Reading Sanskrit Improves Brain Functioning
The MUM Review, 6.Feb. 2002, by Brynne Sissom
The physiological effects of reading Sanskrit are similar to those experienced during the Transcendental Meditation® technique, according to research recently completed by Dr. Fred Travis, director of the ERG/psychophysiology lab of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.
Dr. Travis asked his test subjects to read passages from the Bhagavad-Gita in Sanskrit and in modern foreign languages (Spanish, French, or German). In each case they could pronounce the sounds but did not know the meaning. He measured brain wave patterns (ERG), heart and breath rate, and galvanic skin resistance during two reading sessions and during a 15-minute session of the Transcendental Meditation technique.
He found that while they read Sanskrit their physiology was similar to those measured during the Transcendental Meditation technique, but significantly different from reading a modern language.
Their skin resistance steadily increased during reading Sanskrit and during practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique (showing greater stability in their physiology) but remained the same during the reading of a modern language.
Their ERG alpha power and coherence during reading Sanskrit were also similar to that during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, and both of these were higher than when the subjects read a modern language.
Dr. Travis said that these findings support Maharishi’s predictions on the effects of reading Sanskrit. Maharishi, in Vedic Knowledge for Everyone, predicted that reading the Vedic Literature as it flows and progresses in perfect sequential order has the effect of regulating and balancing the functioning of the brain physiology and training consciousness, the mind, to always flow in perfect accordance with the evolutionary direction of Natural Law.
Dr. Travis found the similarity of physiology during reading Sanskrit and the Transcendental Meditation technique is especially noteworthy because one reads with his or her eyes open and engages in active perceptual and cognitive processes, while the Transcendental Meditation technique is done with one’s eyes closed and entails a reduction of mental activity. This suggests that the state gained during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique may be integrated with active mental processes by reading Sanskrit.
Dr. Travis said, “The Transcendental Meditation technique takes the awareness to pure consciousness at the source of thought. Seeing similar patterns of physiology during reading Sanskrit as during the Transcendental Meditation technique suggests that reading Sanskrit enlivens pure consciousness at the source of thought and integrates that state with reading and speaking. In short, while practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique locates pure consciousness, leading to the state of Transcendental Consciousness, reading Sanskrit integrates inner silence with outer activity, helping to cultivate enlightenment.”