Speaking Sanskrit “like a native” the result of past life actions?

During an unrelated search this afternoon I stumbled across this Times of India article from two years ago extolling the great Sanskrit mastery of my old friend Mike Williams. Like me Mike is a graduate of Cardiff University’s Religious Studies B.A., and we also overlapped as postgraduates in Oxford. Unlike me, Mike took to Sanskrit like a natural, and has placed the language at the centre of his research since then (a PhD at Manchester and now post-doctoral work).

The most intriguing thing about this newspaper article is the suggestion that Mike’s Sanskrit proficiency and interest in Sanskritic culture must be the result of actions in his past lives. I found myself wondering what actions would have such a result? The implication is that during a past life he made some sort of merit, or pleased the gods in some way, thus leading to his exposure to Sanskrit during his current lifetime. However, how would he have ended up in Wales of all places? Perhaps he was an Indian in a past life (I could believe that), maybe even a learned pandit, and then he committed some sort of transgression that led to a rebirth far away from his homeland. But his great love of Sanskrit in his past life helped draw him to Cardiff University and beyond…

Clearly I have spent too long studying multi-life stories if I now spend my time composing my own. But they do make such lovely explanatory aids.

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About naomiappleton

I work in the Divinity School at the University of Edinburgh, where I research and teach subjects related to South and Southeast Asian religions.
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