November 07, 2012

Survival is an uphill task for this Sanskrit paper

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Kevin Mendonsa, TNN Oct 9, 2012

MYSORE: Sudharma, the world's only Sanskrit daily celebrated its 43rd anniversary on Sunday. The single sheet daily which has a circulation of 4,000 and covers news, politics, yoga, vedas and culture. The long journey hasn't been a bed of roses.

Kalale Nadadur Varadaraja Iyengar, a Sanskrit scholar, started the paper on July 15, 1970, to spread the language of the gods. K V Sampath Kumar, its editor and son of Varadaraja Iyengar, says that it has been a struggle to keep the newspaper going.

"The circulation is shrinking day by day as there is no support or encouragement from the government. It's a pity that the powers-that-be do not realize the historic role of Sanskrit, which is now globally recognized as a scientific and phonetically sound language," says Kumar.

When Iyengar, a Sanskrit scholar himself, discussed the venture with his friends, they termed it a 'misadventure best stayed away from.' Most felt that Sanskrit does not have the vocabulary to cover contemporary and complex day-to-day activities and developments. Not many know that Iyengar was instrumental in convincing then information minister I K Gujral to start Sanskrit news bulletins .

Disillusioned he may be, but not disheartened. While it has a daily circulation of 4,000 it's e-paper has over one lakh readers, mainly from Israel, Germany and England. Most of the subscribers are institutions, academia and religious bodies.

"Though there are funds reserved for such publications neither the state nor central government is ready to help out. However, we will continue to run the paper against all odds. It's my mission," he adds spiritedly. He laments that while the country has 13 Sanskrit universities and Karnataka has 18 Sanskrit colleges, not one has come forward to pitch in. "We are running the show without expecting any rewards. But we too have our constraints," he says ruefully.

More and more foreigners, Kumar says are evincing interest in learning this ancient language. They come to India to learn the language.

"You need to know Sanskrit to understand the vedas and Upanishads," he reveals.

Kumar plans to upgrade the paper, adding another sheet with colour printing and focus on articles related to Sanskrit.

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