SAFIC AND SANSKRIT
Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC) is dedicated to the propagation of Sanskrit language through its various projects and activities undertaken on several forums.
Guided by the mission given by the Mother – “Every child born in India should know Sanskrit, just as every child born in France has to know French”, SAFIC started SAMSKRITA BĀLAPARIVĀRA YOJANA as one of the key activities undertaken by Samskrita Bālasāhitya Parishad. This is an innovative programme dedicated to making Sanskrit learning fun and creative for children.
Under this programme, Sanskrit is taught to pre-primary and primary grade level children through a variety of fun games and activities, verses of practical wisdom, rhyming songs, simple and inspiring stories, conversation, shlokas, arts, hymns and various other creative activities. The programme is run via an equally innovative delivery model.
- Teaching-learning happens at specially organised Children’s Sanskrit Centers, which are managed and run by specially trained teachers.
- Each Center is managed entirely by one specially trained teacher.
- These Centers may be organised at a neighbourhood school, teacher’s home, or any other appropriate place to be identified by the teacher.
- Students of pre-primary group (ages 4-6; grades Nursery to First) and primary group (ages 7-10; grades Second to Fifth) are recruited and enrolled in separate batches.
- Each Center offers two 8-month-long courses – one for pre-primary batch and the other for primary batch. The course is divided into 2 semesters – January to April and July to October.
WHY LEARN SANSKRIT?
- Sanskrit, one of the most systematic languages of the world, can instill a sense of systematic inquiry and healthy curiosity.
- Sanskrit, as many conscious learners have experienced, generates joy, clarity, purity and peace.
- Sanskrit harmonises, attunes and balances the body, mind and soul. It fills the heart and mind with a sense of immortality.
- Sanskrit opens us to the rich treasures that our ancient scriptures are – the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Itihasas, and a vast body of other spiritual, religious, literary, scientific and a wide range of secular literature.
- The most practical value of learning Sanskrit is that it trains the mind to think logically, brings clarity of expression, develops intellectual strength, and provides keen insight into the meanings of the words.
- The vibrational quality of Sanskrit has a direct impact on the functioning of the brain, and can help in enhancing memory and concentration ability.
- The natural flow of Sanskrit is known to improve the voice quality and self-confidence.
- Sanskrit also facilitates a better grasp of the mechanics of other languages and scripts.
- Sanskrit opens the mind to a wide variety of concepts, making the learners liberal in their views.
- Sanskrit helps in the growth of consciousness and has immense power in bringing a greater transformation.
SANSKRIT FOR EMPOWERMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
SAFIC’s approach to teaching and learning of Sanskrit is inspired by the innate powers and potentialities of Sanskrit language.
- We focus on Sanskrit learning for the overall development and empowerment of the learner.
- We provide a holistic learning experience by engaging the learner’s energy, memory, interest, communication and concentration.
- We facilitate a constant inner growth by facilitating the development of learner’s faculties of observation and awareness.
- We approach Sanskrit learning through a variety of games, innovative activities, verses of practical wisdom, rhyming songs, simple and inspiring stories, practical conversation, shlokas, arts, hymns and various other fun activities.
- Our approach also highlights another key aspect of Sanskrit, namely, its ability to encourage children to become silence-conscious.
At present we are working with the second batch of students under the Samskrita Bālaparivāra Yojana. The classes happen at Society House, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, every Saturday from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. The current batch has eight students, ages ranging from 5 to 11 years, attending different schools in town. Additionally, two students from Auroville also attend the class.
My teaching revolves around a variety of simple shlokas, mantras, songs, activities, and stories. It is emphasised that while pronouncing the words of a shloka, children learn to observe inner feeling inside the body.
The sessions are conducted in play way method, which makes the classes enjoyable for the children. One key activity at the start of the semester is about learning the deeper meanings of children’s names.
The present batch of students is especially active, so there is always a lot of fun in our classroom. Children especially enjoy performing variety of actions with the songs, as well as many other activities that require them to move around and have fun while learning. As a teacher I stay fully engaged with the children, participating in all the activities and moving around with the group and performing all the fun actions as we learn and sing songs.
One of the children from the class recently shared how he enjoys learning new things such as morning Vandana, and the practice of saying Namaste instead of good morning. He also shared that he felt his power of concentration and memory have improved since he started learning Sanskrit. Most importantly, he was happy that because of learning Sanskrit he can now recognise and understand some Hindi words even though his mother tongue is Tamil.
FEEDBACK FROM PARENTS
The youngest child in the group, a first-grader, is a keen observer of all the action and activities going on in the class. He is very attentive as he carefully observes and practices the pronunciation of words that the older children in the class learn and practice.
Recently, his mother proudly shared that after reaching home, he has been asking her to sit in front of him and pretend to be his student. He would then begin teaching Sanskrit to her, repeating whatever he picked up in the class. He would recite all that he remembered of the shlokas, songs and stories from the class. The mother was very happy and said that with the help of her child she too is now learning Sanskrit.
Another child’s father shared that he was happy that because of this Sanskrit learning his child was now also picking up some Indian cultural values.
A FEW FINAL WORDS
As a Sanskrit teacher, I find my work with Samskrita Bālaparivāra Yojana very fulfilling. We are also reaching out to schools in Auroville to start Sanskrit classes there. Some work has already begun in a couple of schools.
I hope that in the years to come our work will expand, with more such Sanskrit teaching-learning centers established in other parts of the town and also in other cities across India.
For a report of the first batch’s end-of-semester presentation, click HERE.
Cover image collage: Ranjana Swain