If you have ever studied Sanskrit as one of your elective subjects back in middle school, you would know it’s a game of mugging up. It is due to the curriculum and teaching methods that emphasize on teaching only the grammar rules; students end up mugging the grammar rules and there is no focus on the actual usage of Sanskrit. It isn’t taught as a fun language mostly because it is never considered one. But here is one woman who is changing the way Sanskrit is perceived by students, teachers, and parents alike – one rhyme at a time.
Meet Pradnya Shireesh Anjal, a gold medalist, and Ph.D. in Sanskrit, the one-woman Sanskrit army who is making Sanskrit fun through her animated rhymes.
Bangalore-based Pradnya had always been fascinated by Sanskrit as a language. When she got introduced to the language in class 8th she knew she had to pursue it seriously when she grows up. She went on to win a gold medal in her Masters in Sanskrit which was followed by a Ph.D.
“I still remember the Sanskrit song my teacher taught me in school. With a simple but catchy tune, she made it into a fun song with hand actions than just reading it out loud.”
Pradnya shared that the basic flaw with teaching Sanskrit now is the approach which is focused on teaching children the grammar rules which they have to memorize. This has to change to a ‘usage-first, grammar-next‘ approach, she added.
After completing her education in Sanskrit, Pradnya learned instructional designing and worked at MNCs like Wipro and Bosch. She then moved on to working with some startups and finally she did some freelance work designing e-learning content for HCL.
All this while, Pradnya was taking out time along with her full-time job for Sanskrit in some way or the other. She had penned down around 15 Sanskrit rhymes and wanted to make them into fun animations. Her experience as an instructional designer came in handy but juggling a job and her passion was not working out so Pradnya quit her job and decided to focus all her time on making animated films of those Sanskrit rhymes.
She created Vedika online which is her project to preserve and propagate Indian languages, arts, and culture. These animated Sanskrit rhymes are her first project under Vedika online. The first rhyme that she produced has got over 24,000 views on YouTube. She is now using a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the remaining rhymes which she wants to produce on popular tunes such as of Jingle Bells and Old Macdonald to have a greater appeal and relevance.
“This is a non-commercial venture which I am doing out of my sheer love for Sanskrit. I haven’t really thought what I will do next. But for now, I am looking forward to producing these rhymes,” Pradnya shared.
All these rhymes will be available for free on YouTube. The main purpose of these rhymes is to teach the alphabets, numbers, names of the birds, animals, colors, vehicles and much more topics in Sanskrit.
“Sanskrit language is not confined to religion or religious ceremonies. This language is enriched with epics, novels, dramas, stories, and poetry. It also has rich literature on music, dance, sculpture, yoga, medicine, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy and many other subjects in the fields of arts and science. Learning Sanskrit will open the gate to this great treasure of knowledge,” added Pradnya.
She added that animated rhymes are just the first step of the process and in future, she would like to produce a lot more content in Sanskrit to raise awareness not only in students but in all age groups.
Sanskrit is not just another language but an integral part of Indian culture. The fact that most students opt for it to skip Hindi or see it just as a scoring subject and don’t pursue it after the mandatory 2-3 years is disheartening. There is a lot of history in the language which if taught correctly will evoke interest and branch out as a discipline by itself. Currently losing its charm this endeavor by Pradnya could revive Sanskrit and pass it’s legacy on to the coming generations. If you want to extend support to Pradnya’s initiative you can do so by contributing to the cause here.
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