batchmates in the school and the teachers.
In the third clipping, the elderly person teaches others how to fold hands in pranam mudra. He sees pranam mudra as a mark of respect not for a person who is being saluted but to the aatma or the inner self of the concerned person. As we know, namaste is a Sanskrit word and pranam mudra is a presentation of that word in action. This shows that the Americans are following etiquettes and manners of Bharatiyas and we are aping the Americans. We start our day with Good Morning and not with namaste.
The fourth clipping was of an orchestra named as ‘Shanti Shanti’, developed by American singers. They profoundly sing Sanskrit songs and they are popular.
Every year Samskrit Bharati conducts a residential family camp, called “Janhavee” for the Americans. All family members, young and old, participate in the camp with enthusiasm. Children and young take part in the games and make fun, tell stories and jokes—but all in Sanskrit. The elderly participants get a chance to meet each other in such a healthy surrounding once in a year. So, they are happy with sharing the events of the year and chit-chatting obviously in Sanskrit. Due to the regular weekend classes take place throughout the year in the USA at 40 places, the number of persons who can converse in Sanskrit now has gone nearly about 1,000. Nearly 100 families in USA speak Sanskrit only within their family members. About 90 teachers teach Sanskrit regularly as a social activity without taking remuneration. This year the number of participants in one residential camp was over 200. When the advertisement regarding the residential camp was floated on website of Samskrit Bharati, there was a heavy rush for registration. The policy was—‘first come first serve’. In USA, all social organisations book camp sites in summer session for conducting various activities. Therefore, the seats are restricted in number. Due to the enthusiasm of the participants situation became like railway reservation list—some were placed in RAC and some in waiting list.
One can find a similar situation in France also. There, the students earn and pay for learning. The age group learning Sanskrit is also heterogeneous. They do not need Sanskrit for their livelihood. But they do sufficient labour to master the language. A Samskrit Bharati worker and a professor in Benaras Hindu University (BHU) Shri Gopabandhu Mishra is in France for the last two years to teach Sanskrit in a University. He conducted a Sambhashan Shivir in its campus.
Samskrit Bharati taught Sanskrit to four persons from Ireland and could successfully develop teaching skills in them. The preparation is giving dividend now. The four Samskrit teachers have started teaching Sanskrit in a school. First, they conducted meeting of guardians and convinced them about the necessity of learning Sanskrit—a foreign language. After their impressive presentation, the gathering of the guardians applauded the move. The key figure in that exercise was Shri Rutgure, now calls himself as Mrityunjay, originally an English teacher. According to him, the Sanskrit language is a perfect language and first one in the world. All other languages are the apabhransh languages of the original one.
Learning Sanskrit is to perfect oneself by speaking a perfect language and to praise the Almighty in the perfect language i.e. dev bhasha. There is a desire to learn the original books on yogic science and Ayurveda. The foreigners are in dire need to acquire a balance in life and attain peace. They are serious to establishing families on the basis of Hindu thoughts and social life on Vedanta. But, we Bharatiyas are in a different mood. We are not in a mood to stop and look back whether we are treading a correct path or not. We do have a thought, a philosophy of life, models to take inspiration from and knowledge. But we have a false notion of having nothing. Our presumption is that whatever is catered to us from the developed countries is the ultimate solution to our problems. The West is looking towards us and we are looking towards them. We have an ancestral property but do not know the utility of it. That is why Swami Vivekananda had given a clarion call to all Bharatiyas –‘Arise, and Awake’ and know thyself. It is a high time now.
(The writer is national secretary of Samskrit Bharati.)