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Thursday, June 23, 2011

OFFBEAT: Sanskrit is ‘cool'!

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VISHNUPRIYA BHANDARAM / The Hindu / June 22, 2011.

The younger generation is getting back to traditions. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The younger generation is getting back to traditions. Photo: K. Murali Kumar / The Hindu.

Generation Y is finding new ways of reaching for its roots, reports Vishnupriya Bhandaram
On weekends, Saarathi is found chilling out at a pub but on weekdays, she's busy learning Sanskrit. Why Sanskrit, one might ask? She says, “For fun. Sanskrit is probably one of the oldest languages; it's a work of art and should be propagated. It would be a shame to let it fade without even a yelp, like Hebrew!” Young guns these days are tuning into Sanskrit. And scoring marks in the exams doesn't seem to be the only incentive to opt for this language.
Tattoo enthusiasts across the town are also sporting Sanskrit words. Joysen, a tattoo artist from the city, explains that the past two years have seen a growing number of people wanting to stamp a ‘bit of culture' onto themselves. He says that the next generation is resorting to chanting slokas, and their favourites hymns are the Gayatri mantra or Mahamrityunjaya mantra that express inner power. Vikram, also a tattoo artist, says that some couples get tattooed with their partners' names in the Swastika font. There are certainly wannabes who are drawn to this language because they feel like they are doing something different or because it might make them ‘cool'. But most of the people who are learning Sanskrit are doing it as a way to reconnect with their culture and heritage.
Kaushik Vaideeswaran, an engineering graduate, says, “I used to learn Sanskrit during school, but over the years other things took priority. I want to get back to learning Sanskrit now. It's a direct connection with my origins and it's one language with a brilliant sound to it, so why not?” He adds that Sanskrit is a part of Indian culture that has not been adulterated by anything else. He finds it helps him appreciate literature that he usually reads in translation, and a great deal is lost in translation. Sanskrit deserves to be propagated, he feels, but not forced on us.
Another important aspect of learning Sanskrit is, if we learn it thoroughly, we can understand most Indian languages, for all of them carry the words derived from Sanskrit!

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