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Pali climbs popularity chart, UoP out with 3 new courses

By Pia Chandavarkar, Pune Newsline, Saturday, June 23, 2007

The past two years have seen a revival in Pali language and Buddhist studies with increased number of people seeking to learn them, according to head of department of Pali at University of Pune Mahesh Devkar. To fuel this trend, the year-old Pali department here is trying to publicise its courses in Pali and Buddhist studies.

The department is also planning to introduce three courses - Popular Buddhist scriptures, Buddhist art and architecture and Buddhist inscriptions - within a year. These courses will be structured such that they are more relevant for job-seeking youth, said Devkar. "This knowledge will be useful for people seeking employment in the tourism and archaeological industry," he said.

According to Devkar, the reason for this renewed interest in Pali is because of an increase in desire among the Maharashtrian Buddhists to know their culture, which is prompting them to learn Pali. The Theravada Buddhist literature - said to be the oldest form of Buddhism - is in Pali.

"Last year, was the golden jubilee year of the great conversion to Buddhism when emphasis was laid on learning the Buddhist culture and on the language," said Devkar. Besides, there has been a rise in the popularity of the Buddhist form of meditation -Vipasana, with a rise in a number of centres across the state, said Devkar.

Ujjwal Kumar, lecturer in department of Sanskrit and Prakrit said an increase in the number of students opting for Pali in their Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams had prompted them to learn the language. "The success rates are high in Pali, students find it easier to score as most questions are on grammar," said Kumar. Pune University and Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA) run courses for Pali for UPSC exams. Around 30 students took the course last year in Pune University, said Devkar.

Pali was revived by University of Mumbai when, after a gap of 14 years, the first batch of MA students graduated last year. In Pune, the Pali department which started off under the department of Sanskrit was made independent last year. The certificate and the diploma courses can be done on a part-time basis, while the MA courses are full time ones.

source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=242422

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