HYDERABAD: The Prapancha Telugu Mahasabhalu, being hosted by the Telangana government, is a landmark event that celebrates the importance of language and it is time other states emulated it, feels Sanskrit scholar, poet and thinker, Satya Vrat Shastri.The 87-year-old Jnanpith awardee from Delhi, while taking part in the World Telugu Conference, said that in the current times when the importance of protecting a language was being pushed to the background, events such as these help revive the greatness of the language. “Telugu is a rich language that is derived from Sanskrit,” he said.
Initiated into the study of Sanskrit by his father Charu Deva Shastri, he was only 11 when his first poem in Sanskrit was published. While he was in conversation with Express here on Monday, he was at ease, taking inferences from Sanskrit poems while explaining the importance of understanding and protecting any language.
“As we evolve as people, the importance and demand for certain disciplines simply fade away. Linguistics is one such subject. We choose our professions as per our needs and, today, telecommunication and information technology is the rage,” pointed out the linguist who also is particularly inspired by Nannaya Bhattu, one of the earliest known Telugu poets who wrote in Sanskrit.
The Shastri, also a Sahitya Akademi awardee, pointed out that events such as the Prapancha Telugu Mahasabhalu help preserved the glory of any language. “A lot gets lost in evolution and when people from so many different places meet and exchange ideas, they will come up with ways to keep the language safe,” he said.
It was during one such conversation with a German gentleman, Klaus Bruhn, that Shastri too found a way to revive and protect languages. “It is important that people choose professions that take care of their material needs. Only because we are caught in this that we tend to sideline learning or understanding a language. But, it is essential for the spirit. Making it an additional subject of study will help,” he suggested and added that there was an urgent need to reorient the education system in such a way that we stirred the interest of people to take up study of languages.
Many firsts to his credit
Satya Vrat Shastri has the credit of teaching Sanskrit to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, princess of Thailand between 1977 and 1979
Shastri, who has many firsts to his credit, wrote his autobiography in Sanskrit
Having spent many years in almost all the countries in South East Asia, he has published several books, one of which is a 1,000-page compilation of Sanskrit-based words in South East Asia
His important works are Ramakirtimahakavyam, Brahattaram Bharatam, Sribodhisattvacharitam, Vaidika Vyakarana, Sarmanyadesah Sutram Vibhati, and Discovery of Sanskrit Treasures in seven volumes
The octogenarian won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1968 for his poetic work in Sanskrit, Srigurugovindasimhacharitam. In 2006, he became the first recipient of the Jnanpith award in Sanskrit language