Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), a unit of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, in collaboration with Bharatiya Samskriti Parishad, Kolkata, organized a workshop and seminar on Sanskrit for children, held on November 9th and 10th, 2013. Dr Sampadananda Mishra, Director—SAFIC, facilitated the workshop for the children on November 9. The workshop was attended by 25 children in the age group of 5 to 15, to learn basic Sanskrit with fun. The children enjoyed learning body parts in Sanskrit, some sentences for day-to-day use, singing and playacting on songs in Sanskrit, playing memory and other games in Sanskrit.
In the Seminar on the next day (10th November), there were 11 invited speakers who spoke on various topics related to teaching Sanskrit to the children of various age groups.
After the formal inauguration of the Seminar by lighting lamps and invocation, the welcome address was given by Sri Rajgopal of Bharatiya Samskriti Parishad. Dr Sampadananda Mishra provided the introduction to the seminar in which he explained the need for teaching Sanskrit at the primary level and SAFIC’s programmes on creating innovative Sanskrit learning materials for children. Dr Mishra highlighted that Sanskrit has immense potential in developing the inner faculties of learning, and therefore it is always beneficial if it can be taught to the children from nursery level. He expressed his disappointment that in India barring one or two there are no mainstream schools that provide Sanskrit at the nursery and primary level.
At the inaugural session, a panellist spoke on the importance of Sanskrit in achieving the objectives of True Education. In his talk he stressed upon teaching of Sanskrit at all levels, especially in the former classes, keeping the aim of holistic education in mind. It was followed by a fabulous PowerPoint presentation in which he highlighted the necessity of Sanskrit in a child’s education. The presentation was highly informative and was well received by the participants. Another panellist spoke elaborately on the difficulties and problems in teaching Sanskrit at the primary level and provided many solutions for making Sanskrit teaching practical and effective.
In the next session, emphasis was laid on the usefulness of retelling the Puranik stories in a simple Sanskrit to facilitate Sanskrit learning at the primary levels. The next expert spoke on the contemporary Sanskrit education for the children in the present scenario. In his talk he mentioned about the contributions of organizations such as Sri Aurobindo Ashram/Society, Samskrita Bharati, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, and Sri Ramakrishna Mission in bringing Sanskrit to the children. Next a paper was presented on making Sanskrit relevant to children in the present times, and the important contribution of some of the westerners in teaching Sanskrit to the children in the foreign lands. The last speaker of this session spoke on the Sanskrit education in the ancient times. In his talk he highlighted the importance of educating a girl child as it was prevalent in ancient India.
A panellist from West Bengal State University spoke on Sanskrit usage in multiple value education sayings and quotes in India. The last speaker of the seminar spoke on various poetic devices used by the modern poets in creating children’s literature in Sanskrit.
In the concluding session, Dr Sampadananda Mishra thanked the participants on behalf of SAFIC for their efforts to attend and contribute to the growth of Sanskrit with their thoughts and ideas. He also thanked the members of Bharatiya Samskriti Parishad for hosting the workshop and the seminar. As a concluding remark, Dr Mishra pointed out the need for a greater collaboration of dedicated Sanskrit educationists and experts for bringing Sanskrit to every child of India. He also pointed out that it is this language that can connect the Indian children with the glorious past of their country.
The exhibition materials prepared by SAFIC on ‘Sanskrit & Science’ and ‘Why Children Should Learn Sanskrit’ were exhibited at the venue on both the days. This was viewed by all those who came to participate and visit Bharatiya Samskriti Parishad.
In a related though independent workshop, Dr Sampadananda Mishra was in Lucknow from November 12 to 20 to help the Sanskrit teachers of Seth MR Jaipuria School in teaching Sanskrit to the children from nursery to class eight. This is the one of the very few mainstream schools in India that has Sanskrit as a compulsory language for all children up to class eight.
The exhibition materials prepared by SAFIC on ‘Sanskrit & Science’ and ‘Why Children Should Learn Sanskrit’ were exhibited in the School too as a part of their exhibition-day celebration. Hundreds of visitors, including the students and their parents, came to the various exhibitions put up by the students of the school. The set of exhibition materials prepared by SAFIC was one of the main attractions on that day.