Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), Puducherry, was invited to conduct a five-day, intensive Sanskrit workshop from August 2 to 6, 2016, at Leoncin, a small town 50 km away from Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. The workshop was attended by a group of 10 very enthusiastic participants coming from different parts of Poland.
During the workshop, conducted from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, the participants learnt about Sanskrit alphabet, writing Devanagari script, Sanskrit grammar, Sanskrit prosody, Sanskrit literature, root sounds in Sanskrit, details and beauty of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, interesting and amazing creations in Sanskrit, subhashitas in Sanskrit and Mantrayoga. Apart from these, every day there were two sessions on spoken Sanskrit. Also there was one session on singing rhyming songs in Sanskrit, which was greatly enjoyed by the participants. In the course of the story-telling session, the participants learned three small stories in simple Sanskrit. It was inspiring to see the participants articulating everything with minimum flaws.
By organizing this workshop and participating in it, the participants also celebrated the 200 years of the publication of the first Sanskrit grammar book in Polish language, written by Walenty Skorochod Majewski in 1816. The beginning of Polish Indology is inseparably connected to Majewski. He had no academic training, but he devoted most of his life to propagating Indian culture, Sanskrit in particular, in Poland.
A participant of the workshop was Anna Ruchinsky, who has translated Durga Saptashati, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Shivasutras, Shankara’s hymns and portions of Ramayana into Polish. She has also tried to maintain the chandas of Sanskrit in Polish. A very accomplished translator, she is very respected in Poland, as far as Sanskrit is concerned. Her son Skarbimir Ruchinsky is extremely fluent in Sanskrit and speaks like an erudite Indian Sanskrit pandit. In fact, Skarbimir has taken up ‘Yogananda Shastri’ as his Indian name and he lives in Ahmedabad where he has a small IT farm. The younger son of Anna Ruchinsky is also fully into learning and propagating Sanskrit. The family most of the times speaks Sanskrit when they meet at home.
Stefan Ziembinski who organized this workshop and invited Dr. Mishra is a great admirer of Sanskrit and India. He is also translating the ‘Mokshadharma Parva’ of the Mahabharata into Polish language.
Beata Leska, one of the participants from Warsaw wrote in her feedback: “I was rather afraid of my first Sanskrit encounter, but I ended up enchanted.” Manana Chyb, another participant wrote: “I liked most the harmony between theory and practice, the whole workshop was much above my expectation.” Dorota Zakrzewska, the youngest among all wrote: “The introduction to Bhagavad Gita gave me a lot of insight into the history and philosophy of India.”