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World Sanskrit Day

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  • 24 Aug 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

World Sanskrit Day (Viswa Samskrita Dinam) was celebrated on 22nd August 2021.

Key Points

  • About:
    • It is an annual event aimed to promote revival and maintenance of Sanskrit Language.
    • It is celebrated on Poornima day (Full Moon) of the Shraavana month in the Hindu calendar.
    • The day essentially speaks of the importance of learning and knowing it, despite it being not as widely spoken as in ancient times.
    • The Day was celebrated for the first time in the year 1969 after the Union ministry of education issued notifications to state and central governments.
    • The Sanskrit organisation Samskrita Bharati (NGO) is involved in promoting the day.
  • Some Important Facts about Sanskrit Language:
    • It is considered to be one of the oldest languages in the world. It is an old Indo-Aryan language in which the most ancient documents, Vedas, are composed in what is called Vedic Sanskrit.
    • Sanskrit used to be a pan-Indian language in the Vedic period and most languages in the country have branched out of Sanskrit.
      • It lost, somehow, to modern derivations and regional dialects.
    • Classical Sanskrit, a language close to late Vedic as then used in the northwest of the subcontinent, was elegantly described in one of the finest grammars ever produced, the Aṣṭādhyāyī (“Eight Chapters”) composed by Pāṇini (c. 6th–5th century BCE).
    • Sanskrit has been written both in Devanāgarī script and in various regional scripts, such as Śāradā from the north (Kashmir), Bāṅglā (Bengali) in the east, Gujarātī in the west, and various southern scripts, including the Grantha alphabet, which was especially devised for Sanskrit texts.
    • It is considered a scientific language and is believed to be the most computer-friendly language.
      • In 1786, English Philologist William Jones suggested in his book ‘The Sanscrit Language‘ that Greek and Latin were related to Sanskrit.
    • The language, however, is not entirely dead. A village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, called Mattur, is believed to have preserved the language.
    • The only Sanskrit newspaper in the world is called ‘Sudharma‘. The newspaper has been published since 1970 from Mysore in Karnataka and is also available online.
    • Some of the eminent Sanskrit authors are Panini, Patanjali, Adi Shankaracharya, Ved Vyas, Kalidas etc.
  • Important Authors and Works in Sanskrit:
    • Bhāsa (for example, his Svapnavāsvavadatta - Vāsavadatta in a Dream), who is assigned widely varying dates but definitely worked prior to Kālidāsa, who mentions him.
    • Kālidāsa, dated anywhere from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE, whose works include Śakuntalā, Vikramorvaśīya, Kumārasambhava and Raghuvaṃśa.
    • Śūdraka and his Mṛcchakatika (“Little Clay Cart”), possibly dating to the 3rd century CE.
    • Ashvaghosha’s Buddhacarita is one of the finest examples of Buddhist literature.
    • Bhāravi and his Kirātārjunīya (“Arjuna and the Kirāta”), from approximately the 7th century.
    • Māgha, whose Śiśupālavadha (“The Slaying of Śiśupāla”) dates to the late 7th century.
    • The two epics Rāmāyaṇa (“Life of Rāma”) and Mahābhārata (“Great Tale of the Bhāratas”) were also composed in Sanskrit, and the former is esteemed as the first poetic work (ādikāvya) of India.
  • Promotion of Sanskrit by the Central Government:
    • The New Education Policy (NEP) laid an ambitious path for “mainstreaming” the language. Sanskrit is to be offered in schools, including as one of the language options in the three-language formula, as well as in higher education.
      • NEP also stated that Sanskrit universities will be turned into multi-disciplinary institutions of higher learning.
    • The government has established the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Delhi as a nodal authority to promote Sanskrit.
    • Providing financial assistance to Adarsh Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya/Shodha Sansthans.
    • Award of merit scholarships to students of Sanskrit Pathshala to College level.
    • Financial assistance to NGOs/Higher Educational Institutions of Sanskrit for various Research Projects/Programmes.
    • Retired eminent Sanskrit scholars are engaged under the Shastra Chudamani scheme for teaching.
    • Sanskrit is also taught through Non-formal Sanskrit Education (NFSE) programme, by setting up Non-Formal Sanskrit learning centres, in reputed institutions like Indian Institutes Technology, Ayurveda institutions, Modern Colleges and Universities.
    • Presidential awards for Sanskrit Language are awarded annually to 16 senior scholars and to 5 young scholars.
    • Financial Assistance for Publication, Reprint of rare Sanskrit books.
    • Ashtaadashi containing eighteen Projects for sustaining the growth of Sanskrit has been implemented.

Source: PIB

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