KOZHIKODE: Polish may be the language that came naturally to them, but Sanskrit is the language they fell in love with.
Meet Ilona Kedzia and Maria Drobniak, two young Polish postgraduate students at the Sanskrit Department of the University of Calicut. It is evident from their words that they came here not just to learn about Indian culture but to fulfil a long standing dream.
Both of them come from Krakow, the second largest city in Poland. They graduated in Indology, which deals with the culture, history, language and literature of the Indian subcontinent and it brought them close to ancient Indian culture and its traditional values. Now they are well-versed in Indian philosophy, yoga, ayurveda, and various religious texts. “We got admission in the university through a scholarship offered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). ICCR offers a chance for foreign students to experience the ‘unity in diversity’ of India,” said 24-year-old Maria Drobniak.
Ilona is disappointed that very few students from Kerala take up Sanskrit for their higher studies. “It may be because they are not well aware of the research prospects and other academic endeavours that they can carry out with Sanskrit,” she said. And it is not just Sanskrit that they are limited to. “Indology is more or less the science of India. So we have studied a little bit of many Indian languages including Hindi and Tamil,” she added.
They are planning to pursue research after their post graduation. Both have already decided their respective fields of research. While Ilena is interested in traditional Ayurveda, Maria looks forward to doing research about the Hindu sect Aghori. “As part of my study I just made a visit to Varanasi to collect information about these people. I have a long-term goal to translate religious texts associated with this community,” said Maria. “I also want to learn how to
play tabla which was one of my dreams before I came to India. But I still cannot
find a teacher,” she added. They may have adapted to the food and weather in Kerala but the classes at the university taken entirely in Sanskrit is taking them a bit longer to get used to. “We used Polish translated texts of Sanskrit so we are not much familiar with usage of the language. Here the medium of instruction is Sanskrit and students take out notes in it. Hope we can come up to their level very soon,” Illona said, adding that the people of Kerala are sincere and helpful.
by Anto P Cheerotha