When Israel became a nation, they chose Hebrew as their official language, while we in India ditched Sanskrit to chose Hindi as the national language. We now stand low, at the eminent historian level, having to depend on English translations of our scriptures to understand their meaning.
Due to work of an organization called Samskrita Bharati, Sanskrit is experiencing a revival and people around the world are getting a quick introduction to the language. The idea behind these classes are to get people comfortable talking in Sanskrit as soon as possible and the teacher does that by conversing only in Sanskrit for the entire 10 day duration.
Today, spoken Sanskrit is enjoying a revival – both in India and among Indian expatriates in the United States. There is even evidence of Sanskrit emerging in American popular culture as more and more people roll out yoga mats at the local gym and greet one another with “Namaste.”
Harvard, Yale, and the University of Chicago, among others, have long offered Sanskrit courses to undergrads. But the demand for these classes is growing beyond academic settings. A decade-long economic boom has brought Indians some measure of prosperity, and with it a sense of pride in the nation’s past. In large part, however, the revival is the result of the efforts of a private group, Samskrita Bharati, headquartered in New Delhi. The volunteer-based group’s mission: Bring the pan-Indian language back to the mainstream and lay the groundwork for a cultural renaissance.
Yoga practitioners in the US are seeking out the authentic Sanskrit names of various poses such as “downward dog” or “spinal twist” and the philosophy behind the practice as spelled out in the Yoga Sutras – the original treatise on the subject written in Sanskrit thousands of years ago.
Science-history buffs see old works in Sanskrit as treasure troves of ancient knowledge of astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, and metallurgy. When Copernicus announced that the sun was the center of the universe in 1543, it was a defining moment for Western science. In Samskrita Bharati’s recently released “Pride of India” – a compilation that offers a glimpse into India’s scientific heritage – Sanskrit scholars point to calculations from AD 499 that indicate astronomer Aryabhatta’s underlying concept of a sun-centered planetary model.
“This knowledge tradition is what we hope to revive through the spread of Sanskrit,” says Shastry.[Sanskrit echoes around the world]
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