Thursday, January 31, 2008

Course 1: Speaking Sanskrit

So I just got back from the Sanskrit course that I was taking.

I'm still the same person [don't worry], but wow what all has changed!

Now, I can speak in Sanskrit! I think in Sanskrit. How did they do it? Don't even ask. Every day from 5:00 AM until 10:00 PM we were doing something or other. The curriculum was so jam packed, we were doing 2 years worth of work in 2 weeks! For almost 15 hours a day, we were sitting on the floor (marble floor, our butts were frozen!) and in class. It was amazing. The people there were so friendly, so nice, so... genuine. And I'll explain why later.

Our teachers were really really amazing. One was named Surendra Mahodaya (we say "mahodaya" after each name, to indicate respect. It's like saying "Mr." or "Sir"), he was 18 years old but a Sanskrit scholar already. Our other teacher was Giridhar Mahodaya, he was a post-graduate student there, a most excellent person and [now] friend. The main teacher was named Satish Mahodaya, he is also a Sanskrit scholar. He's been with Sanskrit Bharati (the organization through which these courses are put out) for 4 years now, and wow what an amazing teacher he was!! He became a good friend of mine by the end of the course. Another teacher was Satyavan Mahodaya, he was really amazing too but I think he was more meant for an advanced class. But he did the job really well too.

I still can't believe it's Sanskrit that I can speak now. It's like, the oldest language in the world, spoken by only a very few people (and I'm one of them!)... It's really strange. Because now I understand all our scriptures and stuff. I'm amazed still, really. There is so much more to learn though. It's like, my quest has just begun. Sanskrit is such a vast and perfect language, that it could take a lifetime to learn it. But my goal is... well, I'm still working on that. But so far what I've gained is unimaginable. The Sanskrit language has been demystified, now we're speaking it. It's not that we're learning ABOUT Sanskrit anymore, we're learning Sanskrit itself. It's quite amazing.

The people that were taking the course as well were all amazing. Not one person there spoke English. They had such interesting questions about America! For example, one guy asked me what kind of food they ate in America. I was like, "Uh.. Bread, ..." and he stopped me right there. He said, "What's bread?" (all of this was in Sanskrit, of course). I was like oh man how do I explain this? Haha it was quite an interesting stay there. And what's more, almost all of the people there had a little "choti" (a little lock of hair in the back of the head that's like a pony tail, separate from the rest of the hair... kind of like how Anakin Skywalker had that little lock of hair separate from the rest of his hair). It was so interesting, because I didn't know people actually did that still. They were all either studying to be Sanskrit Shastris (a kind of scholar) or else they were already Sanskrit Shastris but just learning to speak. Cool, huh? I was rather in awe of these people, and it seemed as though they were in awe of me and mom too. What an experience!

My Hindi has also improved... Quest 4 is also being taken care of as I go along.

Now a common question is... How will I use Sanskrit? What's the point? Well the thing is, the medium of instruction for all my future courses is in Sanskrit only. A little history lesson... Once apon a time, several thousand years ago, courses used to be taught in "Gurukulams" where every student would live together with the teacher and learn from him. The teacher would often be an accomplished sage/scientist. The source material would be in Sanskrit, and the medium of instruction would be in Sanskrit. Over the years however, things changed a little bit. Things then used to be taught from a Sanskrit source, but in a different language. Whether it was Hindi, or whatever. Now, things are even more different. Things are taught from a non-Sanskrit source in a non-Sanskrit language... so a lot of information is lost.

I guess one can say that I'm jumping several thousand years into the past, learning from a Sanskrit source (directly from the Vedas) with Sanskrit as the medium of instruction. I'm quite excited! Tomorrow I go to Bangalore, where I will get internet access (for sure this time). There I will update more, I promise, but for now I must sleep or something, I'm so exhausted! We've been on the move or completely booked since we got to India. It's quite amazing, but rest is also needed.

Yadi etaam panktim pathitum shaknoti, tarhi bhavaan/bhavati Samskritam jaanaati. :)


Akshay said...

varun this is so cool.

marriiiaaa said...

varun!! still thanking the lord that you are safe and having such incredible experiences! I know that you are making some incredible relations, and I know that anyone you come across over there is LUCKY to meet you! Keep up the studying, can't wait to hear more!!

love you and miss you!


Riccardo said...

hi thier i am interested in knowing the course ingedients what all one learns in this course.
thanks Bhavna

Varun Khanna said...

Hi Bhavna, I'd be glad to help. Please email me at vrkhanna [at] gmail [dot] com