From hotel studies to yoga, two years after parliament approved bills raising three tertiary institutions teaching Sanskrit to the level of central universities, an exercise has been launched to modernize Sanskrit education by widening the basket courses offered.
Sources involved in the process said that most higher education institutions offering conventional Sanskrit courses are struggling to support themselves solely on the basis of government grants received at the Central and State levels.
The move is also in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which recommends Sanskrit universities to become “large multidisciplinary institutions of higher learning”.
“The vision is big but there has been very little progress on this front so far,” a source said. The effort to persuade colleges and universities to abandon their “compartmentalized approach” was launched on Saturday, with officials from three central and state universities offering Sanskrit courses meeting for a three-day consultation in Delhi.
On the first day, BJP Chairman JP Nadda and Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Bibek Debroy were present. On Monday, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will address the conclave.
Professor Shrinivasa Varakhedi, Vice-Chancellor of Central Sanskrit University, Delhi, said: “Sanskrit students must have many openings. They need not be limited to puja path and teaching positions. For example, every top hotel needs people with multiple skills. A Sanskrit student can act as a yoga instructor; as someone who can speak to guests about India’s traditions, heritage and local culture.”
There are about 12,000 students enrolled in various campuses affiliated with Central Sanskrit University Delhi. The National Sanskrit University Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, also in Delhi, has about 3,000 students, while about 2,500 students fall under the Sanskrit National University of Tirupati.
These universities offer undergraduate (or Shastri) and postgraduate (Acharya) programs.
As part of the programs, English is taught as a requirement, along with a choice of elective courses from political science, history, economics, sociology and Hindi. “Most Sanskrit universities at the state level do not meet the standards set by the UGC in terms of number of professors or infrastructure to obtain funding,” an official acknowledged, explaining the need for them to become “self-sufficient”.
UGC’s announcement to allow universities to offer dual degree programs from the next academic session has also given a ray of hope to teachers of Sanskrit.
“During the consultation, we will also discuss how best to use this opportunity to increase the number of students studying Sanskrit. For example, a music undergraduate student can take a sangeet shastra course to further their curriculum academic,” Varakhedi said.