Friday, December 18, 2009

Astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana awarded Steacie

U of T astrophysicist wins prestigious Steacie Prize
Banner year for Ray Jayawardhana
By Sean Bettam, posted Monday, December 7, 2009
Astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana of U of T's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics is the recipient of the 2009 Steacie Prize, one of Canada's most prestigious honours for rising stars in science and engineering.

"I'm surprised, honoured and humbled," said Jayawardhana. "The Steacie Prize is a wonderful recognition of the frontline astrophysics research going on at U of T. It's been tremendous fun to be part of that endeavor together with the postdoctoral fellows and students in my group, and to share our discoveries with the public, especially during this International Year of Astronomy."
Holder of the Canada Research Chair in observational astrophysics, Jayawardhana explores the origin and diversity of planetary systems and the formation of stars and brown dwarfs. His discoveries have made media headlines on several occasions, including last year when he and his Toronto collaborators captured the first direct image of what is likely a giant planet revolving around a young sun-like star.

Pushing the limits of available technology is one of Jayawardhana's specialties. Working in a highly competitive area, his innovative research proposals win him coveted observation time on the world's largest telescopes.

"We're using the most advanced instrumentation on the world's premier facilities to push the boundaries of science," he said. "That way you get to do new things and discover new types of objects, and characterize them in ways that haven't been possible until now. It is fun to work on the edge."

Jayawardhana acknowledges that 2009 has been a bit of a "banner year" for him. In March, he received the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, one of Canada's premier science and engineering research awards, from Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a ceremony in Ottawa. In May, he was named as one of Canada's "Top 40 Under 40" by The Globe and Mail and Caldwell Partners.

Known as RayJay to colleagues, Jayawardhana looks forward to the powerful capabilities of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) now designed and ready for construction in Hawaii. "RayJay will be able to continue his leadership in the field with the TMT, which will open up the study of a vitally interesting class of extrasolar planets - including young Earths - by enabling observations of smaller, fainter planets closer to the parent star," said astronomy & astrophysics department chair Peter Martin. "For Canada, having top facilities like the TMT exploited by talented scientists of RayJay's calibre is a winning combination. It is very exciting to provide leadership in researching such profound questions."

Jayawardhana's lifelong enthusiasm about the cosmos is infectious, and he has received many accolades for his communications skills. Had he not become a researcher, he might have pursued a career as a science journalist. The latest of his many outreach efforts involved 3,000 ads that appeared in Toronto's buses, subways and streetcars for one month in early 2009, at the kickoff of the International Year of Astronomy, promoting a sense of wonder about the cosmos. "The idea was to reach literally hundreds of thousands of people, even for just 30 seconds, to highlight that we are intimately connected to the rest of the universe," he explained.

"Congratulations to Professor Jayawardhana on this prestigious honour," said Professor Paul Young, vice president (research). "The Steacie Prize is one of the most coveted forms of recognition for a young Canadian scientist. This is a true testament to Ray's outstanding innovation in astronomy research and science in general."

The Steacie Prize, with a value of $10,000, is awarded annually in recognition of exceptional contributions by a scientist or engineer aged 40 or younger. Winners are selected by a panel appointed by the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fund, a private foundation dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering in Canada. Recent University of Toronto recipients of the Steacie Prize include Stephen Scherer (Molecular Genetics, 2003), Jerry Mitrovica (Physics, 2001), Ian Manners (Chemistry, 2000), Lewis Kay (Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, 1999) and Sajeev John (Physics, 1996).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Inspiration for Life - Shammi (Dr. McSteamy)

Yahoo mantra
At 78, battling health problems, the legendary Shammi Kapoor lives it up every moment. He shares 10 dos and don’ts for a happier life with Indu Mirani
By Indu Mirani
Posted On Friday, October 30, 2009 at 02:52:58 AM
It’s just impossible to keep the irrepressible Shammi Kapoor down. He’s wheel-chair bound and dialysis dependent three days a week. But that doesn’t bog down the Junglee actor, who believes life is meant to be lived to the fullest, by developing passions and forming close bonds with loved ones. Here are his mantras to do just that.
1. Don’t crib. Take life for what it is. There’s no point thinking that uske paas Mercedes gaadi hai aur mere paas nahi hai. You’ve got to enjoy the car that you have. I enjoy driving, I have a Mercedes S class 350. But I would be stupid if I cribbed that Amitabh Bachchan has a Rolls Royce, why don’t I have one? C’mon, enjoy your Merc, you never had a Merc to begin with!
2. Keep yourself occupied. As they say very correctly, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Mere father ek sher sunaya karte the, mujhe woh sher yaad nahi hai but I know the meaning. “Arey kuch na kuch kiya kar. Aur nahi to kapde udhaad kar siya kar.” If you don’t have anything to do, then break a plate and try putting it together again
.3. Have a passion. For instance, I have a passion for driving. And despite being on a wheel-chair, when I get into a car, I am okay. I make myself comfortable and then go for long drives.
4. I am fascinated by good movies. I can’t go to the cinema so I watch them on DVDs. I have a fabulous collection of old movies right from the black and white era, of actors who ruled the roost then, whom you might not have even heard of. I have Ronald Colman’s Random Harvest and another movie called Double Life for which he got the Oscar. Then I have Good Bye Mr Chips and Gaslight starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer; they are all Oscar-winning movies. I watch them over and over again. Every time I see them, I enjoy the films even more.
5. I am a sports-oriented person. As a child, I indulged in a lot of sport. Now, I have a passion for watching football, cricket, tennis and golf. I have played a lot of golf too.
6. Stay connected. Always. The net is such a beautiful platform to take off from. You are always in the sky, you are always roaming around. You meet friends and a lot of beautiful girls also! You must always have an eye for a beautiful girl. It keeps you alive. You should be a lover of beauty. (Does this go for Dr. McSteamy too?)
7. Keep friends and family near you. Family is foremost. They are the nearest people who care for you, friends come after them.
8. Party. You must enjoy going to parties and throwing parties too. Lots of people only attend parties. That’s not the right attitude. You must also host bashes.Also learn to enjoy good food — cooking and eating. I used to do a lot of cooking during my heydays when I used to go for shikaar. In the jungles you learn survival. You learn to light a fire and cook a meal with your prey. I was a smoker, so I always had a lighter. Since I am also a drinker, I always had a flask. That is all that you need — to cook yourself a meal in the forests. Some meat, some fire and some brandy to cook it with. I can prepare a good meal.
9. Have a passion for spending money. That’s the best way of enjoying your money instead of it lying and collecting dust in the bank. I spend on a lot of things. I spend on music — a passion which has always been manifest in my movies. I splurge on DVDs, TV and stuff. Moreover, I never think twice before spending money on friends.
10. Have a passion for your wife...however old she is, however she looks. She is the person who really looks after you without asking for anything in return.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

India and the Commonwealth Games 2010

India receives Commonwealth Games baton from the QueenPTI 29 October 2009, 05:05pm IST
LONDON: Hit by organizational delays and controversies, the formal countdown to the 2010 Commonwealth Games began on Thursday with the launch of

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II presents President Pratibha Patil with the baton to launch the XIX Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games outside Buckingham Palace in London.

Queen's baton relay, which saw India's President Pratibha Patil making history by becoming the first Head of a State to attend such a ceremony. ( Watch Video )

The brief ceremony, held at the majestic Buckingham Palace showcased India's rich tradition through a cultural show before Queen Elizabeth II handed over the glittering baton to Patil amidst thunderous applause.

The Queen placed her message into the baton after receiving it from Commonwealth Games Federation Michael Fennell as a host of dignitaries watched the proceedings beamed live in India.

President Patil passed on the baton to Sports Minister of India MS Gill, who handed it over to Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi.

From Kalmadi baton reached the hands of first baton-bearer Abhinav Bindra, India's only Olympic Gold medallist.

With Indian music playing in the background air rifle shooter Bindra began the relay-run and handed over the baton to legendary middle-distance runner Lord Sebastian Coe, waiting just outside the gates of the Palace.

Coe is also Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 2012 London Olympics.

The baton passed through the hands of legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, the most successful female tennis player Sania Mirza, flying sikh Milkha Singh, Olympic bronze medal winners -- boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar -- and England's first Sikh cricketer Monty Panesar among other Indian sports personalities.

The Queen's Baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is a delicate mix of aesthetics and technology with an in-built location tracking system and a camera capable of sending images to the Games website.

After travelling to different member countries of the Commonwealth, the Baton will enter India through Wagah Border along Pakistan, 100 days before the start of the Games.

It will then be taken to all state capitals of the country before reaching the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi for the opening ceremony of the Games on October 3, 2010.

Earlier, dance, dresses and drums from different parts of India virtually turned the majestic Victoria Memorial into a mini-India at the start of relay.

A bunch of British students joined the celebrations chanting the Sanskrit verses from ancient Rig Veda.

As the sanskrit prayers speaking of unity and humanity of these students from St James school reverberated in the forecourt of the Buckingham Palace, the crowd joined in with encouraging cheers and claps for their effort.

The students provided perfect icing on the function by performing Indian classical dance forms Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and folk dances like Bhangra and Dandia in front of Queen Elizabeth II and President Pratibha Patil.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nobel Winner Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009
"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"
Photo: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Credits: Michael Marsland/Yale University
Credits: Micheline Pelletier/Corbis
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Thomas A. Steitz
Ada E. Yonath
1/3 of the prize
1/3 of the prize
1/3 of the prize
United Kingdom
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Cambridge, United Kingdom
Yale University New Haven, CT, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Weizmann Institute of Science Rehovot, Israel
b. 1952(in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India)
b. 1940
b. 1939

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Telephone Sanskrit?

Whitby and Toronto Sanskrit class participants can now phone into to a teleclass every Sunday at 7pm. If you are interested, you can still participate by emailing me at

speaksamskrit at yahoo dot com

There is a small registration fee of under a $1 per class for 40 classes throughout the year. Pretty good deal! The class is 1 hour long.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Samskrit in the Modern World

The use of Samskrit in modern world

By Chamu Krishna Shastry

More than 60 per cent of the vocabulary of most of the Indian languages is derived from Samskrit. Their underlying grammar too has its source in Samskrit. India’s Constitution mentions that the vocabulary of the official language of India should mainly be drawn from Samskrit. Hence Samskrit is complementary to all Indian languages. Samskrit can help in preserving the regional languages of India in their undiluted form.

Samskrit has been the vehicle of our culture and thought from time immemorial. Samskrit is the fountainhead of the Dharma, Sanskriti and Darshan of the land that is Bharat. Culture and language are inseparable. They go together. Hence, reviving Samskrit is rejuvenating our culture, rejuvenating our culture is reviving the Samskrit language. Other Indian languages are also cultural languages, but Samskrit is the common cultural language of the common man of India. Since other Indian languages are regional in nature, Samskrit is the Pan-Indian cultural language of India. Bringing Samskrit back to everyday life is just like bringing culture back to everyday life. Samskrit is inevitable to pass on-or transmit, communicate, or give-our cultural heritage to our next generation, and to ensure its continued passage from generation to generation. People say that they need rice, not paddy. Good. But if the husk is removed, then the paddy will not last long and it cannot be reproduced. Rice is culture, and the husk is Samskrit. Samskrit is the husk that protects and enables our culture to grow and nourish itself. Milk cannot be served without a cup. Culture is like milk, and Samskrit is the cup.

We need Samskrit today more than ever before to preserve our cultural moorings, to stay connected to our roots. It is the ‘anti-virus software’ to protect our ‘systems’ from external attacks/soft-threats. Samskrit is the best tool to engender the cultural renaissance of Bharat.

Samskrit is very much essential to understand the essence of our culture. Without Samskrit, we cannot understand the very meanings of the names given to our people, our practices, our Gods, our philosophical concepts, etc. There are no equivalents in English for words such as Punya, Abhishekam, Teertham, Naivedyam, Prasada, Dharma, etc.

Translation can rarely communicate the original meaning. Translation is translation. For example, the phrase ‘Herculean Task’ will be understood only by those who have studied English literature. The phrase can be explained, but it cannot be translated. In the same way, the translation of Bhima Parakram, Govardhanagiridhari, Pitambaradasa in English will not be effective at all. Leave alone the unpublished works of Samskrit, not even 1 per cent of the published Samskrit literature has been translated into other languages. Mantra Shakti is the power of the Samskrit language, and translation cannot possess that Shakti.

Opportunity for new knowledge creation/dissemination

Samskrit literature is a phenomenal repository of knowledge. It contains hundreds and thousands of ancient works pertaining to every branch of knowledge. Teaching the Samskrit language is like providing the key to the treasure house of knowledge. Every individual strives for three things - Knowledge, Prosperity and Happiness. Samskrit is the ideal instrument to access them all.

The word-generating power of Samskrit is unparalleled. It can create/coin an infinite number of words by using about 2,000 roots, 22 prefixes and about 200 suffixes. No other language in the world offers such phenomenal versatility.

It is estimated that there are at least five million manuscripts-most of them in Samskrit-are lying neglected and unattended all over India and in several corners of the world. Knowledge retrieval from them is impossible without Samskrit.

Yoga, Ayur Veda, Gita, Vedanta, Vaastu, Jyotisha, etc. are making a comeback all over the world today. People who are initiated into these subjects are not satisfied by reading the translated texts of these subjects. They want to read the original works, and in their original language. Hence they have started studying Samskrit. Samskrit is the gateway to the heritage of scientific knowledge in ancient India. A good basis in Samskrit will ensure that one gets independent and direct access to the primary sources of that knowledge.

Today, in the context of such terms as the ‘knowledge society,’ ‘knowledge economy,’ ‘knowledge industry,’ ‘knowledge-driven globe,’ etc., it is important to understand the meaning of the Samskrit word ‘Bhaaratam’. Bhaa means light, knowledge; ratam means immersed. A person or a society, immersed in knowledge is Bhaaratam. Until today, Samskrit literature was mostly considered as religious and spiritual literature, which is partially true. But if the Vedas, Shastras and other works in Samskrit are studied from the science point of view as well, if science-and technology-related Samskrit texts are studied, and if they are properly decoded, then there would be nothing short of a "knowledge explosion."

Knowledge of Samskrit will enable people to understand the prayers they perform in Samskrit. Samskrit would also go a long way in revitalising Hinduism and Hindu temples.

One of the reasons for the decline of Ayur Veda is the neglect of the Samskrit language. Today, even though Ayur Vedic medicine is becoming increasingly popular, the Ayur Veda Shastra itself is not growing. In the same way, the neglect of Samskrit is being reflected in the scant attention paid to the Yoga Shastra, the Vedanta Shastra, etc.

While Samskrit allows us to access an infinite fountain of knowledge and wisdom, it is nevertheless important to ask the question: "What can we do to maintain and nourish such a language?"

Vehicle for social harmony

Samskrit has been the great unifying factor of India. Prayers like Gange ca yamune caiva, godavari sarasvati, narmade sindhu kaveri, jalesmin sannidhim kuru, and masterpieces such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Gita, in Samskrit have bonded India together. Down the ages, Samskrit literature has always projected and depicted all of Bharat as one nation. It has never promoted regional or sectarian feelings, unlike some other languages.

Self-esteem is essential for the development of an individual or of a society. Self-esteem comes by understanding our past achievements and inheritance. Providing Samskrit to our younger generation is like empowering them with the much-wanted self-esteem and pride.

Samskrit literature promotes and propagates an All-Inclusive Ideology-on the lines of "Unity in diversity", Ekam sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanti, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, etc.-which could constitute the foundation for global peace and harmony. Samskrit is the torch-bearer of Vishwa Dharma, a concept that represents far more than it’s usually accepted meaning of "Universal Code of Ethics".

Samskrit is an effective instrument of social harmony in India. The dalits and other neglected sections of Hindu society have long been deprived of learning Samskrit. As Swami Vivekananda put it, the knowledge of Samskrit can give them the power and prestige, and it can elevate them culturally. Samskrit can be a major tool for social transformation, given its ability to eradicate differences of caste, sect, gender and region.

Means of understanding our national heritage

More than 60 per cent of the vocabulary of most of the Indian languages is derived from Samskrit. Their underlying grammar too has its source in Samskrit. India’s Constitution mentions that the vocabulary of the official language of India should mainly be drawn from Samskrit. Hence Samskrit is complementary to all Indian languages. Samskrit can help in preserving the regional languages of India in their undiluted form.

Samskrit is not just a language. It is a Jeevan Darshan. It reminds us of a great tradition of both spiritual and material wealth. Learning and speaking Samskrit gives you a sense of belonging to a great heritage. It gives you power and confidence.

The knowledge of Samskrit alone can lead to a complete and authentic study of Indian art, sculpture, music, science, history, political science, etc.

As Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, "Without the knowledge of Samskrit, the education of every Indian is incomplete."

Experience shows that while most of the Hindus living abroad are usually divided by the Indian regional languages, Samskrit is the language which brings them together and instills in them the sense of unity and harmony.

Learning Samskrit is our duty-our national duty.

Opening up new dimensions

We must enrich, empower, enlighten and elevate ourselves through Samskrit. We must empower our younger generation with the most superior tools of self-management.

Samskrit language is considered to be the only suitable natural language for computers. Software is being developed for the machine translation of Indian languages with Samskrit as the intermediate language.

A research article titled "Sanskrit and Brain Function" by Dr. Travis, showing that the physiological effects of reading Sanskrit are similar to those experienced during the transcendental meditation technique, has recently been published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.

(The writer is General Secretary Samskrit Bharati and can be contacted at

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sanskrit Classes Starting in Toronto!

Just register by email sankara1 at msn dot com

There will be 20 classes in the year. About 2 per month starting October 4, 2009.

Adults and childrens classes at the Vedanta Vidya Mandir in Toronto from 1:30 to 4:15 alternating Sunday afternoons.

Students at all levels learn to speak Samskrit and understand the Bhagavad Geeta without a translation.

Try it out and experience the sublime Samskrit speaking experience. Don't let this chance pass you by.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dharmendra Speaks Sanskrit

Film dialogues to popularise Sanskrit!
Updated on Sunday, September 06, 2009, 16:13 IST Ahmedabad: A city-based academy has hit upon a novel idea to popularise country`s oldest language and has taken the help of Indians` biggest passion--Hindi movies.

A Sanskrit-teaching academy here has taken up the mantle to bust the popular notion that the language is hard to learn and of little use.Eklavya Sanskrit Academy (ESA) is using dialogues from Bollywood super hits like Sholay and Deewar, and is translating them in Sanskrit to popularise the ancient language among the youth and general public.

"There is a myth prevailing among people that Sanskrit is a difficult language. They also think of it as a language which has no use," Mihir Upadhyay, director of the academy, told reporters."But, the language has immense potential.

Even the advertising world quotes Sanskrit shlokas and many manuscripts hold great knowledge. We want to create awareness about Sanskrit and promote research," he said."We also want to show people that Sanskrit is an easy and interesting language.

To popularise it, we recently did an experiment by using dialogues of around 17 superhit Hindi films to attract people, mainly youths," Upadhyay said.For example, the famous dialogue by Amjad Khan (Gabbar) in film Sholay, "Ab tera Kya Hoga Kalia? (What will happen to you Kalia), will become "Kaalia, tav ki bhavisyasi?" in Sanskrit.

Monday, August 31, 2009



From one Punjab da puttar to another; if Singh"s brawn bravado was limited to B-grade flicks, Dharmendra brought it into the mainstream hero"s repertoire with his shirtless swagger in Phool Aur Patthar (1966). The film"s famous scene of a drunken shirtless Dharmendra hovering over a sleep feigning Meena Kumari in restrained anticipation ranks amongst the all time top sexually charged scenes in Hindi cinema.

As regards his brawn impact, it"s best summed by dream girl Hema Malini"s oft quoted first reaction on seeing Dharmendra, “I had never seen a more handsome man in my life before." The son of the soil"s rugged brawn appeal lay in his naturally sculpted body, not any artificially customised gym trained six packs. Indeed, they don"t make it like him anymore.Showstoppers: Haqeeqat, Phool Aur Patthar, Sholay, Dharam Veer, Razia Sultan

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sanskrit the Language of the Masses - Yes!

Sanskrit can become the language of the masses in rural areas
By Shreesh Deopujari from The Organiser, September 6, 2009

The overall development of the villages throughout the country should be a major issue because the majority of the population of the country lives in the rural areas. Majority of the great personalities engaged in rural development activities like Shri Anna Hazare, Shri Nanaji Deshmukh, Shri Surendra Singh Chauhan, made samskars as the basis of their activities. The samskars are imparted by singing devotional songs i.g. bhajans or putting forth Ramayana as an ideal source of inspiration or praying Bharat Mata collectively.

One more medium of imbibing virtues like sense of duty, integrity, devotion, faith, etc. is Sanskrit language. By speaking consistently in devvani (God’s language) the so-called downtrodden or the depressed class of the society also feels elevated. They not only feel confident but also develop samskars, which is the very base of any developmental activity. Therefore, Sanskrit Sambhashan is one of the prominent aspects of rural development, the work being undertaken by swayamsevaks across the country.

There are a number of villages in the country where all daily activities of life are conducted only in Sanskrit. The prominent villages in this group are Muttoor and Hosahalli in Karnataka and Jhiri and Mohad in Madhya Pradesh where Sanskrit has truly become language of the masses. More than 95 per cent the people of Muttoor and hundred per cent people in Jhiri speak Sanskrit. Muttoor (Karnataka) Apart from Muttoor, Hosahalli and Jhiri; Mohad and Baghuwar in Madhya Pradesh and Ganoda under Banswara district of Rajasthan are also the villages where Sanskrit is spoken by majority of the villagers.

Not only for asking well-being of each other but even while ploughing the fields, talking on telephone, purchasing goods from the grocer’s shop, getting the hair cut at barber’s shop, preparing food in kitchen, etc. people freely speak Sanskrit. The containers having spices and other things in the kitchen too contain the names in Sanskrit. Nobody in these villages thinks what will happen by learning Sanskrit.

Whether it will help in getting a job or not. It is our language and we have to learn it is the only feeling amongst them. Muttoor, the village of about 2,000 inhabitants, is located about 8 km south of Shimoga. The Tunga river flows gently on one side of the village. Its fame as the Sanskrit Gram has spread far and wide. Sanskrit is the spoken language of over 95 per cent of the people here. Soft and dulcet, a conversation sounds like a Vedic recital.

Though it is a journey, which began about 500 years ago, Sanskrit has been modified as per the modern needs here by Samskrit Bharati. As one enters the village he is greeted with bhavatha nam kim? (What is your name?), coffee va chaayam kim ichchhathi bhavan? (What will you have, coffee or tea?). The pronunciation of Hari Om instead of ‘hello’ and katham asti instead of ‘how are you?’ are common here. Everybody-men, women, children, literate or illiterate-freely speaks Sanskrit. Even the Muslim families speak Sanskrit without hesitation and as comfortably as is spoken by the Hindus. Their children are found in the streets reciting Sanskrit shlokas.

Even while fighting and playing cricket in the grounds children freely speak Sanskrit. When one walks down a few places from the school where one touches the ratha veethi (car street) and graffiti on the walls what grabs the attention is: Maarge swachchataya virajate, grame sujanaha virajante (Cleanliness is as important for a road as good people are for the village). Other slogans like ‘keep the temple premises clean’, ‘keep the river clean’ and ‘trees are the nation’s wealth’ are also written in Sanskrit and painted on walls reflecting ancient values. There are families who have written on their doors-‘You can speak in Sanskrit in this house.’ This is basically to tell the visitors that in case they are fluent in the language they can talk to them in Sanskrit.

Study of the language here begins from Montessori level, where kids are taught rhymes and told stories in Sanskrit-even Chandamama and comics printed in Sanskrit are available here. While the language is a compulsory subject in schools, teachers and even students talk to each other in it. Muttoor is not a cloistered hermitage shy of the outside world. Many of its youngsters have moved to cities in search of greener pastures in pursuit of higher education.

Some are teaching Sanskrit in universities across the State and more than 150 youngmen and women are in the field of IT as software engineers. Many foreign students also visit the village to learn Sanskrit and stay with them in true guru-shishya tradition. For more than 25 years now the village has been in the forefront of a movement to keep spoken Sanskrit alive. And one can notice the difference the minute one steps into the village. According to Shri MB Srinidhi, Dakshin Karnataka secretary of Samskrit Bharati, the seed for change was sown in 1982 when Samskrit Bharati organised a 10-day Sanskrit Sambhashan camp to teach the villagers spoken Sanskrit and people in this primarily agricultural society eagerly took part in the camp. In the local Sharada Vilasa High School, Sanskrit is compulsory till class VIII to X.

So, the present generation too has learnt to speak it. Mothers teach children Sanskrit at home. The credit for this silent revolution surfacing the country to popularising Sanskrit goes to Samskrit Bharati. Thousands of its activists are burning the midnight oil to move forward this movement. It is not necessary for a person to be literate for learning Sanskrit. Undoubtedly, a literate person can pick up the language easily, but an illiterate person too can learn it. There are thousands of people who were earlier fully illiterate but now speak fluently in Sanskrit.

One such example was seen in Baoli village under Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh where a 50-year-old Shri Jaiprakash speaks fluent Sanskrit. Shri Jaiprakash has never been to school but he learnt Sanskrit only in four camps of Samskrit Bharati organised in Delhi, Haridwar, Meerut and Baraut. Now he teaches Sanskrit to his fellow villagers. All his family members too speak Sanskrit. Jhiri, Mohad and Baghuwar (Madhya Pradesh) Jhiri comes under Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. Total population of the village is 976 and all the people including small children, women, elder people, school-going children, literate and illiterate speak fluently in Sanskrit. Samskrit Bharati had started conducting Samskrit Sambhashan camps in the village in 2002 through an activist Vimla Tewari. She had come here only for one year. But in that one year she developed so much interest of the villagers to the divine language that everybody in the village turned to learn Sanskrit. Now all the villagers love Vimla as their own daughter.

Former RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan visited this village. He was so much impressed with the command of the villagers over Sanskrit that he, while touring the village, touched the feet of elderly women at four places and sought their blessings. The morning of the people in this village begins with Namo Namah and ends with the greetings of Shubhratri. Shri Sudarshan honoured Vimla Tewari for her outstanding performance in propagating Sanskrit in the village.

The Sanskrit Sambhashan classes in Jhiri are conducted both in the morning and evening. Impressed with the noble command of the villagers on the divine language the people of some adjoining villages like Moondala and Susahedih also come to Jhiri to learn Sanskrit. Anyone who visits this village is thrilled seeing all people speaking fluently in the God’s language. The total population of Mohad is about 4,000. But more than 1,000 people speak Sanskrit.

Samskrit Bharati organised six sambhashan vargas in the village resulting in not only the small children but even the old women speaking Sanskrit fluently. Pratibha Chauhan is just seventh pass but can speak Sanskrit freely. Now she has taught Sanskrit to all her family members. The village Panchayat takes special steps to popularise Sanskrit in Mohad.

Even Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Muslim families speak Sanskrit without hesitation. Similar picture can be seen in Baghuwar village, which is near Mohad. In Jhiri, the farmers while ploughing their field even order their oxen in Sanskrit and the oxen too follow those instructions. Ganoda (Rajasthan) Ganoda is a village under Banswada district of Rajasthan where a large number of people speak Sanskrit. In this Vanvasi-dominated village, Sanskrit is slowly becoming a way of life.

Slogans in Sanskrit make the village walls, the language spoken in practically every house and every school-going child rattling off a few sentences. "Almost everyone can speak or understand Sanskrit in this village," says Naresh Doshi. About ten years ago Ganoda was like any other village of Rajasthan but now it has special place. Now all the Sanskrit-speaking people in this village have resolved to make Sanskrit the second language of the Wagdi-speaking population. "My mother cannot speak Sanskrit very well but everyone else manages.

Now I have attended a few Sambhashan Vargas and we are slowly trying to teach others," says 14-years-old Dharmesh Joshi. The ultimate aim of the people here is to make Ganoda a unique and model Sanskrit village. Their punch line is "don’t say hello, say Hari Om." Due to the Sanskrit language caste discrimination between the so-called lower and upper castes has reduced. Those who speak the language can hold his head high in the society. The oneness of the society leads to the development of the village. Jayatu Sanskritam.

(The writer is Akhil Bharatiya Prakalp Pramukh of Samskrit Bharati.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vijender Singh is the best!

Printed from Times of India
Vijender becomes world No. 2

TIMESOFINDIA.COM 20 August 2009, 05:01pm IST

NEW DELHI: Vijender Singh who won the Bronze Medal at the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 has achieved the second ranking in the World in 75kg with a tally of 1700 points, announced International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Correa Bayeux Emilio of Cuba with an aggregate of 2500 points is ranked one. Blanco Parro Alfonso of Venezuela with a tally of 1300 points is ranked third while Artayev Bakhtiyar of Kazakhstan is ranked four with a tally of 1250 points.
In the 48kg, Thokchom Nanao Singh has been ranked fifth with a tally of 1400 pts while Olympic champion Zou Shiming of China is ranked one with 2500 points.
In the 51kg, Suranjoy Singh has been ranked fourteenth with a total of 800 points, while Jitender Kumar has been ranked 13th with a total 837.5 points.
In the 57kg Akhil Kumar has been ranked ninth with a total of 1050 points, while his compatriot Jai Bhagwan is ranked 25th with 700 points.
In the 64kg, Manoj Kumar is ranked 2nd with 400 points while in the same weight category Balwinder Beniwal is ranked 57th with 362.5 points.
In the 69kg category Dilbag Singh is ranked 28th with 550 points while in the 81 kgs, Dinesh Kumar is ranked Joint sixth with 1050 pts.
In the 91 kgs Manpreet Singh is 35th with 450 pts while in the + 91kg Parveen Kumar and Paramjit Samota are 37th and 40th respectively.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Manoj Kumar on Independence Day

Printed from Times of India
I saw Nehru hoist tricolour: Manoj Kumar

RITU VERMA, TNN 13 August 2009, 12:00am IST

'Bharat' Kumar's cult movies like Purab Aur Paschim, Kranti, Shaheed, Upkaar are still considered a yardstick for patriotic cinema in Bollywood

Manoj KumarFondly called Bharat Kumar, veteran actor Manoj Kumar is one of the first faces that flashes in our minds when we think of patriotic films. His cult movies like Purab Aur Paschim, Kranti, Shaheed, Upkaar are still considered the yardstick of patriotic cinema in Bollywood.
My countrymen are so gracious, they liked my work, my character in Upkaar and I was made Bharat Kumar from Manoj. I rejoice in all the love and respect I have received from my audience. To maintain the dignity of this name I have also worked very hard and sacrificed a lot, at various steps of my life, says Manoj Kumar. When asked to pick his favorite character from all his onscreen patriotic avataars, he replied,
"The feel of patriotism might be the common factor in my onscreen avatars, yet they were all very different from each other. All the characters had different circumstances and faced different challenges, just like two different individuals. I can't really compare them, all my characters are very close to my heart."
The legendary actor is disappointed that patriotic films like Rang De Basanti and Chak De India are rare to come by. He says, I think, by and large, society is moving away from patriotism. There is an old saying, Jab raja bana vyapari, toh praja bani bhikhari. It applies pretty well in today's scenario.
Today's youth has no icons, no role models to follow. They really need leaders who can inspire them. Unfortunately, these days politicians are only in the news for scams and arguments in Parliament. He adds, In the recent past we witnessed a movie named Mangal Pandey. The subject of the movie was slightly shallow and hence it failed at the box office. Still, through the movie, people got to know that someone like Mangal Pandey also existed. Rang De Basanti struck bull's eye and became really popular. I think the first advantage of the movie was its title, which came from the famous song, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola. Though the first half of the movie was a little confused, yet it did very well and youngsters praised it. There are very few filmmakers who take up patriotic subjects, but I really think if given a good treatment, people will surely appreciate such cinema in today's times too. These days everyone is eager to make films that match international standards. I believe if we can really concentrate on national cinema, it would automatically be at par with international films.
When we asked the yesteryear actor about whom he thinks can portray patriotic roles with ease from today's Bollywood biggies, it was only one name that came to his mind. Aamir Khan is definitely the best suited actor for such roles. I really liked him in Taare Zameen Par and Rang De Basanti. In our times be it Raj Kapoor, Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand or Manoj Kumar, each of us had our own area of expertise and catered to different genres of cinema. But these days all actors seem to be doing similar roles.
Today, they have no individuality. Therefore, I'll suggest they become a part of respectable and meaningful cinema.
The veteran actor shared his memories of the first Independence Day of India. “Though every Independence Day is memorable, I can't forget the day when Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, raised the flag of independent India in Delhi. I remember going to the Red Fort with my father. I was a fortunate young boy who could witness that historic moment, which is still framed in my mind.
The cult hero concludes with a powerful Independence Day message, I wish this Independence Day brings joy and prosperity to our country.
Only saying Jai Hind thrice with the Prime Minister does not make a country of patriots. In many ways, we are moving forward, but there remains so much to be done. I wish everyone does their own bit. I pray to God to be kind to our country and bless us with good monsoon and good crops.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where is the Farmer in Bollywood? Where is my Manoj?

From Times of India

Rooting out the farmer in Indian cinema
Insiya Amir, TNN 9 August 2009, 12:22am IST

India has come a long way from Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's 1965 slogan ˜Jai Jawan Jai Kisaanâ. That was a time of war and food scarcity; both soldier and farmer were icons of patriotism and hard work.

Two years after the catchy slogan, Manoj Kumar, at Shastri's request, had the kisaan star as hero of his movie Upkaar. It could not happen today. The farmer is no longer idolized as hero of the Indian growth story. In a faithful reflection of reality, the kisaan has disappeared from the Bollywood plot as well. Manoj Kumar made box office history when he crooned Mere desh ki dharti in Upkaar. But today's movies are singing a videshi tune. I am sure there are hundreds of stories beyond the Gateway in Mumbai, the Golden Bridge of San Francisco and Oxford Street in London. But who is interested in those?asks film critic Anupama Chopra. The NRI movie is a trend that began with Aditya Chopra's Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and established itself with Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. “Movies now are all about being cool and urbane. It is what the fabled NRI wants and it's what the new Indian in the multiplex wants, explains Chopra.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons why the farmer has disappeared from screens is the rise of the multiplexes. Director Ram Gopal Verma probably got it right when he said that he no longer needed to worry about UP and Bihar. Gone are the days when the struggles of Mother India captivated audiences across the country.

Instead, Priyanka Chopra's travails in Fashion get the box office cash tills ringing. Trade analyst Komal Nahata affirms, The farmer is out as the chunk of box-office earnings comes from cities. Manoj Kumar, the original farmer, has a different take on the issue. He says that today's directors are interested in telling their own stories, derived from lives lived in the fast lane.

To make a film about farmers you have to go out and see what their lives are like. This generation seems confined to watching DVDs in tall apartment buildings, says the veteran actor. Kumar insists the spotlight will be on farmers once again. When you see aerial shots of New York, it is a feast for the eyes. But when you see lush mustard fields, it is a feast for the soul. Farmers are the soul of the country, he asserts. But the numbers don't stack up for Kumar's argument.

A 2006 National Sample Survey Organization study found that 40% of India's farmers want a different job. Roughly 80,000 farmers with landholdings and landless labourers alike are thought to be moving to the cities every year. Studies show that by 2020, 70% of Tamil Nadu's farmers, 65% of those in Punjab and nearly 55% of UP's farmers will move to urban centers. Meanwhile, agriculture's share of India' GDP has steadily declined from 46% in 1960 to 20% today, even though 70% of the population is still engaged in the sector.

Sociologist Shiv Viswanathan says it's no wonder that the farmer has been written off. He says, The kisaan has become an object in the experiment of biotechnology, and that too without any sense of modernity. If only agriculture in India was more modern, the farmer wouldn't look so out of place and out of breath.

The farmer is having as much trouble in reel life too. By and large, movies with rural settings have sunk without a trace, not least last year's Summer of 2007, which dealt with farmer suicides. And Bollywood's newest offering, Kisaan, is getting no media attention. Filmmaker Shyam Benegal says rural India is ignored on the silver screen. Indian cinema has become aspirational. It is thriving on people who want their movies to be about the same consumerist lifestyle they are leading, or want to lead, says the director whose Ankur and other films are still remembered for their portrayal of rural life. Dealing with rural India needs a certain social engagement.

Mainstream (Bollywood) is not intrigued by that. But Benegal says all is not lost. Younger filmmakers are making movies about the realities of rural India. (But) these are documentaries, he says. The chances are that someone will notice and Bollywood will once again write scripts about Bharat.

Manoj Kumar remains hopeful: All things in life are cyclical. We will go back to our roots. And the farmer will have his day in the sun again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

India launches nuclear sub

Launched on July 26, 2009 INS Arihant is India's lead ship of the Arihant class of nuclear-powered Fleet submarines. The 6000-tonne vessel was built under the top-secret ATV (advanced technology vessel) project at the Ship Building Centre in Vishakapatnam at a cost of USD 2.9 billion. The project to indigenously develop a nuclear-powered submarine was conceived during Indira Gandhi's reign as Prime Minister in 1970 but really got going only in the mid-1980s. However, until early 2009 Indian Navy Chiefs officially denied the existence of such a project.
Arihant (Sanskrit for 'destroyer of enemies'; from Ari, Sanskrit for Enemy and Hant, Sanskrit for Hunt or Kill) is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be built by India. The launch of the INS Arihant makes India one of six countries in the world that can design, build and operate its' own nuclear submarines (the others being the United States, Russia, France, UK, and China). The launch of INS Arihant strengthen's India's endeavor to build a credible nuclear triad — the capability to fire nuclear weapons from air, land and sea.
Courtesy: HT

Sania Wins ITF Lexington Challenger Tournament

Printed from

Sania wins ITF Lexington Challenger tourney

TIMESOFINDIA.COM 27 July 2009, 10:31am IST
NEW DELHI: India's ace tennis player Sania Mirza, seeded second, continued her good show as she upset top-seed Frenchwoman Julie Coin 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to clinch the $50,000 ITF Lexington Challenger title. With this win, the 22-year-old rose three places to 80th in the latest WTA singles rankings.

However, she dropped 10 places to 49th in the WTA doubles list. Sania kept her cool in the scintillating final in front of sizeable Indian community as she sealed the first set via tie-breaker after squandering a 5-2 lead and facing 5-all.

Mirza had a great start as she broke Julie Coin in the very first game of the match, and also consolidated the break to take an early 2-0 lead. Coin, however, got herself back in the groove by clinching the third game and then went on to break Mirza's serve to level the proceedings at two games apiece. Both of them held their serve till the eighth game of the opening set when Coin broke Sania to gain 5-3 lead.

Mirza was in no mood to surrender as she fought her way back by holding on to two under-pressure service games to force the opening set into a tie-break. Coin gained a crucial 5-2 lead in the tie-breaker but it was Sania's day as she came back hard to win four points in a row to seal the first set 7-5 in her favour. Top-seed Coin fought hard as she took an early break to go ahead 2-1 in the second set which was as exciting as the first but Sania levelled the scores to break straight back. Sania broke Coin for a 5-3 lead and served for the match, but was broken back by Julie.

However Sania broke the Coin serve in a marathon tenth game to register an impressive win. Interestingly, this was only the second ITF $50,000 event that Sania had participated in, the first being way back in 2003 when she was still making a name for herself on the pro tour.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dr. Abdul Kalam - Where is the Apology from Continental?

They want to look like they are doing something about security, perhaps? Are they really? Do the bad guys still get away with it?

And, excuse me, but this illustrious individual of Indian soil has to deal with who? Not the President of Contintental, who should be on his hands and knees or atleast making an effort to be apologetic, right????? But the public relations officer? Who should lose her job, right? Aparna, how are you feeling this morning? I mean, does this man mean anything to you, personally in terms of greatness? Or do you just sleep your way through life on auto pilot?

This is a person that all schoolkids in India hold with the highest esteem. He is their role model.

I just have to think what, if any, kind of improper treatment similar illustrious people from North American or Europe would face? You just have to wonder and you just have to ask the question.

Kalam yet to receive apology from Continental Airlines
PTI 23 July 2009, 12:01pm IST
KOCHI/NEW DELHI: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam is "yet" to receive the apology from America's Continental Airlines for breaching the protocol norms by frisking him at Delhi's international airport.

"I have not yet received it," said Kalam when asked about the apology sent by the airline.

On Wednesday, Continental Airlines had apologised to Kalam following a political uproar in the country over the frisking of the former President at Delhi's international airport before he was to board a Newark-bound flight on April 21.

Asked whether he had felt insulted when he was subjected to the security check, Kalam, who is in Kochi, declined to comment, saying the issue has been discussed in Parliament.

When contacted, the airline today said it had sent the apology letter to Kalam's Delhi office as directed by his official staff and since the former President was travelling, his staff may not have been able to communicate to him about the letter.

"We are waiting for him to return to Delhi so that we can apologise to the former president in person," Aparna Srivastava, public relations officer of the airline, said. "It is true that such a thing (frisking) has taken place," Kalam told reporters in Kochi.

The former President said, "The issue has been discussed in both Houses of Parliament. It is before Parliament now. How can I comment?" To a question if he was hurt by the incident, he quipped, "I am smiling."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eclipse will help India

B R Srikanth, Hindustan Times
Bangalore, July 21, 2009
First Published: 01:04 IST(21/7/2009)
Last Updated: 01:39 IST(21/7/2009)
Eclipse will help India’s satellite study the sun

The celestial event of the century on Wednesday will be special for Indian astronomers as it will spur the making of a new satellite that will help study the sun and try to figure out its impact on Earth’s weather.

The satellite Aditya (meaning sun in Sanskrit) will take shape on the basis of scientific data gathered during the solar eclipse on July 22. The studies will focus on the sun’s corona — the turbulent and blazing outer shell — which impacts weather on Earth. It will also help understand the impact of solar flares on the atmosphere.

Aditya, with an expected lifespan of 10 years, will be hurled into space in 2012, and placed in an orbit about 400 km from the Earth.

Aditya is billed as the most advanced satellite after SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), put into space in 1995 by the US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency.

It will be designed and rolled out jointly by scientists of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore.

“We will attempt to build a holistic picture of the sun-earth system and the inter-planetary medium (through the studies),” Prof Siraj Hasan, director, IIA, told the Hindustan Times on Monday.

From 2012-18, Aditya will be the only and most sophisticated spacecraft studying the sun. Another NASA satellite will follow suit in 2018.
© Copyright 2009 Hindustan Times

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sanskrit Newspaper Turns 40

Sanskrit newspaper turns 40
Express News Service
First Published : 20 Jul 2009 07:55:10 AM IST
Last Updated : 20 Jul 2009 09:50:13 AM IST
MYSORE: Sudharma, the world's only Sanskrit daily, published from Mysore celebrated its 40th year on Sunday.
A special anniversary issue was brought out to mark the occasion.
The newspaper's readership comprises mainly of Sanskrit scholars and students.

Sudharma has a daily circulation of about 2,000 copies and is mostly circulated through post. The paper, which strives to revive Sanskrit as a spoken language, has subscribers in countries like Japan and USA. "According to popular perception, Sanskrit, like Latin, is not spoken outside academia," said Ramchandra, a resident of Mysore," This is not true." The newspaper was launched by Kalale Nadadur Varadaraja Iyengar, a Sankrit scholar, in 1970. The purpose of the paper was to revive the Sanskrit language.

On its launch, many believed that the endeavour would fail. However, it did not. KV, Sampath Kumar, son of Varadaraja Iyengar, is the current editor of the paper.
Former chief justice of India MN Venkatachaliah, released the special edition.

In his address, Venkatachallaiah called for increased efforts to revive the language and aid its growth on par with the progress of science and technology. He said that the promotion
of Sanskri would help protect Indian culture and tradition.

"Science and technology is constantly evolving. The Indian culture and tradition is under threat by the growth of Information technology and biotechnology.

There is an urgent need to protect our culture and tradition for posterity and learning the Sankrit language would help," he said.

Shahid Kapoor Gets Rajiv Gandhi Award

Rajiv Gandhi award to Shahid Kapoor
By Team(20 July 2009 3:25 pm)

MUMBAI: The 12th Rajiv Gandhi Awards in the Best Actor category will be presented to Shahid Kapoor. Said Kapoor, "I could't believe my ears when I got the news about me being chosen for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi award. I think it's early in my career of getting this prestigious award. I am indeed humbled and honoured to have been chosen for the award."

The earlier recipients for this award have been Sunita Williams, Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan among others. The award function will be held in the second week of August.

Mary Kom gets Khel Ratna Award

Printed from
Mary Kom set to get Khel Ratna awardPTI 20 July 2009, 08:30pm IST

NEW DELHI: Four-time world champion woman boxer MC Mary Kom is all set to get the country's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, after getting the award selection committee's unanimous vote. "The committee has unanimously voted for Mary Kom and the recommendation has been sent to the Sports Ministry which will ratify it soon," a top official said.

The official said the name of Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh was also discussed but the committee ultimately decided on Mary Kom. "Vijender and wrestling's Olympic bronze medallist Sushil Kumar did come up for discussion but Mary Kom got the vote ultimately," the official revealed.

The 25-year-old mother of two from Manipur has won medals at all the five world championships held so far, including an unprecedented fourth successive gold in the event's last edition in China last year.

Apart from Mary Kom, another woman Indian boxer from Manipur L Sarita Devi (52kg), who was a silver medallist at last year's World Championships has been picked for the Arjuna award for 2008, the official revealed. "Besides, assistant national boxing coach Jaidev Bisht, who accompanied the team to Beijing Olympics has been selected for the Dronacharya award," he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) is learnt to have recommended the names of opener Gautam Gambhir and women's team captain Jhulan Goswmai for the Arjuna Award. Among the other sportspersons recommended for the Arjuna awards were Indian football team's defenders Mahesh Gawli and Deepak Mondal and midfielder Climax Lawrence.

Former women's Asian chess champion Tanya Sachdev and the prodigal Parimarjan Negi's names were also sent for the award. Double trap shooter Ranjan Sodhi, who missed the Olympic qualification despite a world record to his name, was among the three marksmen who were recommended for the Arjuna awards.

In athletics, discus thrower Krishna Poonia and 800m runner Sinimole Paulose were the names sent to the awards committee by their federation. The Khel Ratna, Arjuna awards and Dhyanchand awards committees are headed by former table tennis national champion Indu Puri, while the panel for Dronacharya awards is headed by G S Randhawa.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sanskrit in Texas UTD

Samskrita Bharathi instructor Murali Ram introduced students to Samskrita with a curriculum of basic phrases and conversation July 4 in the Engineering and Computer Science building.

Students say 'namaste' to Samskrita
Day-long class delves into ancient Indian language

By: Alex Ransom

Posted: 7/13/09

On July 4, some students said "namaste" for the first time in Sanskrita, the ancient classical language of India with UTD's new club Vivekananda Hindu Youth for Unity, Virtues and Action (YUVA.)

Sanskrit is the root of Hindi as Latin is the root of English, said Murali Ram, Sanskrit instructor from Samskrita Bharathi.

He taught the day-long, three-session conversation-oriented class on the language, also known as Sanskrit or Samskrit, which means perfected or polished.

Vivekananda Hindu YUVA plans to become an official UTD organization in the fall. Ramnath Kini, electrical engineering teaching assistant and group coordinator, created the organization with about seven other members to serve as an intellectual forum aimed at character building.The club has no hierarchy and everyone is considered a volunteer, Kini said. The name is derived from the influential Indian thinker, Swami Vivekananda, who helped popularize eastern thought in the western world, Kini said.

The language adheres to strict structural rules and is very systematic, which makes it useful for computer applications, Kini said. Rick Briggs, NASA researcher, wrote "Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence," which proposed that Sanskrit lends itself well as an artificial language that aids understanding natural language and issues with machine translation.

Today, few people speak the language. The Indian census states there were less than 50,000 fluent speakers in India in 1991. Kini said Germany has more Sanskrit scholars than some Indian states.The goal was to revive the old language as a spoken one, Ram said. Most of the students who came to learn Sanskrit spoke Hindi, which served as a helpful basis."It's hard for me as well (to learn)," said Hemal Thacker, business administration graduate student. "I can hear it and understand, but I don't know what to say back."

One of the starting phrases was "Mama nama" translates to "my name is" in English. By the end of the first session, participants were able to have basic conversation, introducing themselves, asking for the time and pointing things out.Laughter was encouraged at the interactive day camp as the class went through the fundamentals of the language. At one point, a student told another in Sanskrit that he was a book.Ram told the fable of "The Wise Crow" three times during each camp session to show how participants' comprehension increased, he said. In the final session, the class held skit presentations with several teams to illustrate the story of a clever, thirsty crow that dropped stones in a pot to raise the water level to take a drink.

Sanskrit is the original language of India's religious texts such as the Vedas, Sutra and Epics. The class did not focus on the "Shakespeare" level of Sanskrit present in those works, Ram said."(It's for) passion as a language, not the spiritual," Ram said. "We're seeing more demand for these classes."Students walked away with the tools to be able to learn the language themselves and enjoyed themselves doing it, Ram said.

Email Kini at for more information about Vivekananda Hindu YUVA or information about Sanskrit.
© Copyright 2009 The UTD Mercury

Friday, July 10, 2009

Are you Feeling Lost when Reading the Bhagavad Gita?

Look no further. Your troubles are at an end. The next time someone complains to you that they have trouble understanding the scriptures of Hindu philosophy (upanishads, chants, bhagavad gita), you can proudly say that you understand Sanskrit. Why? Because you attended Jahnavi 2009, a fun filled Sanskrit camp where you will feel the enjoyment of Sanskrit and no memorization of verbs and nouns (that's the best part).

Come feel the magic of Sanskrit in 3 days and become the expert you wanted to be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Come and discover Kasargod, Karnataka

Kasargod, Jun 24: Here is a school that has imbibed and perhaps, surpassed the multi-linguistic culture of the district. Come to the municipal town government upper primary school in the town to see for yourself the example of unity in diversity. The school houses students who speak twelve different languages and study many of them too. It is apt that it is located in Kasargod district, where people speaking in different languages live in.

The district has always come to be known as a confluence of people from all parts of India. As the district borders Karnataka, a big chunk of the people living in the district follow the culture and traditions of the coastal Karnataka and even now, scores of people make a beeline to Mangalore for commerce, education and health services. Kasargod also has a sizeable NRI population.
Kasargod municipal upper primary school teaches Kannada, Malayalam, Marati, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Konkani, Urdu, Tulu, English, Sanskrit and Arabian languages to its students. Even so, there are students whose mother tongue is different, but they have chosen to study local languages Kannada or Malayalam. The school is nearing its centenary celebrations now.

The school looks like mini India, with people from various backgrounds and mother tongues studying together. Another school which can be compared to this school in terms of languages taught, is Bovikkana UP school where students learning Kannada, Malayalam, Urdu, Arabian, Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Kodava, Tulu, Sanskrit and Tamil languages are studying in a single class. There are also a few other schools in the district, where as many as seven to eight languages are being taught.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How Important is Sanskrit Anyway?

Here is a site which tracks what words and phrases have made their way into our common life. Or maybe the lives of people living in India. But I am sure you have heard them or perhaps you can adopt one of them as a tattoo...check it out!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sanskrit Camp July Long Weekend

Please look at the Sanskrit camps for adults and youth posted on

There is a West Coast adult camp during the July Long weekend for the USA (not Canada's long weekend)

There is a West Coast youth camp

There is an East Coast youth camp

There will be an East Coast Family Camp probably during Labour Day (same for USA and Canada) yeah!

Lights on Sri Krishna

This is a great song. I love the lyrics. Can be used for anyone you think helps you out in life.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

World Record for Annamacharya Singing

Hyderabad, May 10 (IANS) A whopping 160,000 people sang in chorus seven keerthanas, or hymns in praise of god, of Telugu saint-poet Thallapaka Annamacharya here Sunday evening, and broke a 70-year-old world record.A representative of the Guinness Book of World Records announced that the previous record is broken at the grand spiritual musical event, organised to mark the 601st birth anniversary of Annamacharya.
“I have great pleasure in announcing that more than 70 years later the record has been broken,” said Guinness Book representative Raymond Marshal amid thunderous applause at the sprawling Parade Grounds in Secunderabad, Hyderabad’s twin city.
He also presented the certificate from Guinness Book of World Records to state Minister for Finance K. Rosaiah.
It was on Aug 2, 1937, that 60,000 people sang the national anthem in Germany to set the world record.
The programme, ‘Laksha Gala Sankirthanarchana’, was organised jointly by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the Andhra Pradesh state cultural council and Andhra Silicon.
The organisers said 160,000 people sang the keerthanas in one voice.
Renowned Carnatic musician M. Balamurali Krishna, singer Kavitha Krishnamurthy and her husband L. Subramanyam and Garimella Balakrishna Prasad led 160,000 singers, both professionals and amateurs. Telugu actor Nagarjuna, who acted in film “Annamayya”, was also present.
Annamacharya, who was born in 1408, composed 32,000 Sankeerthans eulogising Lord Venkateswara.
The TTD, which manages the affairs of the Lord Venkateshwara temple at Tirumala, is organising Annamacharya’s 601st birth anniversary celebrations on a grand scale.
TTD chairman D.K. Audikesavulu Naidu announced that Tallapaka, the birthplace of Annamacharya in Kadapa district, will be developed as a major spiritual centre.
The TTD is also making efforts to propagate Keerthanas of the first Telugu lyric poet worldwide by organising spiritual programmes, including group rendering of Sankeerthans and lectures on his literary works.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cooking Stove That Saves Fuel!

A cooking stove that not only cooks faster, saves fuel but also reduces harmful emissions by 80%. This is the promise of the stoves manufactured by Envirofit India Pvt. Ltd, part of the Shell Group. And they have already found 50,000 takers in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Eliminating the dependence of poor people on gas and electricity, both of which are expensive and hard to come by in rural areas, the Envirofit stoves work on wood which is easier to collect. By working on a fuller combustion model and using heat insulating material, they reduce cooking time by as much as 40% as compared to traditional three stone stoves. However, at a retail price of a minimum of Rs.700 for a single pot burner, they might still be a little unaffordable for the large population living below poverty line. Envirofit aims to bring down this price to Rs. 500 in order to cater to this segment as well.
Poornima Mohandas reports in Mint:
The retail channel in south India sure seems ready. Sadathulla, a home appliances retailer in Gundalpet, says he sells more Envirofit stoves in a month than kerosene, electric or gas stoves.
With a reported 1.6 million deaths globally due to the use of solid biomass fuels, 400,000 of which are in India itself, it appears that the Envirofit stove could not have arrived sooner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shammi Kapoor Gets Phalke Award

This is one of those awards which carry a lot of weight. We are talking about the Dadasaheb Phalke awards, which are conferred by the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy. This year’s recipient will include veterans Manoj Kumar and Shammi Kapoor. According to reports, an award function will be organised on May 4, which will also commemorate the 140th birth anniversary of Dadasaheb Phalke. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt will be the chife guest on the occasion.
The academy is also planning to honour the late Prithviraj Kapoor as well and he will be presented with the Phalke Kalpatru Award and it is being expected that his children and grandchildren will be present on the occasion to accept the honour. Manoj Kumar will be conferred the Phalke Ratna Award, Shammi Kapoor the Phalke Legend Actor Award, and playback singer of yesteryears, Shamshad Begum with the Phalke Golden Singer Award. Among contemporary directors, Ashutosh Gowariker will receive the Phalke Memorable Commercial Film Award. The Dadasaheb Phalke Academy is an all India body which consists of 38 cine associations, which has so honoured more than 55 film personalities, including Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar and BR Chopra since 2000.

Sanskrit Tattoos....Should They Be Correct?

Hinduism pro livid over stars’ misspelled Sanskrit tattoos

April 21st, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by ANI

London, April 21 (ANI): A Hinduism expert has urged tattoo artists all over the world to get elementary training in Sanskrit and its culture before making tattoos based on the ancient language.
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, is insisting celebrities who carry tattoos in the ancient language to go “beyond the fashion statement and indulge in serious study of rich philosophical thought”, reports the Sun.
The plea comes in wake of growing number of misspelled Sanskrit tattoos, especially in the cases of celebrities such as Rihanna and David Beckham.
Expert Mark Fielden had previously claimed Rihanna’s latest tattoo, inspired by the holy text of Gita, was “incorrectly written”.
Similarly, Beckham’s tattoo which is meant to say Victoria in Sanskrit is also spelled wrong. (ANI)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting Better at Sanskrit

Here's an easy way to get better at Sanskrit. Why not subscribe to the world's most fascinating Sanskrit magazine? It has news about what is going on in the world of Sanskrit all over the world. Even over on this side of the pond in a section called America Vaartaa. No where else will you find such riveting and entertaining ways to keep in touch with your culture.

Here is the cover of an issue.
Here is the link to order now. Try it for one year. Even if you don't read it, you can sleep at nights, knowing you are supporting the home country in its efforts to keep Sanskrit.
Try it, you'll like it!
And here's a short video of what your kids will be able to do with Sanskrit classes. Email me to start them in your area today!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Samskrit in the Modern World

Shri Chamu Krishna Shastry is currently in the USA giving this lecture.
Please go to to see details of his itinerary for this visit which ends on April 14, 2009.

Why Samskrit in the Modern World?
As the world enters a space age, what is the relevence of a language from pre-historic times?
Please join us for a talk by Sri Krishna Shastry, one of the founders of famed educational institute Samskrit Bharati, on relevence of Sanskrit in 21st century.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Many people have different ideas about Shri Ram and the Ramayanam. Shri Ram had a difficult life. The day he was to be coronated as king, he was told he had to go live in the forest for 14 years. He never got angry at his fate for one moment. Every difficulty was an opportunity to realize his spiritual Self.

He did get a lot of wisdom from visiting sages in the forest during that time. Of course the last 2 years of the 14 were the most trying. The worst person in the world captured his wife Sita. Rama had to get to his place which was difficult to get to over large bodies of water. Then, he had to defeat someone who used sorcery as his main weapon. Rama did in fact defeat the demon and release Sita from what was the worst 10 months in both of their lives. Yet they came out of it.

Being a good king was his next task. It is often difficult to weigh personal dharma and the collective right of the society. Society is of course full of idiots with their own personal idiotic opinions. Unfortunately, kings have to deal with this. As do we all. Doing the "right" thing is often difficult to determine. Searching within is the only answer. Still you might end up doing the wrong thing. The only way out of this is prayer.

As Shri Ram's birthday is here, let us all offer a prayer every day to help us proceed in line with our conscious. Don't do anything that you have to hide!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shri Ram

Arun Govil did a great job of representing Shri Ram. So as we get closer to Shri Ramanavami or the birthday of Shri Ram, it is nice to watch this great representation of him. In fact, I have always found that paintings of Shri Ram always do an injustice to him. They usually paint him as a little on the effeminate side. But he was a muscular man like Arun Govil, I think. That seems more reasonable for a guy that has to walk through the forest and suffer the toughness of forest life, right?

Here is a photo that seems to be a better representation:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Indian Scientists Discover New Types of Bacteria


Indian Scientists Discover new types of Bacteria

Up until very recently, it was believed that Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun can inhibit, or even prevent, formation and continuance of life. However, a team of Indian Scientists, led by the eminent Jayant Narlikar, has discovered 3 new types of bacteria which are UV resistant. What is even more fascinating is that this experiment has shown that life exists even 40 km above Earth’s surface!

Elvis and Shammi

Everybody knows Elvis Presley. However not everybody knows that Shammi Kapoor the Indian actor from the 1950’s and 60’s had a hard time being accepted in the indian film industry and gave 17 flop films before getting a make over. He got a new hair cut and went rock and roll. After this there was no looking back for him.
It is interesting that the advent of Rock and Roll with the Elvis style and Shammi Kapoor's style came around the same time to both continents. Although Elvis was a performer first and actor second and Shammi Kapoor was an actor only. Shammi Kapoor had Mohammed Rafi's voice as playback in most of his movies. Rock and Roll was then introduced to Indian audiences. As well, many songs had tunes lifted from Western Pop Songs. They showed up unsuspectingly with changed lyrics in Hindi movies.
What does this have to do with being a better person, you ask?
Authenticity, authenticity, authenticity is what makes a better person. Be yourself. No one could do Shammi the way he did and don't even try. He always will be Shammi Kapoor. This guys movies can beat the worst depression. Guaranteed!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Moser Baer Indian?

What is Moser Baer? What kind of name is this for a company based in India?
I just wondered. Perhaps there is some justification for this company making the DVD version of the Ramayan of Ramanand Sagar? I wonder.

Well, they cut out all the important scenes. They seem to be quite the scholars of Hindu purana because they chose where to cut scenes. It is the most annoying piece of dvd that you could watch. Just as Rama brings his arrow out in all force to do something....bang, it cuts to some other story....wait, wait... us Ramayan fans really, really want to know what happens to this arrow that has been showered with the strength of his tapas. It is not just an ordinary bow and arrow, Mr. Moser and Mr. Baer should know this...well, just go and buy the DVD series made by another company and save yourself hours of agony trying to find something to throw at your screen because valuable scenes have been lost......oh well.. such is the price of allowing McDonalds in to the country in the first place. But that story waits for another day, boys and girls.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Love with Sanskrit?

In love with Sanskrit
Jackie Pinto

Prof Byrski, former Polish Ambassador to India, is a Sanskrit scholar
I always had a yen for learning languages and my mother urged me to pick a language that was not so common. When the time came to choose, I scrolled down the list and zeroed in on Sanskrit because back there in Warsaw, it didn’t get more exotic and unconventional than that.

Therein began my journey and a tryst with Indian culture and tradition that I have since explored and promoted back in my country where I teach Polish students Sanskrit,” says Prof Byrski, former Polish Ambassador to India, who holds a PhD in Sanskrit studies.His conversation flows with the ease of a linguist and is liberally peppered with erudite phrases in Sanskrit or Hindi.

’’I received a scholarship to study at the Benares Hindu University and I plunged into the life and culture of my surroundings with a passion.” He has translated both the Kamasutra and the Manusmriti into Polish and is a fan of Bollywood films.

”Indian cinema is deeply rooted in ancient Sanskrit drama. Indian tastes and sensibilities haven’t really changed over the centuries. There must be a great deal of emotion and heightened melodrama, enough to make your veins burst and your hair stand on end. The old formula of boy meets girl, songs and dances, good and bad characters, all the masala must be there but it can be refined and packaged in a much more elegant fashion. There is no need to copy the Western style of movie-making but there is also no need to be crude and stereotypical,” he opines.

’’I don’t have a favourite film star but one of my favourite movies is Satyam Shivam Sundaram.’’Prof Byrski runs classes in Sanskrit and verse-chanting back home in Poland and one of his protegees came to India as a seven-year-old boy studied the language in Varanasi and is now a master of Sanskrit himself, teaching in Warsaw at Byrski’s School.

He sees himself as an Ambassador of India in Poland and visits as often as he can, although he lives and works in Warsaw.

Friday, February 20, 2009

OBAMA in Ottawa!!! Beaver Tails are Obama Tails!

Obama stops for maple cookies in Ottawa
Ottawa, AFP:
Obama left with a keychain and maple cookies offered to him by a French-born baker who refused to accept payment. "It's for your daughters," said the baker at Le Moulin de Provence in the ByWard Market.
US President Barack Obama made a surprise stop at a historic farmer's market for maple cookies and keepsakes for his daughters, on his first official trip to Canada.Pandemonium ensued as crowds of friendly Canadians surged to greet the US president, snapping pictures, according to a pool report.
"I was looking for a key chain and a snow globe for my daughters," he said, adding he was continuing a tradition started during his election campaign, picking up memorabilia at every stop.
"I figure I'd get some points from my daughters," he said.
Obama left with a keychain and maple cookies offered to him by a French-born baker who refused to accept payment. "It's for your daughters," said the baker at Le Moulin de Provence in the ByWard Market. "It's not for you."
Established by Lieutenant-Colonel John By in 1826, the ByWard Market is one of Canada's oldest and largest public markets.
The builder of the Rideau Canal, By himself laid out the street plan of the market, designating extra wide streets to accommodate a public market and gathering place.