SAKSHI or Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture is a Charitable Trust set up with twin objectives. The first one is the preservation of the knowledge in the four Veda-s by publishing the complete texts in Devanagari and other Indian language scripts such as Kannada and also their complete translation in English and Indian languages. The second aim is develop strategies for the widespread dissemination of the knowledge contained in the Veda-s, so that the knowledge could be utilised at all stages of development by all persons, both at the individual level and at the level of society. Considering the popularity of the books on the topic of individual personality development, we want to point out that the Veda presents such knowledge with great width and depth. We list below the various activities with a brief description.
(1). Compact books : SAKSHI has published several books of moderate size, say a 100 pages, on various aspects of the Veda relevant to most of us in our everyday life. These books contain essays with the relevant Veda mantra-s. These books are very popular with our readers. The most important of them are the five books: Essentials of Rig Veda, Essentials of Yajur Veda, Essentials of Sama Veda, Essentials of Atharva Veda, and the Essentials of Upanishads.
(2). Books in Indian languages : Most Hindu-s have either great reverence for Veda or indifference. But very few have the strong hostility portrayed in some sections of the press in English. Even ten years ago, English was regarded as the language of the opinion- makers. It is not well known that such a condition is no longer true. Now the tariff or the advertisement rate in a Kannada newspaper is greater than that of the English Newspapers. In other words, persons who were reading the English newspapers are now shifting towards the Indian language Newspaper. Number of Kannada newspapers readers is also increasing.
So we are publishing both the compact books and the detailed translations of the four Veda-s in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi and other languages. The series of four’Essentials’ books have been translated into several languages. As a consequence, the total sales of all the books in all languages published by us is about twenty five thousand per year, indicating the popularity of Veda and also of Sakshi books. These books have been sold primarily to individuals.Note that the parents of the children were unaware of the Veda-s or their benefits. Thus the benefits claimed by the students were well received because of the Veda chanting and study alone.
(3). At the end of the season we had gathered all the students, made groups from each school to chant and gave the prizes to the best. Some of them felt it was the first time they were on the stage.Some schools are continuing the program both in Bangalore, and in Northern Karnataka. We give them the books freely.
(4). Another byproduct of the experiment is that all the students including the so called dalits felt happy to participate in Veda chanting. Some even asked us,’ Can we join the program’? We told them that Veda itself says that Veda is for all.
(5). Audio recording of the Vedic chants and the lectures: There is a heavy demand for the chants and books on CD’s (compact disks). The commercial recording is expensive and not amenable to the timings of the persons who chant. A young volunteer preoccupied with computers, made a detailed study about setting up the technical equipment for the audio studio using the info available on the Internet and submitted a plan costing Rs.2 lakhs. We took the risk. Our trustee RVJ worked to create the two physical rooms needed for the studio. RVJ and this volunteer bought the equipment from a store in Chennai and installed them. The studio is a great success, getting praise even from experts in the area of audio recording.
(6). Website and online ordering of books : I started the work on the website about 15 years ago. Because of the continual changes in persons, the website had limits. But it has 1000 pages of material, both in English and the Devanagari script. In 2010, our friend T.V. Shankar took an active interest. Now Vishnuprasad Jahagirdar and others continually update it. Now one can order our books online. SAKSHI books can also be ordered from Amazon.in, flipcart.com, exotica.com. Since the payment of money is across continents is easy, we are getting many international orders for our books and CD’s from all over the globe. Work is in progress for making e-books of our Veda translations so that a person can hear the chant, read the text in the script of his/her choice, and read the translation in the language of his/her choice.
(7). Outreach work : We sell our books in the book exhibitions held all over Karnataka, may be 15 or 20 per year. We have several Centres in Karnataka doing the chanting and teaching work. Our Outreach work all over Karnataka, especially in its Northern districts has been greatly helped by the mobile education unit, known as Veda Vahini sponsored by the Essar Group and the TVS Group. The unit displays our books and casettes, provides facility for hearing the chant of mantra-s and answers to the questions of interested persons. It makes its presence felt even
in small villages on the occasion of the main festivals. Persons who had no idea of Veda are getting exposed to it, and are buying our Kannada and Marathi books. These mini exhibitions have made the name SAKSHI familiar to many persons. These persons buy our books when they visit Bangalore on their business trips. Our bimonthly Newsletter also keep our patrons informed about our new books.
SAKSHI has tie up with organizations with similar goals in countries such as Slovenia, Venezuela, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia, UK, USA, Chile and others.
(8). Auro Veda : This is a Centre for conducting the study and experiments on the harmony between man and nature envisaged in the famous’Hymn to Earth’ in the Atharva Veda. The land of 10 acres is situated near Edumadu Village on the Kanakapura road, 30 Kms. from our SAKSHI place.
In an area of about 2 acres,’Panchavati’ is developed in which,’Peeple tree’ or Bodhi tree (Ashwattha), Banian tree (Ala), Amalaka, Bilva, Ashoka are grown in a specified manner. Walking around these trees is said to rejuvenate both mind and body. Panchavati was set up under the guidance of Prof. S.K.R. and Sri Yellappa Reddy.
Natural and low cost cultivation, rain harvesting, rearing up of native cow-breeds, utilization of Solar power, low-cost housing etc. are already practiced and promoted here.
When this activity was first taken up in 2003, not even a blade of grass was growing in this area. Now it is lush with green vegetation comprising of thousands of trees and vines of various varieties. Provision of water is made for the cattle of the village. Class-rooms with furniture are built for the village children, and text books and stationery material is provided every year.
Ongoing Project: We are conducting experiments on how a farmer with a family of four can lead a respectable life with one cow and one acre of land.
(9). Recognition and Support : The Karnataka Samskrit University in Karnataka has recognised SAKSHI as one of its Research Institutes. Now SAKSHI can guide students pursuing doctorate degrees. To cater to the needs of research students SAKSHI is equipped with the essential facilities expected by the University.
Several organisations, individuals and Institutes are supporting the activities of SAKSHI. They are mainly sponsoring SAKSHI publications, and audio presentations. Many individuals are offering donations towards Veda Nidhi.
Government of Karnataka has sanctioned grants towards publication of Kannada books and for conducting workshops, seminars and disseminating Veda Knowledge through various activities planned by SAKSHI.
The main force behind all these activities is our Managing Trustee Dr. R.V. Jahagirdar. My mission and vision of serving and educating the community is getting manifested with these activities and experiments.
– Dr. R. L. Kashyap.