Walk past the gates of Aksharam, a centre of Samskrita Bharati, in Girinagar, Bangalore and you will hear playing children calling out to each other in Sanskrit. The security guard politely requests you to take off your slippers at the entrance in Sanskrit. There is the buzz of volunteers chattering away in Sanskrit, of course. One would think of time travel and the glories of ancient India.
But this is certainly not three thousand years ago, as the cheerful young volunteers in Aksharam will affirm.
Suhas Mahesh, an undergraduate at IISc, happens to be a regular volunteer. As a hobby, he composes verses on all that he loves, from noodles and the divine taste of litchi ice cream to the recent elections. Shashi Kiran, a mechanical engineering student at BMSCE, enjoys bantering with friends in Sanskrit. “My children use Sanskrit as code language to communicate with each other in a group,” adds Sudarshan SH, co-ordinator for South Bangalore.
If the admissions to Karnataka Samskrit University are any indication, the numbers of those interested in the language are increasing by the year.
An evening BA course began last year with around 50 students, all from different age groups and professions.
The correspondence courses that Aksharam offers have found many takers too. Sambhaashana Shibiras (camps where conversational Sanskrit is taught) have so far, enabled about 1.2 crore people to learn basic Sanskrit, in the past 32 years. A petition is up on change.org, urging MPs to take their oaths in Sanskrit.
Online forums like Padyapaana are also popularising the reading and composition of classical poetry, and its members write on all topics, ancient or modern, with skill and mastery.
Aksharam is completely volunteer-driven. So volunteers from different walks of life come together, motivated solely by their love for the language.
“Reading Sanskrit is like having a box of unlimited chocolates. There’s always more to read, more to know and more to enjoy,” Sudarshan says. “Ever since I attended the 10-day camp in office over a year ago, I’ve been learning the language. As for the camps I organise as a volunteer, they have such demand that we are not able to meet them fully,” he laughs.
For these youngsters, there is no conflict between aesthetic appreciation and rationality.
Suhas says, “Appreciating Sanskrit has nothing to do with ridiculous claims like the Higgs Boson being predicted in the Vedas. It has everything to do with Sanskrit being a language that permits word acrobatics and poetic agility like no other. It is sad that people resort to such tactics to promote Sanskrit,” he feels.
~ Indian Express