Thiruvananthapuram

Sanskrit as a bridge to Iran

Iranian linguist Morassa Sayadi—Photo: S. Gopakumar  

In an age where those belonging to different cultures find it increasingly difficult to empathise with each other, an Iranian scholar is striving to bring to light the long-forgotten cultural links between India and Iran.

Morassa Sayadi, a linguist specialising in Sanskrit, is planning to introduce to her fellow Iranians the figures that populate India’s rich mythological sphere through a Farsi translation of the Puranic Encyclopedia by Vettam Mani. She has also penned a book on the words common to both Farsi and Hindi, which will be published soon.

Many of the gods and goddesses of the Puranas, like Indra and Agni, had parallels in ancient Iran, she says. The ancient Iranian language of Avestan has numerous words in common with Sanskrit.

While such myths and linguistic usages disappeared from Iranian culture long ago, Sayadi realised that India has preserved these relics, inspiring her to undertake the task of rediscovering them.

Feels like home

Sayadi, a native of Faryab, a village in the Bushehr province of Iran, got to know the similarities between the ancient civilizations of her country and India when she was introduced to Sanskrit as a student of ancient languages.

Her fascination brought her to India, where she learned about the diverse cultures and languages that coexist here.

Within this blend, she found a home away from home, where she found familiar things like chapathi, samosa and dal.

Kerala, where she pursued her PhD in Sanskrit, has similarities with her native province, she says. The long and narrow alleyways, stained glass windows, woven straw baskets, mats and rugs, and teakwood furniture and more reminded her of home, letting her adapt to the new environment with ease. This did not come as a surprise, however, as she was aware of the strong trade relations Bushehr had had with Malabar four to five centuries ago.

Although Sayadi returned to Bushehr in 2014 after completing her PhD from the University of Kerala, her love for this second home brought her back this year. Presently, she is pursuing post-doctoral research on the documentation of Sanskrit at Kerala University.

While the Malayali family she resides with in Thiruvananthapuram treats her like one of their own, the students of the university she teaches at in Bushehr are curious to learn about India from her.

Learning a new language, she says, can work miracles in a world where people tend to forget their shared ancestry and heritage.


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 3:18:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/Sanskrit-as-a-bridge-to-Iran/article16668831.ece

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