Open Pathshala is an online platform that helps people learn Sanskrit and other regional Indian languages. It also helps them experience the multifaceted culture of India.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart,” Nelson Mandela once said.
Many of us go to different places in India, either for work or travel. The experience of travelling or staying at a new place is significantly different if we can talk to the locals in their language. Knowing their language gives us an opportunity to learn their culture. But learning that new language takes time and effort.
Open Pathshala, an online platform based in Mumbai, is helping people learn a local language. The portal has recorded video tutorials for languages and also provides an option to learn through Skype classes in real time. Students who want to learn a language are connected to an appropriate tutor and their classes are conducted online. They can even choose to customise their learning according to their requirement.
Initially, Open Pathshala started with recorded video tutorials of Sanskrit language. On students’ demand, Skype classes were introduced. Since there is human involvement in learning, the curriculum of these classes can be tailor-made as per the student. For those who are keen on exploring Indian culture, they even have videos on Vedas and ancient literature.
Sanjay Radia, a user of the portal in the UK, says, “I always struggled to find a convenient way to learn Sanskrit. When many are moving towards English and forgetting their culture, Open Pathshala is keeping our wonderful culture and history alive through a globally accessible medium.”
Rahul Dolas (26), Founder of Open Pathshala, believes that education and learning new languages should be accessible to everyone. Rahul had studied engineering and worked for a startup for two years. His work experience along with a few great friends helped him build this platform. He says,
“I wanted to build this platform for school students to help them with their studies. We chose to start with Sanskrit language as there were few resources available for it plus it had a global demand. I met Sanhita Joshi, a brilliant Sanskrit expert and a gold medalist from Mumbai University, who helped us create the video course of Sanskrit. The idea of offering it to schools failed but we succeeded to tap hobbyists and travellers who genuinely wanted to learn a new language with lots of commitment.”
One might say that the best way to learn a language is through one-to-one classes. But in the case of Indian languages, which is an unorganised domain, even finding a tutor locally is difficult. Therefore, Open Pathshala wants to make it easy for people all around the world to learn from well-qualified tutors who are accessible with just a few clicks. They have both paid as well as free classes.
Additionally, this portal has become a learning platform for a whole generation of non-residential Indians whose children are disconnected from their native language and culture. With Open Pathshala, they find a way to stay connected to their Indian roots.
The portal has arranged more than 800 hours of Skype classes till now for students from different countries. More than 200 students have taken recorded video courses. Currently, the platform helps people learn Sanskrit, Marathi, and Tamil and is planning to expand its reach to more Indian languages.
“Language is a part of culture, so there could also be introductory cultural courses to help people explore different cultures in India. Open Pathshala is also serving as a platform for enthusiasts who want to teach a regional language. Overall, in future, we plan to make it a platform for learning arts,” says Rahul.