For the second year in a row I am participating in the Blogchatter AtoZ challenge. Last year my theme was ‘My Village My Country’ where in I showcased the history and culture of India with specific focus on fields and places close to my heart. Later on it was made into a book and it is now available on Amazon.
This year for the AtoZ challenge I have chosen another theme which is very close to my heart. It is – ‘The Beauty of Sanskrit and Sanskrit Texts’. Needless to say, 99% of the ancient wisdom of India are availbel in Sanskrit texts, because it was the language of the intellectuals of India prior to Moghul invasion.
I am not a scholar of Sanskrit or Sanskrit literature. However, since childhood I have developed a passion for both Sanskrit and English literature. I find that while the average educated Indian knows a lot about English literature her knowledge about ancient Indian literature is dismal.
Whenever we think of Sanskrit literature it is the religious ones that usually come to our mind. It happens because we are more familiar with the religious ones. The religious ones are more widely discussed upon and commented upon. But there are a large number of non-religious texts in Sanskrit which are known only in limited circles and rarely do these make it to the popular discourse. Except of course books like Kamasutra.
Of course many are aware about popular texts like Ramayana, Mahabharata, or the Kamasutra. But there are hundreds of surviving texts about which I find that the awareness is dismal. Sometime even if a person has heard about the text, her idea about the text is very strange. It is in this context that my theme will be helpful in not only creating awareness about many hidden gems but also in dispelling the myths associated with some popular texts.
In spite of the fact that we have lost thousands of original compositions due to destructions of our books and other structures by the zealot invaders and our own negligence, the surviving ones may run into thousands. Some of these are original compositions on various topics and then there are a lot of books which are commentaries on these texts. I have stuck to the former only. Of course there are a number of commentaries which are unique books in their own right. For example Adi Sankaracharya has done extensive commentaries on texts like Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and many other texts. I have not considered these commentaries even though these are separate books on their own rights
Most of these books being out of copyright restrictions are freely available in the internet. The problem is that the free resources mostly consist of basic Sanskrit texts. Unless you are an expert in Sanskrit it will not be of any use to you. Secondly, wherever the translation or interpretations are available, from my personal experience I find that most of the freely available translations and interpretations are bizarre. More likely than not you may end up with a wrong idea about the book. Because of copyright issues most of the latest findings and interpretations are not available free of cost on internet. Even coming to the resources available online and offline for a price, most of the readers will have to depend upon translated versions of the texts. I will take up this issue in detail in a separate post.
By default each post will be about a book. But, there may be a few posts about particular common aspect of these ancient texts or about the Sanskrit language. I will resort to this especially when I do not find a proper book starting with that particular alphabet. In such cases it will also be an opportunity for me to pass on my general observations associated with ancient Sanskrit books and their interpretations.
Whenever there are multiple texts for a particular alphabet I will give preference to the one with which I am most familiar with. Further I will give preference to literature of non-religious nature over the religious ones. I will take care that a particular author or a particular subject is not repeated so as to cover all genres, types and classes of Sanskrit texts through these twenty six posts. At the end of each article I will also give a list of other texts that start with the same alphabet so as not to miss out mentioning all the ancient texts that I have at least heard of. I request the reader to point out in case I have missed mentioning any book so that it will be a learning experience for me as well.
Please do read my AtoZ posts and provide your feedback in the comment box. In case you do not want to miss my posts, do consider subscribing to my blog by providing your email at the appropriate box.
PS: These days some scholars insist on using ‘Samskrutam’ in stead of Sanskrit. But I am sticking to ‘Sanskrit’ since I am writing in English and till date this is how it is used in English language. Same way when we refer to the language in Odia we say ‘Samskruta’. These minor modifications in another language naturally occur to make any imported word fit in with the phonetics of the language. I don’t find anything wrong in these natural minor modifications.