“It would be better to learn Sanskrit and try to make it a truly living language. Not the Sanskrit of the Scholars, but a Sanskrit that opens the door to all the languages of India. I think that is indispensable. … Every child born in India must know Sanskrit, just as every child born in France must know French. … To learn a language one must read, read , read- and talk as much as one can. You must study grammar well if you want to understand what you read.”
Sri Aurobindo Foundation of Indian Culture (SAFIC), a unit of Sri Aurobindo Society, organized its biannual Intensive Sanskrit Learning Workshop for the year 2014 from May 26 to 31, 2014. The course was meticulously designed to introduce Sanskrit as a way of life, a mode of communication and a method of reflective thinking. The aim of the workshop was to awaken and generate interest in structural beauty and subtle harmony in Sanskrit as a language while presenting it as a mark of cultural identity of India. The course facilitator Dr Sampadananda Mishra (Director, SAFIC) planned the various sessions of the workshop with the focus on the importance of Sanskrit learning while keeping in mind the different levels of understanding of the participants in a heterogeneous group.
Each day began with one hour of chanting session from 6 to 7 am, which revealed to the participants the various nuances of chanting the Vedic and Upanishadic recitations (mantras). This session also instilled the energy to take upon the learning of the whole day with utmost sincerity and determination.
The introductory lectures on Panini, Vedas, Upanishads, epics and classical poets such as Kalidasa, Bhartrihari, etc., with the use of informative visuals were academically stimulating and helped in building a sound understanding of Sanskrit as the basis of human living, thinking and philosophizing in Indian tradition.
The 1.5-hours session on ‘basics of Sanskrit grammar’ each day made the participants recognize the intricate use of Sanskrit in the most simplistic style possible. The ‘Chandas’ in Sanskrit were introduced in an articulate manner for each one to comprehend its usage in the written and spoken Sanskrit. Apart from building the ability to understand the scientifically complex method of Sanskrit in an effective, systematic and easy way through the use of ‘Subhashitas’, the Workshop introduced the participants to various interactive modes of learning and mastering Sanskrit grammar through stories, games, songs and rhymes. The use of theatre performance was an innovative way of making the classes of Sanskrit thoughtfully motivating and encouragingly interesting.
Every day the last session was kept for conversational Sanskrit to provide the participants a dynamic experience of speaking Sanskrit confidently and fluently. This session facilitated in removing hesitation from the minds of all the participants to make use of the Sanskrit in daily conversation with a focus on vibration, quality and clarity of each Sanskrit sound and syllable.
The juice break between the sessions also proved to be a great source of learning because it was an introduction to the taste of the juices of the variety of flowers of Pondicherry. This was indeed a real refreshing change each day.
The course concluded with a feedback session, with all participating members expressing their experiences at the workshop, making thoughtful suggestions and sharing their determination to learn and master the Sanskrit language. Each participant was full of gratitude for Dr Mishra for his complete support to each one for helping in arrangement for coming and staying at Puducherry and most importantly for showing them the path to Sanskrit language in the most unique and impressive manner.
Overall the course was greatly successful in generating and enhancing the interest in the spoken and written Sanskrit while achieving its objective of introducing participants to the vast ocean–like greatness of the divine language of Sanskrit.
Here is the Feedback from a Few Participants of SPANDANA May 2014.
(*Report by Dr Geetesh Nirban, participant of Spandan May 2014)