I studied Sanskrit from grade6 to grade8 in school as it used to be a mandatory subject in our curriculum. Quite frankly, Sanskrit classes used to be torture for me as I used to get lost in the rules of grammar which we were supposed to learn by rote. Where were the stories, the beauty of poetry and prose, when u were entrapped in learning by heart the shabd roop of Rama? Thus, due to my own apathy, I began to detest the language. Years later, when I heard and read the Nasadiya Sukta from Rig Veda, I realised my folly. After hearing hypnotic words of the hymn and falling in love with its meaning, I understood how my struggles with Sanskrit had made me prejudiced against such an enchanting language. However, I still found Sanskrit daunting until I came across “The Beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts” by Durga Prasad Dash.
Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages in the world. A language we usually associate with our rituals and religious texts. A language whose importance we constantly debate. The book “The Beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts” by Durga Prasad Dash attempts to dispel misunderstandings about the language and showcases the inherent beauty of Sanskrit. The author discusses the intricacies of the Sanskrit language and grammar. Texts in Sanskrit are included to portray the beauty of Sanskrit. The author eschews popular or religious texts like Bhagavad Gita or Ramayana or Mahabharat in the book. Rather, “Mrichakatikam“, “Gita-Govinda“, “Uddhav Gita” and “Ritusamhara” are included to show the depth and range of Sanskrit. This is an in-depth, detailed book that showcases the various facets of Sanskrit giving the reader a lot to think about.
The chapter on Dayabhaga was an eye-opener. One of the earliest attempts of female empowerment in India, this was a concept that not many people are aware of. It was also a delight to read about “Ritusamhara“. “Ritusamhara“, written by Kalidasa, describes the six seasons and their delights. The author laments ( and I concur) about the loss of our seasons. With the changes in weather and climate, nowadays there is almost no differentiation in Sharad (autumn), Hemant (dewy) and Sheet (winter) Ritu.
One of my pet peeves in reading English translations/interpretations of Indian texts is the shlokas written in English. Many times I have skipped reading the shloka and gone straight to the meaning, as I find it very cumbersome and frustrating to read Sanskrit written in English alphabets. In this book, most of the shlokas are written in Devnagri script and in English alphabets along with a detailed explanation of the shloka. Since the shloka is written in Devnagri script, it is easier to read and understand the shloka.
“The Beauty of Sanskrit Language and Texts” by Durga Prasad Dash is a well-researched informative book. The author has kept the tone of the book firmly on the language Sanskrit. While the superiority of the language is proudly proclaimed in the book, there is no unnecessary chest-thumping or showing another language as lesser. A marked departure in today’s day and age where for one to be superior, the other must be proved to be inferior.
This book is especially suited for laymen and for people like me. People who want to know more about our ancient language but are unsure of where to begin, this book is a good starting point before you delve deeper. It cuts through the clutter and cacophony of various sources, giving the readers a distilled version. It makes us aware and proud of a language that is an inherent part of our culture and heritage.
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Read on for the book blurb and to know more about the author
Sanskrit literally means ‘refined’ and is known as the language of Gods. The book highlights the features that make it unique. Be it spiritual or utilitarian, there was no area of human curiosity or activity that our ancient Rishis and intellectuals did not probe in depth. The book provides glimpses into each branch of ancient India’s oceanic Knowledge System.
About The Author
Having been a regular soldier, educational trainer and yoga teacher, Durga Prasad Dash has travelled India in time and space to explore its vast wealth of knowledge, cultural roots, spiritual practices, landscapes, and land mark. Author of books in multiple genres, he tries to bring a synthesis between east and west through his writings. He blogs at https://durgadash.com/ Follow him on twitter here.