Kathmandu, October 25
Gary Smith, 73, from the USA, who calls himself a philosopher and claims to have spent most of his life studying various languages to understand theology and philosophy, is among the over 200 foreign students studying Sanskrit in colleges in Nepal.
Many call Sanskrit a dead language, but not these hundreds of foreign students. “People in Europe and America have developed a growing interest in Hinduism since yoga has attracted the world’s attention. However, most of the westerners still have a very superficial understanding of Hinduism,” said Smith, who has been studying Sanskrit at Bhiswo Bhasa Campus for the last three years.
Professor Subodh Sukla at Bisho Bhasa Campus said, “The global phenomenon of yoga has exposed the ancient Sanskrit language to the world. In my experience, most of the foreigners have joined our class to broaden their knowledge.”
Michael Gill, 46, from the UK, who has completed a bachelor’s degree in Sanskrit from Balmiki College is pursuing master’s degree in the same college. “I am hoping to get an in-depth knowledge of Sanskrit philosophy, which is also known as Vedanta. It is the science of yoga that attracted me towards Sanskrit, I would like to research on the ancient script of yoga if I pass my master’s,” Gill said.
Currently,10 foreign students are studying Sanskrit at Bhiswo Bhasa College, 30 at Balmiki College and 200 at Rangjung Yeshe Institute of Kathmandu University at Bouddha. Scholars and professors also opined that the global awareness of Buddhism is one of the major reason for the increasing number of students studying Sanskrit.
Lecturer Prem Raj Neupane at Rangung Yeshe Institute, a college that offers four-year bachelor’s and two-year master’s programme, said, “Majority of students in our college come to study Buddhism and since the ancient Buddhist scripture called ‘Pali’ is a highly Sanskrit-based language, we have been teaching Sanskrit language at all levels.”
A version of this article appears in print on October 26, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.