[INDOLOGY] Quick report on the Third Australian Spoken Sanskrit Summer School

McComas Taylor McComas.Taylor at anu.edu.au
Tue Mar 1 01:01:55 UTC 2016

'The Lion that is Sanskrit'

'There is a lion in the jungle. You don't hear it, you don't see it, but it is alive and well. The same could be said of Spoken Sanskrit. If you know where to look or where to listen, Spoken Sanskrit is thriving.' This is how Pandit Dr Sadananda Das of the University of Leipzig introduced the Third Australian Spoken Sanskrit Summer School held at the ANU Coast Campus at Kioloa, NSW. The twelve-day course, held 7-19 February 2016, had thirteen lucky students from as far away as Canada and the UK to take part.

For many students each day began with a sun-rise dip in the Pacific Ocean, followed by a group meditation session on the sunny verandah of the London Shed. There were six hours of class each day, spanning simple grammatical constructions, chanting, and story-telling, and lots of drills. The classes were conducted almost exclusively in Sanskrit and for those who had only studied it as a textual language, this was a rich learning opportunity.

Most attendees already had a good grasp of basic grammar, but as Pandit Das said (in Sanskrit), 'You know this material, but you need to connect with it'. Being able to read a classical language is one thing, but to be able to produce it, to speak it and to describe one's daily life in it is quite another. By the middle of the course most students could introduce themselves, describe their families and situations, and run through their routines with facility.

A number of students remarked specifically on the value of the story-telling sessions. Pandit Das took a well-known narrative, the Heavenly Descent of the River Ganga, and explained it in simple Spoken Sanskrit using several synonyms for each word in the original text. This practice is close to the traditional style of written commentary which the students are used to seeing in regular classes, and helped them place the commentarial tradition in its original oral context.

How does one manage a classical language in the modern world? One student complained that the word for bicycle (dvicakrika) was 'made up'. True, but what language was not made up by someone at some time? Everyone's favourite neologism was the Sanskrit word for kangaroo, dhani-kura?ga, which translates as 'receptacle-deer'. At least the many receptacle-deer that lazed around the classrooms at Kioloa had little to fear from the lion that is Spoken Sanskrit.

Lots of beautiful photos here:


Shared with Dropbox

McComas Taylor, Associate Professor
College of Asia and the Pacific
The Australian National University, Tel. + 61 2 6125 3179
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/mccomasanu/

Address: Baldessin Building 4.24, ANU, ACT 0200

Spoken Sanskrit in three minutes?<https://vimeo.com/143211561> Go on. Try it!<https://vimeo.com/143211561>


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20160301/41d59ea0/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list