SAIIER 2019:Sanskrit Research Institute

From Auroville Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
SAIIER 2018-19
Sanskrit Research Institute


by Martin G.


Sanskrit Research Institute (SRI) works with the Sanskrit language producing educational tools and materials for further enjoyment, research and study of this language.

Activities of the year:

This year has been an exciting and productive year with some new tools being made public and offered to the Sanskrit community worldwide.

New Sanskrit tools:

1. Mirror of Digital Library of India

We produced a mirror of the entire Digital Library of India (DLI). The DLI consists of scans of half a million out-of-copyright books scanned by universities, archives and institutions around India. We focused on a deep multilingual search within the books as there are many rare treasures of Sanskrit literature and catalogues in this database. We made the project public and informed all universities teaching Sanskrit around the world via the Indology forum. This was met with deep appreciation, also it was published at a time that the government’s site of the DLI was not available for some time. What is unique in our contribution is the depth of the search within the scanned documents that can be done, and as this uses Google’s AI it is continuously improving and continuously adding support for more scripts.

Feedback from the Sanskrit community for this work:

  • “I wanted to first congratulate you on two tools that are enormously useful tools. I have only just played around with the OCR and the DLI interface, but they're both massive improvements on what was available previously.” (Andrew Ollett, Harvard University)
  • “Congratulations to the DLI website, by the way. Super useful.” (Oliver Hellwig, University of Heidelberg)
  • “Martin was kind enough to give me an advanced peek at his new mirror of the Digital Library of India, as a beta tester. The quietness and brevity of his announcement belie the magnitude of this achievement. It's a simply wonderful resource to have available, and it is a larger set of DLI materials than exists at Archive.org. Having the DLI in two forms, with different interfaces, is a tremendous gift to scholarship in our field.” (Dominik Wujastyk, University of Alberta)


2. Public web-based OCR tool for Indic languages

The second new public tool produced this year was our online OCR platform designed for the rapid digitization of Sanskrit and allied literature. The tool works in the browser and has been used to digitize around ~85,000 images and 17 million words at the time of writing this report. It is current in very active usage by the scholarly communities working with Indic texts, particularly Sanskrit. This is the first such tool produced for Sanskrit that is available in abrowser to digitize Sanskrit literature.

It was very well received by the scholarly community:

  • “The OCR is amazingly good! I thought we were still many years from having such a facility.” (Dominik Wujastyk, University of Alberta)
  • “An amazing work you've done there... I'd have thought it the result of a lifetime of research, but you did it in just a few short years. Congratulations.” (Kaivalyanathaswami, Himalayan Academy)


3. Publication of our Indus Script Poster

We have produced for the first time a double-panel poster for classrooms that contains all the known glyphs of the Indus Script . The Indus Script is one of the greatest heritages of India and the world and yet it remains an unsolved mystery with no confirmed translations of any of the characters. We wanted all children in the world to become aware of this script by producing a large poster with an ideographical grouping of the symbols (based on what they resemble). Some are clearly ideographical for example looking like a person or an animal and others are completely abstract. Our final step was to put character frequency data on the poster so people could see the most common characters in an easy way. We are currently in touch with all school overseeing bodies in India to make our poster works freely available in schools of India. All posters completed have been shared with Auroville schools and the language lab.


Sanskrit Research Institute 2019 - Indus Script poster 1.jpg


4. Publication of our 64 arts poster

Building on our prior work with the 64 arts (a list of arts mentioned in Sanskrit literature that were part of education in ancient India) we have completed a poster of hand drawn illustrations for each art.


5. Digital reference to Āyurvedic literature (Caraka Saṃhitā)

During the course of the year we published a beta of our digital reference to the entire Caraka Saṃhitā. This is the primary text of Āyurveda and gives deep insight not just into medicine but into India of the past (circa 500 BC). Having digital access to this text is of great value to those working in the field of Indian knowledge systems, our portal offers two translations and the original text sūtra by sūtra.


Ongoing works:

During the course of this year we commenced our work with the Sanskrit Archive project (a larger project to make a portal to see an overview of extant Sanskrit literature and a collaborative tool for representing and annotating this literature). Much progress has been made.

We are currently in the process of doing the initial research for a series of Āyurveda posters that cover an insight into the concepts and practical informations offered in the Āyurvedic Sanskrit literatures such as Caraka Saṃhitā.

We currently are in the middle of a word frequency and verbal root analysis of the entire Ṛgveda with a volunteer working remotely from Delhi (graduate Sanskrit student).

We have two Lithuanian volunteers working on a Sanskrit-Lithuanian poster which should be published in the near future. The poster will continue our series of posters of parallel languages with Sanskrit (we have done Tamil and Greek so far).


Video works:

We published a video entitled “7 years in the woods of Sanskrit” of Martin’s lecture given at Savitri Bhavan on Auroville's 50th anniversary.


Sanskrit Research Institute 2019 - presentation.jpg


Outcomes:

Various new online tools, digital resources, posters and videos have been created; existing projects have been improved and updated during the course of this year. Each year we continue to add new tools that are received by all, from the person curious about Sanskrit and its literature to the high level scholar needing a specific tool for their research. This year we are happy to have added a number of tools that were well received and more importantly are actively used on a daily basis. There is no greater reward for ones labour than to see the product of one's labour bring benefit to others.

Reflections:

The calibre and quality of volunteers we received during the course of the year was wonderful. The spirit of Auroville and its work attracts people from all corners of the world. Many people have a deeper interest with Sanskrit as it was and is the language of yoga and has the world's greatest spiritual literature tradition hands down. This year we were deeply touched by a stream of very dedicated volunteers and interns who added their spirit and will to our work and also deeply shared our common purpose to make Sanskrit and its literature more available to all. With many thanks to: Jack (USA), Jayashree (India), Yelena (Armenia), Nida (Lithuania), Gabriele (Lithuania), Deepa (India), Rina (Russia), Harshada (India), Shriya (India), Sneha (India), Hanit (India).

Conclusion:

We are in the conceptual phase of imagining a small campus dedicated to Sanskrit in Auroville and will be having initial brainstorming what such a campus would consist of. We leave with a feedback received by a user of our tools last month:

“Namaskar. Thank you for the immense and so helpful work that you are offering to scholars and general public. Your work is amazing and it is so helpful for our research. We are using all your tools, dictionary, roots sandhi, vocabular, IAST software ... Your sevā work for knowledge is helping us to also do sevā work to spread the holy awareness. Dhanyavād” – Noemie Manish Vora

Knowing that people gain benefit and utility from our work brings great joy and impetus for us to do more and stride further. I would like to thank our full team, all volunteers and interns, SAVI and SAIIER and the greater Auroville community for making all volunteers and interns feel at home.


External links