Devabhasha – From the Desk of the Founder
“When I was young, I used to hear my unlettered grandmother– dadima, learning meticulously – the uccharan, the correct pronunciation of beautiful stuties and stotras. The Sanskrit sound, its rhythm, would mesmerize me.
As I grew older, I followed her footsteps and I too memorized some stotras – like VishnuSahasranam, Shiv Mahihmn etc. I felt as if their melody was in harmony with the universal symphony of the planets, with the rotation and revolution of the earth, the twinkling of the stars, the movement of the breeze, the rising of waves. I was sure that these Sanskrit words and mantras were in perfect harmony with that beautiful, melodious, cosmic orchestra.
Though I could learn easily, even at this later age, the correct pronunciation and recitation of these hymns and stuties, I could not learn, for the dear life of me, the Sanskrit language per se.
And this has remained a very painful fact in my life.
Every time I turn to the Bhagavad Geeta for answers to questions of my life, I have to depend on a translation and every translation, however good it may be, is after all subjective! How will I know what my Krishna wants me to understand from the Geeta?
I took a vow that no student of mine will ever feel so helpless when they grow older and when they turn to the Epics, Vedas, Upanishad and Geeta for answers.
This led me to a dream – my dream was that one day, Sanskrit language must go through a period of renaissance in India.
I studied the pedagogy of Sanskrit teaching in Indian schools carefully and found two main lacunae, which I decided to address.
One, in India, Sanskrit teaching and learning begins in class V or VI without introducing any love for the language in the earlier grades. Research concludes that the age when a new language is learned easily, with great fluency and near-perfect accent, is from birth to age 7 & 8, after which it becomes much harder. For example – when a child is born to a Punjabi mother, a Tamil father and does schooling in Bengal, she or he learns all three languages with utter spontaneity.
The second lacuna present in Indian schooling is that the Sanskrit curriculum is crowded with conjunction tables, grammar or vyakaran and these hide from our students, the joyous treasures of Sanskrit language.
So, we at Jaipuria, firstly decided to create a Sanskrit programme of education which would begin at Playgroup, Kindergarten level and go up, at least in the initial stage of commencement, upto class VIIIth, and equal weightage, to English and Hindi, would be awarded to Sanskrit.
Secondly, we decided to teach simple conversational Sanskrit- Sambhashaniya Sanskrit. Our aim was neither to create mantra reciting parrots nor scholars nor pandits.
We had a three pronged approach- three clear aims before us:-
Our first and basic aim was to inculcate in the students a love for Sanskrit language, a basic love for the language which would build in them a curiosity to explore that rich literature which is hidden in its folds.
Our second aim was to repackage Indian culture and heritage for the students in such a manner that it would inculcate in them, the love for Indian culture and thereby a lasting respect for their Motherland – a fact that is hitherto missing in Indian students pan India.
Finally and most importantly, our third aim was to bring about a positive transformation in the character and values of our students.
Inspired by these three aims, a tentative curriculum was drawn up. Our experiment of teaching Sanskrit from LKG in Jaipuria School began in 2003. As this experiment progressed, our teaching-learning materials also progressed.
Devabhasha – our Sanskrit textbooks from Playgroup and Kindergarten to class VIII are the product of this labour of love and dedication to Sanskrit.