The society has a stereotype for typical students of Indian culture, philosophy, arts, and languages. They are supposed to be conservative, serious, dogmatic, and averse to technology. Of these, the first three are not always true and depend on several factors. But modern day scholars and academic institutions have recently begun shattering the fourth myth, i.e. aversion to technology.
The digitisation of rare books in Indian libraries across the nation is one such initiative. Easy access to these books is through the National Digital Library portal (NDL), an initiative of the Indian MHRD. (1) Many major libraries provide access to prominent Western scientific and technological study/research material. But the NDL also provides access to books on Indian culture, philosophy, arts, and languages. Many students from economically backward classes can now access works in subjects other than the standard Western sciences and technology. But this initiative is just the beginning.
Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya (SCSVMV), is a deemed university based in Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu. The current Sankaracharyas of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham established the institution. The University is well known for its Sanskrit and Indian Culture department. This department organised its Samskritotsava, i.e. Sanskrit celebrations, from the 18th to the 22nd of September this year. The department organised competitions for undergraduate and postgraduate college students. Students pursuing studies in Sanskrit, sastra (Ayurveda, Nyaya, etc.) as well as those from the departments of Humanities and Social Sciences from different colleges participated enthusiastically.
There is one unique idea implemented by the organizers of the events. The prizes distributed were unusual. In regular competitions, winners are usually awarded a certificate and a trophy and/or a book. But the organizers of Samskritotsava awarded winners with 45 books besides the certificate and trophy!
No, these are not physical books. These are digital copies burnt on a DVD. These 45 books belong to 25 different titles of books which are standard references for most college level students of Sanskrit. The titles range from basic introductory primers to advanced reference books. (Readers can find the a simple list of books at the end of this article.) The DVD is aptly named granthapanchavimshika, i.e. a collection of 25 books.
Fig. The cover of the DVD granthapanchavimshika
Going digital is not new for SCSVMV. The university already hosts two free online courses on Sanskrit (2) and astrology (3) on its website. It is also part of the list of institutions involved in the SWAYAM online education initiative. (4) With the DVD prize of reference ebooks, SCSVMV has placed a step in the right direction of technology for education.
P.S.-The author bases this article on the first time experience of such an instance. There may be other institutions which have already awarded DVDs of ebooks as prizes.
List of 25 ebook titles on the prize DVD:
- Laghu paniniyam
- Laghu siddhanta kaumudi
- Tarka sangraha
- Srimad bhagawad gita
- Saundarya lahari
- Vedanta paribhasha
- Kavya prakasa
- Siddhanta kaumudi
- Bhagavatha mahapurana
- Abhijnana sakunthalam
- National Digital Library of India. National Digital Library of India. [Online] [Cited: September 28, 2017.] https://ndl.iitkgp.ac.in.
- LEARN SANSKRIT ONLINE Organized by SCSVMV UNIVERSITY. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya University, Kanchipuram. [Online] [Cited: September 28, 2017.] http://kanchiuniv.ac.in/sansonline/.
- Online Astrology Course by SCSVMV UNIVERSITY. Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya University, Kanchipuram. [Online] [Cited: September 28, 2017.] http://kanchiuniv.ac.in/astro/.
- Institutions. Free online course on Swayam by Faculties and Universities from _ NPTEL , UGC , CEC, NCERT , NIOS & IGNOU & IIMB. [Online] [Cited: September 28, 2017.] https://swayam.gov.in/Institutions (page 46).