Excellence in Sanskrit: Thailand shows the way!
Visiting the sprawling Campus of Sanskrit Studies Centre under Silpakorn University, Thailand was just awesome. It would not be an exaggeration to state that this might be the largest Sanskrit Building in the world. What was surprising was its location not in India but in Thailand. This Centre blessed by His Majesty the King of Thailand Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej whose Chaipattana Foundation provided royal charter for the land. Equally supportive has been Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who has done her Masters in Sanskrit Epigraphy, who gladly accepted to be the Patron for the SSC.
A brief meeting with its Founder Director Dr Chirapat Prapandvidya and the incumbent Director Dr Samniang Leurmsai was pleasant and refreshing one to listen to their plans for promotion of Sanskrit related studies in Thailand. The towering five storeyed building is looking forward to be equipped with all the modern facilities for learning Sanskrit. It is expected that this Centre would get about 200 students under several programmes (with the Faculty of Archaeology) in the coming academic year. The Centre is thankful to Government of India who initiated its first commitment in 2003 when Dr Amarjiva Lochan as the SSC Programme Coordinator presented the case of financial support before the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. Our Prime Minister happily approved of it. Later on, after pursuance of HRH Princess, the Govt. of India in Bangkok released the amount of 10 Million Baht (Rs 20 Million) when Ms Latha Reddy was the Indian Ambassador to Thailand. The rest 78 Million Baht (Rs 156 Million) was contributed by the Royal Thai Government, and the SSC is still looking forward to donations and support of 20 million Baht (Rs 40 million) to give the final touch to its class rooms, constructing the Auditorium of 300 capacity, and developing its landscape around the Building.
The Sanskrit Studies Centre would be hosting the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in June-July 2015. The SSC is not only an indicator of the popularity of studying subjected related to Sanskrit and Pali in Thailand but proves the dedication of local Thai scholars to keep the flame of Sanskrit alive. Hope we Indians take the cue from this craving for learning Sanskrit— the mother of all major languages of our Asian neighbours.
(The writer is convenor of Sewa International and Zonal Coordinator of ICCS)
While India was running heated discussions and fasts-unto-deaths on corruption, Lokpal and related issues, Government of Mauritius was passing a bill for Spoken Sanskrit in its National Assembly. The object of this Bill is “to provide for the establishment, operation and management of the Sanskrit-speaking Union” that is to empower Sanskrit as a language to bind people of Indian origin together in a distant land.
The Union shall consist of members having an interest in the development, propagation and promotion of the Sanskrit language. The Union shall be administered and managed by an Executive Council consisting of 12 elected members elected and a representative of the Ministry.
The objections and functions of the Union are listed as–
(a) promote the Sanskrit language in its spoken and written forms;
(b) promote friendship and understanding between the Sanskrit-speaking peoples of the world and to engage in any educational, academic, cultural and artistic work to further that objective;
(c) provide facilities for the exchange of views affecting the interest, well-being, development, relationships and common problems of the Sanskrit-speaking peoples of the world;
(d) promote and encourage the linguistic development among all people having an interest in the Sanskrit language with special emphasis on the cultural, artistic, economic and social perspectives of the language;
(e) provide facilities for exchange programmes, scholarships and social intercourse between the Union and other organisations at international level and
(f) promote, organise and encourage correspondence, conferences, seminars, workshops, debates, elocution exercises, training, competitions, artistic performances and demonstrations for persons interested in the Sanskrit language.