World's only Sanskrit daily survives amidst odds
Vol 2 | Issue 27
The Mysore based daily, Sudharma, which claims to be the only Sanskrit newspaper in the world, is entering its 42nd year next week. Priced at Re.1, the paper has over 2000 subscribers and contains articles on Vedas, yoga, religion politics and culture.
K.V. Sampath Kumar, editor of Sudharma, said his father Pandit Varadaraja Iyengar started the paper in 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 it till my death."
On a mission: The paper's editor Sampath Kumar and his wife Jayalakshmi (Photo: IANS)
Kumar and his wife Jayalakshmi 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," 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.
In fine print: A copy of Sudharma
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 have come profusely from prime ministers and presidents over the years," Kumar said.
He showed this 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.
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. - IANS