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Self-confessed 'Sanskrit addict' Prof Michio Yano attends Athirathram in Kerala

Panjal (Kerala), Sat, 09 Apr 2011 ANI

Panjal (Kerala), Apr.9 (ANI): Michio Yano, a professor of Sanskrit and Indian cultural history at Japan's Kyoto Sangyo University, attended Athirathram being held in Panjal village in Kerala. He attended the 3000-year old vedic ritual to collect inputs for his new book in Japanese titled 'Inspiration of Indian Mathematics'.


"There will be a chapter on most ancient mathematics and that started at Athirathram, with the Shianachitthi. I have read a great deal about it, but wanted to visit Athirathram to see it with my own eyes. Everything I have read, I have seen here, and I am happy," said ProfessorYano.


Professor Yano is fascinated with 'Surbasutra' which involves using ropes for measurement and construction of sacrificial altars. He referred to a chapter from the book where he explains how the shianachitthi, the bird-shaped main altar for Athirathram is very algorithmic in nature. From the basic square shape emerges many patterns and shapes such as triangles, parallelograms and hexagons, he explains. He also observed the measurement of chitthi is done with extreme mathematic accuracy.


Commenting on usage of technology (cameras, videos, computers on site) at Panjal Athirathram site, Professor Yano said: "It is good that high end technology is mingling well with age-old rituals to help in its preservation. They should be used. What matters is that despite all the outward changes brought about by technology and modern life that one may see, the core of the ritual remains the same. It is in Panjal Athirathram."


Professor Yano, 66, first visited India in 1975, coincidentally the same year when the Athirathram was last held in Panjal.


He was in India then to attend an Ayurveda conference in Patiala. His senior friend Ikari Yasuke, who was also a good friend of Professor Frits Staal, the author of AGNI, a two-volume book on the 1975 Panjal Athirathram visited Athirathram then.


"Now, I am a good friend of Dr. Staal and am happy to be here," said Professor Michio Yano.


He remembers the details of all his 20 previous visits to India with ease. In 1976, he visited India to attend a function to commemorate 1500 years of Aryabhatta, the great Indian mathematician-astronomer.


"India's first artificial satellite Aryabhatta had been launched recently as a mark of respect to him," he recollects.


Professor Yano's father was a Buddhist priest. From a very early age, he was exposed to a Chinese translation of Sanskrit and was drawn to India as the homeland of Buddhism. He went on to study Indian Philosophy and Buddhism.


He has translated several Sanskrit books in Japanese. According to him, people in Japan are interested in Buddhism related to Indian philosophy and Buddhist universities are interested in ancient India as the homeland of Buddhism.


Professor Yano was also closely involved with the World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) held in 2009 in Kyoto. The next WSC will be held in New Delhi in 2012. (ANI)


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