Thursday, 19 August 2010

Veda Nidhi Project - Info 1

Veda Nidhi – Avadhoota Datta Peetham
 (An essential project to protect the Cultural Heritage of India)

At the outset, we salute all those noble people, whose incessant efforts had ensured that the traditional heritage in the form of Vedic Scriptures is imparted thru generations in its original pristine form without any distortion.

It is a well known fact, that the Vedic Literature is one of most important sources of Culture and Heritage of this planet, and of course the pride of India. Since time immemorial, our Acharyas had set stringent rules to ensure its passage from generation to generation without any misrepresentation or alteration and dedicated their lives for the continuity of the knowledge, wisdom and principles of Truth as enshrined in our Sanatana Dharma.

Current Status:
            It is heartening that more and more support, respect is forthcoming for the Vedic Tradition and its practitioners in India and abroad. However, it shall be noted that most of the efforts and resources are allocated and spent towards the superficial preservation, confined to few Puja Practices and Basic Temple maintenance activity.

            In reality, very few practitioners – the Pundits/ Priests/ Purohits and patrons realise the need to restore the roots of these practices and knowledge in the form of Vedic Literature, so that our deeds, pronunciation, understanding of the underlying philosophy are consistent with the roots of the heritage.
            True preservation of the knowledge shall be made by the twin modes of protection of the core text and the method of interpretation to understand its meaning in correct perspective.

Part 1 - Sabdaatmaka Veda Pari Rakshana (Core Text Preservation):

After, the Knowledge preservation in right perspective is ensured; we can set our sight on rectification of the Propagation/ Teaching methodology. Hence, let us examine the fundamental reasons for contemporary status and ascertain the course of remedial action, which is the need of the hour.

Patterns of Malady and Possible solutions:
1.      Pronunciation - Uchchaarana
Pronunciation is the most important aspect of the Veda Mantras. In earlier generations, sole medium for Teaching was oral chanting from Teacher to Students. However, with change of times, written documentation in the form of text books is occupying an important slot in the process of teaching.

a)          Visual Representation of Vedic Letters/ Alphabets/ Characters:
In order to visually represent the oral chanting and all the regular characters and special characters, our Acharyas have prescribed a wonderful scientific mode of Instruction called Siksha Saastra, which enlists the complete set of characters required in the accurate pronunciation.
Accordingly, the Characters (Letters) were used in Taala Patra Granthas (Palm Leaf Books). With the introduction of Printing Technology in 20th century, Letter Press Printing mechanism was ensuring that the required letters were cast in foundry and texts were printed.         
 b)          Limitations of Current day Text Book Printing
In the advent of Offset printing and Desk Top Publishing (DTP), incorporation of all these characters, required for Vedic Texts in the software, is a prerequisite for accurate publication. With the limited set of characters, it has become impossible to fully represent the Pronunciation of Veda Mantras.

c)           Status of efforts by Veda Tradition Protagonists:
It is undeniable that some charity oriented, organisations and individuals have initiated efforts and achieved limited success.
1.            Government of India, has initiated the documentation of Indic Scripts and notified a sample key board, which takes care of commonly used characters in Indian Languages (Inscript) and notified standards for publication.
2.            CDAC, a pioneering Government Organisation, had initiated efforts in this regard, but due to policy shift, the software incorporating Vedic Characters; is not made available to public.
3.            Baraha is free software, which gives some scope for Vedic Character Publication.
4.            ITRANS, Sanskrit 2003 from Omkarananda Ashram, Rishikesh is another software, which has some useful features.
5.            Some Trichy based technocrats have developed a program based on the ITRANS package to include many glyphs and computer generated Vikruti Paatha.
6.            Though many books are published, they rely on cut and paste functions to Vedic Character publication, making the Proof Reading, a nightmare, and often resulting in Error prone publication.

In the absence of the will and action of the Government, Software Industry Leaders the efforts by individuals are too fragmented and often prove to be inadequate or end up as abandoned projects.

d)          Deficiency of the system: Limitations of Publishing
               Contemporary Language software and key boards, are based on the 26 (Roman/ Latin) Character set, as initially required for Western Languages. Where as Vedic Literature Publication requires many special Characters such as
1.            Swara Symbols in the form of superscript and subscript; (Sapta Swaras for Samaveda and 4 Swaras for other Vedas)
2.            Nasal Sounds (Anunaasika)
3.            Conjunct of Consonants (Samyoga Akshara as in Krutsna) in the combinations upto 6 Vyanjanas)
4.            Special markers (Akaara Praslesha to denote a Sandhi, GM/ Ggm denoting Saanunaasika Gakaara)
5.            Regular letters but not used in daily usage (R, Rru and L, Lu)
6.            Kampa, Ranga Pluta etc.

These characters are necessity for accurate visual representation of the Perfect Chanting. In absence of these specific characters, current day text book publication is muddled in erroneous printing. As such, current generation of students are oblivious to the finer aspects of pronunciation.
e)           Technical Challenges
               As the contemporary Publication standards are based on Roman Character Set, it could be difficult to incorporate Complete set of Vedic Character comprising thousands of combinations. Hopes of incorporating the Complete Set in UNICODE standards were also bleak, as existing INDIC Script inclusion is not complete to include all the required Vedic characters. Indic Scripts were allocated a paltry 1,000 characters (approximately) out of available (approximately) 64,000 characters. (Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Japanese characters have a very high quota in the allocation).  And it is herculean task to present and convince the need to the world body. Voice Based operating System, as suggested by some scholars, could be the ultimate solution to meet the requirement. But it is time consuming, requiring very high quotient of resources.

Then, what is happening at Mysore Ashrama?? 
What is the quotient of success, in the project Veda Nidhi initiated by Sri Swamiji?
Wait for the next post .....
Jaya Guru datta

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