Preserving a unique tradition
The Vedas are taught in the traditional way at Veda Pathasala, Chathapuram Agraharam, in Kalpathy.
`Gurukula' system is followed at Veda Pathasala.
THE VEDAS are invaluable as much for their audio as for their verbal content. The `agraharams' (Brahmin settlements) of Palakkad, where the oral traditions of the Vedas were preserved through `pathasalas,' have produced many scholars well-versed in reciting the Vedas.
Of late, Vedic studies are on the decline. In order to preserve this great tradition, the late C.R. Swaminatha Kariakar established a full-time residential Veda Pathasala under the banner of Veda Rakshana Samiti at Chathapuram Agraharam in Kalpathy in 1996 with the blessings of the Sankaracharyas of Kanchi and Sringeri.
The `gurukula' system is followed at the pathasala. At present, Krishna Yajurveda (Taittiriya-sakha) is taught. The course lasts for six to seven years. A prescribed syllabus is followed and general education in Sanskrit, English and Mathematics is imparted. Besides free board and lodging, clothing, travel and medical facility are also provided.
Both internal and external assessments are done. The internal assessment is conducted by the `acharya' (teacher) V.R. Ganesha Ganapathi. Examinations are conducted by Maharshi Sandeepani Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishtan, Ujjain, recognised by the Government of India.
The samiti is registered under the Societies Act and is managed by a governing body that aims at `saving the Vedic tradition.'
The main sources of finance for the pathasala are contributions from the Maharshi Sandeepani Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishtan, Ujjain, Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Math and Ghatikasramam Trust, Kancheepuram.
Children in the age group of 7 to 12 are admitted to the respective `sakha.' At present, there are 22 full-time students from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, besides Kerala. The pathasala now functions from a house in Chathapuram, made available by a philanthropist free of rent.
A new campus with space for worship, classrooms, administrative space, guest accommodation and other facilities is being built on 45 cents at Ramanathapuram Agraharam in Palakkad town. The new campus will have a museum and interpretation centre. The secretary of the samiti, T.V. Krishnan, says the main theme of the Samhita part of the Veda is `yajna.' "We plan to develop a museum of utensils used in the time-old tradition of Vaidika yajnas such as `agnihotra,' `isti,' `soma,' `pravargya' and `citi.' Information as cited in the Vedic and Srauta texts in respect of their original shape, material, utility and so on will be provided. This visual presentation will not only throw light on the sense of aesthetics of the Vedic designers but also kindle the interest of the common man to learn more about the Vedic tradition. The museum will also house models of `yagasalas' and `citis' and other useful display charts and photographs on Vedic themes.
He said the new campus would have a full-fledged Vedic Study Centre containing a library mainly of Vedic and allied literature. The library will serve the needs of students of Indology and research scholars.
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