Editor Of India’s Oldest Sanskrit Daily Passes Away, Leaving Behind A Legacy Driven By Passion

Editor Of India’s Oldest Sanskrit Daily Passes Away, Leaving Behind A Legacy Driven By PassionK V Sampath Kumar, Editor, Sudharma.
Snapshot
  • Along with his wife Jayalakshmi, Kumar ran Sudharma for more than 31 years.

K V Sampath Kumar, editor of the only Sanskrit daily in the world Sudharma, passed away on Wednesday (30 June).

Kumar and his wife Jayalakshmi ran Sudharma for more than 31 years. Kumar took over the mantle from his father, K N Varadaraja Iyengar, who launched the daily in 1970. The daily celebrated its golden jubilee last September.

In keeping with the times, they launched an e-paper in 2009 but still ran the print edition, with Sanskrit institutions from across the country being their key subscribers. Its digital footprint was around 150,000 and had readers from across the globe.

Kumar, supported by his wife, functioned as reporter, writer, editor, proofreader and publisher of the daily. Sudharma was an initiative to bring the language relegated to the pages of religion and spirituality to everyday life. It covered a variety of sections from politics to crime to culture. The language was simple and ensured that anyone who could follow the Nagari script and had a basic understanding of Sanskrit, could read its content.

“If somebody asks me why Sanskrit, one can give a long list of benefits but most importantly, I think, it is that the language opens up a new avenue to explore treasures of Sanskrit literature spanning over 2,000 years. And the knowledge one acquires is priceless,” said Kumar last year as quoted.

But the struggle was real as it had very little support from the government as Kumar had lamented last year on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the publication. But that didn’t stop the couple from taking their printed daily to around 4,000 subscribers by post.

Although the paper is said to have seen better days, the numbers are low, and the Covid-19 pandemic had only made things worse. But they kept at it as the newspaper was an off-shoot of his father’s passion for keeping Sanskrit alive. His father had also been instrumental in starting Sanskrit news on All India Radio.

The couple had brought out a souvenir edition last year and had plans to conduct programmes that would enable conversations between scholars and the general public.

As readers from across the world and the country’s top leaders expressed their grief, his final rites were conducted with full state honours. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Union Home Minister Amit Shah were among the leaders who tweeted their condolences.

Sudharma (Old copy)
Sudharma (Old copy)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter, expressing his condolences to Kumar's family.

“Shri K.V. Sampath Kumar Ji was an inspiring personality, who worked tirelessly towards preserving and popularising Sanskrit, specially among youngsters. His passion and determination were inspiring. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” tweeted the Prime Minister.

Kumar and his wife were awarded the Padma Shri last year for their untiring efforts to keep the daily running against all odds.

But the efforts need much more than solidarity in words. Bringing out a paper every day will bear heavy cost, especially after Kumar's demise.

As he shared with Star Of Mysore during Sudharma's 50th anniversary celebrations last year, “earlier the language was restricted to one section of society. But this is not true. Anyone can learn this language which is part of our culture. People can subscribe to this newspaper that costs just Rs 500 per year”.

It is subscription alone that will drive this noble venture that passion had sustained for decades.

Harsha is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. She tweets @bhatinmaai.
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