H-M synthesis: Muslim contribution to Sanskrit literature

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H-M synthesis: Muslim contribution to Sanskrit literature

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:12 pm

At a time when Indian languages and dialects are being distinctively viewed through a sectarian prism or with parochial reasons, here is a scholar who has risen above them.

Sheikh Abdul Ghani, a teacher, recently got his Ph.D in Sanskrit from Osmania University. A rare achievement, indeed, for a Muslim when Sanskrit is being ignored by Hindus themselves. His hunger to learn the ancient language is quite remarkable, considering that he hails from Telangana where Muslims are identified with Urdu, given the historical background of the region unlike Muslims in Andhra or Rayalaseema regions where they are known to have more affinity to Telugu. “The passion to gain command over language skills drew me to Sanskrit and as a researcher I found it extremely appealing,” says the school assistant who works in the Government High School, Ramannapet, Nalgonda. Hailing from Bhongir, Sheikh Ghani studied in Telugu medium in school and Hindi medium in college.

No smooth sailing

It was, however, no smooth sailing for Sheikh Ghani as he was dissuaded from learning Sanskrit from the religious as well as academic angle. Some said it was a “dead” language while others told him that it was not for Muslims. But Ghani disagrees and reminds us of some famous Muslim scholars who contributed to Sanskrit. “Muslim rulers patronised Sanskrit scholars in the seventh century itself.”

In fact, his Ph.D thesis is on contribution of Muslims to Sanskrit literature. He was guided by B. Narasimha- charyulu of the OU Sanskrit Department. Sheikh Ghani recalls that the Upanishads were translated into Persian by Dara Shikoh, son of Mughal emperor Shahjahan, which led to their translation into European languages. “He also wrote Samudra Sanghama – a book that found similarities between Vedanta and Sufism. Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Prime Minister of Emperor Akbar was also a Sanskrit scholar who wrote books on Jyotishayam and Yoga”, he says.

Harmony

Mr.Ghani says people should benefit from the treasure of knowledge studying Sanskrit. It will also help in understanding religions and culture better apart from promoting communal harmony. The researcher plans to publish a Sanskrit-Urdu dictionary.


http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/Scholar-sans-barriers/article15899453.ece

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Re: H-M synthesis: Muslim contribution to Sanskrit literature

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:17 pm

VARANASI: Dr Naheed Abidi the recipient of Padma Shri award in 2014 is a true amalgamation of Vedic and Islamic cultures. Hailing from a Muslim family she had been enriching the Sanskrit literature with her creations. A native of VDA colony in Shivpur area, Abidi's study room displays a rare combination of Vedic and Islamic literature.

"Conferring Padma Shri award upon me is like honouring the Sanskrit world and it will inspire Muslims for Sanskrit learning. I am highly grateful to the scholars of Sanskrit and Persian who encouraged me in my objective of exploring the uniting the bond between the two faiths. Sanskrit is a rich language, which has the quality of promoting harmony and peace in the society," says Abidi, a doctorate in Sanskrit who preferred not to join any academic institution so that she may take care of her two children. But, her literary journey continued, and she authored books like 'Sanskrit Sahitya mein Rahim' and 'Devalayasya Deepah'.

Her book 'Devalayasya Deepah' is the Sanskrit translation of 'Charag-i-Dair', the creation of great Urdu and Persian poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Galib while 'Sanskrit Sahitya Mein Rahim' glorifies the legendary poet Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana's, who has also written verses in Sanskrit.

"It is the soil of Banaras that fascinates people of all faiths, and I am fortunate that I belong to this great place," she says adding that Galib, during his four-month stay here, had appreciated Banaras in 'Chairag-e-Dair'. "Through my work on Rahim I want to tell people that he (Rahim) had a great respect for Sanskrit and Hindu religion," she adds.

Abidi is doing what Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, had accomplished in Banaras centuries ago. It is the magnetism of Sanskrit and Vedic tradition that made the Mughal prince to learn the language from the pundits of Kashi. In the district gazetteer of Varanasi it has been recorded that Dara Shukoh translated the principal Upnishadas into Persian under the title 'Sirr-i-Akbar' with the help of local pundits in six months in 1657.

Abidi's creative genius had also impressed the then President APJ Abdul Kalam, who invited her to the Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2007. She had also gifted a book to Kalam.

Presently, she is busy working on the Dara Shukoh's Persian translation of Upanishadas. Her work was also appreciated by noted scholar Dr Karan Singh, who writes that the author of 'Ashvinas in Vedic literature' has painstakingly collected material from Samhitas as well as various other sources so that scholars as well as others interested could study them at one place.

Despite her ill health she devotes eight hours daily in her study and writing. Hailing from a zaminadar family of Mirzapur, Abidi was married to Ehtesham Abidi, an advocate at Varanasi. She did her graduation from Kamla Maheshwari Degree College and PG from KV Degree College, Mirzapur.

After marriage she continued her study and received doctorate degree from Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith. She was also awarded with D Lit degree by Lucknow University.

"Though I did not join any college or university, I have been voluntarily teaching Sanskrit in several institutions including Banaras Hindu University and Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth since 1994," says Abidi further adding that spreading the light of education is the greatest virtue in Islam. She was also nominated as the member of executive council of Sampurnanad Sanskrit University.

For her success and her literary jurney Abidi gives credit to both, her paternal family and her in-laws. "Our families have a liberal outlook and we believe in a peaceful co-existence," she says showing a century-old handwritten book, which is the Urdu translation of Bhagwad Puran. "This book has been with our family since 1903," she said.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/Sanskrit-has-a-special-place-in-the-heart-of-Padma-Shri-awardee-Naheed-Abidi/articleshow/29596641.cms

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Re: H-M synthesis: Muslim contribution to Sanskrit literature

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:21 pm

While Muslims consult him with queries on fatwas, Hindus seek him out to deliver discourses on the Vedas. He is Pandit Mufti Mohammed Sarwar Farooqui of Lucknow's massive Nadwatul Ulema or Nadwa madrassa. The bearded pandit-mufti quotes the Quran and hadith (Prophet Mohammed's sayings) with as much felicity as he does slokas from the Puranas.

In Mumbai, Pandit Ghulam Dastagir Birajdar juggles many hats - he is general secretary of the Varanasi-based Vishwa Sanskrit Pratishthan, member of the Maharashtra government's Sanskrit Standing Committee, a body that oversees Sanskrit education in the state, and head of Sufi saint Syed Ahmed Badwi's centuries-old dargah near his house in Worli.

Farooqui and Birajdar are among the handful of Muslim pandits in the country who have not only mastered Sanskrit but are also actively taking the language forward. For these scholars, two religions and cultures sit comfortably in one soul.

Farooqui, who is a specialist in fatwas and holds a post-graduate degree in Sanskrit from Sampurnand University, credits his love for Sanskrit to a Quranic command that says one should learn as many languages as one can. To him, Islam's concept of monotheism is a reiteration of the Vedic principle ekam brahma dutia nasti (God is one and there is none except Him). "Even Prophet Mohammed once said he felt soothing breezes coming from India. This belief led me to explore the exciting world of Hindu scriptures," says 41-year-old Farooqui who has written several books, including commentaries on the Quran in Hindi.

Birajdar too is considered a walking encyclopaedia on Sanskrit. "Muslims are learning Sanskrit as it houses vast knowledge," he says. "For far too long, the Brahmins held Sanskrit captive. They spread the lie that the language would be ruined if non-Brahmins learnt it," says 75-year-old Birajdar, seated in his book-lined house where volumes of the Vedas share shelf space with the Quran and its commentaries.

As a child labourer in Solapur in Maharashtra, Birajdar worked in the fields by day and went to school at night. He fell in love with the language when he was nine, mesmerised by the sound of children chanting Sanskrit lessons. "One day, I asked the Brahmin teacher if I too could study. Though it was a pathshala exclusively for Brahmin boys, the teacher relaxed the rules." Years later, the Brahmin teacher would proudly introduce Birajdar as his most accomplished pupil.

Some Hindus even ask Birajdar to solemnise marriages, preside over pujas and help perform last rites. "I decline such offers since they are purely religious. Instead, I have trained many Hindus to perform such rituals," he says.

Recently, Farooqui addressed a massive Hindu gathering at Ghazipur. "Many in the audience thought the organisers had invited the wrong speaker. They were amazed when I spoke on Hinduism," he says, smiling.

Academics say that Muslims are learning Sanskrit in an attempt to understand India's glorious past. Ramnath Jha, head of the Sanskrit department at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, says, "There were Muslim scholars among those who supported the proposal to make Sanskrit India's official language after Independence . Unfortunately, Hindi won the race. But Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian languages and it's not surprising that many Muslims are learning it."

Dr Jha adds that he has at least one Muslim research scholar in his department at any time.
And who's producing the maximum number of Muslim scholars in Sanskrit? Aligarh Muslim University. "AMU has produced 20 PhDs and 12 MPhils so far," says Dr Khalid Bin Yusuf, head of AMU's Sanskrit department. Mohammed Khan Durrani was the first Muslim scholar in India to have done a doctorate in Sanskrit, completing it from AMU in 1963, and, in the process, encouraging other Muslims to study the language.

As a schoolboy in Maharajganj, Uttar Pradesh, Ashab Ali avidly read the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. He went on to study the Vedas in detail and do a comparative study of Islam and Hinduism. "Islam and Vedic Hinduism have a lot in common," he says. "Like Islam, the Vedas too believe in ek ishwarvad (monotheism). Again, like Islam, there is no concept of rebirth in the Vedas. This attracted me," says 61-year-old Ali who heads the Sanskrit department at Gorakhpur University.

A devout Muslim, Ali has performed Haj twice and says he easily passes off as a paanchewing , kurta-pyjama-clad maulvi on the street. In fact, he objected strongly when a television reporter once addressed him as maulvi sahab. "I told him that not every bearded Muslim is a maulvi. I am a Sanskrit scholar and should be known as such," says Ali, who is concerned about the fate of his huge private collection in Sanskrit. "My daughter is an Urdu scholar while my son is studying Unani medicine. Nobody in my house will read the rare collection of Sanskrit volumes after I die," he says.

However, other Muslim scholars aren't worried . Birajdar's daughter Ghiasun Nisa, a graduate in Sanskrit, is working on a comparative study of Islam and Hinduism. His grandson, 15-year-old Danish, is also learning the language . "They have inherited my love for the language and will carry on my mission," he says, as he replies to a stack of fan mail in Sanskrit.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Namaaz-Namoh-Namah/articleshow/5183974.cms

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