Sanskrit summer camp attracts Chinese intellectuals

Beijing, Aug 18 (IANS) A group of 60 Chinese intellectuals have enrolled at the Hangzhou Buddhism Institute for a free summer camp to study Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language.

The trainees were selected from more than 300 candidates and cover a broad sphere of professions, reported Xinhua.

Their study over the next six days will focus on reading and writing Sanskrit.

The language has very complicated grammar, said Li Wei, an instructor who holds a doctorate in Indology from the University of Mainz, Germany.

Trainee He Min, a yoga practitioner, says the chance was “too precious” to pass up.

“Sanskrit is a common language used by yoga practitioners across the world. The postures and chants we practice are named in Sanskrit,” said the 39-year-old who practices yoga two or three hours a day.

Since March, more than 100 students have regularly attended the two-hour class held twice a week at the Institute. The lecture is also free, but currently in recess due to summer break.

To help the trainees learn as much as possible, Li Wei said a dozen students from the regular class volunteered to be teaching assistants. They will help teach pronunciation and handwriting.

“Although the summer camp is only week-long, I hope all participants grasp basic reading and writing,” said Li.

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.

Having studied Sanskrit and Indology for 14 years, Li Wei said despite its slow academic progresses in Sanskrit, China has a rich history in Sanskrit study.

Amid all the alien words in modern Chinese, Sanskrit ranks the second biggest source only next to English.

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