An online 5-level Sanskrit Course was launched in July 2020 by the IIT Roorkee Sanskrit club in collaboration with the volunteer driven organization Samskrita Bharati which attracted thousands of registrations from across 20 countries. The course named “Subhashitam Samskritam” aims at teaching basic Samskritam (Sanskrit) through 108 Subhashitams, which are known for their inherent moral and ethical advice and also relevant for all times and appeals to all age groups.
The Subhashitam Samskritam course commenced on 5th of July which was also Gurupoornima. The classes followed the LSRW (Listen, Speak, Read, Write) methodology and the medium of instruction was in Sanskrit. Given the fact that many registrants were learning Sanskrit for the first time, level-1 of the course focused mainly on the listening and speaking skills and engaged in imparting general conversational skills to the participants.
The twelve (12) lectures of level-1 were delivered via WebEx and live YouTube streaming by Samskrita Bharati volunteer Suchitra Viswajit. Many volunteers, both from the IIT Roorkee Sanskrit club and Samskrita Bharati also assisted in preparing supplementary material for self-evaluation like google form-based quizzes and practice audio clips. The fact that these lectures continued to receive tens of thousands of views on YouTube shows that there were many non-registered but interested viewers watching them too.
Prof. Ajit Kumar Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee received a letter of appreciation from the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, on 17th July. The IIT Roorkee Sanskrit Club members on 19th July organized an online valedictory function on the occasion of completion of the level-1 of the sanskrit course, which was attended by Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Minister of Education. An online exam for the level-1 was conducted on 21st and 22nd July. Out of the total participants who attempted, 5108 participants cleared it and were sent e-certificates with grades (class) obtained.
While the evaluation of the level-1 exam was ongoing, the “1 Bridge 2″ series of videos were published on the IIT Roorkee Sanskrit club’s YouTube channel, which covered topics like “Learn Devanagari” taught by Prof. Ramachandran from Chennai as well as additional topics for improving Sanskrit conversation. Twelve participants opted out at this stage from moving into next levels and at present 5096 participants are registered for the next four (4) levels of this prestigious sanskrit course.
In each of these four levels, Subhashitams are being taught and explained in the Sanskrit language itself. They are also used as examples to teach grammar concepts. Each level will have 12 to 15 lectures, with typically two Subhashitams in each lecture. The lectures are held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and are streamed live through YouTube and hence open to all. Wednesday and Saturday have optional doubt clearance sessions for registrants using WebEx at three different time slots. Sunday has nine WebEx sessions at various times for revision and practice where the registrants can choose to attend one. Detailed study material in the form of pdf files, audios, and google form quiz for self-evaluation are also sent to the registrants by email. Telegram discussion groups continue to have “question windows” at specified times and teachers give answers later. There are also additional optional telegram groups where the focus is only on practicing to speak in Samskritam on topics specified ad hoc or at short notice.
The 15 lectures of level-2 started on 3rd August, which was also World Sanskrit Day and Raksha Bandhan. This level focused on Vibhaktis and some lakaaras (tense and mood forms of verbs) through 33 Subhashitams and was taught by Vachaspati Nandakumar, All India Samparka pramukh of Samskrita Bharati. An online exam was conducted on 29th and 30th August which 3808 participants attempted. Pro-rated percentage of the marks they scored would be added to the final marks after all the 4 levels. Out of those who attempted, 3700 scored 40% or more, and they would receive e-certificates of a successful attempt of the level-2 exam.
In the one-week time, after the level-2 exam and start of level-3 lectures, some participants of the Subhashitam Samskritam course decided to put together an hour-long program titled ‘SamskritaSabhaa – episode1’. Except for guidance and some technical support from Samskrita Bharati and IIT Roorkee Sanskrit club members, the content of the first 42 mins of this online effort was coordinated, anchored, and segments performed by registrants of level-2.
The one-hour long program has news in Samskritam, two small skits, three quiz questions, one advertisement break as well as a Samskrita Bharati song – all in Sanskrit and performed by level-2 registrants. The video was released on the “Teachers’ Day” and so there were interviews taken from a Samskrita Bharati teacher in the USA and a young Bhagavad Gita teacher in Karnataka – in Sanskrit and the interviewers are level-2 registrants.
A well-known Hindi bhajan was translated into Sanskrit and presented as a video segment as well. After the 42 min segment with anchors, there is also an 18 min drama in Sanskrit performed by Samskrita Bharati group from Singapore, some of who are also students of the level-2 course. The video is available here and has received more than 5500 views and 145 comments within five days.
In all likelihood, this may be a first of a kind program and video where performances from various parts of the world have been combined as in a thread into a single program which is end to end in Sanskrit.
Organisers inform that the Level-3 of the Course which started from 7th of September will have 14 lectures and will end on the 29th September. This level has 27 subhashitams with a focus on concepts like Avyayas, Krudantas, and Prayogas. Exam for level-3 is tentatively planned for 3rd and 4th October. Many participants hope that the second episode of SamskritaSabhaa can be released after the level-3 exam and tentatively around 10th October. Level-4 lectures are planned to start from 12th October followed by an exam in early November, and Level-5 lectures planned to start from 16th November tentatively.
Similar initiatives by different institutions in India and across the world shows the rising interest and enthusiasm among the people to learn Sanskrit.