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Keeping Sanskrit alive

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K.V. Sampath Kumar
K.V. Sampath Kumar

Muralidhara Khajane

‘Sudharma’, the only Sanskrit daily in the country, celebrated its 38th year recently

MYSORE: Sanskrit was the lingua franca of the intellectuals in ancient India. A desire to keep the language alive coupled with a passion for journalism has helped a senior journalist here to try hard to keep a Sanskrit daily afloat.

From its press at Ramachandra Agrahara, Sudharma, the only Sanskrit daily in the country, is catering to Sanskrit scholars and students for the last 38 years without a break. Despatched mainly through post, the daily sells around 2,000 copies. Readers from across the country as well as a few abroad subscribe to it.

Sudharma is being read at Sanskrit Vidyapeethas, academics institutions, Kendriya Vidyalayas and public libraries in States such as Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Rajasthan. A few readers from countries such as Japan and the U.S also subscribe to the paper. Over the years, Sudharma has helped a number of readers to hone their language skills.

The newspaper was started with an intention to propagate Sanskrit. The paper was launched in 1970 by Sanskrit scholar Kalale Nadadur Varadaraja Iyengar. Several readers have been patronising the paper since its launch. The annual subscription for the paper is a meagre Rs. 250.

Though revenue from the paper is negligible, its editor K.V. Sampath Kumar, son of Mr. Iyengar, is bringing out the paper only because of his passion for journalism and to propagate the language.

Mr. Iyengar, who had taken up publishing Sanskrit works, decided to start a newspaper in the language to make use of the Sanskrit types that were lying idle with him. He received support from his contemporaries such as Agaram Rangaiah, editor of Saadhvi, a Kannada newspaper of the colonial times with nationalist outlook, and P. Nagachar, former Joint Director of Information.

Despite much scepticism, Mr. Iyengar started the newspaper on July 14, 1970 to cater to scholars who desired to read a newspaper in the language they loved.

It is said that Mr. Iyengar later convinced the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting I.K. Gujral to start a daily Sanskrit bulletin on All India Radio.

For Mr. Kumar, who undertakes odd jobs in printing to keep the paper alive, help has not come from any quarter.

The paper celebrated its 38th anniversary last Sunday.

A salient feature of a function organised on the occasion was that most of the speakers spoke eloquently and effortlessly in Sanskrit. Sanskrit scholars, Kokkada Venkataramana Bhat of Mandya and Ambella Narayana Sharma of Virajpet, were honoured.

H.V. Nagaraja Rao said that even the well-intentioned ones had doubts if Sanskrit language as a medium had vocabulary enough to cover the contemporary and complex day-to-day activities and developments.

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