Samskrita Bharati

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Aksharam, Samskrita Bharati, Bangalore.

Saṃskṛta Bhāratī (Sanskrit: संस्कृतभारती, IPA: [sə̃skr̩təbʱɑːrətiː]) is a non-profit organisation working to revive Sanskrit. Sanskrit was a pan-Indian language in Vedic time but lost its place to spoken dialects in modern India. Samskrita Bharati has its headquarters in New Delhi, and US chapter headquarters in San Jose, California. The International centre, "Aksharam", is located in Bangalore, India, and houses a research wing, a library, Publication division and an audio-visual Language lab for teaching spoken Sanskrit. According to their own figures, repeated often in their promotional literature, by 1998, 2.9 million people had attended the conversation camps.[1]

Mission and motivations[edit]

The basic mission of this organization is to democratize and popularize Sanskrit by encouraging the use of simple Sanskrit in everyday conversational contexts.[2] More recently, the organization has started to focus on the maintenance of the “mother-tongue-ness”[मातृभाषत्व] of Sanskrit by means of Sanskrit households.[3]

Motivation[edit]

As its founder says, "Sanskrit is the best tool to remove the five types of social differences; linguistic, class, caste, sect and the north vs south division." [4] A basic goal is to create a nation of Sanskrit speakers, (re)creating a national unity for India through common linguistic practice.

Another one of the main premises of the movement is to allow direct access to the vast storehouse of the Sanskritic textual tradition.[2]

Pedagogical principles[edit]

The organization's pedagogical philosophy is based on the thought that listening and speaking must precede reading and writing.[2] Rejecting both Western-style grammatical instruction (or more recent innovations) and Indian traditions of Sanskrit instruction emphasizing systematic memorization, Samskrita Bharati instead has focused its energies on immersion through conversation.[1] A common aphorism used in their literature is: “Speak in Samskrit, not about Samskrit.” [4]

This follows a theory of linguistic practice which imagines a progression from the capacity for “general communication” (simple reference and predication), through the capacity for expressing thought or reasoning (logical argumentation), culminating in the capacity for the outward manifestation of emotions.[5]

Simplification of Sanskrit[edit]

To provide a gentle introduction to Sanskrit, Samskrita Bharati has developed a simplified variant of the language, which while conforming to Panini's grammar, focuses on the use of very regular forms for conversational purposes at initial stages. As Dr Hastings observes:

the "simple" of simple Sanskrit points to the fact that it is designed to act as a bridge between the modern vernacular(s) a simple Sanskrit learner already knows and, ideally, acquisition of the fully-elaborated Classical Sanskrit grammar... "simple Sanskrit" is a variety of the language which has been subjected to what we could call distributional simplification. That is, almost all of the differences between simple Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit are differences in the distribution of forms rather than grammatical".[2]

Work[edit]

Samskrita Bharati is primarily a volunteer-driven organization, with volunteers from all walks of life spending time educating people to speak Sanskrit. Their most popular offering is the 10 day capsule of two hour classes designed to impart simple Sanskrit conversational skills.[2]

Besides this, the organization conducts the following programs:

  • A two week intense residential teaching program called Samvaadashala (संवादशाला), is conducted in New Delhi, India every summer.
  • Weekend camps and yearly residential camps as well in many parts of the US and India.
  • Development and publication of Simple Sanskrit books, tapes and CDs for learning practical conversations in Samskritam at various levels are developed systematically to allow new speakers to effectively use Sanskrit for conversations.
  • Publication of the संभाषणसन्देश magazine.
  • Distance learning programs or duurastha shikShaNam (दूरस्थशिक्षणम्).
  • Sanskrit as a Foreign Language program for children in USA.
  • Competitions to encourage Sanskrit learning amongst children.

Effectiveness[edit]

Even as he acknowledges that "end of the ten days, the participants have a reasonable command of many basic features of (simple) Sanskrit and can formulate a wide variety of expressions.",[2] Hastings notes:[4]

While the Sanskrit conversation camps have garnered a great degree of public visibility for the Sanskrit revival movement, they have not generated as large and dedicated a following as Samskrita Bharati would hope. The organization has a host of follow-up activities for graduates of the introductory ten-day camps, but there is a substantial attrition rate after initial exposure in the camps.

Origin[edit]

Chamu Krishna Shastry, a Sanskrit Scholar from Tirupati Sanskrit College along with 5 of his friends, after graduating in Sanskrit, came up with a methodology of teaching spoken Sanskrit through "Speak Samskritam" course with 10 day capsule classes of 2 hour duration. Within a short span of time this methodology became a trend blazer in the field of teaching Sanskritam. This "Speak Samskritam" Movement took off in 1981 from Bangalore city, and later "Samskrita Bharati" - a national level organization - was established in New Delhi in 1995.[2][6]

See also[edit]

Sanskrit Revival

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Samskrita Bharati (1998) Samskrtam vadatu. New Delhi: Samskrita Bharati.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Hastings, Adi (2003). "Simplifying Sanskrit". Pragmatics 13 (4). 
  3. ^ संस्कृतसम्मेलनसमितिः दक्षिणभारतीयसंस्कृतगृहसम्मेलनम्. Bangalore: Bhāratī
  4. ^ a b c Licked by the Mother Tongue: Imagining Everyday Sanskrit at Home and in the World Adi Hastings Journal of Linguistic Anthropology http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1548-1395.2008.00002.x/full
  5. ^ संक्रमणम् - कृष्णशास्त्रिः १९९९
  6. ^ च.मू. कृष्णशस्त्री (October 1996). "उदिता संस्कृताभारती". सम्भाषण सन्देशः. 

External links[edit]