(Last Updated on : 12/03/2009)
The traditional Sanskrit course consists of one's own sakba (resension) of Veda, which is known as 'Svadbyaya' and the six 'atigas' (auxiliary texts) pertaining to that Veda.
During that period there was no scope of annual exam and grading system or classification, the students were given general titles to designate a particular qualification. There used to be specific titles for specific area of specialisation in any Sanskrit subject.
A student gets the title called 'Vedhyayi', when he completes one 'sakba' of a Veda. Later, when he is represented in front of the assembly or 'Parishad', he needs to keep his memory sharp and alert and he should remember all his Sanskrit studies learned in earlier classes. If this student can answer any questions asked anywhere without any need for prior preparations, then only he will get the title named 'Suradhyayin'.
There is a title named 'Vikrtipathas', which was introduced to preserve the Vedas in their perfect pure form. Another title called 'Kramavit' or 'Kramika' were awarded to those students who were proficient in the 'Kramapatba'. Again, who is becomes proficient in a 'Jata' is allotted the title 'Jatavallabha' and one in 'Jfbana' is given the title 'Ghanapathin'. The Sanskrit student who masters 'Laksana' i, e, the nature of articulation of each sound and its grammar will be known as a 'Slaksanaghanapathin'.
The title 'Sadangavit' is achieved by the person, who has mastered the six Vedangas. Again, one who has mastered in two Vedas will be known as 'Dvivedins', one having mastered will get the title called 'Trivedins' or 'Tripathins' and the one with expertise in all the four Vedas are called 'Chaturvedins'.
But all these titles cannot be inherited from forefathers. One needs to earn the title of his own. So, a person who gains adeptness in a sastra is known as a 'Sastrin'. The person having a good knowledge in the 'Adfjvarvava', hautra and satra functions of Vedic sacrifices are entitled as 'Trisrantabhaskara'. One can earn any of these titles in 'Parisads' or 'Assemblies' of knowledgeable persons. A debate winner student gets the title of 'Vadibhasimha' and 'Prativadi-bhayankara'.
In recent years, the government and other different organizations have also shown their interest in Sanskrit studies. Thus many universities came up, who teach Sanskrit in those recognised institutions. As a result these universities and organisations have also started to offer various titles to the talented Sanskrit students.
During the pre-independence period in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Sanskrit scholars were honoured with the title 'Mahamahopadhyaya'. Mannargudi Tyagaraja-makhin alias Raju Sastrigal and Tiruppukkuzhi Krishna Tatacharyar were the first persons to receive the title. In 1887, Queen Victoria offered the titles during the Golden Jubilee of her ascension to the throne. Later few other peoples like Tiruvisanallur Ramasubba Sastrigal, Harihara Sastrigal, Kuppuswami Sastrigal and Sri U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer, a doyen among Tamil scholars and a pioneer in editing ancient Tamil classics from manuscripts also achieved the title.
The title 'Vedabhasyaratnam' was offered to the scholars, who qualified in the dharmasastras by the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam. This is a Sanskrit monastery, which fosters Vedic and sastraic studies. The title 'Sastraratnakaram' was allotted to the person having an exceptionally good qualification. Few of the names are mentioned here, who were honoured with this title. These persons are Tiruvisanallur Vcnkatasubba Sastrigal, K. Balasubrahmanya Sastrigal and Tiruvaiyaru Balakrishna Sastrigal. The Vedantic scholars were entitled with 'Atmavidyabhusanam' and Injikollai Jagdisvara Sastrigal and Varahur Annasami Sastrigal got this title. The best promoter of Vedanta used to get the title 'Bhasyabhavajna' and the proud achiever of this title were Varahur Venkatarama Sastrigal and Varahur Kalyanasundara Sastrigal. The title 'Panditaraja' was given to the person who regularly attends the 'sadas' organized by the Maharaja of Cochin and who gets recognized by one and all as great scholars. Veppathur Subramania Sastrigal and Balasubramania Sastrigal were the proud owner of this title.
Now, the present day Universities have also started to offer the titles such as Siromani (Madras), Mahopadhyaya (Kerala), Vidyapravina (Andhra), Tirtha (Bengal), Acharya (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Government of India). The titles 'Vidya varidhi' and 'Vachaspati' are now considered the same as the Ph.D and D.Litt respectively.