Keeping Sanskrit Alive in Modern India
Mathur, an agrarian village on river Tunga has a paltry population of 1500. It is located near Shimoga in Karnataka & is one of only two villages in India which still has Sanskrit as its official language. The village is a square like a typical Mada street with a temple. This area is called Brahmanaru Mane.
With just about 256 Brahmin households, the villagers speak a dialect called Sanketi which is a mix of Sanskrit, Tamil & Kannada. The language has no written script & the villagers read only in Devanagiri script & some in Kannada.
On the other side of the river Tunga lies the village Hosahalli where Brahmins reside & have Sanskrit as its official language.
The Village Paathshala
- The village paathshala teaches chanting of Vedas especially the Krishna Yajur Veda. Also, rituals from Bodhayana Sutras & Aabhasthamba Sutras are taught under the strict supervision of elders.
- At present the paathshala has only 8 students, & they stay till they complete their 5-year course. All the expenses of the students are borne by the Brahmins as they do not accept any donations.
- Students chant Vedas from 10 AM till noon. At noon the students & the guests are served simple food consisting of rice, sambar or a kootu & curd. After lunch the students continue the chanting.
- A Japanese gentleman has been attending classes for a few years now learning & writing advanced Vedic scriptures!
- The ground floor & the adjacent houses of the paathshala are occupied by Venkatesh avadhaani – avadhaani being a family title for a very learned person – & his brother Kesav avadhaani.
- They collect old Sanskrit palm leaves, expand them on their computer & rewrite the damaged letters. They also rewrite them in present-day Sanskrit so that it can be published & made available to the common man.
- The Brahmins of these two villages live life in the true Vedic sense.
- Following the said Vedic sense they bathe in the river & perform rituals such as Sandhya Vandana.
- They accept whatever is given to them if they’re ever invited outside their villages for discourse or rituals. They never demand any monetary compensations.
It is of utter amazement that when Sanskrit is almost extinct from not only urban India but even rural India, these two villages follow the language, live in accordance with the Vedas & yet they thrive. It surely goes to show that one can progress even by keeping true to his roots!