t gives me immense pleasure and I feel divinely blessed that to pen down my thoughts which cannot be covered or rather expressed in small blog which I am penning down for you all. Before I give a brief analysis, I would like you all to know certain facts about Vedic Sanskrit.

Vedic Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of the Indo—Iranian group. It is the ancient language of the Vedas of Hinduism,texts compiled over the period of the Mid-2nd to Mid-1stMillennium BCE.It was orally preserved, predating the advent of Brahmi script by several centuries. Vedic Sanskrit is an archaic language, whose consensus translation has been challenging. The separation of Proto-Indo-Iranian language into Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit is estimated, on linguistic grounds, to have occurred around 1800 BCE. The date of the com [position of oldest hymns of the Rig vedas vague at its best, generally estimated to roughly around 1500 BCE. Both Asoka Parpola (1998) and J.P. Millory (1998) place the locus of the division of Indo-Aryan from Iranian in the Bronze Age culture of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological complex (BMAC).

Chronology—

Five Chronologically distinct strata can be identified with the Vedic language.

Rig Vedic – Many words in the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda have cognate or direct correspondence with the Ancient Avestan language, but these do not appear in Post—Rigvedic Indian Texts. The Rigveda must have been essentially completely by around the 12thcentury BCE. The Pre—1200 BCE layers mark a gradual change in Vedic Sanskrit, but there is disappearance of these Archaic correspondences and the linguistics in the Post—Rigvedic period.

Mantra Language—this period includes the Mantra and prose language of the Atharveda (Paippalada and Shaunakiya), the Rigveda ancient injunctive verb is no more in use.

Samhita Prose—an important linguistic change is the disappearance of the Injunctive, Subjunctive, Optative, imperative (the modi of the aorist) New Innovation in Vedic Sanskrit appear such as the development of Peripheric artist forms. This must have occurred before the time of Panini because Panini makes a list of those from North-Western region of India who knew these older rules of Vedic Sanskrit.

Brahmana Prose—in this layer of Vedic literature, the archaic Sanskrit verb has been abandoned. The Yajnagathas texts provide a probable link between the Vedic Sanskrit, classical Sanskrit, and languages of the Epics. But parts of the Brahmana layers show the language is still close to Vedic Sanskrit.

Sutra Language—this is the last stratum of Vedic Literature, comprising the bulk of the Srautasutras and Grhyasutras and some Upanishads such as the Katha Upanishad and Maitrayaniya Upanishad.

In the Republic of India Sanskrit is included in 14 original languages of the Eighth Schedule to the constitution.Many organizations,like the Samskrita Bharati, are regularly conducting Sanskrit speaking workshops to popularize the workshop.The “All India—Sanskrit Festival” (since 2002) holds composition contests. The 1991 Indian census reported 49,736 fluent speakers of Sanskrit.The state of Uttarakhand has become the first state in India to declare Sanskrit as an official language. All India Radio transmits news Bulletins in Sanskrit twice a day across the Nation.

Tale of Two Villages—

The Brahmins of Mattur and Hoshalli lead a Vedic lifestyle and chant the Vedas and has kept the Ancient & divine language Sanskrit alive. Mattur is a tiny village on the banks of Perennial River Tunga. It is near Shimoga in Karnataka. It has a population of around 1500. Its situated in its inner circle are about 256 Brahmin houses in a square type Agraharam. It is an agrarian village, which has arecanuts as the primary crop and one acre of its yields a net profit of Rs.90000 on an average per year. It is one of the two villages in India where Sanskrit is the official language. The villagers speak a dialect called Sanketi, which is a mixture of Sanskrit,Tamil, and Kannada. It all started 500 years ago, when scholarly Brahmins migrated from Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu and settled here along the river bed of Tunga as was customary.

King Krishnadevaraya, the then ruler of this place wanted to donate land to these Brahmins, which they refused because accepting Dhanam would mean accumulating sins. They all felt that sins would be passed on to them. They only accepted charity from other Brahmins. So, the ruler sent his emissary dressed as a Brahmin and donated vast tracts of land to them on which the arecanuts are now grown. The entire village is like a square type like Mada street, with a temple. This area is called Brahmanaru Mane. Great respect is shown by the rest to these Brahmins. There is a village pathshala, which teaches chanting of Vedas in the traditional way, especially Krishna Yajur Veda along with other ritualistic rites from Bodhayana sutras and Aabhsthamb sutras. Other rituals for Yana’s are conducted for learning purposes.

A village with one foot in the Vedic times and another in the 21st century, Mattur is one of the very few places in the world where residents still converse in the classical language of Sanskrit.

Tucked away in the Verdant Shimoga district of Karnataka.Mattur is a tiny Hamlet. The journey back to Vedic roots started in 1981 when Vedic roots started in 1981 when SanskritBharati, an organisation that promotes the classical language, conducted a 10-day Sanskrit workshop in Mattur. This was attended by Pejawar Mutt in nearby Udupi. Seeing the villagers eagerly take part in the unique experiment to preserve Sanskrit, the seer reportedly exclaimed, “A place where individuals speak Sanskrit, where whole houses talk in Sanskrit!” It was a call the residents of Mattur took to heart. This is how Sanskrit became the primary language of the village.

Mattur basically is an agrarian village that primarily cultivates areca nuts and paddy. It is inhabited by Sankethis, an ancient Brahmin community that had migrated from kerala and settled down in Mattur about 600 years ago, other than Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, and bits of Telugu. The Sankethi dialect has no written script and is read in the Devanagari script.

The students at the pathshala also collect the Palm leaves, expand the script on computers and rewrite the damaged text in present day Sanskrit to make it available to the com mon man in the form of publications. Over the years, many students from abroad have also stayed and undergone crash courses at the pathshala to learn the village.

In theMattur village from vegetable vendor to Priest, understands Sanskrit. Most of them speak the language fluently too.It is not unusual to see a group of elders reciting Vedic hymns by the riverside while a couple of young men in zoom past them on their bikes, flaunting their mobile phones, as they converse in ancient language. Even young children squabbling and playing cricket speak Sanskrit among themselves.

Another most striking feature is that Sanskrit graffiti on the walls of the houses in Mattur. The slogans painted on the walls are ancient quotes such as MaargeSwachchatayavirajate, gramesujanahavirajanthe. (Cleanliness is important for a road as good people are for the village). Some families also have the sign “you can speak Sanskrit in this house” proudly written on the doors. The Schools in Mattur have some of the best academic records in the district.According to teachers learning Sanskrit develops an aptitude for maths and logic as well. Many of Mattur’s young have also gone abroad to study Engineering/Medicine and the village boasts of at least one software engineer in every family.

Mattur has produced over 30 Sanskrit professors who are teaching in Kuvempu, Bengaluru, Mysore, Mangalore universities. Mattur is also the home village of several illustrious personalities like Krishnamurthy of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore, Violinist Venkataram, and Gamak exponent H.R. Keshavam urthy. The ragas are drawn from traditional folk tunes and Carnatic music while the poems are mostly from old Kannada epics such as Jaimini Bharatha, HarishchandraKavya, AjithaPurana, Devi- Bhagavataand Torave Ramayana.

What makes Mattur so special is that at a time when Sanskrit is spoken by less than 1% of the total population in India, not only do the villagers use the language in their daily lives but they are ready to teach it to anyone interested in learning it. My heart is filled with a pride that I have known about this village called Mattur, and the villager’s efforts to keep the Sanskrit language in this way is highly commendable.

The most amazing fact to know is that all Hindu festivals are celebrated in a simple but traditional way in this village. Dusshera is one of the most important festivals.The village can be visited during any time of the year.However, the best time to visit is between November to March. Mattur is an ideal stop for a one day visit, or even can spend few days learning the customs and traditions in this culturally rich village. A trip to this village will take you to a trip into the glorious past of Bharat (India). Vandan to these villagers for keeping the language alive. They spread the knowledge and awareness of the language. As I conclude my thoughts I will visit and tell others to come and visit once and to spread our ancient Sanskrit language still further widening its horizons which should go beyond boundaries.

VandeMataram


Dr.SukanyaIyer

 

 

 

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