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Continuing an age-old tradition

M.K. Vinod Kumar



SEAT OF LEARNING: Prabodhini Gurukula in Chikmagalur district

CHIKMAGALUR: The word `gurukula' conjures up images of a sage sitting on a platform under a tree tutoring his disciples. The modern-day gurukula near Hariharapura in Koppa taluk in Chikmagalur district seeks to retain the serenity and aesthetic values of a bygone era.

Situated on the banks of the Tunga, Chitrakoota is the headquarters of Prabodhini Trust, which came into being in 1979. In this competitive age where children are made to burn the midnight oil for high marks, the gurukula comes like a whiff of fresh air.

There is no government-approved curriculum or examination. Education is based on the ancient gurukula system, where young boys are imbued with spirituality, patriotism and discipline.

Every year the residential school admits about 20 boys aged around 10. The duration of the course is six years. Though the medium of instruction is Kannada, the children are trained in Sanskrit, Hindi and English.

Importance is given to the Indian system of education. Veda, yoga, agriculture, science, art and music, mathematics and cultural history are taught. Education and board and lodging are free.

Children are made to work in the cowshed, garden and agricultural fields. They are taught to conduct `Samskara kendras' in villages and `Balagokulas' in schools and in preparing the Indian system of medicines.

The gurukula is octagonal with a small temple.

It provides an alternative system of education for those who prefer it. The gurukula was started in June 1995 on 10 acres of which arecanut plantations have been raised in five acres. There are 95 students, including 20 who were admitted this year.

The students are admitted at the age of 10 and after completing the six-year course they can appear privately for the SSLC examination. Some students have secured admission in engineering colleges.

Krishna Shastry, convener of the gurukula, told The Hindu that the annual expenditure of Rs. 18 lakhs is met through donations from philanthropists. Many important personalities, including the BJP President, L.K. Advani, have visited the gurukula.

Mr. Shastry said children are sent to villages to collect rice from donors every fortnight.

They are also sent to other schools to teach what they have learnt in the gurukula.

Students are also taken on educational tours. `Veda Shibiras' are conducted during summer holidays for children from other schools.

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