Monday, May 18, 2020

Opium Eater and the Divine Boatman - "Ancient Wisdom. Modern Times." Weekly session with Shashi

Ahibhuk Kaivarta Nyāya - Opium Eater and the Divine Boatman

Ahibhuk was a constant consumer of opium.
ahi means a poisonous snake, and phena is the froth.
Ahi-phena is the oozing juice from a poppy flower, like the one shown below.
From ahi-phena comes opium. It is an alkaloid, gives a great high, and is poisonous in larger quantities.

Ahibhuk was always high on opium. And one day he boarded a ferry to cross a river.

What happened then? See the video below.

A profound Sanskrit maxim (nyāya) about our true nature and the difficulty in realizing it. Part of the 2nd May 2020 online session. This is part of Session 1 (2 May 2020) of the weekly online series - "Ancient Wisdom. Modern Times."

Join the live sessions every Saturday.

Registration required.

If you are in India or Australia, Japan etc the 10 am India time session may suit you better.

Or you can join the 10 am New York time session, which is also 730 pm India time.

IMPORTANT: When you register, you will get a confirmation email. The email has your link to join. Please have this link handy, you will need this to join the session.

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

(Closed) Register for Ancient Wisdom, Modern Times - Weekly Online sessions

[Registration is closed]

"The time of the wise passes in entertainment through arts and sciences, and that of the foolish in sleep, squabbles or troubles." - Hitopadesh, 11th century Sanskrit book of Niti (practical wisdom)

Good food vs junk food.

We are aware of the need to take care of our body.
Eat food.
Eat good food.
Eat enough food.
(And good and enough sleep and exercise)

Most of us do take care of the body.
We know the difference between these two.


What about our mind and soul?

Are we getting good food for them as well?
Entertainment, streaming content is the sugar of the brain.
It helps pass the time, cope with boredom, but adds no true value to our life.
Are we consciously taking some time to nourish our mind and soul with good, positive, useful thoughts that grow us as people?

The Sanskrit works of India are powerhouses of food for the mind and soul that grows us as individuals, and collectively as society. And there is a wide variety of topics, right from the practical to the spiritual.

Ever wondered to take a dip in the perennial river of ancient Indian wisdom? Then, wonder no more.

Sanskrit in the time of Corona (and beyond)!

Many readers here and on Facebook have requested for online sessions to nourish the mind and soul with the wit and wisdom of Sanskrit  Given the current lifestyle changes worldwide, there is no better time to start than now. Kind of - Sanskrit in the time of Corona !

So, I am starting a weekly online sessions.

About the online live sessions.

An hour a week.

No knowledge of Sanskrit is needed.
This is not a Sanskrit grammar class.
However, there will be enough touch of original Sanskrit to feel specially blessed.

There will be variety of topics, verses, stories from various sources.

As always, the defining characteristics of Practical Sanskrit will be Simple Sanskrit, Great Ideas and Ancient Wisdom, Modern Times.

Here are a few recordings from previous sessions:.
1. What is more important - health of the people or health of the economy?


2. How does the divine help us? 


  • There is a limit to the maximum participants in one session.
  • It is on First Come First Served basis.
  • You can join from laptop, tablet or phone. It is recommended to use a laptop, for easier viewing. I will be sharing my screen, and large screen maybe better to watch.
  • Please download the Zoom application for computer (or app for mobile) before hand.
  • Due to recent security updates in Zoom, and for better managing the updates to the session, it is important that you register for the meeting via the zoom link itself. Please see the registration link below. After registration, you will get a unique link just for you to join. You may also want to add this to your calendar, so you get reminded in time. Don't forget to set a reminder at least 15 mins early.
  • Join 10 or 15 mins earlier, at least for the first time, so that if there is any technical problem in connecting it can be sorted out.
  • There are TWO slots for the sessions, one convenient for US timezone, other for India timezone. If you are in India, and can join the morning session, please sign up for India session, else choose the one that is suitable for you.
  • You can attend the meeting via Zoom application, mobile app or even the browser. If you are concerned about Zoom security, download the latest version of the app or application, and change your password. Most of the issues were related to open Zoom meetings. In our case, the meetings need password, they are not stored on cloud. Actually, participants don't even need to turn on their video!

Closed - REGISTER TO JOIN. Please register for only one session.

  • After registration, you will get a confirmation email from Zoom. SAVE IT. It has the link to join, towards the end of the email.
  • INSTALL ZOOM on laptop/computer. Mobile experience is NOT good.
  • During meeting, use headphones. Increase volume on your end if needed.
  • Join 5-10 minutes before start time.

1. ANCIENT WISDOM. MODERN TIMES (India/Asia/Australia friendly time)
Every Saturday 10:00 am (1 hour) INDIA TIME (GMT+5:30)
As per this is:
02:30 pm SYDNEY
12:30 pm SINGAPORE
09:30 pm SAN FRANCISCO (-1 day, Friday 930 pm)
Please ensure correct local time for yourself. India time doesn't change for DayLight Savings etc.

-------------------- OR --------------------

2. ANCIENT WISDOM. MODERN TIMES (US/Europe/India friendly time)
Every Saturday 7:30 PM (1 hour) INDIA TIME (GMT+5:30)
As per this is:
10:00 am NEW YORK
03:00 pm LONDON
04:00 pm BERLIN
Please ensure correct local time for yourself. India time doesn't change for DayLight Savings etc.

If you are on Telegram app, you may also consider joining the Telegram channel -
  • After registration, you will get a confirmation email from Zoom. SAVE IT. It has the link to join, towards the end of the email.
  • INSTALL ZOOM on laptop/computer. Mobile experience is NOT good.
  • During meeting, use headphones. Increase volume on your end if needed.
  • Join 5-10 minutes before start time.

You will receive a confirmation soon.
Stay safe and sane and at home!

[Post updated: 4th May 2020]

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Shivoham Shivoham - I am Shiva, I am Shiva.

I am not the manas, buddhi, ahaṅkāra, or chitta (thinking, analyzing faculties, or the ego or the chitta), nor the ears, tongue, nose, or eyes, nor the sky or the earth, or the light or the wind, in the form of chit and ānanda, I am the the śhiva, I am the the śhiva.

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कारचित्तानि नाहं
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योमभूमिः न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ १॥

manobuddhyahaṃkārachittāni nāhaṃ
na cha śhrotrajihve na cha ghrāṇanetre ।
na cha vyomabhūmiḥ na tejo na vāyuḥ
chidānaṃdarūpaḥ śhivo'haṃ śhivo'ham ॥ 1॥

The processors

Manas, buddhi, ahaṅkāra and chitta are the qualitative differentiation within the mind. They are used interchangeably based on context, and yet they are different.

Manas is the faculty of perception, the instrument by which the objects of senses affect the Atman. It is the faculty of thought, desire, imagination. Buddhi is the intellect, by which one discerns, comprehends. Ahaṅkāra is the sense of identity, that which creates 'I-ness', ego. Chittam is the one that observes, is aware. All these are the faculties that process what comes from outside.

I am none of these processors.

The instruments

Shrotra is the ear, the organ of hearing. Jihvā is tongue, the organ of tasting. Ghrāṇa is nose, the sense of smelling. And netra is eye, the sense of seeing.

I am none of these instruments.

The building blocks of matter

Vyoma is the space, the gap between the matter. It is the space between planetary bodies as well as the space around Earth, and even the space inside anything. It is also one of the five basic elements.

Bhūmi is the Earth, or the solid matter.

Tejas is the heat or light (both interconnected) like the fire or the Sun.

Vāyu is the wind, the circulating forces, not just on Earth but also inside our bodies, responsible for circulating whether nutrition or blood etc.

I am none of these building blocks of which the material world is made.

The faculties get the information using the senses about the outside world.

I am none of them.

I am pure bliss form of consciousness.
I am Shiva, I am Shiva.

Adi Shankara is without doubt a great force in Indian wisdom tradition, who literally stormed the scene. Today is his birthday as per he Indian calendar.

And now the language aspects:

First, let us break the sandhi.

मनः-बुद्धि-अहङ्कार-चित्तानि न अहं
न च श्रोत्र-जिह्वे न च घ्राण-नेत्रे ।
न च व्योमभूमिः न तेजः न वायुः
चित्-आनन्द-रूपः शिवः अहं शिवः अहम् ॥ १॥

manaḥ-buddhi-ahaṃkāra-chittāni na ahaṃ
na cha śhrotra-jihve na cha ghrāṇa-netre ।
na cha vyoma-bhūmiḥ na tejaḥ na vāyuḥ
chit-ānanda-rūpaḥ śhivaḥ-ahaṃ śhivaḥ-aham ॥ 1॥

manaḥ-buddhi-ahaṃkāra-chittāni = mind-intellect-ego-thought (plural)
na ahaṃ = no,t I (am)

na cha = not, and
śhrotra-jihve = ear-tongue (dual) / shrotram = ear; jihvā = tongue
na cha ghrāṇa-netre = not, and, nose-eye (dual) / ghrāṇa-netram

na cha vyoma-bhūmiḥ = not, and, space-land
na tejaḥ = not, light
na vāyuḥ = not, wind/air

chit-ānanda-rūpaḥ = consciousness-bliss-form = the form of bliss of consciousness
śhivaḥ ahaṃ = shiva I (am)
śhivaḥ aham = shiva I (am)

[ From Nirvāṇāṣhaṭkam (निर्वाणषट्कम्) by Adi Shankara]

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Monday, April 27, 2020

It is not what you say, but how you say it

Our conduct tells our upbringing, our speech tells our region, 
The company we keep tells our affections and health of our body tells about our diet.

आचारः कुलमाख्याति देशमाख्याति भाषणम् ।
सम्भ्रमः स्नेहमाख्याति वपुराख्याति भोजनम् ॥

āchāraḥ kulamākhyāti deśhamākhyāti bhāṣhaṇam |
sambhramaḥ snehamākhyāti vapurākhyāti bhojanam ||

Conduct tells upbringing, speech tells region, 
Company tells affections, body tells diet.
It is not what you say, but how you say it

Conduct tells upon our upbringing.

There are times when we meet someone, man or woman, boy or girl, that just bowls us over with their perfect mannerism, due respect and humility. And we feel so good that still there are people who groom their kids well. We attribute it rightly to their parents and early upbringing - of good 'breeding' or upbringing. And same for the opposite behavior as well. "Is that what your mom taught you?" - would be a scolding misbehaving kids receive. And the same retort comes from youth/kids when they yell back - "You are not my mom (or dad)."

Our behavior betrays our upbringing. Or to say it positively, our behavior shines, tells upon our upbringing. The values of our family, our family traditions.

Speech/accent tells where one is from.

Language tells us from where some one comes. Even within the same language, accent tells more precisely where one was brought up. Within the small island of England, there are so many accents, and people can differentiate each one clearly! A vast country like India has so many accents, that a lot of them developed in their own language! Every 30 km of so, the accent changes out in the country.

There was once a multi-lingual person who cam to the court of Emperor Kṛiṣhṇadeva Rāi and challenged the court if anyone could tell his mother tongue. He spoke many languages flawlessly. None of the experts could figure it out. Tenālī Rāman, the wise, asked for a day or two to get to the answer. At night, the guest was put up in the royal guest house, feasting sumptuous dinner and sleeping on some of the most comfortable, soft beds ever. In the early hours of the morning, around 3 am, Tenālī had his attendant throw a bucket of cold water on him. Rudely woken up, the erudite guest some very choice words to yell, which he won't have wanted his high cultured parents to hear. The next day in the morning, when the court was set up, Tenālī Rāman could tell the guest's mother tongue easily. The surprised guest asked how did he figure this out. Tenālī said, "No matter how learned one is, in the time of distress or urgency, one reverts back to using mother tongue only!"

Our language, the accent tells about where we grew up.
And, it is not (only) what you say, but how you say it (that matters)!

Hanging out together tells of our affections/liking.

We usually hang around to pass free time, and there we usually have freedom to choose. We may not be able to choose our co-workers, boss, teacher in class, co-passenger in the local train etc, but we have full freedom in picking who we want to hang out with.

sam-bhramaḥ, moving about together, birds of the same flock. It tells our affinities, our liking.

The dictionary meaning of sambhrama also include respect and reverence. How and how much we respect someone, also tells about how we relate to them. Is it formal respect, informal friendly care, fake formal going-through-the-motions respect?

(Health of our) Body tells upon our diet/food.

The food we eat affects our body. While exercise shapes our body, it is the food that makes it. Literally. Every cell of the body is a result of us eating food. But, eating junk food affects the body in a certain way, obesity, reduced immunity and many other issues. How well is a body, tells us if the person eats healthy or not. We are what we eat.

There are three types. Types of food, people, giving, guṇa-s - sattva, rajas, tamas. Sāttvika food is that which gives great health, easy to digest, freshly prepared. It is eaten by people who think of the long term goodness of health over the short term goodness of taste. Rājasika food has both the quality and the presentation & taste to be good. The stress is also on taste and presentation, not just long term health. Tāmasika food has more to do with the act of eating, sometimes even the taste maybe forsaken just for the fact of eating. The food doesn't have to be fresh, well presented or anything. This is how fridges are cleaned up sometimes - Oh, I don't know how old this is, but I can't throw it. Let me finish it by putting it in my temple like pious body!

After thought.

So what may have been the reason for Chāṇakya to include this wisdom verse in his collection? Which one of these very different examples was his main concern?

Remember, he was a statesman. But he was well traveled. From Pātalīputra (modern Patnā) in eastern India to Takṣhashilā (Taxila) in modern Pakistan, a full 1654 km, was known to him like the back of his hand. (Google doesn't show a driving direction since it crosses international border, so had to choose walking route below!) He was also at a time when attacks on India were happening on the Western border, specially from the Greeks. He is credited for thwarting the attack by Alexander, and consolidating the kings into an empire. There was a lot of espionage involved, identifying foreigners, spies etc. So while telling this point about accent, he may also have added 3 more. It is like Buy one, get 3 free offer.

And now the language part:

आचारः āchāraḥ = conduct, behavior, manners

कुलमाख्याति kulamākhyāti  = kulam + ākhyāti = lineage/family + tells (ākhyāna = narration, a tale, famous story) 

देशमाख्याति deśhamākhyāti = deśham + ākhyāti = region/country + tells 

भाषणम् bhāṣhaṇam = speech, utterance, manner of talking.
Here, one may have the question that, since deśham and bhāṣhaṇam both are in dvitīyā vibhakti, which tells which? In this particular case, it is easier, because deśha in nominative case (prathamā) is deshaḥ, so we know this has to be accusative case. Hence, the other has to be kartā/prathamā/nominative. 
So, bhāṣhaṇam tells deśham. In case the word was phalam (fruit), in this case the words are same in their kartā and karma forms (nominative and accusative forms). Then, if common sense clarifies the doubt, good. For example, certain fruits are native only to certain region, so fruit tells the region. In cases when this doubt can't be cleared via common sense, the writer of the shloka should use some other unambiguous words. 

सम्भ्रमः sambhramaḥ = sam = together, bhrama = to move about. bhramaṇam = wandering, touring. 

स्नेहमाख्याति snehamākhyāti = sneham + ākhyāti = affection, tells 

वपुराख्याति vapurākhyāti = vapuḥ + ākhyāti = body, tells

भोजनम् bhojanam = food

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"We shall overcome" - Sanskrit translation and song

The famous song We shall overcome is most commonly attributed as being lyrically descended from "I'll Overcome Some Day", a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley that was first published in 1900

"Tindley's songs were written in an idiom rooted in African American folk traditions, using pentatonic intervals, with ample space allowed for improvised interpolation, the addition of "blue" thirds and sevenths, and frequently featuring short refrains in which the congregation could join. Tindley's importance, however, was primarily as a lyricist and poet whose words spoke directly to the feelings of his audiences, many of whom had been freed from slavery only 36 years before he first published his songs, and were often impoverished, illiterate, and newly arrived in the North. "Even today," wrote musicologist Horace Boyer in 1983, "ministers quote his texts in the midst of their sermons as if they were poems, as indeed they are."

The song was translated outside of USA as well. In India, the renowned poet Girija Kumar Mathur composed its literal translation in Hindi "Hum Honge Kaamyab (हम होगें कामयाब)" which became a popular patriotic/spiritual song during the 1970s and 80s. This was a staple song that the kids who grew up with singing in schools in those decades.

In the time of the pandemic of Novel Corona, this song has been translated in Sanskrit as well.
Translated by Shibu Kumar, sung by Aditi, this was released on YouTube on the occasion of the national observation of lighting lamps on 5th April 2020 at 9 pm as a symbolic ritual of national integration and solidarity in the fight against the novel Corona virus.

A very good initiative and end result. Hope you enjoy.
The words are given in Hindi and English below. Sanskrit words are in the video as well.

Imagine the times for which it was written. These words spoke directly to the feelings of his audiences, many of whom had been freed from slavery only 36 years before he first published his songs, and were often impoverished, illiterate, and newly arrived in the North

We shall overcome!

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand some day

We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free some day

We are not afraid
We are not afraid
We are not afraid some day

We are not alone
We are not alone
We are not alone some day

The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around some day

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day (Source)

And the Hindi version - hum honge kaamayaab, हम होंगे कामयाब

होंगे कामयाब, होंगे कामयाब
हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन
हो हो मन में है विश्वास
पूरा है विश्वास
हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन

होगी शान्ति चारों
होगी शान्ति चारों ओर
होगी शान्ति चारों ओर एक दिन
हो हो मन में है विश्वास
पूरा है विश्वास
होगी शान्ति चारों ओर एक दिन

हम चलेंगे साथ साथ
डाले हाथों में हाथ
हम चलेंगे साथ साथ एक दिन
हो हो मन में है विश्वास
पूरा है विश्वास
हम चलेंगे साथ साथ एक दिन

नहीं डर किसी का आज
नहीं भय किसी का आज
नहीं डर किसी का आज के दिन
हो हो मन में है विश्वास
पूरा है विश्वास
नहीं डर किसी का आज के दिन

हम होंगे कामयाब, हम होंगे कामयाब
हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन
हो हो मन में है विश्वास
पूरा है विश्वास
हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन (Source)

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Attitude Shift - Sanskrit Maxims for Contemporary Life and Leadership - Book now available for free reading

Sometime back, I had written the above book called Attitude Shift - Sanskrit Maxims for Contemporary Life and Leadership.
It has been an embarrassing while since the last project. 😞
I hope to bring some good news soon.

Though the book is out of print now, I am happy to say that the book is now in public domain available for free.
Click here to download.
You may read it online, or download for your personal reading pleasure.

Please do send in your comments and feedback either in comments below, or as separate email (email is given in the book itself).

From the Foreword of the book:

We live in an age of information overload, in which we often lose sight of the distinction between information, knowledge and wisdom. The objective of Attitude Shift is not only to communicate ancient wisdom in today’s idiom but also to make it applicable in day-to-day life. One must remember, though, that wisdom is an end in itself and not just a means to better management practices. The very first nyāyaAhibhuk and the Boatman, is about spiritual realization and not merely about mundane concerns. In Indian tradition, there is no dichotomy between material life and spiritual life. The maxims chosen in Attitude Shiftpoint towards that continuum; they are applicable to worldly as well as spiritual pursuits. They are meant for contemplation. Their real purpose is to make us better human beings first, and subsequently better managers.

Shashikant has used a light conversational style to drive home the message, in his words “The take home message,” but I find the language notes at the bottom very interesting. Interpretation of the maxims is subjective; the language notes take the reader to the original source. One can draw one’s own conclusions. Therein lies the usefulness of this book, which for Shashikant has been a labor of love. It should interest both young and old readers; the older ones will get the perspective of the youth and the younger ones the insights of the old.

From the Preface of the book:

"The photo captures the basic traits of a leader. No one is born as a leader. Only money can be inherited, and in some countries, even the position. We call it as dictatorship, not leadership. Title is not a cause, but the result of leadership. Titles do not make leaders; leaders make titles. So, step out of your titles, your big shoes; or the big sandals, as the case maybe. 

Have a vision as grand as the ocean, nothing less will suffice. For when you aim for the ocean, you may be lucky enough to get a lake. Do not be afraid of your vision. 

Go embrace it with passion and have courage to take on the ocean, even if on your own! Everything else – determination, execution, persistence etc. – is required for success even if you are not a leader. However, these are essential to be a leader – courage to dreamcourage to think beyond oneself and courage to start alone!"

Happy Reading. Leave a comment!

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Perseverance, effort, enthusiasm is the greatest power!

On April 3rd, 2020, Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, addressed the nation a second time since the nationwide lock down due to the unprecedented situation of the pandemic of Novel Corona virus or Covid19. He also used a Sanskrit shloka in his speech.

A short background leading up to this speech maybe helpful.

On 19th March, the PM asked the country to observe a voluntary curfew, called 'Janata curfew' or "People's Curfew" on 22nd March, from 7 am to 9 pm. He also asked the people to make noise at 5 pm, by banging steel plates, or blowing conch, whistles etc to acknowledge and thank the people serving at the front - doctors, nurses, medical staff, police, sanitation workers, delivery people and other essential services who were risking their lives by being at the front line and serving the rest of society. This 'ritual' was to bring about awareness among the people about the front line workers and about the importance of the pandemic.

After this, from 24th March onward, India has been under a lock down for 21 days.

For a country like India, with 1.3 billion people, of all faiths, mental maturity, age, type, it is not easy that everyone gets the message and its urgency. The govt and the relevant people are doing the best they can under the circumstances, and so far India has handled the situation very maturely and with great results. Hope this remains going further as well. There are many sites and social media outlets with latest information about the pandemic, govt steps, etc. Govt India site, John Hopkins etc.

After ten days, the Prime Minister spoke to the nation on the 3rd of April. Many were expecting serious announcements. The relevant departments are being updated with the necessary details. What the people need is also a feeling of being together, not feeling down or depressed or let down. In such times, when doing nothing is doing everything (stay put at home), how do you connect with the people and keep their morale up?

The PM gave a touching hope filled speech, addressing not just the urban few, but the rural many. Many in the villages, second and third tier cities and towns. India, the ocean and land of rituals. Where every important thing has a ritual associated with it.

He asked everyone that on 5th April, Sunday, to light a lamp, shine a flashlight etc at 9 PM for 9 mins from their balconies or main door. Not to disobey social disobedience.

India has a long tradition of ritual of lighting the lamp. From the famous 'Lead me from darkness to light' (तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya), to the lamp lighting ceremony in the beginning of any important function or gathering - lighting the lamp is very important, and every person of the land understands this symbolism.

In these times of national lock down and possibly feeling helpless, he cited a Sanskrit shloka to urge people to keep their hopes high, enthusiasm up. The media reported 'The Prime Minister recited the Sanskrit shloka from the Mahasubhasitasamgraha, a collection of Sanskrit aphorisms collected from various sources.' But the source of the shloka was not mentioned. A collection doesn't compose the shloka, just compiles it.

The shloka is from Ramayana, Kishkindhakanda, sarga 1, shloka 121.

In the previous section, the story narrated that Rama and Lakshmana were wandering in the forest looking for any clues for Rama's wife Sita, who was kidnapped. When they fought and killed Kabandha, a rakshas, he suggested that they go to Kishkindha and find Sugreeva, who can help them. Right after this they meet Shabari as well.

Kishkindha kanda starts with Rama at Pampa sarovara. And he starts talking to Lakshmana, sharing is yearning for his dear Sita:
"See these forests enriched with flowers; these flowers already fallen, in fall, and still on the trees, the wind is playing with the flowers. When the wind shakes the flower laden branches and moves ahead, the bumblebees also follow it humming in its praise. The caves are singing in high notes (the wind blowing in the cave mouth), the cuckoo sings in accompaniment, and looks like the wind is teaching the trees to dance. The breeze that blows through the mountain sandalwood is so fragrant, and remove the fatigue. It seems the trees - whose branches have flowers at their tips, and bees seems like their turbans, and are swaying - have started to dance and sing as well (after being trained by the wind). All this just adds to my anguish of separation from Sita. The water fowl singing happily near the waterfall, Sita loved to listen to it. She would call me as well to listen to it. 
Looks like this Spring in the form of fire will burn me inside. The red Ashoka flowers are its amber, new buds are its flames, and the bumblebees are the crackle of the fire. If I can't see my Sita again, what is the purpose of this life? These peacocks are dancing so happily enticing the peahens, seem to be mocking me. This Spring must be also where Sita is. How will she bear the torture of separation? She is so soft spoken, young, loves me so much, I am afraid she may not survive being away from me. 
See, Lakshmana, the red lotuses all over Pampa, appear like morning Sun. What all things I loved when with Sita, all of them appear distasteful now. The lotus petals remind me of her eyes. The thick beds of flowers fallen on the ground appears like a soft royal bed. 
Oh! The lotus-eyed, delicate, daughter of Janaka, my dear Sita - how must she be holding on to her life breath without me! Lakshmana, when the righteous and just king Janaka will ask me about Sita in the gathering of people, what will answer him? (about safety of Sita). 
Oh! When I was exiled by father's order, the one who accompanied me out of her sense of dharma, that my dear Sita, where is she right now? Upon going back to Ayodhya (after the exile term is over), when queen Kausalya asks about her daughter in law, what should I tell her?
Lakshmana, you go. You go back to Ayodhya and meet dear brother Bharata. I can't live without Sita now."

Seeing the great Rama, his brother, mourn like a helpless man, Lakshmana spoke thus:
O best among men Rama! May good be unto you. Please regain composure. Get hold of yourself.
The intellect of a great man like you should not be devoid of enthusiasm. "Everyone has to bear the sorrow of separation from dear ones" - remembering this you should shed excess sneha (affection); because even a damp wick, if immersed in enough sneha (oil, the other meaning of sneha) will start to burn.
If Ravana has gone to nether worlds, or even further, he won't be able to live for long anyways. O Noble Rama, you should have dhairya (patience, forbearance). Abandon these thoughts of a weakling. If someone's wealth or effort is wasted, if they don't put effort enthusiastically, then they won't accomplish their goals.
O Noble sir (Rama), Enthusiasm is very powerful. There is nothing more powerful than enthusiasm. Verily, there is nothing unattainable in this world for the enthusiast.

Shloka in Devanagari:
उत्साहो बलवानार्य नास्त्युत्साहात् परं बलम् ।
सोत्साहस्य हि लोकेषु न किञ्चिदपि दुर्लभम् ॥ (रामायण, किष्किन्धाकाण्ड १.१२१)

    उत्साहः बलवान् आर्य न अस्ति उत्साहात् परं बलम् ।
    स-उत्साहस्य हि लोकेषु न किञ्चित् अपि दुर्लभम् ॥

Shloka in IAST:
utsāho balavānārya nāstyutsāhāt paraṃ balam |
sotsāhasya hi lokeṣhu na kiñchidapi durlabham || (rāmāyaṇa - kiṣhikindhā-kāṇḍa 4-1-121)

    utsāhaḥ balavān ārya na asti utsāhāt paraṃ balam |
    sa-utsāhasya hi lokeṣhu na kiñchit api durlabham || (with sandhi break)

Word for word meaning:
उत्साहः बलवान् = utsāhaḥ balavān = enthusiasm [is], powerful
आर्य = ārya = O Noble sir
न अस्ति = na asti = not, is
उत्साहात् = utsāhāt = (more) than enthusiasm
परं बलम् = paraṃ balam = more, power
स-उत्साहस्य हि = sa-utsāhasya hi = of the enthusiast, surely
लोकेषु = lokeṣhu = in the world
न किञ्चित् अपि = na kiñchit api = not, anything, even
दुर्लभम् = durlabham = [is] difficult to attain.

O Noble sir (Rama), Enthusiasm is very powerful. There is nothing more powerful than enthusiasm. Verily, there is nothing unattainable in this world for the enthusiast.

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Best wishes for Ramanavami !

One of the most popular prayers to Lord Rama is created by Tulasi-dasa, who also retold the entire story of Rama for this times, in his historic Rama-charita-manasa.

श्रीरामचन्द्र कृपालु भजु मन

श्रीरामचन्द्र कृपालु भजु मन, हरण भव-भय-दारुणम् ।
नव-कञ्ज-लोचन कञ्ज-मुख , कर-कञ्ज पद-कञ्जारुणम् ॥१॥

कन्दर्प अगणित, अमित छवि, नवनील नीरद सुन्दरम् ।
पट-पीत मानहु तडित रुचि-शुचि, नौमि जनक-सुता-वरम् ॥२॥

भजु दीन-बन्धु दिनेश दानव-दैत्य-वंश-निकन्दनम् ।
रघुनन्द आनन्द-कन्द कौशल-चन्द दशरथ-नन्दनम् ॥३॥

शिर-मुकुट कुण्डल, तिलक चारु, उदार अङ्ग-विभूषणम् ।
आजानु-भुज शरचाप-धर सङ्ग्रामजित-खरदूषणम् ॥४॥

इति वदति तुलसीदास शङ्कर-शेष-मुनि-जन-रञ्जनम् ।
मम हृदय-कुञ्ज निवास कुरु कामादि-खल-दल भञ्जनम् ॥५॥

English transliteration:

shrī-rāma-chandra kṛipālu bhaju mana (Pray to Merciful Rāma, O Heart)

shrī-rāma-chandra kṛipālu bhaju mana, haraṇa bhava-bhaya-dāruṇam |
nava-kañja-lochana kañja-mukha , kara-kañja pada-kañjāruṇam ||1||

kandarpa agaṇita, amita chhavi, nava-nīla nīrada sundaram |
paṭa-pīta mānahu taḍita ruchi-shuchi, naumi janaka-sutā-varam ||2||

bhaju dīna-bandhu dinésha dānava-daitya-vaṃsha-nikandanam |
raghunanda ānanda-kanda kaushala-chanda dasharatha-nandanam ||3||

shira-mukuṭa kuṇḍala, tilaka chāru, udāra aṅga-vibhūṣaṇam |
ā-jānu-bhuja shara-chāpa-dhara saṃgrāma-jita-khara-dūṣaṇam ||4||

iti vadati tulasī-dāsa shaṃkara-shéṣa-muni-jana-rañjanam |
mama hṛidaya-kuñja nivāsa kuru kāmādi-khala-dala bhañjanam ||5||


O heart! pray to the merciful, compassionate Shri Rāma!
who takes away the terrible fears of the mortal world |
eyes like new lotus, lotus-faced,
lotus hands, even feet are like red lotus ||1||

The eternal image (exceeding) innumerable Kāmadeva,
beautiful like new water-bearing clouds |
And the yellow garments appear (on the dark complexion) like lightning,
I bow to the husband of the daughter of Janaka ||2||

Pray to the 'Friend of the Weak', (brilliant like the) sun,
Up-rooter of the Dānava and Daitya |
Son of Raghu dynasty, root of all joy,
Darling of Kaushalyā, son of Dasharatha ||3||

Head with the crown; ear-rings, tilak look beautiful,
and the body is generously adorned with jewelry |
The long-armed one, won the battle
with Khara-Dushana by beheading them||4||

Thus says Tulasīdāsa (the poet) - The giver of joy
to Shiva, Shesha-nāga, thinkers, people|
Make residence in my heart,
O killer of the 'group of evils' like desire (anger etc)||5||

Listen to this melodious rendition of the same.

And this:

 (c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Myths around - Is Sanskrit really the best language for computer programming?

Dependency Parser [from paper by Amba Kulkarni]

I recently received a forward about an article on the net Is Sanskrit really the best language for computer programming?  at It seems to be the only article on the blog, back from April 2018. No author name given.

The article laments the over-glorification of Sanskrit, specially in context of its use in Computer Science Indeed, there are many such comments, posts, and ideas floated on the net, inspired by Rick Briggs' NASA paper in 1985.

The exaggerations are almost always made by people who don't understand Sanskrit or Computer Science or both.

At the outset, one must understand that Sanskrit is not proposed to be a language in which one does programming. That is, instead of English letters (or French or Chinese or Hindi) one should use Devanagari letters and Sanskrit language. That is never a claim, though fully possible. And that can surely give some boost to folks to write programs in local languages/scripts on India. Just like folks write programs and use computers in languages other than English.

The importance of Sanskrit in Computer Science is to do with the way its grammar is encoded by Panini. He described the entire gamut and power of the language (i.e. its grammar) with a set of about 4000 formulas. Pretty much the way used to define the grammar of a modern computer language. This fact is well documented and not disputed by anyone.

The exaggerations are almost always made by people who don't understand Sanskrit or Computer Science or both. But the author of the article on techzoworld went to the other extreme, most probably due to lack of knowledge of Sanskrit. And towards the end, the author did get carried away in the bashing that he gave space to any and every claim made by just about anybody. Just a few demystification would have been enough for the intelligent.

The aim of this post is to point out other fallacies or misunderstandings in the above article at , and not vindicate any exaggerated claims.

Why me? Well, I know enough of Computer Science and Sanskrit to be dangerous enough to write a post about it!

Below, the original text from the article is given, and then my explanation/comment.

Storage issues
Despite the arguably best verbal efficiency, there are a few issues with the language in actual knowledge representation. Sanskrit has a glyph based script rather than the alphabet based script as with Latin and its derivatives.

Any language can be written in any script, if it has enough symbols. Even a new script can be formed. Sanskrit language can be written in almost all of Indian scripts, and a few scripts are not glyph based. Back in early 1990s, Indian students in US developed an ASCII based mapping for the entire Devanagari script, which would not be glyph based! It is called ITRANS. For example, you could write without ambiguity any Sanskrit verse. Like:
IAST: yā vīṇāvaradaṇḍamaṇḍitakarā yā shvétapadmāsanā
Devanagari: या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना
Plain ASCII (ITRANS): yA vINAvaradaNDamaNDitakarA yA shvetapadmAsanA
There are other mappings as well.

Script and language are different, and should not be confused.

Sanskrit’s naturalness
The fact is that Sanskrit, unlike other languages, hasn’t had a natural evolution. Nearly everything about Sanskrit, as is known today, was codified sometime around the year 500 BCE by one person, Panini, who was bent on making it as precise and concise as was humanly possible. Sanskrit didn’t simply happen to have the required characteristics of an artificial language by coincidence. It’s there by design. It is indeed the work of a primitive computer scientist without the hardware. This is not to say Panini intended for his language to be used with machines. At best, his work caught the eye of a pattern seeking human in need of an answer to a difficult, perhaps unsolvable problem – it was bound to happen sooner or later.

This is indeed completely misunderstood perception.

Sanskrit spoken before Panini and after Panini doesn't have a difference of black and white! Even the Sanskrit of Vedas is very similar in structure, vocabulary and grammar as after Panini.
For example, 'na duruktAya spRihayet' 'न दुरुक्ताय स्पृहयेत्' is from Rigveda 1.41.9 (pre-Panini) and is perfect Sanskrit even today (post Panini).

Panini did not define Sanskrit grammar. He described it, not prescribed it.

He created rules that could encapsulate the existing language of his times.

He, like a true scientist, labored hard to make his product (set of rules, not the language itself) as precise as possible, using as little resources (words) as possible. So, it is not at all easy to understand Panini's aShTAdhyAyI on one's own, it is almost impossible. But commentaries that explain the formulas, do help a lot.

But, children learned the Sanskrit language before and after Panini, without learning the grammar first. Just like English kids learn English without learning the grammar first. Sanskrit is a natural language indeed. It was or is not like Klingon language.

Panini was not the first grammarian either. He was one in a chain. He himself cites at least ten grammarians before him. His genius was that he formulated, captured the essence of the entire existing language in a set of about 4000 formulas, that once encoded, were adhered to in learned circles. His grammar text Ashtadhyayi is not meant at all for novices, and even die-hard students take years to master it, because it is encoded succinctly, for an expressed purpose of brevity. That doesn't make the language difficult, it just makes mastering the formulas difficult.

From Wiki source:

The text takes material from lexical lists (DhatupathaGanapatha) as input and describes algorithms to be applied to them for the generation of well-formed words. It is highly systematised and technical. Inherent in its approach are the concepts of the phoneme, the morpheme and the root. His rules have a reputation for perfection[62] – that is, they tersely describe Sanskrit morphology unambiguously and completely. A consequence of his grammar's focus on brevity is its highly unintuitive structure, reminiscent of modern notations such as the "Backus–Naur form".[citation needed] His sophisticated logical rules and technique have been widely influential in ancient and modern linguistics.

The Aṣṭādhyāyī was not the first description of Sanskrit grammar, but it is the earliest that has survived in full.

'it was bound to happen sooner or later.' - this surely reeks of arrogance. This way, anything can be dismissed, be it Newton or Wolfgang Pauli!

The work of Panini was in wide circulation and use in India to teach grammar. When the British got to know of it, and published it in Europe, the entire science of modern linguistics was born. When the world was at war or enjoying wine, women and land - there were minds in India obsessed not just with the tone, scale, stress of the voiced utterances we call speech, one man Panini was also obsessed with finding a way to describe the entire language in as succinct a way as possible, with minimum syllables to remember. And succeeded.

That - is an extraordinary feat for the entire humankind.

The Sanskrit of today, the one reportedly spoken by a few tens of thousands, is about the same as that codified two and a half millennia ago. The language doesn’t evolve, it can’t evolve. Unlike natural languages, speakers of Sanskrit cannot be classified as proficient or eloquent as its precision does not allow gradations. You either speak the language or you don’t; there is no grey. Even artificial languages do not suffer that restriction.

This too is incorrect. Just like there are low, medium and great programmers in computer languages, or even in English (students do get grades, right!) so can one be a good, better, best speaker of Sanskrit language.

Sanskrit doesn't force you to make long words, or non-ending strings of syllables. It allows it, but doesn't demand it. The dreaded sandhi is also mostly optional. Simple spoken Sanskrit is still possible. Will that help you understand deep philosophical texts from 2000 years ago? No. Well, six years of modern English won't help you understand even 500 years old Shakespeare either.

Samskrit Bharati, a Bangalore based organization, focuses on spoken Sanskrit, and has trained thousands of people from all walks of life, who otherwise had no spoken exposure of the language. Learning a language is not difficult, excelling it it to precision and grandeur is. Every child learns his or her mother tongue very easily. But it takes extreme toil to learn a new language later in life. Or to master one's own mother tongue! Not every English speaking person is a Frost, not every musician a Bach.

Sanskrit was never widely spoken. During the past two and a half millennia, Sanskrit scholarship was an exclusive club. None other than the Brahmins were allowed to use it. That all literary works in Sanskrit was made accessible only to the Brahmins, spelt its doom. The thing about languages is that, like living organisms, languages too evolve by natural selection.

Natural languages thrive by fitting the need of the era. The flexible of the lot flourish organically forcing the less prominent ones to wither away. Sanskrit’s resistance to change was the reason of its demise. This is essentially why every attempt to revive the language will fail, no exceptions.

This is a just a hearsay remark, that is just as ridiculous as the author found claims made about Sanskrit. Both arising out of venturing in unknown territories.

Sanskrit was not an exclusive realm of Brahmins only. Its rigorous teaching may have done been mainly by Brahmins. It was as a language taught in every gurukula, which even till mid 19th century had students from all walks of society (as noted in East India Company/British journals of the time). Since every proof has to be from a third party source, one should check "The Third Report on The State of Education in Bengal" by William Adam, 1838 ! Yes, 1838.
As per Western and liberated opinions, by this time, Hindu society must have reached its nadir in terms of all the ills. But refer to page 14 and 18 of the book, to give an idea of the castes of the teachers and students. These are only for sake of example, read the full book for more. And this is just one province in one state.

Page 14 - "The Third Report on The State of Education in Bengal" by William Adam

Page 18 - "The Third Report on The State of Education in Bengal" by William Adam

Sanskrit does allow borrowing words, and actually there has been healthy exchange of vocabulary between Sanskrit and other languages. It has its own rules for making new words, like any language. It can take loan words as well by doing a simple trick. For all vehicles, it can take the loan word and add -yAnam (-यानम्) at end, thus enabling the same word formation as native Sanskrit words. Like, kAra-yAnam (कार-यानम् = car), basa-yAnam (बस-यानम् = bus), Trena-yAnam (ट्रेन-यानम् = train), eyarplena-yAnam (एयरप्लेन-यानम् = airplane, or simple the native Sanskrit word vAyu-yAnam वायु-यानम् = air-vehicle). This is just an example.

The degree of precision that Sanskrit affords its speakers prevents verbosity i.e. purposefully lengthening prose for effect. Attempts at verbosity leads to a redundant prose. Translating to Sanskrit from any other language would thus lead to loss of data. This data isn’t particularly useful in the context of the prose, but having it allows one to deduce information about the author – things like their personality and state of mind while writing. A language that attains precision does so at the expense of creativity. This clearly doesn’t happen with Sanskrit considering the abundance of Sanskrit works.

There is nothing preventing one to be verbose in Sanskrit. It is just not seen very erudite to yap in 15 words, that which can be said in one or two. For example, mantram (one word), its dictionary meaning is a phrase - mananam trAyate iti mantram = that which when contemplated upon, saves/rescues/redeems. So instead of mantram, one can keep using the phrase 'yasya mananam trAyate, tat' (whose contemplation rescues, that), or simply use 'mantram'.

Translating from other languages can be done in a Sanskrit way, going for the message than just the word, or in a very literal way if one chooses to. One also has to look at how words are formed in various languages. Most words in Sanskrit are formed from the attribute of the thing being described. For example, a lotus is called aravindam (one whose petals are spread like spokes), jalajam (one born in water), pankajam (one born in muddy water), kamalam (that which adorns water) etc. And the particular 'synonym' is chosen based on context and meter. But in English, all will go to 'lotus'. I am not aware of any 'meaning' of the word 'lotus' except that the sound combination was chosen to mean a certain flower plant. (I may be wrong here.)

As for 'A language that attains precision does so at the expense of creativity', think of any game. The more rules there are, the more evolved the game is considered! Chess has rules, and you have to play within the rules, and yet players are creative!
Image result for chess image"

Indian classical music has raga, and each raga has set a sequence of allowed and prohibited notes in ascending and descending that must be observed. One may say, how can one create music or enjoy it with so much restrictions!? Here is an example of raga Kirwani on santoor. But there are some of the most heavenly renditions created by maestros while perfectly playing by the rules. So rules don't suppress creativity, they can actually enhance it!
Image result for shivakumar sharma and zakir hussain"

Coming back to Sanskrit, the creativity of the masters of Sanskrit grammars is astounding, and the best examples are rarely understood by mere mortals. They can go so cryptic that it would put Obfuscation C code competitions to shame!

There is an aspect called varNa-chitra, where the Sanskrit grammar master show off, sometimes just to show off, and create amazingly creative verses.

Here are some crazier examples (from The Wonder That is Sanskrit):

  1. jajaujojAjijijjAjI, taM tato'titatAtatut |
    bhAbho'bhIbhAbhibhUbhAbhU-rArArirarirIraraH || (uses same consonants within each quarter) - shishupAlavadham 19.3
  2. dAdado duddaduddAdI dAdado dUdadIdadoH |
    duddAdaM dadade dudde dAdAdadadado'dadaH || (same consonant in both lines) - shishupAlavadham 19.114
  3. kShitisthitimitikShiptividhivinnidhisiddhiliT |
    mama tryakSha namaddakSha hara smarahara smara || (same vowel in each line) - sarasvatI kaNThAbharaNam 2.278
  4. yAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyA |
    yAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyAyA || (all yA's) - pAdukAsahasram #936

Example 1 - shishupAlavadham 19.3

Example 2 - shishupAlavadham 19.114

Just like the craziness of this prize winning code of a chess playing C program :

B,i,y,u,b,I[411],*G=I,x=10,z=15,M=1e4;X(w,c,h,e,S,s){int t,o,L,E,d,O=e,N=-M*M,K
=78-h<<x,p,*g,n,*m,A,q,r,C,J,a=y?-x:x;y^=8;G++;d=w||s&&s>=h&&v 0,0)>M;do{_ o=I[
p=O]){q=o&z^y _ q<7){A=q--&2?8:4;C=o-9&z?q["& .$  "]:42;do{r=I[p+=C[l]-64]_!w|p
==w){g=q|p+a-S?0:I+S _!r&(q|A<3||g)||(r+1&z^y)>9&&q|A>2){_ m=!(r-2&7))P G[1]=O,
K;J=n=o&z;E=I[p-a]&z;t=q|E-7?n:(n+=2,6^y);Z n<=t){L=r?l[r&7]*9-189-h-q:0 _ s)L
!(I[p+1]^n)+l[n&7]*9-386+!!g*99+(A<2))+!(E^y^9)_ s>h||1<s&s==h&&L>z|d){p[I]=n,O
-O|i-n|p-b|LM))P y^=8,u=J;J=q-1|A<7||m||!s|d|r|o<z||v 0,0)>M;O[I]=o;p[I]=r;m?
*m=*g,*g=0:g?*g=9^y:0;}_ L>N){*G=O _ s>1){_ h&&c-L<0)P L _!h)i=n,B=O,b=p;}N=L;}
!r&&++C*--A));}}}Z++O>98?O=20:e-O);P N+M*M&&N>-K+1924|d?N:0;}main(){Z++B<121)*G
++=B/x%x<2|B%x<2?7:B/x&4?0:*l++&31;Z B=19){Z B++<99)putchar(B%x?l[B[I]|16]:x)_
x-(B=F)){i=I[B+=(x-F)*x]&z;b=F;b+=(x-F)*x;Z x-(*G=F))i=*G^8^y;}else v u,5);v u,

Here’s the thing though. People who praise Sanskrit for its precision are the same people who suggest that works in the language need interpretation by scholars. They’re the same people who bend their scriptures to make them appear to reference newly discovered scientific facts. They say Sanskrit doesn’t need disambiguation while failing at translating all of the “ancient knowledge” trapped in their literature.

While there may be some instances of force fitting and extrapolating done by people who are not conversant in science or Sanskrit (or both), over all this point doesn't hold.
Sanskrit works of more than 14 or 20 centuries can be easily understood even today by any college going Sanskrit student, some even school going students. (five to six years of Sanskrit as a first language study). Works of Kalidasa, the Panchantantra, kathA-sarit-sAgara (Ocean of rivers of stories) are all simple enough Sanskrit, and thanks to Panini's standardization, all these works can be understood perfectly well even today. And are actually standard texts in higher classes and college.

What does need lot of interpretation are the deeper philosophical and spiritual texts. For that matter, even the original Bible has not been fully understood. It is just one book, what to say of hundreds and thousands of spiritual works in Sanskrit!

Of course, that doesn’t in and of itself mean anything. It is possible that the paper just gets quoted a lot for having kickstarted all of that research into Sanskrit. The logical next question is, is there any research at all? So, I dedicated about two hours of my info-binging time to look up research related to Sanskrit. Almost all of the publicly accessible real academic research on the language is about its literature, its cultural impact and decoding its complex grammatical rules – yes, that’s still a work in progress apparently. Every research that relates to both, the language and computation, are conducted under dedicated Sanskrit research academies based in India. I’m not saying research done in India is any less worthy than elsewhere. However, there is none to back the claims about Sanskrit gaining a foothold in modern computing.

You obviously understood all about it by two hours of net binging! I just learned Latin and Greek with DuoLingo in 15 minutes! English classes are still discussing Shakespeare and nuances of its shades of meanings and what not! Why ? Haven't they figured out mundane works created only 500 years ago?

True, the speed of work in Sanskrit Computational area has not picked up speed in India, for the same reason. There are not very many who know both the areas deeply. Incidentally, just a few weeks back the 6th International Sanskrit Computational Linguistic Symposium was concluded in IIT Kharagpur. and here is the link to their papers presented.

6th International Sanskrit Computational Linguistic Symposium was concluded in IIT Kharagpur

I would argue that English is in fact the best language to test the scope of natural language parsing simply because the evolution of English isn’t regulated by an academy like many others. It’s free to change and vary depending on the culture that speaks it. English linguists are almost exclusively descriptivists – they don’t police one’s speech as long as everyone understands what they’ve meant. It constantly borrows words from other languages for their own use. When new non-existent words become mainstream, they embrace rather than despise. It thrives by adaptation. An AI system that adapts itself to the evolving language rather than requiring people to speak with precision – that’s intelligence.

Sanskrit grammar is also descriptive. And 'as long as everyone understands' is not happening magically. Every time someone deviates, one has to explain it. And every time a new person stumbles upon a quirk, it has to be learned all over as a new fact. It is like English spellings. It is not just 26 letters and sounds, one has to learn each combination that spells one way but sounds another. It all seems easy if one learns from childhood. There too, one can see how a kid intuitively spells the 'wrong' spelling, because English is a lousy spelling language! It is not a great language, it is a language enforced upon the world due to the British imperialism.

In my somewhat arrogant but educated opinion, Sanskrit as a spoken language is worse than useless today. It’s extremely difficult to learn as is, and it’s not spoken widely.

Opera is not appreciated by many. Percentage wise, less number of Western (Euro-descending) people appreciate Opera, than folks that can understand and appreciate basic Sanskrit, or its musical hymns, prayers and shloka verses! Is ballet, opera dead?

The most famous formula of the world E= mc^2 is utter nonsense to a fifth grader. One has to earn the reward of understanding it, by rigorous Physics and Maths. Is it then all useless? There are only a handful of people who can actually use that formula to actually create something nuclear with it!

Language carries its thoughts, culture, knowledge system with it. From that angle Sanskrit is extremely important and useful. But that is drifting from the topic, which was its use in programming. So, let us not venture in other territories!

The purpose of this article is not to make false claims about Sanskrit the language or its literature. But humans have this tendency, to exaggerate. Everyone does it, in different spheres.

Sanskrit as a language - amazing.
As a store house of human inner wisdom - unparalleled.
As a discipline - mind-blowing.
As the most ancient human oral sounds alive in form of Vedic chanting - unbelievable.
As a language whose study itself promotes logical and analytical thinking - true. If you do it with rigor and sincerity, not a fly-by Learn Sanskrit in 30-days class..

Let us not fly high in exaggeration, nor dig ditches in shaming it.
Either way, loss is one's own, not of Sanskrit.
For truth needs no saving.
It is.
It just is.

[ As usual, if I made a mistake, it is my limited understanding. Please send me your opinion, or comment below. But do try to understand the spirit of the post.]

(c) Shashikant Joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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