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Universal appeal of Sanskrit literature
Generally, people feel that Sanskrit literature is related only with Hindu scriptures and Hindu epics. But, only a few people know about its universal appeal beyond religion and beyond boundaries.

Even its influences can be found in the Bible and the Quran. A former career diplomat AND Haksar has translated a variety of Sanskrit texts, some popular and some less popular, from comedy and satire to erotica. The Kathakautukam is his latest Sanskrit retelling in which he has translated a Persian love story that has roots in the Quran and the Bible. Haksar claims that contrary to the misconception, Sanskrit influenced and mingled with numerous cultures. The Kathakautukam, composed by a Kashmiri court poet Srivara, glorifies a Persian love story by Maulana Jami, Yusuf Wa Zuleikha. It is an exceptional mingling of cultures in Sanskrit, comparatively difficult to understand. It has many literary qualities. It beautifully describes the influence of Hinduism on Islam or intermingling of Hindu and Islamic cultures.

Srivara, incorporated elements of mythology and mysticism, both from Hindu and Islamic cultures in his works. In the story when Yusuf was born, guardian angel Gabriel blessed the newborn with a divine sword that was made by a Hindu God, Vishwakarma. When the life of Yusuf was in danger, the greatest Hindu God, Mahesha (Shiva) came to protect him. This epic has got prayers to the greatest Hindu god Shiva. But it also invokes to the Prophet Mohammed with a Hindu name Paigambar Shiromani (the crown jewel of prophets). Suleiman Charitra was a famous Sanskrit work by Kalyan Malla. He was a court poet of Lodhi ruler in the 16th century.

The Biblical story of David and Bathsheba was reconstructed in this text. It uses Arabic texts, which has the elements of Arabian Nights and beautiful use of Srinagar Rasa. In its Biblical name of David was renamed as Dawood, as per Arabic tradition, but Bathsheba has been renamed as Saptasta, means the seventh daughter. This is a translation of her name in Hebrew. Kathakautukam's writing also has a historical and cultural context. The story of the travails of Yusuf/Joseph features both in the Quran and in Bible and Zuleikha appears only in Jami's Yusuf Wa Zuleikha. Some events of the story are held in Mesra/Misra (Egypt). There are references to Roma also, which could probably be Rome. So geographically, the story of the Kathakautukam covers from Kashmir to the west. Jami belongs to Herat that is in present-day Afghanistan. In Jami's collection, Yusuf was one of the poems among the seven mystical collections of Jami.

A modern biography of King Jahangir, Haft Awrang (seven thrones), tells that as a child, he got an early education in Persian that included learning of Yusuf Wa Zuleikha. Islam had firmly and ruthlessly invaded Kashmir by the time Srivara started writing. However, Sanskrit scholar kept on enriching the Sanskrit literature. The period of Sikandar Butshikan (destroyer of idols) was the darkest period of violence and bloodbath. The first and the second sequel to the royal chronicles Rajatarangini by Kalhan was written Srivara and his guru Jonaraja. Sanskrit is the highest and 'high-minded' language of religion and philosophy. But it has high open and liberal works, like the Kama Sutra. On the one hand, Sanskrit literature contains scriptures, epics and religious philosophy and on the other hand, it has high and pure literature in form of poetry, prose, tragedies, comedies, satire erotica etc. Kshemendra, a 12th-century Kashmiri author wrote a number of famous satires in classical Sanskrit. Sanskrit literature has also worked in colloquial Sanskrit, which is not about gods and kings, but the lives of the common person are the major theme. In this area, the names of Shuka Saptati, and Madhav and Kama, written in the Katha (stories) form, are two noteworthy names.

The Kama Sutra is one of the most popular of Sanskrit books that has seven books of which about the social conditions of the time and only one deal with sex. Sanskrit literature talks about the worth on man and now it is linked with revivalism. Even Ambedkar supported and wanted Sanskrit in the Constitution as the national language. Marxist scholar DD Kosambi was a famous Sanskritist, who was well known for his research in classical poetry. Sitaram Pandit translated the Ritusamhara and Rajatarangini of Kalidas. CD Deshmukh was also a great Sanskrit scholar. Western scholars were deeply interested in Sanskrit literature. Sir Charles Wilkins translated the famous Hindu scripture the Bhagwad Gita in 1784 and its foreword was written by Warren Hastings (then Governor General of India). Shakuntala was also translated into English by Max Mueller with his the Sacred Books of The East. The Chanakyaniti was also translated in Greek in the early 19th century.

In free India, the government incorporated Sanskrit in the list of official languages for its revival. Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar and a is a historian of ancient science and a folklorist at Stanford University, in her book, Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology, she found out how ancient Hindu and Sanskrit cultures and books imagined revolutionary technologies in epics and scriptures. She discovered that king Ashoka fought robots and other technological tools from the past. There is a common and popular belief that Hindu-Sanskrit literature had invented every scientific thing from spacecraft to missiles to the Internet. World of mythology and scientific impulse are deeply dipped into it.

Long before the technology came into being, ancient Indians imagined building artificial life, automaton (or robots), used self-moving devices, and other amazing things. About 27 centuries ago, during the age of Homer, surprisingly such tales about robots and other devices in ancient oral traditions were first written. Similar tales are found in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other Hindu epics. In Hindu mythology, it is believed that engineer-god Vishwakarma and the divine Maya made automatons. Hephaestus and the bright artisan Daedalus is the god of technology in Greek mythology. Hellenistic culture also borrowed from Indian culture right from the fifth century BC. Pieces of evidence are found that Alexander of Macedon and King Porus have relations in the fourth century BC. Ancient Jain texts cite that Ajatasatru's engineers invented armoured war vehicle or chariots with rotating blades, which may have motivated Persian scythed chariots, and he had strong machines to throw huge boulders before Philip II of Macedon. India was much more developed than the western nations. India was known of using the oil lamps, telling familiarity of naphtha, which was unknown to the west, the Greeks and Romans until much later.

The wanderer Greek sage Apollodorus of Tyana saw automated servants and self-moving carts in the court of a ruler of India. India was hundreds of years ahead of Europe in the technologies of arms, distillation and hydraulics. India got this advancement and knowledge from Sanskrit literature. Sanskrit epics have tales about flying chariots and synthetic swans, missiles, animated servants, big robots, machines, and the like appear in the Ramayan, Mahabharata, Kathasaritsagara, Harivamsa, and other works. Self-navigating ships appear in Homer's Odyssey and Egyptian texts; android and animal automatons are described frequently in Homer's Iliad and in Chinese archives. Such examples are countless.

The Lokapanatti, a complex anthology of stories from Myanmar, contains a very interesting tale about the death of Buddha. After the death of Buddha, King Ajatasatru conserved his bodily remains in a secret chamber under a stupa. It is said that bhuta vahana yantra (spirit movement machines) or ghosts guarded the relics. In Sanskrit literature, there are so many references to robotic fighters, with spinning swords ? suggestive of the modern war machines with revolving blades. Such examples are also in Greek myths, telling automaton guards in human and animal form guarding palaces and treasure. It is a mythological story that the robots were made from plans stealthily brought to Pataliputra from Roma-visaya, the Greek-influenced West, by a yantrakara, (mechanic) a robot maker who was initially from Pataliputra. The automaton soldiers guarded Buddha's remnants until the great Indian monarch Ashoka heard about the hidden chamber. Ashoka fought the robots and after he conquered and learned how to manage them, they obeyed him. Historically, this was a fact that Ashoka did discover and distribute, across India, the long-hidden relics of Buddha.

By third century BC, artisan and experts in India, Greek, Alexandria, Arabia, and China began making flying birds, self-moving machines, animated machines, and automatons like those mentioned in Sanskrit literature and myths. The Sanskrit language is a very scientific language. Computer expert believes that the Sanskrit language is very useful in computer programming. Scientists, the world over have found that reciting the Sanskrit shlokas, strengthen the memory. The speaker of Sanskrit can very easily learn to speak any language of the world.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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