alldmn - 13th October 2023

Keeping the Light Burning in the Ancient City of Learning

In the heart of Varanasi, India’s ancient city of “learning and burning,” the ALL Varanasi Center has thrived with activity this summer. Nestled in the city also revered as Kashi, the “City of Lights,” the center has conducted numerous training sessions, workshops, and activities to nurture the academic pursuit of sanātana dharma, “the eternal dharma,” of students and staff.

While our main focus at this hub is Indology, our commitment extends to preserving both Hindu and Buddhist Sanskrit materials from northern India. ALL’s founder, Geshe Michael Roach, has developed a particular interest in some of the Sanskrit texts preserved at this center. We look forward to seeing what comes out of this research!

This July, the Banaras Hindu University’s Heritage Management students were trained at the ALL Varanasi Center by the director Dr. Santosh Dwivedi. Their training encompassed transliterating Devanagari and Old Devanagari scripts into the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST). Further, they familiarized themselves with tools such as KEYMAN and learned digitization techniques for various manuscripts. A visit to the Tibetan University’s Multimedia Department and Restoration Wing provided insight into the preservation of the Old Rahul Sankrityayan collection.

Santosh shared that, inspired by his father, he continues working on the Shabdakalpadruma. This encyclopedic dictionary of Sanskrit words, drawing from a plethora of authoritative sources such as the Vedas and Upanishads, remains a testament to the timeless nature of Indian dharmic culture. He has also completed work on the beautiful and profound hymns of Arya Nagarjuna.

Reflecting on his mission, Santosh commented: “With the aspiration to infuse our endeavors with new perspectives and techniques, we foresee expanding these efforts in the future.” Echoing this sentiment, ALL is steadfast in its mission to further preservation efforts in Varanasi. With your support, we aspire to contribute to this grand lineage of transmission, ensuring that the profound wisdom of this ancient seat of learning continues to flourish.

These lines from the Taittiriya Upanishad (2.2.2) have been recited before study sessions in India for millennia.

ओं सह नव् अवतु, सह नौ भुनक्तु, सह वीर्यं करवावहै, तेजस्वि नव् अधीतम्  अस्तु, मा विद्विषावहै । ओम् शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

oṃ saha nav avatu, saha nau bhunaktu, saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai, tejasvi nav adhītam  astu, mā vidviṣāvahai | om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ || 

Om! May he protect us both (student and teacher), may he nourish us both, may we work together with great energy. May our study be bright and without animosity. Om, Peace! Peace! Peace!

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