You can’t miss with Bheeshma, plus a Sanskrit village

Wednesday was Makara Sankranti, a critical date in the tale of the Mahabharata and the day when the Sun begins its journey back north — bringing with it light and heat and good fortune.

Tim Miller this week explained the significance:

It was on the auspicious day of Makara Sankranti that the Grandsire Bheeshma, who had been lying on his bed of arrows on the battlefield of Kurukshetra for weeks waiting for the Sun to resume its northward course, decided to leave his body and resume his rightful place in the heavens.

It is a moving moment in the story. Tim also details another story associated with the date — it ends with the Ganga. Check it out.

Also check out this BBC story on a village near Bangalore where everyone speaks, or at least understands, Sanskrit:

Here, ordinary shopkeepers and agricultural labourers speak in Sanskrit – or at least understand it. Most children too speak the language fluently.

The phrases most heard on the streets here are “katham aasthi” (Sanskrit for how are you?) and “aham gachchami” (I am going).


Today, it is spoken by less than 1% of Indians and is mostly used by Hindu priests during religious ceremonies.

Until the early 1980s, villagers in Mattur spoke the state’s regional language, Kannada, as well as Tamil because of the large number of labourers who settled here centuries ago from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

The story details how all that relates to the Indian government’s push to promote Sanskrit. (Hat tip to reader Scott.)

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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