The Department of Sanskrit Studies, since its inception in 2006, is engaged in the study of Indian Grammatical Theories with a computational perspective. Prof Amba Kulkarni, the coordinator of the course, said “On the one hand we are looking at how to leverage computer technology to overcome the language barrier, how to reduce the time to learn a new language, and on the other hand we are also exploring the IGT for building these computational tools”. The research undertaken by the students during the last 15 years has resulted into a computational platform Saṃsādhanī that hosts several computational tools for accessing and understanding Sanskrit texts.
The department collaborates with a computer scientist turned computational linguist, Prof Gérard Huet, from a prestigious research institute Inria, from France. The collaboration between these two groups has resulted in a joint system that can analyse any Sanskrit text. This resulted into this innovative course, where the traditional methods of teaching are combined with the modern technology without compromising the ‘understanding’ of Sanskrit texts.
Prof Gérard Huet highlighted the computational rigour in the compact sūtras of Panini’s grammar that helped him design his segmenter efficiently.
This course will be taught by a team of four: Dr Arjuna from Manipal University, Dr Pavankumar Satuluri from Chinmaya Vishwasvidyalaya, Kochi, Prof. Gérard Huet from Inria, Paris and Prof. Amba Kulkarni from University of Hyderabad.
The course is very well received by the public. Total 250 people have registered, from Abroad, India and the students from University of Hyderabad. The students have varied backgrounds from Arts and Humanities to Engineering and Medicine; they range from 20 to 80 years of age, geographically from Fiji to California covering the whole world.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. B J Rao considered the launch of this course as the celebration where Panini is being rediscovered through modern computational tools. According to him this course would be trendsetter to understand how language analysis, rigour of computation and scientific methods can be utilized for understanding thoughts as well as also understanding the construction of ideas through languages.
Prof. Varakhedi, the Vice Chancellor of Kavi Kulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Ramtek, while congratulating the team for the development of excellent computational platform pointed out that it is based on the Indian theories of analysis, generation and cognition of Sanskrit sentences that were discussed in Vyakaranam (Grammar), Nyaya (Logic) and Mimansa from about the last three millennia and acts as a testing bed to test their practicality.
The inaugural session started with a warm welcome by Prof. V Krishna, Dean, School of Humanities, Prof. Pramod K Nayar the Director IOE, briefed the audience about the IOE status of the University of Hyderabad. Prof Prasad Head, Department of Sanskrit Studies introduced the Chief Guest and the programme ended with the heartfelt gratitude expressed by Prof Amba Kulkarni.
Contributed by – Prof. Amba Kulkarni