“We are trying to change the way Sanskrit is taught in our Country” -Prof. Chand Kiran Saluja
Eminent Sanskrit scholar Prof. Chand Kiran Saluja has been selected for this year’s prestigious ‘President’s Certificate of Honour’ by the Union Ministry of HRD. Prof Saluja has dedicated his entire life for promotion of Sanskrit, particularly to change the way Sanskrit is taught in the country. After getting VRS from the University of Delhi, he joined the Samskrit Promotion Foundation as honorary director and during the last three years, under CSR funded ONGC-SPF Samskrit for Specific Project, he produced 27 wonderful books with fascinating audio-video support. All these books have been made available to the people world over through the website www.samskrittutorial.in. The Foundation wants to start Sanskrit medium schools all over the country. Prof Saluja believes that glory of Sanskrit is to be restored with pedagogical change for teaching and learning of Sanskrit. That is why he has started imparting training to Sanskrit teachers throughout the country. Organiser Chief News Coordinator Dr Pramod Kumar had a long discussion with him in New Delhi to know what is in his mind for Sanskrit promotion. Excerpts:

How were you attracted towards Sanskrit?

Basically, I was a Science student. My cousin brother’s Sanskrit teacher, Pt. Chiranjeev Shastri, who used to come to our home frequently, suggested me to opt for Sanskrit in 9th standard. Up to class 8th, I was very good at Sanskrit and scored good marks. In the 9th also, I initially opted for Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Engineering Drawing and English at Ramjas No. 4 School, but Pt. Chiranjeev Shastri, who then taught at Multan DAV Senior Secondary School arranged for my admission in Multan DAV School, Rajender Nagar where the Science subjects were taught with Sanskrit. I completed my senior secondary from there. I wanted to do Chemistry Honours, but my Sanskrit teacher Shastri ji again stirred me to opt for Sanskrit and, in 1971 I dropped the idea of studying Chemistry and joined Kirorimal College of Delhi University (DU) for Sanskrit Honours under the guidance of my guru Shri Shiv Narayan Shastri ji. After completing graduation, my guru ji wanted me to do MA in Sanskrit, but meanwhile, my father was retired and my mother asked me to do a job. Hence, I joined Manav Sthali School for teaching Sanskrit as a part-time teacher. My respected and very kind principal Smt. Mamta Bhatnagar encouraged me to continue my further studies. I did so.

Then what happened to your MA Sanskrit?

I shifted my PG classes from morning to evening. During those days the school where I was teaching got me registered for B.Ed in a University. But there were no examinations in that university for four years. I took admission and completed MA Hindi in the evening college of DU. When DU started evening course for B.Ed. (two years course) in 1979, I joined that and completed. For a brief period, I joined a village school in Ganaur in Haryana in 1982. But I continued to attend evening classes of M.Ed in Delhi. After doing M.Ed, I joined the Department of Education in DU as an Ad-hoc lecturer in 1983 and then as a permanent lecturer in 1985 to teach Sanskrit. I was selected in 1985 in the Department, I was told to teach Psychology. Hence, I took admission in MA Psychology. When I was told to teach the problems of Indian education system I sought admission in Political Science at Zakir Hussain College (Evening). Then I joined LLB classes in Dhaula Kuan. Once I wrote a paper titled ‘Bharat ki Bhashayi Samasya’ for a seminar in the Department of Linguistics. At that time Prof. R.C. Sharma was the HoD. He suggested me to study linguistics also. Then I completed diploma, advanced diploma, M.Phil and Doctorate in Linguistics under the guidance of Prof. Prem Singh and Prof. R.C. Sharma.

Then how did you return to Sanskrit?

I am coming to that. While studying Linguistics, I attended a seminar in NCERT where I had a discussion with the then Chairman of CBSE Prof. B.P. Khandelwal and Education Officer Dr. Sadhana Parashar about Teaching of Sanskrit. After some days, CBSE Chairman called and asked me to help in materialising a project on Communicative Sanskrit. The then Academic Director Shri Bala Subramanian and Dr. Sadhana Parashar asked me to coordinate the group. Finally, the work was started and completed with the help of school teachers as members of the committee because they understand the psychology of teachers.

 How did you come closer to Samskrita Bharati?

In 1998, then CBSE Chairman Prof Khandelwal basically told me about Samskrita Bharati and suggested me to see the literature produced by it in conversational Sanskrit. He also gave me the address of Samskrita Bharati. On his suggestion, I reached Samskrita Bharati office at Jhandewalan in Delhi where I had a discussion with Shri Chamu Krishna Shastry, then Organising Secretary. Gradually, a relationship developed between us. At that time Shri Vinayak Hegde was organising secretary of Delhi Prant. Shastryji told Hegde ji to take me to Sanskrit programmes. He took me to Samvad Shala also at Sewa Dham, where I liked the environment for spoken Sanskrit. Then I took some classes at a programme organised at Geeta Bal Bharati School in trans Yamuna area where more than 1000 Sanskrit teachers had gathered. Gradually, I became a part of Samskrita Bharati. After several months, Shri Chamu Krishna Shastry proposed me to take charge as president of Samskrita Bharati Delhi chapter. This is how I was inducted in the Samskrita Bharati in 1998. In 2004, my mother passed away. After that, I was given charge of national working president of Samskrita Bharati. Shri K. Suryanarayan Rao was president of Samskrita Bharati. Meanwhile, I continued an extensive tour of the country. Basically, the publication of ‘Manika’ through CBSE made me known to Sanskrit teachers and students. It was a textbook for Class 9th and 10th. For 6th, 7th and 8th we prepared ‘Kanika’ and for 11th and 12th ‘Ritika’. In 2007, I was given the responsibility of national president of Samskrita Bharati with Shri Dinesh Kamath as organising secretary.

Did you also teach Sanskrit in schools and the University through Hindi medium only?

Yes, that was through Hindi medium only. But I had the desire that Sanskrit should be taught through Sanskrit only.

How did the idea of joining the Samskrit Promotion Foundation click?

In 2008, I met with an accident in Assam. I could not move for several months. In 2009, Shri Chamu Krishna Shastry told me about Samskrit Promotion Foundation and advised me to join it as director academic. In the beginning, its office was in Rajender Nagar. In those days I was teaching at the University of Delhi and I was trying for VRS but only in 2013 my application for VRS was accepted. After that I fully dedicated myself to Samskrit Promotion Foundation. Meanwhile, the office of the Foundation was shifted from Rajender Nagar to Doriwalan on New Rohtak Road.

I had a dream to provide material of all modern subjects in Sanskrit. Hence, all NCERT textbooks from class 1st to 10th for all modern subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Maths, History etc. have been prepared in Sanskrit for Gurukulas

What is the role of Samskrit Promotion Foundation in the promotion of Sanskrit?

We have produced lot of material for Sanskrit students. Rather, it is the digitalisation of teaching Sanskrit. School students as well as outside can learn Sanskrit through this material. We have a website ‘www.samskrittutorial.in’. All Sanskrit textbooks from class 1st to 12th have been prepared with audio-video lessons. They are available free of cost on our website. I had a dream that we should give material to all modern subjects in Sanskrit. Hence, all NCERT textbooks from class 1st to 10th for all modern subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Maths, History etc. have been prepared in Sanskrit for Gurukulas and also for those who want to start Sanskrit medium schools. For it, we took a project from ONGC. Since, I am a person of linguistic as well as a student of German language, long back in Max Muller Bhavan in New Delhi I saw so many books like German for Engineers, German for Doctors, German for trade, etc. I thought why Sanskrit books should not be for different professionals. Then I formulated a plan for producing Sanskrit books for specific purposes. Finally, we did it by producing books like Sanskrit for Yoga, Sanskrit for Vedanta, Sanskrit for Ayurveda and Sanskrit for Geeta. Then we planned to teach these subjects through Sanskrit. But the question was if we teach in Sanskrit, the students should understand spoken Sanskrit. So, book-one and book-two were produced to teach Sanskrit in conversational form. We analysed the whole language of the texts and took examples from them. With those examples we taught conversational Sanskrit with video-audio support. We have fully equipped studio for producing such videos in our office. The first and second books are for ‘Sanskrit Pravesha’. The book-three has been produced only keeping grammar in mind. We have so far produced 27 books. Their whole text is supported by fascinating videos. It has received high viewership across the world. The whole work was produced with the help of very intelligent and committed team of Sanskrit scholars. All Trustee members also encouraged and supported the idea.

What are the future plans of the Foundation?

We want to start Sanskrit medium schools and Sanskrit teachers training throughout the country. At least some model schools will be started in Delhi and slowly and gradually at other places. Then we have a plan for in-service training for Sanskrit teachers. It will create new avenues for Sanskrit students. The Foundation has offered jobs to 60 people. In that way, the Foundation is thinking that when teachers are trained properly they will teach in better way. We have imparted training to teachers in Delhi Public School, DAV, KVS, etc. We have prepared material of about 2000 pages with PPTs. Two years back we started an e-magazine ‘Samvardhini’. We are in the process of offering the magazine content in audio form too. Apart from it, we have prepared 60 animated songs with fascinating music. They too are available freely at our website. Children are enjoying them. We have prepared a children dictionary in Sanskrit with pictures and charts that teachers can use in classrooms also. Now we are working for Sanskrit for Sangeet, Sanskrit for Natyashastra, Sanskrit for Law, Sanskrit for Mathematics, Sanskrit for Economics. About ten books with videos are to be published soon. We have also produced one training manual on Buddhist philosophy. We are also working on Indian educational theories.

Now we are working on books like Sanskrit for Sangeet, Sanskrit for Natyashastra, Sanskrit for Law, Sanskrit for Mathematics and
Sanskrit for Economics. About ten books with videos will come soon


What are the challenges before Sanskrit today?

I think one of the basic challenges is that we do not understand Sanskrit as it should have been. Though chronologically the Sanskrit may be an ancient language but it is the most modern language. According to our Constitution the new terminology is supposed to come from Sanskrit. We talk about environment protection, but literature like ‘Abhigyanshakuntalam’ is basically based on environmental protection. No language is ancient language if it has a message for the present and Sanskrit is full of message for the futuristic society across the world.

But the problem with us is that we believe Sanskrit a dead language. How will this perception change?

We have to change the mindset of the people. That is why I say teachers’ training is direly needed. A person working in our Foundation had translated a simple film song into Sanskrit and that has become very popular. In 1956-57, a report was produced by Sanskrit Commission under the Chairmanship of Dr Suniti Kumar Chatterjee. Chapter four of that Report talks about expectations from Sanskrit in independent India. Now people are talking about Geeta for management, stress-management, time management and motivational theories. Sometimes it was said that education is a two-polar process i.e. student and teacher. Then it was said that it is three-polar process i.e. student-teacher and curriculum. But our ‘Taittiriya Upanishad’ talks about four polar process i.e. student, teacher, knowledge and methods. A UNESCO report on Education for 21st century is basically based on guiding principles of Sanskrit literature. After knowing all these it can only be said that Sanskrit is a language of future mankind. It is a language of harmony across globe.

What is being done to promote Sanskrit outside Bharat?

I would say we should learn from the countries outside Bharat how to promote Sanskrit. You had asked me about the viewership of our website. You will be surprised to know that Americans are more committed viewers of our website than we. Their analytical study is of a good standard. They thoroughly go through the things. They see each and every problem, whereas we take it as granted. Their research work is very good. The problem with us is that Sanskrit is not being taught properly here. Hence, we need to change the paradigm.

Prof Chand Kiran Saluja along with vice president of
Samskrit Promotion Foundation gifting books to PM Shri Narendra Modi


What should be the vision of parents and society towards Sanskrit?

We are sending messages through songs. As you visit our website, you connect to the Sanskrit world. We have to teach our teachers how to teach the language. I always tell the teachers not to teach the books to students, rather teach them how to read books. The students have to be explained the base so that they can read further. Please don’t confine Sanskrit to textbook alone. The parents need to first trust in the energy of their children. I believe children are more ideal than we parents. The students of BA first and second year ask many questions, but in BA final year they compromise with the teachers for marks. In MA, the students fully understand to write what the teachers like. Most parents do not understand the children and they want them to do what they want. If we want our children to be honest in life, courageous and full of vigour we have to follow the same lifestyle in practice. I always say students are not problem, we the teachers and parents are the problems.

What future do you visualise for Sanskrit?

I see the future of society in Sanskrit only. We need to change the methods of teaching it. Only doing MA in any subject is not the extension of that subject. Those who say there are no students for Sanskrit are wrong. There are 16 universities of Sanskrit. What we lack is that we have failed to give direction to the students. Why Samskrita students are not doing law? We have failed to give shape to universities. Samskrit Promotion Foundation is working in that direction. We are trying to talk to some companies for opening new avenues for Sanskrit students. It is working tirelessly how to improve Sanskrit teaching. Today, much awareness has been generated among people about spoken Sanskrit through Samskrita Bharati and Samskrit Promotion Foundation. They are trying to give message how to use Sanskrit in daily life. We have produced 27 books in two years. When we presented these books with audio and video to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He was thrilled to see them. What we want to teach the students we should ourselves follow in our behaviour, because students do not follow words, they follow behaviour.

How do you feel after declaration of ‘President’s Certificate of Honour’ for you?

No change. I am sitting in the same corner on the same seat and doing the same work. Rather, I wonder why I have been chosen for that honour? It was not the aim of my life. I only see the humanistic future of mankind in Samskrit Literature like: 'वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्', 'सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिन:', 'अयोग्य: पुरुषो नास्ति, योजकस्तत्र दुर्लभ:।'