Ram Karan Sharma, grandson of Aditya Narayana Mishra, was born in a middle class family at shivapur, Saran District of Bihar. His official date of birth is March 20, 1927. His father, Kameshwara Prasad Sharma, died during the Non-cooperation Movement in 1930. He had his early primary education (including his exposure to the Srimadbhagavadgita and Ramacaritamanasa) in his home town under a dedicated village School Master Bhagawat Singh, with affectionate inspirations from his mother (Raini Devi) and his uncle (popularly known as Badari Babu) and his aunt.
Against the wishes of the affectionate members of his family, he joined the 'Lokamanya' Brahmacarya Srama Gannipur (presently Ram Dayalunagar), Muzaffarpur as a Brahmacarin in 1935. he lived a rigorous Asrama life there for a number of years and studied the Vedas, Upanisads, Vyakarana and other Sastras from his eminent Guru Pandita Ambikadatta Sharma (and his associates like Pt. Bhavanidatta Sharma, Devidatta Sharma, Ram Karan Sharma Jaimini Sharma and Devanandana Sharma).
Under a challenging situation, he joined the G. B. B. College (now Langat Singh College), Muzaffarpur under Patna University after completing his matriculation from the same University in 1942 as a private candidate. He continued his studies both on traditional and modern lines thereafter. On obtaining a First class B. A. (Hons. In Sanskrit) from Patna University in 1948. By this time, he had also obtained, as a Private candidate, the degrees of Sahityacarya, Vedanta Sastri and Vyakarana Sastri from Bihar Sanskrit Association-the predecessor (Governmental Body) of the present K. S. D. Sanskrit University.
He joined Nalanda College, Biharsharif under Patna University in 1949 (as' a lecturer in Sanskrit and Hindi). Under a challenging situation again, he joined Bihar Civil Service (after spending some time as a trainee in Subordinate Accounts Service and as a temporary University teacher in Hindi under Bihar University Service) in 1952. His innate love for teaching profession (specially Sanskrit), brought him back to Bihar University Service in 1955 and he got the maximum job satisfaction there while teaching and interacting with his enlightened graduate and postgraduate students, on subjects like the Vedas, Vyakarana, Darsana, Alamkarasatra, chandahsastra and Kavya. He attended the Autumn School of Linguistics 1955 and also Summer School 1956 at Deccan Collage, Poona, taking courses in Modern Linguistics including Phonetics and Phonemics, Morphomics, and Draividian Linguistics from the eminent teachers like Prof. Meenakshisundaram, Fairbanks, Edward C. Dimock, and William Bright. He visited the University of California, Berkeley, as a Fulbright-Smithmundt Grantee in 1957-59 and studied Modern Linguistics Classical Philology and also earned working proficiency in Latin, German and French. He had the privilege of working with the eminent linguists and indologists like Prof. M. B. Emeneau. His doctoral thesis 'Elements of Poetry in the Mahabharata' (dealing, primarily, with a study of imagery and marks of oral poetry), with some subsequent additions, was brought out under the University of California Publications in Classical Philology Series in 1964 (Reprint with Index, Delhi 1988), which was well received internationally. He continued in Bihar University Service till January 1961. He also worked as a Faculty member at the Summer. School of Linguistics, Poona in 1960
He joined the Ministry of Education, Government of India, as Special officer (Sanskrit) in February 1961 and continued to serve the Ministry till he retired as joint Educational Adviser in March 1985. In between, he also served as Founder Director Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan 1970-74; 1980-83 (for some time in 1961-62, of Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati also), as well as Vice-Chancellor K. S. D. Sanskrit University 1974-80 and Sampurnananda Sanskrit University 1984 and 1985. He was also Fulbright Visiting Professor, Columbia University of New York City 1982, 1986 and Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago 1989 and University of Bihar 1991-92. He had also been invited to serve the University of Punjab as Kalidasa Professor in 1970 (A similar invitation was received by him from the University of Poona). But he could not accept any of these invitations in deference to the wishes of the then Minister of Education.
The rigorous Asrama life and equally rigorous Fulbright experience at Berkeley stood him in good stead in initiating, planning, coordination, executing and monitoring quite a large number of schemes for promotion of Sanskrit learning in all its aspect. He did his best to bring about a healthy harmony between the traditional depth and modern width of Sanskrit learning. Use of Sanskrit as a medium of communication and teaching, preservation and promotion of the various traditional Sastraic traditions, removal of disparity in the status and payscales of Sanskrit teachers and the steps for the dissemination of knowledge contents of Sanskrit tradition were some of the most important items in which he was deeply interested-both personally and officially. The 'Fulbright' in his did not allow him to be oblivious of his international obligations Conference was held in New Delhi in 1972 under the joint auspices of the Ministry of Education and Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. As the organizing Secretary of the conference, he initiated the proposal to set up a permanent (international body for Sanskrit) (IASS), which was unanimously approved at the plenary Session of the Conference and was subsequently got ratified by the International Congress of Orientalists. Prof. Raghavan was the Founder-President of IASS. He was succeeded by Prof. R. N. Dandekar.
He was the Organising Secretary of the Fifth World Sanskrit Conference held in the Banaras Hindu University Campus in 1981, again under the joint auspices of the Government of India and Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. The Participates of that Conference still remember how the local demand for the obligatory use of Sanskrit as a medium of addresses during the inaugural function was instantaneously tackled by him.
He is actively associated with several Universities and other educational institutions including the Ministry of Human Resource Development, University Grants Commission, Sahitya Akademi, Kalidasa Akademi Delhi Sanskrit Akademi, Madhya Pradesh Sanskrit Akademi etc.
Presently he is the President of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies and the Vice-President of the ensuing Session of the All India Oriental Conference to be held at Rohtak.
He has more than a hundred research articles to his credit. His writings include the Mahabharata, Panini Darsana, Ayurveda, Rhetoric and Kavya. He, in collaboration with Vaidya Dr. Bhagwan Dash, has initiated a project to bring out an idiomatic English translation of the entire text of the Carakasamhita with cakrapanidatta's commentary 'Ayurvedadipika.' Three Volume covering about the middle of Cikitsasthana have already come out; a separate Volume on sarirasthana, with an Introduction and Index has also been brought out as a popular Volume. This is besides his monumental contribution to the Mahabharata studies other writings include six volumes of poems and two volumes of novels in Sanskrit. His short poems are separately published in Samskrta Pratibha, Durva, etc.
His Sandhya (a Sanskrit novel) has won the Kaya award of the Bharatiya Bhasa Parisad, Calcutta. He is a recipient of the Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour for his distinguished contributions to promotion of Sanskrit learning. He has also received the Samskrtaseva Sammana from Delhi Sanskrit Akademi.
He has set up a Voluntary Sanskrit Study circle for promotion of Sanskrit learning, viz. Mandakini. It meets almost every month and scholars interact on specific Sastraic topic, generally through the medium of Sanskrit.
His wife Smt. Annapoorna Sharma is the only other member of his family. She is of great help to him with regard to his academic pursuits. But he happens to be a member of too big a joint family. This "school" of his own joint family also stands him in good stead in educating him in the art of administration including human management, aesthetic creation and peaceful coexistence.
For his services to Sanskrit learning a felicitation volume was due long back. I am fortunate to get the opportunity of editing it.
I wish him Ayurarogya-yasassaukhyam to serve Sanskrit and Sanskriti for long period to come.
Brahma Sutras (79)
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