Friday, 30 August 2013

A rare newspaper from Mysore

It is called the language of the Gods and it is as old as India. Classified as an Indo-Aryan language, it is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and a literary and scholarly language of Jainism and Buddhism.
Much of our ancient texts, books, Vedas, Shastras and even ancient literature is written in this language. Today, Uttarkhand is the only State in India which has made this its official language. Even now, it is widely used as a ceremonial language in Hindu religious rituals and Buddhist practice in the forms of hymns and mantras.
This is the also the language that is generally used in temples and religious institutions and most of the Shlokas and Shastras is in this language.
This is Sanskrit, which Panani says, evolved out of the earlier Vedic form. Historians and linguists generally trace the beginning of Vedic Sanskrit as early as 1500–1200 BC.
There have been efforts to revive the language and Mysore has a unique role in this. A Mysorean started in 1970 the first ever newspaper in Sanskrit.   
Called Sudharma, this vernacular has a print order of 3,000 copies a day and it is despatched across India by post. Copies are also sent abroad. Founded by Pandit Kalale Nadadur Varadaraja ( K.N.) Vardaraja Iyengar, the paper has never sought Government support, Government advertisement or even subsidy.
K.N. Iyengar, who was publishing Sanskrit works, hit upon the idea of starting a newspaper in Sanskrit to make use of the Sanskrit types that was lying idle with him. This is how the paper came to be started.
He was helped in starting the newspaper from some of his friends such as Agaram Rangaiah, editor of Saadhvi, a Kannada newspaper, and P. Nagachar, former Joint Director of Department  of  Information and Publicity.
Apart from these two, others who helped in starting the newspaper were H. G. Shithikanta Sharma, T. Shankara Shastri, Balaganapati Bhat, Shingappa, Araiyar Ramasharma, Roopa Narayan Pandeya, Venkatramana T. Bhat and other Sanskrit Vidwans and Pandits.   
K.N. Iyengar was born in 1921 in a Vaidika family. After schooling in the traditional Sanskrit Paathashaala system, he attained the title of Pandit. Later, in 1955, he established his own printing press. A socially involved person, he was moved by the shortage of schooling for girls. This led him to found the Srikaanta Education Society dedicated solely to educating girl children. He was also involved with many other social service organisations.
Today, the newspaper is run by the founder’s son, K.V. Sampath Kumar, but soaring costs, lack of Government support and low readership has proved to a bane for it.
The paper has a digital version too but this can be accessed only if one has Internet at home or office.  Subscribers from  38 countries and  Sanskrit lovers are reading e-version of Sudharma everyday.
However, the print version too is being printed and distributed through post but the costs are rising and the venerable newspaper is finding it difficult to sustain itself. Moreover, printing material and printing paper are expensive and the costs are rising.  
Till a few years ago, it was the only Sanskrit newspaper in India. Now there are two more from Gujarat. But Sudharma was the first and it is the only one in South India.
The first issue of Sudharma came out on July 14, 1970 from Ganapathi Totti in Maharaja's Sanskrit College or Ganapati Sannidhi of Maharaja Sanskrit Paathashaala. Now, the paper is currently published out of a press in the Ramachandra Agrahara and its subscriber base includes, Sanskrit colleges, Vidyapeethas, public libraries in Karnataka and states of Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Rajasthan. There are avid subscribers in countries such as Japan and the U.S.
The single sheet daily covers news, politics, yoga, vedas and culture.  At first, Sudharma was hand-printed. Since then, the printing process has been modernized and it is currently printed by computerised offset printing.
Incidentally, Samskritavartamanapatram is a Sanskrit daily published from Vadodara and Vishvasya Vrutantam another daily published from Surat, both in Gujarat.
(The Hindu newspaper has a write up on this newspaper in its today’s edition. It is written by R, Krishna Kumar).

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