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Sanskrit fever grips Germany: 14 universities teaching India's ancient language

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German Universities taking the lead over their counterparts in India!!Wow!! Got hold of this only today

Sanskrit fever grips Germany: 14 universities teaching India's ancient language struggle to meet demand as students clamour for courses

By Aditya Ghosh
Published: 22:24 GMT, 14 April 2015

Will Germans be the eventual custodians of Sanskrit, its rich heritage and culture? If the demand for Sanskrit and Indology courses in Germany is any indication, that’s what the future looks like.
Unable to cope with the flood of applications from around the world, the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, had to start a summer school in spoken Sanskrit in Switzerland, Italy and - believe it or not - India too.
“When we started it 15 years ago, we were almost ready to shut it after a couple of years. Instead, we had to increase strength and take the course to other European countries,” said Professor Dr. Axel Michaels, head of classical Indology at the university.


The summer school in spoken Sanskrit at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, is attended by students from all over the world

In Germany, 14 of the top universities teach Sanskrit, classical and modern Indology compared to just four in the UK. The summer school spans a month in August every year and draws applications from across the globe.
“So far, 254 students from 34 countries have participated in this course. Every year we have to reject many applications,” said Dr. Michaels.
Apart from Germany, the majority of students come from the US, Italy, the UK and the rest of Europe.

Professor Dr. Axel Michaels, Head of Classical Indology at the University of Heidelberg, says students from 34 countries have taken the course

Linking Sanskrit with religion and a certain political ideology was “stupid” and “detrimental to the cause” of its rich heritage, the professor said.
“Even the core thoughts of Buddhism were in the Sanskrit language. To better understand the genesis of oriental philosophy, history, languages, sciences and culture, it’s essential to read the original Sanskrit texts as these are some of the earliest thoughts and discoveries,” he added.
Francesca Lunari, a medical student who has been studying Sanskrit at Heidelberg University, agreed.
“I am interested in psychoanalysis and must know how human thoughts originated through texts, cultures and societies. I will learn Bangla also to decipher the seminal works of Girindra Sekhar Bose, a pioneer of oriental psychiatry who has hardly been studied – even in India. Learning Sanskrit is the first step,” she said.
Languages such as Bangla, in which Bose had written his theories challenging Freud, might face a crisis similar to Sanskrit because of the onslaught of English if these languages aren’t preserved within households, felt Dr Hans Harder, head of the department of modern South Asian languages and literatures (modern Indology), Heidelberg University.
“A significant part of the global cultural heritage will become extinct if major languages like Hindi and Bangla fall prey to Indian English which, in the process, has only got poorer,” he added.
An expert in Bangla, Hindi and Urdu apart from European languages, Harder cautioned against such a disaster as more upwardly mobile families stop teaching their own language to their children.
Studying ethno-Indology helps contextualise and link subjects to ancient texts.
“One can better understand evolution of politics and economics by studying Arthashastra by Chanakya,” said Dr. Michaels.
So this semester the institute is offering a course on ‘human physiology and psychology in the early Upanishads’ by Anand Mishra, an IIT mathematics graduate who took up the study of Sanskrit for his research on evolving a more grammatically suitable computing language.
“Working on Panini’s Sanskrit grammar, I realised it could be a great tool in computing language,” said Mishra.
Dr. Michaels feels that instead of indulging in a political and religious debate, Indians should try to preserve their heritage.
“Don’t we conserve a rare, old painting or sculpture? This is a live language…and rich cultural heritage which might become the casualty of neglect just as great civilisations like Hampi, the art of Ajanta and temples of Konark got buried in oblivion. It was up to the British to discover them later. Sanskrit, along with its culture, philosophy and science might become similarly extinct,” he claimed, adding: “On the other hand, there is so much yet to discover through Sanskrit…details of Indus Valley civilisation, for example.”
Germany has already been a storehouse of Sanskrit scholars to the world.
“The majority of Sanskrit scholars, including those at Harvard, California Berkeley and the UK, are Germans,” he said.
But why?
“Probably because we never colonised India and maintained a romantic view about it,” quipped Dr. Michaels.
'Language cannot shake secularism'
India's secularism is not so weak that it will be shaken just because of a language, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in the backdrop of a row over Sanskrit replacing German in government-run schools in India.
Addressing a reception for the Indian community on Monday, Modi referred to a time decades ago, when German radio had a news bulletin in Sanskrit.
“In India, there was no news bulletin in Sanskrit at that time because perhaps it was thought that secularism would be endangered,” the prime minister said.
Modi said India’s secularism is not so weak that it will be shaken just because of a language. One should have self-confidence.
Self-confidence should not be shaken, he added.
The prime minister did not elaborate, but his veiled comments assume significance as these came months after a row over replacing of German as third language in government-run Kendirya Vidyalaya schools with Sanskrit. -PTI

Experts bat for Sanskrit in schools
By Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi
Even as the row over replacing German with Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalays partly resurfaced in far away in Berlin, educationists back home feel that it is very important to introduce Sanskrit at the school level to enable students have a better understanding of the subject.
“Sanskrit is an essential part of every Indian soul. Without the language, the society loses its identity. From Raja Ram Mohan Roy to Mahatma Gandhi, everyone was inspired by the language. The whole renaissance period was based on Sanskrit literature,” Professor Ramesh Bharadwaj, head of the Sanskrit department at Delhi University, told Mail Today.

Educationists feel it is important to introduce Sanskrit at school level as it will enable students to have a better understanding of the subject

Historians, meanwhile, feel that successive governments have taken no initiatives to promote the language among the people.
“The central and state governments, which came to power after Independence, have not extended their support to the language. Our country is known for its culture, religion and philosophical ideas. One cannot treat religious sentiments and Sanskrit separately,” Bharadwaj added.
Recently, the Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry’s internal enquiry into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Germany, making German the third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas, has revealed that neither the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan (KVS) nor the ministry realised that the move was a violation of the three-language formula.
According to the three-language formula, schools are required to teach Hindi, English and a modern Indian language in schools. Sanskrit, however, is said to be a popular option in northern states.
“We want all Indian languages to be promoted because only five to six per cent of people in India understand English. Most of them, even today, work in their regional language. No other language can be understood if there is no proper understanding of Sanskrit,” the HoD of the Sanskrit department said.
Meanwhile, while on his tour to Germany, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India’s secularism is not so weak that it could be shaken because of a language.
Experts feel that Modi’s statement is in accordance with the Indian Constitution. Though Modi did not elaborate on the issue, his comments are being seenin context with his government’s decision to replace German with Sanskrit in over 500 schools.

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Active member
Good news. In our country people are neglecting this language and aversion to Sanskrit has become a sort of fashion here. In India people going behind foreign languages like German, French etc It is quite heartening to learn Sanskrit has got liking in a foreign soil.


Active member
Excellent news. At least some one is taking care of our heritage. Government of India should take cues from this and do their bit to support this movement.


Active member
No wonder Max Muller, the Indologist has been well-known in India.

The following article makes interesting read:

[h=1]‘Closeness of the Indo-Germanic language family is not just heritage… it’s a mandate and assignment for us’[/h][h=2]English has become a kind of global ‘lingua franca’.[/h]
Michael Steiner
An Indian girl wrote to me: “Hindi German, bhai behen”. I think she is right. Our roots are intertwined. Sanskrit, the mother language, is closely related to Old German language. We need both: a strong sense of cultural identity and openness in a globalised world. German scholars have, for a long time, expressed their deep respect and emotional warmth towards Sanskrit. Against this backdrop, I was invited to speak at the inaugural ceremony of the “Sanskrit Heritage Caravan” in Delhi in February 2013. What was important then, might even be more important today:
Let me be bold and tell you, right at the outset, what thoughts and feelings I want to share with you on this remarkable occasion.
First, a sense of deep respect and emotional warmth towards the millennia-old history of the Indo-Germanic language family, its similarity and intellectual closeness, all linked to mother language Sanskrit. By the way, the scientific term of the “Indo-Germanic language group” itself can be traced back more than 200 years. Second, the firm belief that this familiarity is not just heritage and a distant past, but a solid fundament for us today to build our shared future. Indeed, it’s a mandate and an assignment for us.
In other words, highlighting Indo-Germanic closeness should not be left to historians and altphilologen. It is a task and commitment for politicians, movers and shakers of today in both our countries. I’ll come back to that.
One cannot but marvel at the evident similarities between Sanskrit and German. Although the distance between the two languages is of thousands of years and kilometres, one can easily detect and discover the linguistic and etymological affiliations. Let me just give a few examples that, though well-known to linguistic experts, may nevertheless be of interest to this audience. One has to understand that the Aryan knowledge of horses, horsemanship and the spoked wheel was certainly technological “state-of-the-art” around four millennia ago.
This technological leadership translated into astounding language similarities:
* The Sanskrit word for chariot, ratha, re-emerges in the German Rad;
* Aksha, axle in Sanskrit, led to German Achse, which is also used in the figurative sense of a close union and alliance;
* Unlike many other languages, both Sanskrit and German use all three genders: feminine, masculine and neutral.
An even more fascinating example of mental closeness at a conceptual level:
* Gribh or garbh in Sanskrit was gripan, and is now Griff or greifen in German;
* Yet, symptomatically, both in Sanskrit and in German, the word for physical action of the hand — to grab, to seize — was also transferred to
the non-material, intellectual sphere. In both languages, the same word is used for the physical activity as well as for the mental activity of ‘to understand’, ‘to perceive’, as in the German begreifen.
It’s so tempting to carry on with these examples because these similarities are so fascinating. Yet, for the sake of brevity, let me leave it at that.
This is the moment to pay tribute to the work of the German Orientalists and Indologists of the 18th and 19th century. They brought India back to Germany. It certainly created a warm and favourable impression of India in the minds of many Germans and quite a fascination in the hearts of some. Max Müller, of course, is the namesake for our Goethe Institutes in India today. The translation of Kalidasa’s Shakuntala into German in 1791 created quite a sensation among young and wild intellectuals like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Gottfried Herder, who were among the first to read and write about it euphorically. Shakuntala obtained the status of a “rock star” in Germany in those days. Later, in 1879, Otto von Böhtlingk published a “Sanskrit dictionary in short version” — “short version” meant to this accurate German to limit himself to a mere seven volumes.
Why did the classical Indian literature attract such a great deal of interest among German scientists, philosophers and poets? Well, a question for a two-week-long seminar. Let me cut it short again and instead read to you a quote that says it all. It’s from the book “The major trends in literature” published in 1872 by Danish historian Georg Brandes. I quote: “It was not a surprise that there came a moment in German history when they — the Germans — started to absorb and to utilise the intellectual achievements and the culture of the ancient India. It is because this Germany — great, dark and rich in dreams and thoughts — is in reality a modern India. Nowhere else in world history has metaphysics bereft of any empirical research achieved such a high level of development as in the ancient India and the modern Germany.”
Needless to say, this assessment was taken for real and, in fact, understood as a compliment!
From that remarkable quote, it is only a short step to the real “Modern India” and our real Indo-German relations of today.
A lot has been achieved, yet a lot also remains to be done. The opportunities are “infinite”. But they will not just come over to us without our doing. We’ll have to “grab” them (never mind whether in Sanskrit, German, Urdu or Hindi).
Our strongest asset is the young generation — in India and in Germany. Their interest in each other’s life and culture is the essential ingredient to any greater closeness in the future. The door-opener for that is language. True, English has become a kind of global “lingua franca”. You can get by with that all over the world, certainly also in Germany. But, let’s face it, real mental closeness is only achieved through knowledge of each other’s mother tongues.
Max Müller Bhavan successfully cooperates with the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in a German-language teaching programme, which is the biggest programme of its kind worldwide. We will promote further this enormously successful language programme.
Why? Because the number of students is enormous, and demand is still growing. They are very talented. And the Indian students are better than others at learning German, maybe because we come from one language family, the Indo-Germanic group.
In the 18th and 19th centuries it might have been a bit of a one-way street with Goethe, Herder, Max Müller, Schlegel, Böhtlingk being fascinated by Sanskrit and its literature. Today, we need an autobahn in both directions. And here, beyond politics and economics, our shared language heritage can be instrumental. I saw the sparkle in the eyes of keen, eager, smart, bright, talented, likeable Indian students, girls and boys, learning German in many KV schools. I saw the fun they had with it.
This gives me the confidence that, on the foundation of our deep-rooted links, on the magic nearness of Sanskrit, Hindi and German bridging thousands of kilometres of distance, we can build ever stronger Indo-German ties in the future.
The writer is ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to India.




germans always like sanskrit....they do some new research in sanskrit.....they put hardwork....then we say SANSKRIT IS OUR

LANGUAGE....we are best COPY MAKERS.....NOT ORIGINAL MAKERS....german cars are best in the world....


WESTERN PPL HAS TO SAY ABOUT OUR LANGUAGE/CULTURE....this is very sad story of india..



germans always like sanskrit....they do some new research in sanskrit.....they put hardwork....then we say SANSKRIT IS OUR

LANGUAGE....we are best COPY MAKERS.....NOT ORIGINAL MAKERS....german cars are best in the world....


WESTERN PPL HAS TO SAY ABOUT OUR LANGUAGE/CULTURE....this is very sad story of india..

Very sad but True! That is the current state of affairs in Bharatham!!
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