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Sanskrit does not belong to any particular race, sect or religion — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
THE SPEAKING TREE NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

Sanskrit Is Fun

Why is an ancient Indic language an integral part of school curriculum in the UK? SONAL SRIVASTAVA reports on the eve of the World Book Fair, where Sanskrit workbooks by British teachers will hit the stalls
of texts that are designed for school children in the UK.The first few books of the series introduce learners to the Devanagri alphabet.The letters are grouped according to the way they are spoken. The second set of books has stories of Rama and Krishna and these are used as aids to teach children the Sanskrit vocabulary,formation of nouns and conjugation of verbs in all three tenses.“The structure of the Sanskrit alphabet,which children are introduced to at the age of five,is scientifically ordered.The sounds of the alphabet are comprehensive in their range and they considerably broaden the linguistic skills of children at an early stage,” says Jessup. The teaching of Sanskrit at St James is meant to complement the study of English.Stories are told in English from Sanskrit literature and students are sometimes asked to recount part of the stories in Sanskrit.The textbooks are reader-friendly and enhance the user’s creative skills by providing the opportunity to draw and paint alongside stories. Students are occasionally taken to local museums and exhibitions connected with the language and regularly visit universities where Sanskrit is studied. “Many students have been inspired to read classics such as the Bhagwad Gita,” says Jessup. guages, is full of profound concepts and alone among all tongues that has not changed over the millennia.’ MacLaren came in contact with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Swami Shantanand Saraswati, the erstwhile Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math in Uttarakhand, and was inspired by the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. MacLaren introducedVedanta in his schools and he promoted the study of basic Sanskrit.“He would say that Sanskrit is important for etymological study of Indo-European dialects,and its grammar serves as a model. Hence, it gives insight into the origins and current structure of most languages spoken by students,”explains Warwick Jessup,head of the Sanskrit department,St James Junior School, UK.

GAJENDRA MOKSHA

Sacred Elephant
HARSHA V DEHEJIA on the significance of

pachyderms in Indic mythology

T

R

ama, Ramam, Ramah!” In the classroom, the teacher was asking students to repeat after her. On the blackboard, she wrote down different forms of the word Ram in Sanskrit as students took notes.They would learn these by heart and prepare for a test. They would now go back to their respective homes in London, and come prepared the next morning to the St James School,where all 260 students in junior school are enrolled in the Sanskrit class.The teacher, who is English, incants the ancient syllables with an ease that comes with practise. Why would schools in Britain make the study of Sanskrit part of their curriculum? St James Schools founder Leon MacLaren wrote in the founding document: ‘Study of language was based on Sanskrit, because it appears to be, or be close to, the mother of all Indo-European lan-

Linguistic Skills
Sanskrit grammar evolved in the Vedic era and reached a high point in Panini’s path-breaking treatise, Astadhyayi. His work included 3,990 sutras or aphorisms on grammar. Katyayana composed vartikas or explanations for Astadhyayi and Rishi Patanjali wrote the Mahabhasya or the ‘Great Commentary’. “Sanskrit literally means ‘wellformed’ or ‘refined’. It is a classical language par excellence predating Latin and Greek,and it reveals to children the fundamental principles of language,” says Jessup.Warwick and Elena Jessup are editors of the Sanskrit Is Fun primary series and others that make up the Sanskrit Course Book For Beginners range

Rich Repository
RP Jain of MLBD,publishers of the series in India, says, “Some schools in India might think to include these books conceptualised by Warwick and Elena Jessup in their curriculum.” Romancing Sanskrit literature with its rich repertoire of poetry and drama is not a new trend in the West. However, what is perhaps new is that the language is being formally studied in UK schools and is now attracting the attention of educationists in India. If Sanskrit is still present in India, it is largely restricted to chanting of shlokas and in ceremonies related to Hindu and Buddhist rituals. That might soon change. ■ sonal.srivastava@timesgroup.com

Mother Of All Lingo

he elephant occupies a pride of place in Indic tradition. Rising from the ocean during the samudra manthan as Airavat, the elephant becomes associated with Indra and assumes celestial importance early in the tradition. When Shiva cut Ganesha’s head and Parvati was distressed, He deputed Nandi to find the head of the first being who was sitting with his head pointing northward. That happened to be Airavat and it is the head of Airavat that was given to Ganesha to give him a second life. The story is told when Gajendra, who was a king in his previous birth, was cursed to become an elephant by Sage Agastya because the elephant-king was so engrossed in meditation that he did not show respect to the sage. In yet another life, Gajendra and a crocodile were gandharvas and rivals. Gajendra was wandering in a verdant garden surrounded by mountains along with his mates. Gajendra decided to bathe in the river when a crocodile attacked him and was pulling him down in the river. Gajendra was totally exhausted and all he could do was to lift a lotus, look skyward and call Vishnu’s name.Vishnu on hearing this, mounted his Garuda and came

speedily down and rescued Gajendra. The story of Gajendra moksha emphasises thatVishnu always comes to the rescue of His bhaktas. Another story is told that when Krishna was leaving Vrindavana, the gopis entreated him not to leave. Krishna put an impossible condition on them and said that if they could produce an elephant, he would not leave. Not being able to find an elephant, nine gopis came together and formed an elephant and this is called the navnarikunjara. Like the horse, the elephant is also associated with royalty and stands for regal grace and opulence. Hindu and Muslim kings alike always rode richly decorated elephants. It is said that at the entrance of Nalanda University, two guards sitting on an elephant would question anyone wanting to enter the campus and would allow only those who were considered intellectually and spiritually fit. The elephant is also a part of temple life.In Guruvayoor,in particular, the elephant is gifted by devotees and is an important part of the liturgy. Richly caparisoned elephants adorn the temple precincts. A row of elephants is carved at the base of the temple and this gives it a certain majesty and grandeur ■. harshadehejia@hotmail.com

GANESHA SAYS BY BEJAN DARUWALLA
FORECAST FOR MARCH 2012 Creativity is the child of conflicts and contradictions.You, Pisceans, are the best examples of it, as your symbol is the two fish running in opposite directions. Both, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, were Pisceans and that says everything.Your mantra is Om jhram jhreem jhroom sa guruve namah. Intuition and imagination flow in you. ARIES: Mar 20-Apr 18 Moushawake, Japanese for sorry and responsibility, sit well on you this month.The Sun (power) opposes Mars, your main planet, and therefore ego clashes, expenses, and health fluctuations are possible. Astrology is not infallible. Journeys and pilgrimages could make you feel that you are in a flux, a state of transition. Powerful religious impulses, even hallucinations, glimpses of supreme reality are in a mix-n-match. TAURUS: Apr 19-May 20 The Talmud says,“Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments.” Yes, now you will have many opportunities and outlets to help, support, guide and counsel others.Take it as your good fortune. Paradoxically, friends and powerful people will also go out of their way to help you. Expect promotions and perks.Your main planetVenus is ideally placed with Neptune, symbolising inspiration. GEMINI: May 21-Jun 20 Deep, fluffy, light snow is best for skiing. In the same way, be cheerful, read comics, tell jokes and gossip to your heart’s content. It will help you to relieve the tensions and strains of your business/profession/job. Meditation and yoga are a very big yes, yes for you. Call friends over and if you are a party animal, indulge fully. Health of parents, in-laws, might cause concern.Support others with a sweet smile, says Ganesha. CANCER: Jun 21-Jul 22 Cancerian Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit a mighty sixer at Adelaide Oval, recently.In the same way,you too can show to life that you can care and dare. Step out in style. I acknowledge your kindness and compassion, but in March your spirituality is in a rather aggressive mode, reaching out to the needy, the unfortunate and the sick in body, mind and spirit. Collaborations, journeys, tours and publicity make just the right package for you. LEO: Jul 23-Aug 22 Stormannsgalshop means the madness of the great.You, Leos, very specially should be careful about it. Energy levels may be low and finances could be a problem, as loans and funds’ trust money could be involved.A good time to go in for tantra,mantra,hymns,words of power. Secret spiritual help is most certainly at hand,as we Indians say.This is the real magic of life.A time to shed your spiritual skin and renew it. VIRGO: Aug 23-Sept 22 The North Koreans say, juche, meaning self-confidence.That is the mantra

for you in March. Why? You will be interacting, participating on practically all the frontiers of life — social, personal, professional, global and psychological. Relationships, very definitely, will be all-important for you. If you have faith in God, it will certainly help this month. Open yourself to the winds of change. That’s your spirituality in March. LIBRA: Sep 23-Oct 22 As the French say, Punion fait la force, unity makes strength.That is your need of the hour. Health needs special care and attention.Your relationships with servants, colleagues, superiors will test your inner strength and, therefore, your sense of balance and spirituality. Luckily,Venus, your boss planet, helps you monetarily and spiritually around the 16th. Service before self would be ideal and highly beneficial. SCORPIO: Oct 23-Nov 21 The idea of a universal field connecting all minds was meant just for you. This month, you will feel this connectivity and collectivity very vibrantly and wondrously. Love will have you by the throat, be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Children, brain children, all creative pursuits, the Fine Arts and hobbies will entice you and you should yield to them happily and completely. Spirituality is in the thrills and pleasures. SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22-Dec 21 Sponte sua, that is spontaneous, natural, self-expression is what you will have and experience this month. It will be a great release from strife, struggles and strains.Yes, March could be a little rough and tough. Home and house renovation/decoration/buying/

selling/leasing could be of vital importance. Changes in the office are also indicated.Your health and that of your dear ones needs to be safeguarded. CAPRICORN: Dec 22-Jan 19 Capricornian Swami Vivekananda says,“Let the masses have full meals,they will work out their salvation.” Spirituality languishes in a vacuum says your astrologer. Salvation cannot be in splendid isolation. March is for contacts, communications, trips, ties at many different levels.That’s the key to it all.Your spirituality lies in fanning out to people, places by all means of transport and publicity. AQUARIUS: Jan 20-Feb 18 The Rafale French aircraft is for missions on ground, reconnaissance and strike. Your spiritual aircraft will be in “the confluence of knowledge, understanding and the practice of making life complete,” to quote Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.Add to it huge dollops of family, food, finance, buying and selling, and this month will make quite a rangoli of spirituality and sensuality for you.That’s real life. PISCES: Feb 19-Mar 19 Willful indulgence is surrendering control.Therefore, a bit of self-control and discipline in March, your birth month will be extremely necessary for your growth and development.This professorial tone will help you to be all that you want to be in the spheres of work, relationships, food, entertainment and amusement.Venus (comforts) kisses Jupiter (prosperity) and therefore March favours wealth, luxuries and glimpses of God. ■ bejandaruwalla@rediffmail.com info@bejandaruwalla.com

SHELF LIFE

Rebottled Wisdom
The Secret Letters Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari By Robin Sharma Publisher: Jaico Books Pages: 223 Price: Rs 250

ARUN GANAPATHY
ulian is the Monk who sold his Ferrari; he is also the holder of Nine Talismans, each of which ‘holds a piece of essential wisdom for happiness and a life beautifully lived’.The risk of them being stolen or destroyed makes Julian entrust them to a ‘different trusted safe keeper who would turn it over when Julian had need of it’. And Julian needs it now. So, without really explaining why he himself can’t go, Julian entrusts his cousin Jonathan with the task. We are already well into the second chapter of Robin Sharma’s latest book, The Secret Letters Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Jonathan,a corporate high flyer,accepts the task despite his busy work schedule and what follows is globetrotting.Jonathan travels across the world to exotic locales; his first stop is Istanbul where Ahmet,the safe keeper,leads Jonathan through the bazaars of the city and hands him the first talisman with the message that reads: ‘The power of authenticity.The most important gift we can give ourselves is the commitment to living our authentic life.To be true to ourselves is not an easy task…. Every decision we make, every step we take, must be informed by our commitment to living a life that is true and honest and authentic to ourselves and ourselves alone. And as we

proceed, we are certain to experience fortune well beyond our highest imagination.’ Is Sharma saying (or going to say) something original? As you journey further with Jonathan to the catacombs in Paris and then to a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, in Kyoto, the messages read much like a blend of a bit of Eastern philosophy and advice that you can find in many self-help books.The descriptions of Mexico the correlation of the Mayan achievement to the message about ‘making small daily progress’ in the chapter that follows is very readable; but this interest is brief, for in the following chapters where Jonathan travels to places like Spain, Nova Scotia, Shangai and finally the Taj Mahal, the writing slips back into the unconvincing attempts at prose, fictional settings and self-help advice of the early chapters. Robin Sharma is acclaimed as one of the most widely read authors today, but this book is far from inspiring. ■ ganapathyarun@gmail.com Buy this book at 20% discount @ www.books.indiatimes.com or sms WHB to 58888 or call at 09910118888

Regn No. DELENG/2010/32022 Vol. No. 03 Issue No. 9 Published for the proprietors, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd by Balraj Arora at Times House, 7, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi 110002 and printed by him at Times of India Press, 13, Site IV Industrial Area, Sahibabad (UP). Editor: Narayani Ganesh - responsible for selection of news under PRB Act © All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. MADE IN NEW DELHI

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