Tuesday, 15 June 2021

The Beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts

What is the meaning of mangalacharanam?

In which place was the Mahabharata composed?

How many seasons have been described by Kalidasa in his epic Ritusamhara?

What are the four vedas and the four upavedas?

What does Mrichhakatikam mean?

Are spirituality and religion the same thing?

Who compiled the Bhagavata Mahapurana?

If these questions teased your brain-cells, and you are unable to retrieve the answers, it is time to pick up this informative book about Sanskrit language and texts-

The Beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts is written by Durga Prasad Dash.

It is one of the eBooks launched by the Blogchatter EBook Carnival this year.

Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages of the world. It was the language of the intellectuals of India, prior to the Mughal invasion and reign. India has one of the most manuscripts in the world. Sanskrit texts are treasure-houses of India’s ancient wisdom. However, many of us are unaware. Many Indians have never studied Sanskrit in school. Had the British not interfered with our education system, we would perhaps have devoted more time and interest in studying this.


Book Title and Cover

The title gives a true picture of what is in store. 

The saffron-colour book cover looks apt for this sacred topic. It has text in chandan (sandalwood)-colour and in white. There is an image of manuscripts.

The design is by the author.

The Author

A soldier, educational trainer and yoga teacher, Durga Prasad Dash has had rich experience. He is an author of eight books in multiple genres. His books are available on Amazon.

He is a popular blogger who blogs at-

PEBBLES AND WAVES – Let noble thought come to usfrom all sides (durgadash.com)

I have been a regular reader of the author’s blog from the past couple of years when we had e-met on IndiBlogger. The author participated in last year’s as well as for this year’s Blogchatter A To Z challenge. Last year, the author wrote about his memories and experiences, especially about his village in the state of Odisha, and about his travels across India. You can read my review of his book “My Village, My Country” here.

For this year’s AtoZ challenge in April 2021, the author wrote posts about some Sanskrit texts and the features.  In the author’s words, he wanted to write a book- “to introduce the beautiful world of Sanskrit and Sanskrit texts which is not part of our curriculum except for a few who opt for it.”

Book Blurb

“There was no area of human curiosity or endeavor that the ancient Rishis of India did not probe in depth. Through this book the reader can get glimpses into each branch of the vast and intricate world of traditional Indian Knowledge System that includes not only spiritual works but also a lot of works of non religious nature. Sanskrit, which literally means ‘refined’, is also known as Devabhasha or the language of Gods. The book explores the beauty of this ancient language and highlights the feature that makes it unique.”

About The Book

The book has information about this language of intellectuals that holds much wisdom of ancient India. It is a reflection of the author’s deep understanding, knowledge, research, and efforts to connect and share about our mother language and “of the beauty, vastness and the depth of the language and literature.”

The author states-

“Whenever we think of Sanskrit literature it is the religious ones that usually come to our mind. It happens because we are more familiar with the religious ones. The religious ones are more widely discussed upon and commented upon. But there are a large number of non-religious texts in Sanskrit which are known only in limited circles and rarely do these make it to the popular discourse.”

The book has been divided into 26 chapters corresponding to his A to Z posts.

My Connection And Thoughts

Whenever we talk of ancient India or our advanced knowledge-systems, we get multiple reactions- some feel all this is too complicated, while others argue that it is the past and why harp on it, and some simply walk away uninterested! The fact is that the past is important and every person must feel responsible to learn and proud to share about our culture and heritage.

Our languages are so rich. There is such a lot to explore & discover. Sanskrit, the mother language, never fails to amaze. Many of us are yet to listen to the stotras & experience them. They are uplifting. During this pandemic, stuti and prayers can contribute to mental well-being and coping mechanism.

Our India has so much traditional knowledge. Plants are associated with traditions. Many festivals & celebrations have a variety of leaves, fruits and vegetables. The author has even shared the names of plants and trees mentioned by Kalidasa in Ritusamhara. It is sad that seasons have been affected due to drastic climate change, and we have fewer seasons now. The world witnessed by Kalidasa now exists in his Sanskrit text.

India deserves credit for so many inventions & theories including the zero and Yoga. Sanskrit texts have much information that has been translated into other languages over the years and extracted and claimed by other nation’s thinkers and intellectuals. Thus, the text taught in schools worldwide does not include India’s contribution, rather western thinkers are given credit. The original proponents and nations must get their due credit. 

It was great to find some Odisha references in this book. Many are yet to know that Jayadeva, poet of Gita Govinda, and Vishnu Sharma, author of the Panchatantra, both belonged to Odisha. Gita Govinda is Jayadeva’s magnum opus. Other states are unnecessarily disputing Jayadeva’s place of birth, just like they are doing for Rasagola! The truth is – Jayadeva belonged to Odisha and composed this great work in Odisha. Gita Govinda Khandua – an Ikat handloom of Odisha is still being handwoven with the verses – and it is Shree Jagannatha’s favourite garment.

Our forefathers had great memory power. Imagine remembering so much and then passing info in a foolproof manner i.e. knowledge transfer without any errors. Earlier there was no xerox or any modern audio-visual documentation process. Sanskrit texts are proof of their vast wisdom that many generations shared for many centuries.

People interpret based on their knowledge, understanding & skills. I feel one needs to study several interpretations to come closer to what the authors wished to convey in the ancient texts. They have not left any guide-books for reference. However, whatever is presented by popular writers/historians is considered to be true, even though they may have erred in judgment or presented wrong info. By following incorrect or misleading information, the next generation will err by reading/learning/watching/believing untruths/wrong interpretation. Not many understand Sanskrit & local languages. Thus, there is a need for such books to impart knowledge.

The author shares information in a simple and interesting way that will appeal to readers of all ages. This book generates interest and clears some misconceptions about the Sanskrit texts. It is a welcome learning experience. The author has succeeded in his efforts for “creating awareness about many hidden gems” and “also in dispelling the myths associated with some popular texts”.

This interesting book is available for free download here.

47 eBooks were launched by Blogchatter in their eBook Carnival in May this year. This is one of the two in the ‘Culture’ genre. The other culture book launched happens to be – ‘Rasagola Dibasa – Odisha Celebrates A Day For Rasagola (Rasgulla)’ written by this reviewer.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for presenting the book in an interesting manner and bringing out the essence of the book.

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  2. Sanskrit is a beautiful language. No doubt about it. But it is a dead language. No one speaks that language at home or in the streets. Only used temples and during religious ceremonies. I am not comparing. But I want to say something about Tamil. It is the same age or even ancient than Sanskrit. It is still spoken by millions of people around the world at home and in the streets....India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Madagascar, South Africa, and West Indies. It is not one of the national languages in India. But it is a national language in Sri lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore.

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  3. An Excellent and praiseworthy attempt.

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  4. Got to know about this site while listening to 92.7Mhz today. I am more into geopolitics. However, it is a commendable that you are writing about about Odisha and Odias. Write and inspire.

    ReplyDelete

Your words mean a lot to me.

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