Sanskrit as a career option in India: A big challenge
By Royan Ranjan, INN, Chennai, @infodeaofficial;
“Sanskrit as a career option is a real challenge in the country of its origin: India”. This is summed up by Wharton Business school alumni Vijya Vishwanath, who is currently put up in Chennai for her children's Sanskrit education.
It was her love for Sanskrit which brought Vijya and her family to India from the USA in 2010. She and her two kids Siddhartha (16) and Ashok (10) lived in Pennsylvania before moving to Chennai. Vijya was running a pharmaceutical counselling firm in America along with with her husband, who runs an engineering consultant firm in USA.
Once on a trip to India, she met a seer in Rishikesh, who inspired her to read the Bhagwat Geeta, Upanishads and other holy texts. Thus developed her love for Sanskrit, which she passed on to her children. They learnt the nuances of Sanskrit through Samskrita Bharati's Distance Learning Program.
Love for Sanskrit and their Indian culture did not ring a bell with the prevalent pop culture in the USA and the children stopped going to school. It was then that Vijya decided to come back to India.
Back in Chennai she got her kids admitted to a local school but she wasn't happy with the curriculum there. They then opted for an online course in Sanskrit from Stanford University.
Lacunae in methodology
Speaking to Infodea, Vijya says even in India it’s difficult to find good institutions to pursue Sanskrit education. “The methodology of teaching Sanskrit needs a huge change and renovation. Sanskrit is taught in Hindi or regional languages, whereas it should be taught in Sanskrit”, she said.
Vijya says the education system in India different which compels student to go through the same routine... “this doesn’t let their inner skill or interests to develop. It is high time we go for a complete overhaul of our education pattern. I think a home schooling approach would help certain families...”.
Vijya says that one can follow what he/she thinks is important to their core values and interests. Childhood is a great time to learn to be lifelong learners and not simply study for exams, she says. Home schooling allows the child to explore interest areas along with a the basis of modern education. Education system should nurture knowledge, passion and interest of kids, she says. “System should not force them to learn things; zeal to learn should come from their own”.
The struggle of her kids
Speaking with Infodea, Siddhartha and Ashok said in their initial days, they did not find too many teachers. They say the student has to work really hard to master the basics. “Unlike the West where there are courses advertised on the internet, online Sanskrit classes are usually not known to the general public. My suggestion to students would be to work hard and grasp the basics”.