“Spoken Sanskrit” is a new class to be offered at International House, Davis, on Tuesdays from 8 to 9 p.m. beginning Jan. 8. The class will be taught by Pushun Sheth, 20, a UC Davis student born and raised in California.
The class will take place every Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Hagan Room at I-House, 10 College Park.
“I am currently studying at UC Davis for a degree in engineering,” Sheth said. “However, one of my passions in life has been the study of Sanskrit, known as the mother of many Indian languages.
“Sanskrit is an essential tool for understanding the diverse culture and ancient heritage of India. As philosophies, disciplines, and other practices of India have traversed beyond Indian borders, knowledge of Sanskrit has become important globally,” he said. “Several universities worldwide currently recognize the importance of studying Sanskrit and have reaped the rewards of their students improving in other subjects because of Sanskrit.”
Some say that Sanskrit is to India as Latin is to Europe.
“The sheer number and variety of Sanskrit texts alone reflect the depth of Indian thought encoded in the Sanskrit language,” Sheth said. “At least 5 million manuscripts exist covering a wide array of topics such as history, medicine, science, religion, philosophy, poetry and mathematics.
“Students equipped with the knowledge of Sanskrit can use these texts to understand the progression of India. Students can also use Sanskrit to understand the theories behind many internationally practiced disciplines, religions and philosophies, which have their foundations in Sanskrit texts.
“Yoga and Ayurveda, both of which originated in India, are, in fact, growing in popularity in many Western countries. These texts have also been deemed important sources for guiding principles for the management sector. Sanskrit has even found its way in computational methods. This wealth of knowledge, that knows no bounds, is readily available once the study of Sanskrit begins,” he added.
Sheth said he began to study Sanskrit seriously about five or six years ago, which led to proficiency in reading, writing and even speaking — a skill that less than 1 percent of the world’s people have, he added.
“I have been teaching for a nonprofit known as Samskrita Bharati for the past four years and counting, which has given me experience in teaching just about every type of person imaginable and every age.”
I-House offers more than 20 language classes a week, including six English classes. The first class is free.
“If you like the class, we ask that you become a member. For students, that’s $20 a year. For a nonstudent, it’s $40 a year,” said Elisabeth Sherwin, I-House’s executive director.