It is a fascinating sight to come across a classical language such as Sanskrit trying to touch base with an Internet-age phenomenon such as blogging. A vibrant Sanskrit blogging community does exist on the Internet and is growing rapidly even though one cannot compare its size with other languages, since blogosphere too is nothing but an online representation of our offline society. What strikes a curious surfer visiting these blogs the most however is the sense of dedication and pride that the Sanskrit bloggers have for their work. On one hand they are enriching Sanskrit content available on the Internet, while on the other they are using blogging as a communication platform to exchange views in their beloved language and contribute to its revival.
Interestingly, Sanskrit bloggers are not scholarly pandits of the language flaunting their newfound love for technology but they are hardcore techies, Ph.D. scholars, academicians, corporate professionals and even foreigners. With their zealous efforts, Sanskrit has started to rid itself from the ‘yesteryears language’ label in the blog world while preparing to don a new image of being receptive to technology.
Among prominent Sanskrit bloggers are Ajit Krishnan of Seattle (kalidasa.blogspot.com), Himanshu Pota of Canberra (learnsanskrit.wordpress.com), Karthik Raman (samskrtam.wordpress.com), Kiran Paranjpe of Kalyan, Maharashtra (sanskrit-quote.blogspot.com), Koham of Callifornia (koham.wordpress.com) and Venetia Ansell of Oxford University (venetiaansell.wordpress.com). One can’t deny the fact that a host of Sanskrit blogs are predominantly religious in nature and many others focus on teaching the language to Sanskrit enthusiasts. However, as Sanskrit blogging graduates to maturity it is becoming fashionable to write on issues which are not inherently linked with religion and this way Sanskrit has started asserting its identity as an independent and growing language rather than as a linguistic tool of a particular religion. Many bloggers use Sanskrit to express their own creative thoughts or to post their opinions on issues of socio-political importance. One shouldn’t be surprised to come across some engaging conversations, interviews, debates, poetry and satire during his/her visits of the Sanskrit blogosphere.
As our society undergoes radical socio-economic transformations, Sanskrit blogging can’t remain untouched by the changes taking place in our thought process. Read Venetia Ansell’s interesting interviews if you want to have a feel of this change. When the blogger asks Kirtana Kumar, director of a play ‘Shakuntala’, as to why she chose the older Vyasa version of the myth over Kalidasa’s Shakuntala, Kirtana replies, “I love Kalidasa’s language but the device he uses – the ring and curse - didn’t interest me at all. I couldn’t relate to his telling of the story – post feminism, this just doesn’t work.”
Himanshu Pota, whose blog ‘Learn Sanskrit’ is very popular among students of the language is quite liberal with his comments on contemporary issues as well. Posting on Late Field Martial Sam Manekshaw’s death, he narrates his thrilling experience of incidentally meeting the gallant Field Martial immediately after he emerged victorious from the Bangladesh war of 1972, during a train journey from New Delhi to Hyderabad. Pota’s blog focuses on teaching Sanskrit, Sanskrit songs, grammar, words and old sayings and receives dozens of comments from language enthusiasts. His blog has received about 70,000 hits and one of his posts has more than 120 comments (some of them requests for spellings of certain names and Sanskrit words people want to get tattoed on their hands ). Enthused by increasing visits to his blog, Microsoft’s Ajit Krishnan is planning to introduce more multimedia content and movie reviews on his blog that already contains more than 200 posts.
Karthik, who runs a popular blog named ‘Sanskritam’ posts general musings in the language with a strong focus on Sanskrit sayings or ‘subhashitani.’ Curiously, the blog’s content is divided in about a hundred categories and it is religiously updated with ancient Sanskrit words of wisdom in the form of shlokas (hymns), their pronunciations and English translations.
Koham (who am I in Sanskrit, real name not known) is fascinated by the poetic beauty of Sanskrit language. A research scholar, he writes on various philosophical and spiritual issues and likes to post book reviews in Sanskrit. Gitabharati, a blog on Sanskrit poetry run by Yajushi (yaajushi.blogspot.com), Satya-yugam (satyayugam.blogspot.com) and Vyakaranam (srinilakshmi.wordpress.com) too are regulary updated and widely read.
Blogging has started paving way for some collaborated projects such as Vishvavani (vishvavani.blogspot.com), a Sanskrit e-magazine put together by students, faculty and alumni of prestigious US universities such as MIT, UMD, CMU, UPitt, PSU, UPenn, Caltech and Purdue. Edited by Sowmya Joisa and Avinash Varna, the magazine has been Hosted on the website of www.speaksanskrit.org, a non-profit organization spearheading a speak-Sanskrit movement in India, USA and other countries. Last issue of the magazine had an article on ancient Indian mathematics by Prabha Mandyam (Ph.D. student at Caltech), an article on on Swami Vivekananda by Harichandan Mantripragada, (Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University), and a travelogue by Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar (Associate Professor at Penn State University). Samskrit Patrika (samskritapatrika.blogspot.com), another e-magazine brought out by blogging enthusiasts, focuses light hearted content including satire and jokes. Slowly, but surely, the language of immortal scriptures is making its presence felt in the world of technology.