He lives to keep Sanskrit alive

The richness of Sanskrit language is beyond belief. It is a mother to many languages and will remain a mother. Sanskrit will again reach at it's peak in India.  

It is not always necessary that we would see great scholars and writers in the limelight, there are few who wish to be behind the screen and use their knowledge not for fame and money but for the society.
Awarded with the Certificate of honour by the President of India on 11 March, 2016 Varanasi’s Sanskrit Scholar Pandit Jagannath Shastri Telang has been contributing a lot in the field of Sanskrit literature since 60 years.
Tracing the roots:  
Around 250 years ago, a poet named Narsingh Shastri migrated to Banaras from a small village near Bengaluru called Hassergata. Shastri possessed nothing other than the treasure of knowledge.  
He established his position in the court of Kashi-Naresh and earned a name in the city. This legacy was continued by his sons- Mahamahopadhyay Pandit Gangadhar Shastri, Mahamahopadhyay Pandit  Ram Shastri and , Mahamahopadhyay Pandit  Lakshman Shastri.
On 15 March, 1935 Jagannath was born to Lakshman Shastri and his wife Savitri Bai.

Carrying the legacy ahead: 
At the age of 15 he started learning. His early education started in Banaras under the able guidance of his father and cousin Pandit Bhalchandra Shastri. He studied Ancient Indian History & Culture, Sanskrit Yogtantra, Prachin Rajshastra & Arthshastra. He is the proud holders of degrees like Sahityacharya, B.L.ib and M.A. (Sanskrit).
From the year 1970 to 1995 he worked as a lecturer in Sampoornand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalay, Varanasi. He writes in Hindi, Sanskrit and Marathi. His famous published books are Ishavashyopanishad, Kenopanishad, Mundakopanishad, Sidhantashikhopanishad, Shwetashopanishad, Manusmriti and others.
Pandit ji has received many honours and awards which include- Shastra Chudamani Samman (Centarl governmnet), Sahitya Puraskar (Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Sansthan), Jagatguru Vishwardhya VishwaBharti Puraskar, Girdhari Lal Mehta Puraskar (Kolkata), Vidwat Bhushan by Akhil Bharti Vidwat Parishad (Varanasi), Title of Kavi Ratna (Sangved Vidyalay, Varanasi), Tittle of Mahamahopadhyay (rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in collaboration with Tirupati University), and many other.
In a candid conversation with Newscrust this scholar shared his vast experiences in the field of Sanskrit...

1. Sanskrit was by choice or by chance?
It was neither by choice nor by chance this is my family legacy which I am continuing. I was interested in Sanskrit from very beginning and wanted to do work in this field only. I went to school for some time but then my father was not fond of the modern day education system so I left school and then my real education started at home.
2. Apart from your family member who is your role model in the field?
All my gurus inspired me and motivated me. Pandit Chintamani Shastri Behre, Pandit Diwakar Shastri Joshi, Pandit Anantram Shastri Vetal, Pandit Batuknath Shatri Khiste, Pandit Mukund Shastri Khiste, they all contributed towards my studies. I lost my parents at a very young age and my cousion Pandit Bhalchandra Shastri who was my guardian helped me and pushed me to work hard.

3. You have written so many books, but out of them which one is your personal favourite?
Manusmriti is my favourite. It is a hindi commentary written on the original Manusmriti. It talks about Dharma, which not at all means the modern day religion but our duties which everyone must fulfil. Maunsmriti is like a constitution for an individual duties and while writing the commentary I learnt a lot and it was a wonderful experience.
4. Your father and uncles were awarded by the British Government and the government of India has awarded you, how is the feeling?
I definitely feel great and honored. It is all because of the blessings of my ancestors and the love and support of my family. A fun fact is that all this success came to me after my retirement. I was free during my job period and after my retirement I got more involved in the field of writing and Sanskrit.
5. You have done freelancing for many magazines and journals and is still doing it. What kind of changes have you noticed in Indian media?
The language style and its presentation has changed. I am really not liking the interference of English in Hindi journalism. The modern time of commercialization has affected the quality and quantity of news and these modern trend such as virality, fake news, and exclusiveness have made me really upset.
6. Do you think the importance of Sanskrit has gone down?
Sanskrit is the mother of many languages and scripts and a mother will always be a mother no matter what is the condition. Foreign scholars for example Max Muller have studied Sanskrit. Many scholars form countries like Germany, United Kingdom, and Russia still study it. In India definitely Sanskrit is not the same now how it used to be earlier but definitely people will soon realise its importance and Sanskrit will again reach the peak. Another fun fact is that today a student of English medium understand Sanskrit better than a student who is doing his specialisation in Sanskrit.
7. Apart from Sanskrit what are your other interests?
I have a keen interest in music and theatre. Music is something which I have enjoyed from the very beginning. I wanted to learn it also but my family was of Scholars and writers and this did not permit me to pursue my hobby of music and due to the pressure of the society I have to leave it behind.
8. After you no one in your family continued this legacy, why so?

I struggled a lot. It was not a cake walk for me. I have seen bad days both emotionally and financially. People will never like your success and would always try to bring you down. They won't be able to reach your level and hence they would be jealous. I and my wife together decided not to push our sons in this field, because at the end of the day you have to earn something and success and money is not that easy here. My sons and grandchildren are well settled and are doing great in their respective fields and I am very happy for them. I feel happy and contended.
Pandit ji currently lives at his residence in Varanasi in a joint family of three sons, daughter-in-laws, grand Children and great grandchildren. He has seen his third generation also. He is still teaching many students free of cost at his residence and is guiding them. He is a visiting professor at the Sampoornand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalay, Varanasi. He is also doing freelancing for many magazines and journals of Hindi, English and Marathi.
At this age also he is working and trying to give his bit for the upliftment of Sanskrit.

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