"That's because no state or central body comes forward to assist us in any way and the response from various organisations in the private sector is indifferent," K.V. Sampath Kumar, editor of the Mysore-based daily that has over 2,000 subscribers, told IANS.
But then why publish a paper in a "dead language" at all?
The editor's wife, Jayalakshmi, who is well versed in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, English and of course Sanskrit, reacts sharply: "Who says Sanskrit is dead? Every morning, people recite shlokas, conduct pujas...all ceremonies including marriages, childbirth to death, are in Sanskrit. India is united by Sanskrit, which is the mother language sustaining so many languages in the country. It's growing and now even IT professionals are saying it is useful."
Sampath Kumar said his father Pandit Varadaraja Iyengar started the paper July 15, 1970. "When he was dying in 1990, he made me promise I would continue the mission, come what may. So this daily is now a dream mission continuing with the same passion and commitment, and I will continue till my death."
Priced at Re.1, the paper mostly contains articles on Vedas, yoga, religion and also politics and culture, among others.
The husband-wife pair are the paper's contributors and publishers rolled into one.
"Credit for starting Sanskrit radio bulletins on Akashvani goes to my father, who successfully persuaded the then information and broadcasting minister I.K. Gujral," Sampath Kumar said.
According to him, Mysore is the Sanskrit capital of India, with a fairly good strength of scholars. A large number of yoga enthusiasts also come to learn Sanskrit here. Interest in ayurveda and alternative medicines has also led to an increase in the demand for Sanskrit learning centres.
In India, Sanskrit was considered the 'language of the gods'.
Despite the contribution Sanskrit has made to Indian philosophical and literary traditions, vested interests have spread the impression that the language is dead, inaccessible and of negligible relevance to daily life, Kumar said.
Initially printed manually, Sudharma now has a modern computerised printing facility. An e-paper too is available online, making its reach international.
"We have lots of subscribers among the minorities also. Most academies and language centres are our subscribers. Each morning, the two-page tabloid-sized sheet is folded and posted to more than 2,000 subscribers. Every year, a special number is brought out during Dussehra celebrations to mobilise funds to support the mission," Kumar said.
Lamenting the lack of official patronage, he said: "Being in Sanskrit, Sudharma never had sufficient revenue from advertisements. Despite the ample lip service and words of encouragement, no concrete help comes our way. But the constraints have never deterred us and we will continue to keep alive this glorious tradition."
The modest office in Agrahara has been visited by ministers, governors, Shankaracharyas, and other dignitaries. "Words of encouragement and felicitation has come profusely from prime ministers and presidents over the years," Kumar said.
He showed this IANS correspondent his vast collection of messages from politicians, scholars, intellectuals and business leaders, including late president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, social reformer Jagjivan Ram, L.K. Advani, Arjun Singh and others. The common strain was that Sanskrit was a unique unifying force and a treasure to be preserved.
As part of its 42nd birthday celebrations, Sudharma is organising an all-India Sanskrit Book Exhibition. A photo exhibition is also planned, apart from a felicitation of Sanskrit scholars.
But will Sudharma be able to preserve the pristine glory of Sanskrit, or be overwhelmed by modernity?
Many university students this IANS correspondent talked to in Mysore had not heard of the paper. Just a few paces from the newspaper office, a chemist blinked in incomprehension when told about Sudharma.
The signs may be ominous, but perhaps the paper, like the language it is published in, may be able to survive the test of time.
Kalale Nadadur Varadaraja Iyengar, a Sanskrit scholar, launched this paper in the year 1970 with a goal of propagating the language. He was also a publisher of Sanskrit books and the Sanskrit moving types that were sometimes lying idle with him were another motivation for starting the newspaper. When he discussed his venture with others, he had to face the wrath of skeptics who warned him of his ‘misadventure’ and predicted the newspaper’s doom. This was because not many people believed that the Sanskrit language had a vocabulary sufficient enough to cover contemporary and complex day-to-day activities and developments. He was, however, supported in his venture by Agaram Rangaiah, who was an editor of a Kannada newspaper and also by P. Nagachar, who was a former Joint Director of Information. Ignoring the skeptics, Varadaraja Iyengar published the first issue of Sudharma on July 14, 1970 from a location called ‘Ganapathi Totti’ in Maharaja’s Sanskrit College. He was also instrumental in starting a Sanskrit news bulletin on All India Radio by convincing I. K. Gujral, the then Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the Government of India. K. V. Sampath Kumar, the son of Varadaraja Iyengar, is the current editor of the newspaper. The paper is currently published out of a press in the # 561, 2nd Cross, Ramachandra Agrahara locality of Mysore.
The majority of the subscribers of the newspaper are Sanskrit scholars and students. The paper has a daily circulation of about 2000 copies. It has an annual subscription fee of Rs. 300 (about $7) and is circulated via post to academic institutions, public libraries and to readers throughout India. The paper is also subscribed to by readers in countries like Japan and the U.S.A with an annual overseas subscription fee of $50. You can also subscribe online from here.
The profit gained by circulating the newspaper is negligible but Sampath Kumar wants to continue publishing the newspaper because of his passion for journalism and the Sanskrit language. He has had to struggle to keep the publication afloat. The paper has also helped its readers to learn and improve their knowledge of the language. On 15th July 2011, the 42nd anniversary of the paper’s publication was celebrated in Mysore. A unique feature of the celebration was that all speeches were in Sanskrit, which is a rarity, and two Sanskrit scholars were honoured on that occasion.
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Address:- Sudharma Sanskrit Daily Editor: Sri KV Sampath Kumar No. 561, 2nd cross, Ramachandra Agrahara, Mysore - 570 004 Karnataka INDIA 0821-244-2835
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