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Love for Sanskrit brings Melbourne-led Engineer to Silchar

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photo source bing.com

An Indian origian software developer who resides in Melbourne (Australia), has come back to the country to learn Sanskrit and according to his opinion, Sanskrit is non-translatable.

Chronicle News Service

Ajay Singh, a 32 year old software developer who hails from Samastpur, Bihar and now is a resident of Melbourne (Australia) for4 many years, is a regular student of Sanskrit and his love for Vedik language took him to Silchar learning class. What started a hobby has now become an obsession for Ajay and he is determined to continually improve his understanding of the language.

He is attending ten day Sanskrit class organised by Sanskrit Bharati under their nationwide campaign of popularising the language.

Talking to Eastern Chronicle at the premises of Pranabananda Vidya Mandir, Tarapur where the Sanskrit learning class is going on, he said "an idea tha t Sanskrit in non-translatable, changed my perception towards the rich Indian culture and my interest started growing as much as I got involved in learning Sanskrit. It all started fter I began reading a book 'Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism' written by Indian-American author Rajiv Malhotra, where I found various aspects of Indian culture and its richness. Malhotra identifies various non-translatables in Sanskrit that have been mapped into Abrahamic religious concepts. These miss-translations then are used to draw sameness arguments or to denounce Hinduism.

If I look at the Indian culture from a foreigner perspective, it will give a narrow picture because they just come for few days as travellers and see the present picture. I have not framed this myself, but got to know this by interacting with them.  But if you really want to know India, you need to go deep in to Sanskrit. This language has perfect grammatical structure framed by Saint Panini and as per Computational  linguistics it is the best language for computer, this is true because the grammatical structure of the language," he maintained. He praised Sanskrit Bharati for their continuous effort to popularising Sanskrit.  "This organisation is reaching out to the corners to make people aware about Sanskrit and people from all agesare coming forward to learn the language. It is a proud privilege to be a part of such a class and I am looking forward to attend more classes in future," he said.

Ajay is planning to start Sanskrit classes in Melbourne after he reaches back there and he believes that hundreds of children will come and join the classes. "We are not aware of the richness of Indian culture but the foreigners are now heading towards the  culture. Yoga is one such examples which represent the richness of Indian culture to global platform and Sanskrit is becoming equally popular. Hundreds of universities from across the globe, which includes countries like America, Australia, Germany and others are offering Sanskrit as regular subject and it is high time that Indians realize the value of the language," he added. 

References

Sanskrit for Communication, globally
posted Jul 10, 2017 by Nalini Vishwanath

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Source:BlrMirror

Motaganahalli in Magadi is another obscure village which is crying for attention. A stroll through the village, around 60 km from Bengaluru, reveals the sad state of affairs: poor roads, crumbling infrastructure, power outages and heaps of garbage strewn all across the hamlet. The government school in the hamlet too has stories of neglect and apathy to tell.

But there is hope: the milieu is fast changing, thanks to a bunch of schoolchildren determined to bring about a change using technology. In fact, the students had been running from pillar to post to solve the civic issues plaguing the school and village. Besieged by filth, students found it quite impossible to sit in the classrooms because of the stink the garbage heaps emanated.

Even the teachers suffered in silence, but not Gen Next. The students of Government Higher Primary School at Motaganahalli, aided by tablets and cameras, walked up to the gram panchayat office, raising some tough questions to authorities. Remember, the ‘grilling session’ was being recorded. Perhaps, the explosion of visual media was an inspiration to embrace the technology. Answers were hard to come by, but they wouldn’t budge. Donning the role of ‘citizen journalists’, the students — Rakesh (class V), Darshan Gowda (class VI), Dileep M J (class VI), Deepashri (class VI), Monica M (class VII), Amrutha Varshini (class VIII) — stormed the gram panchayath office, posing several questions to gram panchayat president Padmavathi Jayaram. Amrutha Varshini said, “All the students and visitors to our school were unhappy with the foul smell emanating from the open drains in front of our school.

Since the classrooms were buzzing with flies and rodents, there were health hazards as well.” Monica M said, “People from other areas would come and wash their clothes on the drains. They would never clean and the dirty water was overflowing.” The teachers, including the headmaster, tried to clear the mess by speaking to officials and villagers, but nothing worked. What worked was the students’ willpower, aided by a potential weapon: technology.

The school in Motaganhalli had no exposure to any kind of technology till 2016 when an NGO chipped and decided to rewrite the script. Laptops and tablets were given to students. Training sessions were held twice a month by Smitha Venkatesh, who is part of the NGO. During the summer vacation, the school decided to host an Information and Technology Day where it was decided to interview the president with the aid of cameras and tablets. The queries ranged from water woes, electricity issues, waste management/segregation and the lack of drainage system. Initially, Padmavathi Jayaram was hesitant to speak to students. “I have seen elders coming and questioning me, but when students approached me, I was taken aback. I was highly impressed by the questions. I called up all officials concerned and the aid was sanctioned to get the mess cleared around the school,” she said. The cost, including the works in and around the school, is estimated around Rs 1 crore. The road near the school has been completely concreted. The drainage work too is in progress. The children’s act reminds us of Mahatma Gandhi’s message: be the change that you wish to see in the world.

By Kumaran P

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Picture Source: artofliving.org

By- Grin

https://grin.news/how-learning-sanskrit-literally-expands-and-improves-the-brain-307770cb12b4

Dr. James Hartzell studied Sanskrit and India studies at Harvard and Columbia University. He then went on to do cognitive neuroscience research at the University of Trento (Italy). His work shows that people who memorize long Sanskrit texts have brains that literally expand and become better with sharper memory and cognitive skills. His research paper shows results of tests done on a group of verbal memory specialists to determine whether intensive oral text memory is associated with structural features of hippocampal and lateral-temporal regions implicated in language processing. Professional Vedic Sanskrit pandits (priests) in India train from childhood for around 10 years in an ancient, formalized tradition of oral Sanskrit text memorization and recitation, mastering the exact pronunciation and invariant content of multiple 40,000–100,000 word oral texts. Tests conducted structural analysis of gray matter density, cortical thickness, local gyrification, and white matter structure, relative to matched controls. The tests found massive gray matter density and cortical thickness increases in pandit brains in language, memory and visual systems, including i) bilateral lateral temporal cortices and ii) the anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus, regions associated with long and short-term memory. It must be noted that increased grey matter density is not the same thing as increased grey matter volume (“expansion”) — in fact the researchers found a slight decrease in the volume of the right hippocampus in pandits when they did a volume-specific analysis. Differences in hippocampal morphometry matched those previously documented for expert spatial navigators and individuals with good verbal working memory. The findings provide unique insight into the brain organization implementing formalized oral knowledge systems. He told Grin why his research is a breakthrough.

                     

Picture Source: grin.news

1. How long and to what extent have you studied Sanskrit and what first brought you to study Sanskrit?

I completed an undergraduate major in Sanskrit and Indian studies (BA magna cum laude) at Harvard. I also did part of a PhD at Harvard but eventually withdrew with just a Masters in Sanskrit and Indian Studies. Later I did a second Masters and finished the PhD at Columbia University under Prof. Robert Thurman. Since then I have continued part time work translating from Sanskrit and Tibetan, and I have a translation forthcoming from the American Institute of Buddhist Studies and Columbia University Press. Since I have taken complete breaks from work with Sanskrit at several points in my career it is difficult to quantify the exact length of time.

What first brought me to study Sanskrit is amusing: one of my brothers (who is now a Sikh yogi and yoga teacher) became interested in Eastern studies — we were roommates at home and I started reading some of the books he had collected. I then spent a year as an exchange student in England (at The Rugby School) and my housemaster there introduced me to more material about the eastern traditions. When I arrived at Harvard as a freshman I decided to take a comparative religions course. I was drawn most strongly to the eastern traditions — Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist, and I decided initially to major in Comparative Religions. We were required to choose one scriptural language to study, and I chose Sanskrit since both the Hindu and the Buddhist traditions have strong Sanskrit roots, so I thought this language would give me the best access to both of these very large traditions. I was also frustrated by the multiplicity of English translations for Sanskrit terminology that appeared in secondary sources, so I wanted to learn the language for myself and see what the original meanings were. Soon after starting my sophomore year I became frustrated with the approaches typical of comparative religion studies, and I decided to major in Sanskrit and Indian studies. This was over the objections of both my parents and the head of the Sanskrit department — I later learned that I was only the third person in the history of Harvard to major in Sanskrit as an undergraduate.

2. When you began to start learning long Sanskrit texts by heart, as is traditionally done, what did you observe about your learning capabilities?

I have never learnt a Sanskrit text by heart, as is traditionally done. At Harvard and Columbia we were trained as translators, using the traditional training methods used in western universities for classical languages — we were not trained to speak, write, or recite the texts, but simply to translate them from Sanskrit into English. The lack of use of spoken (or recite) Sanskrit I found unfortunate, since, as I later learned, Sanskrit is still, and always has been, a living language in India — there have always been Sanskrit speakers and reciters, although the total number is relatively small compared to other languages.

It’s difficult to parse exactly what the specific effect of learning to translate Sanskrit has had on my learning capabilities — it would be an interesting scientific study to try and identify such an effect, though perhaps difficult to do. What I have noticed is that if I work intensively in Sanskrit then my mind seems to shift gears in a fundamental sort of way. Sort of like getting into a car and driving as compared to walking, or going swimming as opposed to walking on dry land. The effect of thinking in Sanskrit is really interesting — I find my mind somehow works more fluidly. One time, when I was working in South Africa on one of the committees of the Medical Research Council Board of Governors, a colleague (I believe he was a cardiologist) turned to me and kindly said that he had never met anyone who had such an ability for lateral thinking as I demonstrated regularly in those meetings. Other times ,when I was taking cognitive science courses in the masters program in Italy, my fellow students (some of whom are still very good friends) would corner me and ask — okay, how do you do that? You remember exactly the words the instructor has used, and you can ask them questions quoting them back to themselves? I wasn’t able to answer my friends on this point.

3. What did you find our engaging and enriching about the Sanskrit texts?

The Sanskrit tradition is very deep and rich. I have been told that the volume of Sanskrit texts still just in manuscripts in institutional and private libraries all over India exceeds by many multiples the entire corpus of ancient Greek literature that played such an important role in the development of modern western civilization. There is extensive Sanskrit literature in yoga, mantra, philosophy, ritual, poetry, drama, music, history, myth, ancient astronomy and astrology, mathematics and many other disciplines such as traditional Ayurveda medicine. For some reason I’ve long been drawn to the tradition. After years of study and reading I think that probably the most engaging domains for me are those that relate to the person — i.e., how are we who we are, how are we constituted physically and mentally, and what are the potential dimensions of us that can be developed and enhanced.

4. Why did you decide to run MRI scans and other scientific study of the brains of Sanskrit pandits (priests) used to learning, memorizing and reciting long texts?

Given my own experiences as a Sanskrit-to-English translator and longtime student of the Sanskrit and Indic traditions, as I was trained as a cognitive neuroscientist I wanted to try and begin to scientifically investigate what I’ve called the Sanskrit effect: why is it that when working in the language I experience such significant shifts in cognitive function? This is also a topic discussed in many ways in the Sanskrit tradition itself. So when I had the opportunity to begin scientific research on this topic I thought it appropriate to begin with the oldest part of the tradition — i.e. the tradition of Vedic memorization and recitation — out of respect for the Sanskrit tradition as a whole, and as a way of beginning to establish a scientific baseline for further studies.

3. Tell us the process in which you went about doing this study: how many people (Sanskrit scholars/priests) did you run scans and tests on, and what were the most astonishing results and revelations?

The details of some of this are in our Neuroimage paper. We scanned 21 professionally qualified Shukla Yajur Veda pandits from the Delhi region (since this was the population available that was closest geographically to the NBRC scanning facility) and 21 controls matched for age, gender, ethnicity, multilingualism, handedness and eye dominance, and approximate education levels.

There were several results that were impressive. First was simply the extent of the changes in grey matter density and cortical thickness. Over 10% of the neocortex in pandits had more grey matter density than the controls. One could even see the difference in the raw data scans early in the data analysis before the final results, particularly in the prefrontal cortex where we found a huge cluster. We were quite surprised by the extent of the grey matter density increases in the right hippocampus and the associated lateral temporal regions. As with the overall pattern of brain differences between the two groups, the extent of the differences in the hippocampus and lateral temporal regions was unprecedented. The extent of the relative increase in grey matter density of the pandits’ cerebellum was also remarkable — over one-third of the entire cerebellar grey matter.

4. What do these results mean for medical and educational science? Are they are breakthrough?

It’s difficult to say at this point what the results could mean for medical and educational science. Certainly the between-group differences we documented are dramatic and suggestive. One important point is that they demonstrate very clearly the remarkable structural plasticity potential of the brain — the mere fact of the extent of the group differences we documented indicates that the brain has a much larger and more complex structural plasticity potential than has been previously considered. While the blog piece focused on the memory-related brain structures involved and the possible implications for verbal-memory related pathologies, we documented in the Neuoimage paper many other remarkable differences with other implications. For instance, the very large relative increase in the pandit orbitofrontal cortex is interesting: my PhD examiner in Italy pointed out that that region is involved in cognitive control (among other things) and that they had noticed in their clinical work that criminals tended to have diminished grey matter in the same region suggesting that the loss of grey matter in this area was associated with loss of impulse control.

5. Your findings are likely to have an impact on cures for neuro-diseases like Alzheimer’s too, you have suggested. Please tell us more about this.

I am not a specialist in verbal memory-related pathologies such as Alzheimer’s, but from what I know it’s pretty clear that Alzheimer’s, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Semantic Dementia, and Aphasic anomia typically involve degeneration of the medial temporal lobes and related brain structures and circuitry. There is also evidence from other studies that certain types of cognitive training can increase grey matter density in these same regions. This suggests that some version of the type of mental and physical practice the pundits use (i.e. the memory dimension, the training dimension, and the recitation aspect) could potentially have a beneficial effect. This would need to be carefully researched and tested to find out — right now we have just a suggestion.

+1 vote

The terms ‘stress’ and ‘studying’ are practically interlinked in our cultural mindscapes. That children and youth will undergo travails as they move through school and college is accepted by both parents and educators. Even as we rant that children are under too much pressure, or that education is a crazy rat-race, our kids continue to be caught in a trying and demanding net of cultural expectations.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/610858/for-stress-free-school-environment.html

Most of us know from experience that a certain amount of stress actually helps us perform better in tests and exams. While limited, short bursts of positive stress or eustress is conducive for learning, we have to ensure that children are not subjected to distress on a daily basis. By adopting various measures to address the multiple needs of students, schools and colleges may ensure that education is a positive, purposeful and pertinent experience for all.
 

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Central Governments expenditure on education has been falling for past three years, compared to 2013-14, the last year of UPA, when education got 4.57% of the total expenditure, there has been a steady decline — 3.65% in 2016-17, according to this Budget's revised estimate, with the estimated outlay for the coming year showing a minor uptick at 3.71%.

Looking at education spend as a share of the GDP, which is what international trackers do, the trend is clear — having dipped from 0.63% of the GDP in 2013-14 to 0.47% projected by the government for 2017-18. Read more

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Source: DC

Mysuru: Scion of erstwhile royal family of Mysuru Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, who had once inspired government school children by becoming a teacher at a programme hosted by Kalisu Foundation, is now brand ambassador for the NGO. The Foundation strives to improve the quality of education in government schools.

Yaduveer will motivate kids at government schools henceforth through the programme, ‘Learn from Maharaja,’ besides playing the advisory role by contributing his ideas on improving the quality of education.

As many as 250 kids at a government school at Kumbar Koppal, Mysuru, had the privilege of having Mr Yaduveer as their teacher for 45 minutes, interacting with him at a programme, here on Thursday. He taught the kids with a power point presentation and spoke about the glory of Mysuru and importance of education while stressing on environment protection, cleanliness, good manners and good habits. 

The enthusiastic kids who learnt that Mr Yaduveer will henceforth visit them frequently, were not just keen on knowing about his favourite colour, they even wanted to know how to be fit like him. He smilingly answered that he liked blue colour and said that kids must eat right healthy, nutritious food instead of junk food, and lay emphasis on physical exercise to keep them fit and healthy. 

When mediapersons asked if he planned to enter politics, he said, “Not in the near future. And I have no interest in politics in fact. I wish to involve myself in activities to serve society, I would wish to focus on developing government school education through the NGO.” Founder and CEO of Kalisu M.M. Nikilesh spoke.

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