Perhaps the most beautiful, intriguing and most spiritual among all the thousands of languages being spoken on the earth is Sanskrit, called devanagari , meaning "the language of gods."
Grammarians have identified Sanskrit to be the "mother of most European languages," and traced their development through the ages back to this fascinating language. Although its writing system is very intimidating for a Westener, it is not as hard as it appears in the beginning. Unlike English, Sanskrit has a highly inflected grammatical structure, which contributes to a great consciseness of the language. What one can express in Sanskrit in one word, an English speaker often would need four to six or even more words to express the same idea.
The greatest works of world literature have been composed in Sanskrit, going back thousands of years. The great epic Mahabharata is becoming quite widely known in the West, mainly due to the immense popularity of its tiny segment which forms the Bhagavad Gita -- The Song of the Lord.
The secret teachings of the ancient Himalayan sages, the 108 main Upanishads, are said to had been revealed to them thousands of years ago, and since that time these teachings in Sanskrit have been faithfully passed orally from an accomplished teacher to a deserving student, in a long, uninterrupted lineage of the Himalayan masters for thousands of years.
Although there are a number of Sanskrit textbooks available to the interested student, one quickly finds out that it is an impossible task to learn this language on one's own: a teacher is absolutely necessary.
In the past decade there has been a growing interest among Americans in the science of yoga, meditation, the eastern philosophy, stress management, holistic medicine, etc. Various organizations across the United States are doing much to give classes and lectures on these and related topics to the general public. Due to this growing interest in these areas, the number of people in Buffalo and Western New York interested in learning Sanskrit has been increasing.
The Rishikesh Foundation is taking reservations for a "Learning Sanskrit" class, which will meet on Wednesdays, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm.
Those seriously interested should call John Zavrel at 759-6078 for more information.
Textbook to be used in the course:
Devavanipravesika: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language, by Robert Goldman
If you have practiced yoga meditation for some time, or are interested in the literature of India, it is very helpful for one to be able to read the Sanskrit script.
It is not easy to learn it by oneself from books, and therefore I have prepared an audio tape with several charts to facilitate the process. Actually, it is not as hard as it seems. If you spend 45 minutes a day learning it, in 2 &endash; 3 weeks you will have mastered the basic 49 signs and sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet.
At the Rishikesh Foundation, we have weekly Sanskrit classes for beginners.
If you are unable to attend our classes, but would at least like to learn the Sanskrit script, you can now order the tape 'SANSKRIT ALPHABET' by sending a $ 15 donation to:
10545 Main Street
Clarence, New York 14031 (USA)
Attn.: John Zavrel
You will find this to be a very rewarding experience, which may be also helpful in your future meditation practice.
In service of the guru lineage
May we recommend some books?
Mantra and Meditation, by Dr. Usharbudh Arya
Living with the Himalayan Masters, by Swami Rama