A general view shows the settlements of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sertar County of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. (Reuters photo)
BEIJING: A group of 60 Chinese intellectuals have enrolled at a Buddhist Institute for a free summer camp to study Sanskrit to understand the religious and yoga texts better as the ancient Indian language is becoming popular among the new generation of Chinese in the Communist nation.
The trainees were selected from more than 300 candidates and cover a broad sphere of professions, including yoga instructors, mechanical designers, performers, hotel management and environmental protection personnel.
Their study at the Hangzhou Buddhism Institute in eastern China over the next six days will focus on reading and writing Sanskrit.
“The language has very complicated grammar. For the present tense alone, the inflection of one verb can have 72 alterations,” Li Wei, an instructor who holds a doctorate in Indology from the University of Mainz, Germany, said.
Sanskrit has gained prominence in China since Buddhist texts were brought by famous monks like famous Chinese Monk Xuan Zang after 17 year long journey to India in sixth century.
Since the several Chinese monks made their way to India, brought a number of religious and texts about ancient Indian medicine.
The Peking University has a separate department for Sanskrit where over 60 study the language. Renowned Indologist Ji Xianlin has been awarded Padma Shri for his contribution.
There is renewed interest in Sanskrit ever since yoga has become popular in recent years specially after UN designated June 21 as international yoga day. Many of the trainees in Hangzhou class have been required to work overtime beforehand to get the six days off, some used their annual vacation while others working night-shifts to save the day for study, state- run Xinhua news agency reported.
Trainee He Min, who graduated with an economics degree from Renmin University of China in Beijing and now works as a yoga practitioner in Hangzhou, says the chance was “too precious” to pass up.
“Sanskrit is a common language used by yoga practitioners across the world. Though many yoga textbooks are written in English, the postures we practice remain named in Sanskrit and the chants are also in Sanskrit,” the 39-year-old said.
Teaching herself Sanskrit for almost three years, she said she was “still a rookie” due to the lack of professional instruction.
Chinese schools began Sanskrit classes in the late 1940s. But the discipline has developed slowly due to the lack of proper textbooks and a teacher shortage.