Regular readers will have copped a little of my frantic first week of UG level Sanskrit classes. Workload was heavy and the pace was frenetic. I had occasional joyous moments where I could keep up with what was happening, but mostly it was a lot of hard yards at home going back through classwork as well as preparing homework for the next lesson.
Yes, I loved the moments of almost childlike excitement when the word I was picking through (yes, my Devanagari reading speed is letter-by-letter slow) resolved itself into a word I knew — and sometimes even with an ending I knew.
And I was arrogantly confident enough to argue gently with the teacher about whether we really needed to learn the dual endings of verbs in only our second lesson. I’m sure this entertained my classmates!
And now and then I distracted myself by wondering how the word in the text had a different meaning to the yoga-context meaning I was familiar with. For example we encountered ‘sadhana’ as an adjective meaning ‘rich’ which made me wonder if sādhana as a devotional practice was a spiritual en-rich-ment for a yogi!?! Or maybe there’s no semantic relationship at all…
So out of class I floundered my way through the printed lexicon and found that these words do indeed seem to be from two different roots. So my ‘enrichment’ fantasy is just that! But my ability to use the old-fashioned Sanskrit lexicon seems an ‘attainment’ in itself!
But anyway, these small gleams of excitement didn’t stack up well against huge amounts of work I don’t have time for, and the general stress of classes I can’t keep up with really only spelt one outcome. And that was quitting these classes. I know in my heart this is the only sensible decision, but it’s hard to for me to admit it. So I canvassed opinion with people who know me and/or yoga and/or Sanskrit for advice (Hubby, besties, teacher) who offered various comments about how brave, dedicated, or insane I was to try this.
The besties, two seriously clever women, urged me to stick it out a while longer; teacher clearly thought I was nuts for trying but was as encouraging and patient as always; the best comment of all came from Hubby who does after all have to live with me, so in some ways should get the casting vote. He summarised it: “You expressed a vague interest in learning to play football and then signed up to train with Arsenal!”
There’s something in that.
So now I’m casting around for other options. The experience hasn’t put me off wanting to learn Sanskrit (quite the opposite), it’s just made me realise that I have enough on my plate already, and Sanskrit needs to come as a side-serving, not another main course that I can’t fit in. With a bit of help I’ve already come up with a number of other possibilities. I’ll keep you posted on where I go with this…