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Ask Away: 5 Questions for a Learner of Samskrit, Kannada & English

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We’re asking students, recent grads, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…

Meet Niharika—a California 7th grader who aspires to a career in ophthalmology.

1. Could you share with us a little about your earliest experiences with language and culture? What language(s) do you use with family at home?

To me, learning Samskrit is a gateway to step into the ancient history of India.

Learning Samskrit also meant that I would be learning India’s most ancient language. Since we belong to a state in southern India called Karnataka, we speak the regional language, Kannada.

2. We’d love to hear how you use your language skills outside of the classroom! Do you participate in any language clubs, volunteer projects, travel, hobbies (like music or books), or any other activities that rely on your languages?

I use my language skills in:

  • Indian dance art called bharatanatyam where the dancer demonstrates the ancient stories which are mostly in samskRtam... In order to bring out the sentiments and emotions of the character and convey that to the audience, learning the language and its meaning is very important.
  • The Bhagavad Gita—a simplified version of the Vedas—is also in samskRtam. When learnt at a young age, it can nurture any kid to become a good citizen and be useful to society.

3. What do you find most challenging about learning languages …and how have you overcome that challenge? What would you say to someone who is thinking about learning a language?

In languages, I find translating into English a little challenging. I have overcome this by using word-to-word translation techniques to help me make a translated sentence in English.

To any of the language learners out there, I will say that learning a language does not require any special human power. All it takes is the willingness to learn and the determination that you need to excel in that language. Practice is required and challenges are to be faced.

4. Have you got a favorite word or expression in a language other than English? What is it, what does it mean, and why did you choose it?

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ||
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ||.

This is the 23th shloka (a type of verse) from Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita. This is my favorite phrase because it has a lot of meaning in it. It's a riddle, meaning: No weapon can cut this, no fire can burn this, no water can wet this, no wind can dry this.

The answer to this riddle is the soul. You cannot hurt it in any physical way.

5. What’s next on your language journey?

After mastering Samskrit, I would like to go on to learn another language totally different from any of India’s languages: French.


Complete this thought: “Learning another language means…”

Learning another language means knowing the beautiful cultures, traditions, and people of the world.

Check out our Connect with Hindi & Urdu page to explore Indian language scholarships, university programs, testimonials, and more! And, as always, visit @LangConnectsFdn on social media to share your story with us.