SanskritaPradipika - A Brief History
SanskritaPradipika (संस्कृतप्रदीपिका, saṁskṛtapradīpikā - a little lamp for Sanskrit) is the name of an e-tutor for the Sanskrit language, written for English-speaking people. It was created many years ago, in the infancy of this century to be precise, when I worked at the Computer Centre of JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) in New Delhi. The immensely talented Jayant Shekhar was my student and collaborator; together we worked, sometimes for as many as twelve hours a day, but it never seemed a chore. Our development platform was a humble PC-XT® running Windows XP®. (For this reason the software is incompatible with the Apple®'s native operating system; but it works in its Windows mode.)
We wrote the tutor in the Java programming language, all six million lines of it, gave it an admittedly somewhat grandiose name and placed it on the web as a free download, incomplete though it was: because in that year (2005) I was going away to live in foreign lands. But many chapters remained to be written: on सन्धिः (sandhiḥ) for one, and समासः (samāsaḥ), and the क्रियापदानि (kriyāpadāni), and many other wonderful things unique to the grammar of Sanskrit. Jayant too went on to become a professor of Computer Science, and alas (!) our fruitful collaboration came to an abrupt end. In spite of its obvious lacunae thousands of copies of the Pradipika were downloaded worldwide, and it has been a matter of much happiness that over the years that little e-tutor, begun one lazy June afternoon in a thoughtless moment, gained many admirers. Some wrote to ask if they could study Sanskrit with me, and thus set me upon a path which in these my years of retirement has brought me more fulfilment and happiness than I could have imagined possible. That extraordinary journey through the highways and byways of Sanskrit studies has culminated in an e-version of the ŚrīmadBhagavadGītā; available at http://www.gitamritam.org. (This site is best viewed using Google Chrome® on the PC, Safari® on the Apple®.)
Yet the thought that the Pradipika is incomplete has always nagged me. Though Jayant and I may never again be able to collaborate, for we are busy in our own lives, and separated by 10,000 miles, and repelled by the thought of having to pore through old code: yet my interest in amplifying the work the work there done has not diminished. One day I hope to come back to my own, my native land. Then, if circumstances are propitious, perhaps Jayant and I will be able to sit side by side again, as we used to in the old days, and write up the remaining Chapters. In the interim I hope to offer here such programming tools for Sanskrit text processing as I have created; tutorial essays on the topics that could not find mention in the Pradipika; and reflections on aspects of the culture of India enshrined in the Sanskrit literature. Please visit this site frequently: if God is kind one day there may be the promised addenda, and more. Miracles never cease to happen!
I am very pleased that many institutions in India and elsewhere will now host the Pradipika on their website. May this little lamp for Sanskrit illumine the studies of generations of future students!
I dedicate these pages to the memory of my father (d 1985), Lt.Col. Daya Shankar, FRCS - a great surgeon, and a greater man: the best that ever lived.
To obtain your copy of the Pradipika, please visit the Downloads page.
तेजस्वि भवतः / भवत्याः अधीतमस्तु !
tejasvi bhavataḥ / bhavatyāḥ adhītamastu !
May your studies be intense, bright, radiant, powerful!