I’ve never looked into or even had any inkling to look at Sanskrit. But I’m studying at the Ayurvedic Institute this year, and Sanskrit is one of our classes.
During orientation, we watched a video of Dr. Lad where, at one point, he wrote 🕉 on the board. The way he wrote it attracted me, and I copied it down in my own notes… That is when something crazy happened…
It’s like my whole body sparkled with joy. The next day, as soon as I woke up, I started practicing writing the vowels. I LOVED it! Suddenly, I took out the colored pencils we were required to buy for class but I didn’t think I would use until the required part. I’ve never wanted to paint in my life, but suddenly, I NEEDED paint!
Writing Sanskrit is a meditation for me. If we didn’t have other intense classes in the program, I would be learning Sanskrit the entire time. I’ve been writing it as much as I can in any crook of free time I do have.
I think it’s all the loops – infinity, math, love, the circle of life!
In addition to writing, I LOVE looking at all the letters. There is a poster of Sanskrit letters in our classroom, and I’m mesmerized looking at every single calligraphic detail of it.
Did I mention I’ve never drawn or painted or even had the urge to in my entire life?
As I wrote the letters more and more, practicing each morning, I became hungrier and hungrier. Suddenly, I needed to be able to read (and write) in Sanskrit. So I spend an entire day learning just that, despite having an infinite amount of review and homework to do. This was more important, the foundation.
I soaked up every word I saw, broke it down, wrote it down, internalized it. It is still a process that is slow and requires a lot of practices, but I’m more than happily enjoying it. I’m hungry to practice and write more!
Finally, I’m starting to connect with the phonetic sounds of it. This part was extremely hard for me – I don’t have musical hearing or voice, so it was hard for me to understand how to even begin to say each sound.
But one of my classmates, Kishan, came to the rescue here and helped me through it in a study group. I realized that the sounds are primal and mechanical. They are generated through specific parts of the mouth with the help of tongue placement in some cases. It’s really fun to say words by focusing on the mechanics of where the sound is coming from. It’s very beautiful!
The first time I said the sounds by myself one morning, I ended up crying. I found my true voice.
We start each class with Sanskrit chants. Since I’m still getting comfortable with saying the sounds, I haven’t been able to join these chants. But I’ve been meditating during them and feeling the vibrations of all the sounds coming into me!
When we listened to the “I am that” chant from Dr. Lad and I meditated, the vision of the cosmic drum that our Sanskrit teacher, Pranav Lad, mentioned popped into my head and I saw the drumming happening in real time. I’ve never played a musical instrument in my life, so that was a bit crazy for me to experience.
As I’ve been learning and practicing Sanskrit hungrily for the past three weeks, I realized that learning it is actually an act of remembering it. Composed of universal symbols and sounds, it is there inside us waiting to come out!