Sanskrit learning has attracted people from around the world in recent times. Historically Sanskrit used to be taught through the traditional ‘gurukula sampradaya’ where Sanskrit itself was the medium of teaching as well as for communication among the students.

In the ‘modern’ education system it was replaced by the technique of learning by translation, with emphasis on grammar from the very beginning. It resulted in creating a notion that Sanskrit is merely a language of mantras and traditions as opposed to one of daily conversational usage

During the 1980’s a few young Sanskrit graduates from Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati (now National Sanskrit Universityfelt that efforts must be taken to make Sanskrit once more a spoken language and not merely a language of mantras. “Talk in Samskritam, not just about Samskritam” was their guiding principle.

The primary idea was that Sanskrit should be taught through Sanskrit itself and not through translations. With the united effort of these youngsters, a 10 day Sanskrit workshop was designed where each day,  2 hour sessions are conducted without translations. The method followed was the natural way of learning- just like one learns his or her mother tongue.

Initial days saw a bit of struggle to find takers, and then innovative ways of spreading the effort came up. Two volunteers would ride on a public bus. One would go to the back seat and other in the front seat, and both of them would start talking loudly in fluent Sanskrit. Curious passengers who were able to understand most of the conversation, would ask the volunteers about how they learned to speak in Sanskrit and they will be invited to the next workshop.

The movement slowly started to spread under the aegis of various organisations across India. Eventually Samskrita Bharati was formally established in 1994.  Currently, Samskrita Bharati has its headquarters in New Delhi and has a presence in 4812 locations, 610 districts of India and in 20 other countries. Volunteers come from various backgrounds including students, professionals, agriculturists, traders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, University vice-chancellors and more.

The whole work is anchored by about 114 full-time volunteers dedicated to the cause of spreading Sanskrit as a language of daily use. SamskritaBharati has conducted 1,40,000 sambhashana shibirams(10 day workshops), published over 300 books, conducted correspondence courses, online classes , ‘samvaadasaalaa’ , baalakendram for small children, classes on Bhagavad Gita, youth workshops, teachers training camp and so on.

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In the Covid-19 pandemic situation and subsequent lockdown, the organisation took some time to adapt to the digital, online class mode, but eventually got into the groove. Various online workshops and follow up classes are now ongoing around the globe.

What may be an epitome of its online efforts to date, is a course named “Subhashitam Samskritam” which Samskrita Bharati is conducting in association with IIT Roorkee (IITR) Sanskrit club. 14000+ registered, of which nearly 1350 are below 18yrs or age, and nearly 8400 from the 18-40 age group. Many even “complained” that they got to know about the event only after the July-4th registration deadline, had they known in time, they would have registered

The first level of the course started on 5th of July with daily one hour sessions (named as lectures) live streamed on youtube for 12 days. It was supported by daily exercises, audio quizzes, revision videos and interactive sessions – all online. Course-1 focused on basic conversations with no ‘rigour’ of grammar and encourages people to speak in Sanskrit without worrying about “errors”

To the credit of a handful of young and dynamic Sanskrit club volunteers at IIT Roorkee and with key support from the institute, the online classes and supplementary material are public and nicely arranged as playlists in youtube . Though only registrants can take exams, organisers hope that the teaching material can continue to be available as open to all, to the extent possible. That seems to have worked wonders, for  lecture-1 of Course-1 has already crossed 40,000 views on youtube

Sanskrit Course 1
A screengrab from the entertainment programs during online Valedictory function of Course-1

Being free and online classes, not necessarily everyone from the 14000+ registered may be regular, and so based on online exams conducted on July 21 and 22, around 5108 who successfully completed Course-1 and are now registered for Course-2 . Organisers are now exploring ways to give more practice to the enthusiastic members through channels like Telegram discussion group, which already has more than 4000 members.

An online poll conducted among the Telegram members showed that nearly 42% of them learned Sanskrit for the first time using the IITR-Samskrita Bharati Course-1 and most of them were now able to speak in Sanskrit. Even among the 58% who had learned Sanskrit before, most were previously not able able to speak in Sanskrit but after Course-1 they are able to

The Shraavana Pournami day (also rakshabandhan) is celebrated as ‘Samskritadinam’ and this year it falls on 3rd of August. As IITR Sanskrit club-Samskrita Bharati efforts move on to its Course-2, there is immense satisfaction that they were able to pull through a well managed and hugely popular Course-1, and there are also some “lessons learned” and “new ideas” for future implementation. At higher levels of the course, sustaining the interest as well as ensuring that emphasis on conversing in Sanskrit continues, will be challenges to look for.

If the enthusiasm shown for this course is to be taken as a trend, Sanskrit learning may now be at the threshold of undergoing a revolution. The widespread use of internet facilities in the field of education proves to be an opportunity for dissemination of knowledge regardless of geographical boundaries. Time alone can say whether the opportunity will be well used.

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164 COMMENTS

  1. Very successful initiative taking Sanskrit through modern learning methodologies. Thanks to Sanskrit Bharathi and IIT Roorkee. Feeling Proud to be a part of it and looking forward to learn more.No words to express gratitude for the services rendered by the team. sahasra Naman

  2. Great work by IIT Roorki and Samskrit Bharati.
    I attended the course and got instant benefits.. withing 15-20 days during this course and small practice during that time, I could fulfill my dream of learning this greatest language!

  3. Namo Namah
    This article by N Saraswathy is excellent summary of the success. Kudos to Saraswathy.
    My heartfelt gratitude and thank you to all from IITR and Samskrita Bharathi who have taken this initiative for the benefit of people and sanskrit. The hard work and efforts are not easily visible. But I am sure that team has spent hours in thinking, planning and putting this together. The entire course has been designed, structured and presented in a very simplistic manner to everyone. What a novel way to make best use of technology to reach out to all of us. I hope and pray that these type of initiatives reach out far and wide with result of people speaking in sanskrit in day to day life. With sincere Thank You, I wish all the team members success and all the very best in life. May god bless all of them and all of us.

  4. It is a great opportunity to attend the course on speaking of Sanskrit. Generally people think that Sanskrit is very difficult language and there are many things very difficult to remember. But here the teachers with their high teaching ability made the language very much interesting to the learners. Another thing that impressed me are the stories they said at the end of every lecture. These stories have great moral values which shows that culture of past India was very much rich. Learning Sanskrit will definitely revive the old culture of the country. This is beneficial not only for the country but for the entire world.

  5. Namonamah. An excellent Initiative by sanskrit Bharti with IIT roorkie. Thanks a ton for this noble and. Novel Initiative be cause of which people like me who are employed cull time are able to.learn this rich language. Keep up the good work
    Article by Ms saraswati brings out the passion of the organisers in taking this awesome language to the nook and corner of the world. Great work.

  6. I am one of the person above 65 years yet my enthusiasm to learn sanskrit never decreased,I appeared for Level1 tests and when verified marksit was 73/80.i would have got minimum 15 for remaining 20. So I am sure that I will get above 80.My sincere thanks to all volunteers
    M.Krishnakumar
    Chennai
    [email protected]

    • Namo Namah
      I read the article wrote by Saraswathi madam. It is really fentastic one. Also I am proud
      to say that I am one of the students of IITR Team. The methodology of teaching y
      The Samskritam is awesome and excellent.

      Dhanyawadhaha.

  7. The mode, manner and methodology adopted by Samskrita Bharathi and IIT Roorkee is truly commendable. Its a boon even for a senior citizen like me to avail of this opportunity to understand the language. The patience and discipline of the staff is truly fantastic.
    Saraswathy N has done an excellent job. Her enthusiasm and dedication are exemplary. I wish her all success in her future endeavours.

  8. Immensely indebted to Sanskrit Bharati and IITR Sanskrit club volunteers. They are really doing good job. Lots of love, gratitude and wishes for their selfless efforts. Thanks a lot!!!

  9. my words will fall short. Excellent work by IIT roorkee and Samskrita Bharathi. Lots of love to all Teachers, Organisers and Volunteers for self-less work. Special love to Saraswathi.

  10. I am very happy to be a part of this wonderful online course ! I always wanted to learn Sanskrit . My wish of learning Sanskrit is being fulfilled now after retirement and that too sitting at home. The course is very informative as they not only teach but they also tell stories in Sanskrit, have quiz etc.
    My heartfelt gratitude to the volunteers of IIT Roorkee Sanskrit club & the Samskrita Bharati team for the initiative & efforts taken by them. Seeing them working day & night selflessly has motivated us a lot.
    Also special thanks to Suchitra Mahodaya for teaching in a simple & enjoyable way.
    It will reach new heights in Sanskrit teaching!
    धन्यवाद ! नमो नमः

  11. Hello I congrajulate this full team for their efforts and success
    I just want to thank you all from bottom of my heart for taking this initiative. You may not be aware of what u people are doing, you are actually changibg our lifestyle, our way of thinking and of course our kowledge.
    Lockdown could not have been that meaningfull and usefull. I was going into depression and I got my dream project. My kids also learning with me. I am a yoga teacher. Looking forward to work with you all too. But I think I hv to travel a long way for that. I would also like to be a part in propogating this knowledge. ????????????????

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