Calendar of Events

Celebrating World Sanskrit Day: A Webinar with Indira & Shanta Bulkin, Narendra Budhakar & Deven Patel*

pranayama poster with Sanskrit terminology
Sun, Aug 22

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM Eastern Time

By Open Donation

This webinar, scheduled at the occasion of World Sanskrit Day in honor of the ancient language of Sanskrit, is sponsored by the School of Sanskrit / International Schools of East-West Unity at Ananda Ashram. The panel discussion will be introduced by Ksenia Lila. Presenters will be Indira and Shanta Bulkin, founders of the East West Sanskrit Institute based in California; Naren Budhakar, co-director of the East-West School of Music and hailing from a traditional family acquainted with Sanskrit; and Deven Patel, associate professor of Sanskrit language and the literatures of South Asia at the University of Pennsylvania, who teaches an ongoing Sanskrit workshop series on Zoom for Ananda Ashram.

The webinar will take place on Zoom platform. A recording will be available to all registrants.

Featured Topics –

By Deven Patel:
A snapshot of the five great classics of Sanskrit poetry, the Pañca-mahā-kāvya: Kālidāsa's Kumārasambhava (the wedding of Shiva and Pārvatī and the birth of Kārtikeya) and Raghuvaṁśa (about the Raghu dynasty); Bhāravi's Kirātārjunīya (a battle between Arjuna and Shiva); Śrīharṣa's Naiṣadhacarita (about Nala and Damayantī); and Māgha's Śiśupālavadha (the slaying of Shishupāla by Krishna). Professor Patel will elucidate why these have been labeled by Sanskrit tradition as the classics worth reading, studying, and emulating.

By Naren Budhakar:
Great wisdom is hidden in texts of the Sanskrit language regarding life and the nature of the world, facts which science has eventually come to corroborate. Naren will explore certain verses in light of their spirituality and show how this knowledge is relevant today. He is adept at juxtaposing ancient philosophy with scientific pragmatism, provoking thoughtful reflection.

By Indira Bulkin:
Dr. R. K. Sharma liked to say that Pāṇini was the first and best descriptive linguist of all time.
His method of using "auxiliary symbols" in extremely terse aphorisms (preferring brevity over all else), presaged the design of computer programming languages: Pāṇini was doing coding long before the world had even dreamed of computers. Indira will discuss the arrangement of the Pāṇinian alphabet and will lead chanting of this spectacular approach to Sanskrit.

By Shanta Bulkin:
Chanting Sanskrit can be a great tool for meditation. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati taught grammar chanting through a traditional yet singular method, resulting in a dynamic, rhythmic experience enabling one to feel that one has gone, however temporarily, beyond the body and mind. Shanta will lead interactive chanting of verb forms as an opportunity to experience this illuminating approach to the elements of Sanskrit.

Deven Patel is an associate professor of Sanskrit language and the literatures of South Asia at the University of Pennsylvania. He is especially interested in the Sanskrit language and literature (belles-lettres, epics, and drama); grammar and linguistics; Indian philosophy and intellectual history; as well as Pali, Prakrit, Hindi and Gujarati languages and literature. He writes on literary history and the formation of literary communities. His published works include Text to Tradition: The Naiṣadhīyacarita and Literary Community in South Asia, Columbia University Press, 2014, and Kavirājamārgam: The Way of the King of Poets (co-authored with R.V.S. Sundaram), Jawaharlal Nehru University and Manohar Publishers, 2017. Devenji, as he is known to his students at the Ashram, teaches "Legendary Sanskrit Verses" on the Zoom platform.

Naren Budhakar was born in Pune city, a celebrated epicenter of Sanskrit in India, into a Brahmin family who valued knowledge above all endeavors. They earned their livelihood performing the sacred rituals with Sanskrit hymns in return for meager money and regal respect, until the tradition was broken by Naren's grandfather. He chose instead to teach Sanskrit to support his family and was Naren's very first Sanskrit teacher. Life has taken Naren in many directions, but clearly the sanskāras prevail: a science graduate by education and a musician by profession, he remains a student of Sanskrit with passion. He is co-director of the East-West School of Music at Ananda Ashram and teaches "Glimpsing into Gita through Gyaneshwar's Gaze" on the Zoom platform.

Indira (Ann) Bulkin met Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati in 1971 at Ananda Ashram in New York and studied with Guruji from that time until he left his body in 1993. Guruji appointed her the head of the Sanskrit Department at the Yoga Society of San Francisco, a position she held until 2010. Indira was privileged to study Sanskrit with Professor Robert Goldman at UC Berkeley and in 1993 graduated with a B.A. in the Sanskrit language. She was blessed to be able to continue her Sanskrit studies with Dr. Ram Karan Sharma for more than 17 years.

Shanta Bulkin met Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Dr. Mishra) in the summer of 1972 at Ananda Ashram. Taking him at his word: “If you want to stay here you must study Sanskrit,” Shanta studied full time until Dr. Mishra passed away in 1993. Guruji appointed him President of the Yoga Society of San Francisco in 1974, where he later studied with world-renowned Sanskrit teacher and writer, Professor Ram Karan Sharma. Shanta teaches at Mt. Madonna Institute's College of Ayurveda, as well as at yoga centers around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Guruji married Indira and Shanta on the island at Ananda Ashram in August of 1975. In 2010, Indira and Shanta co-founded the East ~ West Sanskrit Institute. Their work there has the primary intention of supporting Guruji's legacy while teaching Sanskrit as a tool for meditation.