The vision of Vyom Labs a technology driven Sanskrit Gurukula, is to impart ‘Saṁskṛtaṁ Saṁskṛti Saṁskāra’ (SSS) consciousness to every individual on this planet (Saṁskṛtaṁ= Knowledge System; Saṁskṛti = Culture and Heritage; Saṁskāra = Values and Virtues)
The founders say their mission is to build a sustainable professional eco-system, with Sanskrit as the foundation with a goal of impacting a million people with Sanskrit by 2025 (421,716 touch-prints till 31-03-2018).
In this interview Venkatasubramanian P, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Viswanathan P, CEO talk to CSP about Vyoma’s strategy to promote Sanskrit learning
Would you describe Sanskrit as an endangered language? What needs to be done to protect it?
When see the word ‘Endangered’ in dictionary, it means - (of a species) / (here language) seriously at risk of extinction.
Let us take an example to answer this question. When there are new inventions and we need to name them, how would we do it. For e.g. if we have a computer and it has to be named in Hindi or Tamil or Kannada, we have to go to Mother Sanskrit only. The Hindi word Sanganak (संगणक) or the Tamil word Ganini or the Kannada word – Ganakayantra – all come the root ‘गण सङ्ख्याने’ in Sanskrit (which roughly translates to computing, calculating, counting, etc.).
In the past, present and in the future, Sanskrit is always the mother language which nourishes other Indian and Indo-European languages.
It is well known that Mother, Father, Brother, Sister have come from the Sanskrit words Maatru, Pitru, Braatru and Swasru respectively. Like this there are innumerable words which have their origin in Sanskrit.
Today also there are many families, universities that converse in Sanskrit and use Sanskrit in their daily lives.
Further, not even a single ‘endangered languages list’ mentions Sanskrit. So we can comfortably say that Sanskrit is not at all an endangered language.
However, the fact that such a question has been raised, may mean that there is some strong requirement for promoting the power and utility of this language to the masses.
Do you see an increased interest in Sanskrit from foreigners? Which part of the globe are they from?
During our US seva, we saw parents spending entire weekends at cultural centres, on Sanskrit and allied classes / activities. If someone spends 2 out of 7 days on Sanskrit, we know there’s high commitment and not just interest in Sanskrit. Engagements and conversations fully in Sanskrit during the grammar-vargas show the proficiency of software engineers and professionals in Bay Area and other places. When 200 students in Texas memorise the 700 shlokas of Bhagavad-Gita, we can see the increased commitment.
Similarly, in various parts of Europe, China and Australia, there is already sustained interest in Sanskrit. The forthcoming World Sanskrit Conference is happening at Canberra, Australia in January 2021. Peking and other Universities in China have long history of Sanskrit, Yoga and allied subjects.
A lot of Indologists study languages at university level. How does Vyom supplement this?
Vyoma is catering to Sanskrit learners at both individual (B2C) and institutional levels (B2B).
For the individuals, we have a personae-based approach. Broadly the individuals can be categorized as
(i) Those who have Sanskrit studies as their main stream in universities and patashalas. (as a full time career)
(ii) Those learners who have Sanskrit as one of their study subjects, either in school, college or University or in private streams
For individuals, we have the courses, tools, audio and video content packaged into a Personal Sanskrit Companion (PSC) as per their persona.
For Institutions, we set up a Digital Sanskrit language lab and help them supplement with tools and courses. For e.g. Vyoma along with Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Tirupathi has setup the language lab where the university students sharpen their grammar concepts through the e-learning tools.
What aspect of Sanskrit are people most interested in?
Different personae have different interests. Illustrative interests are:
(i) To understand spiritual texts through their source language
(ii) To know the meaning of the rituals and traditions followed by us
(iii) To experience and enjoy the multi-level benefits of listening, chanting, reading Sanskrit verses
(iv) To know the benefit of applied Sanskrit in my modern areas like management, economics, science etc.
(v) To enhance my experience in Music, dance, yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, astrology, astronomy etc.
(vi) To improve my memory, focus, concentration and use Sanskrit as a brain-gym
(vii) To innovate in my programming and coding skills through deep knowledge of Sanskrit Grammar
(viii) To listen to spiritual content and get peace of mind
(ix) To know the real knowledge of life which has been there for 1000s of years.
(x) To get more marks and achieve success in examinations.
There are more varied interests which have Sanskrit at the core.
Some Sanskritists from Russia and Poland said there is a demand for Sanskrit but number of people teaching is very less. Also they mentioned that the teachers don't know the local language and so cannot communicate properly. Can Vyom fill this gap?
Vyoma can help fill this gap by creating “train the trainers” who can understand Sanskrit / English, who learn the same form Vyoma Labs and then pass on the same to their local people.
Have you done any major translations. There is a dearth of quality translations in India. Can Vyom change this?
Vyoma’s current focus is e-learning. The path of Sanskrit e-learning is different since it requires 5 key knowledge/skill-set which is rare to combine.
I. Deep, Authentic, Shaastric Knowledge
II. Purposeful understanding of Technology & tools
III. Rich and relished academic experience of many years
IV. Project Management Tools & techniques
V. Communication, presentation capability with corporate exposure
As part of this we are trying to create engaging, interactive content in Sanskrit, and which is explained/ taught in other languages like English, Tamil, etc.
We have done minor stotra books where we have translated the content into Kannada, Tamil, English, etc. However, Vyoma hasn’t done any major translations.
There is a demand for foreign films in local languages. Korea has used this effectively in music and films. Can this be done with Sanskrit?
This is a great idea and surely should be done to make Sanskrit reach the masses.
However, this is pursued rarely, due to following reasons:
1. High cost involved in translating, dubbing, editing, music, etc.
2. Lack of right talent for each of the activities in film making, including project managing such large project.
3. Long-time involvement in producing / finishing 1 project itself.
4. Lack of direct revenue as available for mainsteam entertainment.
One foreign Sanskrit scholar said the greatest gift to the world is the gift of knowledge which is accessible through Sanskrit. Would you agree?
Absolutely. There is an ocean of knowledge in the Sanskrit domain, which is very much useful to solve contemporary issues. Also attaching a single snapshot of the power of Sanskrit which can try to show the greatness of Sanskrit.
Today there are millions of individuals learning and working for Sanskrit. Our salutations to all such individuals and organizations which are working for this common objective.
How was the content selected for Vyom?
We followed a ‘building the blocks’ approach.
Initially we started with a simple tool containing 140 engaging lessons for beginners. The games and visual content with animated letters were a huge hit amongst the learners. Then we started courses through webinars for intermediate learners. Then through a combination of tools, courses and discourses the content have been developed, which helps a learner in his learning path. Today with 140+ courses being enjoyed by 20,000+ committed learners, God is trying to create the largest repository of structed Sanskrit e-learning content. Our Board of Advisors have been guiding us on the right type of content, appropriate presentation etc. Also, in this initiative there are many supporters and well-wishers like the Indic Academy and their team. We wish to thank each and every person supporting this divine cause.
Above all, as we look back and connect the dots, we realize how Bhagavaan has planned these so perfectly and got it executed through us. We have just been fortunate to be selected by Him.
(www.sanskritfromhome.in, www.vyomalabs.in, www.tour.vyomalabs.in. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 94808 65623)