On June 1, 2019, a one-day Sanskrit Appreciation Workshop, titled ‘Samskritam – Sculpted to Perfection’ was conducted by Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), Puducherry, at Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) conference hall, Auroville.
The workshop provided an introduction to the various dimensions of this unique and ancient language, such as ‘the magic and logic of Sanskrit’ and its transparent system of root-sounds. There was a group discussion and come up with an action plan for Auroville to encourage awareness and learning of one of Auroville’s four official languages, also called ‘the language of the gods’. Around 25 participants from Auroville had participated in the workshop.
Some of the facts elaborated in the workshop are as follows:
- The sounds forming the roots of all Sanskrit words have an intrinsic meaning rather than being merely historical conventions, e.g., the word ‘shanti’ conveys peaceful sound vibrations. In regard to not only ‘Om’, but to all Sanskrit words the Sound and the Word are seen as being at the origin of creation.
- Even the shapes of the letters of the Sanskrit/Devanagari alphabet have been designed according to their meaning.
- All verbs, and most nouns, are composed of verb-roots and based on rules regarding appendages. Familiarity with 700 basic verb roots, 20 commonly used prefixes, together with these rules, gives a substantial command over the language. Combinations into words and sentences are done in a way that imparts a fluidity and melody.
- There are many synonyms, often as many as 10–30 words, with different shades of meaning often not translatable into English ‘equivalents’.
- Flexibility of structure, e.g., words in a sentence can be rearranged without changing the meaning.
- Researchers in computer have found that Sanskrit is an ideal ‘natural language’ for computers in many ways.
- Sanskrit is a linguistic base to many different languages, Indian and European, so a familiarity will help us to easily connect with many Indian languages.
- Sanskrit is also called ‘Devabhasha’ or language of the Gods, or a Divine language. The word ‘Sanskrit’ means ‘refined’ or ‘sculpted to perfection’. India has more than a hundred spoken dialects, but Sanskrit is the oldest, most continually used language in the world, at least since 1500 BC, perhaps since 6000 BC. It ‘has the power to lift us up above ourselves – it is a potent aid to the formation of character and sense of exaltation’.
This appreciation could help participants to open to the mantric quality of Sanskrit, to the nuances of key Sanskrit words and concepts, to the interconnections between Indian languages, and to a deeper engagement with vast ranges of the spiritual and other literature in Sanskrit.