Written By Rajesh Gill and Virendra Kumar Alankar
Prof Shankarji Jha was born on July 5, 1960, at a small village in Darbhanga district of Bihar. With a teaching experience of about 32 years, he completed his two-year term as Dean of University Instruction, Panjab University, i.e. the highest academic post in the University, next only to the Vice-Chancellor, on April 30 this year.
Prof Jha started his teaching career at a college in Bihar, and then at K.S.D. Sanskrit University, Darbhanga. An ‘Acharya’ in grammar, literature and Dharmashastra, he joined PU as Reader in Sanskrit in 1990 and became a tenured Professor eight years later.
With specialisation in Grammar, Poetics, Theology and Philosophy, he evolved as an accomplished scholar of Sanskrit, a poet, and an orator par excellence, earning for himself the coveted position of Fellow, Theosophical Society of India, Varanasi.
A prolific writer, Prof. Jha published extensively, with half-a-dozen books and a number of research articles to his credit. His scholarship was highly acknowledged across the world as is evident from his travel history.
While he was invited all over India to participate in academic discussions, he visited Bangkok, Helsinki, Edinburgh, London, Kyoto and University of Massachusetts, to deliver talks for which he was invited frequently.
He was awarded by Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh, Haryana Sanskrit Akademy, he was honoured with Bhrigu Jyotish Anusandhan Award and Mahasaraswati Vidya Award, to name a few of his most esteemed accomplishments.
Prof. Jha produced approximately 25 Ph.Ds under his able guidance.
As a teacher and an instructor, he showed relentless patience towards his students and inspired them with his own passion for the language and subject.
He was so profoundly enchanted by the Sanskrit language that often while teaching prose or poetry, he was moved to tears in the classroom. Till the very end, he remained unabashedly enchanted with the subject, enthusing his students with the same passion. He had sensitivity and humility, with which he greeted everyone in his life, no matter their stature.
A poet of high caliber, he participated in several Kavi Sammelans and also published a small compilation of his poems called ‘Bhavakadambakam”. Chairman, Department of Sanskrit, for three successful terms, he was appointed Dean of University Instruction in 2018.
In that capacity too, he won the hearts of his subordinates, colleagues as well his superiors, with his characteristic humility, intelligence and sense of humour.
An ardent fan of Indian traditions and values, Prof. Jha had no qualms in expressing his reverence for our indigenous culture.
Chairpersons and faculty members found in him not only an academic leader, but a friend, in whom they could confide without any hesitation. The University has lost a great scholar, an ardent writer and orator, an experienced administrator and, above all, a wonderful human being in Prof. Shankarji Jha.
You will be missed, Sir.
(The writers are professors at Panjab University)
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